(photo courtesy of Pal-Item)
Muncie, Indiana BLOG – As we mentioned in our previous article, a former Gannett journalist for the IndyStar newspaper slammed the paper for their lack of moral compass – choosing profits over their employees and choosing corporate CEO’s bonus plans over serving the constituents in their market. Yes, the role of the paper isn’t to hold your coupons – it’s to hold the powerful in government accountable. Allowing paid shills to write letters in your newspaper should come with a disclaimer about their conflict of interest, so readers/constituents fully understand who’s paying for the article and who benefits. It’s so bad in Indiana newspapers, we’re considering a new column called, “Know Thy Shill”.
We recently got a tip from a fan of Muncie Voice who read a story in the Gannett owned newspaper in Richmond, the Pal-Item newspaper, from the Koch brothers favorite Indiana economist, Cecil Bohanon. Cecil was apologizing, or justifying, for the excessive $2.1 billion surplus accumulated by Governor Pence. Conservatives equate a surplus with sound financial management even though governments not investing in our infrastructure and collective public services has a tremendous price for residents. However, our paid shill/economist isn’t quantifying the costs. You would think a public employee protected by academic freedom would have the courage to hold our governor accountable.
Instead, he’s a shill for hire, but the newspaper doesn’t mention it.
What’s sad is Cecil is a public employee – a professor at Ball State University, but he can’t understand why Hoosiers would want the Department of Children Services properly funded or potholes filled in our roads. He wants us to “save the money” for when we might need it at some point in the future. His expert opinion comes from the savings and loan industry. Why would anybody use an opinion coming from the failed 1970’s S&L industry?
Cecil writes, “In the old days, Savings and Loans encouraged their customers to have six month spending as a prudent reserve. If the state government were to follow that advice Indiana’s reserves would be three and a half times larger.”
What’s that professor?
Cecil goes on to write:
Sure it’s good to reduce child-service caseloads and fill in additional potholes in the second half of 2015. But is it better to give up benefits today to ensure that if there is a major downturn in 2017 child-service caseloads won’t go to 80 per worker, or that the worst monster potholes don’t get filled?
Based on his many writings for the Indiana Policy Review, we assume Cecil is a budget expert. Feel free to look up his vita on this Ball State University website. It should be noted, Ball State doesn’t reveal that Cecil receives a stipend from the Koch brothers – the Koch’s give millions to college campuses around the country with strings attached. In Muncie, Cecil is one of those strings, or shills.
Sourcewatch has a page for IPR mentioning Governor Mike Pence, Andrea Neal and Cecil Bohanon – it’s understandable why Cecil is apologizing for Mike:
In a speech to the Heritage Foundation in 2008, then-Representative Pence said, “I was part of, what we called the seed corn Heritage Foundation was spreading around the country in the state think tank movement. We actually called our little foundation in Indiana the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, very much as a homage to Policy Review Magazine of Heritage, and we modeled on the state level what Heritage had done before.”
A small organization financially, IPR paid its executive director $100,471 of its $136,520 total revenue in 2011, while apparently no one else at the organization was paid that year. Its two “adjunct scholars,” Andrea Neal and Cecil Bohanon, therefore make their income elsewhere: Neal was appointed by Governor Pence to the Indiana Board of Education in 2013, and Cecil Bohanon is a Koch-funded professor of economics at Ball State University.
IPR is part of the State Policy Network which is the propaganda arm of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – a “bill mill” which matches up corporate CEO’s with state lawmakers so they can wine and dine together, and leave with bills the corporation would like to see pass. All for a reasonable donation, of course.
None of the journalists at Gannett show these conflicts and apparently the editor is too busying cutting staff to screen their writers for conflicts. However, I expect they all know the conflicts, and just don’t care. Don’t you think he should disclose his conflict of interest? Don’t you think Gannett should disclose his conflict of interest to readers, so we know who is paying for his opinion?
In this article, Cecil displays his Libertarian dry sense of humor – poking fun at the Department of Children Services (DCS). There is a real DCS caseworkers lawsuit by one of its caseworkers for exceeding the state statute of cases per worker. While Cecil quibbles over the number of cases a case worker should have, he glosses over the negative impact the case overload has on both the state employee, the children involved, the parents, the local police, judicial system and the mental health facilities who end up getting the abused children. Not to mention the increase in services going to high cost facilities like the Youth Opportunity Center (YOC) when the abused kids begin acting out in regular schools, etc.
As an economist employed by taxpayers, it would be nice if Cecil would use his taxpayer-funded salary to compute the total projected costs of under-funding social agencies like the DCS. We’d all like to know what the economic impact is so we can make wise choices at the polls, and feel good about how our tax dollars were being used at Ball State. Apparently, billionaires can buy their very own shill at Ball State and use our tax dollars to subsidize their investment.
Instead, we get a Koch brother shill who supports ALEC and Mike Pence’s strategy of starving social services and neutering environmental and public health agencies in our state. For some odd reason, the gravy train continues flowing to Ball State University. Is it because they support our Republican Party which dominates the offices in Indiana? We know the Mitch Daniels connection to the campus and their role in privatizing public schools via charters.
Luckily us taxpayers have the ACLU lawyer who had this to say about the DCS lawsuit:
“It’s not enough to simply pass laws that say we’ll do the right thing,” Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana, said in a written statement. “The purpose of caseload limits is the safety and welfare of vulnerable children. We expect government to meet the letter and the spirit of the law, providing children with the protections they deserve.”
If you want to know just how bad things are for kids in Indiana, ask one of our police officers how hard it is to investigate and remove a child from a home of abusers. Also, our Gannett owned rag loves printing stories about the criminals who finally do get convicted. By that time, the damage has already been done to the kids.
Instead of looking into the total economic costs of underfunding DCS, Cecil uses his pen, to support Governor Pence’s failed policies. It’s rather sad to think that Cecil receives a large percentage of his income from us taxpayers to write letters supporting public policies violating our state constitution. And, he enjoys academic protections to freely express his knowledge – what a waste.
When Cecil Bohanon writes a letter, just know where it comes from and who’s paying for his opinion. Also, pay attention to who is publishing the letters written by these shills without disclosing their obvious conflict of interest.