Sometimes the arrogance of the Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors, headed by Dwight Douglas, and University President Dr. Bruce Speck simply cannot be believed.
During its Nov. 21 "retreat" at Speck's home, the media was ushered into a downstairs area while Speck and the Board enjoyed a sumptuous meal.
Apparently, if the media had the temerity to go to Speck's home for a public meeting, they had to be punished, so Alexandra Nicolas, editor of MSSU's campus newspaper, The Chart, and John Hacker of The Carthage Press were guided downstairs by Dr. Speck and cooled their heels for approximately an hour and a half, while the board enjoyed its feast.
After about a half hour, Ms. Nicolas and Hacker were joined by the Joplin Globe's Melissa Dunson and several MSSU staffers, including Derek Skaggs, director of admissions; Rod Surber of public information, and Lee Pound, who also had to wait until the meal was finished.
Only then did the board and Dr. Speck deign to come downstairs and join those whom they had kept waiting.
Whether the board members discussed any university business during the luncheon is immaterial, though we have only their word that they did not, and quite frankly, that is nowhere near good enough. The Sunshine Law does offer an exception for social or ministerial functions, but if the university is in dire financial shape as Douglas and Dr. Speck have said, then let's forget about the socializing, get back to the campus, and brown bag it around a businesslike conference table.
In the Nov. 22 Turner Report, I criticized the scheduling of these board retreats. These people were appointed to represent the public and social outings are not necessary nor should they take place. Meetings should be held in a business setting that is easily accessible to the public. Dr. Speck's house, showplace though it may be, is not somewhere that someone from the general public is going to feel welcome while public business is being conducted. And while it is more accessible to the public than the Branson outing the board took a few years back, it is still a practice that needs to be discontinued.