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He’s the man



He's the man

With the University of Central Arkansas, the Arkansas Lottery Commission and the Arkansas Republican Party standing in need of leadership, why not hire James Lee Witt to head all three? He's Arkansas's foremost practitioner of disaster relief, and two of these institutions are deep in disaster mode. The third, the Lottery Commission, soon will be, unless a strong hand takes the helm. 

The Crisis at Central Arkansas drags on like a bad cold. It's already lasted longer than some of the University's previous names. Even while UCA seeks a new president to clean up the mess left by the old president, cases of gross mismanagement — or worse — continue to be uncovered on the Conway campus. And now the presidential search itself is compromised. One of five finalists for the president's job withdrew last week, understandably peeved that another finalist had been allowed to make formal application much later than the other candidates, and that this special treatment was authorized by a secret and possibly illegal vote by the UCA search committee. Avoiding further special treatment at UCA was the committee's first assignment.

Such moderates as remained in the Republican Party have now been forced out by the offensive jabber of State Sen. Kim Hendren and State Chairman Doyle Webb. An announced Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, Hendren was running on a platform of “I am not a Jew, and Charles Schumer is,” until somebody suggested his strategy was inappropriate. Hendren's Democratic opponent, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, isn't a Jew either; Hendren didn't like her sharing a political party with a New York senator guilty of Jewishness.

While Hendren was standing up to Arkansas's dozens of Jews, Doyle Webb was sounding the alarm against what his crowd calls  “the gay agenda.” Webb told Republican groups that if voters keep electing Democrats to the legislature — stupid voters! — one day “an openly gay woman” might become chairman of an important legislative committee. Rep. Kathy Webb (no relation) apparently is the person he has in mind. He may be the only person ever frightened by Kathy Webb. (Would he be more or less scared of “an openly gay man”? He's undeclared on that point.) Limbaughs, Cheneys, Hendrens, Webbs — a political party can't prosper with such people as leaders, and maybe not even with such people as members.

The new Lottery Commission seems fixed on repeating UCA's mistakes in hiring help. The commission has approved procedures for seeking an executive director that will keep taxpayers uninformed while maximizing the importance of political connections. Pretty much the opposite of what's needed, in other words. Bring in Witt.      


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