$10,000 spent promoting bond issue

Monday, November 8, 2004

If you have a question, e-mail factorfiction@semissourian.com or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or fiction?"

Q: I would like to know just how much money was spent promoting the Jackson School District's bond issue.

A: "The expenses for promoting the bond issue are paid by the Keeping Jackson Schools First Committee," explained Jackson school superintendent Dr. Ron Anderson. "The funds from this committee were raised through donations. The estimated expenses to date are $10,647."

Q: I was just wondering if you could investigate the rumor that the top 12 Southeast Missouri State University administrators are all going to Hawaii at the expense of a contracted computer software program the university is buying. Is this rumor valid?

A: No, this rumor is false. No administrators are going to Hawaii, although some computer staff members will be traveling there for a users conference on a comprehensive new computer system purchased by the university. Because of the transportation cost, the university has reduced the number of people who would otherwise attend.

"The university has purchased and is in the process of implementing, over a three-year period, a suite of software applications," said Art Wallhausen, associate to the president. "The learning curve on a project of this magnitude is very steep, particularly for people who have to learn the new systems, get them installed and modified to meet the university's needs, and continue doing their regular jobs.

"Last year's conference, to which we sent several people, was in Philadelphia. This year's is in Hawaii. The university did not select these locations, but if we want our implementers to get the instruction so they are able to make a smoother transition to the new system, we believe it is necessary to send them to the conference."

"Those attending are the process team leaders, mid-level managers and hands-on people -- not the top administrators. And the number is six -- not 12.

"Further, those attending do so at the expense of the university -- not of the contractor. The university is paying only for the cost of transportation to and from the conference and the expenses associated with conference attendance."

Follow-up to a previous question: Mike Dallow of Jackson sent me a nice note pointing out that "Check 21," which was a topic in last week's column, was "in part the result of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. When President Bush grounded all domestic airlines after the attacks, banks could not transport their daily volume of checks to their clearing houses and, hence, could not do business. They had to find a manner in which to clear checks other than presenting the paper items to the institutions on which they were drawn. Hence, 'Check 21.'"

Mike is correct: Protecting against the possible dislocation caused by a terrorist attack was, in part, a reason for the legislation. But it was not a primary reason, according to the Federal Reserve and American Bankers Association, which is why I didn't cite it. Cost savings and efficiency were the primary reasons.

Regardless of the reasoning, a consequence of the legislation is that the quicker processing times are expected to lead to more check bouncing.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian.

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