Sunday, October 31, 2010

Graft or Greed?

I am always amazed at the gall of some public officials lining their own pockets with public tax dollars. Some double dip on the city payroll, and some double dip from the state with fake retirements. This is all legal because aldermen, JPs, and state legislators don't have the courage to rock the boat and stop the looting of the public fisc by petty grifters. All legal but no shame.

Washington County Circuit Clerk Bette Stamps (D) is paid a salary of more than $80,000, which should be adequate compensation for public service. However, state law allows (but does not require) collection of additional fees for job related duties during foreclosure sales. Stamps pocketed $104,458 in fees, kept them for her personal benefit. That's so wrong. Stamps is unopposed for reelection, so expect this shady practice to continue for another two years. The state legislature and the quorum court have done nothing to stop it, and the circuit judges turn a blind eye to the practices of their clerk.

Stamps should resign, but she won't. Stamps should pay back the money into the county general fund, but she won't. Stamps should stop taking the money and deposit future fees in the county general fund, but she won't. Stamps should be defeated in 2012, and she will.

Pat O'Brien (D), who is the County Clerk and Circuit Clerk in Pulaski County, does not take the fees from foreclosures. O'Brien is running for Secretary of State this year, and his opponent is the King of Self-Serving Expense Accounts, Republican State Rep. Mark Martin. Rep. Martin bilks the state for more travel expenses than any other state legislator in northwestern Arkansas, but he doesn't stop there. According to official documents, Martin has been paying $1,300 a month in taxpayer fund for an office in Benton County, which is miles away from his district and his home in Prairie Grove. He claims he is using it as a legislative office, because the location is much more convenient. For whom?

Let's dump those who seek undue enrichment. Find an honest opponent for Circuit Clerk Stamps and vote her out in two years. Stop Mark Martin on Tuesday, before he gets his hands into the larger till at the state capitol, and elect Pat O'Brien as Secretary of State.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Benton County Does It Better

Seldom would I speak well about anything behind the iron curtain of political reason, but the Benton County Election Commission has demonstrated that it has a far better understanding of the broader role of elections than does the Washington County Election Commission. Benton County Election Commission Chairman Bill Williams (D) didn't want to be bothered with informing the public or the media, saying that it would take too much time to give the public updated reports and that it would create an increased risk of error, but it's not like Benton County has any sterling record for accuracy. Those are the same excuses that the Washington County Commission offers for its policy of secrecy and keeping the information from the public until after most of them give up and go to bed around midnight.

Commissioners Bob Balfe (R) and E.J. Williams (D) stood up for the public interest and the people of Benton County. As Balfe explained, “It’s an efficiency and a timeliness issue. One of the foundations of our democracy is the right of the people to change their government. That’s something that has set us apart from the very beginning. We have to balance cost and efficiency with public confidence in the voting process. I think we should put in a process to have results coming out on an interim basis.”

The early voting total and overseas and absentee ballots totals will be reported as soon as possible after the polls close at 7:30 p.m. An updated report will be issued around 9:30 p.m., and a third update will be made around 11 p.m. Later, they will give the final uncertified vote totals as soon as they are complete, about the time that Washington County voters finally get some news about how their candidates fared on election day.

There is no reason why the Washington County Election Commission should shroud the process in secrecy. Local party officials should demand that their appointed members commit to keeping the public better informed about the results. Those are our votes, not the employees whose job it is to count and report them for us. Know what I mean, Chad?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Greed and Gratitude

Do you remember last year when all of Fayetteville was so excited to help local couple Jared and Sarah Greer win a free TCBY franchise? Then there was a big celebration on the Fayetteville Square when it was announced that they had won the national competition. Mayor Lioneld Jordan was there to brag on them, and Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce President Steve Clark proclaimed, “This is great news for our city and our citizens." Local television stations and boasted, "Jared and Sarah Greer win the TCBY for Fayetteville!" The Greers told everyone they would open the new store near the University of Arkansas campus.

That was then. The Greers announced on October 13 that their 1,800 square foot TCBY store with 15 employees would be located at the Promenade Pointe Shopping Center in Rogers. Jared Greer said, "We feel this is the best real estate space in Northwest Arkansas for our needs.”

Jared Greed has a Masters in Business Administration from the Walmart School of Business at the University of Arkansas. Sarah Greed has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Walton School. They certainly learned well and taught Fayetteville a lesson.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Liberal Per Quod

It is a stern reminder that Benton County is a strange and fearful place where reason and politics don't mix. Some woman named Stefani Buhajla, whom I have never heard of before this clarion warning, is raising the hue and cry, "Liberal Running for Mayor of Rogers." As unlikely as that is, Mrs. Buhajla's warning reveals much about what passes for political discourse in Benton County.

So, what is the evidence for this unlikely claim of a liberal sighting in Benton County? Or that Rogers Alderman Greg Hines is a liberal, other than admitting that he is a Methodist? One thing that seems to upset Mrs. Buhajla is that Greg Hines has actually been elected and served over 10 years on the Rogers City Council and 10 years in law enforcement, all the while avoiding being exposed as a liberal. Her damning data is "Mr. Hines has hired a political consulting firm called Markham Group to run his campaign. If you know anything about Markham Group you are now staring at your computer screen in disgust. Never heard of them? Check out their website at They are a left wing attack agency. A short trip to their website shows glowing support for Barack Obama and EEEEEEk!!!! Blanche Lincoln. FRIENDS!!! Do I have your attention???" Oh, he didn't hire Mrs. Buhajla as a consultant.

Mrs. Buhajla is a former intern for John Boozman who now claims to be a "political messaging strategist," whatever that is, but you might wish to think thrice before seeking her counsel. Her bona fides include lunch partner "with the legendary Laurie Masterson," an "event planner" for Americans for Prosperity, campaign manager for the wildly unsuccessful Mike Moore for Congress, political adviser to the also ran Randy Alexander for U.S. Senate, and other fringe candidate losers. She is now working to elect Tea Party Patriot Kurt Maddox of Gravette, who got beat in the Republican Congressional primary in May and moved to Rogers in July to run for Mayor. Maddox has also been endorsed by the Duggar brood of Springdale and some anti-abortion group, in addition to Mrs. Buhajla.

We'll see.