This is rich. This is so rich. Go to http://openness.psu.edu/ This is the New York PR-types — they probably set this all up for Erikson, at the cost of $250,000. But you know what? You (and I) will NEVER KNOW the cost, or the background, even though it’s all publicly funded, just like your Pennsylvania streetlamps. Because what this website means is that Erikson, and the PSU Board, want to continue to hide behind the same “unique-for-every-public-U” exemption from Sunlight Laws. It should make you guffaw. When you run into Erikson, or the Board, you MUST run up to them and say: how stupid do you think the average PSU guy is?
Because, as I’ve point out before, Penn State is the only public university in the country which is not subject to Right to Know and Freedom of Information (“Sunshine”) laws. This unique status is the result of hard work by that Class of ’62 New Trier (Chicago) High School rich-guy preppy, Graham Spanier, the ex-PSU President who’s now off on a paid (full-pay) sabbatical. Paid sabbaticals are supposed to produce some kind of academic benefit to the university, from research or other work which is enabled from the “freedom” from daily academic rigors, for the school (that’s PSU) which has funded this “year-off-with-full-pay.” And if, for whatever reason, you were concerned (at every other public university across America) as to whether a sabbatical like Spanier’s was, in fact, generating anything of benefit to PSU at all during Spanier’s year off, then you could generate a Freedom of Information request, and that statute would require the public entity (and/or the public “servant” — and I use that term loosely — Graham Spanier) to cough up some proof that the public is getting what is is paying for.
But Spanier is, I’m guessing, on a toot. The Board just wanted to get him out of town. He was never, contrary to popular belief, fired. They paid him to get his ass out of town. And the PSU Board is still on a toot; “new” President Erikson (who was chosen by the “old” Board, without — yes, can you believe it? – a national search), is putting his faith in the PR-types (which I contrast with the Johnny U, old-school Pennsylvania types) rather than investing in full disclosure and the common-sense truth.
Let me be blunt: whether you rioted when Jo Pa was “relieved” of his duties, and whether or not you were disgusted by both Sandusky’s predations but also Jo Pa’s anemic, hide-in-the-bushes response for a decade — it doesn’t matter. There’s a brand-new issue here for anyone who loves college football, Penn State, or honesty in public administation:
What makes Penn State administration so special that they should be exempted from the same public Right to Know, “Sunshine” disclosure rigors which are applied to every other public university administation?
The plain answer is: Nothing. No one can come up with any kind of good reason.
But it’s worse than that: it’s not whether PSU should have special, unique-in-the-nation exemption from these kinds of “sunlight laws.” It’s that, based on the sordid Sandusky saga, which involved facilitating, if not encouraging, the burial of scandal-related information, we know that PSU is in a position where it needs those sunlight laws more than any other public institution in the country!
Let me backtrack a tad here. As someone who has studied these many issues arising out of the Sandusky scandal, I can tell you that one of the major causes was the cult of secrecy which grew up around Penn State, Schultz, Curley, Spanier, and Paterno: they all knew that things they did would most likely never see the light of day — if they didn’t want them to see that light. So this bizarre, unique status of PSU, which allowed them to blow off any request for documents which might reflect what really went on –encouraged a cult of secrecy which helped these PSU administrators and coaches keep from the public eye the fact that Sandusky had two big, red-flag “blow-ups” (’98 and McQueary report in ’02) which never saw the light of day for a decade — and which, in the end, made it much more likely that some boy would be sodomized by Sandusky between 2002 and 2011.
Someone said that housing developments most often have names derived from what they have destroyed in order to build the subdivision: :”Whispering Pines”, or “Quiet Meadows”, or, perhaps, “Happy Valley Woods.” This new, unbelievable news from PSU’s Erikson, that he has set up an “Openness” website, is a clear signal that he’s following that principle (which he heard from the New York PR types): name the website after what has been, and still is, dead at PSU: Openness.
Every Pennsylvania should have, as a statutory right, the ability to “cross check” what’s going on at PSU — to know what’s going on — just as every other American can.
This is to call out to PSU President Erikson, and is a call to all you kids who are grand-kids of coal-miners, and the hard streets and mills of a Pennsylvania which grew over the last century without the help of New York PR types. And what I’m here to tell you is: you are being conned, and played for fools. Here’s why — look at the fine print on this brand-spanking new ersatz “Openness” website:
The University will try its best to respond to all questions from media and post them on this site unless barred by law, contract, or privacy rights.
This is all lawyers and PR Types!: “try its’ best?” Surely, you jest? Try your best? What substitute is that for a statute which every other state has decided best protects its’ citizens from the self-serving, often illogical actions or spending undertaken by a big state bureaucracy? It’s not. This is President Erikson, and the PSU Board, very directly, and explicitly, giving every citizen of Pennsylvania The Finger.
All of you. Go read a biography of Johnny U. Or Lenny Moore. Johnny U would scowl. Ask Erikson: what possible reason can you tell us now, which would suggest that PSU ought not be subject to the same Right to Know statutes that every other State U administration is subject to?
Erikson has no answer to that question — other than that he and his cronies have been, and continue to, cover up. Erikson is playing the Pennsylvania public for fools. Openness: if you endorse it, then be explicit, and say that you are recognizing that the absence of Sunlight Laws was a major cause of the Sandusky mess, and you are going to the Pennsylvania legislature to ask that they immediately enact a Right to Know law which will apply to PSU.