Enough concerned citizens apparently have contacted UAB about my termination that President Carol Garrison ordered her PR machine into the fray.
Garrison might have been better served by leaving her clunky PR apparatus parked in the garage.
How did Garrison decide to deal with the heat she was receiving? Why, by making false and defamatory statements about the very employee her institution had wrongfully terminated.
You would think that someone with the letters "Ph.D." after her name would be smarter than that. You would think that someone with a background in nursing would have more sensitivity than that.
You would be wrong.
Garrison, of course, could not lower herself to trash me herself. So she assigned that duty to her PR hatchetman, Gary Mans.
A number of folks who had contacted UAB about my termination received canned replies late last week. Several of those folks were kind enough to share the responses with me.
Here is UAB's official reply from Gary Mans, speaking on Carol Garrison's behalf:
President Garrison asked that I respond to you. Contrary to Mr. Shuler's statements, his termination had nothing to do with politics or any conspiracy, and the university has not been contacted by any public official or representative of such about this matter. Mr. Shuler was dismissed based solely on his work performance. Because this is a personnel matter, we cannot comment further.
Gary Mans, Director
UAB Public Relations
For good measure, Mans went to the trouble of posting his reply as a comment to the Chronicle of Higher Education article about my termination. You can check out Mans' handiwork here. His comment is No. 16. The commenter at No. 17 promptly ripped Mans a new one. Excellent work by the Chronicle crowd. They don't suffer fools gladly.
Is Gary Mans careless, clueless, or spineless--or perhaps a little of all three. Is Carol Garrison in way over her head as the president of one of the top biomedical research institutions in the country? Does Carol Garrison allow herself to be pushed around by public officials of a certain political stripe? And does Carol Garrison let herself be pushed around by certain members of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, who "manage" the UAB campus.
Let's examine the Garrison/Mans reply in some detail.
They say I was "dismissed based solely on [my] work performance."
Isn't that interesting? UAB's own employee grievance committee, which spent three-plus hours going over the details of my case, determined that I should not have been terminated at all.
As we reported here last Thursday, the grievance committee found that I was wrongfully terminated. We even presented the following written statement from Cheryl Locke, UAB's director of human resources: "The committee recommended that you be reinstated."
So Garrison/Mans say I was dismissed based solely on my work performance. A UAB grievance committee, which Garrison and Mans should be familiar with, says I should not have been terminated at all.
Bottom line? Garrison and Mans have gone out of their collective way to make a false statement that has damaged my reputation. And they have made sure it was distributed to numerous third parties. That's a serious civil wrong. A malicious civil wrong, I would say.
But that might be the least of UAB's problems. If my termination was the result of a conspiracy to commit fraud, and I will present evidence that it was, UAB personnel appear to be furthering that fraudulent scheme by use of the federal wires (sending messages via computer). That's dancing real close to federal-crime territory.
Of course, with a loyal Bushie such as Alice Martin serving as our area's U.S. attorney, no one at UAB has anything to worry about--for now. And given that Martin almost certainly played a role in getting me fired, UAB types probably are acting as her compliant compadres.
But if there is a God in heaven, Alice Martin will be out of office come early 2009. And given that she is being investigated by several federal entities, Ms. Martin might have some serious legal headaches of her own down the road.
UAB could be left with a real U.S. attorney, someone who might be interested in their actions regarding my termination--and a number of other interesting activities on the Southside over the past 10 years or so. Said U.S. attorney also might be interested in some interesting business activities involving one or two members of the University of Alabama Boad of Trustees.
Speaking of strange stuff on the Southside, here is something to chew on--straight from public records. UAB pays Gary Mans, its public-relations guru, $99,999.96 a year. The university pays his immediate superior, associate vice president Dale Turnbough, $200,000.40 a year. What does UAB pay one of its top history professors? Try $82,800. What does UAB pay one of its top English professors? Try $78,710.
Does UAB have its priorities in order or what? It pays two PR flacks a combined $300,000-plus a year. And yet highly accomplished professors of history and English, people with doctoral degrees and years of classroom and research experience, make barely half that, combined.
What does UAB get from its high-paid PR flacks? Well, we've already shown you Gary Mans' handiwork above. What about Dale Turnbough? Consider this paragraph from the Raw Story article about my firing:
When asked whether Shuler was fired for blogging, Turnbough wrote in an e-mail, "No, as I said before, that is inaccurate, but we cannot comment further on this personnel matter." (Sounds like Garrison and Mans didn't have any problem commenting further!)
How inept has UAB been in handling this situation? Gary Mans' office is on the 13th floor of the UAB Administration Building. Cheryl Locke's office is on the second floor of the same building. If you time the elevators right, you can get from Mans' office to Locke's office in under a minute. And yet, Mans could not be bothered to check with Locke before issuing a public statement regarding my firing--one that directly contradicts what Locke had already said.
And we mentioned spine earlier. If Carol Garrison insisted on making this statement regarding "work performance," wouldn't you think Mans might say something like, "You know, I don't think it's a good idea to say anything about his work performance, particularly when you consider that Dale Turnbough already has said we can't comment on a personnel matter?"
Of course, it would require some spine to say that to the president of the university. And I guess you have to pay more than $100,000 a year to get a PR guy with a spine.
So we have Gary Mans saying my termination had nothing to do with politics. And we have Dale Turnbough saying my termination had nothing to do with blogging.
Well, I have some evidence that suggests they are both wrong.
That is coming up next.