Monday, March 12, 2007

UI Held Hostage Day 415 - March 12

March 12, 8:30 a.m.

A couple of short items on subjects of interest to this blog: economic development (transferring taxpayers' money to private, for-profit ventures), and the UI's enthusiasm for partnerships with the gambling industries.

Economic Development

There can be abuses anywhere, but in general I have no problem with either public enterprise or free private enterprise. The former gives us public roads, schools, libraries and parks -- along with police and fire protection and many other services. The latter, when monopolists are sufficiently restrained to let it work, can give us innovation, price competition, and better customer service.

My concern involves the transfer of taxpayers' money to private sector, for-profit businesses. Here, in its entirety, is a letter to the editor of the Des Moines Register this morning on the subject:

Iowa Values Fund: Audit shows a scandal
March 12, 2007

The Register failed to report the central implication of the state audit of the Iowa Values Fund ("Audit: State Lags in Tracking Jobs," March 1). The audit is about accountability and transparency in government.

The implication of the auditor's report is that millions of taxpayer dollars have been used with very little accountability on the part of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. In short, the record keeping is a mess, and the claims it has been making about job creation to bolster public opinion and political support for the program are false.

I find it astonishing that individual taxpayers and individuals receiving public assistance are held to a very high standard of accountability and expected to provide the government with all kinds of documentation, while the IDED cannot manage to even assemble an accurate spreadsheet that depicts the status of its programs.

This is a scandal, or should be.

- Cathy Mabry McMullen,
Des Moines

The University of Iowa's Gambling Addiction

The Gazette's Monday morning "Gomers" includes this one:

"GAMBLING ADDICTS: Iowa has just about as many forms of gambling as the Vegas Strip does, so it should come as no surprise that there is a growing number of Iowans seeking assistance for gambling problems. Requests for treatment increased 17 percent over the past year, and 22 percent over the past two years. At least anecdotally, it appears that gambling is being blamed for more and more crimes, such as embezzlement. The state needs to take a closer look at how it can stem this problem, especially as more communities lobby for licenses to open casinos."

Yesterday we read (andt this blog mentioned) a $1.4 million loss as a result of an Iowa banker's gambling addiction. Now we learn there's something between a 17 and 22 percent increase in those requesting treatment for the disease. The Gazette suggests "the state" should try to reduce the problem.

Perhaps "the state" might begin by having its "state university" stop its program of partnerships with the gambling industries' lotteries and casinos that are designed to promote gambling and increase the problem.

UICCU and "Optiva"

The UICCU-Optiva story is essentially behind us. There may be occasional additions "for the record" (as was the case yesterday). But for the most part the last major entry, with links to the prior material, is "UICCU and 'Optiva'" in Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 406 - March 3 - Optiva," March 3, 2007 (with links to Optiva 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

See above.

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