Public Accountabillity Initiative Corrects UB President's Report
by Buck Quigley
The watchdog group Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) has sent a letter and report to the chairman of the State University of New York (SUNY) Trustees, H. Carl McCall, calling attention to “a number of important omissions and obfuscations in the September 27, 2012 review of the University at Buffalo’s Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) signed off on by [UB] President Satish Tripathi.”
“UB administrators have not been transparent with the public or with the UB community throughout this ordeal, and now they are not being transparent with SUNY trustees,” said PAI director Kevin Connor. “Their obstructionism is only fueling public distrust of the university and concern that it has been corrupted by its ties to the gas industry.”
Offering a number of documents that were not included in Tripathi’s report to the SUNY Trustees, including documents obtained through Freedom of Information Law requests filed by Artvoice and others, the new PAI report entitled “Investigation Obstructed,” draws attention to various omissions and obfuscations surrounding the founding and funding of SRSI. It also attacks the stubborn refusal of the UB administration to acknowledge errors of basic arithmetic that fatally flaw SRSI’s first publication, which PAI discovered shortly after that report’s release. PAI’s criticism quickly gained national attention and cast UB and SRSI in a harsh light.
PAI’s report to the trustees offers 10 questions raised by their independent investigation:
1. Why were documents responsive to Buck Quigley’s and John Lipsitz’s FOIL requests that were pertinent to the trustees’ questions about SRSI not included in President Tripathi’s September 27, 2012 report?
2. What other documents relevant to SRSI’s formation, staffing, and funding were omitted from President Tripathi’s September 27, 2012 report and from the responses to Buck Quigley’s and John Lipsitz’s FOIL requests?
3. Why was the Public Accountability Initiative report “The UB Shale Play”, the report that first raised questions about SRSI, not included in President Tripathi’s September 27, 2012 report?
4. Why were corporate funding pitches for SRSI not included in President Tripathi’s
September 27, 2012 report?
5. How did Timothy Considine, Robert Watson, and Nicholas Considine come to author the May 15, 2012 SRSI report?
6. Did Dr. Considine and Dr. Watson’s previous work under the Pennsylvania State
University aegis (or the university’s retraction of their 2009 paper “An Emerging Giant: Prospects and Economic Impacts of Developing the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play”) figure into the discussion about tapping them to write a report for SRSI?
7. Did Dr. Considine, Dr. Watson, and Mr. Considine’s previous work for the Manhattan Institute, “The Economic Opportunities of Shale Gas Energy Development,” figure into the discussion about tapping them to write a report for SRSI?
8. Why have neither the university administration nor the report authors addressed the fact that the May 15, 2012 SRSI report reaches a conclusion that is demonstrably false given the researchers’ data and methodology?
9. Why have neither the university administration nor the report authors addressed the fact that several paragraphs of the May 15, 2012 SRSI report are identical to paragraphs in the Manhattan Institute report, “The Economic Opportunities of Shale Gas Development,” published a year earlier?
10. Why was the gas industry funding for the Marcellus Shale Lecture Series not disclosed until September 21, 2012, more than a year after the lecture series concluded?
PAI sums up its new report with still another question to the Trustees: “Will SUNY join UB in its defense of SRSI or will it take corrective action and demonstrate leadership in restoring public trust in UB —and public research universities more generally?”blog comments powered by Disqus
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