[CAFR-L] U of L and political donations

Daniel O'Donnell daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca
Wed Jan 11 12:07:37 MST 2012


Even if things were not illegal, one does have to wonder about the 
ethics of it. Maybe Alberta culture at the time was such that you felt 
the need to do it despite one's qualms, but surely somebody in the Board 
or Admin would have felt a little queasy about handing $4k over to the 
Premier's office every year for the dinner in the years before the law 
apparently changed.

The problem that I see as being simply endemic here is the lack of 
concern for how things appear--people seem to be quite willing to walk 
into situations where they should know they are going to look bad in the 
future, regardless of the letter of the law. And of course we have 
discussed a number of examples over the years here where scant enough 
concern seems to have been paid to the actual letter either (of our 
bylaws and handbook, at any rate).

I'm glad if it turns out that the University's explanation really is 
correct and the law wasn't broken. But that it looks bad really is in 
keeping with the culture here. We shouldn't need to run round finding 
ways of explaining how it isn't as bad as it looks: we should be 
conducting ourselves in ways that don't lead to creating a poor perception.

On 12-01-11 11:35 AM, Mueller, Richard wrote:
> What is interesting about the Wildrose Party's press release of yesterday, is the information provided by the university. The following was linked to the press release:
>
> http://www.wildrose.ca/media/2012/01/UofL-FOIP.pdf
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: cafr-l-bounces at uleth.ca [mailto:cafr-l-bounces at uleth.ca] On Behalf Of Mueller, Richard
> Sent: January-11-12 11:32 AM
> To: O'Donnell, Dan; cafr-l, MailList
> Subject: RE: [CAFR-L] U of L and political donations
>
> Postings to this list are *Publicly Archived.* This is an unmoderated list and posters are solely responsible for the content of their messages.
>
> --------------------
> Here's the university's response to the Wildrose Party:
>
> http://www.uleth.ca/notice/display.html?b=300&s=17130
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: cafr-l-bounces at uleth.ca [mailto:cafr-l-bounces at uleth.ca] On Behalf Of Daniel O'Donnell
> Sent: January-11-12 10:14 AM
> To: cafr-l, MailList
> Subject: Re: [CAFR-L] U of L and political donations
>
> Postings to this list are *Publicly Archived.* This is an unmoderated list and posters are solely responsible for the content of their messages.
>
> --------------------
> Good point John. I guess I should have said b) At least it stopped before the current administration. It was probably some brave soul in Accounting called them on it.
>
> The first point remains: that it was going on at all is part and parcel of what I believe is a serious, systemic problem with rule-based governance in this University's Board and Administration. You don't have to be an ethics professor to see that there is something smelly about applying for reimbursement from public funds to cover political donations by an individual. Any senior member of the administration who is so ethically challenged that they couldn't see any issues with this in advance doesn't deserve to be in Administration. Any board that was doing anything like its due diligence would have dealt with the person involved as soon as they discovered what had been going on.
>
> That the problem arose and that nothing was done, however, are direct results of what I see as this culture of fundamental disrespect for procedure and transparency. At a certain point the culture is going to have to change, if for no other reason that excellence requires transparency. Since there doesn't seem to be an explicit recognition on the part of the Board or the Administration that they have a problem, however, I suspect the collapse of the culture will be ugly: now that we have an opposition that knows how to use FOIP and get publicity for their research, any skeletons that exist are almost certainly going to be brought to light. I hope there aren't any more, but having watched this problem get worse over the years, it wouldn't surprise me if there were.
>
> I thought it was interesting, by the way, that this morning on the radio the PC party was busy hanging the U of L out to dry by arguing that they couldn't be held responsible for this kind of thing if the University was going to break the law by reimbursing people for their donations.
> You know you are in trouble when the Alberta Tories think you are maybe a bit too casual about following the rules.
>
> -dan
>
> --
> Daniel Paul O'Donnell
> Professor of English
> University of Lethbridge
> Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
> Canada
>
> +1 403 393-2539
>
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-- 
Daniel Paul O'Donnell
Professor of English
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
Canada

+1 403 393-2539



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