The indefatigable Newark Star-Ledger recounted a report by the federal monitor now overseeing the university about the relationship of the university and New Jersey State Senator Wayne Bryant, chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee. The report alleged that Bryant was hired by the University for a "no-show" job.
Our conclusion is that UMDNJ created a no-work job for Senator Bryant so that he could use his political power in the state Senate to benefit his employer -- UMDNJ's School of Osteopathic Medicine. In short, Senator Bryant was paid $35,000 per year by UMDNJ to lobby himself in his capacity as a state senator.The Star-Ledger also noted,
After Bryant took the job in March 2003, state funding for the university's School of Osteopathic Medicine, near Camden, increased substantially -- from $2.7 million in 2003 to $5.83 million in 2004. However, no one could document any real work Bryant did on campus.Bryant's response to the report was terse, according again to the Star-Ledger,
No reports, memorandums, e-mail communication, correspondence or evidence of any work by the senator could be found or produced by the administration at the medical school in Stratford. No UMDNJ administrator could recall supervising what the senator was doing or what he was supposed to be doing.
Most people interviewed by Stern's office said Bryant spent only three hours a week on campus, from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays -- and, even then, inconsistently.
While Bryant was in his university office, the only thing anyone observed him doing was reading newspapers.
The dean of the osteopathic school, R. Michael Gallagher, indicated he wanted to hire Bryant and instructed his staff to create a position for Bryant to take advantage of his political clout, the report states.
Gallagher was removed as dean in June, after one of Stern's reports found Gallagher had charged thousands of dollars in dining and entertainment bills to university accounts....
According to the report, Gallagher ordered staffers to develop a job description for Bryant because there was no existing position in the medical school's table of organization that matched the senator's qualifications. Officials at the osteopathic school told the monitor's office it was clear Bryant was offered the post for his 'political juice.'
Under mounting political pressure, the influential chairman of the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee said yesterday a report that the state's medical university created a no-show job for him was 'not accurate in many respects.'We can only hope that the leadership of UMDNJ, now operating under a deferred prosecution agreement, has ended its craving for "political juice." Instead, this parent university of multiple medical schools, academic medical centers, and other academic health care programs, deserves competent, transparent, ethical governance.
In a written statement, Sen. Wayne Bryant (D-Camden) said that during the entire time he was employed by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, he 'regularly performed the various duties and services that were consistent with my job description.'
The statement offered no elaboration, and Bryant, who has kept a long silence about the matter, did not return calls to his office for comment.
As a post-script, the story of UMDNJ remains one of the great examples of the "anechoic effect." This story has been reported essentially only by regional news media, lead by the Star-Ledger, and discussed only there and in blogs. No mention of it has appeared in any medical or health care journal. Failure of such stories to be discussed widely means that concentration and abuse of power in health care may still be going unrecognized as a national, even global problem.