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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-25-12 04:43 PM
Original message
Report details financial mismanagement at USF Poly
Edited on Wed Apr-25-12 04:45 PM by seafan
Source: Tampa Bay Times

TAMPA Two top administrators at the University of South Florida Polytechnic are facing dismissal following an investigation into complaints of financial mismanagement at the Lakeland campus.

And the former leader of the school, Marshall Goodman, could soon be under further investigation himself.

Those are among the recommendations made by USF officials who just completed a two-month ethics review at USF Poly. Not only did investigators confirm that USF Poly officials misused money, it revealed a dysfunctional world that one employee dubbed "Marshall Goodman's own playground."

Among the findings:

USF Poly leaders laundered state education dollars through building rental payments to pay for unauthorized perks, such as a bottomless soda fountain in one of its Polk County business incubators.

(Much more)

Read more:


Looks like this might be embarrassing to Governor Rick Scott, who, just last Friday, created a newly independent Florida Polytechnic as the 12th state university, that reeked of a political gift to fellow GOP bully, Senator JD Alexander, who was just term-limited out of office.

This has been one of Rick Scott's most toxic decisions for the current fate of higher education in the state of Florida.

We hope this investigation ropes in JD Alexander, in his bullying of the legislature and the Board of Governors, to get his pet project approved by Rick Scott.

Let's see..., 'threats, intimidation and hostility directed at USF Poly employees who had started asking questions'....

Sounds like JD Alexander's method of operation.

Check back on this hard breaking story.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-27-12 11:31 PM
Response to Original message
1.  More USF Poly resignations, including Goodman's son
This whole USF Polytechnic fiasco is igniting rage across Florida.

Kim Wilmath at Tampa Bay's The Buzz blog reports:

12:33:18 pm on April 27, 2012

Add to the list of recent resignations from the University of South Florida Polytechnic campus the son of embattled former chancellor Marshall Goodman.

Robert Goodman was paid a $50,000 a year as a community liaison for the campus's Blue Sky business incubator program. He is one of nine USF Poly employees who have resigned from the school in the past month, according to letters released to the Times on Friday. That includes the communications and development directors who left yesterday in the wake of an investigation that revealed financial mismanagement and a hostile environment at the school.

Also making his departure official is Travis Brown, the younger Goodman's boss at Blue Sky, who said in an investigation interview that he was lured to the job under false pretenses. Brown said he was told, for example, that USF Poly had 30 MBA students when it only had three. His last day will be June 29, he wrote, two days before USF Polytechnic is shut down and the new Florida Polytechnic is born.

Most of the letters are short and sweet -- with the exception of two. Samantha Lane, who was in charge of media relations for USF Poly, and Maggie Mariucci, who served as director of development and governmental relations, both described toxic, hostile working environments as their reasons for leaving.

Under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott last week, on July 1, USF Poly must turn over all its assets to the new Florida Polytechnic. Until that time, USF is required to keep all USF Poly's employees on its payroll -- unless they are fired for cause.

The investigation that recently wrapped up on the campus recommended just that for two top administrators. Alice Murray, the director of facilities, and Josh Bresler, who oversaw the campus budget, were both found to have knowingly violated university policies. For now, they are on administrative leave.

Here are some of the findings from the investigation, as reported on April 26, 2012:

USF Poly leaders laundered state education dollars through building rental payments to pay for unauthorized perks, such as a soda fountain in one of its Polk County business incubators.

State education money was also used to pay for thousands of dollars in household appliances, including microwaves, coffee makers and vacuums.

Technology purchases, including a $400,000 video and audio wall that some said was too advanced for students, were made without approval from the main USF Tampa campus.

There was no proper accounting for thousands of dollars in building rentals and improvements.

When employees asked questions including why it was necessary to buy $10,000 worth of Star Wars statues or why a business incubator needed an adult-size plastic slide between its first and second floors they were yelled at and threatened, employees told investigators.

Here's where some of our money went:

A USF Polytechnic business incubator featured an adult-sized plastic slide between floors.
(Photo: USF)

Photos by EDWARD LINSMIER and JOSH RITCHIE at the Times

Employees questioned the need for $10,000 worth of Star Wars statues, including a storm trooper, and a plastic slide between floors at Blue Sky West in Lakeland, but, they told investigators, Marshall Goodman, above, threatened them. (Caption from this link at the Times)

One thing to remember is that Senator JD Alexander, now term limited out of office, and former chancellor Marshall Goodman, now on $254,000 a year paid leave have teamed up for years to force the idea of independence for USF Lakeland. It's been a cooked-up plan for quite a while. JD owns a nice chunk of land close by the proposed new university, and it would be a nice profit generator for his holdings to have a "new" university, fed by nearby "road improvements", also benefiting his personal financial holdings.

It was Goodman who juggled "the numbers", in an attempt to justify the split of USF Lakeland away from USF.

From an earlier report by Kim Wilmath at the Times:

November 9, 2011


Goodman will present USF Poly's ambitious 50-plus-page secession plan released last month. At the request of the board, USF's administration reviewed the plan and outlined almost three dozen concerns, including that it overestimates its potential growth. Goodman stood by the numbers, which say the school will grow from 1,300 students to 16,000 in 15 years.


Goodman and Alexander say the campus can answer the call from Gov. Rick Scott to prepare more students for technology-driven jobs, but as a part of USF has to wait in line with the rest of the system and often gets the short end of the stick. They point specifically to funding new projects and adding new degree programs.

However, last year USF Poly's $35 million appropriation for its new campus was the only construction project in the state university system to escape the governor's veto. And the campus has still not implemented the 15 degree programs USF granted it in the past two years, USF says.


In its business plan, USF Poly asserts splitting off would cost nothing, then pages later says only the first phase would be cost-free. Starting in 2017, the plan says, the campus would need more than $222 million. That doesn't take into account the cost of the school's new $100 million campus being designed by a famous Spanish architect.


Florida's school for scoundrels

April 27, 2012

It is probably better to remember that the temporarily exiled University of South Florida Polytechnic grand czar Marshall Goodman drew his first breath in Chicago, where he likely entered the world with a padded expense account in his tiny fingers.

That helps explain why under the Goodman junta years, USF Poly in Lakeland became little more than one man's personal playground to indulge his big-ticket geegaw whims and wanderlust on the public dime.

A few days ago, blowing off the advice and counsel of people who have the audacity to know what they are talking about, Gov. Rick Scott allowed himself to become the personal hot walker for lame duck state Sen. JD Alexander. He signed a piece of legislation allowing USF Poly to be spun off as an independent, unaccredited state university.


Now, less than two years into the job, Governor Rick Scott) has proven he can be just as big a hypocritical phony as his new best buddy JD Alexander, the Little Lord Fauntleroy of Lake Wales.


Fallout from USF Poly investigation: resignations, a call for former leader's firing, April 27, 2012

How it has unfolded from last fall:

Architect Santiago Calatrava plans a profound campus at USF-Polytechnic, October 3, 2011

This computer model of USF Polytechnics proposed campus is shown in a YouTube video. The view looks north; the proposed science and technology building is at the far end of the lake. The video cost USF $140,000.

USF Poly leader Marshall Goodman travels widely for dream of campus independence, November 6, 2011

USF Poly's bid for independence gets its first test, November 9, 2011

USF Polytechnic leader Marshall Goodman removed from post, December 21, 2011

Now it's late April, 2012, and Marshall Goodman remains on paid leave, collecting his salary of $254,000, as the sordid details of his aggressive tenure are finally gushing out. Undaunted, he and JD Alexander were lobbying Rick Scott last week, on the day before Scott granted this coveted political favor to them.

Why is this man still sucking down a salary for this corruption? The same needs to be asked of Rick Scott.

Yet another grifter is sitting in the U. S. Senate.

But, hey, Marco Rubio got his Taj Mahal Courthouse for his cronies. He was even honored (with JD Alexander and others) as a "hero" for slipping that stealth funding into a spending bill.

Not to be outdone, JD Alexander wanted a "legacy" university for himself on his way out of office. And Rick "Fiscally Accountable" Scott just gave it to him last Friday.

'JD Alexander is the face of what's wrong with Florida', March 4, 2012

This unfolding saga of USF Poly is but merely another ugly story of outright Republican theft from the people of Florida, aided and abetted by a deeply corrupt governor.

The only way to put a stop to this crass thievery by greed-driven Republicans is to clean out the Florida legislature, six months from now.

Rick Scott and Marco Rubio will be next on the agenda.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-30-12 08:43 PM
Response to Original message
2. Bob Graham: Legislative bypass of Board of Gov's to create independent Poly is unconstitutional.
Lindsay Peterson at the Tampa Tribune reports:

April 29, 2012


The public took notice when the state Legislature approved an expensive new university program and pushed aside the panel created to keep empire-building politics out of state university matters.
It was 10 years ago, and more than 60 percent of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment creating a Board of Governors with the power to operate, regulate and be "fully responsible" for the entire state university system.

Here we are again.

A single, powerful lawmaker pushed a bill through the state Legislature this year creating a university in Lakeland, his backyard. It sidelined a Board of Governors' plan to create Florida Polytechnic University years down the road, after it met criteria to prove it could survive.

Former Florida governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham has a word for that: "unconstitutional."


(Graham) said the case could go far beyond tuition issues, to the question of whether Alexander and other lawmakers had the power to toss aside the Board of Governors plan to create Florida Polytechnic University.


This is but another example of the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature, steamrolling over the will of the voters by pursuing a predetermined agenda to enrich certain legislative members.

Other examples of Florida Republicans running roughshod over the will of the voters:

1. Florida voters wanted a bullet train. Governor Jeb Bush tore it down. But Jeb's symbiotic relationship with CSX is A-OK.

2. Florida voters wanted smaller class sizes. Governor Jeb "Devious Plans" Bush plotted its destruction. Jeb prefers LARGE classes in digital learning format settings. Hey, the Family can make gobs of money from that.

What we need is for Bob Graham to once again take the helm of Governor of Florida and re-institute the protections for the state that were created decades ago. These protections have served Floridians well, until the siege of complete Republican dominance over the Legislature in the mid-1990s, when the progressive future for the state was ground into the dirt.

Vote these people OUT in November.

That will effectively neuter Rick Scott until his time is up in 2014, and that is, if he is not impeached beforehand by a newly-led Democratic Legislature.

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