If you’ve picked up an Arkansas newspaper in the last month, you’re well aware of the UCA bonus scandal, in which formerly popular UCA President Lu Hardin was discovered to have received a nice $300,000 secret bonus from the Board of Trustees. (That’s a very short version of what became a very complicated story). Because $300,000 is chump change, and who’s gonna notice that, right?
Arkansas News Bureau columnist John Brummett extracts a few lessons from the recent flap. I liked this useful reminder, which he directs to Gov. Mike Beebe and his fans:
It’s simply that this lesson – to be ever aware of those roundly applauded for spectacular job performance, especially in the public arena – would apply powerfully to [Mike Beebe], or at least his office. Our term-limited legislators don’t keep a check on him. He dominates them.
Beebe has had scant detractors and, in fact, no substantive or significant ones. He seems by every reasonable and quantifiable indication to be performing the governorship with great and positive command. For that very reason, he should be ever vigilant not to deem himself invincible or invisible, and the rest of us ought to keep our eyes on him skeptically even as he appears clearly to excel.
It’s just something to keep in mind, not that there’s anything there. It’s an abiding principle of the news business, but one worth reminding ourselves – and our public servants – of. Like the old news media adage says: When your mom tells you she loves you, seek a second source.
A healthy admonition, that, in this era of Arkansas Democratic triumphalism.