House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero wanted to know why no one in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration ever asked “where’s Bob?” this summer when Robert Kennedy, the president of the Board of Regents, was at his second home in Minnesota doing “professional development.”
“Did anyone say, ‘where’s Bob?’ Did anyone see Bob for six weeks? And if not, who was doing all this stuff,” Cafero said, speculating that executive vice president Michael Meotti may have filled in for Kennedy. Meotti has decided to forego his $48,000 raise.
His contract allows for six weeks of “professional development,” but Kennedy admitted Thursday that what he was doing during that six weeks may be more appropriately termed “working remotely.”
“The straw that broke the camel’s back is what I’ll call his self-interpretation of his contract,” Cafero said.
With a base salary of $340,000 a year, and opportunities for more than $45,000 in bonuses on an annual basis, that he “could go to his summer home and in his words ‘work remotely’ for six weeks — it is an outrage,” Cafero said.
Cafero called on Kennedy to step down Thursday because he’s created a “crisis in confidence” and no longer has the ability to oversee the state’s four regional colleges, 12 community colleges, and the Charter Oak State College.
“He gave out raises without even informing the Board of Regents to the tune of more than a quarter million dollars,” Cafero said Thursday on a visit to the Capitol press room.
Kennedy also was behind a memo which was perceived as “bullying” by some of the community college presidents who were told, essentially, to accept the changes being made or to get out, Cafero said.
“This man’s ability to govern is gone and I think for the good of the system he should step down,” Cafero said.
Kennedy was recruited by Malloy from the University of Maine to take the job. Malloy’s office also negotiated the contract with Kennedy, who now answers to the 15-member Board of Regents.
In a statement Thursday, Malloy expressed outrage over the more than $260,000 in pay increases, but fell short of calling on Kennedy to step down.
“I believe the Board of Regents needs to step in, conduct a review of these matters, and take appropriate steps based on their findings,” Malloy said. “The credibility of the central office has been damaged, and it needs to be restored as quickly as possible.”
The Board of Regents is the only body that would be able to terminate Kennedy’s contract, and it must decide the appropriate course of action.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy apologized for mistakenly giving out the raises and hoped the mistake wouldn’t cost him the confidence of the governor or the regents, whose main objective was to consolidate and streamline the administration of education services.
“The Board, and I, personally, have been greatly troubled with the actions that have been taken by and the lack of information shared with the Board of Regents by President Kennedy,” Lewis Robinson, chairman of the Board of Regents, said Thursday. “As I said yesterday, the board will be reviewing his judgment exercised in these matters, as well as his performance. Based on our findings, we will take the appropriate action.”