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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 8, 2016

Where is the leadership?

By Brooks Taylor

By BROOKS TAYLOR

Mt. Pleasant News

In another life, a friend (and he remains one) accused me of writing about the Chicago Cubs when I did not have any other topic.

There was some truth in his allegation, but not always.

This week’s column will start with sports but end with another topic. Sports does not start it because of a lack of topic.

Maybe it’s not even entirely sports, it is more the University of Iowa.

For years (basically ever since Sally Mason assumed the presidency), I have had some questions about the leadership at the university. Mason currently is serving as an “at-will” employee at the institution. Her last contract expired in August and has not been renewed as of yet by the Iowa Board of Regents.

You can read into that what you want. Some sources said that negotiations are ongoing regarding her contact.

Regardless of the validity of those messages, August was five months ago. It does not seem like either side is in a hurry to get a new agreement in place.

There could be a reason for that, or maybe not.

It certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing during Mason’s tenure. There have been a number of legal charges (some serious) filed against athletes and the recent controversy following an athletic department counselor who was found to have things on his computer that shouldn’t have been there. There was also the political bias lawsuit filed by a prospective employee.

And then there are the people Mason has surrounded herself with, the most visible one being UI Athletic Director Gary Barta.

To be fair, Barta is regarded in athletic circles as a good fund-raiser. That is probably paramount — bring in the bucks — among his duties.

Aside from that, there isn’t a whole lot of positives that can be said. In a nutshell, Barta, who came to Iowa from the University of Wyoming, is in over his head.

It is good that Barta can bring in the bucks because of the contract he gave UI football coach Kirk Ferentz. I have never heard of a coach (Nick Saban included) receiving a 10-year extension at nearly $4 million a year.

The extension has turned into a fiasco. The only person happy is Ferentz.

Ferentz’s football team is 15-15 in its final 30 games including a resounding 4-8 mark in 2012. Next year doesn’t look good, either. ESPN, the first sports media to release its 2013 college football outlook, picks Iowa as the 11th best Big Ten football team next fall. Only Illinois was thought of less than the Hawks.

It would seem to me that someone that is guaranteed a certain wage, regardless of performance, for 10 years would lose some incentive. However, if somebody were willing to give you millions for 10 years, I don’t know anyone who would turn it down.

What’s unfortunate is that other universities seem to be moving ahead of the U of I and the university has lost some of its prestige in many areas.

Ok, that wasn’t too sporty, was it?

We better not see gasoline prices going up anytime soon. Rather, we should see them decreasing.

According to Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com, there is plenty of inventory in the United States.

DeHaan said there is a massive build-up in gasoline inventory announced recently by the U.S. Department of Energy. “With an increase over the previous month of 16.1 million barrels (+7 percent), gasoline inventory now exceeds the highest level reached during 2012 and is at the highest point recorded since February 2011,” DeHaan said.

“Gasoline inventories ended the year with the highest December level ever, and obviously we’ve added significantly to that, so for that reason we cold see many markets remain flat or even decline slightly over the next week to two weeks,” DeHaan continued. “You could say it’s the calm before the storm that arrives each spring.”

GasBuddy’s 2013 gasoline price forecast had the national average price of a gallon of gasoline at $3.29 in January. The price jumps by a dime in February and rises sharply to $3.67 in March. April will have the highest gasoline at $3.95 per gallon. May isn’t much better at $3.85/gallon.

Other predicted national monthly average per gallon prices are as follows: June, $3.60; July, $3.73; August, $3.65; September, $3.58; October, $3.45; November, $3.40; December, $3.33.