Suit sparked by Poly chief’s salary tossed

A lawsuit filed against the California State University system in regard to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong’s salary was dismissed today, according to CSU officials.

CSU spokesman Michael Uhlemkamp said that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant dismissed the suit filed by Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, which represents 22,000 CSU employees.

Taiz claimed that administrators broke the state’s public disclosure laws this year by failing to reveal that the salary approved by trustees for the new Cal Poly president was above the maximum published amount for that job.

In January, CSU trustees approved a compensation package for Armstrong for $350,000, with an additional annual supplement of $30,000 to be paid from the campus foundation. Until then, the university’s published salary range for campus presidents was from $223,584 to $328,212.

California’s Bagley-Keene Act requires state boards and commissions to conduct meetings in public and to provide public notice of those sessions unless the action is authorized for a closed session.

“We’re saying you have to give the public a chance to comment on the fact that you’re raising it above the maximum,” said Taiz. “We all have an obligation to be open — particularly with salaries of this maximum.”

Taiz, who was the only plaintiff in the suit, said the issue was particularly relevant because CSU will be searching for several new campus presidents this year, including at San Francisco State University.

She said that by raising Armstrong’s salary above the published maximum, CSU was, in effect, changing its salary policy without telling the public.

Uhlenkamp said the CSU’s position is that the salary discussions were held in open meetings and it didn’t matter that the amount exceeded the job description range.