The $270,000 Grand Kerfuffle

By By The Chronicle's View

By The Chronicle’s View

With any luck, you didn’t graduate in the 2004-2005 school year.

Why? Because last year’s Presenter’s Office squandered the remainder of three years of your responsibly managed student fees-a surplus of $170,000-on one three-day concert in April.

And hopefully you haven’t just arrived to the U as a freshman, because you will now likely have to pay for tickets to previously free-of-charge university events-the result of last year’s Presenter’s Office spending an additional $66,000 over the budget on The Grand Kerfuffle (at which the popular Yellowcard and Yeah Yeah Yeahs performed).

Former Presenter’s Office Director Andy Murphy said he was “out of office when the bills came in,” and that he was unaware that the event had hit red ink, calling it “unforeseen.”

“It wasn’t the highlight of my day,” he said. Hopefully, it bothered him for a little longer than that, because-as Murphy and adviser George Lindsey readily acknowledge-the Presenter’s Office probably won’t be in good enough financial standing to put on a similar show for years to come.

The prevailing attitude on the Presenter’s Office seems to have been that the money was “stored to be spent,” and its members took it upon themselves to perform this task as quickly as possible.

Even if they didn’t anticipate mounting a $66,000 debt, they made a conscious decision to spend the whole of the surplus instead of using just $50,000 or so and leaving extra funds for future administrations and future students. Granted, Murphy and Co. had little choice, having already spent most of their $337,000 on prior events.

The Presenter’s Office, however, credits much of the blame to “last-minute occurrences.”

Hailstorms? The rising cost of gas? Terrorist attacks?

Nope, fences and security are among the “unforeseen” costs cited by programming adviser Brian Burton. There seems to have been little-to-no communication among the organizers of the event. Simply put, the overspending is a result of poor direction, planning and a lack of consideration for future consequences.

As if its bumbling management of The Grand Kerfuffle weren’t bad enough already, members of the office treated themselves to a more than $800 dinner at a steak and seafood restaurant a couple days after the event was over, patting themselves on the back for a job egregiously botched.

The main problem, as always, is that there are no repercussions for these careless acts of student government. Murphy and other key figures in last year’s events are still working in student leadership positions-on scholarships that are funded by student fees, no less-and are in charge of extensive budgets yet again.

In the future, the Associated Students of the University of Utah and the Presenter’s Office need to be mindful of administrations to come and avoid trying to create a personal legacy during their brief stint at the U at the expense of others.

It might take as many as four years to build another significant surplus, at which point the Presenter’s Office will hopefully have the foresight to be fiscally responsible and spread the benefits around to a variety of events, ensuring that all students who pay fees toward ASUU’s $1.35 million annual budget have a chance to benefit from their ventures.

As for the near future, it probably isn’t fair to judge the current Presenter’s Office as rigorously as we have in years past. After all, any problems it encounters can surely be blamed, in part, on the financial indiscretion of its predecessors.