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The Regents Sustain an Infarction

Jim Martin should have been removed years ago regardless of his modestly progressive views

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, August 28, 2002.

Current Regent at Large Jim Martin has withdrawn from the race for 2nd District representative on that traditionally conservative trough. He made this dramatic announcement on campus two days after suffering another heart attack, it has been called, which is a coincidence, because he announced his intention to run two days after his previous alleged heart incident during this year’s Bolder Boulder in May. There is much that is curious about all this, including the speculation that heart attacks aren’t what they were when I was young if forty eight hours after one you feel like starting a political race. I can see two days after an infarction withdrawing from a race, but not in person at a public ceremony.

Local columnist Clint Talbot was nearly moved to tears that a fellow jogger “apparently fit” ought to be reduced to this. Martin, according to Talbot in Tuesday’s paper, was in better shape than most of the young students walking around him. This bespeaks a curious value system. A man two days after a heart attack and three months after a previous heart attack/heart incident is not in great shape. He is not even in adequate shape. He is, one can argue, dying. But apparently if he runs, he’s in great shape to Talbot, a conclusion similar to the one attending the funeral of Jim Fixx decades ago. Fixx, a runner and author, was the first to make jogging and running into a lifestyle for the common man, and when he died, I think before he was forty, of a heart attack during a run his arteries were found to be 90% clogged, and people still referred to him as in great shape. Talbot’s fixation on this minor aspect is the observation of a fellow addict.

Why, in any case, is Martin’s athleticism relevant at all? If he was legless in a wheelchair or Ironman Champion of the World, Jim Martin was totally unqualified to oversee a University.

Whether football coach, on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or a best selling historian, lying on the page and daring someone to point it out is far more widespread than we admit. Martin allowed false claims about his academic credentials to be stated as true on the record in previous campaigns. As of this writing they are still up on the Regent's website. They are not insignificant. He claimed a degree in political science; it was a B.A. in theater and communications. He claimed a Masters he did not receive. To believe these are mistakes, imagine these football coaches, Generals, historians or Jim Martin allowing a reduced record of accomplishment to be printed in the resume and allowed on the record for over a decade. “General, it says here on your website you were a typist in New Jersey during Vietnam….” “No, check the record; I have a Congressional Medal and two Purple Hearts. Hah, hah never noticed that. Really? Oh well, bad day in the typing pool. Better start reading my bios, eh? Only so many hours in the day, though…” Sure.

It is the case that Martin graduated first in his small law school class from D.U., so he is hardly academically deficient. However, one wonders what credits he claimed on his application, since colleges aren’t even verifying the claims of their regents.

Whether he lied or was just incompetent, he ought not be where he is. Even football coaches resign when caught claiming degrees they don’t have. And they don’t claim health reasons, either.

Like fellow Republican Bob Greenlee who got upset at the tone of his Senatorial contest years back, Martin apparently is a more delicate flower than such a rugged athlete might appear. Talbot pointed out that Martin’s Democratic opponent, Cindy Carlisle, while in person genial, had gone for the kill during the campaign. The evidence offered is that one (1) heckler appeared at one public outing for the candidate Martin. The same person might have been the same heckler that gave Carlisle’s primary opponent, Bob Sievers, the vapors on one occasion. There is no reason, much less evidence, to imply Carlisle had or would have anything to do with it. If this was an unexpected horror of politics to those two friends, Sievers and Martin, they are not qualified, ipso facto, for public office.

The real issue here is that nobody in the conservative camp expected someone like Carlisle – a liberal Boulder former City Councilperson who is well funded, has never lost an election, and is overqualified – to run. By the time it began to sink in she would run and likely win, the Republicans were panicked that the Regents might actually become, for lack of a better phrase, politically moderate. I would bet they’ve been on the phone to get Greenlee to replace Martin’s slot, with what success is to be seen. Anyone of lesser stature is a concession to Carlisle, and the Regency is too important for them.

If a candidate lies or, to put the best possible face on it, allows misinformation that exaggerates his qualifications to be posted officially, there is no reason to get huffy when his opponent calls the public’s attention to it. It’s relevant; it’s how the game is done.

It remains to be seen if Martin will resign, as he should, from his current spot. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if all the Regents were vetted on their academic claims. There is, after all, precedent for concern. How can a University throw a student out for lying or cheating when the Regents wink at their own?