1. The commencement speech market:
It’s my guess that the most sought-after commencement speaker this season is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. How many invites did she get, and how does that compare with other top names? And did she accept any? Is she getting paid? Especially now that Benghazi has come back into the news, has she set any ground rules related to the appearance, such as whether she will be available to the press before or after the talk?
Who else is a top drawer graduation speaker this year? And who, in terms of gravitas or lack thereof, is this year’s most unlikely pontificator?
What’s the market like generally this season? At a time when students face mounting tuition debt, have any schools, mindful that graduates are rarely rocked by any commencement speaker, made it a policy not to spend big bucks to put a star at the podium?
2. The Obamacare gravy train:
According to this exclusive AP report published last week, the state of California is going to spend “nearly $458 million on outside vendors by the end of 2014, covering lawyers, consultants, public relations advisers and other functions” to set up the state’s insurance exchange provided for by Obamacare. That suggests the birth of a new multi-billion dollar nationwide industry for people who can sell themselves as experts in building an electronic consumer marketplace for health insurance, which until now has mostly been marketed to employers rather than individuals.
So, who’s leading the charge to cash in and how are they doing it?
The AP story suggests that there is one obstacle, as least in California, to finding out. AP reports that unlike in other states, where the books of the agencies overseeing the insurance exchanges are subject to open records laws, legislators in California inserted an usual provision in its law setting up the exchange support apparatus that allows that all the new spending to be kept secret. (How that happened would, itself, be a good story.) But the books are open in other states, and even in California a good reporter ought to be able to find out who’s getting in on the action and what strings they are pulling along the way.