Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

EDITORIAL >> Huck invites only friends

Gov. Huckabee threw another of those occasional grand luncheons at the governorís new and more majestic residential compound the other day and invited The Arkansas Media. It was said to be a passable feast and then everyone got to hear the governor and other chieftains in the government explain Arkansasí desperate need for fresh bonded indebtedness to resurface more Interstate routes and improve university campus settings.

Full disclosure: The Leader neither was invited nor crashed the party and so must depend upon the news accounts of it just like a few other journals that have from time to time criticized Gov. Huckabeeís initiatives or the ethical slips in his office. In the governorís communications division, they keep a keen eye on these matters.

From the news accounts, we concluded that the repast was OK but not to die for and that the rest of the fare was even less to be relished by those of us who were not favored with invitations. Huckabee and the heads of the highway and higher education departments made presentations, but no one offered new information or arguments for the Dec. 13 bond election. At that election, Huckabee hopes voters will give the state authority to reissue bonds to add new buildings to every university and college campus in the state and to bypass the constitutional requirement that voters first approve the indebtedness each time the highway department wants to borrow money to improve Interstate highways. Voters will be asked to give the Highway Commission a permanent line of credit with bond houses and investors. If the event itself was not so memorable as to leave one envious, then we would just as soon take our omission from the guest list as a badge of honor. Still, something about it bothers.

It unsettles only partly because the governorís office is so selective about whom it actually invites when it has the print and electronic media in for a promotion. If it is a government event, you invite friends and critics alike.

Taxpayers pick up the considerable tab for what is patently a political event that is calculated to use the media to persuade those taxpayers to give the government unprecedented power to mortgage their and their grandchildrenís future. Is that OK? If it is, pardon our pettiness.