About Laura Frerich’s DUI — Compassion is Called For.

Readers will be all too familiar with my interactions with Laura Frerichs, head of the UIUC Research Park.  If you’re not, the summary statement would be that she systematically tried to destroy my ability to start companies at UIUC, and by and large was very successful at that mission of destruction by threatening more than a few people who I was working with, including in emails.

Last week Ms. Frerichs was stopped and arrested for a DUI, at 2 am backing up into a police car following her out of the Research Park, driving a number of blocks without pulling over and, even an hour and a half later, a blood alcohol of 0.22 — 0.08 is the limit.  See http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2016-08-04/update-research-park-director-arrested-dui-hit-squad-car.html

She made the front page of the News-Gazette, and certainly not in a way she’d have wanted.  More to the point the comments about her hideous attraction to destroying people whenever she could were plentiful, and I think leave open a real question about how that behavior was ever tolerated by UIUC.

I could go on about that, I could go on about what horrible damage she’s done to me and to the lives of many many others.  But I won’t, because I think the most appropriate sentiment is compassion, something I don’t believe Ms. Frerichs has ever shown to anyone else.

Compassion.  This woman has a small child, and would appear to have a serious substance abuse problem, if the facts of the DUI are any indication.  I hope that she’ll seek and get help, I hope she’ll seek and get support, and I hope she’ll come through the experience healed and, perhaps, a little bit aware of the existence of others and of the benefits of being decent to people rather than of trying to destroy them.

I don’t pray, but I wish Ms. Frerichs the best for her recovery from this incident, and from all that probably lies behind it.

We Love You … But Don’t Call or Write or Bother us.




Dear UIUC President Killeen and UIUC Chancellor Wilson:

I’ve had enough of the refusal of UIUC to take *immediate* action on the discrimination scandal at UIUC’s Facilities & Services (F&S).  As you both know full well, this scandal involves *at least* 7 and probably 30 black employees at F&S who over the last number of years have been discriminated against, in the case of one former employee by assignment to a 95 degree basement with dangling asbestos, black mold and vermin.  And in the case of last Thursday, the black employee who had a noose thrown on his desk by his white co-worker.

UIUC has been “investigating” this scandal for at least the last 18 months; it was investigating while Phyllis Wise was still Chancellor, and it looks as if it will still be investigating when the new Chancellor takes office, whenever that might be.

Both of you and many other top UIUC administrators know perfectly well what’s going on; some of the black individuals victimized met with Wise’s senior staff, and senior administrators –including *both* of you — have been told what’s going on, over and over and over and over again.


I realize that both you, President Killeen, and you, Chancellor Wilson, have been trying to do something about this hideous situation, but *it isn’t enough.*  With great power comes great responsibility, and you both have great power and a responsibility to exercise that power to put a stop to vicious discrimination that’s not just occurred in the past, but that is occurring now, on apparently a daily basis at F&S.

I have no illusions that being President or Chancellor is an easy job, especially given the nonexistence of a state budget.  But no amount of understanding for the difficulty of your positions allows me to cognize how you could let the F&S pustule continue unpunctured.

A black employee in a basement with dangling asbestos, and denial by UIUC for months, coupled with an insulting offer from UIUC legal to make it go away?  Daily stories of abuses at F&S, 7 EEOC complaints, how many ODEA complaints?  You both knew, I realize it isn’t trivial to put a stop to it but … what are you waiting for?  A noose last week isn’t enough?  Do you need a lynching before you do something?

I have the misfortune of being too intimately involved in this, I hear daily reports of the toxicity of the F&S work environment; and, perhaps more to the point I hear (over and over) the humiliation and pain and anger of the long-term black employees of UIUC that *nothing of any substance is being done by the two of you to stop this.*

I think both of you care; I think both of you mean well; I think both of you are trying.  But I don’t think you’re doing what you were appointed to do: be leaders.  Take command, step up to the plate.

Put a stop to this, *now*.  Then we can convene a public discussion on why the UIUC community has been willing to tolerate this, why you two felt unable to take immediate action.  How this happened, and how to make sure it never happens again.

But I’ve had it with talk.  I’ve had it with “internal investigations.”  I’ve had it with surveys internal to F&S to find out if there’s a problem.

There’s a problem.  If you didn’t know that when you had a 30 year employee in a 95 degree basement, presumably you learned it last week when the noose incident struck.

Please, President Killeen, please, Chancellor Wilson.  With great power comes great responsibility.  Step up to the plate.  Now.

Andrew Scheinman

What Barbara Wilson Knew

When Barbara Wilson was appointed interim Chancellor of UIUC there were circling questions of what involvement she’d had in the Salaita Affair, if any.  No particular documents were forthcoming from UIUC, although (as I recall and am in the process of tracing down) various FOIAed documents showed she was copied on back-and-forth between then-Chancellor Wise and University Counsel Scott Rice and others that was presumably legal strategizing about Salaita, since everything in those emails but the recipients had been blacked out as, presumably, privileged Lawyer-client communications.

9 months ago I filed FOIA with UIUC to get Wilson’s sent emails during Salaita week (July 21 – 25, 2014) and for the next week or so thereafter.  Now, after a 9 month delay I’ve gotten the first tranche of emails, from July 21 to July 23.  And sure enough, there’s direct evidence Wilson knew about Salaita from day 0 (July 21), evidence that was never released in any of the preceding 20-odd FOIAs on Salaita:



Here are the .pdfs of the excerpts from that FOIA with the full set of those Salaita-relevant emails: 15-478_OCR_WILSON1 and 15-478_OCR_WILSON2 … note that I have to go back through the several thousand pages of previous disclosures (including the ones Wise and cronies sent on personal accounts with the specific intent of avoiding FOIA, according to Wise as per Robin Kaler’s advice) to reconstruct as much of the Wilson story as those FOIAed documents allow.

Where does this leave us?  Two possibilities: 1) we can be over-the-top angry that Wilson was heavily involved and that no one ever thought it would be important to let that out to the public as part of the process of “restoring trust” in UIUC administration by making Wilson interim Chancellor.  Alternately, we can 2) say we don’t know at this point that Wilson did anything terrible, but that the fact she was much more involved than broadcast is detestable when coupled with the fact that apparently UIUC hid emails from Wilson for 9 months.

Since I believe in “civility” I’ll pick #2, and express outrage not at what Wilson may or may not have done (which we don’t yet know) but at the fact that the public has once again been snookered by UIUC, which yet again has hidden emails that should have been disclosed long ago.


On that note, here’s another revelation: apparently last fall UIUC produced the 8,000-10,000 pages of emails that Salaita had sought under FOIA and that required intervention by the Illinois courts to force UIUC to produce.  As you’ll recall, in the suit brought by Salaita UIUC’s lawyers claimed there was no real public interest in Salaita, and that it was just rubbernecking akin to interest in Kim Kardashian.  While the “Kim Kardashian defense” hasn’t made it into the annals of legal history along with the twinkie defense, it stands out as tin-eared lawyering, the tune being sung to the sum of (as I recall) $100,000 in lawyers fees for that brilliant losing argument.

I’ve been waiting to see those documents for the 8 or 9 months since UIUC lost in court; it turns out they were indeed produced last fall, but only to Salaita’s lawyers, and not to the general public.  There was no legal obligation for UIUC to provide that information to the taxpayers that underwrite UIUC, but still, you’d have thought that after being blown out of the water on the stupid argument that the public didn’t care about Salaita, UIUC would have concluded that the documents should have been released publicly regardless of what UIUC could get away with in terms of sitting on them.

I’ve now filed FOIA to obtain those 8,000-10,000 pages of documents.  I fully expect UIUC to delay production to me by months if not years; even if I’m pleasantly surprised in that regard, I also expect that virtually everything will be blacked out.

We’ll see.  The point is that UIUC was never forthcoming about the Salaita Affair, and now after spending about $2M on the settlement and lawyers fees, continues to hide information that it was legally obligated to provide.

So much for “shared governance.”


Good Thing Ms. Ethics is Developing the Curriculum for Doctors at Carle

As I recall the university spent at least 100K to argue that the Salaita FOIA filings for 10,000 emails shouldn’t go forward because the public interest in those emails was “no more than the interest in the Kardashians,” or some such lawyer-induced brilliant argument.

As I recall from FOIA law, the loser in a FOIA suit has to pay the winner’s legal fees, so that would mean UI not only paid the 100K to its own lawyers but also the costs for Salaita’s Chicago counsel in that FOIA suit, that’s NOT the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), but rather Loevy and Loevy, so more $$$$$$ for UIUC to pay.

As far as that 1.2M UIUC spent on its own lawyers, query how much went to pursuing the INTERNAL ethics investigation by those expensive Chicago lawyers when they had to investigate Wise’s hiding/shredding emails.  That wasn’t $ wasted on the Salaita case — that was $ wasted on Wise and co.’s hideous malfeasance.

Oh, but she didn’t know you had to produce personal emails.  And yet when you go through the old emails there are plenty that expressly say that all emails regarding university business are subject to FOIA.

Good thing that Wise has moved on to developing curriculum for doctors … it’s not as if THEY have high standards of ethics to uphold?

(letter to the News-Gazette, see Ms. Ethics)

Dear News-Gazette/Jim Dey

Mr. Dey:

If you’re concerned about money, why not focus on the $1.3 MILLION the UI paid its OWN lawyers in the Salaita case.  You might think most of this money was spent because of SALAITA, but the truth is that a lot was spent for UIUC’s outside lawyers to 1) conduct an ethics review of Wise’s hiding documents, and 2) to play damage control to the Federal Court in the Salaita case as a DIRECT result of that document-hiding.

Consider the “ethics review” that we know UIUC had conducted about Wise’s using personal emails to avoid FOIAs, and about her statements that she was destroying emails, at least those relating to the FOIAs on the medical center.  Who conducted this ethics review that we’ve never seen?  If it was done internally, it would be a HUGE conflict of interest, since UIUC’s own attorneys (Scott Rice) knew that Wise was using emails.

So let’s assume the review was done by high-costing external counsel.  HOW MUCH MONEY WAS SPENT?  100K?  200K?  More?  Why not use your extensive journalist chops and find out.

To that point, consider the second thing, that outside counsel DEFINATELY had to spend lots of time and $ covering UIUC’s butts and their own about what were distortions to the Federal court about documents.  In litigation both sides have to produce document lists and the documents themselves, at least documents to the court.  UIUC certainly claimed there was no evidence of document destruction, when in fact Wise had written she was absolutely destroying medical-center-related documents.  How much did it cost for those high-priced Chicago lawyers to go back through everything they’d been told by UIUC to figure out what they’d NOT been told, and what they told the court that wasn’t true?

Given that the state’s in a budget crisis and students and taxpayers are being crushed even more to pay for college, don’t you think your wind would be better spent investigating the DIRECT COSTS of Wise and other top adminstrators breaking laws?

(from Salaita Brought a Chasm to Campus)

As We Wait …

Dear News-Gazette:

It will likely be a miracle to rival the parting of the red sea if UIUC actually releases any of the details of the Salaita affair, or the ethics report(s) around Wise’s misconduct and those of her cronies.  As someone said above, given that they’re apparently printing money at the admin building, it’s clear that they’ll be more than happy to spend whatever it takes to bury the facts, on the theory that the best way to learn from this tragedy is to conceal, dissemble, and run like heck from the truth.

Oh well.  The other question is how much respect do we appropriately have for Salaita if he settles without there being some truth-telling.  On the one hand, he has kids to take care of, and I think any parent would understand that children run on money as well as love.  Also I’m sure the controversy hasn’t been especially good for his health — I know there are many who think he’s a publicity hound, but his talk at the IMC a few weeks ago was chock-full of shyness and missed opportunties to bang the drum everyone seems to think he likes to whack.

But if Salaita really does believe in speaking truth to power, what do we think of him if his settlement involves the continued supression of the truth?  He’s in an incredible position, in that his lawyers are as far as I know basically working for free — the Center for Consitutional Rights (CCR) took his case as part of their own agenda of (in a rosy view) supporting dissident voices (especially Palestinan ones) and (in my pessimists view) of creating a story about “the Joos” acting in concerted fashion to suppress those dissident voices.  So he could continue to push the issue, and goodness knows there’s more than a little there to pursue: destroying documents, pretending they didn’t know personal emails were subject to FOIA, one little conspiracy after another, utter disregard for university procedure, policy, or the law …

I have the bad feeling the only thing we *might* get in the way of “disclosure” is the 10,000 emails (you know, Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, central Illinois is the land of 10,000 emails).  But even that’s not sure, it’s been 6 months and counting.

And of course, even if UIUC does release those emails, you can bet they’ll be a sea of mostly blacked out text, especially since, with Salaita’s settling, who’s going to push back to get the blacking out removed?

(Comment on Salaita Settlement)

Salaita in Urbana

Steven Salaita spoke at the Independent Media Center (IMC) in Urbana on the night of  Tuesday the 13th to a crowd of at least 200 people.

No fireworks.  In fact the conversation was so academic it was hard to listen to the man and believe he incurred (and continues to incur) such controversy.  Appearances may be deceiving, and ongoing litigation may be an inhibitor of more emphatic statements, but I and, I think, many in the audience, were by and large left wondering what the fuss was all about.

Of course the deeper picture is exactly that the fuss was manufactured, but by whom and for what reasons we still don’t know, however many months we are into the multi-million dollar litigation, however many months we are into UIUC’s nonproduction of the Salaita documents they were required under court-order to produce.  However many months we are into a continued stream of grotesque examples of deceit and indifference to the community and the law by UIUC top administrators and staff.


Listening to Salaita I kept waiting for the bomb to drop, and kept hearing no bomb’s boom.  Again it’s tempting to think he’s tight-lipped because of litigation; but, having read far too many of the Salaita emails, and having spent far too much time already on analysis, I’m really pretty convinced he knows as little as the rest of us.

I should say that I’m not giving Salaita a pass on his own actions, some of which were certainly at least intemperate; also I’m not judging his dangerousness (or lack thereof) in terms of his larger statements about BDS, Israel, and etc.   Salaita may well be intemperate, unqualified, and dangerous … but none of those characteristics were at all in evidence on Tuesday; instead Salaita came across as a pretty academic guy, spouting pretty academic talk.

Those reverberations of the academy extended to his interlocutor, Robert Warrior, as well as to the sponsor of the event, the Campus Faculty Association (CFA).  Considering the media coverage and the crowd this could easily have been a watershed moment for outrage and organizing; instead, it played far more into that whole “civility” think that (former) Chancellor Wise has recommended to the community as the way to live one’s life.

Was that purposeful?  Perhaps, but I think the likelier truth is that reports of organizing and hot-headeness have been wildly exaggerated. The fuss was manufactured, and the fuss about the fuss has been overblown – at least as it applies to Salaita and his supporters. However unreasonable and untrustworthy they may be, they’re not nearly as calculating as they’ve been made out.


The Tuesday talk leaves me wondering what comes next.  More dispiriting revelations no doubt — I wonder if anyone in the UIUC administration realizes how destructive that festering of undisclosed truths is? Listening to Salaita and reading the (to date revealed) emails I’m left with this great sense of the overall stupidity and incompetence of everyone involved; but the longer there’s no openness on UIUC’s part about what went on, and no calls to accounting, the more that sense of dismay at the bungling turns to justifiable anger and outrage.

And that’s hardly surprising since the larger context for the Salaita Affair is the duty of a university to act with openness, a bedrock principle of the academy.  Honestly it’s amusing to hear people claim that universities are drawn to secrecy on the corporate model of non-disclosure, since that corporate model is largely discredited, albeit still too prevalent.  Many corporations have figured out that it’s altogether better not to dissemble at all rather than to be caught in the lies later on.  Not all by any means, but enough that no university can claim with a straight face that they’re only doing what’s standard practice for corporations.

And if UIUC thought they were following a corporate playbook here or, worse, if they continue to think they can just claim that “ongoing litigation” precludes full-discussion and truthfulness … then Salaita will have far more consequence than he ever intended, or the university ever wanted to happen.

And that might be a good thing, at least if it brings about change.

(Note I’d sent this to Academblog in case they wanted to put it up.  They didn’t, so I’m putting it up here.  It may or my not be my finest work (I make no claims to it being so), but I thought it worth noting that reports of Salaita’s incendiary nature have been greatly exaggerated, at least if that talk was any indicator.)

A Touch of Evil

I’ve held off writing up until now because I’d hoped to see real progress in UIUC engaging in house-cleaning.  Alas, such house-cleaning clearly hasn’t occurred.  Wise is gone (as Chancellor anyway), as is Adesida (as Provost), but my opinion is that neither Wise nor Adesida were the only people who should have been brought to accounting — they were merely two visible outcroppings of a corrupted culture, and what they did (to the extent that we know it now) was encouraged and enabled at every turn by others in the UIUC administration and faculty.

Case in point: Robin Kaler, spokesperson for UIUC.  I knew her from her emails, but hadn’t met her in person until yesterday afternoon when I attended an AAUP presentation at UIUC on the censure and on background checks.  One of the faculty members in the audience brought up the question of why the people who seemingly knowingly avoided FOIA hadn’t been brought to account — I noted that Wise had written in her email that Kaler had told her something like “private emails aren’t subject to FOIA” or something to that effect (I don’t have the quote from the supplemental emails before me at present).

Kaler was in the audience and responded that she hadn’t told Wise that; I said “yes, you did,” she said, “no, I didn’t.” and we went back and forth like that for a few minutes until I asked her what she’d said, and she said something like “I told Wise that all emails could be subject to FOIA” — again, my recollection should be mostly right.

Then I got it — Kaler was saying that Wise’s written statement about what she’d heard from Kaler — presumably shortly after she heard it — was wrong.  Wise got it wrong, misunderstood Kaler.  Of course you’d think this a bit surprising considering that Chancellors of universities are usually pretty sharp about what they hear, and also considering that Kaler’s claimed statement was never committed to paper, so we just have to trust her on what she says she said, don’t we.

I’m many things, but a good liar isn’t within my talent-set, and it took me a good long time to realize that it seems Kaler possesses that particular talent in spades.  And why not lie?  Why not claim you made a statement that no one can contest your having made because you never wrote it down, and you can argue than anyone who did write it down (like the Chancellor of UIUC) no matter how close to when you said it (likely very close) got the statement wrong.

Brilliant.  And evil.  Assuming Kaler’s lying (I believe she is, but I suppose we don’t know the truth at this point), isn’t that just a perfect example of the indifference she and all the others in this sorry sordid affair took (and take) to being open?  Or is it just so much simpler to not say anything at all when you have power? To not be honest when you don’t have to be because you live in a consequence-free bubble.


And that brings me to my current lament, which is that we’re now more-or-less two months post Wise/Adesida, and 4 or 5 months post court decision requiring the disclosure of the 10,000 Salaita emails, and yet we’re still no closer to having been given any real information by UIUC, much less seeing any mea culpas or self-examination by the folks in the Swanlund building.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; but even so, I’m still disgusted.  What do you suppose it will take for one or more of these people to realize that truth-telling isn’t a liability, and that “the corporate model” they claim to be emulating isn’t actually based on a surplus of lies?

BTW, here’s the latest FOIA of Burbules — it’s large, c. 27mb.  I find his conversations with Jorge Villegas (Business Admin, UI Springfield) about the medical school yet more evidence of how wrapped up in the medical school all these people were at the time Salaita was happening.  Once again it reinforces my conclusion that Wise wouldn’t have cared in the least about Salaita had he happened at a different time.  And it also makes me wonder even more why Burbules was this busy pushing the medical school.  Pure sycophancy?

FOIA _15-500-503

The Canary in the (UIUC) Coalmine.

Canaries were used by coalminers to detect poisonous gases, typically carbon monoxide, as the little birdies were (and are) far more sensitive to such things than humans.  What’s apparently called an “animal sentinel.”

Well.  I’ve said since the Salaita affair struck over a year ago that the whole thing was largely underlaid by the push for the UIUC College of Medicine — the COM.  At the time too many were too focused on Jewish influence (and probably too many still are), but, as these “supplemental” emails from UIUC now begin to show, my animal sentinel instincts were right all along — it’s the COM, stupid.

We’re only in the beginning of this unfolding nightmare, with only more damage to come for everyone and everything involved, the UIUC management, the sycophant professors, the new-speaking functionaries,1 the good reputation of UIUC, the outlook of the students,2 etc. etc.  And while I hardly think I’m the only person to have seen early signs of the oncoming storm, I do want to get something out there — I warned numerous people in the university of what was likely coming two years ago.

This is a story I’ve been revealing bits and pieces of in earlier posts: the Research Park, the nepotism there, the unbelievable concentration of power in Laura Frerichs, the head of the Research Park, and how I saw that concentration of power as dangerous — and how I suffered for trying to communicate my concerns to UIUC management — Chancellor Wise included.

The time has clearly come to talk about this more — about Frerichs and how she works at least partially for Peter Fox, the billionaire developer who built the Research Park, who seems to want to build the COM (when something’s built), and who is apparently legendary for engaging in scorched-earth maneuvers to get what he wants.  The time has come to talk about how Frerichs, Fox, and a bunch of other powerful monied locals served as the special advisory group to Wise on building the COM3–  and how they operated in even more secrecy than I’d thought, not only leaving out any community representation, but probably using personal emails for most of their important remote discussions.4

So let me start this process of telling more with my attempt to communicate with Carol Kraus Lauffer, the woman Laura Frerichs brought in (for $35K as I recall) to opine favorably on the building of the COM.  I found out that Kraus Lauffer was interviewing people in CU for her “cluster report,” tried to talk to her, and was unable to do so.

Fine.  Not a problem.  So then I wrote her the following letter … Frerich’s response to her about what to do about what I’d written was heavily redacted by UIUC-FOIA, and my appeal of those redactions is still on appeal to the Illinois AG’s office, which I believe is doing its best to suppress any responses to my appeals.5

Here’s the email:

the_canaryBoy, in retrospect that looks … prophetic …

  1. Robin Kahler, for her statement to the News-Gazette, “I said the same thing I say to everyone: ‘If you don’t want to see it in the paper, don’t put it in an email.'”  See News Gazette 8/16/15 []
  2. Who now apparently must be told that “while plagiarism is bad and unethical, avoiding FOIA ‘because you are doing it for the U’ is good.” []
  3. As I wrote in January of this year, these people were/are:

    1. Phyl­lis Wise — Chan­cel­lor of UIUC;
    2. Ile­sanmi Adesida — Vice Chan­cel­lor for Aca­d­e­mic Affairs and Provost,UIUC;
    3. Dan‎ Peterson — Vice Chan­cel­lor, Insti­tu­tional Advance­ment, Senior Vice Pres­i­dent, UI Foundation;
    4. Michael DeLorenzo — Asso­ciate Chan­cel­lor, UIUC;
    5. Pradeep Khanna — Asso­ciate Chan­cel­lor for Cor­po­rate and Inter­na­tional Rela­tions, UIUC;
    6. Laura Frerichs — UIUC Research Park Direc­tor, UIUC Direc­tor of Eco­nomic Development;
    7. Peter Fox — “Peter B. Fox is the Founder of Fox Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (FDC), a real estate devel­op­ment firm which devel­ops, man­ages, and leases approx­i­mately 1.5 mil­lion square feet of office and retail space in Cham­paign, Illi­nois”;
    8. Jim Leonard — Pres­i­dent & CEO, Carle Foun­da­tion Hospital;
    9. Greg Lykins – Chair­man of First Busey and a direc­tor of Busey Bank and Busey Wealth Man­age­ment, Inc; and,
    10. Rick Stephens, founder, Hori­zon Hobby.

    See my January 2015 post — Big Guns []

  4. The “supplemental” emails on the COM are the barest brushing away of the thick layers of obscurants, since UIUC warrants only that these emails were “relevant to the COM,” not how they picked them or what else is out there that was on personal emails and involved university business. []
  5. I have various bits of evidence of this. []

A Professor at UIUC Law School Enters The Fray — Ethical Behavior?

I apologize for the absence of text in the last few posts, obviously there’s a lot going on to keep me busy.  I know ex-Chancellor Wise thinks I’m “clearly crazy with nothing better to do with my time,” but in fact I’ve been working on advanced patent-searching software, software that I wanted to take to the UIUC Research Park for their help but, when I tried to join the “CEO Roundtable” there I was told by Laura Frerichs that I couldn’t because I was, “merely a service provider” or something like that.

But I digress.  Here’s the most recent query: