Tuesday, August 2, 2011

SCF watchdog reporting gets results

This just in:

Daily watchdog journalism gets results. Sometimes almost immediately, as was the case today with State College of Florida.

We published a story today by Herald reporter David Gulliver, outlining SCF's until-now unreported plans to buy a new $71,000 Cadillac sport-utility vehicle for its top officials to use on college business. And Gulliver found the perfect perspective: The news comes two months after the college raised students’ tuition and fees by 8 percent.

Less than an hour ago, Gulliver received a brief email from SCF, saying they were yanking their request seeking sealed bids for the price of a new “executive vehicle.” Gulliver quickly posted the news to Bradenton.com.

Almost immediately, one reader emailed me:
In reference to the SCF cadillac story!!!!!! Thanks for bringing it to light and I have a feeling that there were a lot of complaints. I, for one, was furious when I read that story. My son is one of the students who had to pay that 8% increase!!!!

Huge story? Not in the scope of the trillions of missing dollars swirling in Washington. But it got people's attention -- everywhere I went today, it was the proverbial water-cooler talker. And we think that made a difference.


Anonymous said...

Please apply some of this "watchdog journalism" to the $36 million in consultants' fees the Manatee County School District pays. District officials cannot readily account for much of this expenditure of taxpayer money. Much, likely most, of that money is sent out of the Manatee County economy, which compounds the millions lost because of pay cuts levied on school district employees. This is infinitely more important and damaging than a $71,000 vehicle.

Anonymous said...

While I am glad to see the newspaper take action, I would like to see the same watchdog journalism principles applied to the School Board and the spending of millions of dollars on consultants. THAT is the huge story in Bradenton.

Anonymous said...

While you're patting yourself on the back, why not have David or some other Woodward and Bernstein investigate the "consultant" fees paid by the school district? Why was the district so slow to make the list available to Carpenter when asked? Why pay a consultant $82,000 for 20 days of work? What do we have Directors, Executive Directors, and Assistant Superintendents for? It looks like we pay over $100K per year each for people to make decisions on which consultants to bring in as "experts" to do jobs our high-paid employees cannot or will not do.

Bringing the SUV purchase to light is a public relations snafu at best for SCF. They'll buy a cheaper vehicle and save, at best, $20,000. Put a watchdog on the school district where 3000 employees have taken pay cuts and furlough days and some have lost their jobs completely. Based on Monday's board meeting, everyone's taxes will be increasing to raise more money for schools. Follow the money, Joan...or at least assign someone to do it. Millions of dollars are in play. This one affects us all.

Anonymous said...

Now tackle the big boy college and show us where the money comes from and just who (and the relationship of hirer up they are related to) gets what salary,perks,expense accts. and the position they hold at University of Florida, Gainesville. There is lots of waste here....just take a peek...Thank you for the SCF story, Bravo..

Anonymous said...

Kudos to David Gulliver for bringing this out into the light of day. To me, it's nothing new because back in the day (late 1980s) when I was a journalism student at Palm Beach Community College, the student paper raised a big stink about how the president of the college was having the place buy him a new Lincoln Town Car, and letting him buy the old one from the school.

He dismissed all complaints about it as a sign of incipient mental illness and even tried to shut down all student publications on a bogus trademark claim.

I learned that you never get between an elite and his perks. And that goes double for the community colleges.

Anonymous said...

Great job Joan. This does not surprise me. Mayor Groover-Bryant of Palmetto gave herself a $600 per month car allowance (nevermind medical insurance and a pension plan for a part-time position)and purchased a new Lincoln. She figure away to get a new vehicle without drawing attention to herself.
Put your watchdogs on the wild CRA spending in Palmetto. Have them look into the purchase of what they refer to as art on buildings throughout the city. Approx. 18k to purchase from a local art gallery, then more money for that same gallery to manage the distribution and placement of said art. Come on, even Chicago ploitics would not have the nerve to try this.
But please tell your reporters to be careful. It is common practice in Palmetto that if you challenge a decision by the local government klan, you will have a police background check done on you.
I could go on and on, but I will leave some mystery for your watchdogs to uncover.
Keep up the great work.