Monday, April 25, 2011

Chart editorial: Bruce Speck is a bald-faced liar

An editorial posted today on the website of Missouri Southern State University's newspaper, The Chart, reveals just how far University President Bruce Speck has gone to tear down avenues of communication, while all the while blithely claiming that he has fostered greater communication.

Normally, I would not quote so much from another source, but just in case Bruce Speck or someone else decides this kind of defiance cannot be tolerated, I want to make sure that Brennan Stebbins' editorial reaches an interested audience:


"It is not appropriate to say the administration is held to a higher standard than anybody else on this campus," Speck told the Board. "We have tried to be very transparent in our communication with the Board, with all of our constituencies. No one can make the accusation and back it up that we have held back information. That has not happened." 
That statement was a bold-faced lie. 
It's  been exactly a year since the governing board for the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences voted unanimously not to partner with Southern to bring a medical school branch to Joplin. 
In a March 5, 2010 edition of The Chart, Speck is quoted in an article concerning the medical school project as saying "We'd like them to be clear and say, ‘Yes, we are planning on moving ahead, let's do it,' or, ‘No, we're not, let's don't do it.' I do not think it would be helpful for them to say, ‘Well, we're not sure,' because there are timing issues here. We'd like to get a very clear picture of what they'd like to do." 
Speck was referring to an upcoming April 2010 meeting of the KCUMB Board of Trustees during which discussion of the project was anticipated. 
The Chart eventually requested email correspondence between Speck and the acting president of KCUMB, Danny Weaver, and the documents indicated sparse contact between the two. An anonymous source provided The Chart with another email that had been withheld from the request that was sent from Weaver to Speck on Feb. 25. 
"Speaking candidly, if a vote were taken today, it would fail!!" Weaver wrote in the message, which he later confirmed to The Chart. 
It seems like a double exclamation point after the world "fail" would give Speck enough of a "very clear picture" of how KCUMB was planning to vote, but despite receiving that message, Speck continued to tout the project and act like it was a done deal in public.
Isn't that withholding information? 
During our reporting on the medical school project, Speck abruptly began enforcing a media policy that limited access to himself and other top administrators. In fact, after spring break of 2010, Speck refused every single interview request made by The Chart for the rest of the semester. 
Speck's actions and his media policy led to a front-page editorial in The Chart's April 2 edition, and the Student Press Law Center, a national organization advocating for the rights of student media, sent a letter of concern to Speck and the Board of Governors. 
"To the extent that the policy instead functions as a selective screening device—and that its purpose and effect is to obstruct access by The Chart to faculty, staff and administrators—it is questionable both legally and as a matter of sound public policy," SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte wrote in the letter. 
"It likewise is not accepted protocol for a college president to refuse to talk to his own campus newspaper. That is the mark of an institution attempting to insulate instelf against scrutiny and to ‘spin' the news. We might expect that behavior from a soft-drink company, but not from a public agency that is supposed to be transparent," LoMonte wrote. 
And finally,
"There undoubtedly will be times in the history of every institution when adverse publicity makes the school look bad. But a college that treats its employees and students with distrust, and elevates image control over transparency, does not merely ‘look bad.' It is bad." 
It appears I'm not the only one who believes Speck has  withheld information. 
I contacted Speck's office for a meeting last spring —not an interview—to discuss the media policy with the President and his refusal to accept interviews. 
He granted my request, on the condition that I not take any notes, I not record any of the discussion and I never repeat anything that was said. I agreed, and while I can't divulge what was said, I can say that the end result was Speck continuing to deny interview requests.
Isn't that withholding information? 
Speck's statement about withholding information was just plain stupid. There was nothing beneficial in making the remarks. Don't tell me it's sunny outside while I'm getting rained on.
"No one can make the accusation and back it up that we have held back information. That has not happened," Speck said. 
Well I am making that accusation, and I am backing it up.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was president for three years of the international Education Writers Association, staff member at two Joplin radio stations, education writer at the Wichita Eagle and Lincoln Nb. Journal, a native of Joplin, former college English faculty member, friend of several college presidents of schools of all sizes across the US. I have Never heard a college president anywhere have such disrespect and disregard for a college newspaper. He should be fired.

Anonymous said...

Bruce directly reflects the stupidity of the governing board of MSSU.

Anonymous said...

He should be more than fired. Run out of town on a rail, along with the bored of governors and the department heads.

Oh, Puh-leeeeze, Nitwits said...

Since when does the Administration have to have any respect -- shown one way -- for mere students playing at running a school newspaper?

If this college newspaper wishes to show disrespect to Dr. Speck, then why worry overmuch when Speck simply tells them whatever Speck wants to say to them and if they don't like it, so what? Speck would have more sense to simply shut down the student newspaper altogether, or simply not even speak at all to them if all they got to do is to call Speck a liar. Let these so-called students learn journalism by becoming their own Rupert Murdochs on their own dime. Why should there even be a journalism school now that the major media has lost readership and credibility because in large part because of the idiocy and irrelevancy of their 'profession'?

Whenever I see some squalling brat acting up in public, I usually side with the parent, even though the parent helped create that squalling brat. Usually I just say, a pox on both houses/sides, because both are usually liars and neither altogether on the side of the angels.

It seems like Turner and the budding liars wanting to work in public relations pretend to have some moral authority while at the same time they seek to usurp authority by denying it to their rivals for power. The end result of civil warfare is not altogether Speck's or the Board of Governors' fault, even though these 'liberal'/left-wing insurgents wish to pretend otherwise.

If you want respect, then maybe you should show respect. If you earn contempt from us onlooking neutrals, then stop whining about how you reaped exactly that which you sowed. We don't care about your petty power struggles. Close down the college for all we care, because higher 'edumacation' is a joke. Pol Pot had a valid point when he shot everyone wearing eyeglasses thinking that this is how you got best rid of parasitic pseudo-intellectuals.

Nobody reads newspapers any more because why pay for reading lies from your enemies? And this blog of Turners is merely a compilation of lies from someone who got caught lying, tried the patience of both readers and management, and was run off to some other place where Turner could cause even worse mischief.

Anonymous said...

Oh Please Nitwits, that was one of the best posts/comments on this sounding board in quite some time.

It's about time someone called out Turner for the two-face he is. Funny how he claims one issue is why he was let go from the Carthage Press, yet he never speaks of the illicit photos found at his home.

As for the whole MSSU issue, the Chart, Hanrahan and others are forgetting to practice one of the golden rules of journalism, there are two sides to every story. Sadly, we are only hearing one of it here.

Randy said...

What I detect from the last two comments is the direction I have expected since this latest controversy developed.

It is hard to argue with the substance of the articles written by Brennan Stebbins in the Chart, but he is being criticized for not providing space for "the other side."

What other side can there be to hiring a convicted felon for a teaching position when even a Google check would have uncovered the information? And how can you get "the other side" when the president, the face and voice of the university, has decided he will not talk to the media?

The same argument can be made about nearly every issue that has arisen from the Chart's coverage of Bruce Speck's administration.

Oh, Puleeeeze Nitwits, writes "we don't care about your petty power struggles" after spending five long paragraphs showing just how much he does care.

The most recent anonymous commenter revives an old tactic that he used against me three or four years ago, trying to smear my name. A few years ago, he left one comment after another claiming to know why I was fired at The Carthage Press.

Now it's illicit photographs. There is a good reason why I never speak of these "illicit photographs."

There never were any.

And who is supposed to have found them?

It actually makes little sense to argue with fiction, so perhaps I should try to figure out who would try such scurrilous tactics.

When the attacks were made a few years ago, they consistently came after I had written something about Sen. Gary Nodler. I guarantee you Gary Nodler was not responsible for them and did not know anything about them.

Now they are coming with MSSU President Bruce Speck under attack.

Hmmm. Who in the world would be connected to both Gary Nodler and Bruce Speck?

Jeff Billington said...

Randy, maybe you should force people to include their names along with their slander and libel. Maybe they'd be a little more cautious about the backstabbing trash they throw around. Most newspapers have made your register for leaving comments now, just to keep the discourse more professional. As a former Chart editor myself, and I consider myself a friend of both TR and Chad Stebbins, I obviously have a bias, but even someone without the same type of bias should find the nasty comments thrown around by Nitwits to be disturbing, uninformed an cruel, and if he wants to attack me or my post, lets hope he has the guts to attach his real name instead of being a coward hiding behind some stupid anonymous or juvenile attempt at a pen name. I'm rather proud of my predecessors at the Chart for doing what they've done and I think the type of gumption and integrity they have shown will ensure them success in life.

Jeff Billington said...

I'm sorry, I meant my successors at the Chart, I'm also proud of my predecessors there too though.

Sam Claussen said...

Controversy surrounds this administration. For 3 years this controversy has kept the university in a constant state of chaos. How can the university be an effective instrument of higher education?
I say congratulations to Brennan Stebbins and T.R. Hanrahan for trying to show the source of the chaos. They are the only in the media with the gumption. Thanks to Randy Turner for providing this forum.

Roving Tomcat in Turner's Sandbox said...

Nitwits, puh-leeeze. All these idiots formerly of the Fifth Column/Estate have the notion that their former readers have any respect for their truthfulness now that they have been revealed to be liars as well as idiots.

Turner hates freedom of speech, as witness the sundry Fred Phelps cases. Yet hypocritically whines when its fellow drones are treated with the earned contempt such deserve before their careers as liars are launched. The Internet now makes the former main-stream media largely irrelevant and forces these leftist idiot casualties of downsizing to play with their own little blogs where they face the cruel choice between being kicked or ignored. Turner prefers to be kicked, Bilgeington prefers to be ignored.

Actually, I don't have a dog in this fight. The college in Joplin was never much more than a diploma mill for the locals and a source of patronage from the legislature for this area. To get all hysterical about how a fifth-rate state college is run is silliness. Third or fourth-rate minds attending a local fifth-rate college is really no big deal as long as it creates a sort of super-high school for training . . . the local denizens. I never much cared for Julio's "Bringing in Third-Worlders and calling it diversity/International Mission", and neither did most Joplinites ever see the point either for what should be a local college designed to keep the young folks home. I think Speck does as well as can be expected by the local good-ol-boy network, who chose him for exactly that reason -- loyalty to the local [d]ruling elites. They certainly are not going to remove Speck for doing as Speck is told, which is why they renewed Speck's contract. Insofar as it matters, I despise Dwight Douglas, just not as much as I despise Turner, though.

So all this whining by Turner and Turner's fellow drones is nothing more than trying to put their own spin on a power struggle between the present thieves who want things to remain the same and know as much and idiotic liberal thieves who want to turn Joplin into Sans Francisco. Turner is foaming at the mouth that eventually the good-ol-boy network decided, correctly, to let these liberal dogs bark while the caravan continued. In fact, it would be better to simply put these budding uppity huffy puppies on short rations and pee in their water dish to show who's alpha. There is always the declining and irrelevant journalism skrewl for media reptiles at the University of Sodom at Columbia for them to learn to ply their trade as opposed to bringing 'em out of the closet in Joplin. If Speck has something to say, simply have it printed in the Chart as is and let the rabble have the rest.

Back in the day when I attended MSSC, hardly any of the student body read the free paper anyway, except to get coupons for fast food or to look at the sports section. The teaching and journalism and psychology departments were on the east side of campus and the business, engineering and "something useful" departments were on the west side, and seldom the twain did meet, at least voluntarily. My point: Turner and Turnerkind are merely drones still wanting to have their own way in an economy in serious decline -- largely as a result of letting such have their own way -- and they want to be listened to. So they whine and squall and wonder why nobody comes around except to ridicule.

This Billington fool doesn't even have a sandbox for us roving tomcats to leave our business in, so let it yowl. Insofar as Turner disabling its comments section is concerned, about the only reason to read Turner's primal screetch is for us roving tomcats to leave our business in Turner's sandbox and the rest of the readers who know all about Turner to have a really good laugh when Randy gets all sanctimonious and smarmy beyond his usual idiotic and typical silliness. It has nothing to do with cowardice -- any one of us could beat the crap out of Turner without breaking up a sweat. Rather, us bad-ol'-boys just want to have fun.

Anonymous said...

The question becomes, how can MSSU excel as an institution of higher learning under these progressively, worsening clouds?

Jeff Billington said...

Well, Roving Tomcat, if this fool did have a "sandbox," I'd make sure cowards like you would have to register and post your names instead of playing chickenshit. I think Randy is being far too kind in letting you post your disgusting, uninformed drivel without having to put your name in it to back it up. But, as I said, integrity isn't for everyone, yourself very much included. I really shouldn't let myself be getting pulled into this ridiculous pissing match, and I won't comment on this line anymore, regardless of what nasty slander you may throw at me from behind your stained and dirty curtain.