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UCSD admissions not entirely clean

74 fraud reports fielded against city of San Diego employees

“UCSD did not systematically identify or track candidates for Special Talent Admissions,” according to the auditors, who reviewed undergraduate admission applications from Fall 2016 through Spring 2019
“UCSD did not systematically identify or track candidates for Special Talent Admissions,” according to the auditors, who reviewed undergraduate admission applications from Fall 2016 through Spring 2019
What’s the point of being rich, like Elisabeth Kimmel, if you can’t buy your daughter’s admission to Georgetown?

Exceptional failures

UCSD, unscathed by last year’s college bribery scandal, still has had its share of problematic admissions practices, says a March 31 report by the university’s Audit & Management Advisory Services unit. “UCSD did not systematically identify or track candidates for Special Talent Admissions,” according to the auditors, who reviewed undergraduate admission applications from Fall 2016 through Spring 2019. UCSD’s athletics department “did not have a process to document the special talent to ensure it was verified and legitimate.”

The school’s coaches were ostensibly responsible for “recruiting for their own sport and verifying athletic ability,” the report adds. But, “testing of 22 special talent applicants for this audit period indicated that six did not have substantive documentation to verify special talent.”

Procedures for the university’s Admission by Exception (AbyE) program, by which up to six percent of the freshman class who fail to mee minimum standards can be admitted based on special talents or need, were similarly lacking. “The rationale for three of 25 sampled students could not be determined because the AbyE code was a general code that did not specify the reason [for exceptions].” In addition, “Approval for four of 25 sampled applicants recommended for director’s review was not documented.” UCSD received over 118,000 applications for the 2019‐20 academic year, the audit says.

Meanwhile, wealthy La Jollan Elisabeth Kimmel, ex-owner of the KFMB broadcasting empire here, continues to await trial next January 11 on federal charges related to her retention of William “Rick” Singer to buy her daughter’s way into Georgetown University with $244,000 allegedly paid to tennis coach Gordie Ernst.

Lobbying pandemic

A San Diego non-profit bankrolled by labor unions is among the latest influence seekers to sign up for the city’s COVID-19 lobbying circuit, according to an April 30 disclosure filing with city clerk’s office. The Center on Policy Initiatives says it is seeking “protection of public safety related to COVID-19 responses (rent moratorium, homeless sheltering, increased testing, economic assistance for those who have lost employment, etc.” Meanwhile, AT&T is getting into the coronavirus act, saying in an April 30 filing that it wants expedited permit processing of “small cells wireless infrastructure deployment... due to delays resulting from relocation and COVID.”… Tracy McCraner, the city of San Diego’s financial director and comptroller, has moved up the road to take the same positions in the smaller city of San Marcos. In 2018, according to online data maintained by TransparentCalifornia.org, McCraner got total compensation and benefits of $227,699.

Charges of waste and fraud

are burgeoning at San Diego city hall, per the city auditor’s latest hotline report. “During the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2020 (January - March 2020), we received 74 Fraud Hotline reports. We added 10 new reports to be investigated by the Office of the City Auditor and presented 42 reports to the Intake and Review Committee to be referred to City Departments for investigation and resolution. Of the 108 active reports in our inventory, 80 remain open and unresolved, and 28 were closed.” Specifically, “an allegation of fraud related to a City decision was referred to another government agency for review and possible investigation,” says the April 16 document. In another case, “an allegation of abuse and theft of time by employees visiting a beach on City time was investigated and substantiated. The department took appropriate corrective action with respect to one employee and provided coaching to another employee.” Finally, “an allegation of abuse related to a City department blocking a resident from calling any City extension was investigated and resulted in corrective action. The caller’s number was un-blocked after inadvertently being blocked from calling all City extensions.”

Irwin Jacobs kicked in $100,000 to a relief fund for small businesses.

Foundational politics

Cell phone chip-maker Qualcomm came up with $100,000 on April 2 for a COVID-19 small business relief fund at the behest of San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, per a May 1 disclosure of the gift to the Cal Coast Cares Foundation, run by the California Coast Credit Union. “With the help of generous corporate partners and San Diegans alike, we are expanding our Small Business Relief Fund to keep more businesses afloat during these turbulent times,” said Faulconer, who backed the failed Balboa Park development plan of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, at an April 13 media event. California Coast donated $100,000 to the same cause at the mayor’s behest on March 25, per his April 23 filing. Over a month earlier, on February 3, the Cal Coast foundation kicked in $2500 to Faulconer’s One San Diego non-profit. Federal disclosure filing for the calendar year 2018 shows that the Cal Coast foundation posted total revenue of $127,522, with expenses of $93,465, including scholarship grants of $88,737. A golf tournament and dinner held by the charity yielded gross receipts of $57,420 but netted just $7327.

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“UCSD did not systematically identify or track candidates for Special Talent Admissions,” according to the auditors, who reviewed undergraduate admission applications from Fall 2016 through Spring 2019
“UCSD did not systematically identify or track candidates for Special Talent Admissions,” according to the auditors, who reviewed undergraduate admission applications from Fall 2016 through Spring 2019
What’s the point of being rich, like Elisabeth Kimmel, if you can’t buy your daughter’s admission to Georgetown?

Exceptional failures

UCSD, unscathed by last year’s college bribery scandal, still has had its share of problematic admissions practices, says a March 31 report by the university’s Audit & Management Advisory Services unit. “UCSD did not systematically identify or track candidates for Special Talent Admissions,” according to the auditors, who reviewed undergraduate admission applications from Fall 2016 through Spring 2019. UCSD’s athletics department “did not have a process to document the special talent to ensure it was verified and legitimate.”

The school’s coaches were ostensibly responsible for “recruiting for their own sport and verifying athletic ability,” the report adds. But, “testing of 22 special talent applicants for this audit period indicated that six did not have substantive documentation to verify special talent.”

Procedures for the university’s Admission by Exception (AbyE) program, by which up to six percent of the freshman class who fail to mee minimum standards can be admitted based on special talents or need, were similarly lacking. “The rationale for three of 25 sampled students could not be determined because the AbyE code was a general code that did not specify the reason [for exceptions].” In addition, “Approval for four of 25 sampled applicants recommended for director’s review was not documented.” UCSD received over 118,000 applications for the 2019‐20 academic year, the audit says.

Meanwhile, wealthy La Jollan Elisabeth Kimmel, ex-owner of the KFMB broadcasting empire here, continues to await trial next January 11 on federal charges related to her retention of William “Rick” Singer to buy her daughter’s way into Georgetown University with $244,000 allegedly paid to tennis coach Gordie Ernst.

Lobbying pandemic

A San Diego non-profit bankrolled by labor unions is among the latest influence seekers to sign up for the city’s COVID-19 lobbying circuit, according to an April 30 disclosure filing with city clerk’s office. The Center on Policy Initiatives says it is seeking “protection of public safety related to COVID-19 responses (rent moratorium, homeless sheltering, increased testing, economic assistance for those who have lost employment, etc.” Meanwhile, AT&T is getting into the coronavirus act, saying in an April 30 filing that it wants expedited permit processing of “small cells wireless infrastructure deployment... due to delays resulting from relocation and COVID.”… Tracy McCraner, the city of San Diego’s financial director and comptroller, has moved up the road to take the same positions in the smaller city of San Marcos. In 2018, according to online data maintained by TransparentCalifornia.org, McCraner got total compensation and benefits of $227,699.

Charges of waste and fraud

are burgeoning at San Diego city hall, per the city auditor’s latest hotline report. “During the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2020 (January - March 2020), we received 74 Fraud Hotline reports. We added 10 new reports to be investigated by the Office of the City Auditor and presented 42 reports to the Intake and Review Committee to be referred to City Departments for investigation and resolution. Of the 108 active reports in our inventory, 80 remain open and unresolved, and 28 were closed.” Specifically, “an allegation of fraud related to a City decision was referred to another government agency for review and possible investigation,” says the April 16 document. In another case, “an allegation of abuse and theft of time by employees visiting a beach on City time was investigated and substantiated. The department took appropriate corrective action with respect to one employee and provided coaching to another employee.” Finally, “an allegation of abuse related to a City department blocking a resident from calling any City extension was investigated and resulted in corrective action. The caller’s number was un-blocked after inadvertently being blocked from calling all City extensions.”

Irwin Jacobs kicked in $100,000 to a relief fund for small businesses.

Foundational politics

Cell phone chip-maker Qualcomm came up with $100,000 on April 2 for a COVID-19 small business relief fund at the behest of San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, per a May 1 disclosure of the gift to the Cal Coast Cares Foundation, run by the California Coast Credit Union. “With the help of generous corporate partners and San Diegans alike, we are expanding our Small Business Relief Fund to keep more businesses afloat during these turbulent times,” said Faulconer, who backed the failed Balboa Park development plan of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, at an April 13 media event. California Coast donated $100,000 to the same cause at the mayor’s behest on March 25, per his April 23 filing. Over a month earlier, on February 3, the Cal Coast foundation kicked in $2500 to Faulconer’s One San Diego non-profit. Federal disclosure filing for the calendar year 2018 shows that the Cal Coast foundation posted total revenue of $127,522, with expenses of $93,465, including scholarship grants of $88,737. A golf tournament and dinner held by the charity yielded gross receipts of $57,420 but netted just $7327.

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May 14, 2020

I have a question which I am sure that can be answered here: It costs a lot to go to colleges/universities. Wealthy people often give to the college they went to or to which their children attend. I don't see how there is no pressure on professors to pass the failing student of a wealthy donor. I can't see a Dean telling a wealthy donor "thank you for your donation but your kid is not going to pass". I can't see a professor telling the department head that he/she was not going to cut any slack to a student whose parents are big donors. Or am I just cynical?

May 14, 2020

What you describe is commonplace at private and some church-affiliated universities. Yes, there is pressure on faculty to give at least marginally passing grades to students with connections. At state universities that is less common, but not unknown. But the more that state universities are asking for cash, and large amounts of it, from donors, they too will fall prey to "caving in."

May 14, 2020

As far as Elisabeth Kimmel goes, it was my understanding that she had done something very similar to buy her son's way into USC with Singer's help. Son was admitted as a pole vaulter in spite of never participating in track and field events of any kind. So, they have her on two different sets of charges. Her case will be a tough one for the defense to win; she's a graduate of Harvard Law and worked as an attorney in the family business for many years. Claiming ignorance of what was happening would insult the intelligence of every judge and juror involved in the case. But that's not all: her hubby is a former deputy DA, meaning he's a lawyer who practiced as an attorney and worked criminal cases. Can he, although he's not charged, claim ignorance? He's in no better position to do it than she is. For some reason she is the last (or one of the very last) defendants scheduled for trial and that trial will be delayed for sure. So she gets to sweat out her fate and predicament for a much longer time. I'll make a prediction that she cuts a deal that keeps her out of the slammer while costing her a huge fine. But as a billionaire, she won't miss the money at all. The irony of this is that she could have made big enough contributions to both Georgetown and USC to get strings pulled and get the kids in without breaking the law. A couple million here and a couple million there, and POOF!, your desires are fulfilled.

May 14, 2020

I will never understand the mindset of any parent who tries to "buy their way into college." It's fraud, and to the detriment of your child. While other students compete academically, your child will fail or drop out.

I was a cheerleader at UCLA. I'm sure other students thought we were "Special Talent Admissions" and we had less academic requirements than the athletes. Especially when some of us went on to grad school. Admissions wasn't interested in my "cheerleading resume" nor did they care that I ran for homecoming queen in high school. I went with community service, student government, etc.

Faculty members are pressured into passing certain students. Athletes (athletic dept.) and children of wealthy donors. I think it's more common at elite private universities. There's "legacy admissions" and the "dean's interest list." Relatives of wealthy donors. Ties to a university... mom and dad attended, and so did grandma and grandpa are more credible.

May 16, 2020

Hmm. You were a cheerleader at UCLA, huh? When I was there, over fifty years ago, that was a glamorous thing to be for sure. Only back then they were called Song Girls. There was one guy, at least who was called "Yell Leader". Anyway, over the intervening years, that squad was tough to get into, as it got (frankly) sexier. Back in my time, it wasn't all that hard to get admitted to UCLA--you needed the required courses from high school, but the grade point average wasn't all that high. The real challenge for many students admitted was academic, and there was a huge flunk out/dropout rate among frosh. Assuming that you were there far more recently than I was, the hurdles to get over were higher, and there might have been some special consideration available to such students as cheerleaders. But until recently, most of the admissions have been formulaic, based on SAT score and high school GPA.

I do understand why these wealthy folks want to buy the way for their kids into certain universities. It's a way of making the kid happy, and regardless of his/her success in school, it won't affect the future life of the offspring much or at all. It is fraud and I don't condone it, and feel a bit sorry for the kids who are now kicked out of the school for having been admitted fraudulently. Worse yet, some schools are revoking degrees already granted, regardless of how well the student performed academically. And finally, although it matters little to the rich parents, they have made guilty pleas to felonies, and have felony records for life. All to what avail?

May 27, 2020

When I attended UCLA, UCLA and UC Berkeley were upper UC schools. And they were both hard to get into. UC Berkeley the hardest, and UCLA number two. Stanford was number one, and still is. Recently (2017 or 2018) UCLA was ranked number one (UC system) and UC Berkeley number two. I'm younger than you. In this day and age, the UC system is still the "cream of the crop" academically. I had no idea that UCLA "wasn't that hard to get into" years ago. Wow.

There was NO special consideration for cheerleaders. We had the same stringent academic requirements that other students had. We did have "practice" like the athletes.

May 27, 2020

I don't think "buying your way into college" makes a kid happy. It makes the well-educated parent happy, and it's to the detriment of your child. Not all kids should go to college. But you should have something lined up. College, trade school or military, etc.

May 27, 2020

In my day, Berkeley was considered the top UC campus and UCLA the runner up. But Charles Young wanted to change that, and when he became chancellor of UCLA in 1968 he went to work and boosted its reputation greatly. But as for making UCLA a household word, it was John Wooden and his many NCAA basketball national championships that really did the job. In more recent years UCB, UCLA and our local upstart UCSD have been jockeying for top dog in how many undergrad applications they receive. The usual winner is UCLA, you know, UC Hollywood and UC at the Beach.

One of my offspring followed in my footsteps and headed to Westwood about twenty years ago. What attracted him? Well, I kept those yearbooks from the 60's out where he saw them, and he thought the sports programs would still be as good as they were when Wooden and his boys were knocking down titles, and when Gary Beban won the Heisman Trophy. While he was there neither team did worth a hoot. Oh, I didn't bribe his way in; he did it all on his own.

May 27, 2020

The legacy of UCLA! And good for your son...

May 28, 2020

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