UNM presidental buyout disturbing

By Ned Cantwell: State columinist

Life is good, right? OK job pays the bills. Car runs, usually. Just got the roof fixed to keep dry if it ever rains again.

That’s pretty much me. I spend my time dealing with 14 New Mexico editors who are just ordinary nice men and women except that — I suspect this is the case — before you get promoted to editor you have to go to a special school to learn how to become a penny-pinching scrooge.

These editors are just like the rest of us — like the lady who checks you out at the grocery store; the man who wears the silly little vest at Wal-Mart; the fellow who fixes your leaky faucet; the preacher who tries on Sunday to keep you walking the right path.

We are all just plain folks who have one thing in common: We wonder why we couldn’t have been Louis Caldera.

This guy Caldera was president of the University of New Mexico. He was making $293,000 a year. That seems fair, I guess. I don’t know what all a college president does, but it must be a bunch.

You would think a guy could scrape by on $293,000 a year, but perhaps not. They gave Louis a nice car allowance to help him avoid that queasy feeling the rest of us get when we drive up to the $3 pump.

For all I know, Louis Caldera was doing a fine job at UNM except for the fact I always have a hard time finding a parking place there. So I was surprised to read his bosses, the university regents, wanted Louis to leave.

A few weeks ago, “amid signs that his relationship with regents had deteriorated after 30 months on the job,” said the Albuquerque Journal, Louis resigned.’

But here’s the happy news. His contract runs through July of next year so even though he won’t lift a finger, he gets to keep his $293,000 annual salary. Oh, and here’s a good one. On July 1, he will receive a pay raise equal to the average pay raise given UNM faculty members.
Search your memory. When was the last time you were asked to leave a job and later given a pay raise?

Louis Caldera also got some little stuff to tide him over:
• Deferred compensation totaling $90,000;

• Automobile allowance, $800 a month;

• Premiums on his $500,000 life insurance policy;
• Moving fees, $30,000;

• Cell phone and e-mail expenses not to exceed $1,360;
• Storage of household goods up to $2,606.

Look, I don’t mean to be nasty. But if you’re taking down a quarter-million a year, can’t you pay to store your own crap?

That’s not quite enough, though. UNM will pay Caldera an additional $140,000 so he can buy military retirement service credit. They did this to “forestall the possibility of an expensive court battle over the contract.”

Regents are mum about why they wanted Louis Caldera gone. One might assume the reasons were serious or UNM could have used all this money for better purposes like, maybe, educating more needy students.

Things like this Caldera arrangement tend to make some ordinary folks bitter and angry. And when I say “ordinary folks,” I mean the 14 low-life, tight-fisted, arbitrary and capricious New Mexico editors who throw me crumbs so they can publish this column.

Personally, though, I am not bitter.

Ned Cantwell receives no taxpayer help to store his crap in the garage. Contact him at: