Conway Senate race heats up | Arkansas Blog

Friday, August 8, 2008

Conway Senate race heats up

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 7:35 PM

The Democrat-Gazette chose to ignore it, but the Log Cabin Democrat has plunged into the debate emerging in the state Senate race between Republican incumbent Gilbert Baker (pictured) and Democrat Joe White. We reported it first here.

Why has Glbert Baker stayed silent on the multiple transgressons of public trust that have occurred at the major employer in his district, the University of Central Arkansas? Check this weasling:

"Just like all the legislators in this area, we will not interfere with the responsibility given to the UCA Board of Trustees," he said.

Baker said that though he hasn't participated in the public discussion of UCA's controversies, if re-elected Nov. 4 he would continue to serve on the joint budget and education legislative committees, as well as chair the Legislative Council Higher Education Sub-Committee.

From these positions, Baker said, "my primary focus will be higher education funding, and personnel issues ... from the president (of a state higher-education institution) on down.

"That is where I'll have the opportunity to demonstrate some leadership."

Leadership, senator, is to deplore spending of public money illegally, as UCA did in paying a bonus from public funds in excess of what the law allows. Twice, to the tune of $400,000. It is to deplore multiple violations of the Freedom of Information Act. It is to deplore the misleading of university trustees with a memo you say, wrongly, was written by others. It is to deplore a public employee who seeks an additional $150,000 a year in pay and asks that it be kept a secret from taxpayers. It is to deplore use of public property and employees in support of political campaigns. (Whoops. This wouldn't be prudent, since UCA people and gear helped the Gilbert Baker Campaign) It is to deplore a non-public procedure for alloting coveted single-family housing on the university campus. (Whoops. This wouldn't be prudent either. Not when the SENATOR BAKER'S CHILD is one of the lucky sperm club that benefits from special housing.)

The Cabin's article mentions our story this week about the UCA perks for pals. Regrettably, they let Baker get away with his laughable assertion about half-truths in the article. He's yet to cite one. Nor did the Cabin. Indeed, its interview with a campus official only served to make it clear how prone to special treatment is the assignment of special housing.

For another day dear readers: the free UCA wedding reception enjoyed by one trustee's child. A friend of Baker, I should add.

It's simple Senator Baker. UCA has been run like a club. And you've been one of the  inner sanctum members. That fund-raiser at which you had help from UCA employees and gear was held at the home of UCA Trustee Michael Stanton. Remember? None dare confuse this with leadership.

Do you really think Baker can get away with taking the UCA matter off the table for this campaign? Audacious strategy.

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