Monday, October 17, 2016

Kafka at Berkeley

UC Berkeley chancellor’s personal trainer in ‘Kafkaesque’ tangle

By Matier & Ross, October 17, 2016,  San Francisco Chronicle

The saga of the UC Berkeley personal trainer who was put on paid administrative leave over questions about his relationship with Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and his wife gets stranger by the day.

Devin Wicks was the subject of a whistle-blower tip that he was giving free training sessions to Dirks and had accompanied the chancellor’s wife, Janaki Bakhle, who is an associate professor in history, on an alumni association-sponsored trip to India — all on the campus’ dime.

Thanks to Wicks, Dirks had also received an annual membership at the campus’ Recreational Sports Facility valued at $420.

Now, after six months of investigations, Wicks’ former boss at the Recreational Sports Facility has filed his own whistle-blower complaint with the university and UC President Janet Napolitano’s office — accusing them of wasting money by hanging Wicks out to dry for so long.

“He has no idea if and when the investigation will ever be over,” said Wicks’ former boss, Michael Weinberger, who retired as head of the Recreational Sports Facility in February.

Weinberger tells us that he was the one — and not Wicks — who authorized the chancellor’s free membership as a way to encourage Dirks to pay more attention to the school’s recreational needs.

According to his whistle-blower complaint, if there’s been any improper spending, it’s the more than $53,000 in salary and benefits that has been wasted these past six months keeping Wicks on the payroll but not allowing him to work.

Weinberger said Wicks was going through a “Kafkaesque experience.” UC officials have ordered him not to speak to anyone at the university or to reporters, but he’s been given no updates on the status of the case or been charged with any wrongdoing, Weinberger said.

“Also, it should be noted that while this investigation has dragged on, the chancellor was never put out on administrative leave,” Weinberger said.

On Friday, Dianne Klein, spokeswoman for Napolitano, said that “the investigation isn’t finalized, but we anticipate that it will be soon.” Beyond that, she said, she couldn’t comment.

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