But What about Your Fiduciary Duty?
When Ron was a Nevada higher education regent, his board met one time at Lake Tahoe for a retreat. An interesting development there yielded an important insight.
Public bodies occasionally hold such events, in which there are no business items on the agenda. They do so to build relationships among board members, staff and some stakeholders, in this case faculty and staff in universities and colleges. Usually, they’re held in bucolic or otherwise pleasant settings to promote congeniality.
It all sounds very good: building bridges, esprit, morale, understanding – even solidarity. Folks can share insight, air differences and come to see each other’s viewpoint in comfortable informal non-threatening give-and-take sessions. Without any formal business to consider, they don’t have to keep minutes, record votes, etc. and can thus talk with candor, not restraint.
Some sessions are led by a “facilitator”, generally a leader in the field from another town or state. Typically, they are provided by a professional association and trained in leading such groups. Facilitators reflect the orthodox viewpoints of the association that provides them and thus of the stakeholders the associations represent.
One Lake Tahoe session was led by a former state college president, a woman who had a long career in higher education, especially in administration. The key moment came in a discussion when she suggested that regents (and other officials on governing boards) have a duty to line up behind a board decision once a vote is taken and not continue to press their dissenting views when they lose a vote. Once a policy or other decision is determined, she said, everyone should get on board and sell it to the public.
Ron disagreed. He noted he had made rigorous arguments against the funding formula the board had adopted that was illogical and unfair to community colleges. Because most regents were advocates for the two universities, no one had even tried to answer his arguments on the merits. They had no answers for the correct points he raised. Instead, they used the brute force of a self-interested majority to adopt the flawed formula.
Ron said he would have no integrity in arguing for what had become the company line when he had made compelling arguments against it that had gone unanswered. So, he would continue to make his points not because he represented a district with a community college, but because the position was right and in the broad public interest.
Ultimately, the exasperated facilitator shrieked, “But what about your fiduciary duty?” It was a tyranny-of-words gambit intended to make the dissenter meekly shut up. And the chancellor said it was time to move the discussion to the next topic.
Ironically, the facilitator had asked exactly the right question, but Ron didn’t get to explain why her implication was wrong. The ultimate issue was, indeed, an official’s fiduciary duty. But the key question was: To whom is the fiduciary duty owed? Many stakeholders – i.e., special interests – want public officials to represent them and advocate their interests.
In their view, regents should carry the water for faculty, staff and students. For K-12 and many other matters, this degenerates to: “Do it for the children!!” Which really means for the adults.
But however sweet that proposition might sound to so-called stakeholders, regents are the governing board of higher education, not advocates for those special interests. Regents (and other public officials) are elected by voters to represent the people and the broad public interest, so their fiduciary duty is owed to the voters, taxpayers (who pay the bill) and public interest.
Decades ago, the term “stakeholders” was invented as part of public choice theory to explain interest groups in politics and forces to which decision-makers respond. Over time, special-interest advocates argued for selfish reasons that stakeholders should be treated on a par with the people, voters, taxpayers and broad public interest.
That is the ultimate corruption of politics and governance because it’s how special interests prey upon the broad public interest. And it is the bastardization of sound theory.
All bodies, public and private, are vulnerable to such go-along-to-get-along non-logic, and many fall for it, especially in education, legislatures and big business. That’s the problem, not the solution.
Ron Knecht is Nevada Controller. James Smack is Deputy Controller.
American politics is a circus. We're still 2 and a half years out from the 2020 general election, but LP Nevada brings you the early scoop on the 2020 Libertarian presidential candidates.
The huge difference between Candidate Trump’s campaign promises and President Trump’s executive actions will be a blessing for America’s third largest political party. Libertarians, Democrats, countless independents, and a numberless minority of Never Trump Republicans already can’t wait to replace the President and his Cabinet of Breitbart correspondents. As of March 2018, these are the likely contenders for the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President in 2020.Read more
John Calvin Coolidge Jr., our 30th President, 1923-1929, was perhaps America’s most under-rated chief executive. He was a man of few words, decisive action and a dry sense of humor.
“Silent Cal” was born on the Fourth of July in 1872 in Vermont, the son of a prominent local farmer, general store owner, postmaster and politician. He was the only president born on Independence Day, although three former presidents died on the Fourth.
His father, John Sr., served as a justice of the peace and Vermont legislator. His mother and only sibling both died by the time Coolidge was 15, but his father lived past 80.
Coolidge moved to Massachusetts, where he spent his pre-presidential years, when he enrolled at Amherst College. His early career was spent in the Pioneer Valley on the Connecticut River, apprenticing at a Northampton law firm to avoid the cost of law school. His political activities began there too.
Unlike today, the Republican Party was the dominant party in Massachusetts politics at that time. Coolidge started his political career campaigning for Republican William McKinley for president in 1896, and caught the attention of the local Republican committee in the process. Two years later, he was elected to the Northampton city council, and subsequently two terms as city solicitor (city attorney).Read more
For immediate release…
Las Vegas, Nevada (Monday, March 5, 2018) - On March 3rd, 2018, at the Alexis Park Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Libertarian Party of Nevada (LPN) nominated candidates for partisan public office. These candidates include Jared Lord for Governor, Timothy Hagan for US Senate, Robert Strawder for CD1, Steven Brown for CD3, and Gregg Luckner for CD4.Read more
Last August 9, law professors Amy Wax and Larry Alexander published an article, “Paying the Price for the Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture,” in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era low. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.”
To most folks, that’s a straightforward a list of some ills now affecting American society. In academe, it’s not politically correct and it may offend.Read more
Another school shooting, more “thoughts and prayers”. These words are followed by more rhetoric, dogmatic talking points, and the same recommended “solutions”.
Violence in our schools and neighborhoods is not the only issue suffering from this type of tired response. Immigration, taxes, medical care, affordable housing, transportation and infrastructure, are just a few more. Partisan rhetoric, the same talking points, and the same “solutions” are presented. Since the current election process rewards maintaining divisiveness, there are not real conversations on “solutions”.
But are the “solutions” being presented, dogmatic and repetitive as they are, really solutions to the problem? No, they are merely band-aids addressing symptoms. Even if discussion takes place and remedies implemented, the issues never seem to go away, the remedies don’t last, and the problem “keeps on giving”.Read more
Ron Johnson, boxing world champion and proud Libertarian, became the World Boxing Council's mandatory challenger after scoring an impressive 2nd Round Knockout on Saturday Night!Read more
By James Pesutich
With so much misinformation floating out there, if Libertarians want to make a change in this country, we need to explain the public and private sector. We need to distinguish between pure capitalism and fiscal conservatism and cronyism and corruption. Many millennials have a negative perception – and I don’t blame them- about capitalism but what they are seeing, as former presidential candidate Ron Paul has said, is really corporatism and cronyism disguised as Capitalism.
Capitalism allows individuals to trade freely with each other with peace and prosperity. In capitalism, you are rewarded for your efforts, but if you “steal’ or “subsidize” to get or keep your riches, you are rejecting capitalism and fiscal responsibility.
No matter what, the rich get richer anyways. But let’s focus on the bottom level to receive the opportunity. Capitalism IS about opportunity. Of course, you have billionaires who hoard a lot of money instead of paying their “fair share.” However, if the money belongs to them, it is their decision where to put (or not put) their money.
The Raider Stadium will look magnificent, I’m sure. However, it is a monument that will personify the confusion between public and private money. When I was young, I didn’t understand taxes and subsidies and welfare and everything else. I am not saying I totally understand it, but I have a much better understanding of the concepts.
The public sector is tied to the government. The government collects money and it is put in the public treasure “chest.” The city is building a stadium for the Raiders. Well, where is the money coming from? If it is coming from private money and private individuals, fine. However, if it is coming from the taxpayers through an increase in vehicle registration fees or any other “vehicle” (excuse the pun) or any other deceitful tactic, then this is a problem.
When I decided to become a teacher, I paid for my fingerprints, license fees, and tuition. And so did countless other teachers. We did not ask for public assistance and a for-profit organization really has no business asking.
Yes, the stadium will bring in revenue and jobs. Fair enough. However, If I opened a business, I would bring in revenue and jobs, but I would still have to pay my fees, rent, etc.
The private sector consists of small businesses and small and large corporations. Now as a taxpayer, I am proud to contribute to help pay for the military and other necessary government services and benefits. However, if I am helping the cost of a stadium where millionaires are going to play, I have a right to express my disdain. The fact that I watch and support sports is beside the point. Don’t invade our public treasure chest!
We should rely solely on private money! If or when I decide to visit the stadium, I will pay for parking, food, and souvenirs. Believe me, it will be a good investment with private money.
The millennials for the most part embrace socialism. Many young people feel powerless and frustrated and tend to gravitate towards an ideology that helps take away some from the powerful. Well, if and ONLY if this project is financed in the present or future from taxpayers in any form, this stadium is Socialism disguised as Capitalism. Whether the millennials like it or not, it is wrong!
We need to separate the two. Now if you support Socialism, fine, but don’t force me to finance the dreams and projects of others, especially the financial “elite.”
The Libertarian Party is the champion of a healthy balance of fiscal responsibility and freedom. It’s not that some of us do not want an NFL franchise team here, but don’t “raid” (pun intended this time) our public treasure chest with guilt, cronyism, and deception!
By Doug Goodman
Are we witnessing the downfall of our society and oblivious to the fact? Over the past several years a new level of distrust, fear and outright hate has infected almost every aspect of our daily lives. This increasing tribal mentality is not based on racial differences, economic status, community location or age. It is founded on our political differences.
What has caused this? I do not believe we woke up one morning and decided anyone with a different opinion is evil. Elected officials did not decide on their own that taking extreme positions and ending all collaboration was the key to re-election. The media did not force anyone to “buy” biased reporting. In other words, who knows what made it all come together. But it did.
Polls have found that political party affiliation and the accompanying presumed opinions on issues influences who we keep as friends, how we treat our co-workers, whether we trust or respect our neighbors and our view of strangers. Partisan differences are the most divisive issue in our nation. The most recent Pew Research poll in December 2017 found 86 percent of those questioned believe there are very strong or strong conflicts between the political parties.
To read the rest of the article on The Nevada Independent, click here.
Doug Goodman is Founder and Executive Director of Nevadans for Election Reform.