Sunday, November 23, 2014

How Janet Napolitano is Using University of California Students as Pawns in a Money Power Play

In September 2013, Janet Napolitano left her position as head of the Department of Homeland Security to become president of the University of California system. As president of U of C, Napolitano earns $570,000 in salary, gets $8,916 in car expenses and lives something of the pimp life in Oakland in a residency that is paid for by the university (SEE: Former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano Is Living Very, Very Large in Oakland, California.)

What has she done since becoming U of C president? Has she focused on improving the education system? Hardly.

Her main role seems to be
one of monetary shakedown artist. If this why she was hired to head U of C, the U of C system has the right player. WSJ reminds us:
Ms. Napolitano is the former Obama cabinet official who, as head of the Department of Homeland Security, raised the specter of increased wait-times at customs stations and airport security when budget sequestration was in the air. Her seeming willingness to hold innocents captive in the service of her organizational goals appears to be very much intact.
So what exactly is Napolitano up to at U of C?  WSJ sets the scene:
 California’s general fund has swelled by about $20 billion, to $108 billion, since the tax hikes passed, and a $3 billion surplus is projected for next year. Revenues since July have exceeded the state’s projections by more than $1 billion. So Ms. Napolitano and the regents are now demanding reparations to make up for state funding cuts when tax revenues plunged in 2008...

Ms. Napolitano says that the UCs have cut their budgets to the bone, yet her own office includes nearly 2,000 employees—a quarter of whom make six-figure salaries. An associate vice president of federal government relations earns $273,375 a year, plus $55,857 in retirement and health benefits, according to the state controller’s office. Thirty professors at UC Santa Cruz rake in more than $200,000 in pay, and most faculty can retire at 60 and receive a pension equal to 75% of their final salary. More than 2,100 retirees in the university retirement system collected six-figure pensions in 2011.

Neither the UCs nor their employees contributed to their retirement fund for 20 years; the assumption was that they could ride the booming stock market. Now the fund is $10 billion in the hole. Democratic lawmakers are loath to divert cash from other cherished liberal programs—electric-car subsidies, pre-K education, Medicaid—to pay for academics’ fat pensions.
So what has been Napolitano's response? She has announced that the U of C regents have approved tuition hikes, which has caused students to protest. Indeed, since the tuition hike announcement four days ago  a student sit-in continues at UC Berkeley's Wheeler Hall.

There is an important discussion that needs to be had as to whether government should be involved in education at all and about the thinking of many students that they  have a  "right" to a free education, but that is a discussion for another day. The focus of this post is Napolitano as power manipulator.

The real purpose of the Napolitano tuition hike announcement is to put pressure on California Governor Jerry Brown  and the California legislature to give to the university system a larger cut of the ballooning state revenues. WSJ again:
“Threatening a fee hike unless the legislature increases the UCs’ funding is tantamount to hostage-taking,” former Assembly Speaker John Perez declared this week.

At the meeting to approve the tuition hike, Gov. Brown gave regents a Jesuit discourse on why the UCs needed to live within their means. “The pressure of not having enough money can force creativity that otherwise cannot even be considered,” Mr. Brown admonished. Regents collectively rolled their eyes at the lecture on frugality from a governor who raised income taxes and sales taxes to finance the state’s bloated government and plans to build a $70 billion bullet train.
Despite the regents’ vote, students still don’t know how much next year’s tuition will be. The plan that was approved Thursday allows Napolitano to lower or eliminate tuition hikes annually based on state funding.

And so the power play is on, with UC students as the pawns. Will Gov. Brown be able to keep more of state revenues for his pet projects, such as the $70 billion bullet train or will Napolitano's muscle move work and force the governor to send more of the state's revenues Napolitano's way.


  1. An interesting take on this budget battle between the educational oligarchs and the political class. A pox on both their houses! My daughter is attending a California University and it already costs about $15,000 per year, not including boarding, and that is the in-state tuition. My guess is that the legislature will cave and fork over a few billion more for the higher education racket. Either way the budget surplus will be pissed down some kind of socialist rat hole like most of the rest of Commiefornias budget.

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