25 April 2008

DaughterGate Fallout Continues

In addition to the follow-up coverage posted earlier:

  • Public Broadcasting interviews WVU President Mike Garrison, who "says he was never involved in the decision to grant Mylan Pharmaceutical COO Heather Bresch an MBA degree." With audio.
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette follows up with student reactions as well as from others whose "criticism ranged from calls for resignations to outrage that two high-ranking WVU officials said they would make the same decision again."

Ex-Regulator Loses Law License

The former counsel and executive director of West Virginia's Board of Pharmacy has lost his law license, The Charleston Gazette reports.

William T. Douglass Jr. saw his license revoked after pleading guilty to falsifying records at the board before his February 2007 firing.

"Investigators said Douglass double-billed the agency for thousands of dollars of expenses that were covered by other organizations," the article said. "In addition, Douglass had aspirations of becoming a sports agent. He tried to run his unsuccessful business - called Douglass Sports Negotiations, or DSPN - out of the Board of Pharmacy, sometimes billing the agency for conference rooms in a Morgantown hotel where he met with prospective clients."

Union Report Ranks W.Va. 3rd for Workplace Deaths

West Virginia suffered a workplace death rate twice the national average in 2006, with 79 workers killed on the job, according to a new report from the AFL-CIO.

"Only Alaska and Wyoming were worse," Public Broadcasting reports. "Twenty-six workers died in vehicle accidents, 22 in fires and explosions, and 14 from contact with objects and equipment."

That reports also notes that "t
he Sago Mine Disaster accounts for 12 of those deaths."

The Charleston Gazette also has a story, and notes that "the AFL-CIO report is based on U.S. Department of Labor statistics for the 2006 calendar year, the latest figures available."

Botched Info Mars TDS-TRS Transfer Process

Teachers and other public employees enrolled in the state's 401(k)-style retirement plan have until May 12 to elect whether to transfer to another public pension program.

To aid that decision, many have been waiting on personalized statements from plan administrators that are supposed to calculate expected benefits under each plan.

But The Charleston Gazette reports that "an estimated 2,000 to 2,200 of those letters went out with incorrect information - including incorrect years of service, or incorrect current salaries, or both - causing a mini-panic for teachers and school service personnel trying to make the critical decision to stay or switch."

24 April 2008

DaughterGate Report: Aftermath

The Associated Press is among those following up on the findings of the report released yesterday. Others include:

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, with links to the report, video of Wednesday's press conference and a chronology. It also has a sidebar on the Oct. 15 meeting of "eight West Virginia University officials and faculty members" that "was no object lesson in educational administration," but "was, instead, a case study in flawed decision-making and crisis management."
  • (Updated) The Daily Athenaeum has a follow-up on the lingering discrepancies. It also gauges both student reaction and that of faculty, with "a vote of no confidence in the University’s leaders" a possible consideration by the latter's Senate.

23 April 2008

They Voted For You: Wilderness

U.S. Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-1st; Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd; and Nick Rahall, D-3rd, helped pass the "Wild Monongahela Act: A National Legacy for West Virginia’s Special Places"on Tuesday.

Sent to the Senate on a 368-17 vote, the measure "would designate nearly 38,000 acres of new and expanded wilderness areas in the Monongahela," The Charleston Gazette reports. The article also notes that Tuesday's measure "does not include another new wilderness area, Cheat Mountain," which had been in the original bill.

WVU Releases DaughterGate Report (Updated)

"West Virginia University administrators showed 'seriously flawed'' judgment in awarding the governor's daughter a master's degree she didn't earn," The Associated Press reports, citing the findings.

AP adds that "the scandal is not a sign of widespread problems in the business school," but rather the "failures of process and leadership were unique to the high-profile case of Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch."

The AP's story is also here and here.

"The damning 95-page report released Wednesday by the WVU Board of Governors is harshest on Provost Gerald Lang and business school dean Steve Sears, who the panel said had no academic foundation for retroactively granting Bresch the 1998 degree," AP reports. "However, the report stopped short of recommending any specific disciplinary action against anyone, advising only that WVU 'take appropriate action.'"

"Mistake was compounded by mistake," the article quotes the report as concluding. "An unnecessary rush to judgment, spurred in some measure by an understandable desire to protect a valued alumna and to respond to media pressure, produced a flawed and erroneous result. It didn't have to happen this way."

Update: MetroNews also has a report, with audio.

Update II: The Charleston Gazette has posted the report online and offers a timeline (courtesy AP).

Update III: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which broke the initial story, has an article and also has posted the report.

Also, according to AP:
After meeting in closed session for 48 minutes Wednesday, the university's Board of Governors issued a charge to President Mike Garrison, telling him to accept responsibility for the errors in judgment made by members of his administration.

The board also wants Garrison to deliver a plan by its June meeting that will ensure "a situation such as this does not ever happen again." It also called on him to inform Bresch of the panel's findings and advise of her right to appeal.

Garrison said he regrets the university has been embarrassed by this situation, and pledged to meet and exceed the board's charge.

In the Wake of Pennsylvania (Updated)

The Charleston Daily Mail is among those sizing up the importance of the May 13 primary following Tuesday's contest in Pennsylvania, finding that "West Virginia is now deemed a key battleground state for both presidential hopefuls."

MetroNews hears from both former Democratic National Committee chief Terry McAuliffe, now chairing Clinton's campaign, and Obama supporter/U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-3rd. Talkline offers audio from the McAuliffe and Rahall interviews.

In other election news:

  • Public Broadcasting reviews the claim by Supreme Court candidate Menis Ketchum regarding his experience arguing cases and concludes that they "don’t seem to be true." With audio.
  • The Daily Mail interviews Democrat Sheirl Fletcher, the former state lawmaker and ex-Republican, and GOP contender Jay Wolfe (also a former legislator) about the respective bids to challenge U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
  • (Update) The Associated Press reports on an ultimatum issued by the West Virginia Republican Party's chairman regarding current fundraising levels: "The WVGOP is in danger of ceasing to exist if we do not get more financial support..."
  • (Update) The Journal of Martinsburg covered a recent forum for the Democratic candidates running in the 2nd Congressional District, and also has a profile of incumbent Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

22 April 2008

Election 2008 Shorts (Updated)

  • The Associated Press reviews the latest presidential campaign finance reports to find that Barack Obama outraised fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton among West Virginians last month, but that she maintains the lead to-date for funds collected in the state.
  • MetroNews' Talkline checked in with the Obama and Clinton camps regarding today's action in Pennsylvania, and the upcoming West Virginia primary May 13.
  • A federal judge has partly granted a preliminary injunction sought in a challenge of the state's rules governing election communications. But the ruling stops short of exempting broadcast ads from disclosure and reporting requirements. AP has the story.

DaughterGate: The Report (Updated)

Citing "a person familiar with the report," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports today that "five-member panel has concluded unanimously that Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch, daughter of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, did not earn a master's of business administration degree from West Virginia University and that administrators acted improperly in granting her the degree retroactively in October."

Update: The newspaper has tweaked its online lede, which had said that WVU administrators "erred."

MetroNews is reporting that "a source who has read the report confirmed" what the newspaper had been told, and that "a source familiar with the report said it is lengthy and includes various recommendations, but the source provided no specifics."

The Associated Press cites the Post-Gazette article in its coverage while also reporting that WVU will release the report Wednesday.

Young Dems Weigh in on MTR

The Associated Press reports that "the West Virginia Young Democrats have called for an end to new mountaintop removal mining permits, adding to a debate that pits factions of the Democratic coalition against each other in the country's second-largest coal-producing state."

W.Va. Reporters Head to Middle East

Robert Snyder, a reporter for The Journal of Martisburg, has joined the 67th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard for a supply mission to Kuwait.

The Charleston Gazette, meanwhile, has sent reporter Rusty Marks to Iraq to meet up with the West Virginia National Guard's 111th Engineer Brigade.

Both are flying on C-5 Galaxy cargo planes, which have been based in Martinsburg since December 2006.

Let the Voting Begin

West Virginians can start casting early primary ballots Wednesday, but have until today to register to vote in that election, The Associated Press notes.

"As of last Thursday, there were 1,175,915 registered voters in West Virginia, an increase of 45,907 from November 2006," the article said. "The state has 660,668 Democrats compared to 347,695 Republicans and 153,749 unaffiliated voters, according to the figures."

21 April 2008

DaughterGate: The Report (Updated)

With an independent panel due to release its findings regarding her WVU degree, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Heather Bresch has told school officials that "she will not allow full disclosure" and instead invokes the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act "to the fullest extent."

"The five-member panel, convened by Provost Gerald Lang in January, is expected to report its findings within days on whether Ms. Bresch legitimately earned the degree," the article explains. "The report is to go first to Mr. Lang, who has said he will then share it with the university's faculty senate and board of governors. How much of that report will be made public is unknown."

The Associated Press reports that the cost of this investigation, into whether WVU "gave Gov. Joe Manchin's daughter a master's degree she didn't earn," is "likely to cost more than $22,000 by the time it's completed."

Update: AP and MetroNews report that the panel has delivered its findings to Lang. “We will move as quickly as possible to have the report to WVU’s Board of Governors,” Lang told AP. "After that, the report will go to the 114-member Faculty Senate, then be made public," the article said.

Election 2008 Roundup (Updated)

  • AP also follows up on the Supreme Court debate with a look at the loosening of free speech limits for judicial candidates.
  • Disgraced former state Senate President Larry Tucker, D-Nicholas, is back on the ballot in his home county, The Charleston Gazette reports. Tucker is running for county commission, nearly 20 years after he "was forced to resign by federal prosecutors and pleaded guilty to extorting a bribe from a racetrack lobbyist.
  • With Democrats now allowing unaffiliated voters into their May 13 primary, AP's Tom Breen reports on that party's invitations to this 151,000-member bloc. "Playing heavily on the excitement over the contest between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the invitations remind unaffiliated voters that 'The presidential race is still undecided. Republicans have already chosen their candidate,'" the article said.
  • AP had this story over the weekend on the role coal is playing in the presidential race for such states as West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Illinois.