02 July 2007

UConn Arrogance Knows No Bounds

It wasn't enough for the University of Connecticut to receive $2 billion over the last several years to pave its campus streets with gold and make it into a top-tier public university with little oversight by the people in charge. During expansion under Gov. Rowland, UConn failed to keep an eye on the contractors, resulting in substandard dormitory units and lab facilities that had to be monitored by on-site fire officials during repairs.

It wasn't enough for the University of Connecticut Health Center to mismanage millions over the years and receive a pass from legislators when brought before committees charged with its oversight. Nor has it been enough when we find its President Phil Austin spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to refurbish a mansion he rarely uses.

Nor has it been enough when UConn football players and basketball players end up on the police blotter and get a slap on their revenue producing wrists. Nor was it enough when UConn allows Coach Jim Calhoun to endorse Joe Courtney on campus during normal work hours. And throw in UConn's environmentally sensitive outreach when it sucked the Fenton River dry to provide more water for the showers.

No, it's never enough when it comes to feeding the Beast of the East. In today's Hartford Courant, Chris Keating exposed a last minute change in the recent budget agreement that shifts oversight of an UConn Health Care expansion study away from the Rell administration to the Democratic legislators who bow to its every wish.

State Rep. Denise Merrell, D-Mansfield, who represents the district that is home to the Huskies, changed that oversight from the Office of Policy and Management and the Office of Health Care Access to the Legislative Management Committee. UConn Health Center has been receiving millions in subsidies to, in effect, get a competitive advantage with private hospitals, many of whom are struggling. These hospitals who employs thousands and provide better care, have long protested this and seemed resigned to the study. But now, thanks to their cheerleader Merrell, UConn can contrive a positive study that will no doubt position it toward further subsidy and expansion.

Even Democrat leaders, like Sen. Don Williams, were embarrassed by this and pledge to make the changes needed to bring the UConn study back under OPM management. We shall see, but anyone who doubts who UConn's real friends are, need look no further than the Democratic Super Majority. Presidet Austin is leaving later this year to enjoy a pension that will a revenue bond to pay for it, but let's hope the new leader will see that the public waking up to the fact that wholesale changes are needed soon.