A bill to create greater transparency at California’s institutions of higher learning has passed the state Senate on a 38-1 vote, with Central Coast Sen. Sam Blakeslee the only legislator opposing it.
“I’m often of the opinion that the herd is wrong,” Blakeslee told The Tribune.The bill, which now goes to the state Assembly, will ensure that University of California, California State University and community college auxiliaries and foundations adhere to state public records laws, according to its author Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.
The bill resulted from the furor that arose when the foundation at Stanislaus State would not disclose how much it was paying Sarah Palin for a speech. Palin is the former Republican governor of Alaska and the darling of the tea party movement. She is considering running for president next year.
Blakeslee said Yee’s bill intrudes on the privacy of nonprofit organizations. He believes this type of bill, while well-intentioned, could chill relationships between donors and other entities from giving to the CSU, UC and community colleges just when they need to attract more support from nonprofits.
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Cal Poly’s endowment of more than $160 million, managed by the Cal Poly Foundation, in recent years has taken a huge hit because of the ailing stock market.
Blakeslee said the legislation could also open the door to opening the records of parent-teacher organizations, invading their privacy.
Yee said the bill will protect the anonymity of donors and volunteers except in situations where there is a quid pro quo in which the donor or volunteer receives something from the university valued at more than $2,500 or in which the donor or volunteer receives a sole source (no-bid) contract within five years of the donation.
Anonymity would not be provided to any donor who attempts to influence curriculum or university operations, Yee wrote in a news release.
Yee said the CSU Chancellor’s Office reported that in 2009, 20 percent of its $6.7 billion budget, or $1.34 billion, was held in their 87 auxiliaries and foundations.