Goodman snubs senators' call for financial investigation
Update: The senators have fired back at Goodman, expressing disappointment and again asking Goodman to provide a complete audit of all his expenditures -- including all contracts, consultants, vendors, leases, salaries and travel expenditures, a full accounting of all student activity and service fees collected and spent, and a full accounting of any and all reserve accounts. They acknowledge that Goodman may have been preoccupied with his bid to make his campus independent, but say that now is the time for transparency. They also sent the letter to USF President Judy Genshaft and State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan, asking them to help Goodman fulfill their request.
The leader of the University of South Florida Polytechnic, fingered by Sens. Paula Dockery and Mike Fasano last month for what they deemed questionable spending, brushed off their call for a detailed audit into all the campus's expenditures.
In a letter that arrived in the senators' offices today, Marshall Goodman pointed to existing state audits of the campus that found no "material weaknesses" in the campus's spending on a broad scale. If the senators want more information about individual expenditures, Goodman wrote, the campus would "welcome an opportunity to discuss the purposes of these expenditures and their importance to the USF Poly mission which is not always conveyed in the popular media."
Dockery and Fasano asked for the investigation after the Times reported that Goodman authorized spending half a million dollars on a documentary video series about the new campus's construction. He came under fire again recently after spending $10,000 on four statues of science fiction characters, including Darth Vader from Star Wars.
In their request, the senators acknowledged that the state's auditor general had reviewed the campus's spending on a whole, but that they wanted more details. They had also received an anonymous letter from a group of students accusing Goodman of abusing his position and mismanaging funds.
"Sounds like Goodman has no intentions to have an independent audit," Fasano said in an e-mail. "You would think he would want to put this issue to bed, but his refusal to have an independent audit sends the wrong message to the public... Mr. Goodman is avoiding transparency and accountability -- an independent audit will answer the questions and concerns risen by the Poly fiasco."
The senators first asked USF President Judy Genshaft to look into the matter, but Genshaft told them because the Legislature made USF's branch campuses autonomous, the responsibility was Goodman's. That's when the senators went to Goodman directly, just before he made a bid to the Florida Board of Governors last week to split off the USF Poly campus and make it a separate university. The board, which oversees the state university system, instead placed a number of conditions on USF Poly that delay its potential independence for at least several years.
Goodman had been one of the loudest cheerleaders for secession, a move Genshaft passionately lobbied the board to deny. During the discussion before the vote, one of the board members questioned whether Goodman was fit to lead the branch campus, calling his 50-plus-page separation business plan a "piece of crap" and calling Goodman "incompetent."
"There's insubordination going on here," said John Temple. "We've got to get control of this."
Goodman, who had just laid out his ambitious vision, remained silent in his seat, his face growing red. Not even J.D. Alexander, the state budget chairman who was perhaps the only person pushing harder for a USF Poly split, defended Goodman.
"I interviewed him," Alexander told the board. "I thought the other candidate would be better." He was Genshaft's choice, Alexander said.