OK, the new LJS Website’s Running Smoothly; So, Where’s the LJS/OWH Follow-Up Investigative Coverage of NU’s Widespread (421) Ineligible Recipients Getting (Free) Health Care on the Taxpayer Dime? or Who’s Minding the University while the Regents & Milliken Spend Time + $$$ Dithering about Lavish Houses & Fretting about Entertaining Big 10 “Predatory” Presidents in the Style to which Gordon Gee has become Accustomed?

September 11, 2012

Uncategorized

Ivy,

Thanks for your note and your comments.

I can say confidently that we’re not done reporting on this subject, and I’ve shared your thoughts with the assigning editor.

As for placement on the Web site, we typically reserve the five-story carousel for stories with specifically related photos. Obviously, that’s not a perfect system for highlighting what might be the biggest news of the day. Thankfully, we will in the near future have a Web site design that better highlights a number of stories on a daily basis.

Take care,

TODD HENRICHS

Interim Editor | City Editor | Lincoln Journal Star

p: 402.473.7468 | f: 402.473.7291 | m: 402.499.2892

NOTE: Shortly after the LJS gave short shrift to what should have been a major story, I raised concerns. As you can read, the LJS’s Todd Henrichs responded, “I can say confidently that we’re not done reporting on this subject.” So, now I’m asking for the LJS to follow through and seriously cover this important story. Below, is the essence of the points I made about NU’s failure to notice that 421 non-NU Employees were receiving state-of-the-art health care for years and years.

As a proud 1975 graduate of UN-L’s then-J-School, I believe that this latest NU news: that 421 non-eligible people were, in fact, receiving NU’s state-of-the-art health care coverage is a major story that the LJS’s Kevin Abourezk’s recent article did not do justice to or cover correctly. I rarely – if ever –  criticize fellow journalists for failing to grasp the lede but in this case, it’s so painfully obvious that the “real” story is being buried.

 

It is unlawful to put non-eligible people/friends/relatives on insurance policies that declare in writing these “folks” (whoever they are) are ineligible; perhaps, 8 or 10 or 30 ineligible faux NU employees could be understood but 421 is flat-out evidence of widespread, systemic abuse. More importantly, the subject of health care currently is one of the country’s most incendiary topics, right behind the state of the economy.

And this NU-perpetrated insurance fraud comes after reports a couple of years ago that NU employees – with NU President Milliken in charge –  were engaging in widespread abuse and misuse of state-issued credit cards. Perhaps, President Milliken should spend less time in Paris, France and more in Lincoln monitoring his employees who – it appears – that when the Top Cat is away, they “play” by putting their non-eligible friends and relatives on the NU health care rolls.

This also follows the nefarious NU/NELNET “Partnership” which happened shortly after President Milliken was selected to run NU; wherein, the NU Foundation received between $22-30 million dollars worth of U.S. Department of Education taxpayer subsidies that were meant to go to America’s hard-working students and their families who’ve been saddled with life-altering, predatory student loan debt thanks to NU and the Lincoln-based predatory student loan company, NELNET.

This story should have been front-page news and one of the LJS’s five rotating “headline” stories, at the very least. Nebraskans need to know how long this went on; how many employees the 421 number includes; how much money did the Nebraska taxpayer fork over for this abuse; how many “procedures” were wrongly covered; whether NU’s year-long delay in providing the information allowed them to “fix” the numbers [see UNO] (who’s to know whether the number was far higher at the outset of the Auditor’s investigation); whether this abuse was perpetrated by Chancellors/Vice-Chancellors/Deans or Provosts, Professors, or lower level NU employees.

These are just a few of the legitimate questions that inquiring minds not just want to know but actually have a right to know.

In the old days, I know a “firewall” existed between the publisher and the news/ed side of a newsroom; I also understand that these days that firewall has pretty much been extinguished and that the Lincoln Journal Star now has a policy to, in effect, “leave NU alone.”

But come on. Doesn’t what happened at Penn State prove that simply allowing Academia to “do their thing”  – in the hopes that they will live up to the lofty inscriptions on their ivy-covered walls – is, in fact, a recipe for self-induced Ivory Tower disasters?

What is it going to take for the LJS to understand just how sad it is that the words “college” and “corruption” no longer are oxymoronic at all. (See NU & NELNET)

For the record, I support the concept of “Booster Journalism,” however, the LJS must continue to balance their cheerleading coverage with hard news and investigative pieces.

Like Ohio State and Penn State, for decades NU has been operating without meaningful review and serious scrutiny; repeatedly, the Record across the country at federal/Morrill Land Grant Act Universities reveals that tenure ends up shielding not just unethical behavior but unlawful behavior. This must end.

The Nebraska public deserves bona fide journalism.

State-supported public universities –  that have secretly been privatized without public input  – need to be reined in. The days of “Give us your money, and leave us alone to do as we please” are over, my Friends. (a quote from one of America’s leading college critics.)

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