Despite the meeting, questions about how the university and the foundation would collaborate remained unanswered on May 7, when Weber sent another memo to Roush and Sladek. "As we come closer to a 'go/no-go' decision on the Paseo, we need to sort out the business relationships between the University and the SDSU Foundation vis-à-vis the Paseo.
"These are issues that have arisen before in tangential ways, such as the university's request to be held harmless. However, what I am more interested in is a synergistic conversation that will ensure that we maximize the opportunities to both parties that this project presents."
But if Weber truly thought that the Paseo project was ripe with synergistic opportunities, some on his staff felt it was ready for the knife. Chief financial officer Roush, in particular, demanded more personal control over the project.
On May 25, 2004, Roush e-mailed Ellene Gibbs, the school's associate vice president of Financial Operations, about an upcoming meeting between university and foundation staffers. "What a way to have the beginning of my vacation ruined," said Roush. "You, and President Weber, will see that I have added a discussion of the role of the campus chief financial officer. Much of the tension revolves around the failure of the SDSUF organization to acknowledge and work within that construct.
"If that does not apply to the Paseo, that needs to get stated up front -- to me as well as to them," wrote Roush, threatening to boycott the gathering. "If the campus CFO role is to be diminished in this project, there is no need for the summit meeting.
"My colleague from Portland State University has just accepted the CFO position at the University of Idaho, which is still reeling from their redevelopment scandal. More individuals will be fired before it is all over. I cannot be party to anything that I feel will harm the University's operating and policy requirements. I hate to sound so negative but from far away this still looks very problematic."
It was touted as an urban village, akin to a combination of Horton Plaza and
(In 2003, the University of Idaho's president resigned and the vice president for finance was fired after it was revealed that unauthorized loans had been made from a university trust fund to the university's foundation, which was developing a satellite campus. The project fell apart, and the foundation was left with a $26 million debt.)
The next day, Gibbs e-mailed Roush back, denigrating the design of the Paseo. "We do not believe that the project, as scoped, is good for the University and its students," she wrote. "Let's say it was going to throw off millions: does that change how we expect our students to live, our traffic to flow, the safety we expect, the degree of class we want the front of our campus to have?
"It's like the old joke about the lady asked to sleep with someone for $2,000,000. That was OK, but when asked whether she'd do it for 5 cents, asked 'what do you think I am?'
"I don't see the need for a summit meeting either. But if it goes, you didn't call it so you don't need to lead it. In fact, I'd probably let them be lead speaker on every single agenda item with University only providing responsive comment as to agree/disagree basis in very brief form.
"Time to pick that pocket thread. Sit back and let your staff state their expert opinions one final time. No apologies, no bargaining. (There shouldn't be any bargaining in front of Fdn board members anyway!)"
Though the e-mails show a virtual revolt of university staff, with Roush leading the charge -- demanding to wrest control from the foundation -- Weber remained seemingly oblivious to the brewing mutiny.
"Welcome home. I hope Hawaii was great," he said in an e-mail to Roush dated May 27, 2004. "When you get back I am going to try to put together a meeting which will ask whether we could move for external ownership of this project. I know that would mean less for us -- and perhaps fewer controls, but Charlie seems set on screwing this deal up any way he can."
Charlie is almost certainly CSU chancellor Charles B. Reed, Weber's boss. Elsewhere in the same missive, Weber mentions him again, saying, "Charlie is mad at me again (not important why, but I will fill you in when we see each other next week), and has abruptly cancelled (without explanation)" a meeting about the Paseo financing. "He has said it might be possible to schedule a meeting in July!"
On June 14, in an e-mail to foundation CEO Frea Sladek about disagreements over preparation of an environmental impact report for the Paseo, Roush said, "There is a continuing failure to recognize that for a project that has so much importance for and impact on the University, the University must be the driver."
On August 9, Thomas F. Carter, a longtime member of the SDSU Foundation board and an influential alumnus as well as a staunch backer of the Paseo project proposed by the foundation, e-mailed Weber about a meeting Carter had had with CSU's executive vice chancellor Richard West.
"All in all, I think it was a good meeting and as I told him, we want to work with him to make this happen. My read is that and to use his words 'if we can show him that our proposed financing is dollar neutral' he felt he could support it."
Then Carter alluded to the static that Roush and her backers were creating. "Another issue that I took away from our discussion is that he is getting two messages from San Diego. I think it is critical that we have only one person talk to the Chancellor's office on the Paseo."
Replied Weber: "Yes, there is the rub. What single person can represent us to best advantage? Sally is most knowledgeable and most respected by Richard, but is skeptical and less than enthusiastic about the project as it now stands.