By Justin Clarke – Managing Editor
On February 17 the Center for Law and Society at the Community College of Philadelphia announced on their Facebook page that, “The Becker Award Ceremony scheduled for February 27th has been cancelled.”
According to Federation officials a demonstration had been planned at the ceremony where the award was to be given to U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr.
Occupy CCP then asked, on Facebook, who was responsible for the cancellation which resulted in a tense public discussion on the Center’s Facebook page between the Center’s Facebook administrator and Union Mobilization Coordinator Carol Stein.
“What had been planned at two large Federation meetings last week was a respectful and cordial greeting of guests at this event while we handed them a flier about the expansion of CCP’s administrative budget,” Stein posted.
Both Lynette Brown-Sow, Vice President for Marketing and Government Relations, and Katy Smith, Director of the Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society confirmed that it would be best to cancel the event so that guests would not be put in an tense position.
“We respect the union’s right to protest, but that right does not automatically require the College to provide forums for protest on demand. In fact, the union’s leaders were urged by their fellow faculty members to refrain from protesting at the ceremony, but they refused to do so. At that point, the Division of Marketing and Government Relations decided to postpone the event. I made the decision, not Sen. Casey. This awards ceremony offers faculty, students and staff a cherished opportunity to network with legal visionaries. They, along with our distinguished guests, deserve an opportunity to talk without disruption or distraction,” Brown-Sow wrote an in e-mail.
“The reason some faculty members thought we should cancel rather than have guests go through a demonstration which was advertised to be directed at the Becker and which would take place inside and outside CBI was because we use the event to also honor the many people who serve as mentors and internship supervisors for our Paralegal and Justice students. Many of those relationships have taken years to create and we didn’t want to put those folks in an uncomfortable position. The administration did consult with me, as the director of the Center for Law and Society and I concurred. I bear absolutely no resentment to either the administration or the union in this matter (and the faculty members who are involved in the Center are all union members by the way). I also don’t think the cancelation has impacted Law and Society adversely,” Smith responded via e-mail.
The flier that was to be distributed at the event held no new information from what most of the students have already learned about the negotiations still in progress. The information on the flier included such topics as, “A glut of new administrators,” stating that, “From 1998-2010, the total number of CCP administrators increased 64%, while the total number of full-time faculty increased only 9.5%.” Also, “Too many lawyers,” which mentioned that, “Over the past year, faculty and staff union leaders have spent hundreds of hours negotiating with CCP’s administration. At each negotiating session, the administration is accompanied by not one but two highly paid lawyers: one is their staff lawyer [the general counsel for CCP was paid $161,200 in 2009, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette] and the other is from Fox, Rothschild and O’Brien, one of Philadelphia’s most expensive corporate law firms. These two lawyers are paid with hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars.”
The Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society at Community College of Philadelphia offers a variety of Associates degrees and certificates. This is actually the Center’s 13th annual Law and Society Week. This year’s theme is “The Voiceless” and has over two dozen events. More information can be found at http://www.ccp.edu/site/law_center/law_week.php
The Judge Edward R. Becker Citizenship Award was named after Philadelphia native and ex-judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals, The Honorable Edward R. Becker (1933-2006). The award ceremony was advertised as a presentation and lecture honoring, “those who have dedicated their lives to public service.”
This year’s honoree, expected to receive the award at the ceremony was U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. Senator Casey was born and raised in Scranton, PA., where he would later begin his law career. Senator Casey currently serves on five committees which include the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Joint Economic Committee. Senator Casey has spent eight years as Pennsylvania Auditor General and two years as State Treasurer.