Saturday, March 8, 2008

News Scooper

Susannah Patton, that new city government reporter from the Northwest Arkansas Times, is really on the ball. She sniffed out a story all on her own and filed a Freedom of Information request for letters on the very same day that Mayor Dan Coody replied to a threatening missive from County Judge Jerry Hunton.

Outstanding work there, Susannah, so don't listen to those who think you've been used and manipulated to advance someone's political agenda. We know that your editor's are big supporters of the agreement to have Fayetteville taxpayers subsidize the ambulance service for those out in the county, and they will most certainly continue to blast anyone who opposes it.

Judge Hunton's letter dated this Thursday resembled political blackmail. If the City of Fayetteville didn't go along with his plan for a no-bid monopoly contract for ambulance service provided by an interlocal agreement being pushed by one of his employees who serves on the board of the company, then Hunton said "that all the issues and projects on which historically we have cooperated with the city of Fayetteville are now in jeopardy,” including agreements over the county jail, community sewer systems, sex offender software, the gun range, animal control, the emergency operations center and the 911 dispatch system.

Mayor Dan Coody's letter dated Friday, the same day that Ms Patton just happened to file the FOIA request, said he agreed with Judge Hunton's attacks on City Council members who raised questions about the no-bid contract. He begged, "
Please give us one more chance to do what needs to be done before committing to re-evaluate our partnership."

The City of Springdale has also refused to go along with the interlocal no-bid monopoly for an ambulance service, but they have not threatened with political retaliation by Hunton. Only Fayetteville has been given the ultimatum. Why is that? Why are Coody and Hunton so big on a no-bid monopoly that would put a number of local ambulance services out of business? Why are they attacking our City Council members who don't think the current system is broken and have the good sense to ask questions? Susannah Patton will certainly get around to asking and answering these questions sometime.

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