Saturday, January 27, 2007

Former Fairbanks Mayor Jim Hayes Being Pressured To Resign From UA Board Of Regents

Update: Jim Hayes was convicted on 16 counts on February 11th, 2008. Click HERE for updated post.

Last week I discussed the case of former Fairbanks Mayor Jim Hayes (pictured at left), who, along with his wife Chris, have been indicted on multiple counts of money laundering, theft, and conspiracy.

Click HERE to view the 27-page indictment in PDF format.

On January 27th, 2006, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that calls for Hayes resignation from the University of Alaska (UA) Board of Regents are starting to escalate. Both the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Sun-Star and the University of Alaska-Anchorage (UAA) Northern Light have editorially called for him to step down, along with Alaska State Representative Mike Kelly (R-Fairbanks).

The criminal charges against the Hayes' do not directly involve the university, but rather stem from the couple’s apparent misuse of Federal government appropriations meant for LOVE Social Services, a youth center directed by Chris Hayes. Jim Hayes serves on the center’s board of directors.

This week, the student newspapers at both the Fairbanks and Anchorage campuses of the statewide university system printed editorials calling for Hayes to either resign or be removed from office. Nate Raymond, the managing editor of the UAF Sun Star wrote that, innocent or not, Hayes should resign immediately. “It’s simply disgraceful to think the Board of Regents has a member this corrupt in its presence,” Raymond wrote. “(Hayes’) criminal charges have already cast a dark cloud over UA’s reputation.”

An unsigned staff editorial in the UAA Northern Light echoed those sentiments. “In a university that already suffers from bureaucratic bloat, increasingly expensive tuition and fees, and state funding that continues to fall short of budget requests, even the appearance of financial wrongdoing in anyone so closely connected to the university is dangerous,” the editorial said.

The Northern Light staff, in the editorial, further stated that they would like to see university officials, who do not have the power to remove Hayes, recommend to the Governor and the Legislature that Hayes be removed from the board. However, not all of the student leaders at either campus agree with the newspapers’ perspective. Both Sven Gilkey and Anthony Rivas, the presidents of the student unions at UAF and UAA respectively, said they would not call for Hayes’ resignation or removal until a trial determines his guilt.

Rep. Mike Kelly, who described himself as a close friend of Hayes, said he would also like to see the regent resign. “I sent Jim a personal note and told him I thought it was time for him to resign,” Kelly said. “He’s a longtime friend and I ache for the difficulty that this situation has caused his family, but I think you get to a point where Jim has to look at his ability to perform his duties as a regent.”

Neither the Board of Regents nor the university have the power to remove Hayes. Only the Legislature can do that. Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, said that while members of the Legislature are talking about Hayes’ situation, there hasn’t been any talk of official action being taken on the matter. Kelly also said he wasn’t aware of any formal efforts among legislators to remove Hayes from the board. “I think everyone’s just trying to wait for Jim to do the right thing,” Kelly said.

Efforts to contact Hayes for this story were not successful. Hayes has not responded to any media requests since the story first broke.

Analysis: Not an easy call. It depends on how far one chooses to extend the presumption of innocence. Customarily, the presumption of innocence means that guilt, not innocence, must be proven in court. However, the presumption of innocence does NOT preclude the imposition of some precautionary sanctions. For example, in the case of serious offenses, we require a suspect to post a surety of some sort, usually cash bail to provide a financial incentive to show up for trial. We may also impose other sanctions; for example, in the case of former National Alliance Chairman Shaun Walker, who is accused of violating the civil rights of non-whites, the magistrate required him to cut all ties with white nationalists as a condition of bail. We may also require a father who is accused of child molestation to stay away from his own kids as a condition of bail.

But does the presumption of innocence require an employer to keep an employee on staff? If I'm a bank president, and one of my tellers is arrested for breaking into a competitor's ATM, must I keep that employee on and permit her access to my bank's cash? Prudence dictates not. Or if I'm a school principal, and one of my teachers is caught in flagrante delicto with a student from another school, doesn't prudence dictate that I take the precaution of not allowing her unsupervised contact with my students until the case is resolved? As Americans, we have many rights, including the right to reasonable bail and a speedy trial. We do not have a constitutional right to a job.

Consequently, considering the sheer magnitude of the accusation, Jim Hayes should do the right thing and resign his position on the Board of Regents. If he fails to do this within reasonable time, the Legislature should remove him.

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  1. Basically testing the comments function now that I've been switched to the new Blogger.

  2. I am guessing he is a DEM, since the article does not say.
    I am SURE if he was R, it would be in the title.