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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Knuckleheads of the Day award

Today's winners are Florida International University(Aka FIU) and its President Modesto "Mitch" Madique. They get the award for the following.

Florida International University lost the largest donation in school history after a philanthropist abruptly withdrew a $20 million pledge for the planned College of Medicine.

Herbert Wertheim, a Miami entrepreneur, also resigned as a member of the FIU Board of Trustees. The board agreed six weeks ago to name the College of Medicine after him, but Wertheim has asked that his name be removed from the project. He said he was insulted after he and President Modesto "Mitch" Maidique differed over how his donation should be paid.

"I love FIU and hope to do things for FIU in the future," Wertheim said. "It's just unfortunate that we were not able to resolve this."

Wertheim's decision will not stop or delay plans for the medical school, which will accept applications in 2008 and admit its first class in 2009.

"It's a disappointment this happened," said David Parker, Board of Trustees chairman. "But there are a large number of people who have suggested that if we need their help they may be able to participate. I'm confident that we'll be able to replace the $20 million."

Parker wouldn't name other possible donors. He said the university has about $5 million to $10 million promised for the College of Medicine. FIU officials expect to pay $60 million for construction and hope to secure $46.5 million in state money for startup costs for the school's first five years and $20 million a year afterward.

Wertheim, a former optometrist, is the founder and CEO of Brain Power Inc., one of the world's largest manufacturers of ophthalmic instruments and chemicals. He is a longtime supporter of FIU, giving about $18 million in the past 20 years.

Frustrated that his employees couldn't get in to see a doctor, he pushed the state to approve a new medical school at FIU for nearly a decade. Wertheim first agreed to donate $10 million before upping it to $20 million. The state would have doubled the donation.

FIU used Wertheim's donation as leverage for starting the new medical school, which a state board approved in March.

His longtime friendship with Maidique soured when Wertheim's accountants told him he would lose $4 million to $6 million in tax deductions if his foundation paid a $20 million lump sum. He proposed paying it over a 26-month period. Maidique said it was crucial that FIU receive the money as a lump sum to ensure the state match.

"Most offensive to me was your comment that I was given the naming rights of the medical school `on the cheap,' and that you could now get $100 million for it," Wertheim wrote in a letter to Maidique. "After we finished speaking, I felt hurt, empty and disappointed."

Maidique could not be reached for comment despite calls, but said in a letter to Wertheim that the college's naming was contingent on the university receiving the $20 million payment in 30 days.
If you go read these documents, it appears Maidique may have been trying to squeeze Wertheim for more money. Now FIU has nothing. What's the saying, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush? The University had a big donation, which with matching state money would have paid for the new College of Medicine.

For being greedy instead of grateful, FIU and its President Modesto Maidique are today's Knuckleheads of the day.

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