Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 36
Printed in the Warrensburg Gazette March 23, 2000

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

The flap about Dr. Elliott's contract has hit the major metro paper and is being looked into by the legislature, the State Auditor and the Attorney General - all as the result of some in-depth reporting by some student journalists. While Dr. Elliott may be hurt by the attention to the contract, the proper focus of attention is not him but the University administration's and Board of Governor's penchant for secrecy & stonewalling that has led, among other things, to a wrongful death suit by the parents of the student killed in the 1997 Foster-Knox fire.

As I see it from the standpoint of a taxpayer who is also a CMSU graduate, CMSU's bureaucracy and Board of Governors have violated the spirit if not the letter of Missouri's "Sunshine Law." The Board's answers to direct questions, as posted on the student newspaper's website (, show hostility to the questions and dance around the issues. For example, terms of Dr. Patton's contract were the result of "arms length negotiation" while the terms of Dr. Elliott's contract were "negotiated" - I wonder what that means.

One can't blame Dr. Elliott for accepting 'retirement' compensation which, with perks, is in the realm usually reserved for coaches. I have heard two justifications for this contract: he has done so much for the University already and he will raise much more funds than his contract costs. The first argument is disingenuous; it is unusual (and I suspect illegal) to compensate a public employee after the fact for work performed in a previous fiscal period.

The second argument may very well be true. I would like to see CMSU publish an open account of exactly how much money Dr. Elliott is expected to raise in the next three years compared to the difference between his contracted salary & the salary he's entitled to as a tenured professor. Such an economic justification would go a long way toward dispelling threats to CMSU's funding from the legislature and would validate the Board of Governor's judgment.

There are four new members of CMSU's Board of Governors; including an attorney and a person with a journalism degree. The State Senate, in confirmation hearings, should ensure that these new board members are committed to CMSU's honoring the spirit of the Sunshine Law.

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