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APR 07 - APR 14, 2015

ECC Officials Remain Secretive on Expense Reports

By Tony Farina

April 07, 2015

Erie Community College President Jack Quinn

Erie Community College officials are extremely tight-lipped about their fiscal mess, and we've resorted to filing Freedom of Information (FOIL) requests for travel and legal expenses and other administration costs that the administration won't release. And that includes travel expenses and reimbursement for President Jack Quinn and damages to vehicles used by Quinn on possibly as many as three occasions.

Our stories over the last two weeks, including last week's piece on the filing of a federal lawsuit against ECC by the former Human Resources director alleging she was abused and harassed because of her age and disability by the college's legal affairs director, Kristin Klein Wheaton, have drawn several responses, most in agreement with our reports.

One email said, "Good article about ECC. It's just the tip of the iceberg."

Others, who choose to remain anonymous out of fear for their jobs, say a Quinn survey requesting recommendations on how to cut costs in the face of the budget crisis drew some sharp attacks on Quinn for his failure to be around much as the college struggles to stay afloat.

Quinn reportedly travels extensively as a board member of as many as three national organizations and the day-to-day administration of the college is left in the hands of Klein Wheaton, Quinn's trusted legal advisor.

Others close to the situation note the loss of 2500 students over the last five semesters with the declining enrollment expected to continue in September.

"We're in trouble," said one longtime official at the college. "The county is not delivering its share of the budget and students are now contributing more than half instead of the third they are supposed to be contributing."

Other insiders say planning for the future is practically none existent and three of the four unions at the college are working without a contract.

ECC's current deficit of $1.2 million and a projected deficit of $7.8 million next year have faculty members concerned and a letter from the Faculty Federation last week criticized plans for a new software system to manage records, calling it "fiscally irresponsible in itself but also once done it will give the college the perfect excuse not to settle our contract."

We have asked for an accounting of various expenses racked up by the Quinn team but were told to submit a Freedom of Information request to obtain what are clearly public documents, and especially at a time when the administration is struggling to cut costs in the face of the budget crisis.

We will continue to pursue all leads to the ECC story and when and if we receive the requested expense reports, we will publish them for all to see. If ECC is crying poor, it must come clean to the public and the students on the expense side of the ledger so an assessment can be made as to whether this college is heading in the right direction or risking its ability to deliver an affordable education to the young people who are depending on the college to help them get a start in life.





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Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina