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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New UAB President Ray Watts Must Confront Moral Decay That His Predecessors Allowed to Flourish

Ray Watts

Dr. Ray Watts officially was named president last week of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), the largest employer in our state and the No. 1 driver of economic activity in the metro area. Watts had been dean of the UAB School of Medicine before taking over for Carol Garrison, who abruptly and mysteriously resigned last August.

What challenges does Watts face in his new role? As a former UAB employee, with almost 20 years of service, I have a few thoughts on that question. And I decided to share them in an open letter to the school's new chief executive.

February 12, 2013 
Dear Dr. Watts: 
I used to think being president of UAB would be a pretty cool job. I became an admirer of the university quickly after moving to Birmingham from Missouri in 1978. I covered the early years of the Blazers athletics program under Gene Bartow for the now-defunct Birmingham Post-Herald and went on to work at the university in a variety of editorial position for almost 20 years. My employment came to an end in May 2008 when I was unlawfully terminated from my job by various forces under your predecessor, Carol Garrison. 
That experience taught me a number of inconvenient truths about UAB that I wish I had never known. And it's why I do not envy you in the task that lies ahead. 
The cold truth is that Garrison's reign was not just unpleasant for me; it was an unmitigated disaster for UAB as a whole. I chronicled some of the malfeasance and incompetence that took place on her watch in a post titled "UAB Dysfunction Doesn't Happen in a Vacuum." 
Perhaps Garrison's greatest failing was that she allowed a culture of fraud to take over the campus. The place is riddled with liars, cheats, and other bad actors. I submit that your No. 1 task will be to root out moral decay and restore a sense of integrity on the Southside. 
Am I overstating the problem? Well, consider a couple of examples from my own experience. 
Evidence at my grievance hearing showed there were no grounds for discipline of any kind, much less immediate termination. In fact, UAB's own committee found I should not have been terminated. But Garrison upheld the termination anyway. Indisputable evidence shows I was fired not because of any misconduct or performance issues on my part, but because I was reporting on this blog (on my own time, with my own resources) about the political prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman--and that apparently was a hot topic that was not to be publicly discussed, even though I had a First Amendment right to do so. 
Am I imagining all of this? Not in the least. A UAB human-resources official admitted to me in a tape-recorded phone conversation that I was targeted because of my reporting on the Siegelman case. You can hear the conversation in a video at the end of this post. 
Here is where we get to moral decay, and it's apparent in an employment lawsuit I filed against the UA Board of Trustees and various individuals at UAB: The same woman who admitted I was targeted because of the reporting on the Siegelman case, denied in an affidavit that I was terminated because of my blog. At least four other UAB employees who had reason to know the truth made similar untruthful statements under oath. As I'm sure you know, their actions amount to perjury, which is a felony. 
The ugliness does not end there. William M. Acker Jr., an 85-year-old federal judge in Birmingham, granted summary judgment without giving me an opportunity to conduct discovery. That cannot be done under the law, and everyone with three days of law school knows it. How gross is Acker's misconduct? It would be the equivalent of a doctor giving a patient strychnine instead of aspirin. 
But why should this concern you? Individuals in the UAB Office of Counsel, led by John Daniel and Lisa Huggins, have to know that Acker ruled unlawfully in a way that benefits the university. In fact, a strong argument can be made that Acker engaged in criminal conduct, and this is spelled out at 18 U.S.C. 242 ("Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law") and a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court case styled United States v. Lanier
Did Daniel and Huggins knowingly engage in a conspiracy to violate Section 242 on UAB's behalf? If so, they and the university could have serious problems on their hands.
If you are like most medical folks I've met at UAB, your primary concerns center around biomedical research funding and revenue from patient care. But you have inherited a situation that involves criminal conduct on the part of UAB personnel, and you would be wise not to ignore it. 
Carol Garrison was like a lax parent who allowed 5 year olds to play with matches. You didn't create this situation, but it's your responsibility now. If you don't handle it properly, you might find flames--and the law--licking at your heels. 
UAB desperately needs new leadership. Garrison was preceded by two other failed presidents--W. Ann Reynolds and J. Claude Bennett. That means UAB has been running in place, at best, for more than 15 years. 
You clearly are a man of strong scientific credentials. But your presidency probably will be judged by your ability to restore integrity to UAB. Consider this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: 
"Unless a man is honest we have no right to keep him in public life; it matters not how brilliant his capacity; it hardly matters how great his power of doing good service on certain lines may be. . . . No man who is corrupt, no man who condones corruption in others, can possibly do his duty by the community.
I hope you will take those words to heart. I also hope you will prove to be the president that gets UAB back on the right track.


Roger Shuler (aka "Legal Schnauzer")

Here is direct evidence of the moral decay that has become rampant at UAB:


Anonymous said...

Is the new UAB President Watts a Democrat or Republican?

Does seem to matter when the four year time frame for the cycle of criminals in control, in these years of America's "globalism" to ascertain our "Empire's Collapse," it is genuinely critical UAB is intentional collapse ? ....

"... Senate Democrats have drafted a measure to largely eliminate the cuts in the Pentagon budget, reducing it by only $3 billion a year instead of the planned reduction of more than 15 times that amount....

We People know the public in a U.S. Constitutional Republic are not being taught at the UAB our "Bill of Rights,"

your case in point, Roger Shuler.

Anonymous said...

I hate to be a thump on your bumper here LS, but it is all in your good book, so best read the B-I-B-L-E.

Examples are:

Genesis 10:14;
cf. 1 Chronicles 1:11-12

Think we've progressed? The new UAB boss is better than Carol Garrison?

Until America addresses the hidden REAL GOVERNMENT [B-I-B-L-E], we are a doomed Philistine reality.

Same story over and over again with modern stage props.

Study your good book and then look at how all the global news, media, information, riddles in America's linked URLs here in technology's prison of no new real thought(s) or idea(s)....

Chained in memories of historical bondage to the past and never to be a genuine future progressing into non-Biblical, not as of the year 2013.

The South is about as Bible thumping as any place in earth. What Bible book is being used as the good thump is the question.

There were and are human people who are nothing but, factions of other cultures forced or falsely brought here and who do NOT consider America other than a place to be as a faction in one form or another. Tragically this is the majority or we would not be a fractured, splintered, broken conglomerate of factions.

The B-I-B-L-E is used by a certain faction to control factions for certain as many as can be in earth.


You Mr. Modern Journalist have a job alright, and maybe a new bible can be written for the south?

A good book to assist in how the world really looks when looking at the whole reality.

Run a drive for funding for this great work, the world is ready.

Spasmoda said...

I'm going to be interested to see what kind of ethics Dr. Watts has. Will he sweep the Garrison stuff under the carpet or really try to root it out?

Anonymous said...

I can say with certainty that UAB needs a new director of HR. That department is a total mess.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it strange that no one in the MSM ever has tried to interview Carol Garrison about her abrupt exit? Shouldn't that be a story?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:39--

It certainly should be a story. I'm not sure Garrison would submit to an interview. She rarely did when she was president.

Anonymous said...

Interesting information about Judge Acker and that criminal statute. I had never heard of that.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:50--

I'm going to be researching that subject and writing more on it. Judges generally are immune from lawsuits for their official acts. But they are not immune from criminal sanctions, and there is no question Acker violated Sec. 242--and he probably had conspirators in the process. Getting a U.S. attorney to push the case would be hard, but there is no doubt Acker is a criminal--and so are a bunch of other state and federal judges in Alabama.

Anonymous said...

Ray Watts will do whatever Robert Witt wants him to do. And Witt is Paul Bryant Jr.'s bee-atch.

Anonymous said...

LS, Acker screwed you on discovery because he knew Garrison could not hold up under questioning. The HR woman who admitted to you that you were fired because of your Siegelman reporting also wouldn't have held up.

I don't think there is any question that Acker violated Sec. 242, and he probably violated other statutes as well.

Anonymous said...

I work at UAB, and I can tell you that people on the medical side of campus are thrilled to be rid of Garrison. They also hold Ray Watts in high regard. I think this is a step forward.

Anonymous said...

4 Bama football players arrested for credit card fraud and robbery! Why would they do that? Looks like they are alleged to have assaulted 2 students. Did they think they would get away with it? Do they need better role models in the bible beating neocon state of Alabama?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 1:52--

You raise good points. Paul Bryant Jr., the president of the UA Board of Trustees, has documented ties to a $15-million insurance fraud scheme. If a guy like that leads the university, perhaps we should expect football players to misbehave.

Bo said...

I wonder if research fraud still is going on at UAB. I find it hard to believe that Carol Garrison ever cleaned that up.

Is Ray Watts part of the problem or part of the solution?

Anonymous said...

What's the word on that horrible Shirley Kahn? I heard that she interviewed for the position and thought that she was a shoe in for it. I hope he roots her out, along with her cronies.

legalschnauzer said...

It would be interesting to know who all put their names in the hat for the job. If Shirley Kahn thinks she's qualified to be president of UAB . . . well, that's a level of delusion that is hard to grasp.

Dale Turnbough (Public Relations & Marketing) and Becky Watson (Alumni Affairs) are two of Kahn's underlings who need to be rooted out, for sure.

Richard Margison, VP of Finance/Admin, also needs to go. HR answers to him, and on that basis alone, his incompetence long has been proven.

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing Ray Watts is a no-nonsense guy who is well aware that Carol Garrison ran a leaky ship. Look for some bad eggs to be hitting the exits at UAB.

Anonymous said...

Didn't UAB used to be a good place to work? What happened?

legalschnauzer said...

My take? Poor leadership happened--and it's not just with Garrison. Reynolds and Bennett also were failures as president. And Scotty McCallum made some poor decisions that are hurting the institution to this day.

McCallum did a lot of admirable things at UAB, but he made some poor appointments that helped set the chain in motion. Anyone who lived through Ken Roozen's reign of terror knows what I'm talking about. That was McCallum's fault.

James Greek said...

Did you send him the letter?

legalschnauzer said...


Anonymous said...

If Shirley Kahn had more experience on the medical side, she probably would've been appointed. She brown noses those dumb UA board members, and they love her. I worked under her for years, and she's super sweet to everyone's face, then will backstab. Let's hope she's out before she completely wrecks the Alys Stephens Center too.

legalschnauzer said...

My understanding, from very reliable sources, is that Shirley Kahn is known to do more than brown nose with certain board members. She also was known to do more than brown nose with certain UAB administrators as she worked her way up the food chain.

In fact, I know of an eye witness to some of Ms. Kahn's extracurricular activities, which took place in an office on campus, and that will be reported here in an upcoming post.

James Greek said...

Let us know what he says

legalschnauzer said...

I asked him to sit for an interview with me about workplace issues at UAB. Will be interesting to see how he responds to that--or if he responds to anything.

Attorney Recruiter NY said...

Very good post!

Anonymous said...

The Firearchy of uab is like a rotten log full a piss ants floating down the river and everyone of them thinks their driving. More managers than workers.