VA Lawmaker Calls for Legislative Hearing over Sullivan Ouster
June 20, 2012 03:57 PM EDT
A state legislator is calling for a legislative hearing into the ouster of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan, and he says his new law firm will pay for it.
Democratic Delegate Joseph Morrissey says state law proves legislators have oversight authority over the university and urged to have UVA officials explain what has happened on grounds to the state House Education Committee. He calls it "necessary for the good of our state, the UVA family and future generations.
Morrissey's office also says a website will be started soon to accept donations to help pay for the cost of such legal action to investigate what has happened at UVA.
Morrissey and Goldman, LLC Press Release
Richmond, VA - "First, I want to thank Bob Tata, Chairman of the House Education Committee, for his prompt and honest response to my letter on the UVA mess" declared Joe Morrissey. Delegate Morrissey, a member of the Education Committee, had written his colleague yesterday citing an previously unknown 1919 state law which states that the "The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia shall be at all times subject to the control of the General Assembly". The letter asked the Chairman to call a meeting of his Education Committee so the members could exercise their legal responsibilities under the statute, saying the current turmoil caused by the actions of Rector Helen Dragas and the UVA Board, along with Governor McDonnell's "hands off" posture, highlighted the importance of the 1919 law's mandate.
In response to Delegate Morrissey, Chairman Tata has said that while "I don't have any problems with" the meeting requested by his fellow education committee member, he needed to first find out whether "we can do it depending on how tight money is." Chairman Tata said he would therefore need to check about the money with Speaker Bill Howell. These comments of Mr. Tata were reported this morning by the Richmond Times Dispatch.
In following up on Chairman Tata's comments, Delegate Morrissey issued the following statement:
"I respect my friend Bob Tata and his excellent administration of the education committee. Moreover, I admire his honesty about the state of the state's finances. Recently we learned the McDonnell Administration has agreed to give more than $6 million dollars, including $4 million from a discretionary fund controlled by the Governor, to subsidize a professional football team which plays in the state of Maryland.
Yet at the same time, it appears there is doubt as to whether the state can afford the few thousands - at most - necessary to make sure my University of Virginia, one of the most important economic entities in the Commonwealth, one of the most important health care deliverers in the Commonwealth, is being run for the good not only of the UVA family, but also of the taxpayers of Virginia who help support this great public University.
The Governor says he needs to subsidize the Washington Redskins for the good of the state's economy. Yet the adverse cost to Virginia due to continued mismanagement and the attending bad publicity surrounding the UVA mess would hurt our state far, far more in terms of economics and reputation.
"So if Bob is right - and the finances have been so badly managed as to make it otherwise impossible - then the firm of Morrissey and Goldman, LLC will agree to reimburse Virginia for all legitimate expenses in connection with having the required meeting of the House Education Committee in Charlottesville so the UVA family can finally get it's right to know.
I would hope other like minded individuals or groups would also step up to help us cover the expenses. But if we are the only ones willing to do it, so be it, this is necessary for the good of our state, the UVA family and future generations.
"Having thus solved Mr. Tata's concern, I call on Speaker Bill Howell to give the green light requested by the Chairman. For the good of the Commonwealth and my alma mater, I would urge that the meeting we held as soon as possible."