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Tuesday, July 16th 2013

5:56 PM

Namegate

As I commented on a co-worker's Facebook page, I am obsessed with what some observers have taken to calling "Namegate."

I refer, of course, to the topic of my very lengthy previous POST, the matter of exactly how station KTVU in the San Francisco television market ended up airing fake, racially-insensitive names for the pilots of an Asiana Airlines plane that crashed just over a week ago at San Francisco International.

KTVU quickly apologized on-air (and later on its web site and on social media) for the report that aired on this past Friday's noon newscast. In its apology, it stated that no one at the station had actually said the names out loud before they went on the air. The apology also mentioned that it had confirmed the names with the NTSB. As it turns out, that "confirmation" came from a summer intern at the NTSB. THE INTERN has now been fired.

The main points of my previous post basically boil down to this:
  1. Knowing what I know about how information flows through a newsroom, I find it hard to believe that no one said or had heard the names being said before they went on air. Even though these names had been "confirmed," they never should have made air;
  2. I have a lot of questions about the NTSB intern who confirmed these names. The NTSB says he did not have the authority to confirm anything, but says he acted in good faith and was just trying to be helpful. My contention is that he was neither helpful nor acting in good faith when he took it upon himself to confirm names that he couldn't know were right - because they were fake names!

Which brings us to the latest developments. A MEDIA BLOGGER in San Francisco has been posting about this story. In his post from MONDAY, JULY 15 (which I hadn't read when I wrote my post yesterday. In fact, I wasn't even aware of his blog until today), he cites "insider sources" who told him that at least four or five people probably "touched" (his word) the story before it made air. That's pretty much what I was thinking, although I tried to give the TV station the benefit of the doubt by stopping my tally at "at least two."

It's still not clear where the fake names came from or how they were introduced to the newsroom (phone, fax, email). But, this blogger, Rich Lieberman, contends that the fake names may have come from one of the other stations in the market, peeved at KTVU's self-aggrandizing PROMO in which it bragged about always being first and being 100% accurate in its initial coverage of the crash.


Others speculate that the fake names may have originated at KTVU itself, coming from perhaps a disgruntled current or former staffer. Personally, I would hope that is not the case. I would hope that journalistic ethics would trump any desire for revenge.

Lieberman also speculates that whoever gave KTVU the names, knew how the newsroom worked and timed the "tip" so that KTVU would rush to get the information on the air (which it admittedly did) and, perhaps, be less likely to catch that the names were fake (which it didn't).

In an alternative theory, the WASHINGTON POST cites a "person familiar with the sequence of events" at KTVU as saying the names came from "a trusted source" who had given the station solid info in the past. Except, this time, the information wasn't in fact, solid.

Cox, which owns KTVU, is reportedly doing an internal investigation into what happened. According to Rich Lieberman, Cox's internal security team includes former FBI and Secret Service agents. Clearly, Cox does not mess around. Maybe its folks can get to the bottom of just why that now former NTSB intern was so quick to "confirm" information that he couldn't know was right - because it was wrong! 

No matter the intern's role, I will not be surprised if at least one person at KTVU gets fired over this. It could be the news director (though he is said to have been out of the building at the time); it could be the general manager; it could be one of the staffers who "touched" the story.

Stay tuned.
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Sunday, February 3rd 2013

5:33 PM

Fun in the Forest

Last night, a friend and I ventured to Bloomsburg to see the BLOOMSBURG THEATRE ENSEMBLE'S production of Shakespeare's comedy "As You Like It."

I almost didn't go. "As You Like It" is a play that I may or may not have read for the Shakespeare course I took during my junior year at Leeds. I say "may or may not" because I really can't remember. But, reading the synopsis on BTE's website, it sounded a lot like "Twelfth Night," a play which I definitely DID read (and have also seen performed). But, NEPA isn't Stratford, so it's not like you can see live Shakespeare anytime you want. So, I contacted my friend, bought tickets, and off we went.

I'm certainly glad we did.

The plot of "As You Like it" is roughly this: A mean, old Duke forces a young woman named Rosalind to flee the comfort of the court. She takes along her best friend, Celia. To help avoid capture, Rosalind disguises herself as a man, while Celia adopts an assumed name. They make it safely to the forest, where the good brother of the mean Duke has set up camp with some loyal followers.

The mean, old Duke also banishes his youngest son, Orlando, who he sees as worthless. Orlando and Rosalind have a brief encounter before they are both banished, but once they arrive in the woods, neither one knows that the other is there.

A lovesick Orlando scatters handwritten love notes to Rosalind throughout the forest. Rosalind sees them, and in her male disguise, promises to cure Orlando of his obsession. Of course, it's not that simple. Soon, Rosalind finds herself having to think fast to save her own romance, along with the romances of Celia, plus a smitten shepherd and his reluctant girlfriend.

The play hits all the usual elements of a Shakespearean comedy - disguises and mistaken identity, love, the forest (nature) as a magical place where things are set right, redemption.

Setting aside any arguments of the strength or weakness of the plot, this production of "As You Like It" sparkled with humor and shone with fine performances. MCCAMBRIDGE DOWD-WHIPPLE (who has BTE in her genes) stood out as Rosalind. The other cast members also excelled (and many of them played two or three roles!).

But, I think what impressed me most about this production was the staging. The director utilized the entire theatre, with characters coming and going from stage right and stage left - and from the back of the theatre. Characters often ran up or down the steps. Sometimes, depending on where you were sitting, you heard them before you saw them.

This particular production also incorporated a live band on stage, comprised of young musicians from the Bloomsburg area. They contributed both background music and original songs. I particularly liked the brooding theme they played each time the mean, old Duke appeared.

Several audience members also sat on either side of the stage. In a few instances, they became part of the action.

In short, director LAURIE MCCANTS made the Alvina Krause Theatre her forest. She gave the actors everything they needed to play in it and let the audience join in the fun. And a good time was had by all.
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Saturday, January 19th 2013

9:41 PM

I Doubled Down - and Lost

Since no money - real or imagined - was wagered, I don't know if an incorrect guess at the Word of the Year can really count as a loss. But, it is a real disappointment because my two-year win streak is over.

To recap: In THIS entry from November, I put that winning streak on the line and declared that "double down" was my guess for what the AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY would pick as its 2012 Word of the Year. When I wrote that entry, the group's annual meeting, set for early January, was almost two months away. So, I had a long time to consider how well I had chosen.

Honestly, I didn't think about it too often after that. But, I did think I had it in the bag in mid-December when Ben Zimmer wrote THIS column for the Boston Globe. Zimmer is a well-respected expert on language; he also happens to be the Chair of the New Words Committee for the American Dialect Society - the group that picks the WOTY. In other words, he has an "in." When he predicted that "double down" would be the 2012 WOTY, I tapped my nose and thought, "Three-year winning streak, here I come."

But, a couple weeks later, when the meeting was held and the votes were counted, the members of the American Dialect Society had chosen "hashtag" as the 2012 WORD OF THE YEAR.

Hashtag? Really? WT#!

"Double down" didn't even make the top five. Really? Were the members of the ADS not paying attention to the presidential campaign? Republicans and Democrats alike were constantly doubling down. How was this NOT the Word of the Year?

Don't get me wrong. Hashtag is a perfectly fine word to describe the # symbol. The word and the symbol have been around for years, but the popularity of Twitter has given # new prominence. It's the start of a trend, it's a verb of its own. It's "hashtag." But, it's been those things for several years now. I didn't detect any newly dominant # prominence in 2012.

I guess I was wrong. #loser #tryagainnextyear #woty
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Saturday, December 29th 2012

10:11 AM

Ambition Gone Awry?

I've taken a break from my regular reading list of mystery/detective novels (don't worry. V is for Vengeance is next on my list) to read a work of non-fiction titled Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan.

SYBIL EXPOSED is subtitled "The extraordinary story behind the famous multiple personality case." The basic premise is to largely debunk the story told in the book SYBIL by Flora Rheta Schreiber. That book was later made into a movie starring Sally Field.

I read the book Sybil several years ago and recall being fascinated. I mean, who wouldn't be? How could you not be fascinated by a woman who was horribly abused as a child, who had more than a dozen separate personalities and who was able to heal only through years of hypnotherapy from a caring psychiatrist? It's a gripping story.

In Sybil Exposed, author Debbie Nathan acknowledges the power of the original story, noting that, after its publication, the number of reported cases of Multiple Personality Disorder (almost exclusively in women) increased dramatically. But, Nathan also notes that the three women involved in the Sybil story (the patient, the psychiatrist, the author) each had something to gain. For Shirley Mason (a.k.a. "Sybil"), she got constant attention and support from her therapist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur. Dr. Wilbur used the case to make a name for herself in what was still traditionally a man's world. The author, Flora Schreiber, had similar ambitions.

At this point, I'm not quite halfway through the book, but Nathan has already laid out ample evidence indicating that much of what Mason claimed wasn't true. Rather, her claims about severe abuse as a child and about her many different personalities were either conflated or invented as a way to keep Dr. Wilbur's attention. Nathan also points out that Dr. Wilbur was pumping Mason full of a variety of drugs, including lots of Pentothal, or truth serum. Based on what I've read so far, it's amazing Mason could get out of bed as often as she did.

The last chapter I've read includes excerpts from a letter that Mason wrote to Wilbur about four years into their therapy. By this point, Wilbur had already exceeded the bounds of a normal doctor-patient relationship in several ways, including by going to Mason's apartment for many Pentothal-fueled sessions. And, by this point, Nathan argues, Mason was essentially a junkie who pleaded with Wilbur to keep the Pentothal coming.

Somehow, though, Mason managed to gather enough clarity to write a letter to Wilbur, a letter in which Mason declared that she did not have multiple personalities and that she was not sexually abused by her mother. Mason conceded that her mother was overprotective and that she, herself, did have problems. But, Mason said, she embellished her story, especially while under the influence of Pentothal.

Dr. Wilbur read the letter and promptly declared that Shirley was resisting treatment, that the abuse she claimed really did happen, and that she needed therapy now more than ever. Also, by this time, Wilbur had already started presenting Shirley's case at professional conferences. To admit her patient had lied could cost Wilbur dearly. She basically threw the ball back into Mason's court.

Mason, rather than lose Dr. Wilbur - and all that Pentothal, wrote another letter which blamed the first letter on "someone." Mason said she wanted to continue and soon, Nathan writes, the Pentothal sessions resumed and the list of alter personalities grew.

So far, I'm intrigued. Mason, despite having issues, managed to hold down jobs and get an advanced degree. She even made an effort at becoming a psychiatrist, like Dr. Wilbur. Basically, she seemed generally functional up until a couple years into her Pentothal treatments with Dr. Wilbur. I'll be interested to see how Mason works her way back from her drug-addicted state to a productive life.
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Saturday, November 10th 2012

2:08 PM

Doubling Down on the Word of the Year

2012 is quickly drawing to a close, so it won't be long until the AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY hosts its annual meeting. It's set for early January in Boston, and the highlight is sure to be the selection of the 2012 Word of the Year (WOTY).

In 2010, the overall winner was "app" as the phrase "there's an app for that" became so ubiquitous that you might have wished for an app to make it go away. I correctly predicted that "app" stood a good chance of winning. The following year, I correctly predicted that "occupy" would be the 2011 Word of the Year, though I have to admit that pick was somewhat of a no-brainer as something somewhere was always under occupation.

So, let's see if I can continue the streak. Because there was no escaping the campaign trail, I believe that the 2012 WOTY will come from the field of politics. And oh, the choices we have! Just when you thought the voting was over...

Could the 2012 Word of the Year be "double down?" This phrase from the world of gambling was hijacked by politicians and political writers. To my mind, the phrase applied when one side said something that was roundly criticized and/or viewed with great skepticsm by the other side and/or by the media. If the first side continued to make the claim, perhaps even exaggerating it, it was said to be "doubling down." Whatever was said was what was meant and that's not gonna change. One example of "doubling down":  Mitt Romney continued to push his plan to balance the budget despite study after study and expert after expert that said the numbers just didn't add up.

Or, could the 2012 WOTY be "fiscal cliff?" Now that the election is over, there's a lot of talk about whether the president and Congress can or will work together to avoid a series of expiring tax cuts and budget cuts scheduled to take effect at the start of the New Year. Already, President Obama is doubling down on his campaign promise to "make the wealthy pay their fair share," while House Speaker John Boehner is doubling down on the GOP line of looking for revenue without raising taxes (which could mean eliminating deductions, such as the one for mortgage interest, that primarily benefit the middle class). The fiscal cliff has been around for a while, but it's on the front burner now, which could give it the momentum it needs to be the 2012 WOTY.

Wait. Did someone just say "momentum?" Another word heard from the campaign trail. President Obama had momentum through the spring and summer, and he got a little bounce after the Democratic Convention in September. Then came early October and the first presidential debate in Denver. Everyone agreed that Romney won and, suddenly he had momentum. The vice presidential debate followed and Joe Biden eked out a win. During ABC's post-debate analysis, George Stephanopoulos said that Biden had succeeded in stopping the GOP momentum. Two more presidential debates followed with President Obama scoring narrow victories in both. If Romney's momentum (a.k.a. "Romentum") hadn't stopped after the VP debate, surely the final two debates did the trick, right?

Maybe not. The GOP doubled down, insisting that Romney still had the momentum in the final two weeks leading up to the election. But, then came Superstorm Sandy. President Obama left the campaign trail for a few days to keep tabs on the Federal response. He also traveled to some of the hardest hit areas in New Jersey, where he was praised by Republican Governor Chris Christie, a key Romney supporter. Romney himself toned down his campaign rhetoric for a few days, too. Did Sandy stop the Romentum? Not if you listened to the Romney people. They kept saying they had the momentum, and they apparently felt so confident in that thought that they made a last-minute play for Pennsylvania, where polls consistently showed Pres. Obama with a lead.

The Romney camp should have been reading FiveThirtyEight, the outstanding blog that numbers whiz Nate Silver writes for the New York Times. (Or, maybe they were reading it, but just didn't like what they were seeing.) The last debate, the one about foreign policy, was on Monday, October 22. A few days later, Silver posted THIS entry which argued that polls showed that Romney's momentum had stalled sometime around October 12, the day after the vice presidential debate, a few days before the second presidential debate, and well before Sandy (which hadn't even happened when Silver wrote that column). By the time Sandy hit, the momentum was already with Obama and there wasn't enough time for Romney to get it back.

So, there are my top three picks for the American Dialect Society's 2012 Word of the Year: double down, fiscal cliff, momentum. Romentum could potentially get a few votes, but it's more likely to place in a subcategory than to rise to WOTY level. Other possible contenders include "legitimate rape" and "war on women."

I think I'm going to double down and go with "double down" as my predicted winner. Will my streak continue? We'll find out on January 4, 2013.
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Wednesday, November 7th 2012

4:42 PM

Four More Years - and Six More Months

The 2012 campaign has finally come to an end with President Barack Obama winning a hard-fought second term in the White House. The campaign seemed to last a really long time. Exactly how long depends on whether you count Mitt Romney's campaign as starting sometime in 2011 or whether you take the starting point all the way back to when he campaigned (and lost) to be the GOP's nominee in 2008. In any case, it went on and on and didn't end until Romney finally conceded around 1 a.m. on Wednesday. He kept the popular vote pretty close, but lost the Electoral College by a substantial margin (as of this writing, Florida is still undecided, but Obama already has more than 300 electoral votes so, unlike 2000, Florida doesn't really matter).

I spent about six weeks organizing election coverage for the local TV station where I work. We reported results from PA and around the country for the presidential race, but we were largely focused on statewide races including US Senator and row offices. We also covered assorted Congressional and General Assembly races. You can check out the Pennsylvania results HERE.

For the most part, the night brought very few surprises. The candidates who were expected to win, did. My one exception would be the race for PA Auditor General, where Democrat Eugene DePasquale defeated Republican John Maher. I didn't follow the race closely in the weeks and months leading up to the election, but I guess I figured that Maher would win. But, I did see a commercial for DePasquale during the final week, and I suspect he was helped by the strength of other Democrats on the ticket, including Sen. Bob Casey and Pres. Obama. I also wonder if there may not be some kind of anti-GOP backlash going on, considering that Gov. Corbett's approval ratings are very low.

If anything surprised me, it would be that the winners' margins of victory - especially on the Democratic side - were higher than expected. Despite GOP claims that Pennsylvania was "in play" for Romney and that Senate candidate Tom Smith was making a race of it with Bob Casey, Pres. Obama won the state by about 5 points and Casey won by 9. Perhaps not landslide margins, but not as close as the GOP and some pundits were insisting.

I will say, however, that I'm not sure Casey knew which way the race would go. If he did, he wasn't very excited about it. One of my crews talked with him after he voted, and Casey said, "I've been really privileged to have another term in the United States Senate. I've been privileged to serve in three public offices, and no matter what happens today, I've been pretty fortunate." Even for the mild-mannered Casey, that statement seemed kind of defeatist.

A couple other races to note. Long-time state rep. Phyllis Mundy, a Democrat from Luzerne County's West Side, fought off a challenge from young Republican Aaron Kaufer and claimed a 12-point victory. Kaufer had some financial backing - I received several mailings from him - but, to me, it seemed as though a lot of what he was criticizing Mundy for was old news such as the infamous midnight pay raise from six or seven years ago. Mundy has a reputation for sticking up for the elderly and for approaching the natural gas industry with caution. Those issues - and a Democratic voter edge in Luzerne County - made Kaufer's fight a tough one to win.

In another part of Luzerne County, Rep. Tarah Toohil, a Republican from the Hazleton area, won another term in the state house. She had a 2-1 edge in votes over her opponent, Ransom Young. The margin of victory is impressive given that Toohil faced some negative advertising featuring compromising pictures of her taken several years ago. In this case, the dirty tricks (which her opponent disavowed) did not work at all.

And, finally, Kathleen Kane from the Scranton area became the first Democrat and the first woman to be elected Pennsylvania Attorney General. Kane won by about 14 points over Cumberland County DA David Freed. Freed has close ties to the Attorney General's office and was apparently Gov. Corbett's candidate of choice. Kane got some publicity over the past year as a commentator on the Jerry Sandusky case and she promised to be an independent prosecutor. One of the reason's for Corbett's sagging favorability is that many people feel he could have done more when he was Attorney General to stop Sandusky. As far as I know, Freed never had any involvement in the case, but being associated with Corbett may have hurt his cause more than helped it.

At any rate, it's all over. Now I have six months to rest up before the May primary.
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Saturday, October 13th 2012

12:36 PM

30 to 60 to Life

It's finally over - except that, technically, it's not. But, for all intents and purposes, it is over. Jerry Sandusky has been sentenced to prison for his sex crimes against boys. The sentencing went down this past Tuesday in Centre County Court. Sandusky could have received a much longer sentence. But, he's 68 years old, so his sentence of 30-60 years is, for all intents and purposes, a life sentence.

Just prior to sentencing, Sandusky was declared to be a Sexually Violent Predator, a finding which he did not contest. What it means is that if he ever gets out of prison on parole, Sandusky will have to register under Megan's Law. That's IF he ever gets out.

You can read the sentencing order HERE. It breaks down how much time Sandusky received for each of the 45 counts on which he was convicted.

HERE you can read the statement Judge Cleland read just before he handed down his sentence. In the statement, he takes Sandusky to task for a statement he (Sandusky) made the night before sentencing. THE STATEMENT was broadcast on the radio and transcribed in print. The posted link includes both the audio and a transcript. Cleland obviously read it or heard it and writes, "Regarding your broadcast statement I can only say that like all conspiracy theories it makes a leap from the undeniable to the unbelievable."

Judge Cleland also took into consideration letters written to him by Sandusky and his wife, Dottie. You can read those letters HERE. In the letters, the couple blames everyone from the police to their adopted son, Matt (you know, the one who says he was molested by Sandusky and was prepared to testify to that effect). Nowhere does Sandusky take responsibility for his actions.

Sandusky's lawyers are expected to appeal on the grounds that a) they didn't have enough time to prepare an adequate defense; and b) they just did a horrible job. I'm not an attorney, but I don't see where they'll have much chance of a successful appeal. The preliminary hearing was delayed at least once, and when it did finally happen in February, Sandusky's attorneys chose to waive it. In other words, they gave up a good chance to hear before the trial what some or all of the victims intended to say. By waiving the prelim, they also gave up a chance to perhaps see some of the prosecution's other evidence - such as letters that Sandusky wrote to the victims. The judge did grant one trial delay of about a month, but after waiving the prelim, I find the "we didn't have enough time" defense rather weak.

As for the "we just suck as lawyers" defense, I don't think that will go very far, either. Joe Amendola and Karl Romiger have reputations as fine lawyers. Just because their strategy didn't work, that doesn't mean they were inadequate. Quite frankly, I don't know what they could have done to change the outcome of the trial, especially after Sandusky refused to testify (which Amendola says he did in order to keep Matt Sandusky from testifying as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution). I suppose an appeals court could see things differently, but I don't think Sandusky's odds of winning an appeal are very good.

On a personal note, I would have liked to see Sandusky get a longer sentence - just because it seems like something longer than 30-60 is warranted. Had Sandusky been a younger man, the judge may have issued a longer sentence. However, in this case, 30-60 should suffice.

On a final (for this post, anyway) note, a man's claims that Sandusky was involved in a larger pedophile ring do not seem to have much credibility. The Philadelphia Daily News reports HERE that the man has a history of trying to insert himself into prominent cases and gets angry when he's not believed.
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Sunday, October 7th 2012

12:38 PM

Point to Ponder

I found out through Facebook last night that Ray Koons had died. Who, you ask? Only one of the most respected and popular teachers to ever grace the halls of Lehighton Area High School. His popularity made him an invited guest at many class reunions, including the 20 year reunion of the LAHS Class of '84.

I don't know specifically how long Mr. Koons taught, but I think it's fair to say that anyone who went to LAHS in the 70s, 80s or 90s knew Mr. Koons. Some students knew him through the classes he taught; others may have had him as a coach; still others may have just met him in the hallway, probably as he was telling them to stop screwing around and get to class. Whatever the circumstances, when Mr. Koons talked, you listened.

For my part, I can only remember having one class with Mr. Koons - Federal Government during my junior year. One of my favorite memories of the class was listening to everyone (me included) sing the Schoolhouse Rock song as we wrote down the words to the Preamble to the Constitution.

The other memory that stands out is of the recurring "Point to Ponder" assignments. Every week or so, Mr. Koons would require us to write a few paragraphs concerning a thought-provoking phrase. I don't remember anything specific, but they would have been along the lines of this quote from Plato: "Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber." Your job was then to write four or five paragraphs about what the statement or thought meant to you. In other words, it was an exercise in critical thinking (and in writing).

I'm sure there were students who didn't like that kind of assignment. And, maybe there were even a few who didn't like Mr. Koons. But, I did, and I hope those other people learned to appreciate Mr. Koons as a teacher and as a man.
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Saturday, September 22nd 2012

11:48 AM

Bring Me Some Higher Ed

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of representing my alma mater, JUNIATA COLLEGE, at the installation of WILKES UNIVERSITY's new president, DR. PATRICK LEAHY. I put on a cap and gown for the first time since my own graduation nearly 25 years ago. The ceremony featured much pomp and circumstance, including speeches and original musical compositions which reflected the theme of "Looking back with pride, looking forward with confidence." The official news release is HERE.

THIS page includes links to videos of the entire ceremony, but here's Dr. Leahy's speech if you'd like to see it.



Dr. Leahy's own educational background includes a Bachelor's in English Literature and post-graduate degrees in business and, of course, education. In short, he knows the value of a liberal arts education (his speech contained multiple references to Shakespeare!), but he also has the skills to look at higher education as a business. It's a business which he believes needs a new model.

Dr. Leahy mentioned that the cost of a higher education has risen at a higher rate over the past 25 years or so than the cost of anything else, including gasoline and health care. He says that model of ever-increasing tuition cannot be sustained in today's economic climate. Translation: many colleges and universities are in danger of pricing themselves out of existence.

He's also aware of another challenge that Wilkes faces. The university draws a good portion of its students from northeast Pennsylvania, and the region's population is shrinking. So, he says, the university must expand its recruiting base. That means that Wilkes will likely start competing for students from, for example, the same areas in western and central PA targeted by Juniata. And, don't forget, that Pennsylvania has a lot of liberal arts colleges already competing for students in overlapping areas.

Before coming to Wilkes, Dr. Leahy made a name for himself at the University of Scranton, where he spearheaded a major fundraising campaign that surpassed its goal about two years ahead of schedule. I don't think it was any accident that that achievement was pretty much the first thing the Trustee representative mentioned in her welcoming speech during the installation ceremony.

But, Dr. Leahy also emphasized his plan to promote the unique aspects of Wilkes as a way of attracting students. And, he wants to, as mentioned before, expand the university's reach - not only in terms of recruiting, but in terms of access - i.e. potential branch campuses and online courses. I recall him saying that if Harvard is offering online courses for free (I think he must have meant THIS), what does that mean for the rest of (colleges and universities)?

Overall, my big takeaway from the installation was the impression that similar institutions, including Juniata, better up their game because here comes Pat Leahy and Wilkes.
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Friday, September 21st 2012

7:38 PM

Still Sandusky

I'm still here! Longer than usual between posts, but I'm back.

There has been some Sandusky news lately, so let's just get that out of the way, shall we?

Earlier today, September 21, transcripts from Sandusky's trial were posted online, along with the transcript of a motion to withdraw filed by Sandusky's attorneys just before jury selection began. You can read the documents (there are 16 of them) HERE. Just look for the ones dated 9/21/12. I haven't read them, but MEDIA REPORTS indicate that Sandusky's attorneys were counting on Sandusky to testify in his own defense. But, after Sandusky's adopted son, Matt, came forward and said he was prepared to testify that Sandusky had abused him, Sandusky opted not to take the stand and his lawyers were left, basically, defenseless.

Earlier this week, the judge set Sandusky's sentencing for Tuesday, October 9, in Centre County Court. Immediately before sentencing, there will be a hearing to determine whether Sandusky should be classified as a Sexually Violent Predator. I'm guessing the determination will be "yes." Then, after that, he'll be sentenced. Word is that several of the victims will read statements, and that Sandusky will also read a statement. I think he could face a maximum of 400+ years in prison. Don't know if the judge will give him the max, but even a sentence of 20 -30 years will pretty much guarantee that Sandusky spends the rest of his life behind bars.

The most recent issue of THE NEW YORKER features an article about Sandusky by MALCOLM GLADWELL. You can read the article HERE. The gist of it is that Sandusky was a sly and calculating pedophile who fooled a lot of people by cultivating his goofball image. The article cites the Freeh Report, but generally views Paterno, Curley, Schultz and Spanier with more sympathy than they received in the report.

And then there's THIS story which appeared just this week in the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. The article cites an email from a self-described former child prostitute who links Sandusky to an alleged pedophile ring that operated in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The (now) man said he met Sandusky at a Second Mile fundraiser in 1979. He says he was supposed to have sex with Sandusky, but the schedule prevented that from happening, Instead, he says, he had sex with another man at the fundraiser, the coach at a NY prep school.

As far as I know, this is the first time Sandusky has been linked to any kind of a pedophile ring. Up until now, it appeared that he had operated on his own.

(Update 9/22/12 at 9:30am)

I neglected to mention a couple of other Sandusky-related updates from the past week. One is that Victim#1, the teenager from Clinton County who went to authorities and got the investigative ball rolling, has written a BOOK. It's due out sometime in October, most likely after Sandusky's sentencing. As part of the publicity for the book, he'll do an interview with ABC News. Details of the interview, including the air date, are still being worked out.

And, finally, (I think), Penn State has lawyered up. According to THIS article from Reuters, the university has hired a top law firm to negotiate settlements with Sandusky's victims - by the end of the year, if possible. The news release from Penn State is HERE.
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