Speaking of the FOI | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 9, 2009

Speaking of the FOI

Posted By on Fri, Oct 9, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Speaking of UA and its historic and, I should say, unapologetic aversion to openness, particularly in matters athletic: I just got a note from UCA's new spokesman on an FOI matter. It speaks for itself.

My name is Jeff Pitchford and I took over for Warick Sabin here at UCA doing the communications work.  I also do the governmental relations work and other duties as assigned.  This morning, we had a UCA Board of Trustees teleconference meeting to look at one issue: employee health care.  It started at 8:30 a.m.

As I was getting ready from my home in NLR, I realized that I had not notified the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette the day before about the special called meeting.  I meant to and simply just let it slip my mind.  I immediately started leaving messages and when I got to the office, I sent an e-mail.  I latter learned about the two hour requriement to inform them and I have had two conversations with the editors over there about the meeting.  The issue the board voted on was new health insurance and dental providers for employees.  This is done every year to look at what the school is paying and to negotiate a better deal if there is one available.  It is done through the bidding process and is open to any company.  There was no attempt to try to keep the media out nor any "monkey" business going on.  The board quickly authorized the staff to negotiate the contracts and immediately adjurned the meeting and they all hung up the phones.  I did notifiy the AD-G ahead of time but not in the required time frame.

I apologized to the paper, the UCA President and the Board members as this was my mistake.  I am responsible for notifing the AD-G and I just simply did not do it and realized it too late.  They have told me there will be an article in the "B" section that will mention that the paper was not given a timely notice about the meeting.  Knowing your blog, I am already assuming there would be a mention of this tomorrow and I wanted to be on record with you that this was not the board's fault or the President's fault but it was my fault.  I'm still learning about the communications part of this job and now, policies regarding notifications and times.

I don't know what the headline will be as I type this but I am sick to my stomach already thinking about it.  UCA has had a tough time in the past and I don't want to add to it but I'm afraid I have today.  I wanted to let you know ahead of time before Saturday's edition so that if you or your bloggers read about it, you will know what it is all about and what it means.

Again, I have apologized to the paper, the UCA President and the UCA Board and hope to not let it happen again.

Thank you for your time.

Jeff Pitchford

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