UC reverses policy, won’t pick up tab for regents’ parties
UC President Janet Napolitano said the practice will stop to avoid questions over the use of fund
“The University of California will no longer pay for its governing board members to throw themselves dinners and parties after a Chronicle report showed that the regents regularly billed the university for their festivities.
UC Regents Slammed for Expensive Dinners in Midst of Spending Scandal
“The University of California Regents hosted 59 friends for a $258-per-plate dinner at the luxurious San Francisco Palace Hotel the night after they promised to implement greater control over tuition increases.
The report alleged that Napolitano’s office systematically overcharged the ten UC campuses to fund its bloated staff of 1,700; spent excessively on employee compensation and executive performance bonuses; and then kept the existence of a $175 million reserve secret when the UC Regents voted on her request to raise 2017-2018 tuitions.
Napolitano told legislators her office accepted all 33 State Auditor budgeting recommendations as “constructive and helpful.” She thanked legislators for calling the hearings, and claimed, “It is my hope that this hearing will enable us to clear the air, and move forward on behalf of our students and the state,” according to the East Bay Times.
Monica Lozano, Chairwoman of the UC Board of Regents, then testified that her Board would implement changes in the UC president’s office and review the $336 increase in tuition this coming school year. Lozano praised the State Auditor’s report and promised that the UC Board of Regents exercise give greater direction over Napolitano’s spending.
But Lozano then hurried down to San Francisco’s Michelin Five-Star rated Palace Hotel, where she joined the UC Board of Regents in hosting a dinner for 59, and charging the $15,199 bill to the University of California. The Palace is part of Starwood’s “Luxury Collection.” It is known for its famed bar, awe-inspiring crystal chandelier, and world class dinning. Room rates range from $505 to $7,550 a night.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the University of California Board of Regents spent $17,600 at the posh Mark Hopkins Hotel on the top of Nob Hill the evening before they voted on January 26 to raise UC tuitions by 2.7 percent.
A UC spokesperson Dianne Klein told the Chronicle that the tradition of four-to-six Regents’ dinners per year, paid from UC endowment funds, goes back for decades. Ms. Klein acknowledged that the UC President’s Office had reimbursed the Regents $225,000 for dinners over the last five years.
A high-profile Regent who appears to have ducked the burgeoning UC spending scandals is current California Lieutenant Governor, and active candidate to replace Governor Brown, Gavin Newsom. His office serves as one of the 26 UC Regents, but he did not attend the January 25 and May 17 dinners. Newsom told the Chronicle that high-class Regents dinners are unnecessary and the cost of recent spending was inappropriate.
Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, who called for the hearings on the critical findings of the State Auditor’s independent audit of the UC President’s Office, has demanded that the University of California’s administrative budget come under the Legislature’s control.”
“The University of California warned Californians early this year that if tuition weren’t significantly raised or public funding increased, education at the 10-campus system — with its staff of 200,000 and $28.5-billion-plus budget — would suffer. “We’re at the point where if we don’t do this, if we don’t invest, the quality of education is going to suffer,” a UC spokesperson told the media. The Board of Regents promptly approved tuition hikes.
I’m the parent of a UC student, but the main reason the deal upset me was that it spotlighted the system’s waste-filled bureaucracy. There’s insufficient oversight of UC’s spending. Instead of cutting back on programs battling “micro-aggressions” and other PC nonsense or trimming obscene levels of pay and benefits for UC employees, officials spend like crazy and then take it out of the hide of students and taxpayers who fund about a quarter of its budget.
As it turns out, conservative critics of the university and its President Janet Napolitano, the scandal-plagued former head of the Department of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama, were just scratching the surface. A report released Monday by the California State Auditor detailed plenty of waste, but also alleges that the Office of the President did not disclose $175 million in reserves.
This scandal should lead to the firing of Napolitano and others at UC who took part in this alleged budget-hiding game. Basically, the state audit argues that UC officials were sitting on a budget that was not disclosed to regents, legislators, or the public. That’s at the same time they were crying poormouth, and hitting up students for an additional $88 million annually to assure that the university could continue to provide the same level of “quality” education.”
UC President Janet Napolitano hid $175 million while raising tuition, paying excessive salaries to personal staff
“A state audit released Tuesday concludes that the University of California Office of the President, led by former Obama administration DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, hid away $175 million while paying excessive salaries to staff and raising tuition on students. Auditor Elaine Howle also says someone from Napolitano’s office interfered with questionnaires sent to various UC campuses as part of the audit. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
The UC Office of the President amassed millions in the secret reserve funds in part by overestimating how much it needed to run the 10-campus university system — and then spending less than budgeted, the audit said. From 2012 to 2016, the office sought increased funding based on the inflated estimates, not actual spending, according to Howle…
About $32 million of the $175 million that Howle’s audit found in the secret reserve came from campus assessment fees — money that the auditor said could have been spent on students and should be returned to the campuses.
Even as it accumulated the campus fees, Napolitano persuaded the Board of Regents to increase those fees in two of the four years audited, Howle said.
There are nearly 1,700 people working in the Office of the President. The audit notes that number is significantly higher than other similar offices. This chart makes the comparison. Note that the California State system has more than twice as many campuses and nearly twice as many students but manages to get by with 1/3 the amount of staff of the UC system:
In addition to having an outsized staff, the Office of the President was also paying significantly higher salaries than comparable state workers were earning, plus offering a special retirement plan, and other questionable expenses. From the LA Times:
The audit said: “10 executives in the Office of the President whose compensation we analyzed were paid a total of $3.7 million in fiscal year 2014-15 — over $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest paid state employee counterparts.”
On benefits, the Office of the President provided a regular retirement plan but also offered its executives a retirement savings account into which the office contributes up to 5% of the executives’ salaries—about $2.5 million over the past five years, the audit found.
“The Office of the President also spent more than $2 million for its staff’s business meetings and entertainment expenses over the past five years—a benefit that the State does not offer to its employees except in limited circumstances,” the audit said.
For the record, Napolitano has denied the claims made in the audit. She says the reserve fund was only $38 million which was set aside as a reserve in case of emergency. But needless to say, all of this stinks to high heaven. Howle, the auditor, told the SF Chronicle, “I’ve never had a situation like that in my 17 years as state auditor.” Lawmakers plan to hold a hearing on the results of the audit next week.”
| Note: For the record Janet Napolitano had no administrative experience running an academic institution the size, reputation and importance like the University of California. She needs to resign. /CJ
| U.S. Constitution: Bill Clinton lost the Line Item Veto in 1998
That pesky Presentment Clause of the Constitution
“The Presentment Clause is commonly viewed as a provision that protects the President’s veto power, an association reinforced by the clause’s name. Yet, the Presentment Clause has a broader function: The clause prescribes the exclusive method for passing federal statutes, indicating that all bills must pass both Houses of Congress and be subject to the President’s veto. Thus, with some justification, one might call the provision the Lawmaking Clause.
Recently, the Supreme Court has reviewed a different departure from the traditional lawmaking process—the conferral of cancellation authority on the executive—and held it to be unconstitutional as a violation of the Presentment Clause. Clinton v. City of New York (1998). In 1995, Congress enacted the Line Item Veto Act, which despite its name, did not provide the President with veto authority, but instead authorized him to cancel certain spending provisions. This cancellation authority was similar to an ordinary delegation of administrative authority in that it conferred discretion on the executive, subject to a statutory standard, to take certain actions. Cancellation authority, however, differs from an ordinary delegation since it is generally narrower. Whereas an ordinary delegation allows the executive to promulgate a rule of his choosing, cancellation authority permits him only to accept or reject a statutory rule. For example, in the appropriation law area, ordinary delegations under traditional appropriation laws permit the President to spend any sum between the amount appropriated and zero, whereas cancellation authority only permits him the choice to spend the appropriated amount or to cancel the appropriation and spend nothing.
Reviewing the cancellation authority provided by the Line Item Veto Act, the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. In the Court’s view, cancellation authority was similar to the power to repeal a law, because the authority could eliminate an appropriation. The exercise of cancellation authority therefore needed to conform to the Presentment Clause. Of course, if cancellation authority is similar to repealing an appropriation, then the executive’s authority under a traditional appropriation to decide how much to spend is similar to enacting an appropriation, because the executive can “legislate” the amount that should be spent. Under the Court’s reasoning, then, ordinary delegations may also logically violate the Presentment Clause, but the Court continues regularly to permit such delegations. The Court has yet to resolve this double standard whereby cancellation authority is unconstitutional even though such authority is generally narrower than ordinary delegations.”
Can the President Legally Not Spend Funds Appropriated by Congress?
Impoundment of Appropriated Funds
“In his Third Annual Message to Congress, President Jefferson established the first faint outline of what years later became a major controversy. Reporting that $50,000 in funds which Congress had appropriated for fifteen gunboats on the Mississippi remained unexpended, the President stated that a “favorable and peaceful turn of affairs on the Mississippi rendered an immediate execution of the law unnecessary… .” But he was not refusing to expend the money, only delaying action to obtain improved gunboats; a year later, he told Congress that the money was being spent and gun-boats were being obtained.628 A few other instances of deferrals or refusals to spend occurred in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, but it was only with the Administration of President Franklin Roosevelt that a President refused to spend moneys for the purposes appropriated. Succeeding Presidents expanded upon these precedents, and in the Nixon Administration a well-formulated plan of impoundments was executed in order to reduce public spending and to negate programs established by congressional legislation.629
Impoundment630 was defended by Administration spokesmen as being a power derived from the President’s executive powers and particularly from his obligation to see to the faithful execution of the laws, i.e., his discretion in the manner of execution. The President, the argument went, is responsible for deciding when two conflicting goals of Congress can be harmonized and when one must give way, when, for example, congressional desire to spend certain moneys must yield to congressional wishes to see price and wage stability. In some respects, impoundment was said or implied to flow from certain inherent executive powers that repose in any President. Finally, statutory support was sought; certain laws were said to confer discretion to withhold spending, and it was argued that congressional spending programs are discretionary rather than mandatory.
There is no satisfactory definition of impoundment. Legislation enacted by Congress uses the phrase “deferral of budget authority” which is defined to include: “(A) withholding or delaying the obligation or expenditure of budget authority (whether by establishing reserves or otherwise) provided for projects or activities; or (B) any other type of Executive action or inaction which effectively precludes the obligation or expenditure of budget authority, including authority to obligate by contract in advance of appropriations as specifically authorized by law.” 2 U.S.C. § 682(1).”
On the other hand, it was argued that Congress’ powers under Article I, § 8, were fully adequate to support its decision to authorize certain programs, to determine the amount of funds to be spent on them, and to mandate the Executive to execute the laws. Permitting the President to impound appropriated funds allowed him the power of item veto, which he does not have, and denied Congress the opportunity to override his veto of bills enacted by Congress. In particular, the power of Congress to compel the President to spend appropriated moneys was said to derive from Congress’ power “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution” the enumerated powers of Congress and “all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or officer thereof.”
The President’s decision to impound large amounts of appropriated funds led to two approaches to curtail the power. First, many persons and organizations, with a reasonable expectation of receipt of the impounded funds upon their release, brought large numbers of suits; with a few exceptions, these suits resulted in decisions denying the President either constitutional or statutory power to decline to spend or obligate funds, and the Supreme Court, presented with only statutory arguments by the Administration, held that no discretion existed under the particular statute to withhold allotments of funds to the States.633 Second, Congress in the course of revising its own manner of appropriating funds in accordance with budgetary responsibility provided for mandatory reporting of impoundments to Congress, for congressional disapproval of impoundments, and for court actions by the Comptroller General to compel spending or obligation of funds.”
Question: A question that seems to present itself is for example, if the executive decides in the event of a major flood for example to defer or reserve funding from discretionary funding of a program to another more tactical in nature or by deletion of the funding by line item of the now uneeded program. How could the Court hamper the powers of the executive in such a way, and in such a permanent fashion as in the Impound Act of 1974?
This is a fascinating subject as it includes the question of whether the president can or cannot withhold funds appropriated by Congress. There may be no simple answer to this conundrum, as each ‘solution’ to the problem seems to only create new ones. /CJ
Intellectual Intolerance – Stunning Speech From Stanford University Provost Exposes “The Threat From Within”
“In a remarkable – for its honesty and frankness – statement on the intellectual rot within America’s Ivory Towers, Stanford University Provost John Etchemendy lay bare the challenges that higher education face in the coming, increasingly divisive, years.
The Threat From Within
Universities are a fundamental force of good in the world. At their best, they mine knowledge and understanding, wisdom and insight, and then freely distribute these treasures to society at large. Theirs is not a monopoly on this undertaking, but in the concentration of effort and single-mindedness of purpose, they are truly unique institutions. If Aristotle is right that what defines a human is rationality, then they are the most distinctive, perhaps the pinnacle, of human endeavors.
I share this thought to remind us all why we do what we do – why we care so much about Stanford and what it represents. But I also say it to voice a concern. Universities are under attack, both from outside and from within.
The threat from outside is apparent. Potential cuts in federal funding would diminish our research enterprise and our ability to fund graduate education. Taxing endowments would limit the support we can give to faculty and the services we can provide our students. Indiscriminate travel restrictions would impede the free exchange of ideas and scholars. All of these threats have intensified in recent years – and recent months have given them a reality that is hard to ignore.
But I’m actually more worried about the threat from within. Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.
This results in a kind of intellectual blindness that will, in the long run, be more damaging to universities than cuts in federal funding or ill-conceived constraints on immigration. It will be more damaging because we won’t even see it: We will write off those with opposing views as evil or ignorant or stupid, rather than as interlocutors worthy of consideration. We succumb to the all-purpose ad hominem because it is easier and more comforting than rational argument. But when we do, we abandon what is great about this institution we serve.
It will not be easy to resist this current. As an institution, we are continually pressed by faculty and students to take political stands, and any failure to do so is perceived as a lack of courage. But at universities today, the easiest thing to do is to succumb to that pressure. What requires real courage is to resist it. Yet when those making the demands can only imagine ignorance and stupidity on the other side, any resistance will be similarly impugned.
The university is not a megaphone to amplify this or that political view, and when it does it violates a core mission. Universities must remain open forums for contentious debate, and they cannot do so while officially espousing one side of that debate.
But we must do more. We need to encourage real diversity of thought in the professoriate, and that will be even harder to achieve. It is hard for anyone to acknowledge high-quality work when that work is at odds, perhaps opposed, to one’s own deeply held beliefs. But we all need worthy opponents to challenge us in our search for truth. It is absolutely essential to the quality of our enterprise.
I fear that the next few years will be difficult to navigate. We need to resist the external threats to our mission, but in this, we have many friends outside the university willing and able to help. But to stem or dial back our academic parochialism, we are pretty much on our own. The first step is to remind our students and colleagues that those who hold views contrary to one’s own are rarely evil or stupid, and may know or understand things that we do not. It is only when we start with this assumption that rational discourse can begin, and that the winds of freedom can blow.
We wish John well in his future endeavors as we are sure there will be a groundswell of hurt feelings demanding his resignation for dropping another truth bomb on their safe space.”