If Republicans are indeed “fiscally conservative,” nobody has told this to Elsie Arntzen, the GOP state superintendent of schools who was elected last year to a four year term and has so far made a spectacle of herself on multiple occasions. She has seen fit to hand out public funds to just about every old friend she can think of, including a contract to a crony to “study” something that didn’t need to be studied.
But now she’s outdone herself, in shocking fashion. She has hired an advisor onto her personal staff by the name of Patrick Beddow Sr., and is paying him $187,200 according to the state salary website. That comes out to $90.00 an hour. As a point of comparison, starting teachers in the Montana school system, which Arntzen presides over, make around $20,000 a year if not less.
Heck, the governor only makes $111,0000 and that’s the upper limit of pretty much any politician, cabinet member or personal staff salary. In fact Arntzen’s ace staffer Beddow (whose advice we can be sure is worth every dollar) probably makes more than almost any state worker except maybe a few doctors at state medical facilities. He is listed in news reports as having been hired to advise Arntzen on issues pertaining to the Land Board, on which she sits.
The obvious question–what in God’s name is an elected official thinking when she does something like this–is one I cannot answer. But I think the people of the state could answer it in two ways: by a voter recall of Arntzen, or an impeachment by the legislature. In addition to removing her from office, there should be passed the “Elsie Arntzen Compensation Limitation Act” that would limit the size of state salaries for cronies.
Her payout to this friend comes at a time when the state is trying to find revenue to pay for essential services, such as compensating firefighters for job-related illnesses, housing low income seniors, repairing roads and bridges, and funding the University so that tuition need not be raised. So unless I’m missing something, I think we can safely say that what she’s done here is so outrageous that perhaps it’s an indication that there is something fundamentally wrong with her, maybe a few french fries short of a happy meal. Regardless, she needs to go.