Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lioneld Jordan, New Mayor of Fayetteville

Channel 5 and Channel 40/29 have declared Lioneld the winner in the Fayetteville mayoral run-off election. Congratulation Lioneld!

An Epidemic of Ignorance in America

No, it's doesn't surprise me at all that most people failed a basic test about history, government, and economics. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute reported the results of its study on American Civic Literacy.
More than 2,500 randomly selected Americans took ISI’s basic 33 question test on civic literacy and more than 1,700 people failed, with the average score 49 percent, or an “F.” Elected officials scored even lower than the general public with an average score of 44 percent and only 0.8 percent (or 21) of all surveyed earned an "A."

What's really disturbing is that elected officials who make decisions about education are failing too. How can we expect our kids to learn when our leaders aren't learning either? The study sure explains why our leaders are making such lousy decisions. Congress is making major decisions on the economy and they are demonstrating how ignorant they are about history and economics. I swear we don't have learned men and women making informed decisions. What we have is the Keystone Cops, the Stooges and a circus of clowns running America.
"The most expensive commodity we have in the United States is ignorance." (Rush Limbaugh)

It's your turn. Take the test. Yes, I did get an A, but I sure don't know anything about philosophers. Hey, they are boring! I'm surprised I got the ones on economics. Well, multiple choice questions are easy to answer right because most of the time you can easily eliminate the wrong answers.

CQ Press, Metropolitan Crime Rate Rankings

According to CQ Press the Pine Bluff Metropolitan area ranks number 1 in its Metro Crime Rate Rankings. The Pine Bluff Metro area includes Cleveland, Jefferson and Lincoln counties. CQ Press says it's using an index that was once used by the FBI but has discontinued it because there were flaws in the data collection.
It was concerned that the Crime Index was inflated by a high number of larceny-thefts, which account for nearly 60 percent of reported crime, thereby diminishing the focus on more serious but less frequently reported offenses, such as murder and rape.

CQ Press also indicates other limitations in the data.
Although law enforcement agencies collect common information on crimes reported to and discovered by them, each state has slightly different criminal laws, and each law enforcement agency has its own policies and procedures for recording activity. This makes it very difficult to compare statistics across agencies, and to classify criminal activity consistently

I find it hard to believe that Pine Bluff has more crime that New Orleans, unless Hurricane Katrina forced the criminals to relocate to Arkansas. Of course, my experience is limited in that I've never visited South Arkansas. CQ Press's rankings would make one reconsider a visit to Pine Bluff. Can you imagine trying to get businesses or companies to relocate there?
Other Arkansas notables. QC Press has the Little Rock Metro at 10th , Texarkana Metro at 24th, Hot Springs Metro at 35th, and Jonesboro Metro at 113th.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fayetteville's Development Blues

I'm afraid that the Renaissance Tower and the SouthPass developments have pretty much killed any future public/private deals. The Fayetteville City Council has demonstrated that they aren't up to making any real estate deals. Somehow the concepts that large developments cost a whole lot of money and the good times sometimes end just did not cross their minds.
I was thinking the same thing as Doug Thompson
My check into the SouthPass issue reached an early conclusion that nothing else shook: The City Council's resolution to let the mayor make this deal was vague enough to authorize just about anything.
I'm no lawyer, but I have hindsight and no scruples about second-guessing. Some phrase in that resolution that any deal was "subject to further council approval" would have been nice.

How did they ever let anything like this pass without getting an idea of how much it would cost and would it be possible for the city to afford it? The City Council is complaining that it might cost over $26 million dollars but they've had nearly 4 years to get some estimates and start to plan for it. Fayetteville Parks and Recreation have made plans such that they already have the money for the first phase of the park and have ideas on how to raise money for the rest of the park.
Sigh, why is it when it comes to big projects the City of Fayetteville somehow manages to screw it up?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Comparing the Snoopers

I guess that Ohio's inspector general doesn't take improperly accessing people's records as seriously as the St. Vincent Health System. What I find interesting is that those at St Vincent got fired because they just couldn't curb their curiosity. The little slap on the wrist by Gov Ted Strickland is really sickening. What he has done is made it plain that any citizen that makes a comment on any candidate will have their entire lives a subject of intense scrutiny. Anyone who investigates a citizen solely for the purpose of destroying them for a political purpose isn't going to be punished.
When someone speaks out, "Their government should then not try to discredit them and ruin their reputation by releasing information," [House Speaker Jon]Husted said. "You shouldn't want the government under anyone's control to do those kind of things to individual citizens."

Thanks, Ohio, for helping to kill free speech.

Agility Trial in Springfield

Casey and I went to an agility trial in Springfield this weekend. I had hoped that we'd pick up where we were earlier this year before I sprained my ankle. Boy, was I wrong. Casey acted as if this was his first time at a trial. People were so nice about it. "He's such a happy dog!" and "He looks like he's having a lot of fun!" Dang dog went ADD on me! He didn't Q on most of his runs because he was losing time greeting the bar setters and running around the ring instead of the course. Still, he came home with a mess of ribbons and the judge gave me some ideas to help with training.

More dogs at Friday Ark.

The Cup is Half Full

Doug Thompson nicely explains why I voted for annual legislative sessions.
Adjusting to too much in state tax collection was bad enough. Now the economy’s going to pot. Adjusting to too little won’t be fun. Another session in 2010 will come in handy. The new law requires every other session to focus just on budget matters. It’s hard to argue against giving more focus to budget matters.

I'm constantly monitoring my budget especially now that the Democrat's economic manipulation has caused an economic disaster. My budget is a minuscule fraction of Arkansas's budget but I think they should devote the same time and effort I do.
As for Doug's bitching about having to drive more often to Little Rock, it's call job security. Newspapers are laying people off in droves so Doug should be thanking Eric for the extra work. Heck, after awhile Doug may be able to ask for a raise.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lioneld Jordan and Dan Coody at Republican Women's Meeting

Lioneld Jordan and Dan Coody spoke and answered questions at the Washington County Republican Women meeting today. Lioneld noted his open door, transparent government and that he intends to properly manage taxpayers money. Lioneld asserted that he would be a better mayor. Lioneld when asked about his rejection of the SouthPass Development answered that he was concerned that the city of Fayetteville couldn't afford a project that could be in excess of $25 million dollars. He stated that he was wrong to vote for the original resolution in 2004.

Dan responding to the same question about SouthPass noted that there was a contract and the resolution passed in 2004 was binding. To rejected the contract would subject the city of Fayetteville to lawsuits. Dan said that the current cost quote was negotiable. Dan went on to explain that he was trying to get a number of smaller business into Fayetteville to partner up with existing businesses. He noted that a number of companies from Sweden were looking into moving to Fayetteville.

I went back to the city council meeting minutes from 2004 to see what really happened. The resolution clearly states that it would authorize the mayor to execute an agreement with the SouthPass Development Company. Later on in the minutes Kit Williams noted that "if the Council passes this resolution tonight, they will be authorizing the Mayor to sign the contract." I didn't noted much discussion about the cost of the project in the minutes. They spent more time talking about the landfill and the park. I think they should have paid more attention to a comment by Barbara Moorman who said "the city was committing themselves to a large subdivision and all the costs of the roads, sewer etc. She questioned if this developer has anything in his past that has been successfully completed." Well, what's done is done. Now it's time for the city council to get the best deal they can for Fayetteville.

In other news, Lioneld slipped in that he had a press conference later today to announce that he had gotten Steve Clark's endorsement.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google The Flu, Maybe?

It seems like it might be a good idea. After all, Google is the most popular search engine and if you're sick chances are you're going to check symptoms and a diagnosis.
Tests of the new Web tool from Google.org, the company’s philanthropic unit, suggest that it may be able to detect regional outbreaks of the flu a week to 10 days before they are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The data that Google is collecting may not be that accurate. According to Google, Arkansas is experiencing a moderate flu outbreak. However, the Arkansas Health Department says that there hasn't been one confirmed case of flu.
Dr. Sandra Snow, medical director of communicable diseases, and Dr. Haytham Safi, senior epidemiologist, both of the Health Department, said the recent mass flu vaccination effort in Arkansas could be behind the high number of flu searches from Arkansas on Google. "We just finished doing our mass clinic, with over 108,000 people getting the flu vaccine. It's very possible that while we were doing this, people were looking up (sites related to the) flu on Google" Snow said.

They were offering flu shots everywhere. There was a lot of publicity to get people to get a shot. My employer gave us free shots and I even saw that Sam's Club was offering shots for $20. All that publicity generated people's interest so they Googled for more information. Google's new tool registered interest in the flu because of publicity not because people were feeling the symptoms. At least the Arkansas Health Department did note the trend and were able to explain it. It would be interesting to see if the Google tool will be able to identify a real flu outbreak.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

SouthPass Regional Park Landfill Update, The Whole Truth

The Iconoclast has posted a letter from Mike Robinson of the ADEQ to Connie Edmonston the Parks and Recreation Director. Wasn't that just the sweetest thing to do for us! But wait, I have that same letter in my fat little hands and there is something different. The Iconoclast left something out, something very, very important. Now why wouldn't The Iconoclast publish the whole thing? I mean, The Iconoclast wouldn't deliberately try to manipulate information to his own selfish ends, would he?
The need for corrective action at the old landfill has not yet been determined. Likewise, a corrective action plan has not been developed. However, efforts are continuing every day toward a decision on this project. The site closure assessment will be finalized in the near future, and the ADEQ Director will determine whether there is a need for corrective action. Should it be decided contaminants pose a hazard to public health or contaminants endanger the environment, corrective action may be deemed necessary. The Arkansas Landfill Post-Closure Trust Fund (A.C.A 8-6-1001 et. al.) is available for the prevention and/or abatement of releases to the environment. This fund specifically exists to address contamination of the environment from any certified closed landfill. The Department uses this fund on other closed landfill projects and monies from this fund will be expended on this project if and when a corrective action plan is put into place as determined necessary by the Department.

What The Iconoclast conveniently left out was that whatever is in that landfill will eventually be cleaned up. There is money already available to accomplish it. The ADEQ has noted that there is some leakage but they haven't completed their studies to know exactly what is leaking and just how extensive it is. It doesn't matter. Nothing is going to be built on or near it until it gets cleaned up. It's time for people to stop running around like Chicken Little declaring a disaster and stop getting your tidy whiteys in a bunch. I know how much you want to take down Mayor Coody but this is not the way to do it.

Fayetteville's Regional Park, A Step Closer

After 4 years it's finally coming together. Fayetteville is very close to getting the land for the Regional Park. The City Council voted to annex 855 acres into the city and then voted for the SouthPass PZD. There were a few residents present to make comments on SouthPass. I found the comments by those opposed to the development a bit disturbing. Barbara Moorman, I think represents the critics of the development quite well when she said that it was “too big, too costly and too disruptive”. Then there that’s old dump that’s appears to be quite toxic and is supposedly contaminating the whole site. Sitting there and listening to the comments made by the Council and residents I realized the biggest problem facing everyone was FEAR.
One of the biggest election issues in the mayoral race has been about economics. How is Fayetteville going to overcome its business unfriendly image and bring more businesses into Fayetteville? We aren’t going to get any large companies to come into Fayetteville when the City Council is afraid that a project is too big and too costly. I don’t see how Fayetteville expects to grow with that kind of fear. How are we going to succeed when people complain that a project is too big? How about we get some perspective about project size. The Louisiana Purchase was 524,800,000 acres and the Alaska Purchases was 375,303,680 acres. You know, 855 acres is pretty piddling. How about the cost issue? If we considered costs then we shouldn’t have built the Walton Arts Center, the XNA airport, the NWA mall, I-540 and a whole host of projects and buildings. Disruptive? This project is not going to be anymore disruptive than any other project. Of course, careful planning and addressing issues as they come up will alleviate most problems.

Interestingly, it was fear that pushed the City Council to vote for SouthPass. Kit Williams reminded the Council that the developers have complied with all the legal obligations and ordinances in bringing this development forward. The developers have worked with city staff and have been approved by the planning commission. If the City Council decided to deny the project solely based on the perceived fears then the developers could sue the city of Fayetteville for millions of dollars. Alderman Adella Gray summed it up nicely. She said the city asked for a partner to develop a park, the city needed the park, and the developers have jumped through all the hoops the city required. She said the City Council has an obligation to honor its contract with the developers. I restrained my desire to clap.

Friday, November 07, 2008

D’oh-bama’s Gaffe

The Republicans got shellac by the Democrats Tuesday. While I am somewhat disappointed and very concerned about the future I am hearten by the fact the next 4 years will be bringing in Obama's and Biden's notorious gaffes. President-elect Obama at his first press conference, answering a question about whether he had spoken to any previous president:

In terms of speaking to former presidents, I have spoken to all of them, uh, that are, uh, living ... obviously, uh, President Clinton, uh ... [laughter] ... hey, I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan, uh, thing about doin’ any seances...

An extraordinary cheap shot at Nancy Reagan, who is currently recovering from a fall in which she broke her hip. Isn't Obama Classy? Tag! You're next Biden! I tell you the next 4 years are going to be a hoot.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day!

I am so glad I voted early. I was a poll watcher in Farmington. I arrived before 7 AM to introduce myself and setup. There was already a line starting to snake around the church. Once the poll opened at 7:30 it was non-stop. The lines were long and people were saying they had waited an hour to vote. This polling place had a couple of workers call in sick and they had to adjust. They weren't able to have a third line going. Those ladies at the poll worked really hard. They made sure everyone show some ID. One poll worker even had her own son show his ID. Those ladies were absolutely great and I was glad that a number of people did thank them for the work they were doing.

Late afternoon I joined a number of people lining Wedington Ave holding up signs of their choice. I was there for Craig Honchell. I worked several hours and left just before I got dark. Holding up signs out there is a bit boring so I bought my MP3 player and plugged in to some ABBA. OK, so I had a little fun out there. Yes, I was dancing. You just have to dance to ABBA. Well, I may have looked a little funny, but I sure stood out with that Craig Honchell sign.

I spotted Dan Coody and Lioneld Jorden campaigning out by the polling place on Wedington Ave. Lioneld said he was over at the polling place on Mount Comfort for several hours and he said that it was packed. I didn't talk too long, Lioneld was eyeing a couple getting out of their car. Whew, the polls are almost closed and it would be nice if this election would be over.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Circuit City is Closing in Fayetteville

Circuit City on Joyce Blvd is closing.
Circuit City Stores, Inc.
List of Closing Stores
November 3, 2008
Store # Store Name Street Address City State ZIP

I think Circuit City was in trouble before the economic downturn so it's hard to say how much the economy pushed them to this move. I do know that I've only been in that store a couple of times. I always seem to go to Best Buy or Amazon for my electronics. I guess I like BB better because they have better customer service than CC. BB's sales people know their electronics and are always hanging around waiting to help (can be a bit annoying sometimes). I must admit that I'll go to BB and ask about something and purchase it on Amazon if the price is better. I wonder how much impact this closing will affect Fayetteville's sales tax collection. Hopefully another retail store will take CC's place real soon.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

John Boozman Bus Tour

Would you like to spend two days on a bus with these guys? The Boozman Bus Tour stopped in Springdale for a short rally at the Washington County Headquarters. The bus made stops through out the 3rd district. With all that time on the bus they had time to memorize all the places they stopped. Yeah, they demonstrated the little chant they made up.

I realized that I'm going to have to study up a bit on Arkansas history because they were giving away prizes at each stop to those who could correctly answer Arkansas history questions. Hey, give me a break! I'm from California!

The tour gave local candidates the opportunity to meet with John Boozman and they had an opportunity to speak about their campaigns. Earvel Fraley is a candidate for Washington County Judge.