Sunday, February 07, 2016

Welcome to FromDC2Iowa: Contents & Guide

Welcome to FromDC2Iowa, a collection of well over 1,000 blog posts and pages on a wide variety of topics, created and maintained by Nicholas Johnson since 2006.

Quick Links
* Most recent blog essay (not UI related): "Our Communities' Second Priority," February 7, 2016

* Most recent UI & President Harreld-related items & comments: UI President Harreld - Feb. 2016," February 1, 2016
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More Detailed Contents, Links & Guide

The most recent blog essay (as distinguished from the entries listing UI-related material) is: "Our Communities' Second Priority," February 7, 2016

University of Iowa, most recent: The most recent month's collection in the ongoing repository of news, opinion pieces, and documents regarding the University of Iowa, its current president, Bruce Harreld, the Iowa Board of Regents, and related matters is: UI President Harreld - Feb. 2016," February 1, 2016

University of Iowa, earlier: Earlier collections of, and individual blog essays about, the repository of news, opinion pieces, and documents regarding the University of Iowa, its current president, Bruce Harreld, the Iowa Board of Regents, and related matters are:
UI President Harreld - Jan. 2016," January 1, 2016

"UI President Harreld - Dec. 2015," December 1, 2015

"UI President Harreld - Nov. 2015," November 1, 2015

"Business Background: Enough for University President?" September 2-October 31, 2015

Recent terrorism-related blog essays

Recent TIF-related blog essays

Recent other than (1) University of Iowa, (2) terrorism, or (3) TIF-related topics:
"Our Communities' Second Priority," February 7, 2016
"Bernie's Extraordinary, Unacknowledged Accomplishment," February 3, 2016
Why Nobody 'Wins' the Iowa Caucus," February 1, 2016
"Caucus With Your Heart And Head -- For Bernie," January 28, 2016
"Why I'm Caucusing for Sanders and You Should Too," January 22, 2016
"Reasons for Hope in 2016," December 25, 2015
"Feeling the Bern at The Mill," December 9, 2015
"Anyone for Democracy," November 22, 2015
General instructions on searching by heading, date, or topic

(1) If you've come to FromDC2Iowa and landed on this page, rather than what you are looking for, it is because this is the default page, the opening page, for this blog.

(2) Many visitors are looking for recent blog posts. At the bottom of this page you will find suggestions. At this time they include: (1) material related to the Iowa Board of Regents process for selecting President Bruce Harreld, and his ongoing performance in office, (2) terrorism, ISIS and Syrian refugees, and (3) TIFs, and other transfers of taxpayers' money to the wealthy.

(3) It is also possible to go directly to specific blog posts within this blog. Here's how:

First, go to the top of this page where you will see the headline, "Welcome to FromDC2Iowa: Contents & Guide" and click on it there (not as reproduced in this sentence). That will clean this page by removing blog posts from earlier this month.

In that right hand column you will find two ways of accessing individual blog posts:
(1) Blog Archive. The first is under the bold heading "Blog Archive.". You will see the years from 2006 to the present. Click on a year, and the months of that year will appear. Click on a month and the individual headlines for the blog posts during that month appear. Click on a headline and you will be transferred to that blog post. (Once there, you will see the unique URL address for that blog post that you can use in the future, or share with a friend, as a way to reach it directly.)

(2) Google Search Nick's Blog or Website. Immediately beneath the Blog Archive is the bold heading "Google Search Nick's Blog or Website," followed by an empty box, and the instructions, "Insert terms above; then click here." (Although it offers the option to search the "Nicholas Johnson Web Site" as well, it is set to the default: "FromDC2Iowa Blog.") Use whatever search terms you think most appropriate, such as "University of Iowa," "terrorism," "TIFs," or "Harreld." Your click will open up a Google search Web page listing the relevant blog posts (if any) with the links you can click on to see them.

University of Iowa's new President Bruce Harreld.
Looking for the blog post containing extensive repository of documents, news, opinion pieces (updated daily) from September 2 through October 31, 2015, regarding the Iowa Board of Regents' process, and early selection of UI President-elect Bruce Harreld? -->Click here<--

For November 2015 coverage -- with documents, news stories, and opinion pieces -- from his first day on the job, November 2, through November 30, 2015 -->Click here<--

For the December 2015 coverage -->Click Here<--

For the January 2016 coverage -->Click Here<--

In addition to these blog posts, which primarily contain chronological lists of documents, news articles and opinion pieces -- along with some relatively brief commentary about some of the items -- there are also the following more traditional blog essays and newspaper columns by Nicholas Johnson on these subjects:

"Hiring Candid, Courageous University Presidents," August 29, 2015

"Should Bruce Harreld Be Given Serious Consideration in UI Search?" embedded in "Business Background: Enough for University President?" September 2, 2015

"Better Ways to Pick a New UI President," The Gazette, September 27, 2015, embedded in "Seven Steps for Transitioning Universities," September 27, 2015

"UI's President Could Have Been Chris Christie," October 3, 2015

"Parallels Between School Systems Staggering," Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 10, 2015, embedded in "UI and Higher Education in Context," November 9, 2015

"Trouble in River City: Corruption Creep," December 13, 2015

"Quick Draw Harreld and Why Language Matters," December 17, 2015

Terrorism, ISIS, Syrian Refugees.
Understanding Terrorist Thugs," The Daily Iowan, December 3, 2015

Nicholas Johnson, "Sober Risk Assessment Needed to Respond to Terror," Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 28, 2015

Nicholas Johnson, "Syria's Refugees: Job One and Job Two," The Gazette, November 1, 2015

"Is U.S. Response Strengthening ISIS?" September 19, 2014

For additional speech texts, columns and blog posts on these subjects, see "Samples of Nicholas Johnson's Prior Writing on Terrorism and War"

TIFs and Other Crony Capitalism Schemes For links to 44 blog essays on these topics since 2006 see, "TIFS: Links to Blog Essays"

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Our Communities' Second Priority

[On February 7, 2016, The Gazette announced "The Gazette's Editorial Focus for 2016" -- the elements of quality cities: "Building Blocks; Working Together to Make Our Communities Great Places to Live," The Gazette, February 7, 2016, p. C1 (available online -->HERE<---). My first column for that new editorial focus was published that same day and is reproduced below.]
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Design Communities to Support Communication, Interaction and Learning
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, February 7, 2016, p. C4
[online as Nicholas Johnson, "Design Eastern Iowa Communities to Support Communication, Interaction and Learning," The Gazette (online), February 8, 2016, 3:00 p.m.]

There were a lot of activists’ movements during the 1960s and ‘70s – anti-war, pro-environment, the rights of women and African Americans, among others – their individual first priorities.

As a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission during those years, the ways in which those movements were impacted by the role of the mainstream media, and the rules by which commercial media operated and was regulated, became very clear.

The media reform movement was born and grew out of that awareness. As I put it at the time, “Whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be media reform” – which ultimately contributed the book title, Your Second Priority (2008).

It was a new way of thinking about reform of government, politics, and public policy.

This year, The Gazette intends to focus on our communities’ opportunities involving everything from affordable and integrated housing to healthcare, from parks and walkable cities to justice and police relations, economic growth to creative communities.

Just as activists can benefit by giving attention to the role of the media, so can those concerned about improving our communities benefit by considering the role of communications. Just as we have environmental impact statements, we might benefit from communications impact statements.

A 400-word column can’t begin to identify the hundreds of categories of cities’ communications opportunities, let alone explore them. But here are three illustrations.

Housing. Urban planning, the arrangement of suburban homes, or common space in apartment units, the availability of sidewalks and bike paths, can tend to increase, or decrease, chance meetings and conversation. Location of housing and schools can produce either the integration, or the segregation, of socio-economic classes, races and religions.

Analytics. The early Greeks spoke of analytics, and most city governments and residents have some access to data about their community and themselves. The movie “Money Ball” dramatized analytics’ relevance to baseball. But the City of Boston has pushed it to a whole new level.

Learning communities. Learning can be everywhere – not just museums (Iowa Hall), places (Devonian Gorge), structures (Plum Grove; Mormon handcart site). It can also come from watching a sushi chef, or reading a business building’s history on a plaque. There are thousands more words to be written about our communities’ second priority. And we haven’t even touched on more obvious features, such as public access cable channels, Web sites, blogs, meeting spaces, and libraries.

Think about it. We can do it.
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Nicholas Johnson, a former FCC commissioner, advocates information architecture and visible cities. He maintains nicholasjohnson.org and FromDC2Iowa.blogspot.com. Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Bernie's Extraordinary, Unacknowledged Accomplishment

“Why Nobody ‘Wins’ the Iowa Caucus; Why the Iowa Caucus Matters – and Why it Doesn’t,” February 1, 2016, was deliberately written and posted by me before that evening’s Iowa Caucus even began – in order to eliminate any suggestion it was designed to favor one candidate over another. In that post I discuss the Caucus’ significance in terms of the national parties’ nomination process, the candidates’ campaigns, and the media. Not surprisingly, I concluded that its primary significance results from how the results are reported in the media. At that time, two days ago, I had no idea how prescient it was.


Before we get to how the media reported the Iowa Caucus, let’s start with some facts.

The Iowa Poll, considered to be among the most accurate for the Iowa Caucus, is our source for this data, available from “Tracking the Candidates in the Iowa Poll,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 3, 2016, p. A8.

How have the candidates fared over time? The data is from seven polls conducted in January, May, August, October and December of 2015, and early January, late January – and then the Caucus results on February 1, 2016.

Most candidates have gone up and down in the polls. Hillary, for example, went from a high of 57% in May to a low of 37% in August, and continued to fluctuate until the Caucus. Ted Cruz was at a high of 31% in December, dropped to a low of 23% in late January, and ended up with 28% in the Caucus. (the most of any Republican). Since August, Trump has ranged from a high of 28% to a low of 19%.

However, there are two candidates whose poll results have had unbroken increases every time they were measured.

Senator Marco Rubio started at 3% in January. The numbers in the following polls, in order, were 6%, 6%, 9%, 10%, 12%, 15% and finally 23% on Caucus night.

Senator Bernie Sanders started at 5% in January, and proceeded to climb in each succeeding poll to 16%, 30%, 37%, 39%, 40%, 42%, to a Caucus finish at 49.6%.

From December to Caucus Hillary increased from 48% to 49.8%, and Bernie went from 39% to his 49.6%.

Let’s compare these two candidates.

Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye, whether for good or ill, since the 1990s if not before – as the wife of Arkansas Governor and then President Bill Clinton, the point person for the Clinton’s health care plan, a United States Senator, previous presidential candidate (2008), a U.S. Secretary of State, and a long-anticipated presidential candidate – indeed, the presumed nominee. She and her husband have access to the financial resources of some of the wealthiest people in the world, in addition to their own wealth from campaign contributions and speaking fees from Wall Street firms, corporate leaders and other wealthy persons here and abroad. Theirs has been described as one of the most powerful political organizations in America, a solid part of “the Democratic Party establishment,” which gives them access to resources such as former staffers, friends, hangers-on, and thousands of contacts – including some of our country's most brilliant and experienced political and media advisers. (One of the many ways the Democratic Party Establishment rigs the outcome to favor themselves is the creation of the so-called “Super Delegates” – most of whom are, by definition, from the Party’s establishment. That’s why, although she and Bernie Sanders have won about equal numbers of the national convention delegates from Iowa, he now has a total of 29 and she, with the Super Delegates already pledged to her, sprints from a starting line way out in front of him, with 385.)

In the opposite corner of what the media insists on portraying as something like a boxing ring, we find a gray haired grandfather with wild hair who cares little for fashion and sometimes speaks with a facial expression, anger and volume reminiscent of Howard Beale in the movie “Network.” He's not exactly Hollywood's central casting's vision of a presidential candidate. And yet there's something wonderfully charming about the incongruity of someone once described as a 74-year-old democratic socialist Jew from Brooklyn living in Vermont attracting the largest crowds of any candidate. He's so opposed to the corrupting effect of billionaire's money in politics that he refuses to accept money from the only individuals able to make the multi-million-dollar contributions available to Hillary Clinton. He just started campaigning in Iowa anyway, with neither name recognition nor money. As people heard what he had to say, they came to know the name Bernie Sanders, liked his ideas, and found him to be authentic, consistent in his views over decades, and a really likable guy. His numbers climbed in the polls, and by Caucus night they were high enough that the number of “state equivalent delegates” he received was virtually the same as Hillary Clinton. That was a truly stunning accomplishment, given her overwhelming advantages.

So how were these results reported by the media?

Coming in third, Rubio might well have been described as having “lost” the Iowa Republican Caucus. After all, he wasn’t even second, a “runner-up.” But he was not so described. He was described as “surging” or “propelled.” The Gazette’s headline was typical, "Surge Propelling Rubio in GOP Race; Florida Senator's Third Place is 1 Point Short of Trump's Finish.” James Q. Lynch and Rod Boshart, “Rubio Leaves Iowa with Third-Place Finish, ‘Marcomentum;’ Florida Senator’s Surge to Third Place Propels Him Forward,” The Gazette (online), February 2, 2016, 3:32 p.m.; hard copy: James Q. Lynch and Rod Boshart, "Surge Propelling Rubio in GOP Race; Florida Senator's Third Place is 1 Point Short of Trump's Finish," The Gazette, February 3, 2016, p. A1. Note that Rubio was not even compared in the headline with the one who finished with the most support; he was compared with Donald Trump. (The Washington Post home page for February 3 headlined, "Establishment Candidates Target a Surging Rubio.”)

When I wrote “Why Nobody ‘Wins’ the Iowa Caucus" I wasn’t thinking about ties. My point was about the genuine story, and significance of the outcome of this first opportunity for citizens to participate in the nomination process. The Caucus can tell us which candidates demonstrate enough popular support to warrant their continuing to campaign into the subsequent primaries. For this purpose, probably something like 20-35 percent of the “state delegate equivalents” would be enough to warrant continuing.

There will be a winner and a loser next November 8. One can "win" an election. But there is nothing to “win” in the Iowa Caucus. Even if there were, it is clearly not "winner take all." Candidates are not elected president at the Iowa Caucus; they are not even nominated to run for the presidency. Even if, after the Iowa state conventions, a single candidate ended up with all of Iowa’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention it would have a minuscule impact on the Party’s ultimate selection of its presidential nominee.

The media can declare that the Caucus is a competitive contest that one candidate “wins” and all the others lose, but that doesn’t make it one –- except for the media owners looking for viewers and subscribers.

Moreover, to speak of a Democratic Party “winner” of the 2016 Iowa Caucus is even sillier than it normally would be -– because this year it was, from any rational and reasonable perspective, literally “a tie.”

Sanders' accomplishment was remarkable in light of the conventional wisdom that his support was limited to Black Hawk, Johnson, and Story counties, where the Regents’ three public universities are located. In fact, as one might expect in a tie, both candidates had support in counties all across the state -– with both usually well within percentages between 40 and 60 percent. However, Sanders' appeal to young people was unprecedented. “Of the estimated 31,000 young people who caucused for the Democrats on Monday, 84 percent supported Sen. Bernie Sanders — a much higher percentage than even Barack Obama garnered during his first run for the White House in 2008. During Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses eight years ago, then Sen. Obama won support from 57 percent of both the 17-24 age group and the 25-29 group . . ..” Vanessa Miller, “Percent of Youth Caucusing for Bernie Sanders Surpassed that for Obama in 2008; 'They're wanting to be a part of his political revolution,'” The Gazette (online), February 2, 2016, 5:20 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Election 2016: Wide Support for Sanders Among Young Iowa Voters; Obama Received Smaller Ratio in State's 2008 Caucuses," The Gazette, February 3, 2016, p. 8A.

And Sanders did all of this coming from nothing, an unknown in Iowa, with no pre-existing political machine in place, and no money -- refusing PAC money, he had to pay the bills with 2.3 million contributors averaging $27, finding supporters one at a time, while attracting the largest crowds of any candidate (nationally as well as within Iowa).

So how was Senator Sanders’ incredible accomplishment described by the media?

The CNN headline was typical: Tami Luhby and Nia-Malika Henderson, “Hillary Clinton Wins Iowa Caucuses,” CNN, February 3, 2016, 12:23 p.m.

In fairness, the Iowa branch of the Democratic Party Establishment contributed to this misrepresentation, whether deliberately or inadvertently, that Hillary was “the winner” (as she herself declared). Erin Jordan, “Slim Win for Clinton Sign of Lengthy Nomination Process; ‘Iowans Like a Contest , Not a Coronation,’”, The Gazette (online), February 2, 2016, 8:11 p.m.; hard copy: Erin Jordan, "Election 2016: Slim Clinton Win Signals Lengthy Fight Ahead; Close Race Raises Questions of Just How Well Caucuses Were Run," The Gazette, February 3, 2016, p. A1 (“The Iowa Democratic Party declared Clinton the winner at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday with all but one of the 1,683 precincts reporting. . . . Clinton had 49.8 percent of state delegate equivalents and Sanders had 49.6 percent, with 171,109 Democrats participating. . . . ‘The Iowa Democratic Party is declaring Hillary a winner and that is a victory for her,’ said Chris Larimer, University of Northern Iowa associate political science professor, who did not caucus Monday.”)

So why this disparity in reporting? Why is Hillary "the winner"? Why is Rubio “surging” and “propelled,” despite this “loser’s” third-place finish? Has not Sanders been "surging" and "propelled" as much or more than Rubio along the same glide path? Yet the media tells us that, notwithstanding Sanders’ at least equal, if not much greater unprecedented accomplishment, we should think of him as the "loser" and Hillary as the “winner” of the Iowa Democrats’ Caucus. Why is that?

How could I know the answer? I don’t. But there are some things I do know.
”[T] he media's owners are, by definition, well within the 1%. They have every possible financial, political, ideological, and social motive to try to prevent him [Senator Bernie Sanders] being taken seriously. Savvy media employees who wish to stay employed can't help but be aware of the advantages offered them if they will cut back on or eliminate coverage of him (see description of the shameful exclusion of him by "Meet the Press" in "Bernie's Media Challenge," June 19, 2015), and when unavoidable (perhaps because he is getting the largest number of contributors and audience members of any candidate) diminish his reputation with ridicule, marginalization, and dismissal as "a socialist" whose views are "out of the mainstream."

Second, with rare exceptions, profit-driven media do not have the space or time, or a sufficient number of highly educated, informed and analytical journalists, to present lengthy print, online, or televised discussions of major public policy issues in a way that will involve, inform, and hold an American audience. (See "Three-Legged Calves, Wolves, Sheep and Democracy's Media," Dec. 1, 2014.) Thus, even if media owners were supportive of Senator Sanders' views, they aren't really set up to present anyone's views at length. Thus, political coverage tends to focus on fundraising (e.g., Senator Rand Paul's mediocre contributions; Jeb Bush's $100 million), poll results (e.g., leading Republicans excluded from Fox News debate), gotcha moments (e.g., Governor Rick Perry's 2012 "oops" moment), the bizarre (e.g., Donald Trump's behavior, characterized by Dan Rather as somewhat similar to "a manure spreader in a windstorm"), physical appearance (e.g., the Donald's hair; women's clothing), and those portions of candidates' past history they'd rather forget (e.g., Hillary Clinton's Arkansas Whitewater, 1990s healthcare efforts, Benghazi, 50,000 emails).
”Senator Bernie Sanders and America's 'Mainstream',” July 25, 2015, 8:45 a.m.

And, from ”Bernie’s Media Challenge,” June 19, 2015:
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting's research discloses that between January 3rd and May 3rd of 2015, Meet the Press (NBC; host, Chuck Todd) made no mention whatsoever of Senator Bernie Sanders, notwithstanding 16 mentions of Hillary Clinton, 13 of Jeb Bush, 12 of Scott Walker, 11 of Chris Christie, and 10 each for Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee. In total, 24 presidential candidates received mentions during this four-month period. Bernie? Zero. "Meet the Press Breaks Its Silence on Bernie Sanders," Extra!, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), June 2015, vol. 28, no. 5, p. 3 ("Meet the Press host Chuck Todd . . . declared on the show's May 3 episode . . . 'I'm obsessed with elections.' Yet the one major candidate who had announced he was running that week -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who declared on April 30 he was running for the Democratic nomination -- was strikingly ignored on that same broadcast.")
Bernie Sanders is the only avowed "Democratic Socialist" serving in the United States Congress. Defeating both Democrats and Republicans, he served as Vermont's only member of the House of Representatives for 16 years (1990-2006). Sanders has now served in the United States Senate for more than nine years (2006 to the present). As acknowledged by Todd himself . . . , in all those years, Meet the Press never saw fit to have Sanders appear on "America's most watched...Sunday morning public affairs program" until September 14, 2014 when Sanders was interviewed about his "possible" run for the Presidency. (One month earlier than the October date initially cited by Todd in response to FAIR.)
Ernest A. Canning, "Bernie Who? Media Watchdog Documents NBC's 'Meet the Press' Marginalization of Sanders," The Brad Blog, May 11, 2015
Only following FAIR's report was an invitation extended, which Bernie accepted. "Meet the Press Transcript - May 31, 2015." While it certainly counted as an after-the-fact "mention" of his candidacy, it was scarcely an effort to explore his past and approach to the issues.
[T]he interview degenerated into full horse-race, candidate-personality mode. Specifically, Todd sought Sanders’s views on . . . Hillary Clinton. He began indirectly by asking Sanders to weigh the relative merits of Bill Clinton’s presidency versus Barack Obama’s. . . . [H]e asked Sanders to comment on Hillary Clinton’s apparent leftward movement on a number of issues, including “same-sex marriage, on immigration … on NAFTA, on trade, on the Iraq War, on Cuba. She has moved from a position, basically, in disagreement with you, to a position that comes closer to your view. So I guess is, do you take her at her word?”

Cue the horse race! To his credit, Sanders refused to take the bait. Instead, he expressed hope that “the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people” and tried to move the conversation to his policy views. Todd, however, had no interest in having a serious debate on the issues . . ..
Matthew Dickinson, "Bernie Sanders and Chuck Todd's 'Meet the Press' fiasco: 50 shades of bad; Bernie Sanders deftly refused to engage in media-generated controversy and expressed hope that 'the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign,'" Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2015.

Both Clinton and Sanders have now agreed to an additional debate this Thursday evening at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Alan Rappeport, “Bernie Sanders Says Yes to Debate Thursday Night,” New York Times (online), February 3, 2016, 11:18 a.m.

And who has NBC selected as a moderator for that debate, along with Rachel Maddow? That’s right, Chuck Todd.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Why Nobody 'Wins' the Iowa Caucus

2:43 p.m.
Why the Iowa Caucus Matters -- and Why It Doesn't

This blog essay is deliberately being written and posted the afternoon before the evening when Iowa's 1600-plus precincts will hold their Republican and Democratic Party caucuses. It's not designed as spin for any candidate's effort to explain the outcome after the fact.

The caucus process does matter -- just not in the way many people think (because that's the way the media told them to think). It's analogous to the way we will "elect" our president in November -- though, once again, not in the way we think (it is the Electoral College that picks the president).

One can accurately speak of the "winner" of the Democratic National Convention's presidential nomination process the week of July 25 in Philadelphia. Only one will be chosen from among however many potential presidential candidates there are at that time; the one selected can be said to have "won" the nomination. Similarly, only one of those nominated for president by our country's political parties will get the most electoral votes on November 8, 2016. That person can be said to have "won" the presidency.

So why does no one "win" the caucus?

The answer requires a little explanation of the categories of caucus significance.

(1) The nomination process. Technically, the precinct caucuses are the first step in a process of intra-party governance. The precinct caucuses are like town meetings of everyone registered to vote who has expressed a party preference. They are, subject to those limitations, open to all. What they produce are delegates to the next stage: the county conventions. The county conventions choose delegates to the congressional districts' conventions. They, in turn, select delegates to the parties' state conventions. And it is at the state conventions that the delegates to the parties' national conventions are chosen.

There will be 4,763 delegates at the Democratic National Convention. It will take 2,382 to win the nomination. Of those, Iowa will have 44 -- about 1% (roughly the same as Iowa's percentage of the national population). It is in this sense that even Iowa's ultimate national convention delegates will have relatively little impact on who is ultimately nominated. And if they have little, the delegates to the county conventions, selected in tonight's precinct caucuses will have essentially no impact at all.

So there will be no "winner" of the caucuses tonight in the sense of impact on the parties' governing processes or ultimate selection of their presidential candidates.

(2) The campaign. Even in terms of the campaign, except for one possible scenario, the caucus results mean little (separating out the media consequences, discussed next). With 50 states, there are a string of caucuses and primaries between now and the summer, starting with Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. As they progress, and a candidate has a substantial lead in the race to line up the magic number of 2,382 delegates, an individual state's primary may take on relative significance. But in the early stages -- and Iowa is the first -- the outcomes are of relevance primarily in weeding out, or further propelling, candidates. (Of course, with a billionaire's backing, a candidate can stay in the race so long as the money keeps coming regardless of how disappointing the outcomes may be.)

It is in that sense, so far as the campaign is concerned, that a candidate can be a "loser" -- in the sense that the support proves to be so minimal that the wisest (or only financially feasible) choice is to drop out -- but one cannot be a "winner" in any meaningful sense. Not only is it not a winner-take-all contest, there is really nothing to "win." The result is one of dividing up shares of support. And so long as a candidate's share is above -- name your percentage; I'd say 20-30% with three or fewer candidates, maybe as 10-20% when more -- it is reasonable for him or her to continue on. If you want to call that "winning," OK, but by this definition essentially everyone "wins."

As of this afternoon it is impossible to know the outcome. But I think it reasonable, based on the polls, to assume that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will end up with at least 30% of the "state delegate equivalents" (which is the measure) and rationally conclude there is no reason to consider dropping out.

(3) The media. It is the media, TV and newspapers primarily, that have turned the Iowa caucuses into a winner-take-all phenomenon in which the candidate who gets the most state delegate equivalents is declared by them to have "won" the Iowa caucuses, while all others have "lost." Given that Donald Trump is not the only American who prefers winning to losing, the declaration by the media of a "winner" is of significance -- even though it could not rationally have been but for their declaration.

A sub-set of this presentation involves "expectations" -- the candidates who exceed, or fail to meet, the percentages of delegates that the media's pundits said they would have. (It is, in this sense, as much a matter of winners and losers among the media as among the candidates.) But "expectations" in politics, as in sports, can be manipulated by the parties as well. That does not, however, reduce their potential impact in the media-created horse race.

The media-anointed winner goes on to New Hampshire with the wind at his or her back, and tries to hold on to the title until is is wrest from their grasp by a different candidate in a future primary.

This is, in the final analysis, why it really is important to be proclaimed the winner -- even though it is of little consequence otherwise in any rational analysis.

So do go to your precinct caucus. It is important. Besides it is fun. It is rewarding. You are engaging in an important, and meaningful act of responsible citizenship in a democracy.

But its most meaningful impact will be measured only in terms of the next couple of days' news cycles.

Nobody "wins" the Iowa caucus.

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UI President Harreld - Feb. 2016

February 1-29, 2016

Note: The Iowa Board of Regents' process used in the search for, and ultimate selection of, a new president for the University of Iowa has been highly controversial throughout. For the details, with links to hundreds of documents, news stories, and opinion pieces, visit this: repository of links from September 2-October 31, 2015 (which also includes links to additional blog posts).

The continuation of that coverage, reporting on events and statements from President Bruce Harreld during his administration, is first found in "UI President Harreld - Nov. 2015," for the month of November, starting with the anticipatory stories on November 1, followed by his first day on the job, November 2.

Equivalent material for December can be found -->HERE<--, and for January 2016 -->HERE<--.

This blog post, "UI President Harreld - Feb. 2016," is where the continuation of coverage will be found for the month of February, 2016. To the extent events warrant, the present plan is to continue to collect items in month-by-month blog posts during 2016, so long as the news and opinion coverage, and blog readers' interest, continues.

-- Nicholas Johnson, February 1, 2016

Contents (with links)
February 1-3, 2016
February 4-6, 2016
February 1-3, 2016

The absence of links to UI and higher education news and opinion pieces (including my own) during these last four days of January has not been for want of content. Maintaining a repository of the journalistic history of the administration of UI's President Bruce Harreld (along with news of other challenges to higher education generally with implications for the University of Iowa) is a bountiful source of material. The unfolding story remains compelling.

By way of explanation for readers not residing in Iowa, this break in reporting is a function of the fact that the focus of Iowa news and Iowa citizens' efforts during the last week of January through the night of February 1, 2016, has been on "The Iowa Caucus." However, none of the links to relevant material during this political interlude has been ignored or lost. They will be reported here, and commented upon in due time.

February 4-6, 2016

Clearly today's [Feb. 5] top story is Ryan Foley's Des Moines Register revelations regarding the leaked results of the infamous Chris Perkins' polls and focus groups perceptions of the University of Iowa. "Pollster Warned University of Iowa of 'Party School Image,'" Associated Press/Des Moines Register (online), February 4, 2016, 4:35 p.m.; hard copy: Ryan Foley, "Republican Pollster Warned UI of 'Party School Image,'" Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 5, 2016, p. A1

This is yet one more phase of what has been a duplicitous disaster from start to finish that now rests with a flashing red light in the center of President Bruce Harreld's desk.

1. The roughly $25,000 contract was set at $24,900, thereby avoiding the competitive bidding required for contracts of $25,000 or more. As Ryan Foley reported at the time, "The University of Iowa has quietly awarded several no-bid contracts totaling $321,900 to a prominent GOP consultant . . .. [It looks] like a sweetheart deal among Republican insiders and a potential waste of money. The university sidestepped a policy that normally requires competitive bidding [on contracts of $25,000 or more; this contract was for $24,900] to ensure services are obtained at the lowest cost . . .. [S]ome of the money has gone for statewide opinion polling that the university is refusing to make public, saying doing so would 'serve no public purpose.'" See "UI President Harreld - Dec. 2015," Section December 7-9, 2015.

2. It was a part of the Republican insiders self-dealing that has surfaced in a number of other contexts. See the nine headings required to lay out the range of problems in "Trouble in River City: Corruption Creep," December 13, 2015.

3. UI administrators stonewalled the release of the results (in violation of Iowa law according to one expert), thereby creating increased ill will and suspicion among Iowa media and public -- a fundamental violation of basic crisis management principles. For a little guidance, see "Crisis Communications 101," February 14, 2011.

4. And today, with Ryan Foley's revelations, we discover that the results of the Perkins' survey are consistent with the common sense intuition of many critics of the University and City of Iowa City's tolerance of students' binge drinking; how the balance has been struck between students' welfare and increased tuition revenues, it turns out, is not only harmful to students' health and academic achievement, it is also so harmful to the University's reputation that it also poses an impediment to the increased enrollment it is designed to encourage. (In the past the UI Administration actually approved a ludicrous rationale for its joint contracts with alcohol manufacturers. See, e.g., "What is this about? The UI is going to do its damnedest to accelerate the consumption of alcohol by our students, and in the process Anheuser-Busch's profits. After all, that's why for-profit corporations advertise, especially with emotionally compelling logos for children, such as Joe Camel (to encourage smoking) or Herky (to encourage drinking). And the school is doing this to accomplish what? To raise money for its 'alcohol harm reduction plan'?" "A Busch in the Hand is Worth . . .," June 16, 2012.)

Here are some excerpts from Foley's report related to the last point:
A Republican pollster warned the University of Iowa a year ago that its public standing was suffering from an image as a heavy-drinking school where sexual assault was too common, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press that school officials have withheld from the public.

Washington-based pollster Chris Perkins told university leaders that those perceptions meant the school was no longer considered safe by some parents and students, and had lost some credibility "as a serious academic institution." Perkins, who received the polling work under a controversial university no-bid contract with a GOP insider, recommended specific messages for a communications strategy to combat the image.

"Iowans believe that cleaning up the party school image at the University of Iowa will result in attracting more students, gaining more research grants and overall improving the education system," Perkins wrote in the 52-page report, which was prepared for university leaders following a statewide poll of 1,000 residents in December 2014.

Earlier that year, protests erupted when the university's then-president, Sally Mason, said sexual assault could never be completely eliminated because of "human nature." The issue had become an increasing public concern in 2013, when the school started releasing public warnings about reported rapes involving acquaintances. The Princeton Review also named the university the nation's no. 1 party school in 2013.

The university won't release documents detailing polls and focus groups conducted by Perkin's firm, Wilson Perkins Allen. The AP obtained the undated report from a university employee who requested anonymity because the school didn't authorize its disclosure.

The school has said that releasing the information would help rival schools and "serve no public purpose." But the secrecy has been pilloried by open government advocates, including Iowa Freedom of Information Council executive director Randy Evans, who suggested this week that the school was illegally trying to hide embarrassing information.
One of the purposes of this repository of links to news and opinion pieces that collectively record the history of UI President Harreld's administration is to suggest to him, his supporters, and his critics, issues he might want to be thinking about. He can't be expected to have arrived in Jessup Hall with his mind fully informed and irrevocably made up regarding all of them. Nor would it be desirable if he had. A part of his challenge, as he himself has freely acknowledged, is building that base of knowledge and understanding.

But "leadership" of any organization requires an answer to the question, "is there a 'there' there?" That is, does the leader have a moral compass, a pole star, by which he guides his inquiries, opinions, beliefs -- and public statements. So far, we have very little evidence of this with regard to the dozens of issues that have been laid out in this blog over the course of the last five months. I have praised his assertions regarding his determination to create and maintain integrity in UI's athletic program. Hopefully, he intends to show leadership with regard to integrity throughout the University. We could now use a little of that leadership, a little application of the platform of principles upon which he stands, with regard to this public relations (and substantive) disaster.



# # #

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Caucus With Your Heart and Head -- for Bernie

Why I'm Caucusing for Sanders

Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette
January 26, 2016, p. A8

Some 40 years ago in Washington, D.C., I agreed to host a series of TV interviews with presidential candidates. Questioning the first few proved problematic. Their responses to questions seemed to come from tape cassettes implanted in their skulls. They’d heard the questions before, and we’d heard their answers.

How to make their performances more revealing? The possibilities of someone tipping over a candidate’s chair, or unexpectedly throwing them a baseball, were attractive but rejected by the producer.

The ultimate solution was found in a question I have put to presidential candidates then, and throughout the years since, often in Iowa living rooms. “Senator, let’s make two assumptions. One, those of us here think you are ‘right on the issues.’ And two, you are elected president. Now tell us, why will coal mine owners have less ability to maintain coal miners’ unsafe working conditions than they do now?” (One could substitute the military-industrial complex’s control of defense budgets, or oil company subsidies.)

Some candidates would stare blankly. Some would become angry. Apparently, few if any had ever thought about the problem, and none offered a solution.

When I put the question to Senator Barack Obama in 2007, he replied, “Well, Nick, I’ve been a community organizer.” I’d visited with Saul Alinsky and read his books. Both Obama and I were familiar with Heather Booth’s Midwest Academy in Chicago, where I’d learned community organizing. I too quickly leapt to the conclusion that Obama got it. He would become our national community organizer-in-chief! I was mistaken.

Senator Sanders not only gets it, he makes it explicit. He rejects chants of “Bernie, Bernie” by saying, “this is not about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘we.’” “This campaign is about creating a movement of millions of Americans fighting to transform our country with demands that government represent all of us,” he’s said.

Of course, like most Americans, I like his specific proposals — increased minimum wage, health care for all, higher taxes on the wealthy, avoiding unnecessary wars, tuition-free college, jobs improving infrastructure, and many more.

But far more important than the specifics is his belief that government should serve all the people, the socio-economic bottom as well as the top 1 percent. That a government of the major donors, by the lobbyists, for the wealthy is not what the founders had in mind. That when candidates of either the Democratic or Republican parties’ establishments talk of proposals, the results look a lot more like capitulation in the cause of campaign contributions than compromise on behalf of the American people.

Of course, I’m impressed with the more conventional things said about Sen. Sanders. His authenticity. His enormous, enthusiastic crowds, and millions of supporters. That he not only talks against Wall Street and PAC funding, he walks the walk by refusing their money — while raising enough from small donors. He’s had experience as a mayor, congressman and senator, one who understands the federal government’s working and impact. Up against Republican candidates, he’s as easily (or more) electable as the others. He has the best “unfavorable” numbers.

But most important to me? His lifelong advocacy that governments exist for the 99 percent. His ability to answer my 40-year-old question; his knowledge of what’s required before a government can serve the people. A campaign that’s already begun building that citizen organization.

Are you in the 1 percent? There are establishment candidates for you. If not, whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Green, it serves your interest and mine if Sen. Sanders’ vision and voice comes booming out of Iowa’s precinct caucuses, loud and clear across America throughout 2016. It’s up to you.
__________
Nicholas Johnson of Iowa City has held presidential appointments during the administrations of three U.S. presidents, and been involved in presidential elections since 1952. He maintains nicholasjohnson.org and FromDC2Iowa.blogspot.com. Comments mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

[This column appeared online as Nicholas Johnson, "Why I'm Supporting Bernie Sanders for President," The Gazette (online), January 26, 2016, 10:51 a.m.]

____________________

Why Support Sanders

Nicholas Johnson
The Daily Iowan
January 28, 2016, p. A4

This is the story of how I came to support Sen. Bernie Sanders. It’s a true story — or at least as true as a fading memory can provide.

Some 40 years ago in Washington, I agreed to host a series of TV interviews with presidential candidates. Questioning the first few proved problematic. Their responses to questions seemed to be coming from tape cassettes implanted in their skulls. They’d heard the questions before, and we’d heard their answers.

How to make their performances more revealing? The possibilities of someone tipping over a candidate’s chair or unexpectedly throwing them a baseball were attractive but rejected by the producer.

The ultimate solution was found in a question put to presidential candidates then, and throughout the years since, often in Iowa living rooms. “Senator, let’s make two assumptions. One, those of us here think you are ‘right on the issues.’ And two, you are elected president. Now tell us, why will coal-mine owners have less ability to maintain coal miners’ unsafe working conditions than they do now?” (One could substitute the military-industrial complex’s control of defense budgets or oil-company subsidies.)

Some candidates stared blankly. Some became angry. Apparently, few if any had ever thought about the problem, and none offered a solution.

When I put the question to Sen. Barack Obama in 2007, he replied, “Well, Nick, I’ve been a community organizer.” I’d visited with Saul Alinsky and read his books. Both Obama and I were familiar with Heather Booth’s Midwest Academy in Chicago, where I’d learned community organizing. I too quickly leapt to the conclusion that Obama got it. He would become our national community organizer-in-chief. I was mistaken.

Sanders not only gets it, he makes it explicit. He rejects chants of “Bernie, Bernie” with “this is not about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘we.’ ” “This campaign is about creating a movement of millions of Americans fighting to transform our country with demands that government represent all of us,” he has said.

I like his proposals for increased minimum wage, health care for all, avoiding unnecessary wars, tuition-free college, justice for African-Americans, and equal pay for women, among others.

I’m impressed with his authenticity, enthusiastic crowds, rejection of PACs, and funding a campaign with millions of supporters making $27 average contributions. He’s had experience as a mayor, congressman, and senator. He understands the federal government’s working and impact. Up against Republican candidates, he’s as (or more) electable than the others. He has the highest Net favorability numbers.

But most important to me? His belief that a government of the major donors, by the lobbyists, for the wealthy is not what the founders had in mind. That the establishment’s proposals, whether from Democrats or Republicans, look a lot more like capitulation in the cause of campaign contributions than compromise on behalf of the American people.

It’s his lifelong advocacy that governments exist for the 99 percent; his knowledge of what’s required before a government can serve the people — that the people must lead before their leaders will follow. His campaign has begun building that citizen organization.

Are you in the 1 percent? You have many establishment candidates to choose from. Otherwise, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Green, it serves your interest and mine if Sanders’ vision and voice comes booming out of Iowa’s precinct caucuses, loud and clear.

[This column appeared online as Nicholas Johnson, "Why I Support Sanders," The Daily Iowan (online), January 28, 2016.

Earlier, yet a third variation of this material appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen as as Nicholas Johnson, "Sanders the Right Democrat for Caucus," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 21, 2016, 4:04 p.m., and in the hardcopy edition as Nicholas Johnson, "Sanders the Right Democrat for Caucus," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 22, 2016, p. A7, a copy of which is embedded in this blog site in an entry headed, "Why I'm Caucusing for Sanders and You Should Too," January 22, 2016.]

# # #

Friday, January 22, 2016

Why I'm Caucusing for Sanders and You Should Too

Sanders the Right Democrat for Caucus

Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 22, 2016, p. A7

This is the story of how I came to support Sen. Bernie Sanders. It’s a true story — or at least as true as a fading memory can provide.

Some 40 years ago in Washington, I agreed to host a series of TV interviews with presidential candidates. Questioning the first few proved problematic. Their responses to questions seemed to be coming from tape cassettes implanted in their skulls. They’d heard the questions before, and we’d heard their answers.

How to make their performances more revealing? The possibilities of someone tipping over a candidate’s chair, or unexpectedly throwing them a baseball, were attractive but rejected by the producer.

The ultimate solution was found in a question put to presidential candidates then, and throughout the years since, often in Iowa living rooms. “Senator, let’s make two assumptions. One, those of us here think you are ‘right on the issues.’ And two, you are elected president. Now tell us, why will coal mine owners have less ability to maintain coal miners’ unsafe working conditions than they do now?” One could substitute the military-industrial complex’s control of defense budgets, or oil company subsidies.

Some candidates would stare blankly. Some would become angry. Apparently, few if any had ever thought about the problem, and none offered a solution.

When I put the question to Sen. Barack Obama in 2007, he replied, “Well, Nick, I’ve been a community organizer.” I’d visited with Saul Alinsky and read his books. Both Obama and I were familiar with Heather Booth’s Midwest Academy in Chicago, where I’d learned community organizing. I too quickly leapt to the conclusion that Obama got it. He would become our national community organizer-in-chief! I was mistaken.

Sen. Sanders not only gets it, he makes it explicit. He rejects chants of “Bernie, Bernie” with “this is not about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘we.’” “This campaign is about creating a movement of millions of Americans fighting to transform our country with demands that government represent all of us,” he’s said.

Of course, like most Americans, I like his specific proposals — increased minimum wage, healthcare for all, higher taxes on the wealthy, avoiding unnecessary wars, tuition-free college, jobs improving infrastructure and many more.

But far more important than the specifics is his belief that government should serve all the people, the socioeconomic bottom 50 percent as well as the top 1 percent. That a government of the major donors, by the lobbyists, for the wealthy is not what the founders had in mind. That when candidates of either the Democratic and Republican parties’ establishment talk of proposals, the results look a lot more like capitulation in the cause of campaign contributions than compromise on behalf of the American people.

Of course, I’m impressed with the more conventional things said about Sen. Sanders. His authenticity. His enormous, enthusiastic crowds, and millions of supporters. That he not only talks against Wall Street and PAC funding, he walks the walk by refusing their money, while raising enough from small donors. He’s had experience as a mayor, congressman and senator, one who understands the federal government’s working and impact. Up against Republican candidates, he’s as equally electable as the others. He has the best “favorability” numbers.

But most important to me? His lifelong advocacy that governments exist for the 99 percent. His ability to answer my 40-year-old question; his knowledge of what’s required for a government to serve the people. A campaign that’s already begun building that citizen organization.

Are you in the 1 percent? There are establishment candidates for you. If not, whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Green, it serves your interest and mine if Sen. Sanders’ vision and voice come booming out of Iowa’s precinct caucuses, loud and clear across America throughout 2016. It’s up to you.

_______________
Nicholas Johnson of Iowa City has held presidential appointments during the administrations of three U.S. presidents, and been involved in presidential elections since 1952. He maintains nicholasjohnson.org and FromDC2Iowa.blogspot.com.

# # #

Saturday, January 02, 2016

UI President Harreld - Jan. 2016

January 1-31, 2016

Note: The Iowa Board of Regents' process used in the search for, and ultimate selection of, a new president for the University of Iowa has been highly controversial throughout. For the details, with links to hundreds of documents, news stories, and opinion pieces, visit this: repository of links from September 2-October 31, 2015 (which also includes links to additional blog posts).

The continuation of that coverage, reporting on events and statements from President Bruce Harreld during his term, is first found in "UI President Harreld - Nov. 2015," for the month of November, starting with the anticipatory stories on November 1, followed by his first day on the job, November 2.

Equivalent material for December can be found -->HERE<--

This blog post, "UI President Harreld - Jan. 2016," is where the continuation of coverage will be found for the month of January, 2016. To the extent events warrant, the present plan is to continue to collect items in month-by-month blog posts during 2016, so long as the news and opinion coverage, and blog readers' interest, continues.

-- Nicholas Johnson, January 1, 2016

Contents (with links)
January 1-3, 2016
January 4-6, 2016
January 7-9, 2016
January 10-12, 2016
January 13-15, 2016
January 16-18, 2016
January 19-21, 2016
January 22-24, 2016
January 25-27, 2016
January 28-31, 2016
January 1-3, 2016

"Leaders speaking badly" makes President Harreld's "should be shot" remark look better by comparison. Ceylan Yeginsu, "Turkey Says Hitler Comment by President Erdogan Was 'Distorted,'" The New York Times (online), January 2, 2015, p. A4 ("Turkey issued a statement on Friday saying that comments by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — in which he cited Hitler in response to a question about whether a strong presidency was possible in Turkey — had been misinterpreted. . . . His comment also raised the issue of how the leader of one of the world’s most influential countries, an American ally and member of NATO, would mention Hitler in the context of his own tenure.")

Carol deProsse, "Harreld Statement a Sign of the Times," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 1, 2015, 3:48 p.m.; hard copy: Carol deProsse, "Harreld Statement a Sign of the Times," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 2, 2015, p. A9

Greg Timlin, "Harreld Critics Should Look in Mirror," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 1, 2015, 3:49 p.m.; hard copy: Greg Timlin, "Harreld Critics Should Look in Mirror," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 2, 2015, p. A9

Given the recent reports of cronyism and corruption in the Regents' and UI contracting, see, "Trouble in River City: Corruption Creep," December 13, 2015, it's long past time that all the details of this very questionable student housing deal be uncovered and made available to the public. How could something like this have happened? "Editorial: Profiteering Landlords Make UI Housing Less Affordable," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online) [a Des Moines Register editorial], January 1, 2015, 9:27 p.m. ("With apartment-occupancy rates of 95 percent or so, there’s already plenty of built-in incentive for private developers to build more apartments in Iowa City. If the university is going to give these developers the use of publicly owned land, there should be a very direct benefit to the public, such as the creation of student housing that is genuinely affordable. . . . This is an issue that deserves not only the attention of the Iowa Board of Regents, but also the Iowa Legislature. . . . The school itself needs to move forward with proposals to form a student-housing task force.")

January 4-6, 2016

Josh O'Leary, "Top 10 Iowa City Area News Stories of 2015," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 2, 2015, 1:01 a.m.; hard copy: Josh O'Leary, "Top 10 Iowa City Area News Stories of 2015; From the Passing of Reins at UI, to the Rose Bowl, There's Been No Shortage of News," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 4, 2015, p. A3 ("1. Mason Resigns; Harreld Hired. Sally Mason, who announced her retirement plans in January, weathered her share of controversy in eight years as UI's president. But her successor, Colorado business executive Bruce Harreld, found himself embroiled in controversy even before taking the reins as the university's 21st president.
The Iowa Board of Regents selected Harreld, a former IBM executive, from four finalists Sept. 4. The hiring prompted an outcry from many UI faculty members, graduate students and others contesting the hiring of a president whose background was largely rooted in the business world.
Numerous protests have taken place at regents meetings and at the president's office in the months since. And a report from the American Association of University Professors in November added fuel to the fire, declaring that the regents' hiring process was 'tainted from the start.'")

Leonard Cassuto, "What Will Doctoral Education Look Like in 2025? Predictions and Hopes for the Future of Ph.D. Training," The Chronicle of Higher Education (online), January 3, 2016 ("We’ve been . . . waiting and hoping to recover that lost time of plenty [post-WWII through 1970s]. But the scales have fallen from our eyes in recent years, so it’s a good time to think about what the future might really hold for graduate school. . . . Today graduate school is gripped in a vise. One jaw of that vise is the ever-tightening academic job market, and the other jaw is the increasing corporatization of the academy. . . . The faculty no longer sets the values of the institution. Instead, university leaders now see themselves as agents for the board of trustees, and at public institutions, the legislature. The naming of the businessman Bruce Harreld as president of the University of Iowa is good recent example of that shift. . . . Here’s the greatest cause for hope: The conversations about changing graduate school are finally happening. The problems I’ve described here have been with us for a long while, but for years we weren’t ready to face them. Yes, things have gotten worse — especially since the recession of 2008 — but we haven’t collapsed yet. Let’s fix our house before it falls over.")

Here's a link to another blog collection of items involving today's challenges for higher education: Michael Meranze and Christopher Newfield, "Remaking the University"

Issues for Harreld: AIB campus; plus, issue of excessive use of and pay for consultants: Vanessa Miller, "Regents to Pay Firm Up to $91,000 for 'Needs Assessment' for Degrees in Des Moines Area," The Gazette (online), January 5, 2016, 9:34 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Regents Study Des Moines Outlook; Consultants Hired Months After AIB Agreed to Donate its Campus There to the UI," The Gazette, January 6, 2016, p. A3

January 7-9, 2016

Gerhild Krapf, "Return Higher Education to People of Iowa," Des Moines Register (online), January 6, 2016, 1:28 p.m.; hard copy: Gerhild Krapf, "Restore Institutions of Higher Education," The Gazette, January 7, 2016, p. A5 ("Touted “shared governance” requires that the Regents have necessary expertise and integrity, requisite humility and respect for the expertise of the faculty, with whom they share governance. Neither is true. . . . The cause of higher tuition is not inefficiency, but diversion of public funds from education to corporate pet projects. . . . It is high time that our hijacked institutions of higher education be appropriately funded and restored to the people of the state of Iowa, whom they are intended to serve.")

Tough critique of Harreld: R. Jon Roberts, "Harreld Should Abide by Own Standards," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 7, 2016, 3:40 p.m.; hard copy: R. Jon Roberts, "Harreld Should Abide by Own Standards," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 8, 2016, p. A5

If Harreld is to tell the tale of IBM's "turnaround," someone should make sure, for the sake of the students as well as the historical record, that it's factually accurate regarding: (1) how much of it was accomplished before he was even at IBM?; (2) how much was done by others?; and (3) how his contribution (whatever that was) fit in with other time periods and the contributions of others (see, "UI President Harreld - Nov. 2015," Section: November 4-6, 2015; Items: "Harreld and the IBM "turnaround," Items 2, 3 and 4 (e.g., IBM CEO Lou Gerstner, Jr.'s book about the turnaround, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance, makes no mention of Harreld; other authors explain why). Vanessa Miller, "UI President to Participate in Business Course Dissecting IBM Turnaround; Harreld Said He Loves Teaching, Interacting with Students," The Gazette, January 7, 2016, 9:31 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: New UI President to Teach Business Students About IBM; Harreld Helped Lead Company's Turnaround," The Gazette, January 8, 2016, p. A3

More on President Harreld's remarks. Those who find the details in Jeff Charis-Carlson's story of interest may also find the following of help in thinking through the issues they raise: “Quick Draw Harreld and Why Language Matters,” and “Nicholas Johnson, "Was It Something I Said? General Semantics, the Outspoken Seven, and the Unacceptable Remark," Institute for General Semantics, New York City, October 30, 2010. Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Harreld Will Continue to Answer Critics Via Email," Iowa City Press-Citizen/Des Moines Register (online), January 8, 2016, 5:03 p.m. ("The new president of the University of Iowa says he will continue to respond to his critics via email despite some respondents later releasing the caustic electronic conversations to the media.")

January 10-12, 2016

UI President Harreld told UI Athletics Director Barta that he'd leave the winning to Barta, and personally focus on the program's performance with regard to academics and integrity. So, how does Harreld come out on this matter of integrity: Donald H. Yee, "College Sports Exploits Unpaid Black Athletes. But They Could Force a Change. Disproportionately Black Football and Basketball Players Are Making Disproportionately White Administrators and Coaches Rich," The Washington Post (online), January 8, 2016 ("But after a year when Black Lives Matter protests spread across the country, and at the end of a season when the football team at the University of Missouri helped force the resignation of the school’s top two administrators over how the campus handled race-related incidents, we need to stop ignoring the racial implications of the NCAA’s hypocrisy. . . . The bargain the NCAA makes with football and basketball players is fairly simple: You play games, entertain fans and make us money, and we’ll give you a scholarship, experience, training and exposure you need to make it to the pros.")

There are many purposes of these collections of stories and opinions during President Bruce Harreld's tenure as UI's president -- an historical record of an interesting and important period in the evolution of the University of Iowa, a time-saving report that can be checked daily by those who wish to follow these events more closely, a presentation of the views of both Harreld's critics and defenders. But an additional purpose is to pose, both for President Harreld and those following his progress, issues in higher education generally as well as locally that he would do well to study, and ultimately develop personal views about -- utilizing his own moral compass -- well before they crash in upon him and the "crisis communication" early responders have to be called to the scene. Below are three more examples:

Are there limits to the virtues of total transparency by a large institution and its leaders? Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Harreld Will Continue to Respond to Critics Via Email; Reply Process to Remain, Despite Exchanges Being Released Publicly Online," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 11, 2015, p. A1

Are there circumstances under which the firing of an employee is warranted because some of us, or all of us, find his or her communication (speech, writing -- or sculpture) offensive? Vanessa Miller, "Florida Professor Fired After Sandy Hook Conspiracies Remembered as 'Thoughtful' Student at Iowa; UI Leaders: 'We Are Not Anxious to Claim Him,'" The Gazette, January 10, 2016, 2:26 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Fired Conspiracy Theorist Got Ph.D. at UI; 'We Are Not Anxious to Claim' Florida Professor Whose Belief that Sandy Hook Was Fake Drew National Attention," The Gazette, January 11, 2016, p. A6

Today's academic research involving human beings ("human subjects research" -- as distinguished from those which only involves, say, fruit flies or mice, which have different standards) is governed by federal and institutional standards enforced by institutional review boards, or IRBs, that must first approve the study. Sometimes these standards and their enforcement involve basic human rights about which virtually all of us would agree; at other times they look a little silly. Guess wrong, or deliberately violate the standards, and an institution can have a major public relations problem -- among other things, like law suits. It's not totally clear from this story what's going on at ISU, but it's another potential issue for the UI for him to inform himself about. Arthur Harrington, "Banana Study Involving Iowa State Raises Questions About Human Testing; Study Will Involve ISU Students Eating Bananas Designed to Raise Vitamin A Levels," The Gazette (online), January 10, 2016, 8:24 p.m.; hard copy: Arthur Harrington, "Research: Study Prompts Concerns Over Human Testing at ISU; Banana Project Aims to Boost Vitamin A Levels Among Africans," The Gazette/Ames Tribune, January 11, 2016, p. A9

Mark Barrett, "Ditchwalk Says: J. Bruce Harreld and the Crisis in Higher Education," January 10, 2016, 11:37 p.m. (6600 words about UI President Harreld's appointment, performance, and issues that will leave you, as presidential candidate Governor Adlai Stevenson said after losing the election, "Too hurt to laugh, and too old to cry.")

"A Fair Shake for Faculty; Harreld Committed to Raising Educators' Pay," UI Office of Strategic Communication, Iowa Now (online), January 12, 2016

What follows are the two local stories about the Regents' latest reliance on "consultants." Bear in mind, (a) this is a job the Regents (and its universities' presidents) need to do themselves: the Google-searching research, the individual reflection and evolution of positions, the consensus-producing discussion; it's not a job to be contracted out to distant strangers. (b) To the extent the Regents want to involve others in this process, they have access to the remarkable academic and research resources of the UI and ISU administrators and faculty, two of the nation's top public research universities, individuals certainly as, and most likely far more, qualified to undertake the task than any available consultants. The questions posed do not require mastery of rocket science -- and even if they did, we have those resources as well among our people.

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Regents to Spend $71K on Strategic Plan; Regents Also Approve $91,000 for Educational Assessment of the Des Moines Metropolitan Area," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 11, 2016, 12:36 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Regents to Spend $71K on Strategic Plan; It Will Reflect the Unique History of the Iowa Schools," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 12, 2016, p. A4

Vanessa Miller, "Iowa Board of Regents to Pay $71,000 for New Strategic Plan; Process to Involve 'Open Meeting' With Community at Large," The Gazette (online), January 11, 2016, 2:58 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Regents to Pay $71,256 for Evaluation of System; Consultant Will Help Develop 5-Year Plan," The Gazette, January 12, 2016, p. A7 ("Regents will be asked to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the state's higher education system and suggest their vision for the future . . ..")

January 13-15, 2016

UI President Harreld told UI Athletics Director Barta that he'd leave the winning to Barta, and personally focus on the program's academics and integrity. ["UI President Harreld - Nov. 2015," Nov. 7-9, Item 4 ("Harreld said, 'I told Gary [Barta] the winning is yours; I’m all about the integrity and the academics.'")] So, how does Harreld come out on these issues regarding the UI athletic program's integrity?

Occasionally there is a cluster of news that, together, tells a story more powerful than any one item alone. This is such a time. The Regents are asking the Legislature for $20M for UI, ISU and UNI combined (of which a mere $4M is for UI); Governor Branstad is requesting $8M; sympathetic legislators predict it will be hard to get even that.

Meanwhile, the UI's football coaching staff -- all of whom are more than handsomely rewarded with high salaries (at $4M Coach Ferentz is Iowa's highest paid public employee) -- will be paid as bonuses an amount equaling near one-half of the additional amount requested from the Legislature for the operation of the entire University of Iowa!

Bear in mind three things.

(1) None of these coaches, during the entire football season, performed even one thrown or caught pass, first-and-ten gain, kicked extra point, sack, block or tackle -- let alone touchdown. Of course, they provided coaching and mentoring to the players on and off the field -- just as every other UI faculty member does for the students in his or her field. But only coaches believe this entitles them to all of the cash flow thereafter generated by their students.

Coaches are like the plantation owners who used to sit on their porches sipping mint juleps, enjoying their bonuses when the price of cotton went up, watching the crop being grown and picked by slaves who received no salary to speak of (beyond board and room) -- and certainly no bonuses -- for their physically demanding labor.

(2) Under the NCAA and UI rules, those who actually went on the playing field, risking life-long injuries including concussions (talk about "I feel your pain"), those who actually achieved the team's winning season -- the players -- did not even receive salaries (beyond tuition, board and room), let alone bonuses for their accomplishment.

(3) Is it wise to risk even the appearance of a conflict of interest for a coach weighing (a) the potential risk to an injured, star player's health by encouraging him to return to the game, and (b) the potential million-dollar bonuses that will almost certainly be lost if he does not do so? Admittedly, Coach Ferentz is a class act, but isn't $4M a year enough to live relatively well in Iowa City? Are additional multi-million-dollar bonuses required to provide the necessary incentive for someone to do their job? Are they offered to faculty elsewhere in the University?

The four stories that follow include the Legislative budget struggle, a repeat of the Washington Post story about the economic exploitation of college football players, an Iowa player injured by coach-required excessive training who has settled his lawsuit, and an itemization of the coaches' bonuses.

Vanessa Miller, "Funding Proposal for Regents Well Below Request; Board Wanted $20 Million More for UI, ISU, UNI," The Gazette, January 12, 2016, 7:45 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Governor's Pitch is Far Less Than Board of Regents Wants," The Gazette, January 13, 2016, p. A7

Donald H. Yee, "College Sports Exploits Unpaid Black Athletes. But They Could Force a Change. Disproportionately Black Football and Basketball Players Are Making Disproportionately White Administrators and Coaches Rich," The Washington Post (online), January 8, 2016 ("But after a year when Black Lives Matter protests spread across the country, and at the end of a season when the football team at the University of Missouri helped force the resignation of the school’s top two administrators over how the campus handled race-related incidents, we need to stop ignoring the racial implications of the NCAA’s hypocrisy. . . . The bargain the NCAA makes with football and basketball players is fairly simple: You play games, entertain fans and make us money, and we’ll give you a scholarship, experience, training and exposure you need to make it to the pros.")

Andrew Mytelka, "U. of Iowa Settles With Athlete Who Was Hospitalized After Workout," The Chronicle of Higher Education (online), January 11, 2016 ("The University of Iowa has agreed to pay $15,000 to settle a personal-injury lawsuit filed by a former football player who spent a week in the hospital after a mandatory, high-stress workout . . . hospitalized with exertional rhabdomyolysis, in which excessive muscular strain makes muscle tissue deteriorate, dumping proteins into the bloodstream and potentially causing kidney damage. [He] accused the football staff of 'developing and implementing a dangerous, improper training program' . . .. The staff regarded the workout as a test of both stamina and toughness . . . to tell which players 'wanted to be on the team' . . . one of several in recent years in which competitive pressures and college athletes’ safety have come into conflict.")

Scott Dochterman, "Bonuses for Ferentz, Staff Exceed $2 Million," The Gazette (online), January 12, 2016, 3:07 p.m.; hard copy: Scott Dochterman, "Iowa Football: Bonuses Exceed $2 Million," The Gazette, January 13, 2016, p. B1

"A Fair Shake for Faculty; Harreld Committed to Raising Educators' Pay," UI Office of Strategic Communication, Iowa Now (online), January 12, 2016

Now here are three more stories, and topics, for President Harreld to think through in coming to his own understanding and personal position:

The planned diversity of student enrollment; what's appropriate, justified -- and legal -- and what's not; Harvard Board of Overseers considering free Harvard educations, funded by endowment earnings. What would be the appropriate analog for the UI? Stephanie Saul, "How Some Would Level the Playing Field: Free Harvard Degrees," The New York Times, January 15, 2016, p. A1 ("[A] slate of candidates running for the Board of Overseers at Harvard . . . say Harvard makes so much money from its $37.6 billion endowment that it should stop charging tuition to undergraduates. But they have tied the notion to another, equally provocative question: Does Harvard shortchange Asian-Americans in admissions?")

The NCAA president speaks out on an issue at the UI: are athletes in high-revenue sports, women coaches, and possible coaches, treated equally and fairly? The related issues surrounding coaches' pay are discussed immediately above. Does President Harreld intend to get involved in these issues, or leave them to AD Barta and the coaches? Jim Vertuno, "Emmert Applauds Student-Athlete Activism," Associated Press, January 14, 2016, 8:18 p.m.; hard copy: Jim Vertuno, "Emmert Applauds Activism Among Student-Athletes," Associated Press/Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 16, 2015, p. B5 ("NCAA President Mark Emmert applauded student-athlete campus activism and said Thursday he's disappointed that member schools aren't hiring more women and minorities as coaches. . . . 'If you look at FBS football, there's not any growth in African-Americans getting coordinator positions. That's the feeder into head coaching jobs . . .. Why are women not being attracted into coaching positions as they once were?' Emmert's speech also pushed universities to address 'fairness' for college athletes, from how much time they spend on their sport compared to academics to making sure they are advancing toward their degrees. NCAA surveys show that 75 percent of Division I basketball players think they will someday have a professional career. A vast majority won't, Emmert said.")

The so called "Town-Gown" conflicts are not limited to Iowa City and the UI; they have been forever with us across the country. The UI is Iowa City's 800 pound guerrilla. Because of the decision to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the old Kinnick Stadium (rather than building a more adequate facility three or four miles down the road, with plenty of parking, Hawkeye football games end up dumping 70,000 visitors into a neighborhood designed for 200-300 souls. Binge drinking students taking over downtown on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights tends to drive away many potential customers. Neighborhoods that used to house families have been bought up by the University, or others, and turned into student housing -- with the expected consequences of noise and far more automobiles looking for parking. What's President Harreld's position on situations like this one? Vanessa Miller, "New University of Iowa Frat House Hinges on City Parking Waiver; Parking Scarcity 'Has Long Been a Major Concern,'" The Gazette (online), January 14, 2016, 6:08 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Plan for New UI Frat House Prompts Parking Concerns; Neighbors Skeptical of Project Requiring City to Waive Its Rules," The Gazette, January 15, 2015, p. A3 ("Iowa City staff have concerns about such a [parking] waiver. 'The scarcity of on-street parking in the area has long been a major concern for neighborhood residents, and as the university grows its population of undergraduate students, the competition for on-street parking is likely to become more intense,' according to a staff recommendation to the board. 'There is also concern about disturbances that have been created by other fraternities in the immediate neighborhood,” the staff recommendation states. “The adjacent fraternity to the south has been expelled from its house by its own national organization due to behavioral issues.'”)

January 16-18, 2016

Presumably President Harreld would like to keep the University of Iowa competitive with regard to graduate students working as teaching assistants, as well a tenured faculty and entering students. The University of Missouri has done a study he might want to review. Megan Favignano, "Graduate Student Benefits Mixed at Other Universities," Columbia Daily Tribune January 17, 2016, 12:00 a.m. ("Two University of Missouri task forces have spent this school year researching graduate student health insurance options . . . and other benefits. . . . Universities offer a range of options when it comes to child care. . . . At the University of Iowa Graduate College, which is of comparable size to MU, student stipend levels are negotiated between the University of Iowa and the graduate employee union and outlined in a contract.")

Stephen Gruber-Miller, "UI Classes Begin: What You May Have Missed Over Winter Break," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 17, 2016, 1:43 p.m.; hard copy: Stephen Gruber-Miller, "UI Classes Begin: What You May Have Missed," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 18, 2016, p. A1 ("More Harreld Controversy. UI's 21st president, Bruce Harreld, is still making headlines after his controversial hiring last year.")

January 19-21, 2016

Another of UI's treasures, seldom mentioned let alone promoted: "UI's Museum of Natural History Ranks No. 11," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 19, 2016, 4:33 p.m. ("The UI Museum of Natural History ranked No. 11 on a list of “The 30 Most Amazing Higher Ed Natural History Museums” compiled recently by the website www.bestcollegereviews.org. Founded in 1858 by an act of the Iowa Legislature, the UI museum boasts of being the oldest university museum west of the Mississippi River. Located in Macbride Hall, the Natural History Museum complements the Old Capitol Museum on the university's historic Pentacrest area.")

Bruce Harreld, "Building Momentum This Spring; President Harreld Shares Details About Upcoming Town Hall, Leadership Positions," Iowa Now, January 19, 2016 ("I am looking forward to the continued development of our shared direction and how, together, we will build momentum. As you may know, we started this listening process through our shared governance structure after Thanksgiving break. In order to continue this communication and collaborative planning, we are having a town hall meeting Feb. 23 in C20 Pomerantz Center from 4 to 6 p.m.")

Vanessa Miller, "Spring Outlook Looks Busy for Iowa's Universities; Politics, Construction, Tuition Debate On Tap," The Gazette (online), January 19, 2016, 4:45 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Students Return for Busy Spring Semester; Iowa's Public Universities Saw Some 80,000 Students Return to Campus Tuesday for a Spring Semester Promising to be More Expensive for Some, More Technologically Accessible for Others and Packed with Politics for All. Here Are Some of the Things Expected to Affect iowa's Campuses This Spring," The Gazette, January 20, 2016, p. A2 ("New UI President. With not even one full semester under his belt, new UI President Bruce Harreld launched the spring semester Tuesday with a message outlining plans to continue a 'communication and collaborative planning' process.")

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI to Remove 'Interim' from Lehnertz's Senior VP Title; UI Eliminates VP for Strategic Communication Position," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 19, 2016, 3:43 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI to Remove 'Interim' from Lehnertz's Senior VP Title," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 20, 2016, p. A3

Vanessa Miller, "UI President Removes Interim Titles, Welcomes Back Students; 'This is Truly an Exciting Time," The Gazette, January 19, 2016, 2:15 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: UI President Removes Interim Titles, Welcomes Back Students; Harreld Asks Regents to Approve New CFO and Vice President," The Gazette, January 20, 2016, p. A2

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Failed to Open Letter from Freedom of Information Council," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 19, 2016, 12:58 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Fails to Open Record Request; Letter Dated Dec. 30 Raises Concerns Over the University's Refusal to Release Documents," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 20, 2016, p. A1 ("University of Iowa officials say they weren't intentionally ignoring a letter from the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. It's just that no one had gotten around to opening the letter until last weekend. . . . FOI Council Executive Director Randy Evans raised concerns about UI's refusal to release documents related to work done for the university by a company owned by former Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn. The letter came in response to an Associated Press article concerning how Strawn’s company had received contracts worth about $320,000 without competitive bids. AP reported that UI was keeping some of the documents secret . . ..")

It's a start? Vanessa Miller, "Regents Committee Set to Meet on Safety, Security; Discussion Will Look at Infectious Disease, Active Shooter Scenarios, Mandatory Reporters," The Gazette (online), January 20, 2016, 5:06 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Regents Committee Plans 2nd Meeting on Safety, Security; Discussion Will Look at Infectious Disease, Active Shooter Scenarios, Mandatory Reporters," The Gazette, January 21, 2016, p. A6 ("Committee members . . . are slated to discuss an updated purpose statement and receive information . . .. [G]roup members did not receive any supporting documents in advance of Thursday’s meeting, according to board spokesman Josh Lehman.")

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Plans to Create a Bias Response Team This Semester," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 20, 2016, 8:34 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Plans to Create a Bias Response Team; Official: Group Should be in Place by the End of the Current Semester," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 21, 2016, p. A1

Paying for the bass drum in the Regents' big brass brand. Vanessa Miller, "Regents Seek Firm to Create New Website; 'The Site Will Focus on Improving Access,'" The Gazette (online), January 19, 2016, 11:22 a.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Regents Willing to Pay for Redesign of Website; Site Will Focus on Improving Access to Board Information," The Gazette, January 21, 2016, p. A6 ("[T]he board in 2014 launched an efficiency review in hopes of finding places on each campus to consolidate and save. The board has spent about $5.4 million on consulting fees and expenses related to that efficiency project, and the bill is expected to grow to at least $5.8 million. . . . Iowa’s Board of Regents is looking to pay a firm to design and implement a new official website that will improve access to board information. [Board of Regents' spokesperson Josh Lehman told The Gazette on Monday the board hasn’t updated its website in eight or nine years, and no specific concerns or complaints prompted its decision to create a new site. 'We just wanted a fresh look and fresh design,' he said.")

January 22-24, 2016

Ryan Foley, "Investigator Sees Possibility of Bias in Iowa Coach's Firing," Associated Press, January 21, 2016, 3:36 p.m.; hard copy: "Field Hockey: Investigator: Bias May Have Played Role in Coach's Firing," Associated Press/Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 22, 2016, p. B1 ("A former Iowa women's field hockey coach has a 'reasonable possibility' of proving that gender or anti-gay discrimination played a role in her firing, an Iowa Civil Rights Commission investigator has found.")

Cindy Garcia, "Freedom of Information Letter to Harreld Unanswered," The Daily Iowan, January 21, 2016; hard copy: Cindy Garcia, "UI Info Request Delayed," The Daily Iowan, January 21, 2015, p. A1 ("'I will be charitable; I have no reason to doubt what the University said was the reason, but I would say if the president's staff is going half a month without opening the mail, they have bigger issues than we're aware of,' [Iowa Freedom of Information Council Director, Randy] Evans said.")

Savannah Guyer, "UI Lays Out Diversity Plans," The Daily Iowan (online), January 21, 2016; hard copy: Savannah Guyer, "UI Lays Out Future Diversity Plans," The Daily Iowan, January 21, 2016, p. A1 ("[UI Associate Vice President Georgina] Dodge announced that a . . . Diversity and Inclusion [required course] would begin in the summer of 2017 . . .. Success at Iowa . . . and International at Iowa . . . would collaborate for this year’s Orientation . . .. Dodge also touted the Center for Diversity and Enrichment’s multipurpose room in the University Capitol Center and said it will be having a grand opening on Thursday.")

Kaylyn Kluck, "Required Diversity Course in the Works," The Daily Iowan, January 21, 2016; hard copy: Kaylyn Kluck, "Required Diversity Course in the Works," The Daily Iowan, January 21, 2016, p. A5 ("The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences recently announced incoming students will have to fulfill a new diversity and inclusion course requirement. The curriculum update is supposed to replace the old Values, Society, and Diversity requirement by 2017. The decision comes at a time when issues of diversity, whether on university campuses or in the Oscars, make headlines nationwide. Iowa is one of many colleges across the nation seeking out new ways to create a more diversity-friendly atmosphere.")

January 25-27, 2016

Free Speech on Campus. A recurring challenge for all college and university presidents, including the UI's Bruce Harreld, is balancing the values behind the First Amendment (and for public institutions its Constitutional requirements, and the reinforcement provided by "tenure") with a school's desire for civil, collegial relations, and respect for all who make up its diverse community. This includes sesitivity in the president's use of language.

A little over a year ago these issues arose on the UI campus regarding a statute displayed on the campus that some saw as a KKK threat to African-Americans, others saw as an appeal to reason, and the artist saw as simply art. "Threats and Sensibilities: Residents Kim, Lynton and Mason," December 20, 2014.

A year later, President Harreld "put his foot in it with the current debate surrounding whether he said teachers 'should be shot,' or whether he said he 'should be shot." "Quick Draw Harreld and Why Language Matters," December 17, 2015 (with links to news articles at the time).

There have been in the past, are now, and will continue to be many more controversies involving the standards applied to on-campus speech and other expression.

A current story involves another former business person serving as a university president -- one who apparently prefers first drowning students like bunnies before shooting them. ("His biography says that he founded or co-founded four businesses and worked at various times for Bain & Co., JP Capital Partners and Cornerstone Management Group.") Scott Jaschik, "Are At-Risk Students Bunnies to Be Drowned? President's Plan to Weed Out Some Students Soon After They Arrive -- and His Alleged Metaphor for the Plan -- Set Off Furor at Mount St. Mary's U.," Inside Higher Ed (online), January 20, 2016 ("Is a valid strategy to improve a college's retention rate to encourage students at risk of dropping out to do so in the first few weeks, so they won't be counted in the total numbers reported to the U.S. Education Department and others? . . . [St. Mary's U. President Simon] Newman told some faculty members they needed to change the way they think of struggling students. He reportedly said, 'This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies . . . put a Glock to their heads.'”)

No one would contend that insulting language, or "hate speech," is "nice" or socially acceptable. But it does not follow that anything and everything done to reduce or punish it constitutes an unmittigated blessing. Does President Harreld hold a view on this new UI program? Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Free Speech Advocates Raise Concerns About UI Bias Team," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 22, 2016, 11:16 a.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Bias Team Raises Free Speech Concerns; It Would Address Complaints of Racial or Other Bias," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 23, 2016, p. A1 ("The executive director of a national free speech advocacy group says there is 'reason to be wary' of the University of Iowa’s plans to move forward with a bias assessment response team . . .. Robert L. Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said via email Thursday. 'I think there is also real reason to be wary of giving any agency of the government, including UI, the ability to record every instance of unpopular speech in a giant database. . . . A campus culture that encourages students to report to the authorities about officially disfavored speech, rather than instances of real harassment or threats, is gravely at odds with the idea of a university as a place for the unfettered exchange of ideas,' Shibley said.”)

Here's a case in which university officials at UI's sister university, ISU in Ames, sought to silence student speech -- not because it was hateful, but because it might create some political problems for the schools' administrators. They found out the U.S. Constitution denied state schools that power, and in the process brought negative public relations upon themselves. It's one more free speech context for President Harreld to think through. Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Court Orders ISU to Allow T-shirts with Marijuana Leaf," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 22, 2016, 5:21 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Court Orders ISU to Allow T-shirts with Marijuana Leaf; Ruling: ISU Engaged in Unconstitutional Viewpoint Discrimination," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 23, 2016, p. A3 ("the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa permanently barred ISU . . . 'from further prohibiting plaintiffs from producing licensed apparel on the basis that their designs include the image of a similar cannabis leaf.' . . . The suit is part of the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, overseen by the national organization Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Because university officials blocked the design 'due to the messages they expressed' in an effort to 'maintain favor with Iowa political figures,' the court found that ISU engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.")

And for a twist that should get President Harreld's attention (sort of like the contrast between fining a Wall Street bank millions of dollars and putting its CEO in a federal prison) see, Vanessa Miller, "Court Backs Iowa State University Students in Marijuana T-shirt Case; ISU Administrators, President Steven Leath, Could Be Held Personally Liable," The Gazette (online), January 25, 2016, 4:39 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Court Backs Students Over Pot T-shirt; Officials Said Design with ISU Logos and Marijuana Leaves Violated Trademark," The Gazette, January 26, 2016, p. A7 ("According to the court order, ISU administrators acknowledged the policy revisions resulted from external criticism, including from those with political prominence. . . . The judge . . . did deny the lawsuit’s defendants 'qualified immunity,' which means they could be held personally liable for violating student rights.")

Vanessa Miller, "E-mails: Some Hoped University of Iowa President's 'Shooting' Comments Would Drive Him Out; 'He Picked the Wrong Thing to Say at Precisely the Right Moment,'" The Gazette (online), January 22, 2016, 9:43 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Some Hoped Harreld's Comments Would Oust Him; Emails Show UI Employees Called President Names and Urged Publicity," The Gazette, January 23, 2016, p. A1 ("Lisa Gardinier, the Latin American & Iberian Studies librarian, has said Harreld told the group that any instructor who goes into a class unprepared 'should be shot.' . . . Harreld has previously said his remark was incorrectly described by Gardinier. 'I never said "teachers should be shot" . . .. I referenced my own experience and commented, "I have learned the hard way that if I go into a classroom without a teaching plan, I should be shot."’”)

More UI Football Issues UI President Harreld has said he'll focus on the integrity and academics of UI's athletic programs and leave the winning to AD Gary Barta. (See Jan. 13-15, above, first item.) Well, this morning's [Jan. 27] news brings a couple of additional integrity issues.

CTE strikes home. What are the ethical/integrity issues involved in a university using unpaid students to fuel a multi-million-dollar commercial engine if it may result in students' lifetime disabilities from physical injuries or even death from mental injuries? Andy Hamilton, "Former Hawkeye Tyler Sash found to have CTE," Associated Press/Des Moines Register/Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 26, 2016, 9:55 p.m.; hard copy: "Ex-Iowa Player Sash Had CTE," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 27, 2016, p. A1 ("Chris Nowinski of the . . . Concussion Legacy Foundation confirmed the diagnosis of [Tyler Sash's] chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE . . .. CTE . . . is directly linked to repeated brain trauma. It is associated with symptoms such as memory loss, impaired judgment, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia. . . . [T]he severity of CTE in Sash’s brain was similar to the level found in the brain of . . . Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012 at age 43. . . . [L]inebacker A.J. Edds . . . told The Register . . . 'when you start looking back and connecting the dots, some of the symptoms and signs were there. . . . It tells you about the state and the standing of what football is continuing to do to guys, not just physically but mentally as well.”)

Teams endorsing Trump. "University of Iowa Football Team Endorses Donald Trump," screamed the URL of the news story. The text reports that, with football players and wrestlers at his side on stage at the UI Field House, "'They endorsed Trump,' the real estate mogul announced to the crowd." I hasten to add that there are no backstory facts known to me. Did the team take a vote? Did the players inform the coaches? Did the coaches encourage, approve, or acquiesce in the endorsement? Did the approval go higher up in the UI's administration -- already accused of Republican favoritism in other contexts? Did the Trump campaign contact the players, or did the players reach out to the campaign? I don't know any of that. But the problem created by, at least the appearance of an endorsement, exits regardless of the answers to those questions.

This is not the time or space for a doctoral dissertation on the subject, but let me also make clear that I see little to no problem with, say, student members of the University of Iowa College Republicans working with the Trump campaign. Indeed, the platform might have been designed with any number of student supporters (identified as such) sharing the stage behind Trump -- as other candidates have sometimes done in the Field House. Indeed, I'd see no problem with one or two athletes being a part of that group. Similarly, I'd not think it a problem if President Harreld, and a smattering of VPs and Deans were a part of a 1000 person audience -- whereas it would seem problematical for them to have played the role the football team did.

Consider: When Herky appeared at Republican Senator Joni Ernst's "Roast & Ride" event in Boone, the UI was quick to disavow the mascot's endorsement of the senator. Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Cy, Herky Remain Politically Neutral, Schools Say," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), June 12, 2015, 12:17 p.m. ("University officials are reasserting the political neutrality of Herky the Hawk and Cy the Cardinal after both mascots appeared at a Republican political rally last week.")

Alex Swoyer, "University of Iowa Football Players Endorse Donald Trump: ‘What a Team!,’" Breitbart News (online), January 26, 2016 ("GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump was endorsed by several players from the University of Iowa Hawkeye football team on Tuesday night at his rally in Iowa City, Iowa. . . . 'They endorsed Trump,' the real estate mogul announced to the crowd.")

January 28-31, 2016

The absence of links to UI and higher education news and opinion pieces (including my own) during these last four days of January has not been for want of content. Maintaining a repository of the journalistic history of the administration of UI's President Bruce Harreld (along with news of other challenges to higher education generally with implications for the University of Iowa) is a bountiful source of material. The unfolding story remains compelling.

By way of explanation for readers not residing in Iowa, this break in reporting is a function of the fact that the focus of Iowa news and Iowa citizens' efforts during the last week of January through the night of February 1, 2016, has been on "The Iowa Caucus." However, none of the links to relevant material during this political interlude has been ignored or lost. They will be reported here, and commented upon in due time.


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