So you know those meetings Rep. Clark Hall has been having, costing taxpayers over $32,000 (so far) this year? And remember how I mentioned that they were essentially without substance, and are perhaps just ways for legislators to get paid more? Well, new audio has surfaced that shines some light on this question.
The State Agencies & Governmental Affairs committee met last Monday, August 20th. The agenda for that day included a whopping two items of new business: the consideration of an interim study proposal about the most efficient ways to use state capitol space and a report on the Arkansas public employees retirement from Miss Gail Stone, the executive director of the retirement system.
To begin her testimony, Miss Stone made a point that was perhaps more revealing than she meant it to be:
“Since I wasn’t sure exactly why I’m here (*laughter from Miss Stone*) I thought I’d start off with some general facts…”
(You can hear the audio here: Stone testimony 8-20-12)
Pardon me, Miss Stone, but these meetings are not to be taken lightly! Why, how else could lawmakers learn about the challenges faced by the Department of Heritage, hear an exclusive presentation on Arkansas state parks, or deliberate on the all-important impact of lottery scholarships on enrollment at the University of Arkansas, the latter of which was apparently so important that it merited a taxpayer-funded trip to northwest Arkansas for lawmakers? These are not laughing matters!
It is of some concern that Miss Stone, through no fault of her own, likely was legitimately clueless about the reason for her presence at the State Agencies meeting. Instead of using taxpayer resources frugally, Chairman Hall is apparently looking for any excuse to have a meeting on the taxpayer dime; he therefore needs people to fill his meeting agendas with fluffy presentations.
And I would like to take this chance to reiterate, once again, that these meetings have nothing to do with Mr. Hall’s $185,000 campaign debt, and how dare you keep thinking that Chairman Hall would let such an irrelevant fact affect his official conduct! I will not sit idly by and let you folks impugn this man’s character.
Now…exactly why am I here?