Bouquets and Brickbats

'Incentive fee' bad idea on all fronts

November 16, 2012 

The Cal State University Board of Trustees earns a boneheaded brickbat for even considering a new “graduation incentive fee” at its meeting in Long Beach this week.

The timing was horrendous: Voters just passed a tax measure benefiting higher ed … and the greedy CSU system already was asking for more money?

And it’s not just the timing that bothers us; we’ve yet to see solid justification for the fee.

CSU officials say it’s necessary because some students take too long to graduate. These scholastic lollygaggers take up precious space, making it more difficult to admit new students — or so the theory goes.

We agree that it makes sense to encourage students to graduate on time, or close to it. But what, exactly, is preventing that? Are students really meandering their way through the curriculum to such a degree and in such numbers that it’s creating a logjam? Or, as Cal Poly students have told us, is it difficult to get the classes they need to graduate? If that’s the case, the obvious answer is to offer more classes — not to impose a new fee to further soak the students and their parents.

Until they can present more solid information on what’s preventing students from graduating on time, CSU officials should forget about any “graduation incentive fee.”

Attending state colleges and universities already is prohibitively expensive for many families — and that’s incentive enough to graduate as quickly as possible.

Tips vital to hit-and-run arrest

We offer bouquets of public service to all who provided information in the Monday hit-and-run in the South County that claimed the life of a 24-year-old Nipomo man. Authorities said tips from the community led to an arrest in the case.

“The community in South County cared about what happened, and they made the phone calls,” CHP Officer J.W. Townsen told The Tribune.

Stepping up in such a situation was the right thing to do. It not only helped investigators in this case, it also put drivers on alert that residents won’t look the other way when such incidents occur in their communities.

Some allocations raise questions

We aren’t going to quarrel with using a portion of the county’s $15,000 in state Fish and Game fines to fund firearm safety programs for youngsters. That seems like a hugely appropriate use of this revenue.

But we, too, wonder about allocating $2,000 to a junior pheasant hunt — especially since that was one of the priciest items on the list of recommendations forwarded to the county Board of Supervisors. By comparison, Pacific Wildlife Care, a nonprofit organization that rehabilitates sick and injured animals, was allocated a relatively meager $500.

Ultimately, supervisors approved the recommendations of their Fish and Game Fines Committee, but in the future, they want more information on how those recommendations are developed.

Fair enough. But unless the board has been simply rubber-stamping recommendations, shouldn’t it already have been aware of how the allocations are determined?

No bouquets or brickbats, but we do urge the board to keep an eagle eye on future allocations.

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