Sunday, January 11, 2009

MSSU Board of Governors keeps media waiting for hour and a half, while enjoying sumptuous meal at Speck home

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.


Anonymous said...

By all means, we should all drop whatever we had planned and kneel at the alter of the press.

Perhaps the press should have done a little more homework and not shown up so early. Naah, that would be asking too much.

Anonymous said...

couldn't agree more with the first posting. You don't think the press was informed that the meeting would have a private dinner?

Try something else to hang your enemies, Randy. Reporters are people just like you and me - no special favors.

Anonymous said...

Are you people idiots or what? Let's spell this out in big letters. STATE LAW, THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS IS NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE PRIVATE DINNERS!!!!!

Unless it fits the exceptions listed in the Sunshine Law, THEY CAN'T MEET IN PRIVATE. IF THEY DO THEY BREAK THE LAW.

The press isn't seeking special privileges, they are there because all the voters and all the taxpayers who pay in that money the board is spending can't be there to watch how the board spends OUR MONEY!!

Maybe the media should have let Bernie Madoff have his private dinners and never reported on the Ponzie scheme he was running. (It ran long enough as it was.)

Anonymous said...

They can have private dinners as long as it's purely social and no public business is discussed. The larger question is the message Speck and Douglas are sending by having catered lunches before every Board of Governors meeting. If MSSU truly is on the verge of bankruptcy, as Speck likes to claim, how can they afford these expensive lunches? If Speck is requiring university employees to pinch every penny, how can he justify this unnecessary expenditure? The man is a paradox of contradictions.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Firestone,
Read this post on Jean Maneke's blog about the Missouri Sunshine Law.

At what point do you cross a line. We the public will never know because this public body, with the authority to spend the public's money and make policy that affects the public's children, chooses to have a private luncheon. The letter of the law may let this board have their little luncheon, but that doesn't make it right.

Randy is right on on this one and those first two posters are idiots.