Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Senators Dockery and Fasano call for audit of USF Poly

TAMPA — Two state senators are asking for an audit of University of South Florida Polytechnic expenditures following accusations that the school's leader is mismanaging funds and reports about plans to produce a $500,000 promotional video.

Senators Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who oppose a push to make the Lakeland school an independent university, called for the review in a letter sent Thursday to USF president Judy Genshaft.

As of late Thursday, Genshaft had not responded.

The call comes just three weeks before the board that oversees the university system will discuss a possible USF Poly split from the Tampa campus.

Included in the senators' letter is an unsigned message listing allegations against USF Poly chancellor Marshall Goodman, as well as a copy of a St. Petersburg Times article that details the pricey video plans. The message says it is from students at the school.

"We sincerely urge that you fully investigate USF Polytechnic expenditures to determine whether the accusations of the students are valid," the senators wrote, "and whether or not Dr. Goodman is using good judgment in utilizing taxpayer dollars to produce a half-million-dollar video."

Goodman did not respond to a request for comments.

The accusations made in the unsigned message are mostly unsubstantiated rumors — Goodman spending school funds on "personal follies," faculty whispering about threats if they speak out, a desire of Goodman and powerful Sen. J.D. Alexander "to create their own legacy."

But at least one checks out: Goodman's son, Robert, is employed by USF Poly to run the school's business incubator program, a hire USF Poly defends.

Dockery said it was the combination of the anonymous plea for help, the lack of answers from Goodman about costs of independence and other information trickling in that prompted the audit request.

Fasano said the lawmakers are simply seeking transparency.

"This is not a witch hunt," Fasano said. "We just want to make sure tax dollars were spent appropriately. … We are struggling in this state now, economically."

The move highlights a shift in the independence conversation, which was sparked a few months ago by a group of Polk County leaders including Alexander.

Until recently, most opposition was muted. Dockery and Fasano, who have been warning against a hasty decision from the start, note that separation is now "coming under intense fire from multiple directions."

Earlier this month, Gene Engle, the chairman of USF Poly's board and a member of the USF Board of Trustees, publicly cautioned against the move.

A couple of weeks ago, the USF Board of Trustees said the university wants to be reimbursed for its investments in the Lakeland campus if it does split off.

And as an example in their letter to Genshaft, Dockery and Fasano pointed to former Sen. Rick Dantzler, a Winter Haven lawyer who was among the first to publicly reconsider his initial endorsement of USF Poly's independence.

"The idea of Polk County having its own state university appealed to my sense of civic pride, but I made a mistake," Dantzler told the Times. "I let my heart overload my brain."

Kim Wilmath can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3337.

Senators Dockery and Fasano call for audit of USF Poly 10/20/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2011 12:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Swastikas, pepper spray and punches: Scenes from outside Richard Spencer's Florida speech

    News

    Tampa Bay Times photographers and reporters were in Gainesville today for white nationalist Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida. Here's some of what they saw outside.

    This unidentified man was punched outside of Richard Spencer's speech in Gainesville.
  2. Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger

    Military

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration had no answers Thursday to key questions two weeks after an ambush in the African nation of Niger killed four U.S. soldiers, prompting demands in Congress for details, complaints of Pentagon stonewalling and a comparison to the 2012 Benghazi attack. The White House defended …

    In this image provided by the U.S. Army, a carry team of soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry the transfer case during a casualty return for Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, of Lyons, Ga., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 5, 2017. U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed on Oct. 4 and Wright and three other soldiers were killed. There were about a dozen U.S. troops and a company of Niger forces, for a total of about 40 service members in the joint mission. [Pfc. Lane Hiser | U.S. Army via AP]
  3. Trigaux: Florida, Tampa Bay lagging in growth of their startups

    Economic Development

    The annual assessment of how entrepreneurs are doing across the country is out from the Kauffman Foundation — among the best watchers of the nation's startup scene. How do Florida and Tampa Bay fare?

    Lured by financial incentives, startup GeniusCentral relocated from Manatee County in 2015 to St. Petersburg, promising to creatye 40 new jobs. It took downtown space in an appropriately creative workpace for entrepreneurs. It did not last there, later moving back to less expensive space in Manatee. A new Kauffman Index report on entrepreneurship found that Florida is a good place to launch startups but a tougher place to grow them.
[SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  4. Rick Baker revises controversial radio ad, Rick Kriseman's campaign says former mayor is "dishonest" and "desperate"

    Blogs

    Rick Baker’s campaign has revised a controversial radio ad that had incorrectly stated Mayor Rick Kriseman hadn’t “bothered to show up” at a NAACP event earlier this month.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says former mayor Rick Baker is dishonest and desperate for airing a radio ad that has since been revised
  5. Pleasant dreams: sleep travel site gives high marks to Tampa airport

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Traveling might be considered closer to a nightmare than a dream for many. But that might be different for those who travel through Tampa International Airport. It was ranked the No. 3 overall best airport in North America by Sleeping in Airports, a travel site that tracks the best airports to catch some …

    Tampa International Airport was ranked as the No. 3 best overall airport by travel site Sleeping in Airports. | [Times file photo]