Monday, February 19, 2007

Revolving Door Not Just With Legislators

Reports are that Jake Bleed of the Democrat-Gazette will be moving from reporter to the editorial page because editorial writer Kane Webb is accepting a position at UCA under Lu Hardin.

I seem to remember the papers complaining about legislators working for industries that they ran bills for during their career. Much hay was made about the "revolving door" between business and the ledge. But the door spins both ways. The papers were very very very kind to Hardin, UCA, and all the colleges by pounding in a relentless one-sided pro-higer ed, pro-education bond message. Now one of the editorial writers gets a job at a state university. None of that is proof anybody did anything wrong. As with the legislators, it is the appearences that are a concern.

As for Jake Bleed, congratulations to him. It will be interesting to see what kind of editorial slant we will get from a man who served as a "straight reporter".

(continued- click MONDAY below and scroll down for rest of article, or if sent straight here just scroll down).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you are even comparing a newspaper reporter to a legislator. We don't chose our reporters. We don't have to buy the paper. A legislator is ELECTED to serve their constituency, not themselves.

Plus, if you are going to make that comparison you've got to mention Tony Snow.

4:23 AM, February 20, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

We don't have to buy the papers? Yeah, What does that have to do with my point? Even if we don't have to buy papers, we have to pay taxes to fund UCA.

Both state legislators and state universities are supposed to serve the people of the state and not themselves. The fact that one is elected and the other is not is immaterial. If someone is elected I can vote against him or give to his opponent (if he has one, over 70% of legislative races were unopposed.) Not so with a self-serving university. If they use my tax dollars to buy themselves favorable coverage posing as straight news then where do I go to fix it?

Your mention of Tony Snow is a fair one but not needed in the context of this story -it is not a Democrat v. Republican thing.

4:41 AM, February 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm not following your logic. I understand your point, but not the logic.

Situation A:
Legislator is elected by the people. While supposed to be working for the good of the people, legistor passes bills to benefit a certain industry. Legislator leaves legislature and goes to work for industry.

Situation B:
Newspaper reporter applies for and gets a job at a private newspaper. Reporter writes favorable article about University. Reporter gets hired at University.

When the two are broken down, they don't match up. One is public sector to private sector. The other is private sector to public sector.

I understand your complaint about the University hiring the reporter, but it seems you are using the informal fallacy of false analogy.

5:23 AM, February 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arkansas is bottom five in the nation in college graduates.

Arkansas is bottom five in the nation in income.

College graduates depending on which survey of income you believe earn 60% to 80% more than people with no college education.

Obviously any privately owned enterprise promoting higher education in this state must be influenced by its employees selling out to the public trough.

There are significant differences in going from public to private sector and going private sector to public.

The legislator has a state wage set by law. He can cut a deal direct or implied to help out an industry and steps out of the public accountable job (accountable by election and by stricter regulation on behavior than in most private sector) and take any wage. That wage may be based on the value of the work to be done, but it might also include the value of work performed while in public service.

By contrast the private sector employee makes whatever the boss is willing and able to pay and remains directly accountable to the boss for any action. While a legislator not planning to run for re-election or termed out can vote any way he or she wishes as long as they aren't breaking a law for that vote. If Kane Webb's boss didn't like pro-UCA writings, they would stop. He can't sell his writings in a way that the boss man doesn't approve of.

When he leaves private sector for the public sector he steps into a job where the maximum salary is capped by state law in the appropriation for the university. The hiring has to be approved by the Board of Trustees who have been appointed by the Governor to oversee the public's business.

The two comparisons fail completely because the system provides much greater opportunity for mischief by the public sector person going private than it does on the reverse path.

6:42 AM, February 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you 6:42,
you explained the analogy problem much better than I did in the 4:23 and 5:23 posts.

7:09 AM, February 20, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

One is public sector to private sector. The other is private sector to public sector.

Sorry, but when the private sector can get payola from the public sector to push big-government, it still stinks.

Remember a fellow named Armstrong Williams? He was a black conservative radio talk show host that the Bush administration hired as a "consultant" or something. He then started pushing "No Child Left Behind", the Bush-Kennedy Plan to federalize public schools.

In case you need a refresher, here is one of hundreds of stories on it..............

Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson,
Pacific News Service, Jan 10, 2005
Editor's Note: Columnist and TV personality Armstrong Williams' acceptance of public money to plug educational policy is just the latest Bush administration attempt to blur the line between objective news and government infomercials.

There can be no defense of syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams' disgraceful grab of public money from the Education Department to tout President Bush's No Child Left Behind law while posing as an objective journalist. But focusing on one man's ethics disaster misses the larger and more important story of the Bush administration's pattern of placing propaganda in U.S. news media.

Williams' contract was part of a $1 million Education Dept. deal with public relations giant Ketchum that produced "video news releases" designed to look like news reports. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services hired Ketchum to produce videos touting the administration's controversial Medicare plans, also disguised as news segments. Many stations aired the spots with no explanation to viewers that they were watching government propaganda. The Government Accounting Office called the use of taxpayer money for the project illegal, but did not require that the money be repaid.

rest of story here...

My point is that everybody knew that this was wrong, even though it was "private sector" media getting a "public sector" job. All the hiring here does is add a bit of distance so that the appearance of impropriety is not so obvious- and I am not saying that any impropriety actually occurred.

State colleges are government institutions. When the government gives good jobs out to newspaper editors who just helped them get $250 million dollars in bond money by one-sided press it just stinks.

7:26 PM, February 20, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Just because there are "caps" on the pay of government jobs does not mean that there are not well-paid cushy jobs available with taxpayer money to hand out. Please, you have to admit that this is so.

Your point that the Editorial writer must please his boss at the paper has some merit, but for whatever reason the boss either had the same agenda or did not care that the paper was used to flog people into supporting the bond issue. It is still improper to use taxpayer money to reward media personalities who use their platform to carry the water for a taxpayer-supported institution.

And don't tell me the media owners get nothing from staying cozy with these institutions. How many hundreds of thousands of taxdollars did Lou Hardin spend buying ads in the media to "support UCA"?

In both cases, it gives the appearance that taxpayer monies are being handed out as a reward- in the public to private case you are afraid that money they controlled while in the public sector was given out improperly in exchange for later rewards in the private sector. In the other case you are afraid that money from the public sector will be given out improperly in exchange for what they did in the private sector.

The citizens who want to limit the growth of government are frustrated when the media gives a one-sided view in favor of government growth, then the citizens own tax dollars are used against him to buy ads and hire persons from that same media as a reward.

7:58 PM, February 20, 2007  
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