Thursday, January 26, 2017

UT Regent confirmation hearing tests the Texas Senate's capacity for willful self-delusion....


"And this is the inscription that was written:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN."
Daniel 5:25

The good news is that they haven't voted yet.  The bad news is that the fix remains as in as it's been and that vote will be a formality when the committee meets next week.  Yesterday, we called this fiasco dirty politics worthy of House of Cards and nothing that occurred in today's confirmation hearing changes that.

Everything you need to know about this process can be summed up in the fact that Kirk Watson said that he was "very pleased" and "looking forward to swift confirmation."  That being said, Watson did ask each of the nominees to define how they see their role as individual regents.  Ironically, it was in response to a question from Kirk Watson that all three nominees admitted they see the the role of an individual regent to be a yes man for the chancellor.

We will confess to being pleasantly surprised by Kevin Eltife's testimony.  He spoke of the need to end "smoke and mirrors" budgeting while committing to ending the practice of building new buildings without sufficient funds raised for ongoing maintenance and operations.  That's a pretty meaningful cost driver and if a potential Regent Eltife can make progress in that area so much the better.

Janiece Longoria was a talking points repository.  She was the president-elect of Texas Exes prior to being nominated by Governor FoxNews Abbott and was previously on the Board of UTIMCO.  Honestly, that's all you need to know, although she also gave winking approval to the admissions scandal.

Rad Weaver is, straight up, not qualified for this position.  We're doing our best to be polite, but it's impossible to be truthful without saying that the word bimbo comes to mind.  His response to every single question from Senators was some variation of the phrase "I don't know."  Well, if you don't know the answer to basic questions about how the system is governed, you shouldn't be serving on the Board of Regents!  If these Senators had any self respect, they would have been offended at how many times they were told "I don't know."

Senator Birdwell sounded like a cuck asked a milquetoast question about whether the new Board will respect the chain of command as it relates to the relationship between the UT system and the legislature, which Birdwell deemed "unsatisfactory" currently.  All three nominees mouthed the platitudes you would expect them to mouth in response to such a question.  But actions speak louder than words and everything you need to know about how these new Regents will view the legislature can be summed up by the fact that Rad Weaver failed to do basic preparation for his confirmation hearing.

In response to various questions from Senators Kel Seliger and Borris Miles, Eltife and Longoria spoke unfavorably about the UT system's Houston land grab.  Meanwhile, Chancellor McRaven was chided for the Houston project in a separate hearing.  But that doesn't change the reality that, even if you take Eltife and Longoria at their word, McRaven has a 7-2 majority on the Board to push Houston forward and the legislature isn't going to do a damn thing to stop him.

To his credit, Senator Van Taylor told a fantastic Aggie joke.

The only Senator who demonstrated a basic grasp of reality during this hearing was Dawn Buckingham.  She asked pointed questions about admissions and tuition and disdainfully left it at "we will see" when she received buzzwords and truisms in return.  But Senator Buckingham did everything we asked her to do when we discussed this issue on the campaign trail.

We are working on technical issues related to the video of our personal testimony and will share it in a separate post; the indefatigable Jon Cassidy has more here, the Statesman has more here.

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