In my opinion, the request by Regent Hur for reimbursement of $80.85 for postage is contrary to board policy for the following reasons:
· At our July 2002 meeting, Item 116-109-R0702 was introduced. This was a proposed new policy addressing the issue of Regent's Travel Reimbursement. Ironically, Regent Hur moved approval of this item, which subsequently passed unanimously. Prior to the adoption of this policy, State statute simply stated that Regents would be reimbursed for whatever they submit. With the present budget crisis and need for fiscal austerity, the board was unanimous that regents should do whatever they could to minimize their expenses and therefore adopted the policy to avoid open-ended spending which would leave the regents open to criticism. Should we reimburse Regent Hur, we will not only go against board policy and intent, but also we would be inviting any regent, for any number of times, to write any number of persons that they feel appropriate-and get reimbursed.
· The claim that all 180 pieces of mail were "BOR mail" is inaccurate. Regent Hur had previously advised me that he intended to correspond by letter in his capacity as a regent with each member of the Legislature. I responded that he had every right to contact any and all legislators, but that he should not infer that he was speaking for the board. Based upon the intent expressed to me by Regent Hur, it seemed to me (and to legal council), that the correspondence was simply self-promoting, and therefore of a private or individual nature. Part of my written response to Regent Hur stated, "Any such communication from a single regent without Board approval is really nothing more than personal correspondence. It would also be improper for you to use OCHE staff time and effort or be reimbursed by the University System for postage should your correspondence be interpreted as speaking for the board. Nothing prevents you, of course, from using your own stationary and personal assets in corresponding with any or all legislators, as a private citizen." For the regents to subsidize the postage would be an acknowledgment that the board authorized the correspondence, which is not true.
· The board has recognized that our authority is corporate rather than individual and has adopted resolutions to ensure the board acts in a way consistent with a "one-voice" approach, that the board should not present conflicting messages to the public, or to the members of the University System. The Chair's responsibility is found in a resolution the Board adopted in September 2001 entitled "Chairperson's Responsibilities, Role, Duties and Limitations." The first paragraph says that the Chair "acts as the primary spokesperson for the actions of the Board." Policy 204.3 lists the Commissioner's duties. Section 7 says he is to "act as the sole person through whom policies of the Board are announced . . . ." It long has been the custom and intent of the Board of Regents that only the Board Chair and the Commissioner speak on behalf of the board.
I have advised Regent Hur in writing that our power is not as individuals, but as a group, a corporate entity entrusted by the people of Montana with the authority to govern and lead the University System. The only way the board can speak as a board is by bringing its diverse points of view to one point. This one-voice principle does not mean that there should or need be unanimity or lack of diversity on the board. On the contrary, on behalf of the people of Montana, our board must embrace all of the diversity it can and then reach out to obtain more. Differences among Regents are not only to be respected, but also encouraged.
There may be more relevant circumstances to this issue. However, in the absence of additional information, The bulk-mailing of 180 pieces appears to be a self-promotional effort that would be wasteful of state funds and contrary to regent's intent and policy, should compensation for postage be allowed.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Rosette, Sherry" <SRosette@oche.montana.edu>
To: "Regent: Roehm, Richard" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, December 23, 2002 8:40 AM
Subject: FW: Reimbursement
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2002 8:23 PM
Those receipts for the $80.85 charge were all the receipts that Shipping
Depot of Missoula issued. I used them to send out letter correspondence for
my Regent related Mail. The charge is for the postage, handling, and
delivery for about 180 pieces of BOR mail.
Dear Mr. Chairman:
I respectfully request that we discuss this matter before the whole board at the next meeting.
I wrote the letter in my official capacity as a state officer for Montana and a regent. The letter constituted an effort to communicate and achieve cooperation with Montana's other policy makers. My letter most certainly constituted Regent correspondence. I also request that you recant your previous statement to Dr. Crofts that it was not. Out of respect for you Mr. Roehm, I will surmise that you have not yet read the letter.
I have attempted to limit costs by using the telephone and writing letters. I understand now that the student regent is intended to be seen, but not heard. No regent, save the chair, may travel. Now, no regent, save the chair; may write letters in their capacity as regents. Therefore, this matter deserves immediate attention. Please bring this matter, including this and the referenced correspondence; before the whole board at the January meeting. Mary Craigle has a copy of the letter I sent to Montana's leaders on her computer file. If the board declares their intent that regents should not write letters or make telephone calls in their official capacity; I will submit to the will of the board.