One of the most potent (yet least known) of the Governor’s powers is the ability to appoint people to state boards and commissions.
There are hundreds of boards which await gubernatorial appointment. Some are small potatoes (like the “Potato Board”). Others are major, such as the Commonwealth Transportation Board which allocates our highway funding.
While the Governor’s appointments require legislative approval, that is usually pro forma except in the most egregious circumstances. There are simply too many slots which have to be filled, and the appointment power belongs solely to the Governor.
(By contrast, judicial candidates are individually interviewed by the Courts Committee and can only be elected by the legislature).
Over the past couple weeks, this process has come into sharper focus. First, we have the debacle caused by members of our Airports Authority being busted for unacceptable travel expenses and weak ethics standards.
What the hell are they thinking?
Then a week ago we had one of the strangest meltdowns at UVA, since John Singleton Mosby was expelled for dueling.
To date, we still have not had an explanation from the Board of Visitors as to why they would unanimously hire a new President, receive a perfectly reasonable critique from her of the University, and then ask her to leave.
For the record, I believe in an independent Board — and can think of multiple reasons why a Board should ask a President to leave (poor fundraising, cheating scandals, public safety disasters). However, if you’re going to fire the top person — shouldn’t you have a public explanation for your action? Aren’t the students, faculty and employees entitled to that?
What are these people thinking?
The failure to explain has caused confusion, division and anger within the University. (On Friday, I get an email from the Law School Alumni disassociating from the Board’s action — never seen that before).
The Governor was quick to replace people on the Airports Authority when the scandal hit. (Naturally, he went after the organized labor rep).
But what about the UVA Board? Where is their accountability?