Monday, August 6, 2012

UNC BOG update: Election results; UNC-CH academic scandal review; $400,000 BOG seat

So when we last talked, it was almost two months ago. The subject was the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

At its June meeting, new officers were elected but, and please forgive me, I never reported the results, which—if you have had any interest whatsoever you would know—included Peter Hans defeating Paul Fulton for the chairmanship, 30-11. With a public information request, I was provided copies of the ballots. So, using the ballots in hand, it is my civic duty to pass along to my readers and followers the results voter-by-voter.

I’ll do that the end of this post, so if you have the urge to skip ahead, it’s down there, but today’s writing is not all that long so amuse me by reading to the end instead of scrolling down. It’s got a lot of great stuff such as $400,000 of Republican political donations by the newest member of the BOG. That's a lesson in how to get to the BOG table.

At the meeting in June, when the election was held, the BOG (and President Tom Ross, who is in the same category as UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp, a category you can label) actually showed a little fortitude in performing their job. Hannah Gage, then the chair of the group, appointed a four person committee to review reports coming out of the Chapel Hill campus. The reports were and are about the academic fraud being perpetrated there. There’s documentation all over the place about it but it’s also a lot of he-said, she-said stuff with those who are guilty either conveniently retired or hiding behind closed doors.

So, Ms. Gage appointed four members at the time to do this review. Then, without a public statement, she added a fifth member of the BOG to the review committee. That would be James M. (Jim) Deal, Jr., another closely aligned to Gage and Hans, though he voted for Paul Fulton. (I’m confused.) While he earned his undergraduate degree at Appalachian State University, he got his law degree from, you guessed it, Chapel Hill. The deal with Deal being appointed is that he was also up for election as Vice Chairman but that went to Frank Grainger, so Gage put Deal on the review committee to make sure there were at least two UNC-Chapel Hill sympathizers on the committee.

We think the “UNC-BOG UNC-CH Academic Scandal Review Committee” is to make its report at a meeting of the BOG next week, but I do not see it on the official agenda which is found at the BOG website. And with all due respect to the effort by the review committee, and we know nothing of the effort, expectations are that the BOG will not take any action on the review committee’s report which will say something like, “we looked at what they gave us and on the surface it looks bad but we really should leave it to the campus to handle because if we do anything from where we sit, we’ll have to do the same for the other campuses and we just don’t want to get involved in those things. In other words, if we take action, it will look bad for all of us, and it will look as if the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees can’t do the right thing, so let’s see what they do. Maybe we can take another look at some other time. Don’t we all need to get home or go to the beach or something.”

The UNC BOG is scheduled to hold its committee meetings Thursday, August 9 and the full BOG meets Friday, August 10. I will not be holding my breath and no one else should either waiting on the BOG to do something of substance on this matter. In other words, it’ll be business as usual, just as if Ms. Gage still holds the gavel, though I must admit she corresponded with me recently about the lack of honest negotiation between UNC Health Care and insurance company Aetna, my provider of health care insurance. It’s UNC Health Care that’s not honestly negotiating, wanting to suck more money from the Aetna policy holders. Joni Worthington, the UNC system Vice President for Communications, had a letter published in The News & Observer. She was defending an increase in rates for students in the university sponsored health plan. So I wrote her a pleasant note.

So nice to see your letter to the editor in The News & Observer as you defended the increase in rates for students under the university-sponsored plan. I can understand that need, but it was your last line that made me laugh: “…all students are free to obtain their insurance in the private market if they so choose to do so.” You are so right but if I had a student at UNC-Chapel Hill and if that student was on my medical policy, that student would not be able to use the UNC Health Care system without undue out-of-pocket costs. That’s because I’m covered by Aetna, and due to the greediness of UNC Health Care and its partner in crime, Rex Healthcare, Aetna policy owners are not welcomed at UNC and Rex unless they want to pay full or out –of-network rates. I would ask you to defend that, but you can’t. UNC and Rex have not wanted to negotiate with Aetna for more than two years, wanting Aetna to pay out more to UNC and Rex and to the physicians thereof and with no regard for rates and premiums paid by the subscribers of Aetna. You and your cohorts at the UNC System and on the Board of Governors could do something about that, but you will not. So, students can carry Aetna, a creditable health insurance, but in Chapel Hill and much of Raleigh, it’s just not welcomed.

Ms. Worthington, not using her skill in communications despite the title, failed to answer, but Ms. Gage did. She said, in an email, “You make a very good point about Aetna. I recently talked with an employee of the N&O who shared the same concerns with me. I was not aware of the Aetna issue but intend to learn more..... Appreciate your interest.” From this, it appears we learned the N&O and I might have the same health insurer, and that Ms. Gage is quick to react, as she did to inquiries made in June about the election of the BOG officers, but she is slow to follow up. That email from her was June 17, and not word from her since then.

Anyway, back to the meeting to be chaired by Ms. Gage’s stand-in Peter Hans. He was duly elected, winning 20-11. After the vote, one BOG member—Brent Barringer—resigned, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family but in reality, he was tired of the lame politics of this group of distinguished and well-politically-connected people who are supposed to be looking after the state-and-taxpayer-sponsored higher education system of North Carolina.

Speaking of politics as usual, Barringer was replaced by Aldona Zofia Wos, of Greensboro, who from August 2004 through December 2006, was United States Ambassador to Estonia. She was the only person nominated to fill the spot on the BOG, being put up by North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. It’s not a surprise that she was made Ambassador or nominated to the BOG. With her more than $400,000 in contributions (that’s right, four hundred thousand dollars) to Republican candidates and state and national Republican parties since 2000, she well deserves the misery that comes with a seat on the BOG. If you don’t believe me about the donations, go to and enter last name: WOS; first name, ALDONA. It’s all there. WOW! (I guess I could search all the others on the BOG, but why take away your fun. Go ahead; look me up! It’s James B. Pomeranz, Cary NC). She will not be there too long. She prefers to be around other big money people and in reality there are only a couple of those on the BOG and they do not socialize too much. Aldona might prefer to be in Estonia instead of on the BOG.

So there you are, somewhat up-to-date with the UNC Board of Governors, just another group of back-slappers who too many people, including the members of the BOG, take too seriously. Except for the votes in that election in June, and as promised:

FOR PETER HANS: Louis Bissette, Jr.; Bill Daughtridge; Walter Davenport; Phillip Dixon; Dudley Floyd; John Fennebresque; Hannah Gage; Ann Goodnight; Frank Grainger; Thomas Harrelson; Leroy Lail; Edwin McMahan; Charles Mercer, Jr.; Hari Nath; David Powers; Irvin Roseman; Raiford Trask, III; Phillip Walker; David Young; and, Peter Hans.

FOR PAUL FULTON: Brent Barringer; John Blackburn; Peaches Blank; James Deal; Fred Eshelman; Mary Ann Maxwell; Franklin McCain; Fred Mills; Burley Mitchell; Dick Taylor; and, Paul Fulton.

NO BALLOT: Laura Buffaloe, or the student representative, or the two emeritus members.

So, until next time, all the best...