Monday, July 21st, 2014
By Franklin Center Staff
Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Friday, June 13th, 2014
About the Franklin Center
Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity strives to promote the education of the public about waste, corruption, incompetence, fraud and taxpayer abuse by public officials at all levels of government. With transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility as its watchwords, the Franklin Center identifies, trains, and supports investigative journalists working to detect and expose corruption and incompetence in government at the state and local levels. For more information on the Franklin Center please visit www.FranklinCenterHQ.org or our news site, Watchdog.org.
The Franklin Center is seeking a highly motivated writer to join the Communications Team. Applicants should have experience writing in the op-ed format and feel comfortable writing argumentatively on a variety of policy matters, including energy, education, technology, healthcare, and civil liberties. He or she should have superior organization and focus on detail, the ability to manage multiple projects at once, and the desire to take ownership of projects and see them through to the finish.
The ideal candidate will be able to quickly dissect and understand policy, craft a unique, nuanced perspective consistent with the free-market ideology, and write columns of 500-700 words that are compelling and well-reasoned. Strong editing skills and the ability to perform on deadline are a must. Past political writing experience is required; 2-3 years of writing experience is preferred.
Responsibilities and Tasks Include:
- Monitor the news and propose op-ed ideas to the Director of Public Affairs
- Conduct research and write columns on deadline
- Manage long-term strategic issue advocacy projects
- Coordinate with senior executives on op-ed projects
- Assist in writing press releases and other public communications
- Prepare executives for media appearances by writing issue briefings
- Edit columns for content, style, and accuracy
To apply, please send a resume to Michael.Moroney@franklincenterhq.org
Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Do you love writing? Are you passionate about working with grassroots activists and making a difference in Texas? Would you like to help the Watchdog Wire team recruit and mentor new citizen journalists in the Lone Star State–all while working from home?
If you answered yes, you should consider applying to be a State Editor for Watchdog Wire Texas. This is a part-time, paid position, perfect for anyone who is highly motivated, willing to work a couple of hours each day, and looking to make money for doing something they enjoy!
Here’s how the job works:
- The editor is responsible for populating Watchdog Wire Texas with content, from citizen contributors and credible blogs and news sources. These stories should be relevant to citizens throughout Texas and within the scope of Watchdog Wire’s mission.
- The editor will review, edit, and publish contributions from citizen contributors, ensure that all material follows the Watchdog Wire Style Guide and policy guidelines, reach out to contributors who need coaching, and contribute at least 1-2 stories of his or her own each week.
- The editor will also be responsible for communicating with contributors on a regular basis with story ideas and other information.
Applicants should have strong copy-editing and writing skills, a proficiency in sound journalism and media practices, as well as a keen sense of newsworthiness. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are needed to effectively recruit local bloggers as contributors to Watchdog Wire and mentor contributors with their writing.
It is preferred that the editor is native to Texas or has strong personal and professional connections to the region. Applicants should have a knowledge and passion for the economic and policy issues affecting the state. Editors will be temporarily contracted to dedicate 1.5-2 hours a day to this role and will receive a stipend for their efforts on a month-to-month contract basis.
Watchdog Wire will also consider a co-editor partnership with two individuals who would like to work together in this pursuit.
If interested, please send your resume and writing samples to Jackie.Moreau@franklincenterhq.org.
Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Paul Alfonse is the Outreach Coordinator for the Franklin Center. He joined the Franklin Center as an intern in the winter of 2014. Paul graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a B.A. in political science and a minor in history. He is currently enrolled in the Koch Associate Program. A native of central New Jersey, Paul now lives in Washington, DC.
By Andrew Collins
Thursday, June 12th, 2014
How can we change the conversation and make our ideas work? Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be speaking LIVE from New York on Monday, June 16th at 6PM ET! He’ll show how conservative states have the solutions to liberal states’ woes. We’ll also hear Rep. Darrell Issa’s take on the latest from Capitol Hill, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn will talk about the Bergdahl swap and how it relates to Gitmo.
Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, Wall Street Journal editorial board member James Taranto, and New York Times Magazine political correspondent Jim Rutenberg will moderate the discussion. Don’t miss it this Monday, June 16th, at 6PM ET! This is a great opportunity to hear from top conservative leaders and thinkers!
Monday, June 9th, 2014
Guadagno’s Pension Maneuver in Sheriff’s Office Questioned
Judges’ release of documents in Guadagno case raises questions about legitimacy of Christie administration investigations.
At the same time as Gov. Chris Christie has been calling for pension reform, his Lt. Governor, Kim Guadagno,has been fighting allegations that she improperly manipulated job titles while serving as Monmouth County sheriff. Her alleged goal was to enable a top deputy to keep collecting an $85,000 pension along with his $87,500 salary. Critics also say that Christie’s Attorney General’s Office and Treasury Department failed to properly investigate the charges
Four years after New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Anthony F. Wieners Jr. filed the first formal complaint calling for an investigation, two state judges last month ordered the release of internal Christie administration documents that not only bolstered the allegations against Guadagno, but raised questions about whether law enforcement or Treasury officials ever interviewed Guadagno about the case.
“The documents show Guadagno made false and misleading statements to enable Michael Donovan to continue collecting pension checks that should have stopped, and that she helped him circumvent the rules by playing around with job titles,” said Mark Lagerkvist, investigative editor for New Jersey Watchdog, who sued for. “Based on the information released, there is a real question whether the Division of Criminal Justice did the legitimate investigation that the PFRS (Police and Firemen’s Retirement System) Board asked it to do.” The release of documents in the Guadagno-Donovan case brings renewed scrutiny to the abuse of the pension system by “double-dippers” who are able to collect both salaries and pensions by exploiting loopholes in New Jersey’s pension system, whose seemingly byzantine rules, labyrinth of job titles, and exemptions for non-career positions are grist for the politically connected. Christie’s ally, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, became a poster boy for the system’s excesses when it was revealed that he was drawing a $158,831 salary while simultaneously from the same job.
Friday, June 6th, 2014
Last month, the University of Texas System published a report that I believe lays out evidence of admissions favoritism at its flagship campus. In a Viewpoints column published Monday, Charles Matthews argued that “critics” should be satisfied by a phrase in that report asserting that there was no “evidence of a systematic, structured or centralized” system of fraud. In his view, anyone writing about factual evidence to the contrary is perpetuating “innuendo” and “half-truths.”
Here is what I’ve found, between my own reporting and the official report:
Under President Bill Powers, the University of Texas has admitted at least 18 unqualified students into its prestigious law school. These students’ scores on the Law School Admission Test would make them long shots at the worst law schools in the country.
UT typically demands scores in the 160s or better, yet these 18 students got 140s, a 138, a 137, a 136, even a 128. You could fill in bubbles at random and do better than a 128.
Now consider the University of La Verne College of Law in California, which had the worst peer reputation of any law school on the 2013 U.S. News survey. Three-quarters of its students got a 150 or better on the LSAT, which is scored on a 120-180 range.
By Andrew Collins
Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
This week the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled an ambitious proposal for states to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Supporters claim the plan finds a healthy balance between what environmentalists want – major reductions in CO2 output – and what utility providers want – flexibility to innovate and tailor reductions based on their individual state.
But what are the implications for the nation’s millions of taxpayers and local businesses as a whole? Watchdog.org reporters have been working hard this week to bring us all sides of the story.
Check out what they’ve found:
In North Dakota, the heart of a booming oil industry, Rob Port found that the EPA’s argument to drastically cut back emissions for the sake of our health doesn’t match the facts on the ground.
“Fossil fuel energy development seems to have had little impact on air quality,” he writes. “According to the American Lung Association’s 2014 State of the Air report, the state gets a top grade for air quality specifically in counties with intense fossil fuel energy development.”
Watchdog.org reporter Eric Boehm showed us an excellent example of the current cost of environmental regulation - a coal power plant in a small Missouri town that closed last year. The cost associated with updating the older facility to meet future regulations on emissions from coal power plants was the “major factor” behind the closure, said the company that owned the plant.
Missouri gets most of its power from coal, so the EPA’s proposed rule could be especially damaging to the state’s energy jobs and local ratepayers.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Reporter journalists M.D. Kittle and Ryan Ekvall gave us a flyover view of the impact that these proposed rules could have in Wisconsin. Business advocates there are warning that their state’s manufacturing industry could take an especially hard hit thanks to the EPA.
In other words, with an economy that retracted last quarter, mixing in new rules to cut back on CO2 emissions is a recipe for disaster.
And the list goes on. North Dakota leaders say the “potential impact could be catastrophic.”
Nebraska utilities are some of the lowest in the nation thanks to coal-fired plants, but that could soon change, reports Deena Winter.
Rural ratepayers in Minnesota may be especially vulnerable to new costs from the regulations because “none of the scenarios are good,” reports Tom Seward.
Southwestern Virginia is likewise facing “devastating consequences” should the cut to carbon emissions go into effect, writes Kathryn Watson.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett came out with his own statement about reductions, reported Andrew Staub. He wasn’t talking about the pollutants blamed for global warming, however, but impending reductions in employment.
Across the rest of the nation, industry groups are already gearing up for lawsuits, which will likely leave the Supreme Court with the final say in a process that could drag on for some time.
Find more stories at Watchdog.org about what the government is up to in your state!
Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
By Mary Ellen Beatty
A giant asteroid threatening Earth made headlines and news feeds last week. But no one was more appalled than the news outlet responsible for the false report ― CNN.
More specifically, the article was published on CNN’s iReport, which allows citizens to participate in the reporting process and help define the news by submitting news tips, stories, and photos. This is a noble cause for sure ― and one I fully support as director of the citizen journalism branch of the Franklin Center.
But iReport articles are “not edited, fact checked or screened” by CNN staff. They use the articles to get a pulse on public interest and only reprint the cream of the crop content for their more traditional news sites.
This arrangement, while appearing to empower readers, does a disservice to ambitious citizen journalists who are doing real reporting work in their communities. CNN isn’t responsible for anything published by citizens (including giant asteroids), but can take the credit when it’s convenient. That seems a bit one-sided from where I sit.
Let me bring us back down to Earth. If CNN iReport really wants to engage citizen writers (or benefit from their work), they should offer feedback and guidance on citizens’ submissions. A little education and training goes a long way.
CNN staff writers didn’t become reporters in one news cycle, and neither will citizens. They require fact checking and editing just like any journalist in a traditional newsroom. Urging citizens to post without giving them proper support is irresponsible– and it’s not a successful journalism model.
The reporting process works best when citizens and reporters work together. Smart citizens who are invested in their communities have great perspective and insight on local issues. But local reporters will never tap into this source if they are busy judging citizens’ grammar and etiquette. Similarly, citizens will never overcome asteroid-sized mistakes if they don’t embrace the expertise of seasoned sleuths.
CNN’s iReport is a good first step at welcoming citizens into the news process. But more needs to be done to show a symbiotic partnership rather than an opportunistic venture.