Secrecy and back door politicking were also the tools used by [former Penn State President Graham] Spanier to secure his control of university operations and to insure only a timid and uninformed rubber stamping from the Board of Trustees. This proclivity did not go unnoticed by at least some Board members. In 2004, seven of them drafted good governance proposals calling for more scrutiny of the President and his decision-making. They were presented to the PSU Board of Trustees but a full vote was deferred. The changes to the by-laws would have greatly enhanced the Board’s oversight of Spanier and clarified its role as the final arbiter in matters of both policy and day-to day operations like removing senior administrative officers. You can read the proposed changes here.In the previous post, I briefly mentioned how the average shareholder has no real power in relation to the governance of publicly-traded corporations. As Esposito indicates in the snippet above, the problem was just as evident when it came to a university president and his Board of Trustees!
Long-time board member, Joel Myers, has said the changes would have prevented situations like the Sandusky scandal from escaping the Board’s notice since the by-law changes required the president to present periodic reports on university operations and also empowered the Board to obtain follow-up reports. Spanier sensed the threat and fought the proposals deftly and, with the aid of then chairwoman and current general counsel, Cynthia Baldwin, the matter was tabled before a vote could be taken. (Spanier’s cohort, Cynthia Baldwin, has been criticized in the Freeh report for opposing an independent investigation of the Board’s actions or inactions during the Sandusky scandal while serving as PSU’s General Counsel thus completing the circle of secrecy). The failed attempt to rein in Spanier’s presidency was the last chance for the Board to fulfill its obligation to oversee university operations.
~ from Down In The Valley V: Spanier’s Culture of Secrecy And Penn State’s Other Ignored Child Sexual Abuse Scandal by Mark Esposito ~
Simply put, those in power do not like democracy because it has the potential to constrain their words, deeds and actions. They like democracy so long as it is nothing more than a window-dressing; it provides a nice facade that can be utilized in certain situations...like when things go bad.
When something goes awry, they try to hide behind democracy as a way of evading any personal responsibility. "Hey, this isn't solely my doing," they claim. "Everybody agreed to it. I'm simply carrying out the will of the majority!"
Of course, in far too many cases, the powers that be manipulated the outcome to their liking. They subverted democracy to satisfy their own craven desires. This part of the equation rarely is stated.
When things are going well -- at least as far as those in power are concerned -- they want the people to stay the hell out of their way!