Until Thursday of last week I did not know what to think about acting University of Iowa President Jean Robillard. Was he a kindly old doctor manipulated by ruthless Regents President Bruce Rastetter, or a co-conspirator in the fraudulent selection and election of J. Bruce Harreld to be the next president of the University of Iowa? Unfortunately, based on Robillard’s comments on that day the answer seems to be co-conspirator, if not worse.
Predictably, Robillard, Rastetter, Governor Terry Branstad and Harreld himself are doing their best to move on, hoping that the facts of the fraud they perpetrated on the university and the people of Iowa will simply be forgotten. That’s the way corrupt bureaucrats roll, and unless a smoking gun turns up they often get away with their abuses. If there’s no pool of blood, no open wound, no sign of a struggle, then almost any crime can be called progress, while those who cry foul are dismissed as settling for the status quo, being afraid of change, or choosing to fail.
Oddly enough, however, as you’ve probably noticed in your own life, one of the things that bureaucrats are extremely good at is avoiding accountability. I’m not sure if that’s an innate capacity that leads some people to become bureaucrats, or if it’s a skill that’s learned on the job, but if you don’t have that ability you usually end up in another line of work, while the people who cost you your job gets promoted. If you end up in conflict with a bureaucrat you may think you have them dead to rights, but no matter what you do they dodge this way and that until you falter in the courage of your convictions, and then you’re finished. Combine a dodgy disposition with even a moderately complex bureaucracy and it may actually be impossible to figure out who did what, let alone pin anything on anyone.
Fortunately, although the people who hijacked the office of president at the University of Iowa are certainly very dodgy, they’re not lost in the bowels of a massive corporation like GM, Toyota or VW. No. Instead, they’re standing right out in the open on the autumnal grasslands of Iowa, where there’s nowhere to hide, except perhaps in the wintry blades of the governor’s mustache. [ Read more ]