by Max Brantley
His response to my e-mail:
A board member nominated me earlier this week. They ask me to submit materials and I did.
Should he be hired, Baker will, of course, be able to immediately lobby the legislature for Henderson in the next legislative session. Current legislators exempted themselves from a new law prohibiting revolving door legislating/lobbying.
Baker's work as Joint Budget co-chair didn't hurt his resume. If you'll look down this list of so-called special language proposed for attachment to spending bills, you'll find Senator Baker authored an amendment to send $100,000 annually in excess Board of Collection Agency funds to Henderson. That amendment also sent other surplus to several other universities, including UCA, where Baker once was a faculty member. Baker's special language was included in the legislation signed into law.
I mentioned Baker's special language for Henderson in my note to him. His response:
That special language was requested by Sen. [Percy] Malone.
Henderson is seeking a successor to Charles Welch, who moved up to head Arkansas State University. Baker, who holds a master's of music degree, was a music faculty member at UCA for 22 years before retiring. He's term limited in the Senate and got drummed in a Republican primary race for U.S. Senate last year.
Does there seem something just a touch unseemly about a sitting legislator seeking a job from a public institution whose budget he oversaw — and even helped with a little extra sweetener? I'm sure others would say this is expecting too high a standard from Arkansas legislators.
I will say this. Politically, it is a long way from Charles Dunn, the long-time Henderson president Welch succeeded, to Gilbert Baker. Daylight and dark, you might say.
I learned of this yesterday, so my request to Henderson for the names of other applicants for the job has not yet been answered. The applications are open under the Freedom of Information Act.