- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette. June 11, 2017.

Texarkana, Arkansas, Ward 2 Director Laney Harris is no stranger to controversy.

He’s been on the city’s Board of Directors for more than a decade and his antics and attitudes haven’t always played well with the public or his fellow board members.

But he must be doing something right for his constituents. The voters of Ward 2 keep sending him back every election day.

Right now he and the board are at odds again. The board recently agreed to draft a letter of censure against Harris for alleged bad conduct and also removed him from his position on the city’s Advertising and Promotion Commission.

The reason for the board’s decision is that Harris is involved in a harassment dispute with a woman with whom he once had an intimate relationship. Also, Harris apparently led a tour through a city-owned building without permission and got into a verbal confrontation with some people about some alleged clandestine photography at this year’s Railfest.

Harris says he’s being railroaded. He has his side of the story, the board theirs.

It looks to us like Harris may be right. He is being censured and his commission seat taken away without anything close to due process.

The harassment charge is unproven. The woman in question has declined to press charges so it’s basically his word against hers. The alleged altercation at Railfest is also unproven, although some witnesses apparently exist.

Harris also says he followed procedure and contacted the city manager before going to the building in question.

Mayor Ruth Penney-Bell has defended the board’s decision. Harris challenges it. So who’s right?

In many eyes, and in some situations, Harris’s conduct is viewed as an embarrassment, but the city board jumped the gun here.

Harris may be a pain to some folks, but we haven’t seen proof of any conduct that merits this action. If every elected official who has gotten into a heated argument with a citizen - or each other - either in a public place or in a public meeting, local history could be wallpapered with censures like this one. But it isn’t.

If Harris did something wrong, then he should answer for it - in the proper venue - like any other citizen. But it’s not up to his fellow directors to make their disenchantment officially known. Most people would assume as much, anyway.

In the end, this whole episode only endeared Harris to his constituency.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. June 12, 2017.

Last summer, specifically in the early morning hours of Aug. 8, Roy Moomey of the Arkansas State Police was alerted to a car going the wrong way - fast - on Interstate 40. Dispatches say that, as he closed in on the driver in Crawford County, he positioned his car to move a couple of other vehicles out of harm’s way.

Then …

He doesn’t remember the crash. But the dash cam shows him taking the hit from the other car. No telling how many lives he saved. Almost at the cost of his own.

He’s walking again. And this month was named Trooper of the Year for 2016. He was also presented with the Lifesaving Award and Gold Shield from the agency.

In the last year, police around the country have had a rough time. But it helps some of us sleep o’ night knowing that the Roy Moomeys are out there, protecting the rest of us.


Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. June 13, 2017.

As noted in a recent editorial about Washington County’s financial challenges, hard decisions are required when spending outpaces income. That’s as true for individuals as it is for governments.

As Peter and Paul can attest, one can only shuffle money around for so long.

That lesson is especially true this year in the Benton County town of Cave Springs, where leaders in 2016 bobbled their annual responsibility to set the property millage rate. Naturally, this being Cave Springs of the 20-teens, there’s plenty of finger-pointing involved, but the reality is the failure to take care of the city’s tax collection fundamentals is a shared error. And, working the community through a lean 2017 is a shared responsibility.

The tax error means more than $300,000 normally collected through property taxes won’t be available for city expenditures this year. In a town the size of Cave Springs, that’s an enormous hit to the budget.

The City Council voted 5-0 to eliminate two administrative positions and to sell a police-equipped Dodge Charger bought last year to be used by Mayor Travis Lee and other city administrators.

Also on the chopping block was about $40,000 previously dedicated to repairs on the Cave Springs Community Building. That will leave $35,000 for some repairs recommended by an architect.

The two administrative positions were the town’s planning director and its vice mayor, a poorly named staff position akin to a chief of staff. Lee didn’t care for the cuts.

“They are making the decisions they think are best for Cave Springs,” Lee said, sounding almost gracious in the face of a decision he didn’t like. “I differ on that because they don’t know what goes on every day and who does what.”

But relations remain tense in Cave Springs government, evidenced by Lee’s subsequent remark as to why he won’t veto the City Council’s cuts.

“I’m going to let them own this,” he said.

Here’s a thought we hope will one day sink in: Everything shouldn’t be us vs. them. Indeed, a town the size of Cave Springs cannot afford to let personality differences or even leadership styles get in the way of a united effort to resolve the town’s challenges. Lately, it’s been hard to toss around a word like “united” in Cave Springs.

Lee had his own notion of how to save money this year. He suggested eliminating the police department, a perplexing choice for a mayor who argues the town’s growth demands that it have a planning director. Law enforcement is often considered a fundamental service. Many mayors would place such a cut last on their list. At least Lee was joining the City Council in trying to respond to the reality of the city’s financial situation. But our bet is the citizens can forgive the lack of a planning director and vice mayor more than they can local law enforcement.

Every leader in Cave Springs has to “own” the financial predicament they’re in, so they should all recognize the vested interest they have in finding solutions. We credit the City Council for making a necessary decision.

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