Self-dealing: OK at the UA | Arkansas Blog

Self-dealing: OK at the UA

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MIKE AKIN
  • MIKE AKIN
ICYMI: Our Insider column this week focuses attention on the quaint practice of the University of Arkansas to specifically allow its trustees to do business with the university, so long as the conflict is revealed and the trustee doesn't vote on the contract in question.

Here, it's trustee Mike Akin of Monticello striking a deal to build a private retirement center on the campus at UA-Monticello. He's getting a 50-year ground lease for $100,000 down and a minmum lease of about $830 a month.

Akin is not the first UA trustee to do business with the university. And perhaps there's a need for leeway for the university to do business with trustees who provide goods or services available nowhere else. (This isn't one of those cases.) But I don't see how the public can think it's getting a tough examination of a business deal when proposed by a colleague on this very exclusive club of mostly very wealthy and politically connected men.

Akin has a record for this sort of thing, winning tax incentives from the state while a member of the state Economic Development Commission.

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