What Elected Officials Give
From the definition of “political patronage,” we know that Elected Officials give “appointments to government jobs or other favors” to their Political Supporters. Elected Officials give something of value to their Political Supporters, with the clear understanding and expectation that each party will get something of value in return for what their agreed-upon transaction required each party to give.
What Elected Officials Get
Elected officials want power and control beyond that which comes automatically by virtue of their election to office. By definition, they use political patronage to appoint individuals to government jobs having salary and benefits—and those individuals then owe their allegiance to the elected officials who appointed them. Elected officials also provide other favors to their political supporters by using political patronage to appoint individuals to various public governing boards that may not provide salary and benefits but do cover all expenses associated with membership on that particular governance board.
In this way elected officials can “leverage” their influence over more and more government entities, through their influence over the people whom they appoint to the governance boards of those entities, e.g., the PASSHE Board of Governors (BOG) and the Councils of Trustees at the 14 PASSHE universities.
In return for what they give, Elected Officials get leverage—power and control—over entities such as PASSHE that officially lie outside their control. It is nothing more than a naked power grab.
Note the transactional symmetry: Some political appointees to the PASSHE Board of Governors “grab” PASSHE contracts for millions, while Elected Officials “grab” power that the law, Act 188, does not grant to them.
What Majority Stakeholders Give
PASSHE’s Majority Stakeholders include the students, parents and private donors, primarily alumni, who provide 75% of PASSHE’s annual revenue. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in the person of its Elected Officials, provides 25%. Of that 75%, students and parents provide 70% and private donors 5%.
In dollar terms, PASSHE’s Majority (75%) Stakeholders provide $1.125 billion of PASSHE’s approximately $1.5 billion annual budget while the State, PASSHE’s Minority (25%) Stakeholder, provides $375 million.
What Majority Stakeholders Get
PASSHE’s Majority (75%) Stakeholders appoint zero % of the 20 members of the Board of Governors, and zero % of the 154 members spread across the Councils of Trustees at the 14 PASSHE campuses.
At the same time, PASSHE’s Minority (25%) Stakeholder—the State—in the person of its elected officials, appoints 100% of the 174 members of the BOG and the 14 COTs.
An Un-American Travesty of Justice
Recall that 75% of PASSHE’s annual revenue—the $1.125 billion that is provided by the Majority Stakeholders—is totally controlled by Pennsylvania’s Elected Officials, through the appointment and confirmation of their reliably subservient political supporters.
No one would argue with the State retaining control of how its 25% share of PASSHE’s annual revenue ($375 million) gets spent, because those funds are clearly “public funds” that were lawfully appropriated to PASSHE by an act of the Legislature from taxpayer funds contributed by the citizens of Pennsylvania.
But by what authority can the State control the 75% share of PASSHE’s annual revenue ($1.125 billion) that comes from the private checkbooks of the Majority Stakeholders? Aren’t those private funds?
Another “Don’t Tell the Children” Moment
The answer to the question “Aren’t those private funds?” has been answered in Pennsylvania as follows:
“Private dollars from the personal checking accounts of students and parents paying tuition suddenly become State dollars the instant their checks are deposited into PASSHE university accounts.”
Believe it or not, that is the essence of the “Legal Opinion” under which PASSHE currently operates. By law, legal advice to the Governor as well as to all State agencies and other State officials must come from the Office of General Counsel (OGC). The attorney who leads that office, the General Counsel, is a political appointee reporting directly to the Governor from an adjoining office with a connecting door.
By the tortured logic of the above OGC “Legal Opinion,” might not a thief argue that his ill-gotten gains suddenly become legally his once deposited into his bank account?
Note that the “Legal Opinion” in question comes from a political appointee who reports directly to the Governor—the Elected Official who benefits most from this key legal opinion—in that it enables this particular elected official to leverage a minority (25%) funding share into 100% control of PASSHE.
Elected Officials and their Political Supporters are in League Against the Majority Stakeholders
According to the Free Dictionary, the idiom to be “in league” with another means to be “secretly cooperating, often to do something bad or illegal.”
By using that term last week, I was not asserting that what Pennsylvania’s Elected Officials and their Political Supporters are doing is illegal but rather, that what they are “secretly cooperating” to do is bad for the 14 PASSHE Universities and their Majority Stakeholders, especially students: They are competing against the 14 PASSHE Universities they are ostensibly there to serve and, as a result, they are failing to serve the best interests of the more than 100,000 PASSHE students who rely upon those 14 universities.
The Elected Officials in question are the Governor and Leadership of the State Senate, the individuals who have been granted the authority to nominate and confirm twenty (20) political appointees to the PASSHE Board of Governors and 154 political appointees to the 11-member Councils of Trustees at the 14 PASSHE Universities. Based on my 20-years of experience as a PASSHE university president, too many of those 174 political appointees tended to represent the interests of the elected officials who appointed them, rather than the Majority Stakeholders who provide 75% of PASSHE’s annual revenue.
To be continued.