A panel of lawmakers today advanced the nomination of a former legislator and conservative blogger to the Arizona Board of Regents after he promised to scale back and avoid the usually controversial subjects he delves into.
Greg Patterson, who operates and writes the blog Espresso Pundit, said the political website will be going “dark” for some time if his nomination is confirmed.
“I’m going to have it go dark for a month or two and then see exactly what I can talk about and what I can’t,” he said. “Chances are, it’s going to stay completely dark for quite a while.”
“I don’t want to make it look unprofessional or unseemly to talk about other issues as well … (when) you represent the Governor’s Office, you’re representing the education community and you’re representing a lot of folks,” he added.
The move is an apparent attempt to mollify critics and provide assurances to supporters who may be wary of him blogging on controversial topics — and criticizing policymakers or their ideas — while he serves as a regent.
Later, when Sen. Jerry Lewis, a Republican from Mesa, asked what his blog would look like when he resumes it, Patterson indicated it would be far from the kinds of things he weighs in on today.
He might write, he said, about the questions that perplex children, such as why, for example, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has terminals 2, 3, and 4—but not a terminal 1.
The committee approved his nomination by a vote of 6-1.
Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, the only Democrat present, voted “no.”
As expected, Schapira tried to take Patterson to task for his views and his blog posts, which in the past have included criticisms of tuition increases and of university presidents.
They discussed, at length, the nominee’s critical views on universities’ liberal arts programs and a blog post he wrote about what he would tell students if he conducted the freshmen orientation.
In the blog post, he wrote: “While one or two of you may become Rhodes Scholars or CEO’s — some of you will also become homeless or go to prison.”
The title of the post is “Here’s why they don’t let me conduct orientation.”
Schapira thought the remark was disparaging to students.
But the Republicans on the committee said they appreciated Patterson’s candor and honesty.
Students need to have a “reality check,” said Sen. Lori Klein, R-Anthem.
Patterson zeroed in on one point: university degrees should lead to jobs. Otherwise, you’ll see the kinds of frustration expressed in the Occupy Wall Street movement, he said.
During the next hour, Schapira pressed and Patterson answered.
It was a measured, civil, intense and entertaining debate.
To explain his position, Schapira read from an Arizona Republic editorial against Patterson’s and voted “no.”
The full Senate still needs to confirm his nomination.