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Meadors responds to ethics complaint

Posted: October 20, 2010 - 5:17pm

The University of Central Arkansas will be subject to an investigation by the Arkansas Ethics Commission after a citizen complaint was brought against UCA President Allen Meadors.

The complaint, filed by Greenbrier resident Carole Lonsway accuses Meadors of “possible abuse of office” by allowing his parents and wife to be transported by university police to and from campus events on seven occasions.

An Arkansas Ethics Commission document, obtained under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, addressed to Meadors, stated that in the investigation, the Commission would determine whether or not he violated Ark. Code Ann. 21-8-304(a), which states that state employees shall not use official positions to secure special privileges or exemptions for his or herself, or family members.

“Briefly stated, the essential allegation of the complaint is that the UCA Police Department provided transportation for your elderly parents to UCA events during 2010,” Graham Sloan, AEC director, wrote.

Lonsway’s complaint form included more than 40 pages of exhibit material containing e-mails between herself and Meadors, FOI requests to the university for e-mails containing reference to Meadors and the use of state-owned vehicles, and UCA community responses to a campuswide e-mail sent from Larry James, chief of UCA Police, in support of the department’s actions.

A letter from Meadors to Sloan, dated Oct. 20, stated that Meadors did not believe he had violated the intent of the Arkansas ethics rules.

Meadors said that the University welcomes hundreds of individuals as specific guests at campus events who are provided with complimentary tickets and other amenities. 

“Just because they are my parents, is it felt they should not be afforded the courtesy that others are offered?” Meadors asked Sloan in the letter.

Meadors said that he believes his parents have assisted the university by making valuable contacts with potential investors, donors and alumni, and should therefore be identified as guests of the university.

“Individuals who support the university in these fashions or even to a lesser degree are invited to events on campus regularly,” Meadors said.

Meadors said that guests are sometimes provided with transportation between university locations, if necessary, by various divisions. 

“It may be by golf cart, vehicles or van. This is standard procedure at all universities.”

Lonsway, self-described concerned citizen, said she believes that the university’s officials have made light of the “nine separate infractions” where Meadors allowed UCA police to transport immediate family members.

“I am mad that the university representatives have made light of nine or so infractions. I am tired of officials in this state breaking Arkansas laws. That is what brought me to file this complaint,” Lonsway said.

On a personal note, Meadors told the Commission that his parents would no longer, in the future, accept transportation to campus events, and therefore would be unable to attend events because of their ages and physical conditions.

Sloan said that the Commission may use as many as 150 days to investigate or resolve the alleged violation.

“All relevant records are confidential until any final action is taken,” Sloan said.

Rita Looney, chief council for the AEC, said that the Commission acts as an administrative agency with jurisdiction over public servants, office holders and elected officials.

“Anyone is subject to the same sanctioning authority with (this code), and the (AEC) can issue public letters of caution, all the way up to reprimand, or can issue fines from $50 to $2,000,” Looney said. “The Commission does not remove anyone from office.”

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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fiddlesticks
29
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fiddlesticks 10/20/10 - 05:41 pm
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0
petty

I think this is petty and people should get a life.
My kid goes to Hendrix, and the cops will go a couple of blocks off campus to help a kid jump start a battery or retrieve keys locked in a car. My hubby works on a campus and drives me around in a buggy due to a back issue once in a great while. .
Let's all get down and accuse all these people of "ethics" violations.
Sarcasm intended.

Join some clubs folks. Meet some people. Get a life!

ucabear09
255
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ucabear09 10/20/10 - 07:09 pm
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Get a Hobby Ms. Lonsway

I think Carole Lonsway needs to get a hobby. Maybe knitting, she sounds like an old crabby lady.

Should we refuse to transport people to/from the football games to the parking lots on golf carts? That is unauthorized benefit to them isn't it? Geez people need to chill out a little. I hate that society has turned so "politically correct". You can't say one thing without someone complaining.

i_wonder
27122
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i_wonder 10/20/10 - 07:25 pm
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petty?
Unpublished

"My kid goes to Hendrix, and the cops will go a couple of blocks off campus to help a kid jump start a battery or retrieve keys locked in a car. "

1) Hendrix is a private institution, yes?
UCS is public (read TAX PAYER FUNDED), yes?

2) the "kid" is a student. Meador's parents probably aren't students.

Not sure you can compare the two situations, but it was a nice try.

sevenof400
7003
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sevenof400 10/20/10 - 07:28 pm
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Meadors is petty...and stingy

if he can't afford a car service for his poor, pitiful parents on his salary.

Resign Meadors! You have become as much of an embarrassment to UCA as your predecessors.

i_wonder
27122
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i_wonder 10/20/10 - 07:32 pm
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exactly
Unpublished

if they can't ride for free, suddenly they are too old and physically unable to ride?

c'mon man. give me a freakin break.

BearFan4
1960
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BearFan4 10/20/10 - 08:30 pm
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They still haven't

They still haven't established how far his parents are traveling to go to these events. If they are being driven to and from little rock, I can see the issue with that. But if this Carole person has her panties in a wad because he had his parents ride in a golf cart from the President's house to Bruce St, then she should be fined however much the state wastes on investigating this. Either way I'm anticipating the end of this story.

BearFan4
1960
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BearFan4 10/20/10 - 08:33 pm
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Btw, if all his parents are

Btw, if all his parents are getting is a golf cart ride around campus, then I can understand why they would no longer be able to attend. They probably drive to the campus then are escorted around once they get there. If that is the case, I see no problem with that.

arkansasobserver
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arkansasobserver 10/21/10 - 07:13 am
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Ethics and Common Sense

This whole story is a mess. With "more than 40 pages" of documentation, surely there must be some mention of the distance involved. A golf-cart ride from Westgate might not be as big an issue as a police car ride from Little Rock. I don not know Mr. Meadors, but it does seem that a University President might be smart enough to learn lessons from his predecessor concerning ethics violations, and to understand the difference in following the law, and setting the example as the leader of a taxpayer-funded institution. The quote regarding the fact that his parents are no longer able to attend these events because of the complaint made me sad. Sad, because with his position and salary, he cannot afford to pick up his parents, take them to the event and pay the price of admission for them, like a good son should? Would this service be offered to my parents, or even for the police chief's parents? I think not. Mr. Meadors flunked two tests in this case... the ethics test, and the common sense test. Rather than disregard her initial complaints, which were appropriately addressed to him directly, he should have thanked Ms. Lonsway for pointing out the appearance of inappropriateness (inappropriety?) and corrected them quietly.

Igor Rabinowitz
9439
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Igor Rabinowitz 10/21/10 - 07:27 am
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I'm wondering

Who put Londsway up to this?

i_wonder
27122
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i_wonder 10/21/10 - 07:31 am
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consider for a second
Unpublished

This is UCA after all.
Meadors is probably the best the university can find.

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