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Which one of us is the Goat?

Posted by on | June 15, 2017 | Comments Off

 Which one of us is the Goat?

 

 

This story is the second of two parts.  For background, click here.

Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl called me on Tuesday to get my comment on an upcoming story that Yvonne Wingett is writing.  It seems that Rep. Mark Finchem didn’t accept my apology for chewing him out and insulting his tie so it seemed likely that the Universities are going to have a hard time at the Legislature next year.  Did I care to comment?

I did indeed want to comment.  In fact, I offered a rather long and animated comment and then I ended with this question “Which one of us is the goat?”

Mary Jo didn’t understand the question so I said something to this effect.

“Let’s assume that all your facts are correct.  Mr. Finchem’s district is highly dependent on the University of Arizona.  Many of the UA faculty, staff and contractors live in his district and in fact, two of the Regents live in his district.  Are you really telling me that he is planning to make life difficult for the Universities because I insulted his tie?  You and I know that some Legislators are actually this petty, but they don’t usually actually admit it.  So who does your story portray as the goat, me or Mr. Finchem?”

Well, it was pretty obvious from Mary Jo’s reaction that Yvonne Wingett who is writing the story under the editorial supervision of Michael Squires is planning to claim that I am the goat.

So I will lay out the case for each party and you can tell me who is the goat.  Of course, it’s possible that all of the folks involved in the story are goats, so you may choose more than one. 

Perhaps Finchem is the Goat.

If you clicked the link for part one of this post, you will know that Representatives Finchem and Leach have expressed concerns about the management of the Universities so I–together with Regents Shoopman and Ridenour–had a very pleasant meeting with both men in Tucson. 

While I thought that the meeting went well, Mr. Finchem followed up a month later with this press release.

Unsatisfied by the lack of fiscal restraint shown by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), the legislation would create local governing boards for each university, comprised of five members serving four-year terms

Unbelievable.  The truth, of course, is that, despite heavy legislative cuts, we have some of the most innovative and efficient universities in the country.  Furthermore, the Constitution establishes the Board of Regents.  So Finchem was wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. 

So I met with him again and this time chewed him out.  His reaction was for him and a few fellow travelers to stall Governor Ducey’s one billion dollar university bonding program.  He eventually voted for it, and it eventually passed with more than enough votes, but the battle was closer than it looked and Finchem played a major role in stalling it and he blamed me…for insulting his tie.

After session, I publicly apologized for the tone of my remarks…which he didn’t accept and now Yvonne is writing an article about how he may damage our next legislative session.

Hmm, that looks pretty goat like to me.

Perhaps I’m the goat.

Did you see the picture of me at the top of this post?  George Bush was President when I posed for that picture.  Even then, the good folks at MIHS digitally remastered it in order to give me a wrinkle-free forehead and stain-free teeth.  I didn’t even look like that in 2008.  Of course, I checked the Regents’ website and it looks like several of us are using pre-Obama photos. 

How about my behavior?  Some have argued that I showed a lack of respect to the Legislature.  That’s silly.  As a former Legislator I’m actually a big fan of the Legislature and the Legislative process–that doesn’t mean that individual Legislators don’t occasionally really tick me off. 

How about the fact that I recorded the conversation?  Well that could certainly be pretty creepy and goat like.  I recorded it because it was a formal meeting with a lot of people present and I was the main speaker.  I recorded MYSELF in case Finchem came up with some story about me threatening him, offering some sort of deal or using profane language.  Frankly, after our Tucson meeting, I didn’t trust Finchem to be honest about this meeting. 

 

 Which one of us is the Goat? Perhaps Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Michael Squires are the goats.

Let me ask you this question.  How well did the Universities fare in the budget process this year?  Yes, we got our billion dollar bond package, but how about the operating budget?

$25 million CUT.  That’s right.  Cut.  Legislators increased our budgets slightly and then shifted $22 million in health care costs to the Universities.  In total, they shifted $25 million more in costs than they gave us in new revenue.  They are using this money to balance the general fund.

What?  You didn’t know that?  Most Legislators don’t know it either.  That’s because Team Republic didn’t catch the story while it was happening and to this day STILL hasn’t written an article about it. 

Yet Yvonne Wingett Sanchez is working on the THIRD story about me standing up to Finchem.  In the first two stories I was definitely the goat. Although to be fair, she didn’t call me a goat she called me a “Loser”.

Wingett-Sanchez and Squires are also missing the key to this story–burying the lede as they say in the parlance. Finchem fancies himself as a Constitutional Lawyer and is part of the “Freedom Caucus” that pays homage to strict construction and original intent of the Constitution.  You cannot spend 10 minutes with him before he opines that the country is all messed up because liberal judges have misinterpreted, say, the Equal Footing doctrine or the Guarantee Clause.

So what is Finchem doing with his bill?  He’s trying to use statute to amend the Constitution in order to eliminate the Board of Regents.  The original intent is clear.  Finchem is attacking a Constitutional provision and he’s not even suggesting that he amend the Constitution, he’s simply sponsoring bill to try to amend it.  Then he goes back to committee and lectures other legislators that the country is going to hell in a hand basket because–wait for it–Legislators and judges don’t follow the clear language of the Constitution. 

 Which one of us is the Goat?Maybe the Legislature is the Goat.

Do you want real insight into Legislative abuses?  Ponder this question.  What if I were the lobbyist for The Widget Association and I needed to get some type of Widget Certification bill through the Legislature.  Sure, it’s trivial in the scheme of things, but huge to me.  This would  be the Widget Association Director’s full-time job and he has no inherent power in the Legislature.  How vulnerable is he to abuses of guys like Mr. Finchem?

If you want to understand how much abuse rank and file lobbyists endure, ponder my situation again.  I’m the Chairman of the Board of Regents which is a volunteer position.  This isn’t my livelihood.  The Regents and Universities are high profile and have a lot of lobbyists.  They were working on one of Governor Ducey’s highest priorities, and Mr. Finchem made no secret of the fact that he worked against the bill at least in part because I stood up to him and insulted his tie. 

Now I’ve apologized, but he hasn’t accepted my apology and the Republic is writing a story to see if my actions have damaged the Regents’ agenda at the Legislature.  That’s the way some Legislators operate. 

Now put yourself back in the shoes of the Director of the Widget Association.  How much bowing and scrapping does he have to do?  How much does someone a guy like that have to suck up to someone like Finchem?  Abuse of power is so rampant at the Legislature that Mr. Finchem doesn’t even hide the fact that by standing up to him I have hurt the Regent’s Agenda in the Legislature and Team Republic doesn’t even bother to step back and ask themselves if his actions are acceptable.  They don’t even bother to consider the implications of this behavior.

There are a lot of goats in this story.  Perhaps I’m one of them.  But I am the least among them.

 

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