By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Anger at Broad spilled out during her appearance at a state budget hearing in December, when legislators sarcastically attacked university budget proposals and a legislative staffer condescendingly referred to her as "Miss Molly" throughout the proceedings. Legislators were reportedly miffed that only Broad, and none of the actual regents, showed up for the hearing.
"Every legislator is pissed off about [Broad's salary]," Kromko said, "but we don't seem to have the guts to do anything about it. The regents have a lot of political power around here."
Senate President Bob Usdane is more discreet: "There's a perceived problem with the central office--too many people and too many dollars being spent. My opinion is that the Board of Regents has a lack of rapport with the legislature and that continues to grow."
Regent Andrew Hurwitz said that while the board should shoulder part of the blame for its "less than ideal" relationship with the legislature, part of the conflict stems from the constitutional relationship between the two institutions.
"We need to spend more time improving our communication with the legislature, but part of our independence is by constitutional design," he said. "We are mandated to make certain decisions independently, and the legislature doesn't like that. They like to be in charge."
The Arizona Constitution does give the regents special powers to administer state universities. But Kromko charges that in the case of U.S. Memories, the regents clearly exceeded their authority by offering tax incentives to an out-of-state corporation. It is a charge Hurwitz, who abstained from voting on the Memories issue because his law firm was involved in the project, thinks should be put in perspective.
"The governor came to us and asked that we help facilitate this project; she asked for our cooperation," he said. "We were trying to encourage economic development in this state under those circumstances. You have to understand the motivation was a good one."
The regents apparently realize their stock is dropping at the statehouse. Kelly says the board plans to schedule casual, relaxed social gatherings with lawmakers so everyone can get to know one another and try to resolve disagreements.
The problem may run deeper than the need for regent/legislator cookouts, however. Norton explains the rift as an institutionalized class conflict between privileged, appointed board members and more voter-conscious legislators.
"The regents have always been viewed as isolationist academicians, holding a sacred place in government structure. But down at the legislature, we've got teachers, a waitress, small-business owners--you know, just plain folks.
"And legislators don't take well to the kind of isolationist or elitist position that the regents seem to have. And, unfortunately, the whole thing has become sort of like the Hatfields and the McCoys."
Kromko is pessimistic about a reconciliation between the two government "families."
He notes that every year his regent bills get just a little farther along in the legislative process, and next session there may be enough antagonism left over to propel some of the board-restricting measures into law.
"A lot of people have respect for regents just because they are regents," Kromko said. "To me, they're just people who gave money to a governor's campaign so they could get a job."
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