A big THANK YOU to the investigative reporters who continue undeterred on the trail of waste, public safety mismanagement, and corruption at the Arizona State University! Thank you Ray Stern for this excellent work.
It’s an honorable endeavor to expose crooks and dishonesty. You provide an invaluable service to the public by doing so, especially when public servants fail to be trustworthy. We were worried local reporters gave up. Frankly, it’s hard to ignore the stinking trail of mismanaged public safety. It’s impossible to ignore the wasted taxpayer dollars and student tuition at ASU. In the middle of a statewide budget crisis, cutbacks, and continued tuition increases the ASU administration continues to spend millions frivolously like the celebrities they imagine themselves to be. A far cry from the original charter of the university.
This particular story of waste is small in comparison, not millions, only $155,000 for John Pickens, the “Executive Director of University Security Initiatives“ to do what exactly? Delegate everything to subordinate supervisors who would then delegate to an army of subordinate supervisors the way John Pickens did while he was Chief at ASUPD? Apparently Pickens has nobody to delegate to anymore and do his homework for him.
His Executive Director job does have a goal, in the words of the Arizona State University,…
“…assist appropriate staff” to make sure ASU is prepared for emergencies, and “collaborate” with staff to review design plans for surveillance cameras in the renovated Sun Devil Stadium, among other things.“
Joe the plumber could describe a piece of shit to be an assistant collaborator to a clogged toilet and that is exactly what Morgan Olsen created by holding on to this liability to public safety in a vain attempt to save face, but nobody is buying it.
For an assistant collaborator $155,000 is not only quite a bit of money, it’s a fraud. They believe the public are idiots willing to trust in their public relations spin without end. Maybe they thought investigative reporters wouldn’t notice, maybe years of business as usual management makes them believe they are untouchable. Whatever the reason two wrongs don’t make a right. The University administration’s unwillingness to admit a problem with public safety only fuels more liability.
To buy the silence of the former shamed ASU Chief of Police John Pickens after the Ore/Ferrin incident, the university administration created a high-salaried fictitious position for him and a small office for him to occupy. The title, “Executive Director of University Security Initiatives” is a worthless empty position and the facts are clear.
If only Mr. Pickens could say, “Yes, I have been sitting on my ass for a year with nothing to show for it.” That’s honesty Mr. Pickens, something you and your cronies have always had a problem with.
The article states, “Neither ASU nor Pickens could provide documentation that he’s accomplished anything during his first year in the new job.” Hardly surprising considering after 14 years nothing substantial could be said about his tenure as chief except the work other people did and he took credit for. In his going away statement they listed building a new police station among other things he didn’t do.
Like the current ASUPD Chief Mike Thompson, he was frequently caught in lies by employees because he couldn’t remember how to keep the stories straight or realize his employees would easily find out the truth.
The article states, “The video-camera expansion project hasn’t yet been sent out for bids to private companies that will actually do the work. When asked for the budget of University Security Initiatives and for documents showing anyone else other than Pickens working for the department, ASU officials said there were no such records. No record of any such department exists on ASU’s extensive website, except for documents that refer to Pickens’ getting the job to direct it.”
Can you smell it? We do, and we commend the New Times for focusing on another AZ corruption story besides the Sheriff we already knew was corrupt and thought himself to be above the rules, above the law, the way ASUPD command staff has done for years without interruption.
Do a search for the position John Pickens was gifted, “Executive Director of University Security Initiatives “, try to find out about the man and what he does. You won’t find anything but a name, title, and a $155,000 bill for the tax payers of Arizona to be tossed on the backs of college students trying to pay off loans for years to come. What does Pickens do? According to some he hangs out at the Apple-bees restaurant on Rural Rd in Tempe getting to know the staff more than he got to know any police department employees. Maybe they can find him something he’s capable of doing since he has proven incapable of managing his time in his latest over-paid and under-worked endeavor.
His new position was not open to the public or other university employees as it was created and immediately gifted to John Pickens in a process even more shady than ASUPD internal promotions. In this position he still makes more than Chiefs of Police all over the state, while non-supervisory employees at the police department continue to make less than their counterparts after his long tenure as Chief of police.
The unethical hiring and promotional practices are long standing jokes within the ASU Police Department, qualified experienced candidates are overlooked as a rule for compliant inexperienced ones with little other employment options except ASUPD. Look at the internal processes for positions within the department, who applied, who was picked, who was rejected, and who was told they couldn’t apply despite being more qualified than the pool of applicants chosen. Apparently this is a university wide problem.
The irony of John Pickens being at the head of a technology driven initiative is lost on non-ASU Police employees who are unfamiliar with him. John Pickens spent 14 years at the department struggling with technology, how to use Microsoft Outlook and Word to the point where (as everyone knows) his secretary and subordinate staff had to compose his emails for them to be void of numerous spelling and grammatical errors. It would have been difficult to find a more unqualified applicant for the university’s continued Feel Safe without Being Safe Campaign (cameras don’t solve crimes, they just make people feel safe instead of actually being safe). This is how Morgan Olsen approaches the public safety and it’s something he knows little about.
When Ray Stern from the New Times was able to locate the high-priced Executive Director of Nothing and Nobody, John Pickens, he said things all too familiar to employees at ASUPD, “I’m not sitting around on my butt doing nothing,” he insisted to New Times. Pickens said he’s 66 years old and decided to take the security job because he needed a change. He’s working on “a number of things,” he said, adding that the security goals “are a work in progress.” Laughable lies in abundance. He didn’t decide to retire, he was forced out. He took this position because this was a saving face attempt by the university that benefited him and kept him silent.
Former ASUPD Chief John Pickens will spent his following years at the University hiding out in an office on the second floor of the University Services Building reporting to his former subordinate Alan Clark and his former direct supervisor Morgan Olsen. I’m sure his new boss Alan Clark remembers when AZDPS were called in to investigate the latest sexual harassment complaint against him and then good old boy Chief John Pickens let it sit on his desk until he retired and positioned himself to double dip at the university by returning as ASU’s Director of Emergency Preparedness in 2012.
That IA (internal police investigation of its own employees) went right in the trash once Pickens’s #2 retired, despite the ASUPD policy of an IA having to be conducted within months instead of years. Policy is always ignored when convenient, one of many ethical concerns with the Arizona State University Police Department and the people still running it like a backwoods good old boy club house with badges and guns.
The Arizona State University Administration refuses to formerly admit or comment on any pertinent issue of corruption or abuse within the university or the failures of management in public safety. However, they acknowledge the failures informally believing that a storm of public relations, swift new appointments, and outright lies will dissuade the public from the truth. The truth will always be there, issues with the ASUPD have been ignored, and any attempt to bring the issues to light has been met with attempts to silence, intimidate, and remove suspected critics.
Look at the investigation launched on current and former department employees suspected of writing this blog that was outsourced to the Arizona Department of Public Safety before Frank Milstead took over, found out about it, and supposedly ended it. The assault on the first amendment is nothing new at the University under Michael Crow, there’s a long history of it at his “New American University”.
When John Pickens says, “I’m not sitting around on my butt doing nothing.” do you believe it? Read the New Times Article and ask yourself if he’s believable or not.
We say, “Bullshit JP, prove it or else you’re still the self-serving liar we know you to be.” Keep digging New Times, you’ll find the proverbial bodies for mismanagement, corruption, and many more undesirable practices at the Arizona State University, especially within the police department.
Here’s the contact information of Arizona State University administration:
- Arizona State University President Michael Crow
- Arizona State University Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Morgan Olsen (480)727-9920 Morgan.R.Olsen@asu.edu
- Arizona State University VP HR/Chief Human Res Officer
HR Office of Human Resources
Administrative Staff Kevin Salcido (480)965-6608 Kevin.J.Salcido@asu.edu
- Arizona State University Executive Director of University Security Initiatives John Pickens (480)727-5842 John.Pickens@asu.edu
See what they have to say about these issues, but be prepared to get a vague canned response if you get one at all. To that I say continue submitting Freedom Of Information Act Requests, FOIA, contact your Arizona State governor, Arizona state legislature, and Arizona board of regents for clarity and accountability. Document everything and prepare to be surprised by how ugly the truth is. The ASU administration needs to realize you can’t protect the public with lies, broken promises, public relations, cameras, gimmicks, or unqualified unethical police department leadership that doesn’t have the confidence or respect of the people they lead.