Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Legislative caution

At a legislative hearing yesterday, UC prez Napolitano was questioned in the aftermath of the state audit affair and the "Moreno report" that followed. However, one member of the legislative committee were surprisingly friendly, given the past heat that had been generated. (Not all were friendly.)

State senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica, a one-time student regent) in fact expressed concern that because of political pressure resulting from the audit affair, there was now an effort to spin off programs from UCOP to the campuses in order to shrink UCOP for cosmetic reasons. You can see that portion of the hearing at the link below:

You can also find a description of the hearing below:

Investigator pressed on why UC president not blamed for audit interference

San Francisco Chronicle, Melody Gutierrez, 1-30-2018

State lawmakers on Tuesday questioned retired state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno over why an investigation he conducted last year did not find University of California President Janet Napolitano responsible for her office’s interference with a state audit.

Lawmakers told Moreno it was clear to them he had evidence that Napolitano did intentionally and improperly interfere with the state auditor’s review of her office’s spending and business practices in 2016. But Moreno told lawmakers that as a former trial judge, he “just didn’t think there was enough there” to conclude that Napolitano should be held accountable. His probe pinned the blame on her two top staffers, who resigned.

The grilling by lawmakers at the state capitol came during a nearly 4-hour joint committee hearing on Moreno’s report, which was commissioned by the UC Board of Regents to determine whether Napolitano meddled in the state auditor’s 2016 review of her office. Lawmakers had ordered the state audit over concerns that spending had dramatically increased at the UC president’s office.

Moreno’s report found that a “furious” Napolitano phoned UC Santa Cruz’s chancellor because the campus had submitted a confidential survey to the state auditor without first allowing the president’s office to see it.

“It does appear very clear that she was involved in the surveys and involved in providing instruction as to how the surveys should turn out,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. “Why wasn’t that enough evidence?”

Moreno told lawmakers: “We reported the facts and conclusions I submit you can probably argue differently, but this is the best that I can do.”

Lawmakers also grilled Napolitano about her honesty last year when she told lawmakers at a May capitol hearing that her office did not interfere with the audit and merely helped campuses who had sought her office’s help. Moreno’s report found that Napolitano’s aides actively initiated the contact with the campuses with the intent to change campus responses to the auditor’s confidential survey to make UC headquarters look better. Napolitano apologized repeatedly during the committee hearing Tuesday, saying “I made a mistake and I am sorry for it.” ...

Assemblywomen Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, and Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, called for Napolitano to resign after Moreno’s report was made public and again pressed for her to step down on Tuesday. Baker said Napolitano was “not forthright” when she testified before the Assembly joint committee last year about whether she knew survey responses were being intercepted and ultimately sanitized.

“I flat out asked were surveys recalled at your direction and the answer was no,” Baker said.

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