UA review coming in the shadows thanks to secretive Senate | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

UA review coming in the shadows thanks to secretive Senate

Posted By on Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 9:05 AM

click to enlarge TRICKY QUESTIONS: Chancellor Gearhart could face some today.
  • TRICKY QUESTIONS: Chancellor Gearhart could face some today.
The Legislature's Joint Performance Review Committee meets at 1 p.m. today to discuss the management of  money by the fund-raising arm of the University of Arkansas. The subject will include a look at the degree of candor with which Chancellor David Gearhart has responded to inquiries about the deficit-ridden operation. He ought to be asked, too — if, in his day as leader of fund-raising — whether he staffed up for major fund-raising, anticipating that future revenue could recoup the spending. Betting on the come, so to speak, as fired division leader Brad Choate did.

Gearhart also should be asked about the multiple witnesses who testified he said at a staff meeting last January to "get rid of" budget documents in a fit of pique about continuing inquiries. This is tricky. His statement that he never ordered document destruction was under oath. Statements today presumably will be under oath as well. The discrepancy in witness accounts has already been referred to a prosecutor for review. It is the classic sort of situation where, in abundance of caution, a witness under oath might avail himself of 5th Amendment protections on advice of counsel and decline to answer a question. Hard to imagine that could happen today, given the poor PR of such a move. But, to date, Gearhart's public relations strategy has been abysmal and unsuccessful, save perhaps with columnist Mike Masterson. Masterson seemed to suggest again today that this search for clarity by the legislature is much ado about a good man, his buddy Gearhart, unfairly accused by disgruntled former employees. Gearhart's statement is not the only time there have been variance in UA statements, as this exhibit notes.

Today would be a good day for Gearhart to try a kinder, gentler and more conciliatory approach with questioners. But, to date, he's taken it wholly personally and angrily, to the point there's talk he's working on a Nixonian enemies' list. Big mistake if so, just as his circle-the-wagons PR strategy has been. He has a good record as UA leader and — until recently — was held in high regard across a broad spectrum of people. Admit mistakes and embarrassment and move on.

But my delayed point: Though the meeting will have plenty of press coverage (Benji Hardy of Legislative Digest will be on hand for us), it will not be fully available to the public at large because the Senate prohibits live broadcasts of its meetings and its preference applies to joint meetings such as this one. It's a shame. Good as the reporting has been on this issue, there's nothing like gavel-to-gavel coverage by an unblinking camera, a la C-SPAN, for those obsessed with a particular issue.

The Senate, now firmly in control of Republicans, is just as  resistant to sunshine for the Senate club as the old Democratic leadership was. They've offered no good excuse for how this serves the public. You'd wish, at least, that they'd let House rules prevail on joint committee meetings. Don't the baseball leagues swap off on use of the designated hitter in the World Series based on home field? Why should every committee hearing be considered the Senate's home field?

Let the sun shine in. going to be a touch awkward if pre-arranged seating below stays in place. It has the UA combatants arrayed at same table, with Gearhart at the elbow of Choate.

READY FOR TESTIMONY: Witness table in legisltive room where UA to be discussed. But no live streaming. - LANCE TURNER/ARKANSAS BUSINESS
  • Lance Turner/Arkansas Business
  • READY FOR TESTIMONY: Witness table in legisltive room where UA to be discussed. But no live streaming.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • Arkansan on Obama's latest commutation list

    President Obama today announced commutations of the sentences of 111 federal prisoners, including one from Arkansas.
    • Aug 30, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation