The DPA is touting highlights from the D-G’s editorial slamming Mark Martin.
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ secretary of state can be annoying on occasion, namely just about every time he opens his mouth.
Last week Mr. Martin was complaining about how hard it is for his office to obey the law, namely the Freedom of Information Act. As if that isn’t just the kind of duty he signed on for when he ran for the job, beating out a much better candidate who, as a county clerk, was too busy following the law to complain about it.
Secretary Martin says his office has been getting entirely too many requests for public information, as if his job weren’t to serve the public. It seems inquiring minds want to know, among other things, how much of our (that is, the taxpayers’) money he’s spending and on what. The public has every right to know. Indeed, we thought that was the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act: to assure that the people’s questions were answered.
There’s a simple way to avoid such questions, and that’s to avoid questionable spending.
Our secretary of state complains that his office “has seen such an abuse of FOI to such an extent so we can’t even brainstorm ideas freely among our people and reject some ideas and accept others because every idea that comes forward is subject to public scrutiny.”
The solution to that problem, Mr. Martin, is simple, too: Avoid advocating any ideas in official communications you’d be ashamed to see on the front page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Or just return to private life, where you wouldn’t have to report to the people of Arkansas, who, FYI, are your boss.
Mark Martin complains that he’s received so many requests for information-which doesn’t surprise, considering how he’s conducted the secretary of state’s office-that he may need a larger budget to meet them all. What a pity he can’t use some of the estimated $60,000 his office just spent on legislative redistricting without proper authorization, and which he’s having to justify or at least reclassify to make it legit.
Then there’s the $54,500 Secretary Martin spent on a contract with a consulting firm out of Rogers to do “values-based strategic planning,” which included holding a retreat for his higher-up staffers. All of which sounds like just a lot of hot consultant speak to us.
Here’s one value Mr. Martin would do well to base his strategic planning on: Respect the law. Don’t whine about it, and don’t even come close to violating it. An ancient sage called this approach building a fence around the law.
The lowest defense Mr. Martin has offered for his questionable spending is to say he’s just being picked on because he’s a Republican. As usual, he’s got it exactly backwards: It is he who’s become an embarrassment to the state’s GOP, which is supposed to be the party of economy in government.
Again, this is the paper that went out of its way, bending over backwards even, to explain away Tim Griffin’s criminal past and smear Joyce Elliott for him. So so much for the right wing noise machine all being on the same page. Funny thing is, they tipped their hand with that last little quote, showing just how much they love the GOP. Which is what this is about for them really. If Martin was discreet and clever in his activities like Tim Felon, they wouldn’t be complaining. But Martin’s making the Republican Party look bad you see. That’s the problem…