The Ten Million Dollar Man?
We'll get to Ward Churchill in a moment, but a story first.
Twenty years ago, my Grandfather Green had a problem with the Teamsters.
Preston M. Green owned a small steel service plant, Southwest Steel, and one of the shop guys was trouble. He refused to work. He showed up drunk. He started fights. Grandpa had been trying to get rid of the guy for months, if not years. If you've ever seen a steel shear or a pickling plant in action, you understand why you don't want drunks or fights anywhere near them.
Then the guy showed up drunk again one day - with a pistol.
Now, this wasn't Preston's first run-in with a Teamster. He'd been through strikes, he'd been through slowdowns, he'd been through every kind of union trouble you can imagine. Grandpa, however, wasn't anti-union. As he told me years ago, "The way management used to run roughshod over the workers way back when, it was criminal. Unions were necessary."
But this guy... this drunk, gun-waving guy... well, he was too much.
After the gun incident, the shop foreman went to Preston's office and said, "You have to get rid of him."
"I can't," Grandpa replied. "All your goddamn rules have my hands tied. He's your problem."
And that was a fact. The company couldn't fire him, because he was a Teamster. The Teamsters couldn't get rid of him, because, well, he was a Teamster.
That childhood story came to mind reading this:
University of Colorado officials are considering offering Ward Churchill an early retirement package that could end an increasingly uncomfortable standoff with the controversial professor.
Two people familiar with internal CU discussions said the still-undetermined offer is in the idea stage. The discussions come just a week before a three-person panel is scheduled to deliver a report on Churchill's fitness for tenure.
David Lane, Churchill's attorney, said he has not been contacted about a buyout offer.
But, he said, while his primary focus is on protecting Churchill's constitutional right to speak out, he would be willing to listen to a university proposal.
"If they offer $10 million, I would think about it. If they offer him $10, I wouldn't," Lane said.
Things have gotten so bad on campus, that UC can't get rid of a known liar and plagiarist - not without a ten million dollar settlement, that is. Things have gotten so bad in the courts, that a ten million dollar buyout might be cheaper than a court fight. Things have gotten so bad, that a liar and plagiarist holds all the cards; he can keep his stature, pay, and influence, or he can get a seven figure check.
Tenure has become the Teamsters of acadamia. Even when acadamia doesn't want the guy around any longer, they still have no easy way to get rid of him.
Ward Churchill is now a brother-in-arms with the drunk, gun-waving idiot in a steel plant. A major university finds itself in the same position as a hated "robber-baron." Ward might be flattered by the comparison, but I doubt the University of Colorado would be.
But they have no one to blame but themselves.