• Goddard union says poison pen may be tied to firing
    By Eric Blaisdell
     | March 22,2013
     

    PLAINFIELD — The president of the union that newly represents the staff at Goddard College is investigating whether a member was fired recently because of an anonymous letter voicing grievances with the administration.

    Ron Patenaude, president of United Auto Workers Local 2322, said he is looking into whether a facilities worker was fired because the school believes he was connected to the letter that was sent to media outlets around the state and posted online. The union refused to publicly identify the employee.

    The Times Argus received a copy of the letter in the mail a week ago but did not publish or post it.

    The five-page letter, on Goddard letterhead, criticizes President Barbara Vacarr for decisions she has made as president over the past two and a half years.

    The majority of the letter is devoted to appointments she made. The letter says the appointments were not vetted through a proper hiring process and that Vacarr essentially has been hiring her friends. Other appointees, the letter says, have little or no experience in the jobs for which they were hired.

    The letter also talks about instances of Vacarr exploding in anger at the faculty and a member of her administration frequently breaking down and crying out of frustration during meetings.

    Vacarr isn’t the only one under scrutiny, as the letter criticizes the board of trustees for taking up the issue of an elder housing development at the college. The letter alleges a conflict of interest because the chairwoman of the board, Andrea Clay, and her husband, board member Jim Clay, are in the business of elder care. On Thursday afternoon, Goddard’s website said Andrea Clay “is currently vice-president and partner in Regency Pacific Inc., which provides senior residential services in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Hawaii.”

    The school Thursday would not confirm or deny whether a staffer was fired. Diane Zeigler at KSE Partners, the public relations firm that works for the college, said the school does not discuss personnel matters and had no comment about anonymous letters.

    The firm was also named in the letter in regard to a recent Seven Days article about Vacarr with the headline “How President Barbara Vacarr plans to save Goddard College.” The letter calls it an example of the consultants’ ability to spin Vacarr in a positive light to the detriment of the school.

    Staff members voted overwhelmingly in January to join UAW Local 2322, based out of Massachusetts, which already represents the faculty.

    eric.blaisdell

    @timesargus.com

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