Monday, March 05, 2007

UI Held Hostage Day 408 - March 5

March 5, 5:00 p.m.

The Gazette's "Homers and Gomers"

The Gazette's Monday morning editorial is a feature called "Homers and Gomers." It's brief paragraphs of what's recently gone right -- and wrong. Whenever The Gazette and I agree it's a matter of concern to both of us, but it's nonetheless reassuring in a way whenever any other independent party comes to the same conclusions that you do. And so it was this morning with a number of items.

Iowa City's West High School Principal Jerry Arganbright was recently picked as Iowa "Principal of the Year." When I was on the Iowa City School Board he was always my principal of the year, so I -- and as it turns out, The Gazette -- were both pleased with the recognition.

(The importance of "process.")

I think process is important -- as most recently revealed with my blog entries on the UICCU board's flirtation with a name change to "Optiva." So does The Gazette, in praising the City of Iowa City's hearings on ideas for the development of the City's plan for its "Central District."

"Public participation" can mean any number of things along a continuum. At one end is total exclusion ("We know what's best and don't need to hear from you, thank you"). Next is "We've made up our minds, here is our plan. We wanted to brief you on it." Next would be the preceding, with the addition of "And we'd like to hear your ideas" (even though it's too late in the process to do anything about any new ideas). Next might be the gathering of ideas from some of the stakeholders through focus groups, or asking the opinions of a tiny sampling, but going ahead with what "the decider" wants to do (and probably without providing details of the results from opinion sampling). Next would be a "membership meeting" (ala the UICCU October 4 and February 28), which for a large organization (e.g., 45,000 credit union members) means participation of between 3% and less than 1% of the members. (And, as it happened in that instance, it involved little more than a ratification -- or as it turned out the failure of a ratification -- of a previously made decision by the CEO and board.) Finally, "participation" might mean obtaining stakeholders' opinions and preferences before decisions are made, letting them select both their proposals and areas of concern, and their preferred solutions -- leaving it to administrators and board members to effectuate those preferences (rather than dictate what they will be).

Moreover, three of this morning's "Gomers" have been concerns of this blog as well: (1) UI Search Committee II's seeming inability (or unwillingness) to declare up front whether it will, or will not, have on-campus interviews. (2) The UI, and its Athletic Department's, partnership with gambling; especially, after all the hoopla about the Iowa Lottery commercial, the University's failure to address the underlying issue (should it be in bed with the gambling industry at all?) and its ties with the Riverside Gambling Casino, which the UI skillfully flew beneath the radar while the Iowa Lottery tie was being debated. (3) The propriety of handing over public money to privately owned, for-profit enterprises. My concern goes to the fundamental flaw and contradiction with free private enterprise, as well as the program's ineffectiveness -- which is also a theme of Gary Maydew's Register op ed, linked below. The Gazette focuses on the phony numbers used to justify the giveaway.

Homers: What’s going right

OUTSTANDING LEADER: Congratulations to Jerry Arganbright, principal of Iowa City West High School, for being named the 2007 Iowa Secondary Principal of the year. A principal at West since 1984, Arganbright has led improvements in student achievement and activities. He is now eligible for similar recognition on a national level.

THANKS FOR ASKING: Far too often, residents complain their voices aren’t heard in public policy decisions, even when public officials bend over backward to listen. In Iowa City, you can literally have your cake and eat it, too. Planning officials are holding public hearings at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at City Hall to get ideas to develop a plan for the Central District, the heart of Iowa City. Not only are the open to ideas, they’re also serving refreshments.

Gomers: What’s going wrong

KNOCK OFF SECRECY: The University of Iowa presidential search committee continues to drag its feet on whether to require public on-campus interviews for finalists.

Keeping the public in the dark on the heels of a terribly botched search would be the wrong decision. Stop wringing your hands over this one and make the right decision: Require the finalists to meet the community.

DIFFERENT STAKES?: Folks are ticked about the use of the Hawkeye fight song and University of Iowa logos in an Iowa Lottery ad campaign earlier this year. Where’s the outrage about the UI’s association with Riverside Casino & Golf Resort?

The UI has received almost $100,000 in advertising from the casino; the word ‘‘casino’’ is prohibited from print ads and signs on campus, but it’s used in ads on the pre- and post-game shows on Hawkeye Radio Network. Officials say there’s a distinction, but we don’t see it.

INFLATING JOB NUMBERS: Iowans deserve accurate numbers on jobs created by the Iowa Values Fund, an economic development program. A report by the state auditor says the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s number (30,732) is inflated, possibly twice as many as the auditor has counted. The Values Fund is an effective program, but the questionable numbers are eroding its credibility and public support.

UI Presidential Search II
There are links below to stories about Search II from today, and other recent newspapers' editions.

UICCU and "Optiva"
Unless there is a major breaking story, there will be no more separate blog entries on this topic. The last entry may be revised from time to time and, if so, will indicate the date, time and nature of additions.
See Nicholas Johnson, "UICCU and 'Optiva'" in Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 406 - March 3 - Optiva," March 3, 2007 (last entry, with links to prior entries October 2006 through March 2007)

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[Note: If you're new to this blog, and interested in the whole UI President Search story . . .

These blog entries begin with Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," November 18, 2006.

Wondering where the "UI Held Hostage" came from? Click here. (As of January 25 the count has run from January 21, 2006, rather than last November.)

For any given entry, links to the prior 10 will be found in the left-most column. Going directly to will take you to the latest. Each contains links to the full text of virtually all known media stories and commentary, including mine, since the last blog entry. Together they represent what The Chronicle of Higher Education has called "one of the most comprehensive analyses of the controversy." The last time there was an entry containing the summary of prior entries' commentary (with the heading "This Blog's Focus on Regents' Presidential Search") is Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search XIII -- Last Week," December 11, 2006.

My early proposed solution to the conflict is provided in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search VII: The Answer," November 26, 2006.

Searching: the fullest collection of basic documents related to the search is contained in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search - Dec. 21-25," December 21, 2006 (and updated thereafter), at the bottom of that blog entry under "References." A Blog Index of entries on all subjects since June 2006 is also available. And note that if you know (or can guess at) a word to search on, the "Blogger" bar near the top of your browser has a blank, followed by "SEARCH THIS BLOG," that enables you to search all entries in this Blog since June 2006.]

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Media Stories and Commentary
UI Search Committee II

Taryn Deutsch, "Panel lists qualities sought in UI president," The Daily Iowan, March 5, 2007

Erin Jordan, "U of I panel discusses presidential criteria," Des Moines Register, March 3, 2007

Andrea Thomas, "Iowa professor questions secrecy in search," The Exponent: Purdue's Student Newspaper, March 1, 2007

Diane Heldt, "Committee Members Desire an Intellectual Leader," The Gazette, March 3, 2007

Brian Morelli, "Committee Wants Intellectual Leader; Next UI President Should 'Set a Tone,'" Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 3, 2007

Brian Morelli, "New UI Search Opposite of 1st," Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 3, 2007

Gazette's "Homers and Gomers"

Editorial, "Homers and Gomers," The Gazette, March 5, 2007

Gary Maydew, "To attract businesses, think beyond tax rates," Des Moines Register, March 2, 2007

UICCU and "Optiva"

See Nicholas Johnson, "UICCU and 'Optiva'" in Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 406 - March 3 - Optiva," March 3, 2007 (last entry, with links to prior entries October 2006 through March 2007)

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