Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ray Watts' lies about football are just the continuation of a UAB trend under corrupt, Tuscaloosa-based board

Ray Watts
Documents released Monday show that UAB officials knew they were going to dismantle the Blazer football program before the 2014 season even started. UAB President Ray Watts had said on multiple occasions that he made the decision in November, not long before the announcement last December 2. According to a new report from's Kevin Scarbinsky, Watts lied.

Many of Scarbinsky's readers might be aghast that a university president would look into the lenses of television cameras--into the eyes of student-athletes, boosters, and community leaders--and speak words that he knew were not true. But documents presented with Scarbinsky's articles show that is exactly what happened.

None of this surprises me. I've known for a long time that UAB administrators--especially those who are too weak to stand up to the corrupt University of Alabama Board of Trustees--have no problem lying on a monumental scale. That is particularly true since Paul Bryant Jr., who has documented ties to a massive insurance-fraud scheme, became a member of the board in 2000.

In a darkly comic way, Blazer football fans should consider themselves lucky. At least Watts was not under oath when he lied to them. I, on the other hand, was the victim of about a half dozen UAB administrators who made false, written statements other oath. In other words, they committed perjury--and remained silent in the face of a federal judge's rampant unlawful rulings--in order to "win" my First Amendment/discrimination lawsuit.

Is it a coincidence that lying has become almost a varsity sport at UAB since 2000, a sport in which the university's two most recent presidents--Ray Watts and Carol Garrison--should earn all-conference honors? I don't think so. It's the natural fallout from allowing a scoundrel like Bryant to gain power, and I suspect the subterfuge will continue until UAB breaks from the UA board and is controlled by individuals who actually care about the Birmingham campus, its students, and supporters.

It has been widely reported that Bryant was behind the scheme to end UAB football, and I have zero doubt that is true. I also have no doubt that Bryant, or a like-minded member of the board, pushed for my unlawful termination in 2008, after almost 20 years of employment as an editor at UAB.

What was my sin? I was reporting accurately--on my own time, with my own equipment--about the unlawful actions of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller in a prosecution that sent former governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to federal prison for crimes they did not commit--in fact, for "crimes" that do not even exist, under the law.

My reporting came roughly seven years before the nation learned that Fuller had beaten his wife in an Atlanta hotel room, in a rage probably fueled by alcohol and prescription-pill abuse. Fuller now faces possible impeachment proceedings this year, led by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), and that means my reporting was both on target--and way ahead of its time.

As a government employee, my communications on such matters of public concern were protected by the First Amendment. But the U.S. Constitution doesn't mean much to UAB managers, especially when they answer to a board that includes a deceitful thug like Bryant.

So what happened? UAB "leaders" claimed that I was writing my blog at work. When a one-month investigation by a member of their own IT staff showed that wasn't true, it created a slight problem. When their own grievance committee found that I should not have been fired--in fact, the grievance hearing showed there were no documents to support discipline of any kind--they had another problem.

Carol Garrison, UAB's president at the time, decided to solve the problems by going against her own committee to uphold my termination. This was the same Carol Garrison who, during her first year on the job, brought copious amounts of embarrassment to UAB by carrying on an unseemly affair with John Shoemaker (the former president of the University of Tennessee), which involved misuse of public resources.

How did UAB administrators lie under oath? As my federal lawsuit unfolded, six of them submitted sworn affidavits, stating in part, that the termination had nothing to do with my speech via this blog. The perjurious six included Garrison, former human resources director Cheryl E.H. Locke, former associate vice president Dale Turnbough, former publications manager Pam Powell, employee relations director Anita Bonasera, and vice president for advancement Shirley Salloway Kahn.

All six of them stated under oath, in various ways, that speech issues had nothing to do with my termination. (See Motion to Strike Affidavits at the end of this post.) That, however, was not true--and like Kevin Scarbinsky, I have the evidence to prove it.

While on administrative leave, I contacted Bonasera to ask a question about my response to the university's accusations. During the course of the conversation, Bonasera admitted that I was targeted because of blog posts about the Siegelman case, that Pam Powell (my immediate supervisor) went to the IT department to seek digital evidence against me regarding any Siegelman posts. In fact, Bonasera mentioned Siegelman's name twice, and while she tried to backtrack, her overall tone was that my termination was based almost 100 percent on journalism at Legal Schnauzer.

Here is a partial transcript of that conversation: (The whole thing can be heard on the video at the end of this post.)

RS: I told Dale Turnbough about this two weeks ago, and she never said a word about any of this. In fact, she said she was going to take care of it, she assured me absolutely that this had nothing to do with my blog—and then two weeks later I find out it’s all about my blog.

AB: It’s not all about your blog. Your blog was an insignificant piece. . . . The blog . . . was a very small part of the bigger picture. . . . again, related to other non-work related things. I didn’t see those non-work related things. Pam (Powell) sat down with the computer people—and I don’t know who else was there—and they reviewed what was work related and what was non-work related.

RS: And she’s the determiner of that, even though she has told us . . .

AB: She was able to determine what you were working on and whether it was related to your blog . . .

RS: Well, you just said it, it’s all about my blog. You just said that.

AB: That was a piece of it. Some of it was research related to your blog, from my understanding. I understand there were some things about Siegelman, screens up about Don Siegelman, things that they saw you doing that they consider to be research for your blog because then that was topics that you wrote about on your blog.

RS: Those are also news articles that we are supposed to keep up with, about Alabama, stuff in the news.

As you can see, Bonasera commits enough verbal twists and turns to be an Olympic gymnast. She starts by admitting my blog "was a very small part of the bigger picture." (News flash: Firing a government employee for protected speech, even if it's a small part of a "bigger picture," violates the First Amendment.) Bonasera betrays her previous words by stating that Pam Powell checked with computer people to see what I was working on and "whether it was related to your blog." In other words, Powell's trip to the digital experts was all about my blog--and a techie later testified at my grievance hearing that I had never touched a keystroke on my blog while at work.

When I catch Bonasera in her lie--as Kevin Scarbinsky did with Ray Watts--she started to back pedal, claiming the blog was "a piece of it." She then digs her hole even deeper by admitting that Powell was specifically looking for information regarding my reporting on the Siegelman case--and Judge Mark Fuller.

UAB football at Legion Field
Despite this, Bonasera actually had the mangoes to write in her sworn affidavit that she was "not aware that any of Shuler's speech on his blog or elsewhere was related to the decision to terminate Shuler's employment." She even denied telling me I was terminated because of my speech, even though the words above show that is exactly what she said. (See Anita Bonasera affidavit at the end of this post.)

If there is a positive for UAB football fans, I've found that lying university administrators tend to be cowards. In my employment lawsuit, U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr., granted the university summary judgment, even though there had been no discovery in the case. In fact, there wasn't even a discovery schedule, as required by Rule 16(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

This is mind-bogglingly unlawful, the equivalent of baseball umpires letting one team bat while the other team never gets a chance at the plate. Case law, as cited in Snook v. Trust Company of Georgia, 859 F. 2d 865 (11th Circ., 1988), shows that Acker was acting way outside the law. From Snook:

This court has often noted that summary judgment should not be granted until the party opposing the motion has had an adequate opportunity for discovery. . . . The party opposing a motion for summary judgment has a right to challenge the affidavits and other factual materials submitted in support of the motion by conducting sufficient discovery so as to enable him to determine whether he can furnish opposing affidavits. . . . Generally summary judgment is inappropriate when the party opposing the motion has been unable to obtain responses to his discovery requests.

Heck, I wasn't even allowed to make discovery requests. That's likely because Acker knew a significant e-mail trail, if produced in discovery, would show that UAB did, in fact, discriminate against me and violate my First Amendment rights--that I was fired, 100 percent, because of my blog. The cheat job extended all the way to the Eleventh Circuit, which upheld Acker's ruling with a "Do Not Publish" opinion. That is a nasty trick that appellate judges use to cheat a litigant while not sullying the record with a ruling that is contrary to years of legal precedent. (More on that in an upcoming post.)

Ethics rules of the legal profession require a lawyer to report the misconduct of another lawyer or judge. Did chief university counsel Lisa Huggins object to Acker's violation of "black letter" law? Heck, no--she stayed quiet because Acker was cheating on her behalf.

That might provide comfort for UAB football fans. In a pathological environment created by  neanderthals like Paul Bryant Jr., individuals become cowards--and their ethics become so warped that they eventually make glaring mistakes.

I suspect that eventually will happen to Ray Watts. He's going to become such a drag on the Board of Trustees, they eventually will cut him loose.

UAB, for its long-term health, still needs to cut itself loose from the Tuscaloosa board. But getting rid of Ray Watts will be a step in the right direction.

To add some levity to this subject, here is a video of Ray Watts (as Hitler) learning that his skybox privileges in Tuscaloosa have been rescinded because of his failure to kill the entire UAB athletics program.


Anonymous said...

Ray Watts must be the most hated guy in Alabama since Harvey Updyke poisoned the trees down at Auburn.

Anonymous said... calls for Watts to step down:

DeeDee said...

Watts' Number one problem is arrogance. He thinks the "little people" are too stupid to catch on to him.

Wrong, Ray!

Anonymous said...

LS, what are the chances that Watts took the president's job on the condition that he agree to destroy the football program?

legalschnauzer said...

@10:05--I think that is exactly what happened. Says something about Ray Watts' insecurity. He already was dean of a world-class medical school. Why did he need to be president so badly that he would prostitute himself for the UA Board? If that condition was set, why didn't Watts call a press conference and announce it to the public?

Anonymous said...

If Judge Acker granted the university summary judgment without allowing discovery, you really DID get the dirty end of the stick.

I don't know Acker and haven't heard much about him one way or another. But if he did that, he was having a bad day or something.

legalschnauzer said...

That's exactly what he did. Anyone can check PACER and see no discovery meeting was scheduled and no discovery schedule was set. That's because no discovery was conducted.

Anonymous said...

I bet Ray Watts thought people don't care all that much about Blazer football. Looks like he was wrong.

legalschnauzer said...

I think you are right, @6:23. That's probably what PBJ told him.

Anonymous said...

Roger, did UAB actually offer you a job in a different department? If they did, what department and why didn't you take it?

legalschnauzer said...

I've written at least 15 posts that address this issue, @6:55. You can check out any or all of those posts at the following link. They should answer all of your questions, and then some: