Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hauck of the Business Roundtable

TRUSTEE HAUCK LEADS BUSINESS GROUP THAT FAVORS TUITION INCREASES
By Becky Bartindale
Mercury News
Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg said Tuesday that she will heed a call for an investigation into conflict charges leveled by a faculty union against William Hauck, powerful California State University trustee, influential business leader and friend of the governor.

Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, said she would request an investigation today through the Joint Legislative Audit Committee into whether Hauck has a conflict of interest because of his $300,600-a-year job as president of the California Business Roundtable, which advocates for student fee increases and against higher taxes.

CSU is the nation's largest four-year university system, and includes San Jose State University. Its code of conduct says trustees should not engage in activities that conflict with the interests of the CSU.

Goldberg said she hoped a state audit would answer the question of whether Hauck ``can have two masters and serve both.''

``We don't want trustees coming in with closed minds,'' said the former teacher and adjunct professor at California State University-Los Angeles. ``If he can't take a position other than the position of the Roundtable, that's coming in with an agenda.''

Hauck did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. But a spokeswoman for the CSU said his stature in California was ``value added'' to the university system.

``His presence as a trustee and his influence in the state have been tremendously positive in the CSU,'' said spokeswoman Clara Potes-Fellow. ``There is a lot of value added as a result of the position he has. He has been tremendously instrumental to the CSU agenda and mission.''

Goldberg said she was requesting the investigation based on a letter and background information from the California Faculty Association. Members' requests for audits are generally honored, she said.

The faculty union has vigorously opposed tuition hikes, blaming increases totaling 76 percent over the past three years for recent drops in enrollment, especially at campuses serving large percentages of poor and working-class students. It also has assailed the compact struck between Chancellor Charles Reed and the governor two years ago that called for student fee hikes and promised CSU state funding increases after more than $500 million in funding reductions.

As chairman of the trustees' finance committee, Hauck has not recused himself from votes about fee hikes but instead played a key role in influencing trustees to approve them, said faculty union President John Travis, a political science professor at Humboldt State University.

``The view of the Business Roundtable is you don't need more taxes, you don't need more money,'' said Goldberg, who is a staunch opponent of student fee hikes. ``I think trustees need to be able to say when they need more money.''

Travis said the faculty union became interested in raising awareness about Hauck's possible conflicts because of his strong support last year for a ballot measure that would have given the governor more control over the state budget and could have left the CSU even more vulnerable to budget cuts.

Hauck also has caught the union's attention by saying he'd like to see an end to tenure and collective bargaining in education.

Hauck, who got his start in politics as president of the student body at San Jose State, is a close ally of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He co-chaired Citizens to Save California, a business-backed group that qualified the governor's initiatives for the ballot last year, and the California Performance Review, the group that made extensive proposals to the governor for overhauling state government.

As president of the non-profit, non-partisan Business Roundtable, he represents the interests of the chief executive officers of California businesses who are the group's members.

Over the years, Hauck has figured prominently in state government, serving as deputy chief of staff to Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and chief of staff to two Assembly speakers, Democrats Bob Moretti and Willie Brown. Hauck was appointed in 1993 by Wilson and is set to serve through 2009 following his reappointment by Gov. Gray Davis. He served as chairman of the CSU Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2000.

``I think he has a far more fundamental influence on policy than other board members because of who he is and how powerful and politically connected he is,'' Travis said, noting that Hauck serves on 8 of 10 trustee policy committees. ``Virtually everyone knows of him. When he speaks everybody listens.''

Kate Folmar contributed to this report. Contact Becky Bartindale at bbartindale@ mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5459.

Note: this is the same Business Roundtable which has often dominated school reform discussions. See the work of Kathy Emery, Why are the corporations bashing our schools?
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