Fast Break - May 2006

Flushing Money Down the Toilet; Evidence Tampering

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May 2006
Fast News
Flushing Money Down the Toilet Honolulu police are asking for the public's help in finding thieves who have stolen $10,000 worth of brass toilet flush valves from rest rooms at city parks over the past three weeks.

Missing are more than 100 valves, which police expect to either end up on the construction parts black market or be melted down and sold. In addition to the valves, which cost $100 each, thieves also stole toilets, sinks and other items from 28 city parks on the North Shore and in central Oahu.

The thefts are believed to have been committed overnight by people familiar with installing and removing the fixtures. Police working the case told the Honolulu Advertiser that it's common for construction workers and contractors to loot the job sites of competitors, but the theft of bathroom materials is unheard of.

"It's very upsetting . . . to have to deal with this," said Honolulu parks and recreation director Les Chang. "The worst part of this is the inconvenience to the park users."

Evidence Tampering California State University, Long Beach, officials believe that university students hacked into the school's computer system and manipulated up to 1,000 of last fall's Recreation Assessment for Associated Students surveys in an attempt to discourage the construction of a campus recreation center.

In May, CSULB president F. King Alexander told the campus' Daily Forty-Niner that he was made aware of the tampering a month ago and is working to track down the perpetrators, who are CSULB students. Alexander confirmed the university has discovered that at least 300 and as many as 1,000 votes were falsely inserted into the online survey via computer manipulation. Nearly 8,000 students responded to the survey.

University officials, acting on an anonymous tip, believe that students hacked into the system and filled out surveys for other students. Reportedly, at least one student being investigated held an elected position in CSULB student government this past term and had access to student information that would allow such tampering.

According to Alexander, the survey-which assessed students' feelings about the need for an on-campus recreation center and their tolerance for fees to construct such a facility-may be nullified because of the tampering. Developed by Washington, D.C.-based consultancy Brailsford & Dunlavey, the survey was distributed last fall to all CSULB students with university e-mail accounts. An e-mail was sent to students with a link to the student government web site where the survey was located. Alexander said the tampering took place on this web site.

While their investigation continues, university officials vow to bring the hackers to justice. "We're going to make sure that (tampering) doesn't happen again and let people know the type of penalties associated with that (act)," Alexander said.

In the Field
Company News
  • Cardio Theater by Precor (Woodinville, Wash.) earned the designation of top entertainment supplier in the Nova7 "people's choice" awards program sponsored by Fitness Management magazine.
  • In April, SCIFIT Systems (Tulsa, Okla.) was honored with the Associate Member of the Year Award by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.
  • The New Balance Foundation (Boston, Mass.) announced that it will work with five New England communities in the building of new playgrounds.
  • The American Sports Builders Association has relocated its offices back to Maryland. The mailing address is now: 8480 Baltimore National Pike, #307, Ellicot City, MD 21043. New local phone number is 410/730-9595 and the fax number is 410/730-8833.

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Paul Steinbach, an associate editor at Athletic Business since November 1999 and the author of the magazine's monthly column on college sports, recently won a 2006 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award in the "Best Department" category. Judges praised Steinbach's selected columns from 2005 for their "excellent craftsmanship" and "impressive reporting on both controversial and non-contemporary issues in college athletics." As presenter Aric Press, financial investigative reporter for The New York Times, said in announcing Steinbach's win, "According to the judges, this work offered 'very valuable lessons for readers,' and that is exactly what we are all about."

Read Steinbach's latest column, "Head Games."

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