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New College trustee calls on Keith Fitzgerald to take unpaid leave while campaigning

By on August 23, 2012

The following is a letter to the editor from John W. Saputo of Longboat Key, a trustee at New College.

A letter to the editor was submitted by Bob Johnson, chairman of the Board of Trustees of New College. Let the record state that Chairman Johnson was not speaking on behalf of the entire board and he was not speaking for this trustee.

Johnson erroneously thought it important to respond to an article concerning Professor Keith Fitzgerald’s political ethics problem — not filing “conflict of interest” papers with the Florida Legislature. New College was not accused of any wrongdoing. Professor Fitzgerald is the accused.

Implications that New College or the board had any conversation with Rep. Fitzgerald concerning his votes on the college’s behalf are false. Several trustees thought that if Professor Fitzgerald wanted to run for the Legislature, or now for Congress, he should keep New College out of his political ambitions and take the “stand-up course of action” and take an “unpaid sabbatical.”

To run for political office, especially the U.S. Congress, is a full-time job. We do not want students shortchanged. It is my job as a trustee to make sure our college is run like a business and that our professors give our students their undivided attention and best efforts.

This is the governor’s direction. We are not obeying this mandate by paying Fitzgerald to run for Congress while hiding behind his union contract and by allowing him to make New College kindling in his political quest for a
congressional seat at a time when we have a $1 million budget deficit.

Wouldn’t we all like to run for Congress and be paid by the state of Florida? Many of the trustees would like to keep the college out of Professor Fitzgerald’s campaign for Congress by again asking him to take an unpaid sabbatical.

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