Monday, December 13, 2010

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Authority or Else

Benton County loves law and order. Last January, Bella Vista Officer Coleman Brackney shot and killed James Ahern after Ahern's car crashed. Brackney had been chasing Ahern for speeding before he shot Ahern six times, but his account of the incident was contradicted by the dash cam. Eventually, Brackney pled guilty to a misdemeanor for killing Ahern and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Now another video is making the rounds and letting the public see how Benton County Deputy Sheriff Dana Winn interrogated and arrested local citizen John Lewis. Mr. Lewis recorded the incident at his home that involved Winn demanding respect and arresting Lewis for "obstructing government operations."

The ACLU doesn't much like what it saw on the video, and Benton County residents don't much like the ACLU. This must make them uncomfortable. They will be even more uncomfortable after Mr. Lewis and his attorney, Doug Norwood, win a lawsuit and collect big damages for the violation of Mr. Lewis's constitutional rights.

Good Suit Greed Again

There they go again. The unelected Northwest Arkansas Council of Corporations has another idea to make it easier for them to get you to pay for their projects, and they are going to get the legislature to give you the tax goose in January. Front Man Mike Malone says you will enjoy it.

Several years ago, the Corporate Council drafted and had the legislature pass a statute allowing Regional Mobility Authorities, then they got Benton and Washington County to form one, then they offered to let Front Man Mike Malone staff it for free and direct their business from inside the hen house. What they want first is a sales tax to pay $1.4 billion for the Bella Vista By-Pass and other pet projects.

What is slowing down this huge tax increase to fund their wish list is that each county must call for an election and each county must vote to increase your taxes. Under the Corporate Council's new scheme, they would get Front Man Mike Malone and the other corporate lobbyists to persuade the legislature to give them the power to get around those checks and balances. They want their captive Regional Mobility Authority to be able to call an election and do away with separate votes by each county.

This plan allows the Benton County interests to outvote the Washington County citizens and get us to pay for Benton County projects like the Bella Vista By-Pass, even if the majority of Washington County votes against it. It allows them to tax us to fund their Western Beltway, even if our local communities vote against it. It gives them a way around the opposition of certain local officials that are standing in their way.

There's not much you can do to stop this scam, but you should at least know what they're going to do to you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Waltons' Arts Center

The rich are different from you and me. They don't have to play by the rules, and they always get their way. If you believe that things are fair or that merit can ever beat money, you weren't paying attention at events in Fayetteville this week.

You will remember that the Walton Arts Center bought a survey that said they needed a 2,200 seat theater. Then they developed a very specific list of criteria that would determine the location of this new theater and asked for proposals. The University of Arkansas-City of Fayetteville proposal was far and away the best submitted among the 25 submitted. This week the WAC Facilities Committee and the WAC Board voted overwhelmingly to build the big theater in Bentonville at a site to be found later, those specific criteria be damned. City and University officials and local citizens were not even allowed to comment. Bullshit walked.

In fact, there was only one thing that determined the obsequious WAC Board's compliant decision -- what the billionaire Waltons wanted, where they wanted it, and how much money they might toss to transform the old Benton County Sale Barn into a palace for Broadway shows.

Here's what you can learn from this shameless charade and how you can start calling the shots about anything and everything in Northwest Arkansas, from playhouses to regional transportation infrastructure:

(1) Inherit billions of dollars;
(2) Invest a few million in an unaccountable private non-profit
(3) Hire a hand-picked over-paid flunky to run the organization
(4) Sponsor a slanted survey to feign interest in public opinion
(5) Fake the survey results and ignore the official criteria
(6) Make large campaign contributions to compliant politicians
(7) Spend your money however you want
(8) Be smug at the impotence of the unfunded opposition

This is the way things have always worked, and it would be naive to pretend otherwise. The unwashed should be thankful that the Waltons are spending money on the arts in Bentonville, a cultural wasteland that needs all the help it can get. I mean, they could have decided to build a bigger Christ of the Ozarks in Rogers to compete with the sacred projects of Gerald L. K. Smith.

Friday, November 26, 2010

To Serve and Protect

The Springdale City Council stepped up this week and protected the people from not being able to drink more alcohol before driving home. Declaring an "emergency to exist," they unanimously amended the City Code to allow bars to stay open three hours longer and serve beer, wine, and mixed drinks until 2:00 a.m., even on Sunday, because it was "necessary to preserve the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Springdale."

Was this ordinance necessary to prevent a dehydration pandemic with an epicenter in Springdale? Was the Council influenced by campaign contributions from Drunks Against Mad Mothers? Was it an effort to balance the city budget with increased DWI fines and ambulance charges? No, they said, it came to their attention that local barkeeps were at a competitive disadvantage in selling alcohol, having last call at 11:00 p.m., while Fayetteville dram sellers could continue purveying their potions until 2:00 a.m.

No doubt, this will make drinking in Springdale comparable to drinking in Fayetteville. This should be welcome news for all the drunks who don't like paid parking on Dickson Street. They can now punish Fayetteville merchants and find a Springdale dive more to their liking with free parking and far fewer people.

Fatty Hackers on South Thompson Avenue -- It's the New Dickson Street!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Asshat of the Week

Timothy Adam, the same guy who harassed UA graduate student Banan al-Daraiseh at the Mullins Library last month because she was wearing a hijab, was issued a criminal trespass warning last week and banned from the campus library. On Monday night, he ignored the ban and returned to the scene of the crime. This time he was arrested and booked for criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

In the earlier incident, Adam yelled at al-Daraiseh as she stood at the library entrance on October 8th, “There’s no place for you in America. There’s no place for Sharia. Go back to Sudan.” When she asked him whether she was bothering him, Adam shouted, “Yes you’re bothering me – the way you’re dressing is bothering me.” She declined to pursue harassment charges against Adam for the October outrage.

Trial is set for December 13th in Fayetteville District Court.

Opting Out at XNA

Today is National Opt Out Day, a movement to refuse the full body scans at some airports and request the foreplay of an Enhanced Pat Down with a Happy Ending. Where this happens to any considerable extent, it will cause even more delays, long lines, and angry passengers, which is the point. Americans tolerated the loss of travel flasks and nail clippers, but they finally have had enough of the rude bullies between the ticket counters and the gate.

Walmart's XNA Airport in Bentonville is not on the A-List to get the Nekkid Picture Machines, despite the constant Level Orange Terrorist Threats advised at the landing strip in a cow pasture. They will find other ways to make flying more inconvenient, but you can still request the fondling if you want a little Pat Down before boarding. You can also let the TSA know how it feels to be scrotum-scanned by using your X-Ray Specs to check out their unattended packages.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Elections as Cultural Dipsticks

There are a couple of municipal runoff elections that will tell us something about the mental faculties, meanness factors, and motivation levels of area residents. It will probably be after midnight before the Benton and Washington county election commissions report the light vote, but the results will be reflections of the civic culture of Springdale and Rogers. Greenland and Farmington each have council seats in play, but who really cares? Not the voters, apparently, as less than 60 people have voted early in Washington County.

The Ward 3 seat in Springdale, due to an archaic system of political control, is elected by voters citywide. Stagecoach Mogul Ray Dotson is making yet another bid for public office after having been rejected in the mayor's race in 2008, and he is opposed by Brad Burns, a real estate peddler once ranked by Arkansas Business as the 16th top producing residential agent in all of Springdale. Neither appear to be visionaries, so the choice for Springdale's powers that be are between former Alderman Dotson or former real estate guy, between gaudy flash and gray flannel.

In Rogers, Tea Party Kurt Maddox of Gravette, having lost in the GOP congressional primary, now wants to be mayor. Jim Bob Duggar, former Springdale legislator and recent Fayetteville parade marshall, has endorsed him. He was also endorsed in a mystery letter, and he sent a campaign mailer pretending that he was endorsed by current mayor Steve Womack, who denies it. The other candidate is Greg Hines, who once ran for County Judge, a Benton County employee who has served on the City Council for twelve years. He says he will keep up the Womack tradition. His opponents say he is a damned Democrat, or worse, a liberal. The results will provide some benchmark on the success of the Pod People in taking over Rogers and erasing the cranial hard drives of its original residents, a struggle that has been ongoing since Daisy manufacturing fled the unions of Michigan and landed in low-wage Rogers 52 years ago.

In neither race will Hispanic voters have much influence, nor will they until registration and turnout begin to reflect the size of the population.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Let's Be Blunt

While progressive Eureka Springs voters were enacting a bow hunting ordinance for deer within the city limits, Berryville citizens reelected Mayor Tim McKinney by a vote of 585-483, smoking challenger Jason Williams. Mayor McKinney is a drug court graduate who was a resident of south Fayetteville for 15 days last year.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who Is Getting In Your Wallet?

No surprise here, but the monied interests are behind the proposed constitutional amendments to raise interest rates and generate fees for bond lawyers and counting houses. Proposed Amendments No. 2 and No. 3 will be like manna from the poor, should they fool the voters today, and it looks like that's about to happen.

Just so you know, here's the contribution report for one of the front groups trying to foist the amendments upon the borrowing and taxpaying class. Oil companies and big Little Rock law firms, and $15,000 from the state Chamber of Commerce. Locally, something calling itself the NWA Chamber of Commerce with a Post Office Box in Springdale kicked in $10,000 for the scheme. There were no reported contributions from local churches or social service workers.

The most enthusiastic donor was Car Mart of Bentonville. The corporation ponied up $100,000 for the amendments. They can recover that quickly by charging 17% interest on clunkers for hourly wage workers needing to cruise around Bella Vista on that new bypass that has sucked up all the transportation funding in the region.

Go ahead and vote for your own financial ruin. It is what they want you to do.