Friday, June 22, 2012

SUNY Silence on Socarides'
Higher Education Qualifications

It's a simple question, one that I expected the communications department at the State University of New York to answer with speed. What exactly are the higher education qualifications of Richard Socarides to give him a seat on the SUNY Board of Trustees?

After several emails and phones calls to the communications department since yesterday, I don't have an answer. The department promised to get back to me, without specifying when.

Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Socarides to the state's public university's Board of Trustees and the release congratulating him and the other appointees does not list one higher education qualification for Socarides.

It says he's "a New York attorney who has held senior positions in the media and entertainment sector, and government and law, as a media relations and communications executive, presidential adviser at the White House, and partner in a New York City law firm." Nary a mention about public education.

Over at his Twitter account, Socarides has remained silent about the SUNY position.

I asked two longtime Big Apple gay advocates for comments about the appointment, and here's what they had to say. First up is Allen Roskoff, head of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club:

I'm not at all surprised that the Republican controlled New York State Senate approved Socarides' appointment, after all, except for the fact that he hasn't changed his party registration he is a Republican. Socarides has done a great deal of harm to the LGBT community by providing the talking points in favor of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act when working in the Clinton White House. He's bashed President Obama for not acting fast enough to undo the damage of DADT and DOMA, and this must not go unnoticed.

Also weighing in is Andy Humm, commentator for Gay USA:

The governor appoints people who will not rock the boat and who will toady to his center-right, starve-the-system position. No one rises up when any of these appointments are made by Cuomo. The last time anyone paid attention to the rightwing composition of these colleges boards was when they voted to deny Tony Kushner an honorary degree that Lehman College wanted to give him. That set off a firestorm of liberal indignation. But these same "liberals" could give two shits about all the other votes taken by the board which has been fucking the youth of color in the system for decades.

Why has Cuomo appointed Socarides, an ambitious political hack who's number one agenda item is always expanding his prestige and resume, to a position of great influence at SUNY when he lacks obvious qualifications? Both the governor and SUNY need to answer this question.

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