A few corrections, clarifications, and additional items are warranted for yesterday's post. I got a few things wrong, and I missed a few other examples that help establish where Michigan finds itself in its efforts to not be at all like Michigan State.
So hooray that it can't be as bad, but again this is an FOIA department that had to be forced into even the vaguest approximation of compliance by a lawsuit. Michigan must have an FOIA department that wants to be open, not one that is occasionally forced to be.
The Iowa perspective. Patrick Vint performs an Iowa self-examination:
here's the biggest distinction between Iowa and Michigan State: While Iowa is certainly committed to secrecy, Gary Barta and his staff are equally terrible at secrecy. Going all the way back to Barta's first scandal, the Everson/Satterfield matter (which will figure prominently here), Iowa has shown a total inability to keep a secret, no matter how hard it collectively tries. Peter Gray got out eventually. So did the Griesbaum firing and Meyer transfer, the rhabdo epidemic, the DRUGS? non-scandal in late 2010, and the McCaffery extension. There are simply too many good reporters around the program with nothing better to do than FOIA the hell out of them a few times a year, and Iowa's FOIA office, to its undying credit, truly appears to adhere to the letter and spirit of the law in almost all circumstances (which is why Iowa stopped putting anything in writing, essentially).
There is the old adage that a government can never keep a secret for long because there are too many people who know how to talk. That's Iowa; they might well want to keep secrets from everyone, but they're incapable of actually doing that. That's a good thing.
Also, Kirk Ferentz swung hard towards law and order after some disturbing incidents about a decade ago—remember the point in time when Michigan had hired Rodriguez and it looked like Ferentz was running a cowboy program?—and the Iowa regents cover all three public Iowa universities (UNI and ISU are the other two), with representation about equally spread between the three schools.
On that local prosecutor's office. User Monocole Smile brought up Josh Furman's case, which was a kerfuffle in which two Michigan cheerleaders "restrained" Furman from going after a guy:
The trial began Monday when the two women who were involved in the incident testified they did not feel threatened by Furman during the incident. The women both testified were attempting to hold Furman back from potentially fighting another man who was in the apartment. Mason said that man had been sending Furman explicit text messages regarding his ex-girlfriend.
According to the ex-girlfriend’s testimony, she initiated the physical contact with Furman by grabbing his arm and hair. Mason said that it was clear that if Furman wanted to get past the women into the apartment, he could have.
“If this guy is strong enough to get past OSU’s (Ohio State University) line, he could’ve got past these two cheerleaders,” Mason said. “But, he didn’t do it.”
The prosecutor's reasoning for bringing potentially career-ending domestic violence, assault and battery, and illegal entry charges:
Reiser said regardless of the terms used by the women and their roommate, who also testified on Monday, to describe how Furman tried to enter the apartment — a 911 call played in court Thursday indicated he “forced” his way in, while one woman said Monday he “brushed” by her — he should have been guilty of illegal entry.
“The fact that he used forced at all shows the illegal nature of his entry,” she said. “He was not invited in.”
This is a football player brought up on charges for yelling at a guy and almost getting in a fight. That seems to be a fairly definitive "no" in the "subverted local prosecutor" category. Maybe "jerk-ish local prosecutor," though.
The exact Gibbons timeline. I was not entirely clear that Brendan Gibbons's incident happened under Rich Rodriguez's watch, as did the Lewan threat. It is Rodriguez who should have booted Gibbons. While I am a zealot about how "I didn't know" is not at all a defense for an authority figure, even I am willing to give a new coach a pass for incidents in the past when he takes a team over.
Brady Hoke was still a neanderthal in his reaction to Gibbons's upcoming expulsion. He lied for him, and when confronted about this by the media his attitude towards what had happened was either dismissive or uncomprehending. Take your pick.
Also: it was Hoke who immediately dismissed C'sonte York.
In "are you sure you want to run this NOW?" investigative reporting. Pity the poor Freep reporters who had to drop a long story about Michigan's endowment and how it's run during the midst of the MSU scandal, but they did. The crux opens the story:
Executives at some of the nation's top investment firms donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Michigan while the university invested as much as $4 billion in those companies' funds, a Detroit Free Press investigation found.
More than $400 million of that amount was sent into funds managed by three alumni who advise the university on its investments. Critics worry Michigan’s approach of investing with some of its top donors, who also help guide the university's nearly $11-billion endowment, creates a conflict.
Robert Jones, an MBA graduate from Michigan who helped lead Goldman Sachs Group's quantitative equity fund management unit before helping to found his own firm, is a member of U-M's Investment Advisory Committee, which advises the university's investment staff.
Jones said in an interview last year his firm does not receive U-M investments. And he said he would worry about the appearance of a conflict of interest if his alma mater chose his firm.
"Maybe it would look like I'm only on the committee to further my company, which is not the case," he said, adding, "it just never occurred to me to ask them" for an investment in his firm because he holds a position of influence.
This is another attribute of the university's governance that should be questioned and perhaps changed. I'm sure the folks managing the university's endowment look at it as a favor; Jones points out the obvious downside. At least there is a high-placed person on the advisory firm who's willing to offer no-bullshit quotes to a paper about this practice.
On the other hand, Michigan's tendency towards un-public secrecy again crops up:
The public university lobbied to change the state's open records law to favor the private funds managing U-M's billions. That was to protect information about the performance of funds, including those controlled by top donors to the university. ...
Thanks to Michigan's lobbying effort to change state law, it is a closely guarded secret how well the investment funds run by donors have performed. The university also shields the fees it is charged to manage its money as well as details about profit-sharing. A nonpartisan state agency warned before the law passed that the change could mean "little public accountability for poor or questionable investment decisions."
And that's the way most universities prefer it.
"The reality is nobody gives away their secrets," Lundberg said in an interview. To reveal the performance of individual investments and the fees paid by universities, he said, would hinder the ability to enter high-yield investment funds and "would come at a tremendous cost."
I don't pretend I have enough domain knowledge to say who's correct here.
Also in mendacity. Michigan State has been pretending that a lawyer they essentially hired as defense counsel has been running an independent investigation.
As sexual abuse reports against Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar flooded in a year ago, besieged officials at Michigan State University announced they had ordered an internal review. Overseeing it would be Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a former federal prosecutor whose reputation for investigations into mobsters, terrorists and corrupt politicians led admirers to deem him a modern-day Eliot Ness. ...
And they accused the university of failing to conduct a top-to-bottom, truly independent investigation, settling instead for a review by a legal team that was also trying to protect the school from any damage in the courts. Michigan State portrayed Mr. Fitzgerald as reviewing the Nassar cases even as he was hired to defend the university from lawsuits.
“Michigan State led the public to believe that there had been an independent investigation,” Tom Leonard, the Republican speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, said on Friday in an interview. “And then as we continued to dig into this, we found out it was not an independent investigation. It was an internal investigation to shield them from liability.”
Mr. Fitzgerald said on Friday that his team had never been “engaged to produce a public report” on the Nassar case. He suggested that his team’s role had been misinterpreted by some. In fact, the initial contract between Michigan State and Mr. Fitzgerald’s firm makes no mention of carrying out an independent investigation or producing any report.
Even now they are stacking the deck in their favor by hiring an alum, John Engler, despite his clear disqualifying traits, like 1) being an alum, and 2) belittling sexual assault claims in Michigan prisons, a move that later cost the state nine figures. Rachel Denhollander:
"Engler is a deep political insider at MSU," she said in her Facebook post. "At a time the university desperately needs, and survivors pleaded for, outside accountability and leadership, the board chooses one of the most entrenched insiders."
She said that "despite the board's words about accountability, it is business as usual," and "I sincerely hope the board reconsiders."
MSU booster Peter Secchia, who has been under fire for his controversial remarks about the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal, has donated more than $200,000 to the Kent County Republican Party and helped pay for the retirement party of former Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth, who was named by state Attorney General Bill Schuette over the weekend to lead an investigation into MSU’s handling of the Nassar scandal.
An invitation obtained by the Free Press shows the Peter Secchia family, along with grocer Meijer, were the two major sponsors of Forsyth’s retirement party and roast at a Grand Rapids restaurant in December 2016.
Secchia, a wealthy Grand Rapids-area businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Italy, is also a major donor to MSU and to Schuette.
All of these moves are obviously unacceptable and not really warning signs, but rather MSU retrenchment. The only question is whether MSU can definitively pass Baylor and PSU or whether there will be some question remaining when this is all over.
Where is Rick Snyder in all this? He's a lame duck with no political future. The one thing he could do to maybe rehab his image in the eyes of a state that sees only Flint water when they look at him is to go on the warpath. CMU, EMU, WMU, Tech, Ferris, Mercy, NMU, LSSU, and Michigan grads surely outnumber this cabal of Spartans seeking only to preserve their precious wins over Michigan no matter how many lives get wrecked in the process.
Snyder's "mulling action." Dude. Go down swinging. You may be the only adult-type substance in the room.