Official secrets: Exxon and the University of Arkansas | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Official secrets: Exxon and the University of Arkansas

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:37 AM

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports on a couple of continuing and depressingly familiar themes this morning:

* EXXONMOBIL: It has worked out a deal with Central Arkansas Water to share some pipeline information in a way that CAW can see it but the public cannot. A public agency can't agree to an illegal contract. It cannot agree — legally anyway — to withhold documents it receives if they are otherwise subject to disclosure. CAW says it wants openness and will protect the public's interest. If delivery on the promise depends on Exxon's good faith, consider that promise broken.

click to enlarge DID HE OR DIDN'T HE? If UA Chancellor David Gearhart talked to UA Board about an audit, why isn't it in the minutes? Could it be because the FOI wouldn't allow such a discussion in secret?
  • DID HE OR DIDN'T HE? If UA Chancellor David Gearhart talked to UA Board about an audit, why isn't it in the minutes? Could it be because the FOI wouldn't allow such a discussion in secret?
* THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS: The daily newspaper reported more omissions — millions of unreported subsidies from the UA Foundation — in past UA accounts of the financial finagling necessary to balance the books of the Advancement Division. Who can blame the UA? They've always been generally unanswerable to the public. The UA Foundation and the Razorback Foundation have always been honey holes for whatever spending the six-figure UA nabobs desired. Who knew somebody would blow the whistle over a continuation of this long-standing practice,which included deficit spending of current Chancellor David Gearhart when he was leading the advancement division.

We haven't gotten to the bottom of the UA cesspool yet.

One more example, if the law — as in the Freedom of Information Act — means anything to you. Events beginning in 2012:

Oct. 19 — UA Treasurer Jean Schook reports internally to Gearhart on a lack of financial controls in management at the advancement division.

Oct. 25 — Schook and Gearhart  UA finance chief Don Pederson meet with legislative auditors. They say nothing about the Schook report.

Nov. 2 — The UA Board of Trustees meets in a closed executive session. Minutes of that session make no mention of a discussion of  advancement division chief Brad Choate or his budget officer, Joy Sharp, or an audit of that division.

Nov. 6 — Gearhart gives Choate the boot.

Dec. 3 — Choate's removal becomes public because Arkansas Business blows the whistle on problems in the division.

Feb. 5, 2013 — With matters spinning out of coverup control,  Gearhart requests a state audit. He also, according to the fired John Diamond, instructs staff to stop generating documents that can be discovered under the FOI and to get rid of old ones. (He denies this.)

Feb. 24, 2013 — From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

On Nov. 2, Gearhart met with university trustees and Bobbitt in a closed session to talk about the Advancement Division’s financial problems. In an interview later, the chancellor said they talked ‘about asking university system auditors to come in. In discussing it with Dr. Bobbitt and members of the board, they didn’t feel it was necessary to do it.

Get it?  Gearhart seems to have revealed, inadvertently in covering himself, an FOI violation. He says he discussed matters with the board of trustees that couldn't properly be discussed in private — an audit of a university division. He also revealed discussion of subjects not mentioned then as matters discussed by the trustees. If, that is, his account in February to the D-G was accurate.

Critical questions:

* Did Gearhart or anyone tell the UA Board at that Nov. 2 meeting about Schook's Oct. 19 report? 

* Did UA Board decide against an audit knowing about the Schook report?

* If the Board made such a "decision," why isn't it reflected in minutes?

More than David Gearhart is hanging in the wind here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,



Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Johnny Key moves to weaken or end agreement with Little Rock teachers union

    Citing low scores on many Little Rock School Distrrict schools' standardized test, State Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who acts as district school board under state control, has rejected a new negotiating agreement with the Little Rock Education Association without a change that appears to allow an end to fair dismissal protection for. teachers at schools with D and F grades.
    • Oct 22, 2018
  • Another prison death reported

    Another prison death, this one at Tucker Max.
    • Oct 22, 2018
  • Our pal, Saudi royalty

    How do you feel about this? The Saudis seem happy to tout our treasury secretary chit-chatting with the Crown Prince.
    • Oct 22, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Free Zinn book for Arkansas teachers

    Arkansas teachers! Get your free Howard Zinn book here! Whether Kim Hendren likes it or not.
    • Mar 3, 2017
  • The LR chamber does the public's business. Is it accountable? Blue Hog on the case.

    Matt Campbell, lawyer and Blue Hog Report blogger, has sent a Freedom of Information Act request to Jay Chessir, director of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Mayor Mark Stodola related to the publicity stunt yesterday  built around withdrawing from the mayor's rash pronouncement that the city would seek an Amazon HQ2 project even though the city  didn't meet the company's criteria.
    • Oct 20, 2017
  • Payday lenders on the march at legislature

    Payday lenders are working hard to get legislative cover for the reintroduction of their usurious loan business to Arkansas. Some are fighting back.
    • Mar 10, 2017


  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation