Archive for the ‘Agenda Media’ Category
It was impossible to do a proper critique of the Times article in a single post so here’s Part II. First, let’s start with more Potter spin:
Potter said he was proud of the university community for the way it responded to the questions, and he noted that St. Cloud State was one of only a few higher education institutions to participate in this type of survey.
“It’s a risky thing to do. We knew that we would get some hard messages back,” he said. “We knew that we would not be near the top, that we have a long way to go. But (we) felt it was absolutely essential to take the step and move our culture forward.”
Fortunately for President Potter, the Times buried those hard messages from employees under a pile of manure. When the vast majority of employees think that the boss is incompetent and untrustworthy, those aren’t the ingredients for a great place to work. As damning as those things are, this might be the worst criticism of the Potter administration:
The survey was the idea of Holly Schoenherr, the university’s human resources director. Shortly after she started two years ago, she began to hear about employees who felt they were being bullied in the workplace and about concerns regarding civil discourse.
I’ve spoken with several SCSU professors. They won’t go on the record for fear of retribution from President Potter, corrupt members of the faculty or both. The pervasive atmosphere amongst faculty is that retribution is considered a management tool by the administration and their apologists.
What’s puzzling is that Mr. Unze didn’t ask Ms. Schoenherr whether the survey showed if the bullying had persisted. Also, why didn’t Mr. Unze ask whether the discourse had improved from being hostile? These are questions that should’ve been asked. These are questions that the public has a right to know.
As amateurish as the Times’ reporting is, that isn’t the focus of this post. What’s important is that this post highlight President Potter’s management (mismanagement?) style, the on-campus bullying and whether steps have been taken to improve on-campus morale.
Based on the information contained in this post, I’d argue that nothing concrete has changed:
The statistics speak for themselves. People don’t trust President Potter because his actions don’t match his words, because “management isn’t approachable” and because they think he’s incompetent.
There’s no reason to think President Potter will change. Absent him changing dramatically, the problems at SCSU will persist. No amount of spin from the administration and the St. Cloud Times will change that fact.
For the umpteenth time, the St. Cloud Times treated disastrous news for President Potter like it was a minor bump in the road. Most importantly, the article showed how lazy Times reporter Dave Unze is:
The survey was offered to all 1,582 university employees and generated a response from 40 percent of them. The university released the answers to two questions that were asked of those employees: What makes St. Cloud State a great place to work, and what would make the school a better place to work?
That’s pathetic ‘reporting’. Why didn’t Unze ask for the other questions in the survey? This is the type of ‘journalism’ I’d expect from TMZ. Jon Stewart asks harder hitting questions than this. But I digress.
The survey’s findings are devastating to President Potter. Just look at this graphic:
Here’s what I wrote when I got the full results of the GPTWI survey:
When asked if “management’s words match its actions”, only 24% of respondents said yes. When asked if “management is competent”, only 32% said yes. When asked if “management makes sound financial decisions”, only 28% said they did.
Instead of digging into the meat of the survey, the Times picked out two softball questions that doesn’t get to the heart of the survey. That isn’t reporting. That’s insulting to the point that I should question whether President Potter is paying the Times to be his off-campus PR firm.
The graphic titled the numbers tell the story raises some important questions about President Potter’s competency and trustworthiness. In addition to the questions in the above paragraph, there are other damning questions. Here are some examples:
- Only 20% of survey respondents agreed with this statement: Management shares information openly and transparently.
- Only 29% of survey respondents agreed with this statement: Management is approachable.
- Only 26% of survey respondents agreed with this statement: Management delivers on its promises.
- Only 25% of survey respondents agreed with this statement: Management has a clear view.
The Times is cheating its readers by not asking hard-hitting questions. Apparently, the Times’ goal is to take whatever information President Potter gives them, then turns it into a story that praises President Potter.
President Potter’s decisions have taken St. Cloud State from being the flagship university in the MnSCU to being a distant 2nd place and fading fast. The only thing more disgusting than SCSU’s decline during President Potter’s watch is how the St. Cloud Times has refused to challenge President Potter’s spin.
The damning information is there for those willing to look for it. It’s apparent that Dave Unze isn’t willing to look for that type of information. It’s apparent that the Times management isn’t interested in holding Mr. Unze accountable for not digging into the story the way a real reporter would do.
This paragraph is insulting:
“As in any complex organization, there are folks that think that St. Cloud State is a great place to work. There is strong agreement among them about why they think that’s true,” Potter said.
When only a third of SCSU employees think management is competent, that’s a sign that there aren’t many folks who think SCSU is a great place to work.” When a fourth of SCSU’s employees think that management’s words match its actions, it’s impossible to think that SCSU employees trust President Potter and his senior management team. In the private sector, those survey results would get the CEO terminated immediately.
This news article could’ve been written by Denise Cardinal or Carrie Lucking:
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a $616 million tax cut plan for the state on Friday, and this is one measure that can truly be described as “bi-partisan.”
Lawmakers tell us that the bill was in the works for a short while as everyone knew this was something the state desperately needed.
Minnesota State Rep. Kim Norton, (D) Rochester, says she’s thrilled to have this bill passed and signed by the governor and having it pass quickly as some of the cuts apply to tax returns being filed right now.
“The Senate took the bill on the House floor this last week,” she said, “it was sent over to the house, we concurred with their bill very quickly, there was a little bit of discussion but there were no amendments on the house side. We were able to vote it into law and send it to the governor for his signature very quickly.”
It might have been a speedy process, but it was thorough.
That’s the definition of spin. First, the bill that Gov. Dayton just signed isn’t a tax cut. It’s mostly the repeal of a tiny portion of last year’s tax increase, which was the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history. Next, the amount of taxes repealed didn’t come close to $616,000,000. It’s been reported that the repeal saved Minnesota taxpayers $440,000,000. Repealing taxes that haven’t gone into effect isn’t a tax cut.
Third, this bill wasn’t in the works just “a short while.” The repeal of the warehouse services sales tax, the farm equipment repair sales tax and the telecommunications sales tax were initially proposed prior to last summer’s special session. That’s 7 months ago. That’s longer than a legislative session by a couple months.
Fourth, the tax repair bill that Gov. Dayton signed wasn’t signed because he and the DFL legislature love cutting taxes. Gov. Dayton didn’t sign this bill because he hates raising taxes. Gov. Dayton signed this bill because not repealing these taxes would’ve been political suicide.
Fifth, the process wasn’t thorough. I wrote here about how little the DFL thought their tax increases through. Here’s the transcript between Rep. Kurt Zellers and Commissioner Myron Frans:
REP. ZELLERS: But if I pay him every month $20 or $100, is that going to be or is he going to have to start collecting sales tax and remitting it to the State of Minnesota?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: …He probably would. If it was a monthly charge, then there likely would be a sales tax charge.
REP. ZELLERS: So then someone mowing my lawn, someone shovelling snow for me during the winter time or a babysitter?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: Those services would generally all be covered by the sales tax.
The DFL’s leadership didn’t even think basic things through. Commissioner Frans couldn’t even answer basic questions about what would and wouldn’t be taxed.
Republicans shouldn’t kid themselves. The DFL’s praetorian guard, aka the Agenda Media, is already running interference for the DFL. Think of what it’ll be like when the campaign gets into full swing. Republicans should get out ahead of this issue now and return to it repeatedly. This isn’t the time to take things for granted. It’s time to demolish the Agenda Media’s premise before it’s considered the truth.
Repealing a tiny portion of the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history is just that: the repealing of a tiny portion of the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history.
A thief who steals some jewelry, a hi-definition big screen TV and some kitchen appliances is still a thief if the thief returns the kitchen appliances.
This article sickens me because it’s intellectually dishonest. Baird Helgeson is intent on portraying the DFL as heroic tax cutters. That’s BS. The DFL is the party that taxes first, then waits to see if there’s a backlash. If there’s a backlash, they pass a Tax Repair Bill like they did Friday.
“This is a monumental victory for the DFL leadership in the Legislature and just shows that we have a balanced approach to Minnesota,” Dayton said during a celebratory news conference with DFL House and Senate leaders. “That’s what people wanted.”
Despite Gov. Dayton’s attempt to praise the DFL leadership in the House and Senate, it’s just proof that Gov. Dayton is intent on painting over his criticism of Sen. Bakk earlier this week. Here’s what he said earlier this week:
I’m very disappointed that we have not been able to reach a bill and frankly, we’ve got a meeting this afternoon with House and Senate leaders. I just have to say that the impasse isn’t around the tax bill. It’s about the Legislative Office Building and the Senate’s insistence that they have the building and they aren’t willing to let a reasonable tax bill proceed on a timely basis until they get the building and the House’s unwillingness at this point to agree to that. So I hope that Minnesotans will communicate with their legislators, and these are Democrat legislators, I’m sorry to say, that this is inexcusable and unacceptable.
Which is it, Gov. Dayton? Does Sen. Bakk deserve praise for stalling a bill to pressure the House into approving Bakk’s Palace? Does the DFL deserve praise for passing the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history last year, then repealing a tiny fraction of them this year? Does the DFL deserve praise for raising taxes and fees by $2,400,000,000 last year, then giving $440,000,000 of that back this year?
Minnesotans shouldn’t be happy that the DFL finally listened to them. They shouldn’t be happy that the DFL did the right thing only after the DFL started worrying about this year’s elections. That isn’t representing the people. That’s voting the DFL’s ideology.
It’s proof that the DFL will always do the right thing…when it’s the only option left.
The House and Senate passed the bill overwhelmingly on Friday. Nearly every Republican joined most DFLers in backing it, but GOP members criticized the majority for a provision in the bill that adds $150 million to state budget reserves. That brings the state’s rainy-day fund to more than $800 million, but Republicans said that money should go back to taxpayers too.
Putting that much money into the state’s rainy day fund is criminal. That’s stealing money from businesses that would create jobs with it. The DFL is putting money aside so the DFL won’t have to spend money efficiently. They’d rather pay off their special interest allies with the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. The DFL wouldn’t be able to pay off their special interest allies with taxpayers money if money was spent efficiently. It’s time the DFL stopped feeding their special interest allies and started representing their constituents.
Thus far, the DFL hasn’t proven that they’re interested in doing the right thing the first time. They’ve proven quite the opposite. This week, the DFL proved that they’ll do the right thing only when they’re worried about the next election.
That isn’t leadership. That’s called brinksmanship, which shouldn’t be rewarded with praise. This isn’t tax relief:
Much of the tax relief is delivered by conforming to recent changes in federal tax law, and about $57 million of it is retroactive to taxes paid in 2013.
Typically, tax conformity is the first bill passed by the legislature each year. It’s typically the first bill the governor signs each year. By waiting until after thousands of people have filed their tax returns before passing the tax conformity bill, the DFL just caused taxpayers the headache of filing an amended return. The DFL didn’t give thousands of people the opportunity to do their taxes once. Instead, Sen. Bakk opted to force thousands to file amended returns.
That isn’t cause for celebration. That’s cause for criticism. The DFL, specifically Sen. Bakk, put a high priority on getting the Senate Office Building approved. The DFL, especially Sen. Bakk, didn’t put a high priority on passing what I’m calling the Tax Repair Bill. Sen. Bakk said that the Senate couldn’t be rushed into passing the Tax Repair Bill because they were studying the impacts the tax repeals would have.
Sen. Bakk said that until he was exposed as playing political games with the Tax Repair Bill. Then he went into warp speed.
The GOP deserves praise in this for not supporting the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history. The GOP deserves praise for not buying into the DFL’s counterproductive tax increases. Minnesotans deserve praise for passionately criticizing the DFL’s tax increases.
UPDATE: This video is sickening:
Speaker Thissen spoke about tax relief for possibly 1,000,000 Minnesotans. Sen. Bakk praised the DFL for working at warp speed to get these tax ‘cuts’ passed. Isn’t it interesting that Sen. Bakk conveniently omitted the part about how he tried holding the tax repeals hostage to force the House to approve his Senate Office Building project? He didn’t budge until Gov. Dayton threw him under the bus because the political backlash was threatening a second Dayton term.
Sen. Bakk deserves criticism for playing politics with this Tax Repair Bill. Speaker Thissen and Gov. Dayton deserve criticism for passing the original tax increases which they repealed Friday. The DFL ‘leadership’ deserves criticism for putting a higher priority on voting their ideology than representing their constituents.
The good news is that we can fix two-thirds of the problem this November.
I wrote this post to highlight the Agenda Media’s willingness to parrot the DFL’s ‘tax cut’ rhetoric. Frankly, it’s insulting intellectually to hear them say that the DFL is cutting taxes. A little history lesson will illustrate the intellectual emptiness of the DFL’s claims.
Let’s start with 2010, when voters swept in a class of reformers, giving Republicans majorities in the House and Senate. That group of legislators started with a $6,200,000,000 deficit. Gov. Dayton immediately proposed the biggest tax increases in Minnesota history.
When the February budget forecast came out, the projected deficit had ‘dropped’ to $5,030,000,000. Immediately, Gov. Dayton took several proposed tax increases off the table. Here’s a list of Gov. Dayton’s tax increases:
Taxes: Largest Increase in History; Highest Rate in Nation -
New fifth tier of 13.95% for anyone earning over $500,000.
New fourth tier of 10.95% for single earning $85,000 or married filing jointly earning $150,000.
State property tax on Home Values over $1 million.
Closing Corporate and other Loopholes
Health Care Surcharges including the Granny Tax.
Other Tax Revenues including a car rental tax to help fund Minnesota tourism.
No complete payback of K-12 shift until 2023.
Spending: A 22% Increase
When the dust settled after the Dayton Shutdown, taxes weren’t raised. As a result, Minnesota’s economy rebounded. When the DFL took over the legislature, Gov. Dayton again proposed huge tax increases. He did this despite the fact that the projected deficit had dropped to $600,000,000. That’s quite the difference from the $6,200,000,000 deficit Republicans inherited.
Despite the tiny deficit, Gov. Dayton and the DFL proposed $2,400,000,000 in tax and fee increases. Gov. Dayton and the DFL included new business-to-business sales taxes in its ‘tax reform’ package. They also included increased LGA, allegedly to provide property tax relief.
Immediately, the business community criticized the B2B sales taxes and the income tax increases. Quickly, Gov. Dayton and the House DFL dropped those tax increases. The Senate DFL refused to play along with that. The Tax Bill that House and Senate Democrats voted for and that Gov. Dayton signed included those B2B tax increases along with money for Sen. Bakk’s Legislative Office Building.
Fast forward to this week. Gov. Dayton criticized Sen. Bakk for playing games with what I’m calling the DFL’s Tax Repair Bill. As a result, Sen. Bakk caved and eventually passed the Tax Repair Bill.
When a thief plunders a home, taking jewelry, high tech electronics and kitchen appliances, that’s a theft. If the thief returns the kitchen appliances, it’s still a theft. Similarly, raising taxes, then repealing a tiny portion of those taxes still means that the DFL raised taxes.
The reality is that Minnesota families will have a greater percentage of their paychecks confiscated because of the Dayton-DFL tax increases than they paid when this legislature was sworn in. That’s the verifiable reality.
Whether Heather Carlson, Mary Lahammer and Tom Scheck parrot the DFL’s chanting points, the plain truth is that Gov. Dayton and the DFL have raised taxes on every Minnesotan since taking office in 2013. No amount of tap-dancing by the DFL and the Agenda Media will change that.
Technorati: Mark Dayton, Tax Increases, Legislative Office Building, Tom Bakk, B2B Sales Tax Increases, Income Tax Increases, Tom Scheck, Heather Carlson, Mary Lahammer, Agenda Media, DFL, Election 2014
I just started watching Almanac’s Roundtable but I had to stop and write about what panelists Heather Carlson, Mary Lahammer and Tom Scheck said. Frankly, what they said is insulting. They’re disgraces to the reporting profession because they aren’t telling the whole truth.
When Cathy Wurzer asked Heather Carlson if passing these tax cuts was politically necessary to the DFL, Ms. Carlson said it was. Scheck followed up by saying that it was because the DFL “just raised taxes by $2.1 billion dollars.”
These aren’t tax cuts. A tax cut is when you lower the rate at which something is getting taxed. For instance, if income is getting taxed at 7.85% by the state, a tax cut would be lowering that rate. If farm equipment repairs aren’t subject to Minnesota’s sales tax, then the legislature passes their a bill that subjects farm equipment repairs to the state’s sales tax, then the legislature repeals the sales tax on farm equipment repairs, that isn’t a tax cut.
That’s returning things to where they were before the DFL legislature waged war on taxpayers. Another key portion of the Tax Correction Bill is tax conformity. That saves Minnesotans money but tax conformity is something that’s typically the first bill passed each year.
The truth is that the DFL raised taxes because Sen. Bakk insisted on punishing farmers, telecommunication companies and warehousing businesses. That’s where those B2B sales taxes came from. The truth is that the DFL raised other regressive taxes last year, too.
Now they’re trying to portray themselves as tax cutters when they’re really admitting that they raised taxes too much last year. What’s disappointing is that media personalities like Carlson, Lahammer and Scheck are playing along with the DFL’s storyline.
It’s disappointing from the perspective that societies that don’t get the whole truth make difficult decisions based on incomplete or faulty information. That’s a recipe for disaster. It’s also why the MSM is held in such low regard.
If Scheck, Lahammer and Carlson want to be DFL shills, that’s their right. In that case, however, taxpayers should insist that funding for TPT and MPR be cut dramatically because taxpayers shouldn’t pay for the DFL’s operations. If MPR and TPT can’t make it without taxpayer funding, that’s tough. That’s called the marketplace working perfectly.
The notion that MPR and TPT are the only real reporting outlets because they aren’t owned by corporate interests is insulting. They’re just as biased as Esme Murphy or Lori Sturdevant.
It’s time Minnesotans raised hell on this. They’re getting cheated by DFL spinmeisters pretending to be reporters. These reporters bought the DFL’s storyline without hesitation. A reporter’s job is to question people in authority. Carlson, Lahammer and Scheck apparently don’t think that’s part of their responsibility.
Technorati: Agenda Media, Heather Carlson, Tom Scheck, Mary Lahammer, Esme Murphy, Lori Sturdevant, Tom Bakk, Mark Dayton, Middle Class Tax Increases, Farm Equipment Repair Sales Tax, Warehouse Services Sales Tax, MPR, TPT, DFL, Election 2014
John Bodette’s column would be funny if the Times’ inactions weren’t so serious. This is the paragraph that caught my attention:
During the past couple weeks, we have worked hard to protect the public’s right to see important data tied to hiring decisions regarding key figures in two of our communities.
Then Bodette highlights 2 instances where the Times’ reporters appear to have done their jobs. Here’s the first example:
The Sartell-St. Stephen school board was working on a final contract offer to present to the person board members decided was their best choice for the job of superintendent.
It is our position that the proposed contract should be public. Taxpayers and citizens deserve to see what is in the contract proposal so they can give their feedback to board members before a final vote is taken.
Here’s the other example:
Our second challenge revolved around the Cold Spring City Council’s efforts to decide whether to offer a contract to its selection for police chief. The council held two closed meetings on the subject. We protested the closure. We have concerns about some of the actions that appear to have been taken during those meetings. We will pursue efforts to see if the council’s actions were in compliance with the state’s Open Meeting Law.
It isn’t that the Times reporters shouldn’t demand transparency from school boards and city councils. It’s that the Times’ consistency in demanding transparency apparently stops when the subject turns to St. Cloud State. Last Sunday’s Times Our View Editorial talked about the Great Place to Work Institute’s survey:
The next step in addressing those challenges is for Potter’s administration to begin releasing results of an employee attitude survey it conducted through a private company known as the Great Place to Work Institute.
Potter said more than 150 pages of written comments were compiled along with other findings, all of which the administration plans to examine and address through listening sessions and employee meetings in the coming months.
While the university has yet to officially release findings, it’s a safe bet they resemble a recent Inter Faculty Organization survey that found more than half of St. Cloud State faculty have a negative perception of the university.
That’s sloppy journalism. Why think that the GPTW survey would have similar findings to the IFO survey done more than 2 years earlier? Why shouldn’t the Times’ journalists think that the results would be worse? After all, the editorial hinted that morale on campus was low:
Vowing to improve workplace morale is always a big challenge. That’s an understatement at St. Cloud State, where the past several years have seen drastic budget cuts and program closures happen alongside tens of millions of dollars in campus expansion projects.
Why isn’t the Times interested in the negative things happening on campus? Doesn’t the public have a right to know that, too? The Times ran one story on the transcript scandal. Even then, it didn’t bother sending its own reporter to cover the story.
St. Cloud State is a major employer in St. Cloud. Its budget is north of $210,000,000. Those facts can’t be denied. It’s easy to deny, though, the fact that the Times’ coverage of St. Cloud State has been spotty at best. LFR has gotten more exclusives about what wrong at SCSU than the Times has. In fact, it isn’t that close.
Finally, it’s time the Times stopped playing its games about how both sides are to blame for the morale problems at SCSU. They aren’t. Next week, I’ll show proof that SCSU’s morale is the result of the Potter administration’s mismanagement.
This SC Times editorial signals the end of editorial integrity at the Times. It’s a sad day for St. Cloud with a silver lining. The Times’ Our View editorial used their entire arsenal of gimmicks to prop up President Potter. Here’s one of the Times’ gimmicks:
“The level of trust that exists between the faculty, staff and administration is not what it needs to be to be among the very best.”
With those words, St. Cloud State University President Earl H. Potter III told this Editorial Board on Feb. 21 his administration is about to embark on the most important step in a process aimed at not just strengthening that trust, but improving the workplace culture and character at the university.
Kudos to Potter for taking on this issue. Faculty and staff should make the most of it.
What’s most appalling is that the Times gives President Potter for “taking on this issue” without doing anything more than uttering the words. I call this the Times’ he-said-it-so-it-must-be-true gimmick. It’s apparent that the Times didn’t question President Potter about the on-campus morale.
If the Times had done its research, they’d know that “the level of trust that exists between the faculty, staff and administration” is virtually non-existent. Forget about it not being where “it needs to be to be among the very best.”
Here’s an example of the Times’ “moral equivalance” gimmick:
Of course, the key to improving trust and university morale doesn’t just rest with the administration.
Faculty and staff leaders need to get engaged, too. They must start by demanding accountability of employees who seek anonymity in making potentially damaging claims but offer no proof of what they are saying.
Actually, the fence-mending must start with the administration. The Potter administration has treated the faculty like children who don’t know what they’re talking about. When the Potter administration was asked where they were with the transcript scandal, the administration replied that they didn’t think of it as a scandal, that they thought of it as “data analysis.”
There’s verifiable proof of transcripts unjustly getting altered without the professor’s knowledge. The administration has refused to even talk with the person who has the proof of wrongdoing. The Times ran the MPR article that included the professor’s quote initially. Unfortunately, they’re now insisting that employees are anonymously making accusations that hurt SCSU, then accusing these employees of offering “no proof of what they are saying.”
That’s an outright lie.
The only anonymous person to make stinging accusations against the administration is Silence Dogood. Silence’s articles, which I’m proud to publish here at LFR, are exceptionally well-documented. That’s why I haven’t hesitated in publishing them.
Here’s a promise I’ll make with the Times. I promise that I won’t publish any of Silence’s articles if they’re unsubstantiated. The good news for me is that it’s a promise I haven’t had to worry about because Silence’s articles have consistently been impeccably substantiated.
Here’s another of the Times’ outright lies:
Members of this Editorial Board have had direct experience with these people involving complaints about grading, program closures, etc. Yet in none of those cases have the complainants provided verifiable evidence to substantiate them.
In none of those cases? Phyllis VanBuren’s column, which I wrote about here, was filled with verifiable proof of transcript fraud. Dr. VanBuren’s column was 4 pages long, which is twice the size of other Times Writers Group articles.
What’s interesting is that Dr. VanBuren’s article provides tons of proof that the Times said didn’t exist. The Times needs to decide whethey want to stick with President Potter’s script or if they’d feel more comfortable admitting that the people who’ve spoken up at considerable personal risk are telling the truth.
Based on recent history, I’m betting that they’re sticking with President Potter’s script.
The Times calls on everyone to fix a problem that’s been ongoing for years. What the Times didn’t do is say that the problem was caused by President Potter. The reason why people have spoken anonymously is because President Potter’s style is to use intimidation and bullying to get his way.
This problem didn’t just magically appear. Something triggered it. Though the Times won’t admit it, these difficulties were caused by President Potter’s disgusting behavior.
It’s time for the Times to start doing its job. Accepting a public figure’s statements as undeniable truth without extensively questioning the statements isn’t what news-gathering organizations typically do. Unfortunately for the people of St. Cloud, not questioning public figures is how the Times rolls.
The silver lining is that, here at LFR, questioning public figures while verifying the data is how I roll.
This exchange between overmatched Ron Fournier and Charles Krauthammer is the stuff that President Obama’s nightmares are made of:
Here’s a partial transcript of the segment:
KRAUTHAMMER: But generally speaking you get past the next election by changing your policies, by announcing new initiatives, but not by wantonly changing the law lawlessly. This is stuff you do in a banana republic. It’s as if the law is simply a blackboard on which Obama writes any number he wants, any delay he wants, and any provision.
It’s now reached a point where it is so endemic that nobody even notices or complains. I think if the complaints had started with the first arbitrary changes, and these are are not adjustments or transitions. These are political decisions to minimize the impact leading up to an election. And it’s changing the law in a way that you are not allowed to do.
Fournier didn’t have a rejoinder when Charles said “It isn’t incompetence. It’s the willful breaking of the constitutional order. Where in the Constitution is the president allowed to alter the law 27 times after it has been passed?” Fournier did write something approaching intellectual honesty when he wrote this article. Unfortunately, he’s still bitterly clinging to the thought that the ACA might still work. Here’s is the opening of the article:
It’s getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation.
For the second time in a year, certain businesses were given more time before being forced to offer health insurance to most of their full-time workers. Employers with 50 to 99 workers were given until 2016 to comply, two years longer than required by law. During a yearlong grace period, larger companies will be required to insure fewer employees than spelled out in the law.
Not coincidentally, the delays punt implementation beyond congressional elections in November, which raises the first problem with defending Obamacare: The White House has politicized its signature policy.
The win-at-all-cost mentality helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation. It spurred advisers to develop a dishonest talking point—”If you like your health plan, you’ll be able to keep your health plan.” And political expediency led Obama to repeat the line, over and over and over again, when he knew, or should have known, it was false.
Mr. Fournier and other journalists shouldn’t have been that intellectually incurious. They should’ve questioned the ACA while it was being written. Furthermore, he shouldn’t still cling to the notion that it’ll work. Unfortunately, that’s what he’s doing for all the wrong reasons:
Put me in the frustrated category. I want the ACA to work because I want health insurance provided to the millions without it, for both the moral and economic benefits. I want the ACA to work because, as Charles Lane wrote for The Washington Post, the link between work and insurance needs to be broken. I want the ACA to work because the GOP has not offered a serious alternative that can pass Congress.
Fournier’s anti-conservative blind spot still exists. Saying that “the GOP hasn’t offered a serious plan that can pass Congress” is giving Harry Reid a pass. The Patient CARE Act will do the things that the ACA was supposed to do without raising taxes. It isn’t the Republicans’ fault that Sen. Reid is so intransigent that he’ll do anything to sabotage plans that might help families. It isn’t the Republicans’ fault that Sen. Reid is willing to do anything to keep President Obama’s signature legislation from getting declared a total failure before he leaves office.
Why won’t Fournier take Sen. Reid to task for being intransigent? Why won’t he ask him tough questions about why he won’t consider legislation that’s a serious attempt to fix what’s broken in the ACA? When Mr. Fournier is willing to take off his ideological blinders, then I’ll pay attention to him.
At this point, he isn’t a serious man because he isn’t willing to take those blinders off.
Technorati: Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, President Obama, Ron Fournier, Agenda Media, Progressive Movement, Charles Krauthammer, Constitution, Patient CARE Act, Dr. Tom Coburn, Republicans, Election 2014
When I published this post by Silence Dogood, I did it because a) the St. Cloud Times hasn’t written about SCSU’s collapsing enrollment and b) President Potter is using every opportunity to spin St. Cloud State’s declining enrollment.
I wrote last week that President Potter insisted at the first Meet & Confer meeting that enrollment would be down 5% this year compared with last year’s Fall Semester 30-day enrollment report. I knew that wasn’t accurate because I’d written that the Sept. 4th report showed SCSU’s enrollment down by 12%.
If you aren’t Southwest State, which has lots of late enrollees each year, enrollment won’t drop 7 points in a week. It simply doesn’t happen.
A loyal reader of LFR called me last night to talk about enrollment. Specifically, this LFR reader said that he’d spoken with a member of the St. Cloud State University Foundation Board of Trustees. This trustee said that President Potter told him enrollment would be down 3% this year. That’s outright fiction.
It’s possible that the administration could just be off when it says enrollment will be down 5% from last year. If they made a calculation mistake, it’s possible to come up with 5% instead of 8%. It isn’t likely but it’s possible. It isn’t possible to make a calculation mistake and get to a 3% drop in enrollment.
Whether you call that myth or spin, the reality is that a 3% drop in SCSU’s enrollment from last year isn’t possible. To get to that figure, SCSU’s retention of students enrolled at the University would have to be nearly 100%. That’s because incoming freshmen are down 13% and incoming transfers are down 6.35%.
Last year’s enrollment dropped significantly so there weren’t as many students to retain. Subtract a large graduating class and it’s apparent that President Potter’s math is exceptionally fuzzy.
The reason few people beyond the SCSU campus know about SCSU’s plummeting enrollment is because a) they haven’t read this blog or b) the St. Cloud Times hasn’t run any articles about their enrollment. Considering the fact that this will be SCSU’s third straight sharp enrollment drop, shouldn’t the Times have paid attention to this? In this post, I quoted from John Bodette’s article about Gannett’s policy on social media. Among the things he cites are “Seeking and reporting the truth in a truthful way” and “serving the public interest.”
While that’s part of the Times’ policy on social media postings, it’s difficult to picture those things not being part of their code of conduct for reporters.
Back at the start of the year, Times readers were told that they’d read more investigative reporting. That hasn’t materialized. Time’s running out for them to stay faithful to that commitment. (Had they hired me to investigate SCSU, they would’ve already surpassed expectations but that’s another story.)
The truth is that the Times hasn’t been curious about St. Cloud State’s turmoils. They’ve accepted President Potter’s take on things on most issues. They haven’t challenged his statements. The Times’ indifference towards asking tough questions of the administration is the biggest reason why few people know that St. Cloud State’s budget is likely to get cut dramatically next year.
In short, it’s a mystery that needn’t be a mystery.
Technorati: St. Cloud State, Earl Potter, Enrollment Management, St. Cloud State University Foundation, Budget Cuts, St. Cloud Times, Social Media, John Bodette, Citizen Journalists, Investigative Reporting