Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Conflict of Interest on College Bonds for Both Men

I watched the Gubinatorial debate online with great interest. The setting was magnificent. It was held on a college campus. The two candidates agreed to have their own debate excluding the other two candidates on the ballot, which they have a right to do. But the setting for the debate was the campus of a public university, supported with taxpayer dollars. That includes the dollars of those who support Lendall and Bryant.

I have to question the propriety of using public monies to promote only the campaigns of some taxpayer's supporters, but not others. The moderator, a Ms. Davis, dimissively said in passing that the other two candidates did not have the poll support to merit participation in the debate. If she was running a private entity, that is all well and good, but she isn't. The men she dismissed are helping to pay her salary and for that auditorium and it should not be her call.

In addition, I have gotten complaints from people outside the two major parties who have tried to secure signatures for ballot access on a public school university campus. School officials rebuffed them, then school officials host a massive televised debate with the two established parties. Isn't that government using its own resources to protect its own status quo? It seems the assets of the university system are at the disposal of some political entities but not regular citizens. Also, both Republicans and Democrats get use of University facilities on a regular basis for fundraising dinners. Do they pay the market rate?

What makes it particularly unsavory is that those same universities get their funding from the same political candidates and political parties that they are discriminating in favor of. For example, there is a massive bond issue coming up for higher education. They want to borrow $250 million for an ambitious list of captital improvements when we have a huge budget surplus and their facilities are already nicer than the homes of the taxpayers from who they desire to extract the money.

Mike Beebe and Asa Hutchinson are in the process of collecting largesse from the University System in the form of these exclusionary debates. Even as they are in the midst of the debates, reporters are going to ask them if they approve of the higher education bond issue that voters will be voting on November 7th. We must zealously guard against even the appereance of impropriety. Unless they oppose it, both men should recuse themselves, or take a noncommittal position on the issue rather than endorse the bonds. It is a clear conflict of interest.


Anonymous tech student said...

I am a republican supporter jut to say for a disclaimer. It seems you are too conservative on this college bond issue. This money would give Arkansas universities a chance to compete world-wide. Building expansions and technological advances pave the way to a better future for our economy. Don't penny pinch higher education. It is the key to success in our state and across the nation.

10:20 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Thank you for coming on and taking issue with me. Most won't.

You call $250 million dollars "penny-pinching"? Have I called for a REDUCTION of even one penny in their budget?

Look, we need to get the economic engine going first, then enlarge the higher education part. Otherwise all we are doing is subsidizing other parts of the country. When I was at the U of A pre Wal-mart, boom once we graduated, we all had to go to Dallas or somewhere to find work.

We have to have jobs for those graduates before we build the buildings for them, otherwise we are simply subsidising wealther parts of the country with debt. We pay for the education and training, then they go off somewhere and make money and pay taxes there.

11:00 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

But of course the main thing the article is about is the conflict of interest. Don't you think they way this is going down, with the universties putting their assests at the disposal of the two entrenched parties and keeping all other political groups out, unfair?

Don't you think that the ethical thing to do would be for Asa and Beebe to recuse themselves from the issue and just say, "The people should make up their own minds" rather than advocate for taxpayer loans to people who have promoted their campaigns to the exculsion of other taxpayers?

11:04 AM, September 20, 2006  

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