Friday, November 20, 2009

Sonoma Foundation May Have to Return $232,500

Sonoma State University's Academic Foundation may have to return a $232,500 loan repayment received from a former board member who is now in bankruptcy. Former Foundation board member Clem Carinalli received at least $9.6 million over 7 years in loans from SSU's Foundation. Carinelli repaid one loan, for $232,500, on July 9 of this year. He filed for bankruptcy in September, and his attorney now states the Foundation was improperly paid ahead of other creditors.

University officials still won't answer questions about the loan. Foundation officer and SSU Vice President for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer Larry Furukawa-Schlereth had claimed the loan was secured with real estate, but the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports the loan was not secured at the time of that statement, and that the Foundation was aware of that.

The CSU claims campus foundations are private institutions and are not public entities run with state resources and so the University is not obliged to speak in public about the issues of the foundation. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat points out that SSU's Foundation has no independent office or employees, and is run by university staff, including SSU president Ruben Armiñana, who serves as chairman, SSU Vice President Patricia McNeill, who serves as the foundation’s president, and Furukawa-Schlereth, who serves as chief operating officer.

It's no wonder the CSU fears public disclosure requirements and accountability for campus auxiliaries. In October the governor vetoed Senate Bill (SB) 218, which would have made CSU auxiliaries subject to public disclosure laws, and which the CSU opposed.

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