City Journal Winter 2016

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Mark Pulliam
Austin, Texas, Paging Frank Capra « Back to Story

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Seeing how things have played out a year and half later and knowing what I know about how UT operates, I would say that there is more truth to what Mark Pulliam writes here and more substance to what lies behind Hall's FOI requests than the eleven commentators can see. The world is not black-and-white. Several Perry-appointed regents with whom I have had long discussions are good, honest, intelligent, well-intentioned people. To set up a Manichean dichotomy: Perry Hall pure evil and incompetence vs. Powers pure good and competence is to ignore the clear facts as they have played out. powers did manipulate admissions in favor of the powerful and influentials over the objections of the admissions committee. Powers did initiate the practice of rewarding himself and others elect law school faculty with 'off-shore' money that was not reported to the University or University system. he had the caginess to reward himself with $325,000 for staying on 5 years at $65,000 per as an annuity. His successor Sager continued and amped up the practice: giving himself $500,000 for staying on 5 years at %100,000 per year ads an immediately paid forgivable loan. Powers forced Sager to resign. When Powers' own annuity came to light he was already the 'force of good' in the eyes of many against Hall as the force of evil. So, as human beings in factionalist times are wont to do, doing what caused his successor to resign was overlooked and some added flimflam about University legal counsel having signed off on it was used, too.

In any case, there is plenty of fire where Hall has seen smoke and Pulliam does not deserve to be excoriated.
The "confidential student data" that another commenter is so exercised about proved that some preferred students were admitted with LSAT scores that were too low to win anybody without connections an entree at run-of-the-mill law schools, let alone a flagship such as UT Law.

The Wall Street Journal gives details in a fairly recent editorial.
Mark Pulliam -- You, sir, are an idiot. City Journal should be ashamed of itself for posting this one-sided puff piece for Wallace Hall, who is universally hated in Texas for the role he has played in Rick Perry's war on excellence against the major research institutions in our state. Hall has violated the trust of Texans by spending millions of public dollars on his bizarre vendettas, and he has broken several laws in the process. He will be held responsible in the end.
Here is a simple rule for half-interested out-of-staters on the topic of Texas politics: if Perry is behind it, it stinks. Rule 2: Perry is behind everything and has his hands on every lever; his problem with UT-Austin is that he hasn't managed to throttle them yet and he'd sure like to before he retires to make some REAL money.
Texas beats California in SOOO many ways. But corruption is one of the few categories where Texas can give CA a run for its money. Admittedly, it's a tight race.

Speaking of money -- follow it. The legislators get special dispensations from UT in exchange for favorable laws and taxpayer funding -- plus the legislature is expected to turn a blind eye to the academic admissions and "loan" skulduggery that's afoot.

When someone writes here that a volunteer seeking good governance reforms is a "malevolent toady," you can pretty much conclude that their screed lacks any semblance of objectivity -- and that the commenter probably benefits directly or indirectly from the status quo.
From the article:
"In Its a Wonderful Life, George Bailey had a guardian angel, Clarence, who intervened when things looked hopeless. Hall has no Clarence. So far, even the governor who appointed him and encouraged his efforts has left Hall twisting in the wind while his opponents pummel him like a piata."

So it is with human nature, sad but true. Just another good reason to limit government intrusion to a minimum in all of our lives.

There's only one way to limit lawmakers' power at every level that I have come up with - every passed statute must apply to EVERYONE at the appropriate level of the legislature, no exceptions. City law must not favor anyone, but apply to all city residents; State law must cover everyone in that state; federal law must cover every citizen of the country.

Need an example? Ask your congressman whether they would support a federal law that eliminates requiring a PGA Tour golfer from making minimum withdrawals from their pension plans, while you and I MUST make minimum (taxable) distributions beginning no later than age 70 and 1/2? I know, sounds crazy, but that law exists! As do thousands of other favors handed out by the political class.

Equal protection of the law, and UNDER the law as mentioned in the founding documents has slipped the surly bonds that were included to protect ourselves from ourselves. In trade for laws favoring the donee, contributions allow a candidate to spend huge amounts campaigning for that same power to select winners and losers. Handing out favors-laws that by design bestow favor to the contributors and their cronies, or designed to disfavor contributors' competitors- is the cancer that affects all self-governmental systems.

When you or yours are the beneficiaries, it's against ones nature to "fix" the system. As Pogo declared, "We has met the enemy, and they are us!" Everyone must back away from the trough or all of us will continue to pay.

Can the USofA do what's right before we tumble into the dustbin of history?
Sounds like Texas to me.
George Effin Bailey, eh ??? In Texas? Well, not exactly.

What comes out first try at The Google is that this man Hall is misusing his post on the Regents to pursue a personal vendetta against the UT president, Bill Powers.

Powers, meanwhile, has been on the job quite successfully since 2006. He is the incoming chair of the Association of American Universities, the national org for research universities in the United States and Canada.

From a Republican legislator: Mr. Hall's vendetta is hurting the credibility and prestige of one of our state's best assets and his actions are harming the reputation of one of the most respected university presidents in the country.

O.K., this loon Wallace Hall brought up his issue with Powers to the other regents. They heard him out and voted it down. Hall can't let it go. So, what else but get him removed?

As for Mark Pulliam, how's about complaining about something like Obamacare? There's good and there's bad to it. It's fundamentally insurance reform -- surely City Journal could do an article clarifying the insurance reform core of this program.

And at one time Perry was considered Presidential material??? Where is no balls Perry
while this is happening. Seems like he does not wish upset his big buck big ego friends.
As someone who knows nothing about this issue, I'm going out on a limb and say that this story is leaving something out - the case against Mr. Hall. I strongly doubt that even the liberals who they author thinks are powerful in Texas would try to impeach a Regent for the crime of opposing favoritism. There must be more to the story and you should be embarassed for publishing such an obvious one-sided defense.
UT- Austin may avoid this latest roadblock but hubris produces
a greater calamity in the future. Of course, off the record deals for legislators and law professors, who trained many of the lawyer-legislators, is the way they do business.
Ethics, or lack of in this case, has no place in the law school or the university administration.The Campus is an island unto itself.
As for cleaning out the entire Power Administration, use a big
broom and get rid of most of the unnecessary degree programs that cater to ignorance and the lowest common denominator.
The athletic program has just about run its course, so the entire structure, funding at taxpayer expense, is coming undone.
The author of the article is to be commended for issuing an early warning but few in the liberal bastion of Austin and the lawyer-legislators will heed it. The entire structure must topple before
they awaken to their folly.
This is a nice story you write. Too bad none of what you write is true. Hall is not a civic-minded businessman. He's a malevolent toady of the Governor bent on imposing the will of one of Perry's contributors who has an ax to grind with U.T. Austin. U.T. Austin is just one institution in the U.T. system, yet Hall has consistently focused his unreasonable requests for documents solely on that institution. He obtained and released confidential student data to his private attorneys, which violates federal and state law. If he were truly doing the business of the school, he should have relied on legal advice from the system's attorneys rather than funneling confidential information relating to state business to his private attorney. If he were truly a civic-minded businessman, he would have resigned long ago. The justifications you raise in your fable of good versus evil were formulated after the fact. His sole focus has been on removing the impediment to Rick Perry imposing his misguided will on the University of Texas. The reason Perry wants to remove Bill Powers, the President of U.T. is "because he can." As a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, you should be ashamed of yourself for so grossly contorting and misrepresenting the actual facts of the justifiable legislative inquiry. The inquiry arose and is being pursued in a legislature that is both conservative and Republican dominated. It is you and the other apologists for Wallace Hall who are far out of the mainstream.