Broadway's Past Ethics Problems

Why Broadway Is Not a Good Choice for Arkansas Director of Higher Education


There has been a great deal of discussion over Governor Mike Beebe's choosing Shane Broadway to head the state's Department of Higher Education because he lacks the qualifications set out in the law.  Arkansas Code Annotated 6-61-203 says the director “shall be an experienced educator in the field of higher education” who “must have relevant experience on a campus of higher education.”  Broadway is one of the leading Democratic politicians but in no way fits those qualifications.


It is a shame that Governor Beebe doesn't abide by his own words quoted in the papers concerning another incident:   "The law is the law.  If you don't like the law, you try to change it in the way this country was set up and designed to change the law."  (Quote from AP story by DeMillo)


But in this controversy I have seen no mention of Broadway's past ethics problems.  Broadway was the architect behind the socialist State take-over of all school facilities in Arkansas in 2004 (only one of 10 states to do so). Schools can no longer build or remodel without permission of the state and according to state regulations.   


Broadway sponsored the bill (SB7) that provided the $10 million dollar study to determine the amount of money needed to provide adequate school facilities. The study came back recommending from $2.3 billion to $4.5 billion for school buildings, and that study became one of the biggest boondoggles ever experienced in Arkansas.  


Broadway knowingly hired Randall Fischer, a criminal from Ohio, to oversee the $10 million dollar study. An Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorial gave details about this incident April 7, 2004 with the title, " Hey, it's just ethics."  Another Dem Gazette article April 1, 2004 ("A-OK in Arkansas")  describes the events as follows:   


As I wrote last week, Fischer resigned his Ohio position in 2002 shortly after a judge there ruled that he had no authority to approve school construction contracts. Last July, he was convicted on two misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charges stemming from his awarding, without bids, of at least 1,800 contracts. Apparently, some grateful recipients gave him and his staff gifts. Fischer was assessed court costs and a $1,250 fine.

Because of his August 2002 resignation and a revolving-door statute, Fischer was banned from performing work related to school facilities in Ohio.

State Sen. Shane Broadway, D-Bryant, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Educational Facilities, last week told our reporter Seth Blomeley that he’s known all along about Fischer’s history. Yet he didn’t find the charges serious enough to bother informing most legislators.

"I think it was a kind of blown-out-of proportion issue," Broadway was quoted saying. "People are found guilty of ethics violations all the time. I don’t know how long you hold it against a guy."

Say what? Fischer was convicted just nine months ago in an Ohio court and could have served seven months in jail instead of just paying a fine and getting a judge’s stern lecture about violating the public trust.

Excerpts from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorial entitled  on April 7, 2004 "Hey, it’s just ethics" 


TO HEAR Shane Broadway tell it, an ethics violation is pert near as common as ducks in Stuttgart. I think it was a kind of blown-out-of proportion issue. People are found guilty of ethics violations all the time. I don’t know how long you hold it against a guy.—The Hon. Shane Broadway, Arkansas state senator.

   Wow. You’d think Shane Broadway was a Louisiana legislator. Or maybe a Chicago councilman.


What do the folks up in Ohio think? Well, there’s David E. Freel, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, who said this after Mr. Fischer’s no contest plea: "This isn’t a question about an individual meal or golf at a public golf course. This is an aggregate total of a lot of golf and events from people who got millions of dollars in public work."


It’s the kind of ethical standard we have encountered too often in Arkansas legislators from the time of Mutt Jones and Nick Wilson and entirely too many others. And always the excuse is the same: Hey, it’s only an ethics/legal/moral violation. Happens all the time. Forget it. Attitudes like Shane Broadway’s are largely responsible for the kind of permissive atmosphere that lets this rot take hold.


Even though there were several newspaper articles on Broadway's actions, Arkansas did not hold it against Shane Broadway either. And Broadway did not even ask Fischer to resign.  Fischer  continued to oversee the $10 million dollar facilities study in Arkansas, which became one of the biggest boondoggles in Arkansas with hundreds of errors and crazy mistakes. But you can't keep a good BIG-SPENDING Democrat down in Arkansas. Broadway advanced to the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor last year.


Because of Broadway's actions in overseeing the school facilities in Arkansas, school districts in Arkansas now must coerce the citizens in the school district to raise their school millage or wind up in fiscal distress because of their supposedly inadequate facilities. I think a large  majority of Arkansans would agree that forcing the community to pay for state mandated facilities and taxing all taxpayers more for those facilities is unethical.  Most Arkansans don't even know it is happening.


The following figures are documented in newspapers.   During the 2005 legislative session, $114 million was funded for facilities from the state revenue. During the April special session another $50 million was appropriated, Broadway said. The state's share of public school construction costs increased from the $265 million reported in June to $277 million in 2006 and  $631 million in  07.  ($631 million needed to fix school facilities by Seth Blomeley, March 7, 2007.) This article quoted Broadway as saying, "the state must fund the needed projects regardless of cost to meet the court's directive."


Following is another quote on the facilities division: "Springdale school chief calls new rules wasteful" Sept 28, 2007 in Dem Gaz by Laura Kellams:  " School administrators warned lawmakers Thursday that facility standards intended to create equity statewide will end up costing the state millions of dollars in unnecessary building space."


In 2005 Broadway also sponsored a bill that set up the Legislative Task Force on Sustainable Building Design.  The committee has about three legislators on it, and about ten people who are non-legislator members, and probably pros in the environmentalist movement that point them in the direction of the national leftist environmentalists.   As a result of this Task Force, Governor Beebe  set up a Global Warming Commission in 2007. The following paragraphs are quotes from an Arkansas News Bureau article.  Governor Beebe and Shane Broadway have been great political buddies for a long time now.


The commission presented to the governor late last year a report containing 54 recommendations for reducing the state’s contributions to climate change, including a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants until pollution-control technology improves...The commission’s report includes analysis of the costs to implement 29 of its recommendations. It estimates the net cost at $3.7 billion between 2009 and 2025. ("Member criticizes global warming commission" Arkansas News Bureau January 14, 2009.)


"Inboden's a Jonesboro utility guy who, sounding frustrated, indicates that the commission was agenda-driven and that many of the final recommendations will drive up costs for consumers," is another quote from an Arkansas News Bureau article.


No doubt, Broadway is a  BIG TAX and SPEND  Democrat, preying on the poor citizens of Arkansas without their knowledge.  No wonder Beebe wants to place him in the position of Director of Higher Education, which has budgetary dominion over all the campuses.   Broadway  is the perfect choice for bleeding taxpayers and college students for more money for the universities. 


If the university presidents do indeed all want Broadway to become Director of  the Department of Higher Education as alleged, then that is the reason.   Of course, we don't know if those University Presidents actually want Broadway or if they are just succumbing to the Governor's wishes.  They know where their bread is buttered. All the directors of the Board are appointed by the Governor , and the President  have witnessed Beebe's tactics in the Legislature and how he deals with those who disagree with him.


There are  ample opportunities as Director of Higher Ed  to become involved in ethical problems or to overlook them, but that is nothing new for the "Good ole boy system" in Arkansas.


Governor Mike Beebe Phone 501-682-2345
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Posted July 22, 2011