Wednesday, May 9, 2012


The Raleigh News-Observer publishes an item on academic issues and the University of North Carolina athletic programs: CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams on Tuesday defended his players who were enrolled in classes at the center of an internal university investigation of academic fraud and improprieties. “The players were eligible to be enrolled in those classes, as were non-student-athletes, and they did the work that was assigned to them,” Williams said through an athletic department spokesman." Read more here: The college basketball season has been over for awhile but no doubt coach Roy Williams is still a busy man. Even so, is he so busy that he has not the time to make this statement to the public himself? Who is the un-named athletic department spokesman and what other duties does he or she have? Is there a position in the department whose role is that of spokesperson for various figures that are too busy to make a statement.

Further west, near the Falls of St. Anthony, this occurs: A Minneapolis Police Department spokesman confirmed Wednesday that West Valley City police contacted a Minneapolis homicide lieutenant about the case. “The police department did contact our police department about an ongoing investigation,” said Sgt. Stephen McCarty of the Minneapolis Police Department. “They did talk to (a homicide lieutenant) and had a conversation with him about the case.” McCarty said he couldn’t disclose other details, including when West Valley City police contacted Minneapolis police and how frequently the two agencies have been in communication. He declined to provide specifics related to what information Utah law enforcement provided about the case, and specifically, what information was provided about Michael C. Powell —who is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities. Sgt. Stephen McCarty is regularly referred to by the local media as a Minneapolis Police Department spokesman.

We learn this from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Gov. Scott Walker's chief spokesman has been granted immunity in the ongoing John Doe investigation of the governor's current and former aides, it was learned Friday. Former Appeals Court Judge Neal Nettesheim, who is overseeing the secret criminal probe, said he had granted immunity to three people, including Cullen Werwie, spokesman for Walker, in this part of the case. A railroad lobbyist and low-ranking Republican official were also given immunity. Records show Werwie was granted immunity April 14. Werwie joined Walker's campaign after the September primary and stayed on when Walker took office in January. Werwie earns $61,000 per year. "No comment," Werwie said when reached late Friday. The governor was not immediately available for comment. Interestingly, the governor was not available to comment on a matter that his spokesman refused to comment upon.

 What do these three episodes have in common? All the figures involved are public employees, who are paid to say things that may or may not be attributed to their public employee bosses. You might be able to make the case that the very well-paid Roy Williams' job is to recruit tall teen-agers and then teach them to be winners on the basketball court. There may even be a clause in his employment contract that states that he has the option of not responding personally to media inquiries. Certainly Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan is a busy man and isn't necessarily on top of every issue facing his department but is it really necessary for the public to be paying the salary of a person whose primary duty is to speak for him? The spoils system has never gone out of style in politics and we expect elected officials to reward their campaign staff but the Walker story seems to indicate that he actually has more than one spokesperson. These guys can talk the blue streak when they're looking for work but then, when they get it, they have to hire guys on the public dime to verbalize for them. Government gets to create the dimensions of its own work force.

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