Friday, February 15, 2008

Throw Jake Corman Out of Office III: Corman Targets His Pitch To His Audience.

Pennsylvania State Senator Jake Corman (R-Penn State) yesterday explained to Adam Smeltz of the CDT why it was necessary to exclude Penn State from responding to open record requests.
Corman said he, like the university administration, does not think that all Penn State employee salary and wage details should be released to the public.

"To go through every person in the state university system, when (the university) gets only 10 percent (of its budget) from the state -- I don't think that's a fair request," said Corman, R-Benner Township.
The CDT readership is made up of a lot of Penn State employees many of whom may not want their salary information made public. This part of Corman's explanation was pitched to them. He hopes that they will continue to vote for him because he's protected them from prying eyes. This essentially is playing to their fears. It's clearly a trade-off but most would be better served by the ability to file an open record request with the University, the they would be with the current system or the new enacted one.

Corman's chief of staff explained to the Collegian today why he gutted the new law. The student's won't much care if salary data is released. They are more concerned with understanding why they must pay the highest public university tuition in the nation. Here's the pitch he offered to students.

Sen. Jake Corman, R-Pa., was involved in the early stages of drafting the Open Records Bill, said Don Houser, Corman's chief of staff. One concern with opening Penn State's records would be revealing contracts that might be detrimental to safety, he said.

"Penn State is one of the leading research institutes in the country," Houser said, adding that the university receives a great deal of federal contracts including those in the field of Applied Science. "Any research that Penn State does on campus should be private."

That's right Corman's chief of staff played a different, far more absurd, fear card: If you we let you ask about those contracts you might get hurt. Someone should follow up with this one. How exactly would public safety be put a risk? Perhaps someone will strain their backs trying to carry the massive amounts of information which will have to be released.

Houser then tells us that Penn State research should be private. Never mind that a bedrock principle of academic research is that it must be open and it it can't be open then a university has no business engaging in the research.

Finally, the stupidity of Houser's federal contract comment is amazing: Federal contracts are already public, because, well they involve federal money. Penn State each year must submit an OMB Circular A-133 Audit Report. The University posts them on line here. The latest one for fiscal year 2006 is here. These reports give a list of all federal contracts and amounts paid for the year. Who this stupidity is pitch at is anybodies guess.

Houser also added, according to the Collegain, "that the bill's main purpose is to open government entities to the public, and Penn State is not a government entity." Now this is more stupidity. First off, the bill covers other quasi-government entities, such as PHEAA, which it dubs "state-affiliated entities. As I've previously pointed out , the original version of the bill classified Penn State and other "state-related institution" as "state-affiliated entities" and therefore covered them. The final version of the bill covers all of original state-affiliated entities, except the state-related institutions. Hence the purpose of the bill can't be to only cover clear cut government entities. The purpose of the bill, which became law yesterday, is to open entities which spend substantial amounts of taxpayer money. I think $350 million, roughly the Penn State appropriation, is a substantial amount of taxpayer money and therefore, logically, Penn State should have been fully covered.

Throw Jake Corman out of office

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