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The Auburn Greed 2.0

Five years ago my Alabama Gazette column featured a rendition of The Auburn Creed (originally penned by George Petrie in 1943) aptly re-titled The Auburn Greed. Petrie’s original prose righteously opens with this preamble impressed upon all Auburn students as follows:

“I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count

only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.”

Four score and steadfast tyranny of many high-plains grifters - e.g., Bobby (FDIC) Lowder, Ed Richardson, Mike (a.k.a. Felon) Hubbard, to name a few -- have painfully and relentlessly distorted this once noble Creed into far darker prose known as The Auburn Greed:

“I believe that this is a corrupt world and that I can count

only on what I steal. Therefore, I believe in theft, grand theft.”

Auburn University’s recently installed President declared this Creed would be his “North Star” prompting examination as to whether examples of depredation articulated in my original column have attenuated these five years. Sadly, the RSA-enhanced grifting of former AD Jay Jacobs and the ‘grand-theft auto allowance’ of his loyal lieutenant described in the March 2018 column were merely shadows of more grifting and pillaging yet to come on Petrie’s beloved Plains of Dixie. By summer 2019, former President Steven “Crash” Leath bilked the University for $4.5 million in exchange for NOT performing any further duties. This payoff (dare I type hush-money?) far in excess of the value of his remaining contract, was structured in three payments of $1.5 million explicitly stipulating Leath not speak w.r.t. what he’d witnessed at AU. The last of these three massive payments, none of which George Petrie could have ever imagined, concluded summer 2021. This would not mark the end of this Auburn Greed. I long for the day another football coach in our State refuse to be paid more than the most accomplished professor at his University. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the same ethos from university administrators to discourage our most incompetent and corrupt faculty seeking the ever increasing administrative largess saddling students and taxpayers with more debt.

Shortly after final payment to Steven “Crash” Leath quietly went out the oft-used viscous back door at Auburn, Prof. Michael Stern requested President Jay Gogue (August 2021 University Senate meeting) declare in advance what distribution of annual raises would look like in October. There was a 3% pool of money and according to Senate minutes, President Gogue asserted raises would range from zero to four or five percent, depending on merit. Sure as the sun rises in the East, there would once again be raises well above the 5% maximum Gogue articulated… for the most special AU people. Examination of October 2021 payroll files indicate Dean Susan Hubbard’s salary increased by approximately 7.5%, some speculate to purposefully fall just below the 8% requirement to submit a memo justifying large pay increases with no change in status. In comparison, pay of Professor Liliana Stern (well documented as an outstanding and beloved teacher of undergraduate economics) increased only 3.24%.

Observing Susan Hubbard’s raise far above the range clearly articulated by President Gogue, one may hypothesize Dean Hubbard somehow vastly (by over a factor of two) outperformed Prof. Liliana Stern. Supervisor (installed Econ Department Head, Dr. Hyeongwoo Kim) evaluated her at “exceeds expectations” earlier in the Spring of 2021. There’s one higher category of performance known as “exemplary.” However, in keeping with the Auburn Family Greed, this supervisor had once again falsified her evaluation and in early 2022 Prof. Liliana Stern was removed from the corrupt supervision of Dr. Kim aided and abetted by upper administrators. The University repaired her prior evaluation and corrected nomenclature of her evaluation to “exemplary” - i.e., the highest performance category.

Given the corrected evaluation, retroactively AU was compelled to change the prior merit raise. The obvious question for this columnist’s investigation… was Prof. Liliana Stern’s raise changed to the Hubbard raise of 7.5% or even the 4% or 5% articulated by President Gogue? Of course not! Her raise was increased by 0.06% to 3.30% instead of 3.24%. The reported corrected dollar amount totaled $64/year. If a category of merit was worth only 0.06%, then Susan Hubbard would have to be SEVENTY categories higher than Liliana Stern, an impossible feat given Prof. L. Stern had already achieved the highest category of exemplary faculty performance. Those who recall my October 2019 column (https://www.alabamagazette.com/story/2019/10/01/opinion/the-au-horror-picture-show-bride-of-felonstein-meets-yellagrubbear/1750.html AU Horror Picture Show: Bride of Felonstein meets YellaGrubber) have said this makes it clear higher pay results from a husband who can extort from public servants like Ivey, Rane, et al instead of one who exposes politburo members and defeats them in federal court.

Finding it impossible to explain the extraordinary raise differential between Dr. Susan Hubbard and award-winning teacher Prof. Liliana Stern via any form of legitimate merit, one considers this far more plausible explanation. Dr. Susan Hubbard’s spouse is “Auburn-man” Mike Hubbard and Prof. Liliana Stern’s husband is Prof. Michael Stern. At the time of this raise, Mike Hubbard was serving his light prison sentence for his numerous felony convictions related to his unethical conduct while Speaker of the Alabama House. Lest we forget, Felon Hubbard’s tutelage in the dark arts was working in AU athletics, consorting with corrupt (current and former) AU Trustees not wanting to become prison trustees. Again for comparison, in 2021, Prof. Liliana Stern’s husband (Michael) was successfully pursuing First Amendment federal lawsuits against several AU officials for retaliating against public speech. Most notably exposing a disturbing scandal wherein Auburn Athletics explicitly distorted curricular governance decisions; a jury of regular citizens unanimously found Prof. Michael Stern’s civil rights had been violated with malice November 2022 in Opelika’s federal courthouse. Further confirmation of an AU far more consistent with the Auburn Greed rather than the Creed…

This microcosmic story of Auburn Greed does not end nor begin with this 2021 Hubbard v. Stern pay-raise differential. A far greater grifting of Petrie’s beloved University must also be examined. Professor Liliana Stern’s former supervisor, Dr. Hyeongwoo Kim has an extraordinary history of compensation since the original Auburn Greed column. Soon after my May 2018 column, Prof. Michael Stern was illegally removed as the legitimate Econ Department Chair in retaliation for his aforementioned speech. The Gazette was not alone in exposing this corruption, similar reporting appeared in the Wall Street Journal and Chronicle of Higher Education. Roughly one week later, Dr. Hyeongwoo Kim became the illegitimately imposed “head” of the Economics Department. Magically, internal University documents show Dr. Kim’s professorial salary was permanently increased by over 12% in June of 2018 outside of any raise process and independent of any future service as head/chair of Economics Department. Similarly, Dr. Kim received another 9% raise just a couple of months later in October of 2018. Don’t plan on ever seeing AU provide a memo on Dr. Kim’s pay increase in excess of 8%. Assisting AU malice, retribution and violation of Prof. Michael Stern’s civil rights clearly pays very well while caring about the general welfare of students and taxpayers is reviled… highly consistent with the Auburn Greed, such conduct is entirely orthogonal to Petrie’s Creed.

After years of disturbing performance as the illegitimate head/chair of the Econ Department, manipulating faculty evaluations, and employing an academically suspended individual to teach thousands of unsuspecting AU undergraduate students, Dr. Hyeongwoo Kim was secretly offered reappointment to yet another year of administrative “service” summer 2022. Ignoring the fact this incredibly unethical act of attempted reappointment violated numerous policies and procedures, Dr. Kim ‘needed’ to be given an additional $30K per year to continue doing the Auburn Family’s dirty work. Corrupt AU administrators dared not even attempt to carry out the required performance reviews of Dr. Kim’s actions and weeping on the witness stand in federal court exposing malfeasance. Prof. Michael Stern reportedly earned the finest administrative reviews at AU, along with unanimous re-election as Econ Chair by his department. Such outrages are easily explained by the intersections of the Auburn Greed and a federal trial, certainly not Professor Petrie’s Creed.

While the Auburn Greed is a convenient way of communicating the sad state of affairs gripping AU recent decades, a profound quote from legendary French Economist Frederic Bastiat pre-dating the existence of Auburn University is sadly apropos:

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

In closing, most of the worst at AU remain employed (even after being disciplined by federal juries - the most egregious still taking over $27k/mo. from students and taxpayers) and our University Boards of Trustees and Governor do nothing. Sadder still, we have board members who did nothing about softball girls being raped to be installed by Biden and Trump types in DC to allow even more cover for looters and rapists. Many will read ‘hired gun’ columnists (on Alabama Power, BCA, et al payrolls) shilling how great those who have their names (Felons, Grubbers, Senators) put on boulevards, buildings, centers, etc. are to be revered; I’ll get more threats/further retribution.

Postscript: Please forgive omitted text in last month’s printed edition, “Once residents/property owners are able to dispose of their rubbish at reopened trash sites or contracted with some other PRIVATE curbside service, Arrow must remove trash cans from those not contracted with them. Some citizens despair seeing a daily reminder of this economic lynching and reduced quality of life in their county,” from a bullet point on how to repair wrongdoing from the Lee County trash monopoly/mandate. The mail fraud claim was submitted to the USPS Inspector 3/12/2023.

 

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