AUBURN | Cayuga Community College President Daniel Larson took exception to actions made by Auburn City Councilor Peter Ruzicka during last week's council meeting.
Ruzicka read a letter dated Aug. 19 from CCC Faculty Association President Eric Zizza toward the end of last week's public-to-be-heard session. Zizza states in his letter that the Schwartz Family Performing Arts Center will be "a tremendous burden on the resources of the college" that is not being built for educational purposes.
Also in the letter, Zizza alleges that Larson forgets to mention, "conveniently" at some points, certain aspects of the theater project such as a number of costs that may be incurred.
Larson's four-page response was read by City Clerk Debra McCormick on Thursday before City Manager Doug Selby gave his report.
Larson lodged a "formal protest" about the reading of Zizza's letter for three reasons: the letter was read by Ruzicka, not Zizza, and was not "submitted as correspondence to the Council;" Larson believed the letter did not follow council procedures referenced by Mayor Michael Quill "that prohibit personal attacks by name" and the statement was originally addressed to the media, not city councilors.
"It is curious that Mr. Ruzicka, who by virtue of public office should be objective in his review of the court-ordered (State Environmental Quality Review) process, clearly is opposed to this project and doing as much as possible to delay and thwart it," Larson stated.
In addition, Larson questions the leadership of the Faculty Association in their "adversarial stance" against a project that would, Larson stated, lead to more revenue for the college's gain.
During last week's council meeting, councilors were briefed on parts two and three of the SEQR for the theater project. Ruzicka was consistent in his concerns about soil and groundwater testing on the project site which would be done, he said, to ensure its safety.
On reading the letter, Ruzicka said the council, including Quill, did not object to reading the letter when he brought it to council's attention.
"My thoughts are I support the Faculty Association," Ruzicka said. "The college didn't get in the shape it's in by anything other than (Larson's) leadership."
Ruzicka filed a request via the Freedom of Information Act to find out the amount of legal fees the college has incurred for the performing arts center project, which he said was more than $100,000.
The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, Ruzicka said, should be paying those fees in accordance to the county Legislature.
"I can file a formal protest against (Larson) for his lack of leadership," he said, shrugging. "It's all because of the unhappiness he has with the Faculty Association. If someone happens to agree with the Faculty Association, he takes a stance against them."