Posts Tagged ‘UofA’
UofA President Robert Shelton is making a big dollar power play to gain control of over $150 million sitting on the balance sheet in the University Medical Center. After running the medical operations to the brink of disaster, the medical operations were spun off to run more like a private sector operation. University Medical re-calibrated and became a successful part of our community and a leading teaching hospital that graduated thousands of pharmacist, nurses and doctors.
Now UofA President, Robert Shelton, wants to take hundreds of millions of cash reserves and all future profits from UMC out of Health Sciences and use them to make up his own black hole deficits at the UofA. This is wrong.
Regent Rick Meyer is the CEO of C-Path which is in the medical research industry. Meyer is seeking the good favor of Shelton and the potential research business it could mean to his company. If you remember c-path has been supported by Oro Valley (Explorer News 2009), Marana, Tucson, Pima County and of course The University of Arizona (funding sources HERE). Guess where c-path built their first medical lab with all the financial support from Southern Arizona? If you answered Tucson, Oro Valley or Marana you would be wrong – the $2.2 million grant opened a $2.2 million lab in Phoenix. How’s that for a return on investment?
The only public source of funding mentioned on their web site with a Phoenix presence is……you guessed it, the UofA. Shelton sites more medical research if he’s in control of UMC, cpath works in the medical research field, coincidence?
If I were a taxpayer of Marana I’d be upset. If I were a taxpayer of Tucson I’d be upset. If were a taxpayer of Pima County I’d be upset. As a taxpayer from Oro Valley…..I’m down right pissed off. We may have tax increases to pay for cops while we’ve invested for years in c-path only to see them open a lab and create jobs in Phoenix! Loomis and KC, thanks.
Meyer and DuVal are all over this mess and someone needs to reign them in or kick them off the board. Shelton has overstepped his authority and should be ousted as the President. How does the legislature real in or hold Shelton accountable? Through none other than the Board of Regents.
Would a freedom of information request show any email trails between any of these players?
What grants or contracts does c-path and the UofA have in the hopper? Follow the money and drop a line over to The Goldwater Institute for me would you.
Call your legislator at the Capitol today and tell them to support community based medicine at UMC — not Shelton’s money grab.
Don’t allow Robert Shelton soil our community with his bad policy.
Here’s the story and Meyer’s quote;
It makes sense, Myers said, to step back, talk and figure out how to move forward together, as opposed to continuing with a potentially harmful power struggle.
He had a “cordial discussion” with UA Healthcare’s board chairman, Granger Vinall, on Thursday, Myers said. Vinall did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
But the regents’ repeal may not be enough to stop legislators from pursuing their own plan.
“So as soon as we back down, they’ll do it the day after?” asked Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert. It was Biggs who successfully engineered a vote Wednesday to statutorily override the regents’ plan.
That’s also the concern of Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista.
“They (regents) could come right back after we’re out of session,” he said, noting lawmakers hope to adjourn by the end of the month. “And then we’ve got eight months where we couldn’t do anything.”
But he said that doesn’t mean the regents are scrapping the idea of ever approving a plan just like the one that caused the legislative dust-up in the first place.
“Nothing is precluded,” Myers said. “But nothing is preordained.”
Everyone in state government has a role to play in the future of the hospital and medical school, Myers said. “Our role is to do what’s best for the university and the people of Arizona.”
But regents Chair Fred DuVal said the concerns of Biggs and Stevens are unwarranted and that the regents won’t try to pull a fast one on legislators.
“Having just taken $198 million in cuts, we do not in any measure underestimate the power of the Legislature to express themselves in ways that matter to us,” said DuVal, referring to the just-approved state budget for the coming fiscal year.
Stevens remains skeptical of both the board and its president.
What won’t happen, DuVal said, is what many interpreted as a last-minute and secretive process about the change.
We ran a blog post here a couple days ago from Oscar Martinez, a tenured professor from the UofA. The gist of the story was the UofA is declining, class sizes have ballooned beyond control and the ship isn’t being steered correctly. He singled out UofA provost, Meredith Hay in particular. As a tenured professor I guess he’s got some job security or at least a lot of confidence in what he’s doing. Here’s the money quote from last weeks editorial:
Provost Meredith Hay, in particular, has become a lightning rod and legions of faculty and administrators would like to see her vacate her post.
Today another opinion comes out in the Star from UofA President, Robert Shelton and none other than – Meredith Hay. It’s a great cover your tail piece about tough budget times, openness is decision processes and all kinds of fun stuff. Read the article HERE.
We’ve commented on this blog before on the UofA’s ineffectiveness on creating jobs for our local community. They graduate 4000 plus eager young minds per year and we watch them leave our community because of a lack of jobs or economic opportunity. A university in your town can do a lot more than support a few college bars and wreck havoc with neighborhood infill developments. Take a look at Univ of Texas – Austin or the research triangle with North Carolina and Duke and you can see how powerful a force a good university can be in your local community.
I guess Shelton and Hay tried to make the leap that they are going their part to make Arizona a better place:
• Second, which units have the greatest outreach and impact on the citizens of our state? Our mission to serve the entire state and support its citizens is of the utmost importance during the financial crisis.• And third, which units will most likely have a positive economic impact on the state, with an emphasis on job creation and growth? If the state of Arizona is to recover and stabilize its own revenues, then the university has a duty to protect and invest in those areas where the university has the greatest impact on job and business growth.
The city will conduct an “internal review” of payments to the University of Arizona for UA’s planned Science Center complex downtown, Tucson City Manager Mike Hein said Thursday.
Hein said the review was prompted in part by political pressure from the state Legislature, which has threatened to revoke the tax-increment financing district Tucson has relied on to fund downtown and Rio Nuevo redevelopment.
But some city accountants have been questioning UA’s invoices for months. In October, Rio Nuevo Finance Manager Stacie Bird asked Hein to sign a memo that said Hein approved “expenditures the City does not allow on other District projects.” If he didn’t sign, she wanted a meeting with him and UA officials to talk about the spending.
Hein signed it.
Then on Jan. 29, Tucson Finance Director Frank Abeyta ordered an audit of city payments to UA and of the outstanding bills for the Science Center, Rio Nuevo’s flagship project.
Hein, through Bird and Assistant to the City Manager Jaret Barr, put a stop to the audit that day, saying it wasn’t the city’s role to question UA’s expenditures.
On Jan. 30, Abeyta ordered Bird to stop all payments to UA, then abruptly quit. He had been head of the city’s finance department for only four months.
Neither Abeyta nor city officials will say whether the dispute over the audit was the reason for Abeyta’s resignation, but Abeyta, in an exchange of e-mails with Bird Jan. 29, questioned the appropriateness of some UA bills.
In an interview Thursday, Hein cited staffing concerns, the cooperative ideals of public partnerships and the terms of the contract between the city and UA as reasons for resisting an audit and for paying the full amount billed by the university.
He said the city is bound to pay its share of project expenses even though invoices show spending that the city and the Rio Nuevo district normally wouldn’t cover.
But last week members of a state legislative committee criticized Rio Nuevo’s lack of transparency and money management and also complained about a lack of tangible results.
UA’s bills may not help the Rio Nuevo projects’ reputation with legislators.
The charges Bird labeled “questionable” included $161,585 for salaries, $2,155 for food, $14,374 for new computers and a $2,289 trip to Pisa, Italy. The items in doubt accounted for more than $186,000 of the $692,000 the university spent on the project in June and July.
The most recent invoices reviewed by the Tucson Citizen show that spending patterns haven’t changed much, and documents supporting much of the billed amounts were missing.
Receipts lumped with the January invoice show another trip to Pisa, costing $1,188 in June, and requests for reimbursement for a $3,927 trip for two to attend a planetarium conference in Chicago and $1,784 for a university employee to learn about data mining and information storage at a resort near Las Vegas.
The slips showed meals for two in June and July in Tucson at Sullivan’s Steakhouse ($127.98), Barrio Food & Drink ($73.51) and the Arizona Inn ($49.92), and a $165 charge from a HoneyBaked Ham Store that included a $30 delivery fee.
January’s invoice lists a charge of $77,025.42 for “other specialty & design consultant fees.”
Abeyta wrote in an e-mail sent to Bird at 7:54 a.m. the day he resigned that “The City Manager said he would rather not know what discrepancies we find in the payments to U of A. . . . Also he indicated what you said, that as long as U of A approves the expenditures, we don’t have to. I obviously don’t agree with that.”
Abeyta said he was concerned that unless the project was slowed, the city would be spending money on the Science Center that had been allocated to other projects. “Since we have only $2 million from this bond issue, someone has to slow this project down,” he wrote.
UA has billed the city for about $1.3 million of the $2 million Rio Nuevo bond allocation already. The city has not paid the university any of that amount.
Bird, who reports directly to Hein but earlier also to Abeyta in his role as Rio Nuevo treasurer, said Thursday the delay in payments was because of work on the city’s sale of $80 million in Rio Nuevo bonds, not questions about the UA’s spending.
The city has agreed to pay half the cost of the Science Center, up to $130 million. UA has spent and approved more than $13.3 million so far, according to its expenditure summary.
The contract states that Tucson must reimburse the university for “one-half of the total design phase amounts expended to date at the end of the month.” There is no clause clarifying procurement policies.
The contract does, however, give the UA an out if its funding is cut by legislators, allowing it to renegotiate terms or cancel the deal.
University of Arizona President Robert N. Shelton said Saturday that the Vice President of Business Affairs Joel Valdez and Hein have been discussing a revised construction plan for budgetary reasons.
Councilwoman Nina Trasoff, who presides over the Rio Nuevo council subcommittee and whose ward covers much of the Rio Nuevo district, said Thursday, “This has been very difficult. . . . We are bound by the terms of the agreement.”
Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, who called for a city audit commission in June after a dispute with Hein and questions over budget figures, said a review of the UA Science Center invoices could be the commission’s first work.
“It’s true that we have to watch all costs at this time, but transparency and accountability remain priorities,” Uhlich wrote in a statement. “Mayor and Council amended the outside auditing firm contract to allow for ‘spot audits’ costing less than $50,000. That may be a way to contain the cost of any review needed.”
UA’s Valdez, a former Tucson city manager, declined to comment on specifics of the university’s spending Thursday. He did say, however, that “I’m not opposed to an audit.”
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