“Politics have no relation to morals.” Niccolo Machiavelli
Last week’s blog post on September 15, 2014 included the following question:
“Will Either Candidate for Pennsylvania Governor Respond Publicly to PASCU’s Six Questions?”
PASCU’s invitations to both candidates, and both statewide political parties, were delivered on August 25, 2014 and included a September 17, 2014 deadline for response. Those three and one-half weeks passed with no response whatsoever from either candidate or either party. Hence, we have our answer:
Neither Corbett Nor Wolf Agreed to Publicly Answer PASCU’s Six Questions!
I hoped that both candidates would provide answers to the six questions and, as a result, that PASSHE’s Majority Stakeholders could benefit from their answers in deciding which if either candidate they might wish to support in the upcoming election for governor on November 4, 2014.
In view of the silence from both candidates, I have listed below the six questions and PASCU’s Response regarding what that silence might portend for PASSHE’s Majority Stakeholders going forward.
Recall the context for PASCU’s first three Questions:
‘The purpose of the fourteen PASSHE universities, according to Act 188, is to provide: “High quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students.” Official PASSHE data show, however, that the Act 188 statutory purpose of the PASSHE universities has not been delivered to the students since 2002. And in January of 2014, PASSHE unveiled its new strategic plan entitled “Strategic Plan 2020: Rising to the Challenge,” which makes no mention of PASSHE’s Act 188 statutory purpose. [Questions 1, 2 & 3]’
Question 1: If elected Governor of Pennsylvania on November 4, 2014, will you publicly endorse and support the Act 188 statutory purpose of the fourteen PASSHE universities cited above?PASCU Response 1: Neither candidate is willing to answer this question publicly. I.e., neither candidate is willing to endorse and support an existing Pennsylvania law (Act 188) in the face of evidence that the purpose of that law is being ignored by the PASSHE Board of Governors on which the PA Governor sits!
Question 2: During this election campaign for Governor of Pennsylvania, will you publicly endorse and support the Act 188 statutory purpose of the fourteen PASSHE universities cited above?PASCU Response 2: Since neither candidate was willing to publicly endorse and support the Act 188 statutory purpose of the PASSHE universities after being elected governor on November 4, 2014, it is perhaps not surprising that neither candidate was willing to campaign in support of that same purpose.
Question 3: In view of the dual failure cited above—PASSHE’s failure to deliver Act 188’s statutory purpose to the students, and PASSHE’s failure to even commit publicly that it is trying to deliver it—what public assurances, as a Candidate for Governor, can you give to PASSHE’s students, parents and alumni that, if elected Governor, you will use the power of your office to help correct both failures?PASCU Response 3: Taken literally, the silence of both candidates in response to this question basically says that neither candidate is willing to provide any assurances to the Majority Stakeholders with regard to helping correct either or both of these egregious PASSHE failures.
Recall the context for questions 4, 5 and 6:‘PASCU’s Mission is “To ensure that the statutory purpose of public higher education in Pennsylvania as specified by Act 188 of 1982: ‘High quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students’ is indefinitely preserved and faithfully delivered.” [Questions 4, 5 & 6]’
Question 4: As a Candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, are you willing to campaign publicly in support of PASCU’s Mission?PASCU Response 4: Since neither candidate agreed to support the statutory purpose of Act 188, it also follows that they wouldn’t support PASCU’s goal of preserving and delivering that statutory purpose.
Question 5: In your opinion, is it appropriate for the State, the 25% financial stakeholder in the 14 PASSHE universities, to control 100% of the 174 PASSHE governance seats, while the students, parents and alumni donors, the 75% financial stakeholders, control 0% of PASSHE’s 174 governance seats?
PASCU Response 5: Neither candidate wanted to answer this question because to do so—to admit that the status quo is unfair to the Majority Stakeholders—they would then have to admit to the need to do something about it! The silence of both candidates on this question confirms: a) both political parties benefit from the status quo; and b) both parties will cling to the status quo to preserve those benefits.Question 6: As a candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania and, in view of the great funding/governance disparity that exists between the Majority and Minority stakeholders, are you willing to campaign publicly in support of changing Act 188 to align the governance-shares of the Majority and Minority financial stakeholders to more closely match their respective funding-shares, as advocated by PASCU?
PASCU Response 6: Why would either candidate offer to correct a problem they won’t admit exists?
The First Amendment and the Hope of the “Fourth Estate”
Since candidates for elected office can easily ignore inconvenient questions from non-partisan, not-profit organizations such as PASCU, and can do so with impunity, we can only hope that the members of the press will pursue these same questions on behalf of the thousands of PASSHE students, parents and alumni donors whose interests continue to be ignored by elected officials from both PA political parties.I say that because of the critical role that America’s Founders created for the press in safeguarding the future of our democratic republic, a role emphasized in 1974 by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when he said: “The primary purpose of the First Amendment was to create a fourth institution [a.k.a. Fourth Estate] outside the government as an additional check on the three official branches.”
PASSHE students, parents and alumni can only hope that the press will live up to that primary purpose.