Quinn Bonus—Already Cashed—May Have Violated Policy
Motion Raised at Special Council Meeting Discussed Whether Funds Could Be Retrieved; How to Avoid Future Recurrences
Former academic and advocacy coordinator Patrick Quinn has already received the $3,187.42 of his amended bonus. It will probably not be possible to recuperate the funds despite concerns that the revision violated policy.
At a special council meeting on July 23, Concordia Student Union council debated the validity of a previous vote on July 8 that retroactively awarded Quinn a full 10 per cent bonus.
It was argued it was illogical for a council who never worked with Quinn to vote on his bonus and that it violates the spirit of Section 14.4 of the Finance and Operations Policy.
Executives can be awarded up to 10 per cent of their salary by council in the May regular meeting as recognition of performance.
The policy section passed on March 28.
The July 23 motion, which carried, mentioned an evaluation grid would be worked on by the policy committee to ensure bonus decisions are fair and independent of personal relationships.
The motion also stated decisions about bonuses rendered on the last meeting of May would be final and cannot be re-voted on.
Since the funds had been given to Quinn already, the motion was amended so the budgetary impact was null.
“I was appalled when I learned of the vote that happened last SCM on the previous executive’s bonus, for one main reason, as the decision was made about the last mandate,” said councillor Désirée Blizzard, who presented the motion.
Blizzard explained she worked on the finance policy herself, with Quinn, and with the policy committee. She said she knows the sentiment and the spirit behind the regulation.
“Only a council that worked with the executive is meant to vote on their bonus,” she said.
Blizzard again called the decision appalling and stated it was financial mismanagement.
“I would urge everyone in the future to pay attention to the due process. Especially with COVID, the CSU may be in a dire financial situation.”
Blizzard presented the motion in hopes to prevent the same situation from happening again in future councils.
Arguments were raised that the awarding of Quinn’s bonus on July 8, per the regulation, had to be done in a regular council meeting in May, not in July before a new council who did not work with Quinn.
It was also argued the councillors who voted on this may not have been aware of the policy.
“We do not have the capacity to award that $3,187.42, especially during COVID,” said councillor S. Shivaane.
“It can’t be revoked now, but at least with this motion it won’t be repeated.”
Shivaane said the vote was very irresponsible and should never have happened, stating there was no basis, apart from anecdotes, for the decision in favour of Quinn’s bonus.
She added maybe councillors would not have agreed with that if they were there at the time.
Councillor Ahmadou Sakho stated the motion to cut from the current budget was financially irresponsible and the motion passed to grant Quinn his bonus should be taken back.
Sakho said the finance committee seemed to have a more financially responsible outlook for the year and the decision to award Quinn the funds does not align with that direction.
General coordinator Isaiah Joyner reiterated that at least 75 per cent of the council who voted on Quinn’s June 8 bonus amendment did not have the knowledge of Quinn’s performance necessary to make that decision.
“You can’t commit financial mismanagement and then preach saving people money,” Joyner said. “At the end of the day, this is all student money.”
Joyner was referencing a budget scenario that cut 20 per cent from the operating budget in the event enrollment decreased due to COVID.
“Finance committee is proposing that we keep that negative scenario, regardless of if enrollment is high or low, which we don’t agree with,” Joyner told The Link.
“If the enrollment numbers are good we should have the regular operating budget that we planned for.”
Councillor Tzvi Hersh Filler motioned to table the discussion to the policy decision, insisting this was a change to the standing regulations and requires discussion by the policy committee.
The motion failed.
“I don’t know what there is to discuss,” Blizzard said. “I personally think a bonus is an additional thank you, not a right.”
“If it was improperly disbursed, can the council ask for the money back?” asked The Link’s Alexandre Denis. “Was a rule broken?”
Blizzard responded she felt the rules were broken, but there is a disagreement in council. She stated if this motion doesn’t pass, it could be brought to the Judicial Board to rule on the legality.
“Hypothetically, could it be argued that some councillors would not have voted for this had they known that the motion was breaking a rule?” Denis asked.
“This is not an interview,” councillor James Hanna replied.
Student life coordinator Eduardo Malorni said the rule stands that the bonuses are only allotted in May and the rule can be changed by a two-thirds vote by council. He also disagreed it should be sent to policy committee.
Councillor Margot Berner motioned to notwithstand that the change would have needed to go to policy committee. The motion passed.
“It’s not a secret that there is a lack of diversity of thought on the policy committee,” said Berner.
“We have a duty to students to manage their money responsibly.”
Councillor James Hanna interrupted the meeting to announce he was made aware of a major violation of confidentiality by a member that was present in the former council.
Hanna attempted to motion for the CSU to allocate $5,000 to an investigation into who leaked closed session tapes to The Link.
Hanna was cut off for speaking out of the agenda points near the end of the meeting.