Monday, August 27, 2007

No Special Session

The failure to catch the incorrect language in the now famous marriage amendment has obviously put a bit of egg on all of our legislative faces. There will be no excuses here because one of us should have caught the error and we didn't. I will say though that I don't know a single legislator or anyone in the executive branch who wants our state scrutinized for its' legislature's mistakes. It is important not to compound the problem now, and I believe the governor made the right decision in refusing to call a special session to solve the problem. I remember very well Rep. Bond's presentation of the bill and the debate on the floor. It was clear that the intent of this legislation was to make 18 the age to marry. Then we have that infamous "not" inserted into the bill that none of us caught, and all of a sudden, anybody at any age with parental consent, could get hitched up. I agree completely with Governor Beebe, that no crisis exists here, and the county clerks will be able to handle this in good order until we can provide the legislative fix in 2009.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Don't Like Mike

Personally, I am sick of the Michael Vick saga. It's easy to say now, but I have always believed Vick was overrated as a player and it is now abundantly clear he was way overrated as a person. While the NFL and the Falcons tried to make him the poster boy for the league, you can look back and see way too many red flags. Starting with his self serving chest pounding after he does what he is paid extravagantly to do, which is to make plays, the immaturity shows through. Go back to the infamous Ron Mexico incident where he used that alias during sexual encounters that resulted in a venereal disease to several young ladies. There was also the incident during a playoff game a few years ago when the Falcons were behind late in the game and he refused to go back in because it was too cold and his team was behind. What about giving the finger to your own fans. Then you had the marijuana laced water bottle incident at the airport. Obviously, he was far too immature to handle the eye popping money and over the top idol worship that comes a professional athlete's way. So anyone who is surprised that Michael Vick bankrolled and took part in these despicable crimes, really had plenty of warning signs to defer annointing him the second coming of Jim Thorpe.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I just returned from Little Rock where I, along with several other legislators, had the privilege to meet with Senator Hillary Clinton. She did field questions and gave her thoughts on No Child Left Behind, Iraq, health care, alternative fuels and several other queries from the group. We had roughly an hour with the Senator and then she was off to a private fundraiser in LR. Earlier at the Capitol, she recieved a public endorsement from Governor Beebe, and he provided opening remarks to us citing his support and belief in her ability to handle the job. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk with the probable Democratic nominee. If any of the other candidate's invite me to a meeting, I will be happy to attend.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Meetings Abound

As summer winds down the committee meetings are picking up. I will be attending the Legislative Council meeting in Little Rock on Friday and head back on Monday for Joint Retirement at 1:30. I'll stay over for a Public Health meeting on Tuesday and then it's back home for work on Wednesday and Thursday. Next Friday will put me in Hot Springs for an Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs meeting. I'm very fortunate to be able to work around the goings on at the Capitol and continue to fulfill my obligations with the Juvenile Court. I enjoy both jobs.
I should mention that I, along with the other Democratic legislators, have been invited to meet with Senator Hillary Clinton on Monday afternoon. The meeting will take place at 4 p.m. in the Association of Counties building and this will be my first time to meet the former First Lady and current New York Senator. I look forward to hearing what she has to say, and hopefully she will field some of our questions in the process. I will let you know what transpires.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Analyzing Iowa

As a Democratic loyalist, maybe I shouldn't be spouting opinions on the Republican presidential race. But since I am a good Democrat, I'm compelled to share ideas. Former Governor, Mike Huckabee's strong showing in the Iowa straw poll will obviously infuse some much needed money into his campaign. Although most folks I've talked with still think Huckabee has no chance to cop the nomination from Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani, I'm not so sure. First of all, I do believe when it's all said and done, Romney's religion will bother more than a small number of those very conservatives who the Republicans claim they are after. Even though he is smart, handsome and casts a nice shadow, (make no mistake, looks are critical, and you'd have to go back to William Howard Taft for a fat president), Romney will have to account for Huckabee's folksy charm, quick wit and ability to communicate. If any candidate benefitted from Iowa, it was Huckabee. There is no doubt our former Guv has miles to go before he's really in the thick of things, but I just don't see Giuliani gaining momentum. In fact, Huckabee may be the only one, other than Romney, going in the right direction. They would all do well not to underestimate the preacher/politician from Hope. If I were handicapping the Republican race at this point, (and apparently I am), I'd have to make Huck the solid 6-1 third choice in the program, with a lot of smart money coming his way late. We shall see. As for me, well, I'm a Democrat.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Busy Saturday

The watermelon festival has come and gone for another year and I am officially declaring this one as the hottest ever. Even so, there were good crowds on each day, and as usual, folks seemed to have a good time. The Governor and Attorney General got here about 11:00 on Saturday and sliced some watermelons, along with a little handshaking before the big melon eating contest. As predicted in an earlier post, Vice-Mayor, David Johnson, took the title again. Oh well, I'll try some cross trainining next year. Thanks to the Governor and Attorney General, along with Representatives Cook, Sullivan and Harrelson for their participation.
After the festival doings on Saturday, I drove to Arkadelphia for the annual Clinton Day dinner at Henderson's Garrison Center. About 400 Democrats from throughout the state gathered for dinner and a keynote address from former Governor, Jim Guy Tucker. I enjoyed the evening and want to thank Rep. Johnnie Roebuck for the invitation.

Friday, August 10, 2007

School Board Resignation

I regret that state law will not allow me, as a sitting legislator, to seek re-election to my current school board position. Even though the law allowed me to run for and serve in the House of Representatives while completing my school board term, it is very clear in its language that I cannot seek to be re-elected to the board. My regret is that I truly enjoyed working on the board. I am certain it allowed me to see education issues from an important vantage point as a legislator. Even though September will mark my last formal meeting, I intend to continue my close relationship with Superintendent Muldrew and the other administrators and board members, to provide assistance in any way I can.

Public Comment On Power Plant

Yesterday was the day for public comment before the Public Service Commision regarding the proposed AEP-SWEPCO power plant. PSC Commissioners Paul Suskie, Darryl Basset, and David Newbern listened to roughly four hours of testimony from close to 40 speakers. Many more than that were in attendance as they heard 6 people voice their opposition to the plant, with the remainder all in favor of the project. Even though the supporters far outnumbered those 6 against, a forum was provided to express your point of view. As it always should be. I gave my five minute talk near the end of the day and voiced my support based on the overwhelming majority of my constituents who want this to happen, and also the fact that SWEPCO has an excellent history of being a good community partner and corporate citizen. In the end, I doubt that anything said yesterday is going to sway the commissioners in their decision; as the lawyers will have the last word, but I appreciated the opportunity.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Harrelson Honored

My good friend and seat-mate in the House, Steve Harrelson (D)-Texarkana, was honored by the Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association as its 2007 Legislator of the year. Steve worked hard in sponsoring legislation that will computerize all real property records in the circuit clerks offices and hopefully make things easier for everyone. Congratulations to an outstanding representative.

Monday, August 6, 2007

More Melonfest

If you want to check out the goings on at this weeks watermelon festival, go to and click on the schedule link and you'll be ready to go. As I mentioned in a previous post, Governor Beebe will be here Saturday, along with Lt. Governor Halter and Attorney General McDaniel. We will all be heading for a high noon showdown in the "politically correct watermelon eating contest". Nothing fancy here, you just have a bunch of politicos chomping a slice of watermelon as fast as they can and letting the seeds and juices go where they may. My advice to the Constitutional Officers though--harbor no illusions of winning; Hope Vice-Mayor, David Johnson, is the 3 time defending champion, and stakes his claim as the Tiger Woods of watermelon eating. Here's some further advice for those watching--stay off the front row. Old Gallagher fans would have a field day here.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Power Plant Debate

I will be in Little Rock on Thursday to testify before the Public Service Commission and voice my support for the proposed AEP-SWEPCO power plant. There has been a great deal of media attention and blog space dedicated to this issue. As well there should be. The lines have been drawn in the sand for this debate and both sides are very passionate in their beliefs.
The intervenors, aka: the hunting clubs adjacent to the proposed site; are adamantly opposed to any type of coal fired plant being built on that property, if my e-mail from one of its members is any indication. They base their concerns on the belief of dire consequences to the ecological balance and environment in this area. Those in support of the project will point to the economic windfall this plant could bring to Southwest Arkansas. The PSC is saddled with the task of determining whether this project should and will proceed.
I have been inundated with people's opinions about this issue, and they are overwhelmingly in favor of the project. That is not to say they believe AEP-SWEPCO should be given free reign to do anything it wants without regard for state and federal guidelines. It is the job of the EPA, ADEQ, PSC and any other acronym out there that regulates this industry, to ensure SWEPCO'S adherence to the rules. There are high powered attorneys on both sides, so expect this to draw out a little longer.

Festival Week

If it's August and hot, with football right around the corner, then you know the Watermelon Festival is upon us. The annual honoring of the melon kicks off this Thursday and runs through the week-end. I have too many memories and stories to tell regarding past festivals; but I can say that being a local boy has given me the opportunity to compete in arm wrestling, tug of wars, superstars competitions, tennis tournaments, watermelon eating, dog shows, watermelon olympics, 5k runs and plenty of stuff I've forgotten about over the past 30 years. When the festival was revived back in the mid seventies, it was really just a local gathering of a few hundred folks who came out to fair park for what seemed like a big picnic. Things have changed dramatically over the years. Those few hundred have turned into tens of thousands, and the organiztion needed to put this on is unbelievable. Mark Keith, with the Chamber of Commerce, does a wonderful job of organizing and promoting the event. So if you want great food, great music, plenty of home-town flavor and arts and crafts galore, then come to Hope for this week-ends world famous Watermelon Festival. I guarantee you two things; it'll be hot and it'll be fun.