Sunday, August 20, 2006

More Budget Adventures with Belckis & Buckhead

Today's Omaha World-Herald further investigates Jim Buck's expenses, painting a picture of a budget shell game hiding an increasing appetite for more perks that apparantly went unchecked for years.
Because the car, travel, and country club memberships violate state policy, these expenses were charged against donated funds, specifically priority seating donations for UNO hockey. As Buck found a new source to pay for his privledges, his appetite for perks apparantly increased. His leased car was upgraded to a Cadillac with satellite radio and suddenly his family started to enjoy the perks of travel and golf.

In order to lessen the impact on the athletic department, other athletic department expenses were transferred to other areas of the University, creating a budget shell game that will take a complete audit to fully unwind.

This is no longer an issue of concern just for fans of UNO athletics; this is now an issue for taxpayers and anybody with an interest in the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Taxpayers provided the funds that Buck used to cover up his expenses, and certainly these funds could have been used in academic programs that have been cut over the years when the budgets got lean.

Needless to say, the University audit of the athletic department becomes more and more important. Will the audit find even more excesses? Will the results of the audit raise even more questions that may need to be escalated to the state auditor or attorney general's office?

A side note to Harold Andersen: Even the staff of the paper you once led recognizes that this is no longer a sports story about upset boosters, but rather a story of misuse of public funds that is once again deserving of front page coverage. This "tempest in a teapot" keeps on growing as people dig into this. What you think is "steam" is really smoke.

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