Sunday, April 08, 2007

They even went on the same trip? Give me a break.

I was amused by the article in the Southern Illinoisan yesterday about Brad and Sheila's trip to Cuba. They both went on the same junket to Cuba. They both expensed the whole trip, Brad to the city and Sheila to SIU. Sheila voted to approve Brad's expenses, she claims without understanding it (I guess?). But now it is a campaign issues a couple of years later? I'm having a whole lot of trouble understanding what Sheila is complaining about.

I love the quotes at the end -
"But, to be honest about it, my husband and I are both employed, and I hope we can pick up the bill for it on our own dime, not the public's," she added.

Cole said there are already mechanisms in place to serve as checks and balances, but he wouldn't be opposed to adding more if the public saw fit.

"We can add a dozen more steps, but I'm curious how (Simon) is going to do that working part time," Cole said.
First of all, Sheila did the trip on public money, so I guess she is going to change now? In order to do over site on a budget, you have to actually spend the time and read the line items. As Brad is quoted here, she doesn't work hard enough, on city matters, to do it.

Reminds me of that old expression, what is bad for the goose, is good for the gander.

Your comments are welcome.


gadfly said...

No offense, but the Cuba thing *is* a huge deal and most likely put the university's liscence in jeopardy (it has not been renewed). The question is not one of whether someone traveled on public money or not; its an issue of *which* governing body paid for it.

The U.S. State Department specifically asked the university folks about Simon and Cole's presence on the trip. Sheila is an employee of the university, so they picked up her tab. Brad was a "student/alumnus" and said he'd pick up his own tab. If Brad had said he was paying with city money, he would've been disallowed -- by both the city and the State Department -- from going on the trip.

Shame on the university for not paying more attention to the matter, but that isn't relevant to whether or not this is a campaign issue.

As to the quotes you mention, I took them to mean that she wouldn't travel on the city's dime as mayor. Its not clear to me why you think a trip sponsored by her employer is the same thing as one sponsored by the city when it doesn't involve city business.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Gadfly, you are just making things up now. How do you know what the US government would have done? The US government cares who pays for Brad's trip? Silly, just silly.

You think SIU cares who pays? That is silly too.

I'm sure this is the first junket on the tax payer's nickel that SIU has seen in many years. :)

They both went on a free junket and now Sheila is complaining. It is standard lack of understanding reality on her part.

Not your best work, it feels like you are just making stuff up.

gadfly said...

"How do you know what the US government would have done?"

Because I know the terms of the liscence and I know that the State Department specifically vetted Simon and Cole's participation in the trip because they are both "politicians" (according to them). Call John Haller and ask him if you don't believe me. And, to the best of my knowledge, that liscence has yet to be re-newed. Even Cole will tell you he had to demonstrate a link the university and its mission before being allowed to go.

"The US government cares who pays for Brad's trip? Silly, just silly."

What about America's policy toward Cuba hasn't been silly since the collapse of the Soviet Union?

Peter in Carbondale said...

So Brad went because of his link to the law school and because he was Mayor, otherwise he wouldn't have gone. That is what you wrote here, right?

Then you duck my point that the US government cares who pays? You know everything, would the US government prevented Brad from going if they knew the city was paying? Well, no. They only let him go because he was representing the city.

Come on, try to stop spinning and do the truth.

Anonymous said...

Cole said he'd pay for it himself, and then used city money for it. Is that enough truth for you, Peter?

Peter in Carbondale said...

I think if you are an Anonymous commenter you have to document claims like that.

Concerned said...

I should preface my comment by stating that I am undecided as far as how I will vote this Election Day. However, it seems to me that, in the case of Sheila Simon, the matter of hypocrisy cannot go unattended.

First, why has Simon only recently developed skepticism with regard to City money? What does it say about her ethos, as a potential holder of Public Office, that she took it on "faith" to trust "the system set up by City Hall" then questioned it as soon as it did not serve her interests? Is she not part of that same system she now criticizes?

Furthermore, as our representatives, do we not vote for city council men and women to carryout the task of assessing "facts," and not acting on "faith" alone, when it comes to voting on all kinds of issues? I work too hard for my small wages to be spent “on faith.” I would want my council person to know what it is he or she is voting for when issuing a vote.

Moreover, there is a problem when criticizing spending turns into economic protectionism disguised as a concern for local business. In some ways it feels like a thin veil for conservatism. Finally, unless my logic is incredibly eschewed, and please correct me if I’m wrong, how is it that a public university's travel budget is different than the "public's dime?"

It never bodes well when double-standards govern a politican's rhetoric.


tired one said...

I am disgusted with Sheila's double standards. How quickly her "integrity" campaign ended up in a gutter.

By the way - what was she doing on a Cuba junket anyway? She's no president, chancellor, dean, chairperson, faculty senate member, professor - heck, she is not even a regular tenure-track faculty. She's an adjunct. What was a nature of her expertise that warranted her inlusion in the Cuba trip? Traffic tickets? I could think of only one reasen - her maiden name. And this was apparently sufficient reason to have taxpayers pay for har little tropical adventure.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I received this comment yesterday, but was tired of undocumented and anonymous BS at that point. The writer of the comment wrote me and claimed to be a real person in the know, so here it is -

I hope I can clear somethings up here. I enjoy reading the variety of opinions here, and in this case I think I can add some information.

In this case the problem with the details of this particular trip is that it was to Cuba. The State Department does care about "trading with the enemy" and that is why there are specific licenses that cover and regulate such travel. The license that all the university people used for the trip last year in March is for academic exchange and has some very clear specifics about its use (these can be found online somewhere :)). When the group got back and the newspapers reported about the trip (perhaps we can search the DE or The Southern) the articles identified Sheila Simon and Brad Cole as "councilwoman" and "mayor". The State Department reacted to this--they are serious about the licenses and about restricting travel to Cuba--and asked the university about these details. Not only are they really serious in the state department about this, but in the last few years they have been really on the ball keeping track of the usage of the academic licenses to find any little reason to not renew them (as part of the current administration's Cuba policy.) Big Rich universities have lost their licenses and SIU was fortunate that there was no reason to not renew.

I personally do not know what the group activities were in Cuba for that week, and how much academic exchange there was. I got the impression that people were matched with academic institutes depending on their specialties.

So within the restrictions to travel to Cuba, if anyone affiliated with the city went as a city employee and payed with city money, they are violating the license (and perhaps the embargo.) If anyone who went on the trip has any affiliation with the university (student, admin, etc) and payed from their salaries there is no problem with the government.

I hope this clears some things up for those not familiar with the specifics with travel to Cuba.

Anonymous said...

There is a factual error in the double standard post. Simon is not an adjunct; she has a continuing appointment.

Also, kudos to recognizing that what Cole did is in fact a violation of the license. People make mistakes all the time and I wonder why he has a difficult time admitting this particular one. Its not as if it would lose the election for him all by itself.