EVER WONDER WHAT CONGRESS IS DOING?
by Rene A. Henry Published June 8, 2017 by O'Dwyer
If you ever wonder why Congress is in such a mess just try to get a response from someone in the office
of Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.). For a follow-up story and white paper I am writing, I was ready to
praise the Senator but first had some questions for her. I tried for more than a week with no success.
When Sen. Feinstein learned that some of the National Governing Bodies of sports as well as the U.S.
Olympic Committee (USOC) failed to report potential sexual abuse criminal activity covered by existing
laws, last month she introduced the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, known as the
Safe Sport Act. The new legislation amends the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act (Sports
Act) and requires that all allegations of sex abuse be promptly reported to local or federal law
ed companion legislation to my bill to protect young athletes from sexual abuse. … We must do all
we can to protect children.”
I was ready to compliment Sen. Feinstein and the House for their good intentions but they failed in
execution because the legislation protects only those children in Olympic or eligible to be Olympic
sports. Since the legislation amends the Sports Act I contacted Michael Harrigan who directed the
President’s Commission on Olympic Sports (PCOS). The Sports Act was based 100% on the report
of the PCOS in 1977. He was one of the few authors of the Sports Act and was solely responsible for
developing the strategy that led to it.
It is regrettable that neither Sen. Feinstein or anyone on her staff talked to Mr. Harrigan. “The National
Governing Bodies of the sports involved and the USOC already have the authority and responsibility to
report any alleged sexual abuse complaint to the police but some of the NGBs and some at the USOC
did not understand that as they overwhelmingly misinterpreted key provisions in the original Act” he said.
“Candidly, the same result could be achieved by better education inside the USOC and by amending the
USOC’s organic documents to make it crystal clear that potential sexual abuse activity, and other
potential crimes must be reported promptly to appropriate authorities.”
Several times over two days I called her main number, 202-224-3841 and received a recorded
message “We are experiencing a high volume of calls. You can hold for two minutes and then will be
disconnected. Please call back later.” Press releases from her office failed to list any name or contact
information. Andthat is customer service? Customer service is an oxymoron in government that it is
getting so bad that soon it will be non-existent.
The Los Angeles field office did give me the 202-223-9629 main number of the press office but no
email contacts. Things got worse when a woman named Sidney told me that Ashley Shapitl, the press
secretary, was out and it was their policy to not give anyone her phone number or email address. She
also had no idea who the legislative assistant was for the Senator. After playing a game of 20
questions, Sidney said “someone will be in contact with you.” Sidney refused to even give me her
own email address so I could send her my questions that she could forward to her boss and the
legislative assistant. I am still waiting or someone in Sen. Feinstein’s press office or staff to call or
This behavior of Sen. Feinstein’s office could be yet another reason why Congress gets nothing
accomplished, even on non-partisan issues. No one wants to be available, responsible for
accountable.Rep. Henry Cuellar (R-Texas) recognized this when he introduced the Government
Customer Service Improvement Act in 2012. His bill is a sad commentary on society today that
legislation is needed to remind public servants to practice good old fashioned common courtesy
and to combat their rudeness, inefficiency, lack of professionalism, and incompetency.
Maybe the libertarians are right – if the government employees can’t do their jobs simply eliminate them
and cut the budget.
Selected Op/Eds and Commentaries
To access any of the following, click on the headline ..
Ever Wonder What Congress Is Doing?, published by O'Dwyer June 8, 2017
If you ever wonder why Congress is in such a mess just try to get a response from someone in
the office of Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.). For a follow-up story and white paper I am writing, I
was ready to praise the Senator but first had some questions for her. I tried for more than a week with no
A Gold Medal for Rio Staff and Volunteers, published August 22, 2016 by Huntington News
Network and August 23, 2016 by Caribbean News Now!
The International Olympic Committee needs to award one more gold medal. This gold needs to go to
the volunteers and staff who made Rio’s 2016 Olympic Games a success. I do not remember any
organizing committee ever faced with so many crises – a nearly bankrupt government; Zika; an
impeached president; contractors who failed to complete projects; bay water in competition venues
contaminated with raw sewage, garbage and body parts; crime; water turning green in swimming
nd diving pools; and the Lochte episode. The volunteers in Rio de Janiero worked long hours, traveled
to and from venues at their own expense, and because of budgets and available resources, often
were not even fed. ....
NFL Has Become Magnet for Crises, published June 17, 2015 by O'Dwyer's, http://www.odwyerpr.
For the past year the busiest executive at the National Football League has to be the person responsible for crisis
management and communications. The NFL has been besieged with players, staff and even owners involved in
domestic violence, sexual assault, drugs, rules violations, sportsmanship, obstruction of investigations, and even
murder. And the most recent crisis is the story of the NFL and 14 teams receiving $5.4 million between 2011 and
2014 to honor members of the U.S. Military....
Hot Rod Hundley - You Gotta Love Him Baby!
Friends and family of Rodney Clark Hundley will gather here tomorrow (Saturday, April 4) morning to celebrate the
life of this great basketball legend. Better known as Hot Rod, he pleased, thrilled and entertained West Virginia
University and Lakers fans much to the dismay of opposing players and coaches.basketball will never see another
Hot Rod Hundley. He is a one-of-a-kind. I first met him in March 1954 during the Southern Conference basketball
tournament in Morgantown, W.Va. I was sports information director for William & Mary and working at the press
table. Rod sat next to me during a couple of the games and introduced himself.
Sports Need Independent Oversight, published October 22, 2014 by Huntington News Network and Caribbean
If sports organizations, leagues and teams want to insure equal disciplinary justice when athletes, coaches and
administrators behave badly they need to create independent committees to take this responsibility. Sexual assault,
rape, domestic violence, DUI and other violent and disreputable acts are becoming all too frequent by athletes and
others in sports. Or at least they are publicly known today and may have not been reported in past years. Recent
violence by National Football League players opened the door for the media ...
Will Greed and Money Kill College Sports?, published November 14 by Huntington News Net
Football is the king at 119 colleges and universities throughout the country and a major reason there are so many
crises in college sports. At many institutions the football coach is paid a multimillion dollar salary, more than the
institution’s president, and is the highest paid employee in many states...
Book Review: ''West by West' - Basketball Superstar Jerry West Tells It All, published November 8, 2011 by
Huntington News Net
When people write their autobiographies or authorize a biography to be written about their lives most only emphasize
their achievements and the best things that have happened. Few ever reveal the dark side of their lives.Not so with
basketball superstar Jerry West. In “West by West ...
Celeb Handlers, Gate Guardians Do Disservice to Their Clients, Need Crisis Communications Help, published
June 2, 2011 by Huntington News Net
Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers." With a proliferation of crises involving
entertainers and sports stars I believe you can add agents and PR flacks to Shakespeare’s wish list. The people who
are paid to protect their clients and give them the best possible advice, all too often are just not qualified to do so. I
spent a significant part of ....
Time for WVU to Retire Bosley's No. 77, published April 23, 2011 by The Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette
The new powers that be at West Virginia University have been quick to make a number of changes in a short period
of time. However, one needed change that is long overdue is to honor the greatest Mountaineer athletes. WVU
began playing football in 1891 and the uniform numbers of only two players have been retired - Sam Huff's No. 75
and Ira "Rat" Rodgers' No. 21. The Mountaineers' first basketball game was in 1903 but only Jerry West's No. 44 and
Hot Rod Hundley's No. 33 have been retired. ...
My Friend Sam Huff, the Coal Miner's Son, April 10, Huntington News Network
Sam Huff and I have been good friends since 1954. If he had not been a great football player, we would have never
met. He was the first person in his family who did not work in the coal mines and who graduated from college. I am
so glad he chose the career he did. ...
Remembering Fred Schaus, February 12 by Huntington News Network, February 14 by the Mountaineer
Sports Network and February 15 by The Charleston Gazette
When Fred Schaus passed away Wednesday evening, West Virginia lost one of its truly great leaders of sport. He
set WVU basketball scoring records playing on the great teams from 1946 to 1949. Following an outstanding
professional career, he returned to be the Mountaineers’ winningest basketball coach. And when called back to be
athletic director, he turned around a bankrupt department and took the WVU athletic program to a new
championship level. ...
Retiring Hot Rod Hundley's #33, January 21 by Huntington News Network, January 22 Charleston (W.Va.)
More than a half century after he played his last game for the Mountaineers, West Virginia University will retire Hot
Rod Hundley’s #33 during Saturday afternoon’s nationally-televised basketball game against Ohio State. ...
WVU-Marshall basketball game rich in history, January 17 Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette and January 19 by
Huntington News Network
When Marshall and Wet Virginia meet Wednesday night at the Charleston Civic Center as part of the Chesapeake
Energy Classic, it will be the 37th basketball game between the two universities. Both institutions have been an
important part of the state's sports history. ...
Honoring the Greats, May 2009, special for the magazine and website of the College Sports Information
Directors Association (CoSIDA)
Most colleges and universities do a terrific job honoring those who have made significant contributions to their athletic
programs. And generally the SID is at the center of it all, working with the various selection committees and then in
making the public announcements. Former athletes, coaches, and administrators ...
Build Relations With Former SIDs and Staff, January 2009, special for the magazine and website of the
College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA)
The office of sports information is the most overworked and underfunded of any in the athletic department. And, it is
the only office that serves not only every sports, but every constituent - coaches, players, administrators, students,
faculty, fans and the media. ...
SIDs Can Help Rewin the Public's Support of Hi-Ed, April 2009, special for the magazine and website of the
College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA)
Colleges and universities are suffering one of their worst financial crises. And, SIDs can help. Institutions need to
rewin the public's support of higher education and send a message to state legislatures. Sport is one of the most
powerful of all marketing and promotion tools and encompasses all demographics. ...
March Madness, No ... 80-Year Olds Playing Basketball? Yes!, published by Huntington News Network, March
At an age when many octogenarians are using canes, walkers or even motorized scooters to get around, can you
imagine six men in their 80s playing 3-on-3 half court basketball? Or even remembering their positions on the court
or who is on their team! This could truly be madness, but not this month. ...
Time for WVU to retire Hundley, Bosley numbers, published by the Charleston Gazette, January 6, 2009
With all of the excitement about Pat White ending his glorious Mountaineer career with a record-setting fourth bowl
win, fans calling for his number to be retired will have to wait. A long time. Maybe until 2060. ...
COMMENTARY: It's Time for WVU to Retire Numbers of Hundley, Bosley, published by Huntington News
Network, January 5, 2009
It's time for WVU to retire the numbers of Hot Rod Hundley (33) and Bruce Bosley (77) ...
The Best Sports Stories Never Seem to Get Told, published by Huntington News Network, December 29, 2008
All too often some of the best sports stories never get told. They are about the personal lives of athletes, coaches
and managers. Their names would be in headlines on Page One if any ever get in trouble and are arrested. But not
when they are champions doing good things for society. ...
College Sports Out of Control–Blame the University Presidents, published by Huntington News Network,
December 18, 2007
A quick look at the athletic department budgets of many colleges and universities, and the salaries being paid to
football and basketball coaches, you would think you were reviewing the financial statement of a Fortune 500
company. The cost of running sports programs at major colleges and universities is spiraling completely out of control
and needs to be brought back to reality. If the same rules are applied to all, there will be a level playing field and
costs can be reduced for all across-the-board....
Sport Wins Again Over Politics, published by Huntington News Network, August 1, 2007
Last week when the Iraq national soccer team defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 to win its first Asian Cup football
championship it again proved that sport wins where politicians and diplomacy fails. The players, who were Sunnis,
Shiites and Kurds, combined their athletic talents as a team to give a sense of tremendous national pride to all
Iraqis. Too bad this teamwork can’t carry over to the political and religious leaders of the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds
to bring peace to and rebuild their country. ...
U.S. Politicians: Keep Hands Off International Sports, published by Huntington News Network, May 30, 2006
They're at it again! Will they ever learn that U.S. politicians must stay out of international sports? The governing
bodies of Olympic and international sports have enough political problems of their own. They don't need unwelcome
interference by our politicians. Yet, now a wannabe Senator from the state of Washington has launched a campaign
to bar Iran from this year's soccer World Cup. ...
Politics and Bad Decisions In Olympic Will Never End, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, February 18, 2002
The decision this week by five Olympic figure skating judges outraged people throughout most of the world. It was
obvious to all but those five that Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier won the Olympic gold medal ...
March Madness - A New Crisis For College Campuses, first published on the BigTenU.com website and widely
cited and quoted by numerous publications since.
"March Madness" is giving colleges and universities a new crisis to worry about. But this "March Madness" has none
of the sports clichés of the NCAA basketball tournament. Violence, destructions, vandalism, rioting, and
drunkenness have replaced "Big Dance," "Sweet Sixteen" and "Final Four." ...
Professional and College Sports Criticized For Greed, speech November 11, 2001 before the Norfolk (Virginia)
Coaches, owners or professional teams, and college presidents who allow athletes to abuse women, drugs,
alcohol and society's rules were criticized here today ...
Bush Must Let Cuba Play, Caribbean Net News, Huntington News Network, December 17, 2005
The Bush Administration committed another serious diplomatic faux pas when it announced Cuba could not compete
in this year's inaugural World Baseball Classic. Normally the State Department is responsible for embarrassing U.S.
citizens worldwide; this time it was the Treasury Department....
A $32 Million College Football Coach? Outrageous!, published by Huntington News Network, January 6, 2007
The University of Alabama just spent $32 million to hire a football coach! A college football coach. Yes, that’s correct.
And at a public university supported by the by the taxpayers of Alabama. ...
Colleges and Universities Miss Opportunities for Public Support, published by bigtenu.org, March 2003
Selling higher education should be a major responsibility of the NCAA because if it were not for higher education,
there would be no need for an NCAA. Millions of dollars of free advertising and exposure are wasted by not taking
advantage of opportunities during the annual "March Madness" basketball tournament.
Reports from China - The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
The following reports were published by Huntington News Net and Caribbean Net News and republished by
many of the newspapers, radio and TV stations and cable TV stations served by these agencies.
An American's Touch on the Beijing Olympics (February 27, 2008 by Huntington News Net and February 29,
2008 by Caribbean Net News)
Jeff Ruffolo has an enviable position. He is the only American working in media relations along with more than 2,000
Chinese for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. Some could call his job an
Beijing 2008 - Going for the Gold or Not? (first in a series, August 29, 2007)
On August 8, 2008 at 8:00 p.m., China will showcase itself to the world. The people throughout the world will be
watching the Olympic Games may be the biggest audience ever including network television, cable television, pay
television and Internet. ...
Beijing Cleaning the Air for the Olympic Games (second in a series, August 30, 2007)
Smog is in the air throughout China. This coal rich nation is opening a new coal-fueled electric generating plant
every four days. That means that nearly 100 more will be built throughout the country before the opening of the
Olympic Games next summer.
New Venues, Food Safety and Security Schedule for Beijing Olympic Games (third in a series, August 31,
Organizers of the 2008 Olympic Games next summer in Beijing are making every effort to accommodate the needs of
athletes with new technologies in the venues, control on food safety and security. Nearly 11,000 athletes are
expected to compete in 302 events in 28 sports in 37 competition venues and 56 training venues. ...
Fake Olympic Merchandise Big Seller In China (fourth in a series, September 1, 2007)
The last place you would expect to find fake and counterfeit Olympic merchandise would be in China. Yet
everywhere you go in this country, street vendors rush you selling caps, T-shirts and other memorabilia with the logo
of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games. For years China has been known as the place to buy
fake Rolex and Omega watches and counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Gucci products. In recent years intellectual
property attorneys from around the world ...
Beijing Snubs Sister City Los Angeles (fifth in a series, September 2, 2007)
Beijing and Los Angeles have been sister cities for nearly 30 years and have much in common. The automobile
plays a major role in the culture of both cities. Both have air pollution problems. And both have outstanding
museums, culture, sports and entertainment centers. ...
Manners and Pride Are Important for China (sixth in a series, September 11, 2007)
There is an epidemic of national pride for the 2008 Olympic Games everywhere in China. While the Games in Beijing
are less than 11 months away, everyone you meet is proud that China will showcase its country, people, culture and
history to what will be the largest television audience in Olympics history. ...
The following commentaries were written exclusively and published by Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter, the
leading publication covering the public relations profession and media.
His "Perfect" PR Job: An American in Beijing (February 27, 2008)
Many of us can spend an entire career in PR and never have what we would call "our perfect job." Jeff Ruffolo is one
lucky person. He just turned 50 this year and says he now has "his perfect job." Ruffolo is the only American ...
Beijing OIympic Organizers Undertaking Major PR Campaign To Change People's Behavior, Image (September
Organization psychologists will tell you that changing attitudinal behavior is one of the most challenging, if not almost
impossible of tasks. But the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games is undertaking an aggressive
and comprehensive integrated marketing public relations campaign to do just that. ...
Beijing Olympic Organizers Get Failing Grades for PR (August 29, 2007)
On August 8, 2008 at 8:00 p.m., China will showcase itself to the world. It may be the largest TV audience ever in
Olympic Games history including network and cable TV and Internet. The Beijing Organizing Committee for the
Olympic Games has spent $60 billion (yes, "b" billion) on the Games, four times what any other organizing committee
has ever spent. By comparison, Los Angeles in 1984 spent $250 million ("m" for millions). ...
Beijing Olympic Committee Needs to Learn Western PR (September 1, 2007)
Only recently and because of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing has the Chinese government lifted travel and
interview restrictions on Western media. Before, Western journalists could not travel in many areas of the country
with clearance from the government and had to be cleared with special visas before anyone was allowed to talk with
them and be interviewed. Public relations also is a new game in China and especially for the Beijing Organizing
Committee for the Olympic Games. ...
"Country Roads" in Xi'an, China (September 18, 2007)
The last place in the world I would expect to hear people singing "Country Roads" would be here in this historic city
and the first capital of China. But it happened yesterday ...Published by Caribbean Net News, October 28 and
Huntington News Network, October 29, 2009