Thursday, May 23, 2013

Senwate Aide Michael Piwowar Is Nominated to SEC by Obama

Michael Piwowar, the chief Republican economist for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, was nominated to the Securities and Exchange Commission by President Barack Obama.

His term would expire in 2018, Obama said today in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Reichl in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rutgers' two athletic director finalists each have one past issue to explain

Regardless of whether Rutgers introduces Sean Frazier or Julie Hermann as its next athletic director later this week – which the school appears bent on doing – the person who replaces Tim Pernetti likely faces further scrutiny for one red flag in his or her past.

Rutgers, which has accelerated the search for a new athletic director, has seen the original group of three finalists reduced to two after Fresno State athletic director Thomas Boeh withdrew from consideration Sunday night.

Barring an unforeseen changes, that leaves a bright light focused squarely on the professional histories of Frazier and Hermann -- particularly after it was revealed on Friday that new basketball coach Eddie Jordan never graduated from Rutgers even though he had been listed in official school releases and a bio on the Scarlet Knights' athletics website as having done so.

In the case of Hermann, the senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator at the University of Louisville, a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed against the University of Tennessee when she was the head volleyball coach there is something Rutgers officials would have to reconcile if she is hired.

Assistant volleyball coach Ginger Hineline won her $150,000 suit against the school in 1997.

According to the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel’s reporting on the suit, Hineline said she asked Hermann if she would lose her job if she became pregnant and that Hermann responded by saying “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“Julie and I had various conversations that discouraged me from becoming pregnant,” the paper quoted Hineline as saying.

For Frazier, the deputy athletic director at Wisconsin (making him the No. 2 athletic administrator at the school), there remains the issue of how much he knew about a 2012 Rose Bowl party in which there were allegations of sexual assault against athletic department administrator John Chadina, who allegedly made unwanted sexual advances to a student employee of the athletic department, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Neither athletic director Barry Alvarez nor Frazier attended the party, which had been a yearly bowl staple for the school. It prompted an internal investigation by the school, with the paper reporting that “issues about athletic department-sponsored underage drinking, a lack of oversight by athletic department officials and how long this behavior has been going on remain.”

Frazier was never linked to any of the wrongdoing, but he and Alvarez are ultimately responsible for the behavior of athletic department administrators.

Hermann may also have to explain why she is suddenly interested in becoming an athletic director for the first time after telling The Chronicle of Higher Education, in a 2011 story about female college administrators, that she enjoyed her role as “silent partner” to athletic director Tom Jurich.

The article said Hermann “relishes the responsibilities she has as the Cardinals’ No. 2.” She is in her 16th year at the school.

“I’ve never thrown my hat in the ring (to be an athletic director),” Hermann was quoted as saying. “I’m not interested in being a candidate.”

Now she is a finalist to assume command of athletic department awash in turmoil and red ink.

Hermann does supervise 20 of Louisville's 23 sports and oversees the school's marketing efforts and fundraising -- the latter two being essential as Rutgers prepares to join the Big Ten in 2014.

Frazier, who came to Wisconsin in 2007, has experience as an athletic director at Manhattanville College, Clarkson and Merrimack. He also deals with football, something Hermann would have to add to her responsibilities if she is hired by Rutgers.

Though Alvarez is listed as Wisconsin's athletic director, Frazier is largely responsible for the daily operation of the department.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Former Queensland Health Director General Michael Read claims senior bureaucrats said payroll system would work

THE man in charge of Queensland Health when the payroll system imploded says he was re-assured by his senior bureaucrats the system would work, an inquiry has been told.

Former Queensland Health Director General, Michael Read, took the stand at the Queensland Payroll Inquiry on Tuesday.

He told Counsel Assisting Peter Flanagan, SC, that he was told by Michael Kalimnios, the former deputy director
general of corporate services at Queensland Health, that glitches arising before the system went live in March of 2010 would be fixed.

Ms Kalimnios, who was dismissed from his job following the payroll debacle, is one of the few senior bureaucrats to accept any responsibility for the debacle.

Mr Read said Mr Kalimnios kept him briefed of difficulties implementing the system but did not ask him to take further action.

"I cannot recall him asking to take any other action other than what I did,'' Mr Read said.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.

End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

"Progressively the problems were being dealt with.

"And that was right up to 'go-live'."

The inquiry before Richard Chesterman, QC, is examining all facets of the payroll contract which was part of a vast
outsourcing program won by IBM in 2007.

After under-paying and over-paying thousands of Queensland Health employees since implementation in 2010, the collapsed payroll system continues to be a drain on state finances and is predicted to cost the taxpayer $1.2 billion.

Mr Read told the inquiry on Tuesday he did not attend one meeting with IBM in 2009 over concerns with implementation of the new system because he did not think his presence was required.

Mr Flanagan said as a customer of IBM, Mr Read had every right to attend the meeting and suggested that, because of the problems being experienced, Mr Read had a duty to attend.

"That is the very occasion when a director general should involve himself,'' Mr Flanagan suggested.

Mr Read said the meeting was attended by former director of public works Mal Grierson, which was appropriate given the payroll contract was between IBM and the government in-house IT outfit CorpTech.

Mr Read said he believed he had broad responsibilities in relation to the contract but did not believe he was required to manage the issue in such a direct fashion.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

McIlroy uses Texas Open to get 'sharp' for Augusta

Rory McIlroy's last-minute, last-ditch effort to right his game in time for the Masters next week has taken a trip to a usually out-of-the-way spot on the PGA Tour.

McIlroy and three other highly-ranked players in the Official World Golf Rankings start play in the Valero Texas Open on Thursday at TPC San Antonio.

"It obviously was a last-minute decision to come and play here in San Antonio," McIlroy said after his pro-am round Wednesday was washed out by rainstorms on his 13th hole. "But from what I see I like it. It should be a good week, a week where I can try to get my game sharp going to Augusta."

Big-name players don't often seek the Greg Norman-designed Oaks Course at TPC to sharpen their games.

Last year only two members of golf's top 50 (no one in the top 15) played on a course that ended with the highest overall scoring average on tour except the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. In addition to McIlroy, top-15 ranked players Matt Kuchar (ninth), Ian Poulter (12th) and Charl Schwartzel (15th) are teeing it up. Ben Curtis, 2003 British Open winner, is defending champ.

Yet McIlroy's play since he won the PGA Championship by a record eight-shot margin in August has dropped him a spot, from No. 1 to 2, while Tiger Woods went back to the top after three wins.

McIlroy started the year swinging the same brand of clubs as Woods, but not the same game. He missed a cut at Abu Dhabi, walked off the course as defending champ at Honda and got beat in opening-round play at the World Match Play in Arizona.

"I don't care if I miss 10 cuts in a row -- if I win a major," McIlroy said. "I don't care. I mean, that's what it's all about, winning the big tournaments."

McIlroy comes to San Antonio for the first time, and he's off his second made cut of the year, a 45th-place finish at the Shell Houston Open. Though notables like Woods and Phil Mickelson aren't attracted to the TPC course as Masters preparation, other players who have come here share McIlroy's view of getting in one more competitive event and dismiss his recent skid.

"All Rory has to worry about is peaking the right weeks," said Padraig Harrington, also in the Texas field. "His game is plenty good enough that when he does peak, he can lap fields."

In addition to the hardscrabble layout Norman crafted in the beginnings of the Texas Hill Country, the weather plays havoc on the event. Last year, Matt Every shot an opening-round 63, a course record, in rather benign conditions. The next day he teed it up with a wind that suddenly howled at 30 mph in places and he shot 74.

Winds could reach 25 mph during Thursday's opening round.

McIlroy got in a full practice round on Tuesday before getting washed out on the back nine Wednesday.

Though Mickelson was critical of the tour last week for stopping at the TPC course the week before The Masters, Poulter recently decided it was a good move for him to play.

"Phil's mentioned that it's the wrong thing for him to do, to come to a course like this to play golf, but I disagree," Poulter said. "I'm happy to stand on that tee next Thursday (at Augusta National), and I've got to hit it 10 yards left of that bunker, I'm fine with that. I can pick up on that pretty quick."

The TPC course had four greens altered and two fairways widened before this year's event. Yet some places remain unchanged, like the tree-choked right side of the par-4 9th where Kevin Na drove his tee shot two years ago and finally emerged with a score of 16. He's not here this year.

"And you don't want to hit it in the greenside bunkers here because you're unlikely to get a decent stance and lie," Harrington said. "That's very unpopular among us professional golfers because we like to have nice lies and we like to have everything perfect."

Maybe it's not perfect. But it will have to do for players running out of time to hone their games — like McIlroy — with a green jacket waiting in Georgia.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Obama to tap Perez to head Labor Department Aamer Madhani11:29p.m. EDT March 17, 2013

President Obama will name the Justice Department's top civil rights enforcer Thomas Perez to be his next Labor secretary, according to a White House official.

Obama will make the formal announcement on Monday, according to the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been officially made.

Perez has a long career in public service. Before he was appointed to run the civil rights division at Justice in October 2009, Perez was chosen by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to head the state's Department of Labor. He also served on the Montgomery County, Md., Council, and spent nearly 12 years in federal government. Most of that time was spent as an attorney in the civil rights division.

Obama is expected to trumpet that under Perez, the civil rights division settled the three largest fair lending cases for unfair mortgage lending practices and substantially increased enforcement of human trafficking laws.

But his nomination, which requires Senate confirmation, is expected to face tough scrutiny from Republicans following a Justice Department Inspector General report released last week that was sharply critical of Perez.

The report determined that Perez gave incomplete testimony to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2010 when he testified Justice's political leadership was not involved in the decision to dismiss three of the four defendants in a lawsuit the George W. Bush administration brought against the New Black Panther Party,

"We found that Perez's testimony did not reflect the entire story regarding the involvement of political appointees," the report said. "We did not find that Perez intentionally misled the commission. Nevertheless, given he was testifying as a department witness before the commission, we believe that Perez should have sought more details."

Following the release of the report last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was sharply critical of Perez.

"The Attorney General should demand unbiased advice from department attorneys and the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division, Tom Perez, who appears to also have been woefully unprepared to answer questions in front of the Civil Rights Commission on a subject matter he told the Inspector General he expected questions on," Grassley said in a statement.

A few of Obama's second-term Cabinet and agency appointees have already faced tough confirmations. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's nomination was grilled about past comments he made about Israel, and CIA Director John Brennan's confirmation was slowed over questions about the agency's drone program.

United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who Obama was considering to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department, removed herself from consideration after facing blistering criticism from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

The senators blasted Rice for inaccurate comments she made in the days after the Sep. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

If confirmed, Perez, 51, will replace Hilda Solis who announced her resignation from the post in January.

The pick could also ease pressure on Obama from Hispanic groups who have been urging the president to appoint a Latino to a Cabinet level position after the departures of Solis and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who also recently announced he was stepping down.

Perez is a Harvard educated lawyer and the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. His father died when he was 12.

"Thomas Perez is an eminently qualified public servant who has the professional experience and compelling personal story to serve at the highest levels of the administration," said Janet MurguĂ­a, president of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group. "Mr. Perez's impeccable legal background in civil rights issues, particularly workers' rights, as well as his decades of service as an elected and appointed official make him uniquely prepared to address the policy complexities and management responsibilities at the Department of Labor."