*** UPDATE 1 *** I’m told that all heck broke loose at the SIU trustee meeting today. “Herrin and Poshard allegedly had a heated shouting match in front of the media in which four letter words were used,” said one local.
So far, just a simple story in The Southern…
The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees failed to establish a quorum for its scheduled meeting Thursday in Edwardsville, one day after the state Senate rejected three new appointees by Gov. Pat Quinn to the group.
Trustee Marquita Wiley was not in attendance for Thursday’s meeting. Since the board has lost former trustees John Simmons, Ed Hightower and Mark Hinrichs and the Senate rejected new appointments Sandra Cook, Melvin Terrell and Lee Milner, there weren’t enough members left to conduct regular business.
*** UPDATE 2 *** The Alton Telegraph has more…
In addition, a growing board dispute spilled more into the open during an exchange between SIU President Glenn Poshard and trustee Roger Herrin, in which Poshard accused Herrin of engineering this week’s departure of the board’s general counsel. SIU announced Wednesday that General Counsel Jeff McLellan has announced that he will retire effective March 1.
During the exchange, Poshard and Herrin, of Harrisburg, were openly hostile to each other.
Poshard accused Herrin of “rigging” the vote for general counsel.
Herrin responded: “If you’re going to accuse me of rigging the vote, you better have something to back it up. That’s going beyond the pale,” Herrin said.
Poshard said Herrin’s pick for general counsel was 11th on the list. A selection committee narrowed the field down to three.
“I have the e-mails (to prove it),” Poshard said.
*** UPDATE 3 *** The Southern has updated…
[ *** End Of Updates *** ]
The argument got particularly heated after Herrin said Poshard was once a good friend of his. Poshard said that when people ask him to rig elections, for the general counsel, it doesn’t matter if that person is “a friend or anything else.”
Herrin then responded that Poshard had crossed a line and said if Poshard thought he did something illegal then he should “put on his big boy pants and go after it.”
* Not a good day for Gov. Pat Quinn…
In a rare move, the Illinois Senate on Wednesday slapped down Gov. Pat Quinn’s latest appointments to the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees.
Just two days after Quinn nominated new members to the board, senators used their appointment powers to send a strong message to the governor that they don’t approve of his tinkering with the makeup of the board.
The governor’s proposed appointments of Sandra Cook of Collinsville, Dr. Melvin Terrell of Chicago and Lee Milner of Springfield received zero “yes” votes, 23 “no” votes and 32 “present” votes.
The smackdown marked just the latest tussle involving Quinn’s attempt to install current Trustee Roger Herrin of Harrisburg as chairman.
The three trustees targeted for replacement by Quinn — John Simmons of East Alton, Mark Hinrichs of O’Fallon and Ed Hightower of Edwardsville — had been part of a coup to oust Herrin as chairman in 2011 after board members and university President Glenn Poshard complained of Herrin’s management style.
Not a single Senator voted for Quinn’s nominees, with 23 voting “No” and 32 voting “Present.” Most of those voting “Present” were Democrats, while Republicans and some Downstate Dems and some Black Caucus members voting “No.”
Herrin, a Quinn appointee and one-time SIU board chairman, has clashed sharply with Poshard over his management of the university, blaming the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee for not stemming declining enrollment and doing a poor job of overseeing university finances.
Herrin owns nursing homes and banks and has donated more than $27,000 to Quinn, state records show.
In a blistering floor speech Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne (D-Belleville) accused Herrin of not making minority enrollment a priority and questioned the desire to put him back in charge of the SIU board.
“It concerns me there’s a push to make this individual the chairman of the board. What direction are we going? What message are we sending by appointing or placing an individual on this board, who does not believe that everybody should receive an opportunity to go to college, that we’ll close the doors on those individuals not because of their merit, not because of the hard work they put into it, but because they’re a minority?” Clayborne said. […]
Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), whose district includes SIU’s Edwardsville campus, said he knew little about the Quinn appointees’ backgrounds and questioned the governor’s desire to see three pro-Poshard trustees driven from the board.
Metro East members were mainly upset that two of their folks were booted from the board, including Simmons, a hugely successful (and politically active) asbestos attorney, and Hightower, the superintendent of Edwardsville’s school district who is widely feared in the area.
* Poshard and Quinn have been fighting for a few years now, and it enraged Quinn when Poshard moved the governor’s hand-picked chairman out of the spot and installed Simmons. Some background…
The big move by the governor resulted from turmoil that erupted on the board about a year ago, according to the Southern Illinoisan newspaper, based in Carbondale.
Poshard has been a consistent critic of Herrin, according to the paper. Hinrichs said he and the other trustees who opposed Herrin were told they would be replaced if they did not go along with him.
Despite the threat, they replaced him as chairman with Simmons. Hinrichs said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the Southern Illinoisan’s account is correct.
* The Senate essentially forced Quinn back to the negotiating table with Poshard. This round goes to the southerner. But I wouldn’t expect Quinn to give up anytime soon. Check out the official response…
“The students of Southern Illinois University’s three campuses deserve better than they got today,” Anderson noted. “Instead of playing politics, the members of the Senate should give Sandra Cook, Dr. Melvin Terrell and Lee Milner a fair hearing.”
State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, introduced legislation in the Illinois House Rules Committee on Wednesday proposing to split the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses.
House Bill 3389 would amend the Southern Illinois University Management Act, abolish the board of trustees and create separate boards for the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses.
The legislation also proposes the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield would be associated with the Edwardsville campus, not Carbondale. […]
SIU President Glenn Poshard said he previously convinced legislators that the SIU campuses are healthier as a system.
Poshard said there is a lot of anger in Metro East about the lack of SIU Edwardsville representation on the board of trustees, other than the campus’ student trustee.
“I’m sure he (Hoffman) is upset,” Poshard said. “People in the Metro East have a lot of pride in that school.”