Monday, July 27, 2015

Mangum’s attempts to mend fences with Scott too little, too late

Gov. Rick Scott could make Elmira Mangum’s problems with the FAMU Board of Trustees go away with only a minimal amount of effort on his part. But she doesn’t have much of a chance of getting any help from him after what she said last year.

Back on August 23, 2014, the Tallahassee Democrat ran a story that included the following comments that Mangum made about Trustee Rufus Montgomery: “Reminded that Montgomery is closely affiliated with Gov. Rick Scott, who appointed him to FAMU’s board, Mangum responded: ‘What does that say about the people that appointed him?’”

Scott appointed Rufus to the FAMU Board of Trustees back in 2011. 

That statement to the Tallahassee Democrat might have seemed like a good idea to Mangum back when the polls were showing that Scott was in a neck-and-neck race with former Gov. Charlie Crist for the governorship. But Scott won his bid for reelection just over two months after that statement was published.

Mangum soon started working to try and mend fences with Scott. She complimented him on his reelection victory at the Inaugural Prayer Breakfast, which has been held on the campus of FAMU for almost 30 years.

“Gov. Scott, God has called upon you to lead us and has committed into your hands as governor of the State of Florida, the wellbeing of all its citizens,” she said.

Scott clapped after the speech that Mangum gave at the breakfast. But as expected he declined to offer reappointment to the Mangum-supporter in the FAMU Board of Trustees chairmanship, Chuck Badger.

The governor replaced Badger with Robert Woody in March. Rufus then cruised to an easy win for the board chairmanship in an election against Cleve Warren. Mangum supporters Marjorie Turnbull, Belinda Shannon, and Karl White gave their support to Warren as he lost in a 4-9 vote.   

Rufus has reminded Mangum that her comments in the Tallahassee Democrat back on August 23 are still a problem.

“I mean wait a minute now, no President in the system when asked a comment about the Governor, the people who control and who influence your fate as an institution, when asked a question about the Governor, if she had something that could have been perceived negative, at a minimum, she should have just refrained from saying anything,” Rufus said at a FAMU Board of Trustees committee meeting on June 9. “But her comments were: ‘What does that say about the people who appointed him?’”

Woody gave Mangum a “Does Not Meet Expectations” rating for every question in his individual evaluation of her. He referred to the complaints about what Mangum had said about Rufus even though his comments seemed to suggest that he hadn’t personally read the quote.

“Also, allegedly, the President made inappropriate comments in the media about a Board of Trustee member, specifically the Chairman, and referenced the Governor as the appointing official of the Board Chair,” Woody wrote.

Woody added that: “It is apparent the President has a conflict with the Chairman of the Board and has failed to seek a resolution.”

The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) has said that it will review the claims from a group of FAMU alumni in the legislature who said that Rufus’ treatment of Mangum has been “bordering dangerously close to bullying.” But Mangum shouldn’t expect any real help from the BOG.

The BOG gave a negative response to the Work Plan that Mangum presented to it this year and told her to make big changes to the plan before its September meeting. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “[Montgomery] said he’d had a conversation with the chairman of the Board of Governors who said he was surprised trustees hadn’t expressed more concern over a university Work Plan that Mangum had presented recently to the board.”

The BOG appears to be encouraging the FAMU Board of Trustees to be more critical of Mangum in the area of strategic planning.

All that is likely to come from the BOG review of the controversy between Mangum and the Board of Trustees is a bland statement that asks everyone at FAMU to try and do a better job of working together. The BOG isn’t going to start a battle with Scott to pressure him to replace the trustees who are giving Mangum a hard time. That would only come back to bite the individual BOG members when it’s time for Scott to make a decision on whether to reappoint them.

The problems that Mangum has with the FAMU Board of Trustees are only getting worse and no help is going to come from the officials who make the trustee appointments.

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