Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Trump Tweetstorm Continues Over UCLA Players

From the Washington Post:

President Trump began the day before Thanksgiving on Twitter, calling out those who he claims have not, in fact, given him their proper thanks.

His target, again: LaVar Ball, whom Trump had previously called “very ungrateful” for the president’s help in resolving a shoplifting charge in China for his son, LiAngelo, and two other University of California at Los Angeles basketball players.

It had been nearly two full days since Trump last mentioned the elder Ball by name — and in the intervening hours, Ball had been on CNN, saying that he had nothing to be thankful for when it came to his son and his president.

“How’d he help? If he helped, I would say thank you,” Ball told CNN.

Trump wasn’t having it, calling Ball an “ungrateful fool” and “a poor man’s version of Don King,” the boxing promoter known for his spotlight-grabbing style.

As for who had helped free LiAngelo Ball from China, the president said Wednesday: “IT WAS ME.”

It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017

…LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017

LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA men’s basketball players were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament. They returned to the United States last week and were summarily suspended by their team.

“You’re welcome,” Trump tweeted at the trio upon their return to the United States, urging Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill to “HAVE A GREAT LIFE!” He also suggested that they “give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China.”

Trump said last week that he had personally intervened in the case with his Chinese counterpart, asking Xi to help resolve the case.

When the president returned from a 12-day trip through Asia, he wrote on Twitter: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you to President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”

Enter LaVar Ball, who was asked by ESPN about Trump’s role in securing his son’s release.

“Who?” Ball said. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

Trump fumed, tweeting Sunday: “I should have left them in jail!” (The White House later said Trump wasn’t serious, calling it “a rhetorical response to a criticism by the father.”)

But the following night, the outspoken Ball went on CNN and took aim at the president.

“You heard what he tweeted,” he told anchor Chris Cuomo. “He tweeted that cause he’s mad at me, ‘I should have left their asses in jail.’”

Ball said insisted that Trump has overstated his role in freeing the three Americans and added that if he would thank anyone, it would be Xi.

But, he added: “I don’t have to go around saying thank you to everybody.”

The State Department typically takes the lead on cases involving U.S. citizens who are arrested abroad, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing was aware of the case, officials said.

Trump raised the arrests during a two-day state visit to Beijing, arriving after the three freshman players were accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel.

“The basketball players, by the way — I know a lot of people are asking — I will tell you, when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi,” Trump said after boarding Air Force One in Manila at the conclusion his Asia trip. “What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. [The Chinese] do not play games.”

When asked specifically whether Xi was helping to resolve the matter, Trump said last week: “Yes, he is. And he’s been terrific. President Xi has been terrific on that subject.

“But that was not a good subject. That was not something that should have happened.”

The sunglasses in the Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou are priced at or around 4,900 yuan ($750).

According to Chinese law, anyone stealing goods worth between 4,000 and 7,000 yuan faces between one and two years in jail, although the sentence can be mitigated if they confess, show remorse and pay compensation.


At $790, it's more gold than blue

All we can say is that sports watches used to be cheaper:

Enough with the outrage!

We recently reproduced an editorial from the San Francisco Chronicle complaining about the UC prez and her role in the state audit scandal.* Now a similar (copycat?) editorial has appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune.** But one editorial was sufficient. And here's a somewhat different take from yours truly on the scandal.

All large bureaucracies are self-protective. Public, private, it doesn't matter. And in all bureaucracies, the ultimate rule for getting ahead is "please your boss." So that's what happened. The UC prez was already upset with the state auditor's previous encounters with UC. Her underlings knew it. So they proceeded accordingly.

What about the chancellors whose critical comments about UCOP were changed to be positive? Chancellors chafe at being under UCOP; they want more autonomy. So it's not surprising that UCOP's sloppy interventions came to light. UCOP's underlings weren't very good at their attempts to please their boss. And the chancellors and their underlings had an incentive to let what they had done be known.

However, on a scale of bureaucratic misdeeds, this one was maybe a 5 on a scale of 10. UC has more serious issues long term that have to do with funding, state support, etc. I won't reproduce the Union-Tribune editorial, but one sentence from it stands out:

"...(State Auditor) Howle told the Legislature in May that in 17 years as state auditor, she’d never seen such improper behavior from an agency she was reviewing..."

Maybe that's so. Maybe Howle was rightly shocked and appalled and UC's behavior was unique. But maybe it means that the other agencies which she audited over 17 years were just better at covering their tracks. Maybe the other agencies are more cohesive than the UC system with its autonomy-seeking campuses and chancellors. Maybe UC's behavior is less unique than Howle appreciates.

Anyway, enough with the newspaper outrage. The UC prez has done her requisite groveling apology, which we have also previously reproduced, complete with video.*** There is no more there there to be had than we already have. Time to move on.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Open and Closed

This is a reminder the 2018 UC Open Enrollment window closes today,Tuesday, November 21st at 5 pm. For UCLA employees who were unable to attend an Open Enrollment Learn-at-Lunch review session, Campus Human Resources is providing a self-tutorial overview available until 5 pm on November 21st .
·         Go to the CHR website:; click on “2018 Open Enrollment Presentation”

Remember, employees are required to re-enroll with the Flexible Spending Account every year; participation with the FSA plans do not rollover into the new calendar year like other UC health and welfare plans. IRS rules mandate the re-enrollment provision. Participants need to visit the Open Enrollment website to add/change their FSA elections and confirm their changes using the 3-step confirmation process.

Open Enrollment closes Tuesday, November 21 at 5:00 p.m. sharp!!  This is the Tuesday before the Thanksgiving Day Holiday. Don’t wait until the last minute to elect your 2018 plans!!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

After all, it's only money

...Who knew that the UCLA athletic coffers would suddenly be so accessible, as the school will pay (fired football coach Jim) Mora nearly $12 million without help from boosters to buy out a contract that was guaranteed through 2021?...

Full story at

The SF Chronicle Points a Finger

San Francisco Chronicle editorial:

UC Regents were right to discipline President Napolitano


The University of California regents took disciplinary action against President Janet Napolitano last week, and it was right to do so. Napolitano’s actions were inexcusable, and they point to the larger problems at California’s prized public university system.

The chain of events that led to Thursday’s public admonishment is clear. In October 2016, the state auditor’s office sent two sets of survey questionnaires to each of the 10 UC campuses to obtain honest feedback from the campuses about Napolitano’s administration. Each of the surveys directed the campuses to return them to the state auditor and not to share them outside of the campus.

That’s not what happened, according to an independent report written by retired State Supreme Justice Carlos Moreno and released by the regents last week. Instead, Napolitano approved a plan that involved her chief of staff and his deputy pressuring campuses to change their responses on the surveys from negative responses to positive ones. In some instances, her office also reviewed the responses submitted by the campuses. Napolitano even called the chancellor of UC Santa Cruz after that campus submitted its surveys to the auditor without allowing her office to see them first, suggesting the campus withdraw its responses.

“In short, the review plan was likely to, and in at least one case did, chill campuses’ responses to the State Auditor,” Moreno wrote in his report. That this is inappropriate behavior should have been obvious to everyone involved.

Certainly this seems to have struck Napolitano’s office after the fact. Her chief of staff, Seth Grossman, and his deputy, Bernie Jones, have resigned. Napolitano herself is contrite. “I apologize to the board, the university community and the public at large,” Napolitano told The Chronicle. “I take responsibility. This is a situation that we’ve already taken steps to ensure will not happen again.”

Pressed for details, Napolitano pointed to a new policy issued by UC’s interim chief auditor in May 2017 that said future inquiries from the state auditor’s office should be returned directly to that office. She also said that, in an effort for her office to be “open, transparent and above reproach,” it has reformed its process for making and communicating the university budget.

“Ensuring that our budget, and our process for creating that budget, is clear and transparent to the board, the state Legislature and the public is a big priority for me right now,” Napolitano said. A lack of transparency has been an issue with UC for years — whether the subject is budgets, sexual harassment claims, or survey responses. It infuriates the Legislature and undermines the public’s trust.

Moreno’s report didn’t find sufficient evidence to conclude that Napolitano approved the most damaging interference claims, and the regents have expressed confidence in her continued leadership. But she should understand how serious this matter is — and how it underlines every other problem at the university.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Afterwords Game

President Trump on Sunday lashed out at the father of a UCLA basketball player who downplayed Trump’s importance in getting his son released from shoplifting charges in China.
“Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!” Trump tweeted...