The great escape - Page 2

City College chancellor Phil Day is leaving his successor with a mountain of unfinished business

The Guardian reported that the Ethics Commission had known the Bay Area Motorcycle Training check was illegally used by the committee but waited for more than a year to notify the state's Fair Political Practices Commission of a possible elections law violation (see "At the Crossroads," 7/18/07).

"As the chancellor and CEO of this college, I take responsibility for these mistakes," Day's statement reads. "However, it is important to understand that these mistakes occurred innocently and inadvertently, and as soon as we learned of them, we took immediate action to rectify them."

An exasperated Day, who became City College's chancellor in 1998, said in a phone interview that he didn't believe the school's troubles would make it difficult for his successor to return to the ballot and get voters to approve bond projects they've already partially paid for, including a stem-cell technology training center.

"I don't feel like I'm leaving someone with disarray," Day told us. "It's the people in the institution that sometimes make mistakes, not the institution itself."

Day's departure also comes as a building inspector hired by the school in 2003 alleges in a federal lawsuit that he was wrongfully terminated last summer for blowing the whistle on illegal building code violations and for making safety complaints during facility renovations. The suit was filed Dec. 24, 2007.

Plaintiff Lawrence Lauser contends that he'd repeatedly informed his bosses at City College that building codes were being violated during construction work, but there was no willingness to fix them.

Instead of being outright fired, Lauser alleges, he was told the work had run out. "That was a complete sham," his attorney, Frank Sarro, said. "There wasn't a lack of work at all." Lauser is also suing his union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 22, for refusing to request arbitration with the school on his behalf.

"He just had a strong feeling that things should be done by the book," Sarro said of Lauser. "And his bosses didn't want to hear it."

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