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FIU gives Marco Rubio a $69,000 job

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 PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:26 am   
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THE MIAMI HERALD

Posted on Fri, Jul. 25, 2008
FIU gives Marco Rubio a $69,000 job
BY BETH REINHARD AND OSCAR CORRAL
Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio has landed a part-time job at Florida International University that pays $69,000, amid layoffs and tuition hikes caused by what the university president called ``the most serious budget crisis in our history.''
At least half of Rubio's salary is expected to be paid for with private donations to FIU's Metropolitan Center, according to the written job offer. As a ''visiting distinguished service professor'' from July to May, Rubio will co-teach a politics class, bring in guest speakers and help develop plans for local governments to build affordable housing.

Rubio's term as speaker -- and $44,280 legislative salary -- ends Nov. 4. He must leave the House due to term limits. He ruled out making a bid for Miami-Dade mayor this year and said he plans to practice law and run for office in the future.

FIU trustees voted last month to raise tuition by 15 percent, the maximum increase allowed under state law, blaming rising costs and $14 million in state funding cuts on Rubio's watch. The public university also cut 23 degree programs and 200 jobs. Thirty-eight faculty members and staff were laid off, and the rest of the positions will be eliminated through staggered layoffs and attrition.

`IRONIC'

Biology Professor Bradley Bennett, who had to shut down the Center for Ethnobiology and Neutral Products, which did research on medicinal plants, called Rubio's hiring ``ironic.''

''The state is always underfunded in education,'' Bennett said Thursday. ``I would say that Marco Rubio has not shown commitment to higher education in general and he has not shown a commitment to FIU. Why the university would hire someone like that is a mystery.''

''I think it's absolutely disgusting,'' said Amada Mena, an alumna whose two sons attend the school. ``You know how many good professors are out of jobs.''

Dario Moreno, director of the university's Metropolitan Center, said he knew bringing in the conservative Republican would be controversial but considered hiring him a coup. He said Rubio, one of the most powerful figures in state government, is a creative leader who has already come up with 32 research ideas for the center.

Moreno said he hopes Rubio will bring in enough in private donations and grants to cover his entire salary. FIU cut funding to the Metropolitan Center by about a third this year, but the center has continued to grow through private contracts and donations.

Moreno said another part-time, visiting professor at the center is getting paid about $52,000 a year.

''I'm trying to advance my center's agenda, to become the premier public policy institute in Florida, so hiring an ex-speaker is a feather in the center's cap,'' Moreno said. ``It doesn't mean that I endorse everything that Marco believes in. I certainly don't.''

BOOST FOR SCHOOL

FIU President Modesto ''Mitch'' Maidique said Rubio is a political star who will boost the school's profile. He pointed out that Rubio is the youngest House speaker, the first Cuban American and the first from South Florida in 34 years.

''This is a very attractive proposition for the university,'' Maidique said. ``My personal opinion is this will be a zero cost for the university.''

Rubio has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Florida and a law degree from the University of Miami. His new position ''has not been occupied recently'' and was not advertised, said FIU spokeswoman Maydel Santana-Bravo.

''It's a special classification,'' she said. ``There's only one speaker of the House.''

`I'LL LIKE IT'

Rubio said he plans to work 15 to 20 hours a week, ''or maybe more because I know I'll like it.'' He said his support in the Legislature for a new medical school at FIU had nothing to do with his getting the job.

''We worked hard for FIU, irrespective of anything else,'' he said. ``Do I have a good relationship with FIU? I do, but it predates the medical school.''


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 PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:15 pm   
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Amazing how the anti-FIU people out there are trying to make this into something terrible and link it to the cuts being made. I think, given the situation, it is in FIU's best interest to have people with clout on our side.....good move, IMO.

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 PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:59 pm   
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I think it's ridiculous. I can't stand the guy. Sounds so ridiculousy fishy it's not even funny. Back door politicis. but whatever, it's already been done.


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 PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 8:48 pm   
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This is how the system works, if the public knew how much money FIU spent on lobbyist, there would be a lot of outrage, but guess what, without those lobbyist, instead of losing $30MM, FIU would have lost $60MM, we wouldn't have a med school, we wouldn't have a law school. That's how the system works and this is just playing within the system. I think its a great move by FIU, this happens everywhere and not everyone can say that they have the ex-speaker of the house on their payroll. Is it a bad system, YES, but you got to play within the rules that have been set up....so play to win.


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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:20 pm   
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From The Miami Herald:

FIU hiring Rubio is an act of black magic
http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/colu ... 19343.html

A miracle! Had to be a miracle.

Admittedly, that won't jive with the university's canon of rational inquiry. But no amount of rational inquiry can explain the unfathomable appearance of Marco Rubio on the campus of Florida International University.

Out of nowhere. Out of a budget that was in shambles. Rubio just materialized.

Oh my God, it was freaky supernatural. Earthly hypothesis can't explain how a university that just cut 38 positions, shut down six research centers and eliminated 23 degree program could then concoct a new teaching job for Marco Rubio. Had to be black magic.

The extraordinary news last week could have had students and professors dancing for joy -- except FIU whacked the dance program.

But the mystery here isn't how FIU conjured up $69,000 for Marco in the throes of a $32 million shortfall. What makes no sense at all in the temporal world is that FIU hired this particular politician.

EMACIATED BUDGETS

To indulge in massive understatement, the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives was is a champion of education. Florida's public schools, from K through 12, to higher education, have been devastated by the emaciated budgets Rubio shepherded through the state Legislature.

Faculty Senate Chairman Bruce Hauptli doubted that FIU's faculty would be much enthused about their newest co-worker. However, Dario Moreno, director of the department that hired Marco, assured The Miami Herald that its preternatural new professor has already come up with 32 new ideas. Hopefully one of those 32 ideas will suggest how the school can recover the 23 programs that the Legislature caused to go poof.

Hauptli -- a philosophy professor after all -- tried to be fair. He noted that Rubio had given crucial support to FIU's new medical school. And that with the declining state revenues, he doubted whether the speaker could have thrown much money FIU's way if he wanted to. Hauptli didn't quite sound as if he had convinced himself.

PLUSH JOBS

FIU is hardly alone among Florida universities that find plush jobs for retiring and term-limited politicians. Former Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan heads Florida Atlantic University. Former House Speaker T.K. Wetherell is president of Florida State University. Former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney runs the University of North Florida.

And not just retiring politicians find lucrative work in academia. The University of Florida, amid its own brutal budget cuts, discovered $75,000 under the sofa cushions and hired the very powerful Sen. Mike Haridopolos of Indialantic to teach part-time. Sen. Evelyn Lynn of Ormond Beach ''earns'' $120,000 annually from Florida State University to run a reading program in her home county.

State universities offer variations of the same explanation for employing political hacks who, in the real world, wouldn't have an aardvark's chance at a university job. They argue: What these pols lack in qualifications, they make up for in influence.

That's a very puzzling rationale, back here on Earth. If professorial pols wield so much clout, how is it that the Legislature treats the higher education budget like Aunt Hilda's bingo money?

Nope. Marco Rubio's phantasmagoric transfiguration into a FIU prof floats out there beyond the reach of rational inquiry. There's just no explaining political voodoo.


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