Friday, September 4, 2015

Hey, World! Is this your child?

A lifeless three year old Syrian boy washed ashore,  another victim of the immigrant tragedy as a Turkish police officer reports his discovery 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shouldn't GOP draft Cheney as its candidate?

For the herd of Republican presidential candidates who are desperately looking for a way to throttle Donald Trump, we have a proposal:  oil up Dick Cheney's mechanical heart and draft him as a candidate. It would instantly draw the national media into a new Twilight Zone because, like Trump, Cheney has never been at a loss for dumb things to say. Besides, unlike Trump, who grabs your attention with  theatrical rants, Cheney is Mr. Cool  in projecting his wildest lies. The Republican herd badly needs coolness these days.

It probably wouldn't be a hard sell to recruit Cheney.  He and his daughter Liz have just written a book  titled "Exceptional"  that he could autograph like baseballs along the circuit.   (You'll be hearing more about it on the more exciting TV news talk shows, I'm sure.)

I've only read the excerpts and there's apparently nothing new in it that would cause me to spoil the ending.  For a man who enjoyed five draft deferments because he said he had "other priorities,"  Cheney remains on the top tier of hawks who drove us into the bloody failed invasion of Iraq.  At the time, he insisted that the enemy was in "the last throes" of the insurgency; that the conflict would go "relatively quickly, weeks rather than months";  and  in the end we will be "greeted as liberators". Don't know whether any of that is in the book.

Speaking of liberators, he writes about  the brave Americans who fought in our military battles,  and defends our use of atomic bombs as an example of this country's "fundamental decency."

But he saved his biggest fantasies  for his assaults on President Obama, literally accusing him for ushering in ISIS and everything else  that has gone wrong in the Middle East for centuries.  He frets that in books, tests and classroom instruction   "our children are too often being told that the legacy they have inherited is shameful".

That is partly true, if you consider that the shameful legacy of Iraq only refers to a draft dodger and worse, Dick Cheney.

Yep,  with Trump on the loose the  Republican also-runners could satisfy their own core values with a  freshly laundered   fantasy from Cheney, who is not a fundamentally decent man.

(Reposted from Plunderbund)

Life with a tree spirit

Should you be wondering, we have a tree spirit living in the big oak in our yard.  Tree spirits are not to be angered nor ridiculed.  So we live in peace.  But we do hope that  it rids itself of the unbecoming beard someday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scarborough not ready to name names

What's in a name?  At the University of Akron (I hope I got that right!)  a new  name has become a sometime-thing as President Scott Scarborough  keeps shuffling his deck to find an ace in the hole.

He first said months ago that he wanted to end all  rumors that there would be a change, thereby retaining University of Akron.  That, of  course , would solidify UA's grip on its heritage as an urban university in a city named Akron.

We then  saw frequent references to UA as "Ohio's Polytechnic University" and then Ohio Polytechnic Institute as Team Scarborough mobilized to keep the school current.

But the Plain Dealer led off an update a few days ago that began, "The University of Akron may currently be 'Ohio's Polytechnic University' but its president hasn't shelved the idea of changing its name."

The paper reported that the school's reach had exceeded the grasp of many prospective students.

"While the University of Akron means something to those in Summit and the five contiguous counties, that brand falls off really dramatically outside the area,'' Scarborough told the paper.

How did it  he know that? The school paid a Virginia consultant around $900,000 for a recruiting study that the add-on "polytechnic"  may not be enough as a  fetching brand for new students.

Ever since he arrived at the downtown  campus, Scarborough has run the school as the Indy 500 on an unpaved back-country road.   The name-change thing is only one of his initiatives that has misfired.

Yes, it may seem mean-spirited to denounce his mistake-prone  leadership so far.  But for a CEO who is paid more  than   $600,000 in base pay, perks and bonuses shouldn't  we expect more from his leadership with a five year contract that provides comfortable  quarters in the president's home for his relatives as well as a guarantee that his six year old daughter will be able to attend any university in Ohio some day with UA paying the tuition?  Bizarre.

Yes, we should expect more.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Cantonese chorus responds to Mt. Denali

Did you see that President Obama's renaming of Mt. McKinley up in Alaska was called  a "political stunt" ?  You could find "stunt" in big letters on the Beacon Journal's front page, courtesy of an "irritated" former Rep. Ralph Regula, 90,  a Republican from Navarre who has fought the name-change idea well before Obama  entered office.

It figured.  Obama's opponents have found him to be a convenient lightning rod for anything that goes wrong in our daily lives, from rain delays in baseball games to pie crust that sticks to the pan.  In this instance, however, the president's co-conspirator is Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a  Republican who introduced legislation  in January to change the name to Mt. Denali.  (Her name never appeared in either BJ  story this morning.) She had this to say about Obama's "stunt":
"For generations Alaskans have known this majestic mountain  as 'the great one'.   I'd like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show  honor, respect and gratitude  to the Athabascan people of Alaska."
 In the two long BJ articles, however, I did read of how other Buckeye Republicans wailed at Obama's action to placate those constituents who might want to pile on. .  Rep.  Bob Gibbs, of Lakeville, called it an "insult to all Ohioans" .  Rep. Jim Renacci, of Wadsworth, said Obama was guilty of diminishing the nation's "values"  - as if the GOP controlled Congress hadn't already done so.  Sen.Rob Portman a Cincinnatian who tagged along for the ride, wasn't very happy either.  Nor was Gov. John Kasich.

Unsurprisingly, some of the strongest complaints came from McKinley's adopted hometown of Canton, a name which has Chinese roots thanks to a surveyor named Bezaleel Wells in the early 1800s.  Canton is the traditional name of Guangzhou,  China. But we can't  imagine any Ohio city named  Guangzhou. The mountain was later tagged  for McKinley.

I have a solution to mollify the outraged  governor.  Why not name one of those  Indian mounds in Ohio after the governor.  Mound Kasich?  

That's not a typo.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Is Cleanliness next to Godliness for UA prez?

One of the intriguing questions about the unfolding horrors  at the University of Akron is not whether President Scott Scarborough's  confident predictions that the sun will again shine but rather how did a personal email conversation between Scarborough and Ted Curtis, the powerful veep of capital planning & facilities management, mysteriously  turn up on a PDF on your computer.

The chummy insider tete-a-tete dealt exclusively with Scarborough's wish list for new UA projects in the midst of the school's $60 million debt. It also again  revealed the president's obsession  with tidiness as a critical path to rebranding.   You may recall that he lectured the  faculty that the profs couldn't possibly expect passing grades as educators if they didn't pick up trash.  Disciplined behavior also is one of the beauty marks for the newly created student Corps of Cadets, which  will even have a glee club.

Much as ex-president Luis Proenza placed high priority  on bricks and mortar  to recruit students, red ink notwithstanding, the current CEO  advises Curtis that after driving around the campus, there are 30 items on his list that he would like to "cost"  from the Grand Entrance - a rebirth of the Arc de Triomphe - to the campus that traverses  the now-teamless baseball field;  power washing the Polsky building and E.J.  Thomas Hall;   removal of the trees in the center of the circular drive at Buchtel Hall and adding plants; demolition of several big unused buildings;  more signage everywhere.

Oh, how about painting the roof of the E.J.,  moving  the  track to Exchange and Spicer and adding lights on the tops of many buildings.

Did I mention power washing E.J. and Central Hower?

All of these things, of course, would sound good in better times.  But these are not better times for UA.

Scarborough wrote:   "Would you put a price tag on each of these projects and send it back to me when done?  I realize that will  be easier to price than  others,  I also  realize that some (like resurfacing parking lots and resurfacing  university roads)will need to be costed at greater levels of detail".

The confab goes on and on, but the question remains:  How did it get on line?  Who was the canary?

The best explanation I've heard is that is was a distressed former member of the hulled-out information services offices. He or she would have had access because with today's technology, every email can be easily accessed.

"Why didn't they know that?"  my source asked.  Well, maybe they should ask anybody they can still reach in information services.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

At least they didn't ask about the candidates' favorite newspaper

Although I recall interviewing a politician or two over these many years, I don't remember ever asking any candidate to identify his or her choice of a quarterback on a college football team.  That distinction, however,  appeared in the Beacon Journal today. It  was a vibrant clue to Ohio State University's dominance over the minds of Ohio sports fans to the dismay of the Akron U Zippies and other grid mediocrities..

So the question to Akron Democratic mayoral candidates Dan Horrigan and Mike Williams, if I'm keeping you breathless,  was their choice of an OSU quarterback this year.   It's one of the few things they agree on:  Cardale Jones.  Who knew?

I learned to be indifferent to college football as the alum of the University of Illinois and earlier, Pitt, as both made a habit of losing.

Want to know how bad it is with the Illini?  Within days of the team's season opener with Kent State,  the front office fired the head coach this week.  Why?  Sorry, I didn't read past the first paragraph.

The olive jar saga now explained

The full back channel story on that pricey olive jar in the UA president's house may now be told.  This marketing scrap reportedly was found in the center of the devalued UA baseball diamond.
There are several theories about its mission.  But my hunch is that President Scarborough had hoped to move it to the proposed pearly entrance to the campus  as a profitable scheme selling olives to help reduce the school's debt.   We don't see that it  is a perfect fit for a polytechnical U, but  a lot of strange things are happening under the new regime.

Don't laugh.  I have the original on my desk and hope to cash in the business-like sales pitch  myself with a forceful proposal to the board of trustees.    As Carmine Sabatini defended his business style in The Freshman:

"Scam?...Scam!? This is an ugly word - this scam.  This is business.  If you want to be in business.  This is what you do."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

For Best and Scarborough, the two who tangoed

 Randy Best is a mega-rich entrepreneur who has become the big man on the University of Akron campus, if only in the offices of President Scott Scarborough and his servile board of trustees.   Best was just awarded a lucrative contract for an online nursing program in which  his Texas-based company, Academic Partnerships, will receive half of the tuition from students who sign on. Half?  Nice work if you can get it.   And Best knows how to get a lot of it.

But the subplot to Best's huge success story, insofar as he embraces UA, is that he and Scarborough have had intersecting careers for years  in which the latter  has had Best's business model coursing through his grand plan  to rebrand UA, relieve some of the school's debt and apply whatever other strategies that leave academia in the distant past. That not only includes Scarborough's passion for online courses but also his promotion of hired off-campus "coaches" for students.

 As Forbes magazine  once described Best's  M.O. to profit from a university's  treasury, his  three R's are  "recruitment, retention and revenue".  It quoted his bottom line judgment on academic matters: : "The Stanfords, the Harvards, of my gosh, those schools are remarkable.  But they're irrelevant to the market."

A think-alike Texan yoked with Scarborough, Best  is also active in national politics, having raised millions of dollars for former President George W. Bush. And Jeb Bush is an investor in Best' s enterprises.

Scarborough, of course, will deny the linkage defined in a growing number of media reports.  He prefers to call it nothing more than just another day at the office in his heroic effort to cut UA's debt.   But don't believe it.  He's already cashed in  his credibility as the CEO on the reeling downtown campus even though he's admitted his mistakes in ramping up his grand designs on the ailments of  higher education. The paper trail is simply too persuasive .

Some tell-tale evidence:  As the chief financial officer at DePaul University in  Chicago,  Scarborough recommended the sale of Barat College, a tiny  Catholic school, to Best's company in 2005 and that would include accreditation, land and buildings.  You can only believe that the transaction would have had a lengthy get-acquainted period as the details fell into place.

Eureka!  As part of the deal,  Scarborough  landed a  seat on the new owner's  board.
There he remained, the Plain Dealer reported, until  2007, when he became chief financial officer at the University of Toledo, giving up his board seat on Higher Ed Holdings, the company's new name.

He became Best's go-between to the  provost in which Best offered an online master's degree in an education program for  teachers.  Sorry, the College of Education said,  and turned it down. Undaunted, Best came back with  an online nursing program with Scarborough serving as his greeter.  Again he was rejected.

Academic Partnerships then scored with Ohio University in 2008 for the nursing program.  But OU has since cancelled it.  Randy Leite, dean of the College of Health Sciences,  told the PD:  "We found over time that the quality and level our students expected was not being met." Meantime, Best had collected 50 pct.  of the tuition.

And so the ship has now come in at the UA, with Scarborough saying he only  had been contacted  by Academic Partnerships and turned over its proposals to the trustees for them to decide.   He said he was surprised that it was accepted by a "consensus".  Really?  With this board?

You may have noticed that  Scarborough has met the critics by saying that rather than  enhancing  his friend Randy Best's business opportunities, he simply  made a few introductions.

And at the University of Akron, based on their  feathery track record how could the trustees  possibly resist?  By the looks of things, Team Scarborough ain't done yet.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Life among the Trumpeters

Cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz via Daily Kos.  Looks right to me!