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Looks Like Tim Steller is the only one who actually listenend to the tape.

Posted by on | June 26, 2017 | Comments Off

I find it interesting (but not surprising) that of all the articles about my comments, no one seemed to actually listen to my comments.  They are reacting to the way that other people have described those comments because, you know, journalism.

Tim Seller has actually listened to the tape that I made publicly available and I think he has it right.


Animosity goes both ways, regent’s recording shows

The line that prematurely ended Greg Patterson’s term as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents was memorable.

‘The costume doesn’t work,’ he told Rep. Mark Finchem in February. ‘Trim that down, buy a suit. Decide where you want to be, but this isn’t it.’

It was overkill on the part of the then-chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, as he acknowledges. Patterson was angry about a bill Finchem had proposed and was, it seems, trying to play a Trumpstyle dominance game in the meeting with Finchem, of Oro Valley,and fellow GOP Rep. Jill Norgaard of Phoenix. When the Arizona Republic revealed the recording last week, Patterson first apologized, then resigned as a regent.

But the 25-minute recording,made secretly by Patterson, also reveals interesting details of the debate among state Republicans on their approach to funding the University of Arizona and the other state universities. Finchem and Norgaard had proposed abolishing the Board of Regents as it exists now and replacing it with separate oversight boards for each of the three universities. They were concerned in part by what they considered overspending by the universities.

Patterson and Eileen Klein, who is president of the Board of Regents, met with them to argue the regents were actually performing their oversight role well and that the lawmakers’ proposal would have the opposite of the intended effect. Finchem, whom I’ve viewed as an occasionally embarrassing legislator because of his embrace of conspiracy theories, began the meeting by complaining about the criticism the Legislature gets for its low funding of the universities.

‘It doesn’t help that we are beaten over a head with a club in the media day after day after day on being tightwad cheap asses when it comes to funding university operations,’ he told Patterson in the recording. ‘I will tell you Ifind that, and I know that my fellow members find that, extremely offensive, especially when there are college programs for students who are not here legally, there are kids who are not getting an education as nearly free as possible.’

This was a reference to the provision of the Arizona Constitution that says of the state universities, ‘the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible.’

Patterson, who was a legislator in the early 1990s, suggested in the meeting that today’s



Tim Steller

Image 2 Looks Like Tim Steller is the only one who actually listenend to the tape.


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legislators could have had more criticism, but that the regents protected them.

‘You’re getting beat over the head, but it’s not by us. When I was here there were 86,000 kids in the system, and we appropriated $581 million in 1991 dollars,’ he said. ‘There’s 165,000 kids in the system, and you appropriate $681 million. It’s less money, in real terms, than I appropriated here 26 years ago.’

‘Since then, the system has relied on higher tuition, it’s relied on outside revenue, it’s relied on dormitories and research expenditures that we can bring in as much as possible. The systems have been systematically privatized, and you have an eight-member Republican board that does not pummel you for that.’


Patterson, you may recall, maintained a blog for about a decade and has resumed writing it recently. The blog was dedicated in large measure to criticizing the Arizona news media, especially the Arizona Republic but also the Star and occasionally me personally.

Go back through his archives and you’ll find a drumbeat of often acid critiques of Republic writers, some of it fair, as well as gleeful celebrationof the newspaper industry’s expected demise that I find distasteful. His obsession with those two entities came through even in the conversation with Finchem and Norgaard, when he defended the salary of then-UA President Ann Weaver Hart by comparing it to what an executive of the Republic’s parent company would make.

‘It’s certainly a fraction of what you’d make at Gannett in the private sector, which is a collapsing business,’ he said.

So, you could view it as fitting that Republic reporters, through innovative use of Arizona’s public-records law, essentially forced Patterson out. The Republic had reported Patterson’s angry words for Finchem in April, but then they also found out Patterson had recorded the meeting, and they successfully argued that the recording was a public record that must be released under state law.

Getting the recording was good digging that made Patterson’s position untenable before the Legislature. Of course, Patterson made an argument on his blog that Finchem could have been made out as the ‘goat’ of the story. He subsequently deleted the post, but I’m sure we’ll hear more from Patterson before long, likely criticizing this column and pointing to it as a reason for the newspaper industry’s eventual demise.


 Looks Like Tim Steller is the only one who actually listenend to the tape.  Looks Like Tim Steller is the only one who actually listenend to the tape.  Looks Like Tim Steller is the only one who actually listenend to the tape.
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