Monday, September 30, 2013

NCAAF Players to Receive $40 Million

Story first appeared on

Video game producer EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company will pay around $40 million to settle lawsuits brought by former players whose likenesses were used without compensation, a source familiar with the negotiations told ESPN's Tom Farrey on Friday.

The number of players to benefit is between 200,000 and 300,000, said Steve Berman, managing partner of the law firm Hagens Berman, who served as co-lead counsel in the class-action lawsuit brought by the players.
Current players are eligible to take part in the settlement, sources told ESPN, raising questions about how the NCAA will treat any such financial awards under its rules, which prohibit players from making money from their name as an athlete.

Stacy Osborn, NCAA spokeswoman, told ESPN: "Since we have not had a chance to review the proposed terms of the settlement, we won't speculate."

Rob Carey, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said there is precedent for allowing such payments in the "Johnny Football" case.

A man who sold shirts using Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's trademarked name was sued, and the NCAA has ruled that if Manziel collects damages, he can keep them, even during his eligibility.

It has not yet been determined how the settlement money will be divided. Much of the focus of the lawsuits has been on EA Sports' college football game. Since the lawsuit brought by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon was also settled, though, former players who did not appear in video games will still receive some sort of compensation, a source told ESPN.

Although the video games did not use their names, the former college athletes alleged EA Sports used the same jersey numbers, heights, weights, skin tones, hair colors and home states in its in-game bios, not only without permission but also without compensation.

Berman said negotiations started in earnest the past few weeks on the heels of an appellate court affirming in July a U.S. District Court decision that EA could not use a First Amendment defense of free speech.

EA Sports -- which will not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement agreement -- said in a statement Thursday that "we follow rules that are set by the NCAA -- but those rules are being challenged by some student-athletes."

The NCAA said earlier this year that it would take its name off the college football game, but that does not absolve the governing body of previous legal exposure. With EA Sports and CLC dropped as defendants, the NCAA will be litigated against alone in the class-action lawsuits spearheaded by former college quarterback Sam Keller and O'Bannon.

NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy told USA Today that the NCAA was "not prepared to compromise on this case."

Michael Hausfeld, another of the plaintiffs lawyer, believes the NCAA will argue the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

"I think that's a realization that that's where they have to take it," he said. "You don't make that announcement if you have comfort that you're going to win at the trial and appellate stages."

Beginning next year, EA Sports no longer will produce its popular "NCAA Football" game, which included former Michigan star Denard Robinson on the cover for the 2014 version, which was released in July.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Star Athletes Pursued By Tax Collectors

Story first appeared in Bloomberg News.

Messi in Court Shows Tax Collectors Set to Pursue Star Athletes
Lionel Messi, one of soccer’s biggest stars, has gotten rich by avoiding tackles on the field -- and taxes off it.
On a recent evening in Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain, Messi scored the first goal for European powerhouse Barcelona with a feint that left the goalie sprawling. The Argentina native added two more goals in the first half, leading his team to victory over Valencia. High in the stands, a radio commentator shouted, “Leo, Leo, Leo Messi: the king of football!”
As athletic royalty, Messi makes an estimated $41 million a year, about half from sponsors. His endorsement income has drawn the attention of Spanish tax authorities.
Messi, 26, the four-time global player of the year, and his father are due in a Barcelona court tomorrow to face a complaint that they evaded 4.2 million euros ($5.7 million) in taxes on payments from Adidas AG (ADS), PepsiCo Inc. (PEP), Procter & Gamble Co. and other companies. According to court documents, the Messis diverted 10 million euros to tax havens Belize and Uruguay from 2007 through 2009.
The government is pursuing the case even after the Messis paid 5 million euros -- the amount prosecutors say they evaded, plus interest -- on Aug. 15. The hearing Friday is to determine whether to charge them with criminal tax evasion. If charged and convicted, they could be fined as much as 21 million euros and given a 1-year suspended prison sentence.
Tackling Evasion
The case against Messi, who holds dual citizenship in Argentina and Spain, is part of an aggressive push by Spain, U.K. and other deficit-ridden governments to tackle tax evasion in Europe’s 19.4 billion-euro soccer industry. After decades of coddling Europe’s most popular -- and politically influential -- sport, authorities are pursuing players and teams that collectively owe billions of euros in unpaid taxes.
The European Union estimates that 1 trillion euros are lost annually to all types of tax avoidance and evasion. Just as European governments are proposing rules to prevent multinational corporations from shifting income to offshore tax havens, they’re also going after top international soccer players. Professional athletes such as Messi employ the same strategies to shelter fortunes, and tap into the same network of wealth managers and advisers, as other global elites.
‘Nasty Regulations’
The Messi case “is definitely a statement of Spain today,” said Alistair Spence Clarke, a British accountant who works in Marbella, Spain. “Spain has introduced some pretty nasty tax avoidance regulations. It’s really becoming very aggressive.”
Tax lawyers in Spain expressed surprise that Messi would be drawn into a criminal court. Rodrigo Garcia, a Spanish attorney who represents other soccer players, said that, normally, the revenue service begins with a civil inquiry and offers the accused an opportunity to settle.
Messi denied any wrongdoing in a June 12 post on his Facebook page.
“It’s something that we are surprised about because we have never committed any infraction,” he said. “We have always fulfilled our tax obligations following the advice of our tax consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation.”
Messi’s father, Jorge, placed the blame on Rodolfo Schinocca, a sports agent hired by the family in 2005.
Financial Adviser
“Lionel was 15 years at the time; he didn’t have anything to do with this,” the elder Messi said in a phone interview. “He is a footballer and that’s it. If there was an error, it was by our financial adviser. He created the company. My mistake was to have trusted the adviser. I’m going to take the blame for that. I had confidence in someone I shouldn’t have had.”
In an e-mail from Argentina, Schinocca said he had nothing to do with Messi’s taxes and was asked instead to help secure sponsorship deals. Schinocca said he hasn’t been contacted by prosecutors in the Messi case.
“I never employed this structure for any soccer player,” Schinocca wrote. “It wasn’t my job. I was a commercial partner.”
Soccer teams, like players, have an incentive to minimize taxes. They compete globally for talent in soccer by making salary offers based on net pay after taxes, so the less a player gives the government, the less the team has to compensate him. They also avoid payroll taxes by paying standouts and scrubs alike through what are known as image-rights companies.
Image Rights
Through image-rights companies, teams or corporate sponsors pay players for using their names and pictures in promotions and advertisements and on products such as sneakers and soft drinks. Players, who own the image-rights companies, can borrow or invest the money, or take it as a dividend at a lower tax rate than if it were paid as salary. Much of the tax avoidance in soccer, including Messi’s, involves these companies, which are often established in tax havens.
In Spain, players can legally receive 15 percent of their pay from teams through image-rights companies to compensate them for using their likenesses in promotions.
In some cases, players with no marketable image have received as much as 50 percent of their total compensation in payments to their image-rights companies, said Dan Clay, a U.K.- based tax adviser who works with soccer players.
“It’s been abused,” Clay said. “In a lot of cases the boundaries have been pushed and no real commercial justification has been given.”
David Beckham
For a player like David Beckham, the former English national team captain who played four seasons with Real Madrid, “the club finds it very easy to justify it,” Clay said. “The club can exploit his image and earn 10 times what they’ve paid him. The problem comes when there is a player no one’s heard of.”
As the money in soccer -- called football in Europe -- has soared with its global popularity and the signing of lucrative television deals, team owners have become more secretive about their finances, and compensation packages for players have become more complex, creating more opportunities for avoiding taxes, said Alex Cobham, a research fellow who studies taxation and inequality at the Center for Global Development in London. Tax avoidance in the sport has probably reached billions of euros, he said.
“The history of football, particularly in the last 30 or 40 years, is one, at best, of financial opacity and dubious dealings,” Cobham said. “Clubs have been increasingly aggressive in looking for ways to find an advantage.”
Bread, Circuses
Clubs in La Liga, the Spanish league, owed 690 million euros in back taxes as of March. Atletico Madrid’s unpaid taxes built up over 13 years to 115 million euros last year, Chief Executive Officer Miguel Angel Gil said.
Soccer’s popularity has long protected the clubs, said Pablo Alarcon, a tax attorney in Madrid who teaches at IE Law School. “Every government knows it needs to have football supporting them,” he said. “It’s like the old Roman times, with bread and circuses. Give the people circuses and you can handle them.”
The government’s tolerance of the tax delinquency is a disgrace, said Ada Colau, a Barcelona-based spokeswoman for Platform for Mortgage Victims, a lobbying group that aims to defend families at risk of having their homes repossessed.
“These clubs are often controlled by businessmen who move among the social elite and get privileges that normal people don’t,” she said. “They have contacts in high places.”
Patience Wanes
As it struggles to escape a six-year slump and 26 percent unemployment, Spain’s patience has worn thin. One of the Spanish tax agency’s priorities is investigating the illegal use of tax strategies like image-rights companies by executives, artists and athletes, a spokesman said.
Last year, Spain set a deadline of 2020 for clubs to pay their back taxes. It has also tightened one of the biggest tax breaks for international soccer players, known as the Beckham Law, after one of its most high-profile beneficiaries. Adopted in 2005, the law was back dated to apply to players such as Beckham, who had transferred to Real Madrid from Manchester United in July 2003. Messi was already a resident of Spain, so he didn’t qualify.
Under the law, foreign employees of Spanish companies paid income tax at a rate of 25 percent for their first six years in the country, instead of the 52 to 56 percent now paid by the highest earners. They were not taxed at all on non-Spanish income.
Law Amended
At the end of 2009, Spain amended the law so it applied only to employees making less than 600,000 euros a year. After lobbying from soccer teams, players who arrived before 2010 remained covered under the old law, exempting some of the highest paid players in Spain.
Cristiano Ronaldo, a Portuguese forward for Real Madrid who signed a contract Sept. 15 worth 21 million euros a year according to the newspaper El Pais, is among those who qualified for the exemption.
Messi isn’t the only Barcelona icon ensnared in a tax case. Former Barcelona stars Rivaldo and Luis Figo were ordered to pay civil penalties of 2.8 million euros and 2.5 million euros, respectively, for violating Spain’s tax code by receiving more than 15 percent of their income from the team through image rights from 1997 through 1999. Rivaldo, who routed most of the money offshore to Gibraltar via the Netherlands, lost an appeal in February, while Figo’s appeal was denied last year.
Barcelona Icons
Barcelona “rigorously” complies with the 15 percent cap for image-rights compensation, said a club spokesman, who asked not to be identified. He declined to comment on the cases of Messi, Rivaldo and Figo.
Rivaldo and Figo denied the prosecutors’ claim that money they received for their image rights should have been treated as salary for tax purposes, according to court papers.
Figo didn’t respond to a request for comment via his Lisbon-based foundation. Rivaldo’s current club, Brazil’s Sao Caetano, didn’t respond to a request to speak with him.
Britain is getting tough on soccer, too. The English Premier League negotiated settlements in 2011 and 2012 with the U.K. government on behalf of most of the league’s teams to pay years of back taxes. The teams had avoided millions of pounds in payroll and health insurance taxes by paying players’ salaries through image-rights companies, Clay said.
British tax authorities also went after Glasgow Rangers of the Scottish Premier League, which avoided the same taxes by paying players through employee benefit trusts. Under side agreements not disclosed to the league, players could borrow from the trusts without paying interest and with no expectation of repayment, according to a report by a U.K. tax tribunal, which gathered evidence from 2010 to 2012. The club maintained that it didn’t owe taxes because the payments were loans.
Well Oiled
“The machinery was pretty well oiled,” testified one former player whose identity was kept secret by the tribunal.
Rangers, which won the Scottish league a record 54 times, declared bankruptcy in February 2012, owing more than 93 million pounds ($149 million) to HMRC, the U.K. tax agency. Its ownership company was liquidated, and the team was relegated to Scotland’s third division last season.
In November, the tax tribunal, in a split decision, sided with Rangers’ position that the trust payments weren’t taxable. An HMRC appeal is pending.
Since prosecutors filed a complaint against Messi in June, his case has rocked the world of international soccer, where he is revered as a once-in-a-generation talent. The only four-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, awarded to the world’s best player, Messi was named this year to World Soccer Magazine’s all-time football team, joining legends such as Pele and Diego Maradona.
Soccer Prodigy
Messi, his girlfriend and his infant son live in a duplex in Pedralbes, one of Barcelona’s most exclusive neighborhoods, where the younger daughter and son-in-law of Spain’s King Juan Carlos recently put their mansion up for sale for 9.8 million euros. Messi’s fleet of cars includes a 150,000-euro Maserati Gran Turismo MC Stradale. The 10th-highest paid athlete in the world, Messi earns $20 million in salary and prize money and $21 million in endorsements, estimated this year.
Messi has been a soccer prodigy since he started playing for Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, as an 8-year-old. Diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, Messi moved to Spain with his father at 13 after Barcelona offered to pay for his hormone treatment. At 5-foot-7, Messi is shorter than most soccer players and is nicknamed La Pulga, or The Flea.
Tax Shelter
By 2004, Barcelona was paying the 16-year-old more than 15,000 euros a month. His family contracted with Schinocca, 51, to sell his image rights, according to court documents.
A former professional player in Argentina for Boca Juniors, whose career was cut short by an eye injury, Schinocca was a partner in a sports marketing firm in Buenos Aires. It also represented Diego Forlan, a Uruguayan star who played for Manchester United.
Messi’s parents -- acting for him because he was still a minor -- asked Schinocca to set up a tax structure to shelter his future earnings, according to Spanish prosecutors.
Schinocca and Jorge Messi contacted Sovereign Group, a Gibraltar-based management company, Schinocca said. The Sovereign Group specializes in helping the wealthy avoid taxes by setting up corporations and trusts, including offshore corporations, according to its website. Founded in 1987, it has offices in 24 countries and jurisdictions that manage more than 7,000 client “structures.”
Sovereign didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Following Sovereign Group’s advice, Messi sold the rights to market his image in 2005 for $50,000 over 10 years to Sport Consultants Ltd., a company in Belize owned by Celia Cuccittini, his mother, according to the prosecutor’s complaint.
After turning 18, Messi himself ratified the sale of his image rights to Sport Consultants in 2006.
Adidas Deal
Four days later, a separate U.K. company owned by Messi’s father and Schinocca, and acting on behalf of Sport Consultants, signed Messi to a sponsorship deal with Adidas worth 9 million euros over six years. At Adidas’s request, Messi and his mother confirmed in a notarized document that its payments were going to Sport Consultants in Belize, Schinocca said.
The mismatch between Messi’s sale of the rights for $5,000 a year and their resale for 1.5 million euros a year to Adidas is a red flag for tax authorities, said Garcia, the Spanish attorney for soccer players.
“When the players sell their rights to the image-rights company, it has to be on a market value,” he said.
After a falling out with Schinocca, the Messis transferred the image rights in 2007 from Sport Consultants to Jenbril SA, a company in Uruguay owned by Messi.
Belize, Uruguay
Neither Sport Consultants nor Jenbril contracted directly with sponsors. Instead, they licensed Messi’s image rights to companies in the U.K. and Switzerland, which in turn sold the rights to corporate sponsors and to Messi’s Barcelona team. Payments to Messi under these deals were funneled back to the Belize and Uruguay companies.
According to the prosecutor’s complaint, these intricate arrangements concealed the link between Messi and his sponsorship revenue. Belize and Uruguay were chosen because they are “de facto tax havens” where money made outside their territory is not taxed, prosecutors say. The U.K. and Switzerland are considered “jurisdictions of convenience” by the Spanish authorities, and allow money to be transferred offshore with almost no taxation.
‘Completely Opaque’
The setup was designed to be “completely opaque to the Spanish Public Treasury, which could not associate the companies in the structure with the defendant Lionel Andres Messi,” according to the complaint.
Angel Juarez, a lawyer representing the Messis in the case, didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment.
Adidas declined to comment on Messi’s tax case.
“Adidas is aware of the potential Spanish tax case against Leo and his father,” spokesman Alan McGarrie said in an e-mailed statement. “However, anything to do with an individual’s tax affairs is solely a matter for them and their management.”
Messi’s other corporate sponsors have included PepsiCo, which first signed him in 2007, and Gillette, a unit of Procter & Gamble. PepsiCo spokesman Jeff Dahncke declined to comment. Procter & Gamble didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Adidas continues to use Messi to promote its sneakers. This year, the company unveiled the latest in the Messi Collection, his signature line of shoes and clothing. Adidas also featured him in a “Team Messi” online campaign that urges young people to “Play the Messi Way.”
Messi Values
The campaign includes a video intended to highlight “the attributes, behavior and values that make Messi the most admired and inspiring football player in the world.”
Messi’s tax troubles haven’t marred his appeal to Barcelona fans. Eduardo Amador, who attended the Valencia game clutching a scarlet-and-blue scarf with Messi’s name on it, said he sympathizes with the star.
“I’ve got a personal tax adviser and I trust him,” Amador, a 39-year-old floor-layer, said. “I’m sure Messi is the same.”
Daniel Gonzalez, though, is disillusioned. Outside the stadium, the 54-year-old father of three -- and, like Messi, an Argentine -- is selling water, candy and sunflower seeds at a makeshift stall. Gonzalez makes 60 euros on match days and earns extra money parking cars, he said. He pays 180 euros a month in taxes.
“Messi is a cheat,” said Gonzalez. “It’s his fault as well as his father and tax adviser. He’s not stupid; he knows how much he earns. He’s my compatriot, but he’s a cheat.”

Truth About Obamacare

Story first appeared in USA TODAY.

Sen. Ted Cruz's 21-hour talkathon and President Obama's joint appearance with former president Clinton will keep busy for a while, but so far they've seen their share of false, misleading and not-quite-right statements:

• Cruz falsely claimed that the spouses of 15,000 UPS employees will be "left without health insurance" and forced into "an exchange with no employer subsidy." UPS is dropping coverage for spouses only if they can get insurance with their own employer.

• Obama greatly exaggerated when he credited the health care law for bending the cost curve on health care spending. Experts say the down economy is the overwhelming reason that national health care spending has been growing at historically slow rates in recent years.

• Cruz said the "IRS employees union has asked to be exempted from Obamacare." Not so. The union wants its workers to be treated like any other worker with employer-provided health insurance. It opposes a GOP bill that it says, contrary to law, would "take coverage away from employees who already receive it through their employers."

• Cruz said the unemployment rate for black teens "is over 10 times higher than it is for college graduates — 38.2%." True, but that's comparing apples to oranges. The unemployment rate for white teens, aged 16 to 19, is also high, at 20.5%. There's still a racial disparity, but the rate is nearly double, not 10 times higher.

• Cruz cited an outdated quote from Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, to back up his claim that Obamacare is slowing job growth. Zandi told us the slowdown in job growth at small businesses is "no longer the case."

• Sen. Rand Paul wrongly argued that "everybody is going to pay more" for health insurance under the law. The fact is, some will pay more and some will pay less. Some currently uninsured Americans will pay little or nothing because of the law's expansion of Medicaid.

• Cruz said Obama promised three-and-a-half years ago — in 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was passed — that premiums "would drop $2,500? for the average family by the end of his first term. That's not exactly what the president said or when he said it.


Cruz, the freshman senator from Texas, commandeered the Senate floor for 21 hours in a blistering attack on the Affordable Care Act. He even took a swipe at fact-checkers, calling their craft "a particularly pernicious bit of yellow journalism that has cropped up that lets journalists be editorial writers and pretend they are talking about objective facts." That's his opinion, and he's entitled to it. But, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, people are not entitled to "their own facts," and that would include Cruz and Obama.

So, let's see how they did in sticking to the facts.


Cruz, whose speech began the afternoon of Sept. 24, falsely claimed that the spouses of 15,000 UPS employees will be "left without health insurance" and forced into "an exchange with no employer subsidy." UPS is dropping coverage for spouses only if they can get insurance with their own employer.

    Cruz: Just a few weeks ago UPS sent a letter to some 15,000 employees saying: We are dropping spousal health insurance because of ObamaCare. That is 15,000 UPS employees who had insurance for their husbands and wives, and suddenly those husbands and wives are left without health insurance and being told: Go on an exchange with no employer subsidy.

This misrepresents the impact that the UPS decision will have on spouses. It's true that UPS in August informed its employees that as of Jan. 1, 2014, it would no longer extend health insurance coverage to "working spouses" who are eligible to obtain coverage from their own employers. "Since the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide affordable coverage, we believe your spouse should be covered by their own employer — just as U.P.S. has a responsibility to offer coverage to you, our employee," UPS said in a memo to employees.

But UPS said that it is "continuing to cover spouses who either don't work, or work for employers that don't provide health benefits." UPS said it currently covers about 33,000 spouses and it estimates that about 15,000 of those can get insurance through their employers.

Cruz mentioned UPS twice. The first time he used it — correctly — to illustrate the folly of President Obama's promise that "you can keep your own insurance." As we've said, Obama cannot make such a promise. Those working spouses of UPS employees won't be able to keep their insurance. Still, Cruz is wrong to say that those spouses will be "left without insurance."


President Obama spoke with former President Bill Clinton in front of a live audience at the Clinton Global Initiative Health Care Forum in New York on Sept. 24. Obama greatly exaggerated when he credited the health care law for bending the cost curve on health care spending. Experts say the down economy is the overwhelming reason that national health care spending has been growing at historically slow rates in recent years.

    Obama, Sept. 24: [B]ecause of these changes we initiated in terms of how we're paying providers, health care costs have grown, as you pointed out, Mr. President, at the slowest rate in 50 years. We are bending the cost curve and getting at the problems that are creating our deficits in Medicare and Medicaid.

Clinton had earlier boasted of the slow rate of growth in national health care spending — a measure that includes spending by the government, businesses and individuals — saying that "[i]n the last three years, just as we started doing this, inflation in health care costs has dropped to 4% for three years in a row for the first time in 50 years."

Technically, the measure is health care spending, not costs, but it is true that the growth has been 4% in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the lowest rate of growth since the data were first collected in 1960 by the National Health Expenditure Accounts (see Table 3). And that's expected to continue through 2013. But how much of that is due to the Affordable Care Act? Experts say it might have played some role, but the main reason for slower growth in spending is the once-faltering and still-recovering economy.

The Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed the trend and determined that the economy was responsible for 77% of the slow growth rate. Plus, the study said, the rate of growth is expected to increase as the economy continues to pick up.

    KFF study, April 2013: Based on statistical analysis of 50 years of health spending and economic trends, the study finds that the economy, including factors such as Gross Domestic Product growth and inflation, produces a major but delayed effect on the nation's health spending. This effect stretches over a period of six years, meaning that the recession that ended in 2009 will continue to dampen health care spending for several more years and that spending will increase gradually as the economy strengthens.

The slower growth also began in 2009, before the law was signed.

In 2011, experts at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services pointed to the economy as the reason for slower growth in spending: "Job losses caused many people to lose employer-sponsored health insurance and, in some cases, to forgo health-care services they could not afford."

That's not to say the health care law didn't play some role, albeit a significantly smaller one. The Kaiser Family Foundation study, conducted with the Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending, said that the remaining 23% of the slowdown in growth was due to "changes in the health care system, potentially including higher deductibles and other cost-sharing that dampen patients' use of services, as well as various forms of managed care and delivery system changes." The study said it "cannot determine the separate impact of these factors."

So, some changes in the health care system, which could be a result of the law, were a factor. Experts told the New York Times in February that the law may have contributed to changes in how insurers pay providers, by offering financial incentives. And there's been an effort in health care to reduce waste and limit rehospitalizations. The Times said: "Health experts say they do not yet fully understand what is driving the lower spending trajectory. But there is a growing consensus that changes in how doctors and hospitals deliver health care — as opposed to merely a weak economy — are playing a role."

This isn't the first time Obama, or Clinton, boasted of those low rates of spending growth. During his State of the Union address this year, Obama said the ACA "is helping to slow the growth of health care costs." This time, he flatly stated that the slow growth was "because of these changes we initiated in terms of how we're paying providers." And at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Clinton suggested the law was the reason for the slowdown.

The ACA pushes for new payment models, as Obama mentioned, such as paying for outcomes and encouraging coordinated care. The Kaiser Family Foundation report said "substantial savings" were expected to come from Medicare, due to the law's reduction in the growth of payments to health care providers and insurers. But much of that part of the law hasn't been implemented yet. Says the study, in talking of the future: "Changes in the delivery system – through accountable care organizations (ACOs) and bundled payments to providers – may also yield results and help to keep 'excess' health costs down in public programs, as well as in private insurance."

The law is also expected to increase spending as more Americans purchase health insurance, some receiving government subsidies to do so or joining Medicaid. The Kaiser Family Foundation report said the law would cause "a modest one-time increase in health spending" because of that.

But, again, mainly it's the economy that's driving spending. And the growth rate is expected to increase in coming years as the economy further recovers. The Office of the Actuary for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates the growth at 6.1% for 2014, and near 6% for 2015.

Cruz said the "IRS employees union has asked to be exempted from Obamacare." Not so.

    Cruz: There is a reason why the IRS employees union has asked to be exempted from Obamacare. These are the guys who are in charge of enforcing it on the rest of us. They have asked to be exempt because it is not working. The facts are clear. It is a train wreck. As the lead author Democratic senator put it: It is a train wreck.

Cruz is referring to the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents over 150,000 agency and department employees, including the IRS workers.

But the union hasn't "asked to be exempted" from the law. NTEU opposes H.R. 1780, a bill from Rep. Dave Camp, which would move federal employees — including the president, vice president, members of Congress and other employees as defined by Title 5, Section 2105 of the U.S. Code — out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and into health plans or insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.

The union doesn't have a problem with the health care law, though. In fact, it opposes Camp's legislation on the grounds that the bill goes against the intent of the law.

The union drafted a sample letter for its members to send to their representatives in Congress, asking them to oppose the legislation. It says the law's goal was "not to take coverage away from employees who already receive it through their employers."

    NETU sample letter: H.R. 1780 would put federal employees in a special class where they would be prohibited from receiving health insurance through their employer. It would treat federal employees differently from state and local government employees and most employees of large private sector companies who receive health insurance benefits through their employer. The primary purpose of the Affordable Care Act was to provide a marketplace for the sale and purchase of health insurance for those who do not have such coverage — not to take coverage away from employees who already receive it through their employers.

Cruz claimed that the IRS union was seeking "to be exempted" because Obamacare is a "train wreck," attributing the phrase to the bill's lead author, Sen. Max Baucus. Cruz said, "As the lead author Democratic senator put it: It is a train wreck." We've already debunked that claim. As we've written, Baucus was only referring to how the law was being implemented this spring — not the law itself.

At an April budget hearing, the Montana Democrat upbraided Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for her department's lack of planning to properly implement the law, and warned of "a huge train wreck coming down." Baucus "was clearly commenting specifically on a concern he had regarding one aspect of implementation of the law — the rollout of the public awareness campaign," Meaghan Smith, an aide to the senator, told us.

Baucus is no longer concerned about that, however. In a Sept. 16 interview with Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney, Baucus said "I don't expect a train wreck" when the exchanges open for business on Oct. 1.


Cruz cited an apples-to-oranges comparison of unemployment rates while making a point about how Obamacare disproportionately hurts minorities.

    Cruz: If you are lucky enough to be a college graduate, your unemployment rate is 3.5%. … For black teens the unemployment rate is over 10 times higher than it is for college graduates — 38.2%.

Cruz's numbers are correct. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for blacks between the ages of 16 and 19 was 38.2% in August. And the unemployment rate for college graduates over the age of 25 was 3.5% in August. But he's comparing black teens to college graduates over the age of 25. The unemployment rate for whites aged 16 to 19 is also high — 20.5% in August.

In other words, there is a racial disparity, but it's not 10-to-1.


Cruz cited an outdated quote from Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, to back up his claim that Obamacare is slowing job growth.

    Cruz: In May 2013 Moody's economist Mark Zandi noted a slowdown in small business hiring due to Obamacare.

It's true that in an interview on CNBC on April 5, Zandi said just that when asked about a jobs trends.

    Zandi, April 5: But again, I think health care reform might be having an impact. … [W]ith employees [totaling between] 50 to 499 — that's the group that would be affected by the health care reform — we've seen a rather sharp slowing in job creation.

But that's not what Zandi has been saying more recently.

"There is little evidence that fiscal austerity and health care reform have had a significant impact on the job market," Zandi said in a Sept. 5 story in USA Today.

We reached out to Zandi and asked if Cruz had quoted him accurately and in context. Moody's sent this response from Zandi: "Yes, in the spring there appeared to be a slowdown in job growth at small businesses. But this is no longer the case. Job growth at small businesses picked up this summer. I don't see any meaningful impact on job growth from healthcare reform, at least not yet."


During his brief cameo in Cruz's lengthy speech, Sen. Rand Paul argued that due to Obamacare, "everybody is going to pay more." The fact is, some will pay more and some will pay less.

    Paul, Sept. 24: We went through this whole debacle of giving people ObamaCare and it is going to be expensive. Everybody is going to pay more. Many people still will not have insurance. The ones who do have insurance are going to pay more.

As we wrote recently in our wrap-up of Obamacare myths, how much you pay depends on such things as your age, health and whether or not you are currently insured. Those who are uninsured and have a preexisting condition will likely pay less than they would have otherwise. Those who are uninsured but young and healthy will likely pay more (without accounting for any subsidies they may receive). Those who are insured through their employer likely won't see much change either way. And some of the currently uninsured will pay little to nothing because they will join Medicaid — the program will expand by 13 million Americans by 2020 under the law, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Employer-sponsored premiums did go up slightly due to the law from 2010 to 2011 (a 1% to 3% increase, according to experts), because of added benefits, such as coverage for dependents up to age 26, free preventive care and an increase in caps on coverage. Since then, premium growth has been 4% on average for 2012 and 2013, modest growth rates historically.

For those who buy their own insurance, it's difficult to make generalizations about who will pay less or more. Many who had purchased on the individual market in the past will get more generous benefits. And the vast majority buying their own exchange plans — 80%, according to the Congressional Budget Office — will receive subsidies that bring their total out-of-pocket costs down.

Plans sold to individuals can no longer charge more based on health status or gender, but they can vary premiums based on geography, age and tobacco use. A RAND study, published in August and sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, estimated there would be "no widespread trend toward sharply higher prices in the individual market," in the words of the lead author. Rates would likely vary from state to state and based on individual circumstances. So Paul is wrong to make the sweeping claim that "everybody is going to pay more."


Cruz said Obama promised in 2010, when the Affordable Care Act passed, that premiums "would drop $2,500? for the average family by the end of his first term. That's not exactly what the president said or when he said it.

    Cruz: President Obama three-and-a-half years ago promised the average American that by the end of his first term, by the end of last year, the average American family's premiums would drop $2,500.

By saying three-and-a-half years ago, Cruz is placing Obama's comments in 2010, which is when the law was passed. But Obama initially promised to lower premiums $2,500 by the end of his first term in June 2008 while running for president. That's five-and-a-half years ago.

    Obama, June 5, 2008: In an Obama administration, we'll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year. And we'll do it by investing in disease prevention, not just disease management; by investing in a paperless health care system to reduce administrative costs; and by covering every single American and making sure that they can take their health care with them if they lose their job. … And we won't do all this twenty years from now, or ten years from now. We'll do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States.

At the time, we called Obama's promise "misleading" and "overly optimistic." That's because the campaign told us half of the savings would come from investing in electronic health records and the campaign relied on a study that projected those savings would not fully materialize until 2019 — well beyond Obama's first term. Plus, estimated savings wouldn't go just to families, but to all of those who pay into the health care system, including governments and businesses.

Now, Obama did repeat a version of his promise in 2009 during the congressional debate over the federal law, saying the legislation plus some effort to reduce costs from labor unions, and insurance, drug and medical industries "could save families $2,500 in the coming years — $2,500 per family." But this time the president didn't say by the end of his first term.

    Obama, May 13, 2009: On Monday I met with representatives of the insurance and the drug companies, doctors and hospitals, and labor unions, groups that included some of the strongest critics of past comprehensive reform proposals. We discussed how they're pledging to do their part to reduce our nation's health care spending by 1.5% per year. Coupled with comprehensive reform, this could result in our nation saving over $2 trillion over the next 10 years, and that could save families $2,500 in the coming years — $2,500 per family.

As we said at the time, the promise was "still optimistic." But, he didn't promise this would be done by the end of his first term and Obama didn't promise that premiums "would drop," as Cruz put it. The Obama administration told us that future spending could be $2,500 per family lower compared with what it was otherwise projected to be.

A year later, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle told ABC News that the law needs to play out before savings materialize. She said "by 2019 we estimate that the average family will save around $2,000."


We also heard some claims that we have debunked before, including these:

    Cruz repeated the false claim that members of Congress are exempt from the health care law. As we have written numerous times, the law requires congressional members and their staffs to get insurance through the newly created exchanges, so they are not exempt. In fact, the law prevents them from getting insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, like other federal employees. However, the federal government, will continue to make contributions toward the premiums of lawmakers and their staffs — just as most large employers do for their employees.
    Cruz said, "Obamacare has a philosophy: empower government over your life, put a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor." But, as we've said, the law doesn't create a government-run system. If anything, the law comes between you and your insurance company, forbidding them from capping your coverage or charging you more based on health status.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Judge: Abercrombie wrongly fired Muslim for hijab

Story originally appeared on USA Today.

Ruling: Retailer violated anti-discrimination laws for firing worker who wore head scarf.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that trendy clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch wrongly fired a Muslim worker who insisted on wearing a head scarf.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said the company violated anti-discrimination laws when it fired Hani Khan from its Hollister store in San Mateo, California, in 2010. Rogers issued the ruling last week.

The company claimed the head scarf violated its policy governing the look of its employees, which it said was part of its marketing strategy. The store argued that deviating from its look policy would affect sales.

But the judge said Abercrombie & Fitch offered no "credible evidence" that Khan's head scarf cost the company any sales.

"Abercrombie only offers unsubstantiated opinion testimony of its own employees to support its claim of undue hardship," Rogers said.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on Khan's behalf in 2011.

"Abercrombie & Fitch does not discriminate based on religion and we grant religious accommodations when reasonable," spokesman Bruce MacKenzie said. "It is our policy not to comment on pending litigation."

A trial on the company's liability is scheduled for later this month. The judge said the jury is free to award punitive damages if it chooses.

It's the latest employment discrimination charge against the company's so-called "look policy," which critics say means images of mostly white, young, athletic-looking people. The New Albany, Ohio-based company has said it does not tolerate discrimination.

Abercrombie has been the target of numerous discrimination lawsuits, including a federal class action brought by black, Hispanic and Asian employees and job applicants that was settled for $40 million in 2004. The company admitted no wrongdoing, though it was forced to implement new programs and policies to increase diversity.

Coach To Give Up Money and Real Estate In Settlement

Story first appeared in the Detroit Free Press.

A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a settlement that ends the $40 million bankruptcy case of former Arkansas and Michigan State football coach John L. Smith.

Judge Ben Barry signed an order Tuesday discharging the debts of Smith, now the head coach at Fort Lewis College in Colorado. In exchange for that discharge, Smith will have to cough up $265,000 in cash and about $400,000 in real estate, according to the settlement terms. It’s not a bad deal for Smith after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last year while serving as interim head coach of the Razorbacks.

In that filing, he claimed to have $40.7 million in debts stemming from real-estate deals gone bad around Louisville. He also listed just $1.3 million in assets.

The case was headed to trial until settlement talks started with his creditors, many of them his former friends or business partners. Smith’s contract with the University of Arkansas also was dragged into the mess because his creditors alleged he had improperly structured his Razorbacks contract to keep money away from them. A week before his bankruptcy filing on Sept. 6, 2012, Smith signed a contract that said $600,000 of his $850,000 in pay — 71 percent -- would be deferred until December and February.

In general, the bankruptcy estate controls assets acquired by a debtor before the date of the bankruptcy filing. Debtors generally can keep what they earn after the filing date. By having his pay deferred in this way, he was able to claim on his bankruptcy petition that his net monthly income was just $107.66, after expenses.

Smith “strenuously argued that his (pre-bankruptcy) petition from the Razorback Foundation totaled no more than $66,666.67,” the bankruptcy trustee, John T. Lee, said in a court filing.

Lee investigated this issue and reached a settlement with Smith to pay $165,000 to the trustee instead.

“The trustee does not believe the structuring of these contracts to have been fraudulent,” Lee said in the court filing.

Smith’s Arkansas contract was not renewed after finishing with a 4-8 record last year in place of his fired predecessor, Bobby Petrino.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Story first appeared in USATODAY.

The bill passed by the Senate in July attempts to solve the problem of illegal immigration with a $46 billion "border surge," adding 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, and $3 billion in new monitoring technology. But sheriffs policing the border say that misses the mark.
It's monsoon season in southern Arizona, so Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels has to drive slowly along the hilly, rocky, muddy terrain that covers the 83-mile border his county shares with Mexico.

He scans the horizon to see whether any immigrants or drug smugglers are approaching the 4-foot-high border fence. Glancing at the lights of a city in Mexico, he turns and says, "Seen any Border Patrol agents?"

Dannels' complaints about the lack of Border Patrol agents along the border suggests he supports a Senate plan to flood the Southwest border with 20,000 new agents. But he doesn't. He doesn't think border security proposals in the House will do much, either.

"The people in my county are very frustrated," Dannels says, looking at the lush green of a valley that will soon shrivel to brown in the desert sun. "They feel border security hasn't been taken seriously."

Congress returned from recess this week facing a busy schedule, featuring debates over Syria, health care and the debt limit.

But Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said they also will find time to dive into immigration.  A Wichita Immigration Lawyer was watching the progress.

The Senate and House have spent months crafting their own versions of overhauls to the nation's immigration laws. Yet Dannels is among more than a dozen sheriffs interviewed by USA TODAY who police the border from California to Texas and say the plans from Washington will do little to secure the border.

They say they have proposals that will work — more prosecutions of border crossers, closer screening of people going through border crossings, putting pressure on Mexico to do its part. But they feel they've been shoved aside by a Congress more interested in cutting a deal than finding solutions.

"They've had every organization up there except law enforcement. I just don't understand that," said Doña Ana County, N.M., Sheriff Todd Garrison. "If we just had a seat at the table and could express our concerns, it would at least shed some light on these issues."
The border with Mexico is a nearly 2,000-mile range of starkly differing terrain where the problems of how to stop illegal immigration depend on where you are — the beaches of San Diego, the mountains of Arizona, the wide-open deserts of New Mexico or the swift rivers in Texas.

The sweeping immigration bill passed by the Senate in July attempts to solve the problem with a $46 billion "border surge" that is mostly spent on adding 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, and $3 billion in new monitoring technology, including sensors, radars, drones and helicopters.  A Columbus Immigration Lawyer was unsure if the bill would be a good thing.

That surge won over Senate Republicans who pushed for a secure border before they could agree to grant a pathway to citizenship for the nation's undocumented immigrants, a provision that Democrats have insisted on.

But of the 17 sheriffs interviewed by USA TODAY, whose jurisdictions cover most of the U.S.-Mexico border, only one said they felt all those new agents were needed. The rest said they feel Border Patrol simply needs a new strategy and new technology.

"They're tripping over themselves now," Hudspeth County, Texas, Sheriff Arvin West said of the current 18,500 Border Patrol agents working the Southwest border.

The problem, West says, is that Border Patrol agents are no longer on the border, but working many miles inland. West has spent 30 years in the western Texas county where most of the border fence consists of posts strung with a few strands of barbed wire. It's dangerous work to patrol the wild, rugged terrain in the middle of the night.

He, like all other sheriffs interviewed, respect the Border Patrol agents who risk their lives to keep the border safe and secure.

"But put them on the damned border," he said. "In some places here, they are 60, 70 miles away. It's going to take some (courage) to go down there. When you first get down there ... you're going to (tick) the drug dealers off. But once they understand that you held the line, they're going to look for weaker spots further down the line."

From his years of experience, Sheriff Clint McDonald in Terrell County, Texas, knows that there are 38 points in his county where people from Mexico can cross the Rio Grande. Yet Border Patrol does not go there.

"I guess I'm stupid, but I would think if you put people at those 38 crossings, people wouldn't come across," he said.

But in many areas along the border, federal Border Patrol agents spend most of their time patrolling roads and highways farther inland. Typically, drivers on Interstate 8 in California, I-19 in Arizona and I-10 in Texas see Border Patrol at highway checkpoints where agents wave most cars through, but stop suspicious-looking vehicles for additional screening.

"Why can we drive 10 miles on the border and see three Border Patrol agents, but drive 3 miles north to our checkpoint and you have 30 (Border Patrol) vehicles parked there?" asked Sheriff Dannels in Cochise County. "That makes no sense."
Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Friel said the highway checkpoints are part of a "layered" approach to the border where agents catch "consolidated smuggling loads" on their way north.

"Checkpoints deny major routes of egress from the borders to smugglers intent on delivering people, drugs and other contraband to the interior of the United States and allow the Border Patrol to establish an important second layer of defense," Friel said.

Border sheriffs say they feel the Senate's focus on more agents also ignores the benefits of technology and intelligence, which would greatly expand capture and detection capabilities without adding thousands of more pairs of eyes and trucks on the border.

In Kinney County, Texas, Border Patrol agents rely on local deputies to help spot border crossers because the locals have high-powered, night-vision telescopes mounted on their trucks.

"They got Vietnam-era scopes," said Kinney County Sheriff Leland Burgess. "So we go to the river every night. We help them catch a lot of traffic, whether it be drugs or illegal aliens."

Sheriffs also say they feel that agents can do more investigative work to be more effective.

In Cochise County, Sheriff Dannels has assigned two deputies to spend a portion of each day with ranchers and then share whatever they learn with Border Patrol. San Diego County Sheriff Gore uses the same concept on a much larger scale.

His "Border Suppression Team" works with Border Patrol, local police agencies, state troopers and other federal law enforcement agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency to gather intelligence and take down smuggling activities entering the county.

"Everybody focuses on a fence and, to me, that's just short-sighted," Gore said.

Members of the Gang of Eight senators that sponsored the bill said they never intended their border security approach to be the final solution. This was just their attempt to strike the right balance between "technology, manpower and consequences" for lawbreakers.

"We made a commitment to ensure that the border is secure, and deploying additional agents is a component of that commitment," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a Gang of Eight member.

"To the extent its members need to do so, the House has a chance to improve upon the border security provisions."


The border sheriffs say another failing of the "surge" approach shows that Washington doesn't fully understand how — or how often — people illegally cross the border.

"Are people coming across? Yes. They're coming right through the ports," said Santa Cruz County, Ariz., Sheriff Tony Estrada.

Sheriffs say they're seeing more people trying to cross using false documents. Cartels also monitor how federal officials operate at the border crossings, known as land ports of entry, and devise strategies to beat them. For example, they'll wait for a shift change, then rush multiple drug-filled cars across, knowing most will get past inspectors.

Some sheriffs said a major investment in personnel specifically at border crossings also would cut into the money and guns that flow south, which are then used to help more smugglers make the trek north.

"I'm not saying we should become East Germany and make sure people can't leave the country," said Luna County, N.M., Sheriff Raymond Cobos. "But if they're leaving the country in cars, they should get inspected thoroughly with the same kind of technology as the people coming in."

The Senate bill at one point recognized the importance of shoring up the crossings when it designated 3,500 new officers to the ports of entry. But the bill was amended to emphasize adding 20,000 agents to patrol the regions between those ports.

Sheriffs also wonder why those in Washington have barely addressed what should be an overwhelming deterrent to illegal immigration: federal prosecutions. A West Orange Immigration Lawyer wonders the same thing.

Sheriff Leon Wilmot in Yuma County, Ariz., said the billions of dollars being proposed for border security would be better spent on the federal justice system to ensure that everybody who crosses the border illegally is prosecuted and swiftly deported.

Prosecutors are so short-handed that they refuse to take on many cases, Wilmot said.

He said prosecutors won't take drug cases when fewer than 1,500 pounds of marijuana are confiscated. They won't take a cocaine or methamphetamine case if there's less than a pound. And he said they won't take any cases when the drug runners are juveniles.

"Unless it's handed to them on a silver platter with a confession, they won't take it," Wilmot said.

The Senate bill does call for more funding for prosecutors, public defenders and court personnel, but only for one section of the border — the Tucson Sector of Arizona. Wilmot and others said every sector of the border needs the help.

"The prosecutions along the border are becoming a joke," McDonald said. "You see it time and time again on the news, that this person committed a crime and has been deported 15 times. Let them know that when you come across that border, you're going to get prosecuted."

The border sheriffs proposed another suggestion that has not been made part of the Washington approach: Mexico can do more.

The United States has given Mexico more than $1.6 billion since since 2008 to improve its justice system. Sheriff Omar Lucio in Cameron County, Texas, said the U.S. should dictate that large portions of that funding go to securing the border from the Mexico side.

"When you have a well-trained, well-staffed and well-disciplined law enforcement agency and you put them on their border, I guarantee you not only will you stop people from going from Mexico to the United States, but you'll put a big dent into the drug cartel business," he said.

Then there is what many in the Republican Party have said is the obvious solution: a fence.

A group of border sheriffs recently traveled to Israel to see the security barrier there — a mostly chain-link fence and some concrete preventing Palestinians from entering Israel illegally. Israel credits the fence with a huge drop in terror attacks.

Some sheriffs who saw the barrier thought that the U.S. could use a similar structure, and a similar commitment to manning it, to seal the border to illegal immigration.

"Yes, if we want to," Sheriff McDonald said. But "I realized that our country does not have the political will to secure our border."

A border fence in Southern California similar to that used in Israel (razor wire, double and triple fences and cameras) is credited by the Department of Homeland Security as having brought down illegal crossings significantly. Twenty years ago, 530,000 arrests were made in San Diego; in FY 2012 there were fewer than 30,000.

But most sheriffs said a fence won't work in the often desolate portions of the border, where 651 miles of varying types of fence line about a third of the border. They said they don't think it's feasible in the USA because it would be expensive, entail unpopular land-takings and still need a lot of manpower to thwart attempts at passage.

"It didn't work in China. It didn't work in Germany," said Hidalgo County, Texas, Sheriff Lupe Treviño. "It's a senseless, stupid thing."

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said the effectiveness of a fence depends on the geography.

Gore said it works in California because people would race from Tijuana to San Diego, a short sprint often done right across a highway.  A Tijuana Immigration Lawyer said this may be correct.

"Here, it makes perfectly good sense," Gore said. "But in the middle of the desert, to me, it doesn't make a lot of sense."


Not one sheriff backed a House proposal by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to give state and local governments the ability to pass immigration bills that mirror federal immigration laws and have their local officers enforce them.

"If I wanted to do that, I would've joined Border Patrol or (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)," said Presidio County, Texas, Sheriff Danny Dominguez.

The cost of arresting, incarcerating and prosecuting undocumented immigrants also worried the sheriffs. Sheriff Lucio of Cameron County said his 1,700-bed jail already at capacity.

"If the (federal government) builds a jail where I have 5,000 beds, then OK, I can help you," he said.

The one proposal coming out of Washington that garnered some praise from the border sheriffs was a House attempt to understand the state of the border.

A bill by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, requires DHS to spend six months measuring the state of border security, then develop a plan to secure it.

After two years, DHS would have to certify that it's monitoring 100% of the border, and after five years, it would have to certify that agents are stopping or turning back 90% of people trying to cross it. The proposal calls for much more technology on the border.

Webb County, Texas, Sheriff Martin Cuellar said McCaul "hit everything right on the nail."

"They're talking about cameras all over the area," Sheriff Lucio said. "(McCaul)'s got a good idea there."

But others wondered why it was necessary to spend even more time researching the state of the border.  A Madison Immigration Lawyer wonders if the need to research as well.

"The federal government loves to do studies," said Imperial County, Calif., Sheriff Raymond Loera. "How many more studies do we need?"

And some questioned how the agency can realistically determine how many people crossed the border unnoticed.

Asked Sheriff Burgess: "How are you going to tell when you got 90%? Are you gonna set up on Interstate 10 with a clicker?"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Zimmermans Back To Court

Story first appeared in USATODAY.

George Zimmerman's wife has officially filed for divorce, according to a court official.

Shellie Zimmerman put in the paperwork to end the couple's six-year marriage Thursday afternoon through the domestic division of the Seminole County Clerk of Courts, a court spokeswoman said.

Her attorney Kelly Sims told The Orlando Sentinel the decision was made "after much soul searching and recent disappointments."

Divorce papers published by ABC News say the couple has been separated since August 13 and are not living together.  According to a Plymouth Divorce Lawyer, separating prior to the divorce is common.

Shellie Zimmerman asks for "equitable distribution" of the couple's property, assets, and their debt. She also wants sole custody of their two dogs: a two-year-old, 120-pound Rottweiler named Oso and a 20-pound "Heinz 57" canine named Leroy.

ABC also reports that on a financial disclosure form, Shellie Zimmerman said she is unemployed and listed her monthly expenses as $755.

Since they separated, George Zimmerman has given her $4,300 for living expenses and the "source of funds appears to be Zimmerman Legal Defense Fund," according to the financial disclosure form obtained by ABC.

The divorce announcement marked the second time Zimmerman was in the news on this week.  A Raleigh Divorce Lawyer was not surprised.

Earlier, it was reported that Zimmerman was stopped for speeding for the second time this summer.

Zimmerman was pulled over Tuesday morning in Lake Mary, Fla., and issued a $256 ticket for going 60 mph in a 45-mph zone. In July, he was pulled over in Dallas for speeding but was issued only a warning and let go. This time, he'll get 3 points on his license, unless he successfully contests the ticket or takes an online driver improvement course. A Tampa Divorce Lawyer was not sure what action Zimmerman would take.

"George Zimmerman is kind of like the Loch Ness Monster — anytime you get a glimpse of him, it's making international news," said officer Zach Hudson, a spokesman for the Lake Mary Police Department, which issued Zimmerman the ticket.

Both developments come months after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Last week, Shellie Zimmerman also found herself in court as she pleaded guilty to perjury for lying during a bond hearing for her husband.

George Zimmerman did not attend the hearing where his wife was sentenced to a year's probation and 1000 hours of community service for the charge.

Hints that the marriage was in trouble surfaced several days later when Shellie Zimmerman told ABC News that her husband's trial put a strain on their marriage.

"I think we have been pretty much like gypsies…We've lived in a 20-foot trailer in the woods, scared every night that someone was going to find us and that we'd be out in the woods alone and that it would be horrific," she told ABC News.  A Canadian County Divorce Lawyer is watching the story closely.

Thursday afternoon, Robert Zimmerman, Jr., George Zimmerman's brother, asked people on Twitter to pray for the couple. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gender Equality Case Study

Story first appeared in the New York Times.

When the members of the Harvard Business School class of 2013 gathered in May to celebrate the end of their studies, there was little visible evidence of the experiment they had undergone for the last two years. As they stood amid the brick buildings named after businessmen from Morgan to Bloomberg, black-and-crimson caps and gowns united the 905 graduates into one genderless mass.

But during that week’s festivities, the Class Day speaker, a standout female student, alluded to “the frustrations of a group of people who feel ignored.” Others grumbled that another speechmaker, a former chief executive of a company in steep decline, was invited only because she was a woman. At a reception, a male student in tennis whites blurted out, as his friends laughed, that much of what had occurred at the school had “been a painful experience.”

He and his classmates had been unwitting guinea pigs in what would have once sounded like a far-fetched feminist fantasy: What if Harvard Business School gave itself a gender makeover, changing its curriculum, rules and social rituals to foster female success?

The country’s premier business training ground was trying to solve a seemingly intractable problem. Year after year, women who had arrived with the same test scores and grades as men fell behind. Attracting and retaining female professors was a losing battle; from 2006 to 2007, a third of the female junior faculty left.
Some students, like Sheryl Sandberg, class of ’95, the Facebook executive and author of “Lean In,” sailed through. Yet many Wall Street-hardened women confided that Harvard was worse than any trading floor, with first-year students divided into sections that took all their classes together and often developed the overheated dynamics of reality shows. Some male students, many with finance backgrounds, commandeered classroom discussions and hazed female students and younger faculty members, and openly ruminated on whom they would “kill, sleep with or marry” (in cruder terms). Alcohol-soaked social events could be worse.

“You weren’t supposed to talk about it in open company,” said Kathleen L. McGinn, a professor who supervised a student study that revealed the grade gap. “It was a dirty secret that wasn’t discussed.”

But in 2010, Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s first female president, appointed a new dean who pledged to do far more than his predecessors to remake gender relations at the business school. He and his team tried to change how students spoke, studied and socialized. The administrators installed stenographers in the classroom to guard against biased grading, provided private coaching — for some, after every class — for untenured female professors, and even departed from the hallowed case-study method.

The dean’s ambitions extended far beyond campus, to what Dr. Faust called in an interview an “obligation to articulate values.” The school saw itself as the standard-bearer for American business. Turning around its record on women, the new administrators assured themselves, could have an untold impact at other business schools, at companies populated by Harvard alumni and in the Fortune 500, where only 21 chief executives are women. The institution would become a laboratory for studying how women speak in group settings, the links between romantic relationships and professional status, and the use of everyday measurement tools to reduce bias.
“We have to lead the way, and then lead the world in doing it,” said Frances Frei, her words suggesting the school’s sense of mission but also its self-regard. Ms. Frei, a popular professor turned administrator who had become a target of student ire, was known for the word “unapologetic,” as in: we are unapologetic about the changes we are making.

By graduation, the school had become a markedly better place for female students, according to interviews with more than 70 professors, administrators and students, who cited more women participating in class, record numbers of women winning academic awards and a much-improved environment, down to the male students drifting through the cafeteria wearing T-shirts celebrating the 50th anniversary of the admission of women. Women at the school finally felt like, “ ‘Hey, people like me are an equal part of this institution,’ ” said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a longtime professor.

And yet even the deans pointed out that the experiment had brought unintended consequences and brand new issues. The grade gap had vaporized so fast that no one could quite say how it had happened. The interventions had prompted some students to revolt, wearing “Unapologetic” T-shirts to lacerate Ms. Frei for what they called intrusive social engineering. Twenty-seven-year-olds felt like they were “back in kindergarten or first grade,” said Sri Batchu, one of the graduating men.

Students were demanding more women on the faculty, a request the deans were struggling to fulfill. And they did not know what to do about developments like female students dressing as Playboy bunnies for parties and taking up the same sexual rating games as men. “At each turn, questions come up that we’ve never thought about before,” Nitin Nohria, the new dean, said in an interview.
The administrators had no sense of whether their lessons would last once their charges left campus. As faculty members pointed out, the more exquisitely gender-sensitive the school environment became, the less resemblance it bore to the real business world. “Are we trying to change the world 900 students at a time, or are we preparing students for the world in which they are about to go?” a female professor asked.

The Beginning

Nearly two years earlier, in the fall of 2011, Neda Navab sat in a class participation workshop, incredulous. The daughter of Iranian immigrants, Ms. Navab had been the president of her class at Columbia, advised chief executives as a McKinsey & Company consultant and trained women as entrepreneurs in Rwanda. Yet now that she had arrived at the business school at age 25, she was being taught how to raise her hand.

A second-year student, a former member of the military, stood in the front of the classroom issuing commands: Reach up assertively! No apologetic little half-waves! Ms. Navab exchanged amused glances with new friends. She had no idea that she was witnessing an assault on the school’s most urgent gender-related challenge.
The administrators had no sense of whether their lessons would last once their charges left campus. As faculty members pointed out, the more exquisitely gender-sensitive the school environment became, the less resemblance it bore to the real business world. “Are we trying to change the world 900 students at a time, or are we preparing students for the world in which they are about to go?” a female professor asked.

The Beginning

Nearly two years earlier, in the fall of 2011, Neda Navab sat in a class participation workshop, incredulous. The daughter of Iranian immigrants, Ms. Navab had been the president of her class at Columbia, advised chief executives as a McKinsey & Company consultant and trained women as entrepreneurs in Rwanda. Yet now that she had arrived at the business school at age 25, she was being taught how to raise her hand.

A second-year student, a former member of the military, stood in the front of the classroom issuing commands: Reach up assertively! No apologetic little half-waves! Ms. Navab exchanged amused glances with new friends. She had no idea that she was witnessing an assault on the school’s most urgent gender-related challenge.
Women at Harvard did fine on tests. But they lagged badly in class participation, a highly subjective measure that made up 50 percent of each final mark. Every year the same hierarchy emerged early on: investment bank and hedge fund veterans, often men, sliced through equations while others — including many women — sat frozen or spoke tentatively. The deans did not want to publicly dwell on the problem: that might make the women more self-conscious. But they lectured about respect and civility, expanded efforts like the hand-raising coaching and added stenographers in every class so professors would no longer rely on possibly biased memories of who had said what.

They rounded out the case-study method, in which professors cold-called students about a business’s predicament, with a new course called Field, which grouped students into problem-solving teams. (Gender was not the sole rationale for the course, but the deans thought the format would help.) New grading software tools let professors instantly check their calling and marking patterns by gender. One professor, Mikolaj Piskorski, summarized Mr. Nohria’s message later: “We’re going to solve it at the school level, but each of you is responsible to identify what you are doing that gets you to this point.”

Mr. Nohria, Ms. Frei and others involved in the project saw themselves as outsiders who had succeeded at the school and wanted to help others do the same. Ms. Frei, the chairwoman of the first-year curriculum, was the most vocal, with her mop of silver-brown hair and the drive of the college basketball player she had once been. “Someone says ‘no’ to me, and I just hear ‘not yet,’ ” she said.

After years of observation, administrators and professors agreed that one particular factor was torpedoing female class participation grades: women, especially single women, often felt they had to choose between academic and social success.
One night that fall, Ms. Navab, who had laughed off the hand-raising seminar, sat at an Ethiopian restaurant wondering if she had made a bad choice. Her marketing midterm exam was the next day, but she had been invited on a very business-school kind of date: a new online dating service that paired small groups of singles for drinks was testing its product. Did Ms. Navab want to come? “If I were in college, I would have said let’s do this after the midterm,” she said later.

But she wanted to meet someone soon, maybe at Harvard, which she and other students feared could be their “last chance among cream-of-the-crop-type people,” as she put it. Like other students, she had quickly discerned that her classmates tended to look at their social lives in market terms, implicitly ranking one another. And like others, she slipped into economic jargon to describe their status.

The men at the top of the heap worked in finance, drove luxury cars and advertised lavish weekend getaways on Instagram, many students observed in interviews. Some belonged to the so-called Section X, an on-again-off-again secret society of ultrawealthy, mostly male, mostly international students known for decadent parties and travel.

Women were more likely to be sized up on how they looked, Ms. Navab and others found. Many of them dressed as if Marc Jacobs were staging a photo shoot in a Technology and Operations Management class. Judging from comments from male friends about other women (“She’s kind of hot, but she’s so assertive”), Ms. Navab feared that seeming too ambitious could hurt what she half-jokingly called her “social cap,” referring to capitalization.

“I had no idea who, as a single woman, I was meant to be on campus,” she said later. Were her priorities “purely professional, were they academic, were they to start dating someone?”

As she scooped bread at the product-trial-slash-date at the Ethiopian restaurant, she realized that she had not caught the names of the men at the table. The group drank more and more. The next day she took the test hung over, her performance a “disaster,” she joked.

The deans did not know how to stop women from bartering away their academic promise in the dating marketplace, but they wanted to nudge the school in a more studious, less alcohol-drenched direction. “We cannot have it both ways,” said Youngme Moon, the dean of the M.B.A. program. “We cannot be a place that claims to be about leadership and then say we don’t care what goes on outside the classroom.”

But Harvard Business students were unusually powerful, the school’s products and also its customers, paying more than $50,000 in tuition per year. They were professionals, not undergraduates. One member of the class had played professional football; others had served in Afghanistan or had last names like Blankfein (Alexander, son of Lloyd, chief executive of Goldman Sachs). They had little knowledge of the institutional history; the deans talked less about the depressing record on women than vague concepts like “culture” and “community” and “inclusion.”

As the semester went on, many students felt increasingly baffled about the deans’ seeming desire to be involved in their lives. They resented the additional work of the Field courses, which many saw as superfluous or even a scheme to keep them too busy for partying. Students used to form their own study groups, but now the deans did it for them.

As Halloween approached, some students planned to wear costumes to class, but at the last minute Ms. Frei, who wanted to set a serious tone and head off the potential for sexy pirate costumes, sent a note out prohibiting it, provoking more eye rolls. “How much responsibility does H.B.S. have?” Laura Merritt, a co-president of the class, asked later. “Do we have school uniforms? Where do you stop?”

A few days before the end of the fall semester, Amanda Upton, an investment banking veteran, stood before most of her classmates, lecturing and quizzing them about finance. Every term just before finals, the Women’s Student Association organized a review session for each subject, led by a student who blitzed classmates through reams of material in an hour. Some of the first-years had not had a single female professor. Now Ms. Upton delivered a bravado performance, clearing up confusion about discounted cash flow and how to price bonds, tossing out Christmas candy as rewards.

Like many other women, Kate Lewis, the school newspaper editor, believed in the deans’ efforts. But she thought Ms. Upton’s turn did more to fortify the image of women than anything administrators had done. “It’s the most powerful message: this girl knows it better than all of you,” she said.

Breaking the Ice

One day in April 2012, the entire first-year class, including Brooke Boyarsky, a Texan known for cracking up her classmates with a mock PowerPoint presentation, reported to classrooms for a mandatory discussion about sexual harassment. As students soon learned, one woman had confided to faculty members that a male student she would not identify had groped her in an off-campus bar months before. Rather than dismissing the episode, the deans decided to exploit it: this was their chance to discuss the drinking scene and its consequences. “They could not have gone any more front-page than this,” Ms. Boyarsky said later.

Everyone in Ms. Boyarsky’s classes knew she was incisive and funny, but within the campus social taxonomy, she was overlooked — she was overweight and almost never drank much, stayed out late or dated. After a few minutes of listening to the stumbling conversation about sexual harassment, she raised her hand to make a different point, about the way the school’s social life revolved around appearance and money.

“Someone made the decision for me that I’m not pretty or wealthy enough to be in Section X,” she told her classmates, her voice breaking.

The room jumped to life. The students said they felt overwhelmed by the wealth that coursed through the school, the way it seemed to shape every aspect of social life — who joined activities that cost hundreds of dollars, who was invited to the parties hosted by the student living in a penthouse apartment at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Boston. Some students would never have to seek work at all — they were at Harvard to learn to invest their families’ fortunes — and others were borrowing thousands of dollars a year just to keep up socially.

The discussion broke the ice, just not on the topic the deans had intended. “Until then, no one else had publicly said ‘Section X,’ ” Mr. Batchu said. Maybe it was because class was easier to talk about than gender, or maybe it was because class was the bigger divide — at the school and in the country.

That was only one out of 10 sessions. At most of the others, the men contributed little. Some of them, and even a few women, had grown to openly resent the deans’ emphasis on gender, using phrases like “ad nauseam” and “shoved down our throats,” protesting that this was not what they had paid to learn.

Patrick Erker was not among the naysayers — he considered himself a feminist and a fan of the deans. As an undergraduate at Duke, he had managed the women’s basketball team, wiping their sweat from the floor and picking up their dirty jerseys.

But as he silently listened to the discussion, he decided the setup was all wrong: a discussion of a sex-related episode they knew little about, with “89 other people judging every word,” led by professors who would be grading them later that semester.

“I’d like to be candid, but I paid half a million dollars to come here,” another man said in an interview, counting his lost wages. “I could blow up my network with one wrong comment.” The men were not insensitive, they said; they just considered the discussion a poor investment of their carefully hoarded social capital. Mr. Erker used the same words as many other students had to describe the mandatory meetings: “forced” and “patronizing.”

That week, Andrew Levine, the director of the annual spoof show, was notified by administrators that he was on academic and social probation because other students had consumed alcohol in the auditorium after a performance. (His crime: dining with visiting family instead of staying as he had promised in a contract.) He was barred from social events and put on academic probation as well.

That was just what students needed to believe their worst suspicions about the administration. Ms. Frei had not made the decision about Mr. Levine and worked to cancel his academic probation, he said later, but students called her a hypocrite, a leadership expert who led badly. Hundreds of students soon wore T-shirts that said “Free Andy” or “Unapologetic.”

“Daddy, why are the students hating on you?” Mr. Nohria’s teenage daughters asked him, he told students later.

A few days before commencement, Nathan Bihlmaier, a second-year student, disappeared while celebrating with classmates in Portland, Me. He had last been seen so inebriated that a bartender had asked him to leave a pub. When the authorities told students that Mr. Bihlmaier’s body had been dredged from the harbor, apparently after a fall, Mr. Nohria and Ms. Moon were standing beside them.

The first year of their experiment was ending with a catastrophe that brought home how little sway they really had over students’ actions. Mr. Bihlmaier had not even been the drinking type. In the spirit of feminist celebration, Ms. Sandberg gave a graduation address at the deans’ invitation, but during the festivities all eyes were on Mr. Bihlmaier’s widow, visibly pregnant with their first child.

Amid all the turmoil, though, the deans saw cause for hope. The cruel classroom jokes, along with other forms of intimidation, were far rarer. Students were telling them about vigorous private conversations that had flowed from the halting public ones. Women’s grades were rising — and despite the open resentment toward the deans, overall student satisfaction ratings were higher than they had been for years.

A Lopsided Situation

Even on the coldest nights of early 2013, Ms. Frei walked home from campus, clutching her iPhone and listening to a set of recordings made earlier in the day. Once her two small sons were in bed, she settled at her dining table, wearing pajamas and nursing a glass of wine, and fired up the digital files on her laptop. “Really? Again?” her wife, Anne Morriss, would ask.

Ms. Frei been promoted to dean of faculty recruiting, and she was on a quest to bolster the number of female professors, who made up a fifth of the tenured faculty. Female teachers, especially untenured ones, had faced various troubles over the years: uncertainty over maternity leave, a lack of opportunities to write papers with senior professors, and students who destroyed their confidence by pelting them with math questions they could not answer on the spot or commenting on what they wore.

“As a female faculty member, you are in an incredibly hostile teaching environment, and they do nothing to protect you,” said one woman who left without tenure. A current teacher said she was so afraid of a “wardrobe malfunction” that she wore only custom suits in class, her tops invisibly secured to her skin with double-sided tape.

Now Ms. Frei, the guardian of the female junior faculty, was watching virtually every minute of every class some of them taught, delivering tips on how to do better in the next class. She barred other professors from giving them advice, lest they get confused. But even some of Ms. Frei’s allies were dubious.

At the end of every semester, students gave professors teaching scores from a low of 1 to a high of 7, and some of the female junior faculty scores looked beyond redemption. More of the male professors arrived at Harvard after long careers, regaling students with real-life experiences. Because the pool of businesswomen was smaller, female professors were more likely to be academics, and students saw female stars as exceptions.

“The female profs I had were clearly weaker than the male ones,” said Halle Tecco, a 2011 graduate. “They weren’t able to really run the classroom the way the male ones could.”

Take the popular second-year courses team-taught by Richard S. Ruback, a top finance professor, and Royce G. Yudkoff, a co-founder of a private equity firm that managed billions of dollars. The men taught students, among other lessons, how to start a “search fund,” a pool of money to finance them while they found and acquired a company. In recent years, search funds had become one of the hottest, riskiest and most potentially lucrative pursuits for graduates of top business schools — shortcuts to becoming owners and chief executives.

The two professors were blunt and funny, pushing a student one moment, ribbing another one the next. They embodied the financial promise of a Harvard business degree: if the professors liked you, students knew, they might advise and even back you.

As Ms. Frei reviewed her tapes at night, making notes as she went along, she looked for ways to instill that confidence. The women, who plainly wanted to be liked, sometimes failed to assert their authority — say, by not calling out a student who arrived late. But when they were challenged, they turned too tough, responding defensively (“Where did you get that?”).

Ms. Frei urged them to project warmth and high expectations at the same time, to avoid trying to bolster their credibility with soliloquies about their own research. “I think the class might be a little too much about you, and not enough about the students,” she would tell them the next day.

By the end of the semester, the teaching scores of the women had improved so much that she thought they were a mistake. One professor had shot to a 6 from a 4. Yet all the attention, along with other efforts to support female faculty, made no immediate impact on the numbers of female teachers. So few women were coming to teach at the school that evening out the numbers seemed almost impossible.

As their final semester drew to a close, the students were preoccupied with the looming question of their own employment. Like graduates before them, the class of 2013 would to some degree part by gender after graduation, with more men going into higher-paying areas like finance and more women going into lower-paying ones like marketing.

Ms. Navab, who had started dating one of the men — with an M.D. and an M.B.A. — from the Ethiopian dinner, had felt freer to focus on her career once she was paired off. She was happy with her job at a California start-up, but she pointed out that she and some other women never heard about many of the most lucrative jobs because the men traded contacts and tips among themselves.

This was the lopsided situation that women in business school were facing: in intellectual prestige, they were pulling even with or outpacing male peers, but they were not “touching the money,” as Nori Gerardo Lietz, a real estate private equity investor and faculty member, put it. A few alumnae had founded promising start-ups like Rent the Runway, an evening wear rental service, but when it came to reaping big financial rewards, most women were barely in the game.

At an extracurricular presentation the year before, a female student asked William Boyce, a co-founder of Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital firm, for advice for women who wanted to go into his field. “Don’t,” he laughed, according to several students present. Male partners did not want them there, he continued, and he was doing them a favor by warning them.

Some women protested or walked out, but others said they believed he was telling the truth. (In interviews, Mr. Boyce denied saying women should not go into venture capital, but an administrator said student complaints prompted the school to contact the firm, which he had left decades before.)

The deans had not focused on career choice, earning power or staying in the work force; they felt they first needed to address campus issues. Besides, the earning gap posed a dilemma: they were hoping fewer students would default to finance as a career. “Have the courage to make the choices early in your life that are determined by your passions,” Mr. Nohria told students.

Plenty of women had taken Mr. Ruback and Mr. Yudkoff’s classes on acquiring and running businesses, including Ms. Upton, who had delivered the crackerjack finance presentation. She counted 30 to 40 classmates planning search funds, all men except for a no-nonsense engineer named Jennifer Braus. The professors eventually decided to finance and advise Ms. Braus, hoping other Harvard women would follow.“Nothing succeeds like success,” Mr. Ruback said.

Ms. Upton decided to take a far lower-risk job managing a wealthy family’s investments in Pittsburgh, where her fiancé lived. “You can either be a frontier charger or have an easier, happier life,” she said.

Looking Ahead

Of all the ceremonies and receptions during graduation week, the most venerated was the George F. Baker Scholar Luncheon, for the top 5 percent of the class, held in a sunny dining room crowded with parents who looked alternately thrilled and intimidated by what their offspring had achieved.

In recent years, the glory of the luncheon had been dimmed by discomfort at the low number of female honorees. But this year, almost 40 percent of the Baker scholars were women. It was a remarkable rise that no one could precisely explain. Had the professors rid themselves of unconscious biases? Were the women performing better because of the improved environment? Or was the faculty easing up in grading women because they knew the desired outcome?

“To my head, all three happened,” Professor Piskorski said. But Mr. Nohria said he had no cause to think the professors had used the new software, and the subjective participation scores, to avoid gender gaps. “Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” he said, a phrase that he said had guided him throughout his project.

One of the Baker scholars was Ms. Boyarsky, the classroom truth-teller. Two hours after the luncheon, she stepped up to a lectern to address thousands of graduates, faculty members and parents. Of the two dozen or so men and only 2 women who had tried out before a student committee, she had beaten them all, with a witty, self-deprecating speech unlike any in the school’s memory.

“I entered H.B.S. as a truly ‘untraditional applicant’: morbidly obese,” she said.

The theme of her speech was finding the courage to make necessary but painful changes. “Courage is a brand new H.B.S. professor, younger than some of her students, teaching her very first class on her very first day,” she said. “Courage is one woman” — the one who reported the groping episode — “who wakes the entire school up to the fact that gender relations still have a long way to go at H.B.S.”

And, Ms. Boyarsky continued, she had lost more than 100 pounds during her final year at Harvard. “Courage was then me battling the urge to be defensive — something I believe I had been for a long time about this particular issue — and taking a hard, honest look within myself to figure out what had prevented change,” she said.

Even before she finished, her phone was buzzing with e-mails and texts from classmates. She was the girl everyone wished they had gotten to know better, the graduation-week equivalent of the person whose obituary made you wish you had followed her work. She had closed the two-year experiment by making the best possible case for it. “This is the student they chose to show off to the world,” Ms. Moon said. For the next academic year, she was arranging for second-year students to lead many of the trickiest conversations, realizing students were the most potent advocates.

The administrators and the class of 2013 were parting ways, their experiment continuing. The deans vowed to carry on but could not say how aggressively: whether they were willing to revise the tenure process to attract more female contenders, or allow only firms that hired and promoted female candidates to recruit on campus. “We made progress on the first-level things, but what it’s permitting us to do is see, holy cow, how deep-seated the rest of this is,” Ms. Frei said.

The students were fanning out to their new jobs, full of suspense about their fates. Because of the unique nature of what they had experienced, they knew, every class alumni magazine update and reunion would be a referendum on how high the women could climb and what values the graduates instilled — the true verdict on the experiment in which they had taken part.

As Ms. Boyarsky glanced around her new job as a consultant at McKinsey in Dallas, she often noticed that she was outnumbered by men, but she spoke up anyway. She was dating more than she had at school, she added with shy enthusiasm.

“I am super excited to go to my 30th reunion,” she said.