Concern over mandate
I voted for Gov. Hutchinson during both terms, I have mostly been pleased with Gov. Hutchinson's leadership, and I even thanked Gov. Hutchinson for his response concerning the coronavirus.
With that said, I am concerned about the general legalities of how the mandate was put into place and the potential dangerous legal precedence caused by the mandate. Gov. Hutchinson did not allow the Legislature to be called into session to discuss and debate such a mandate. The Legislature was not allowed to ask for feedback from their constituents nor be granted the option to work on such a mandate through the legislative process. Furthermore, Gov. Hutchinson attached criminal penalty to a mandate through executive action. This is a clear disregard for our separation of powers, as well as legislation with criminal penalty by way of executive action. He also failed to place a firm end date on the mandate, leaving an open-ended "when the emergency ends" time frame.
The most alarming concern I have with Gov. Hutchinson's mandate is the wording of the mandate and the dangerous legal precedent it has the potential to cause. Gov. Hutchinson has stated he has placed the mandate in effect due to it being the current "tool" in which Arkansas can combat the coronavirus. If Gov. Hutchinson continues to keep this mandate in effect, it would give Gov. Hutchinson or a future governor the ability to put another coronavirus mandate in place such as a mandate forcing all citizens of Arkansas to take the coronavirus vaccine once developed. After listening intently to Gov. Hutchinson's language used to enforce the face-covering mandate, there is nothing that would prevent a similar mandate on a vaccine to go into effect should Gov. Hutchinson or another future governor decide to enact one.
Regardless of one's position on face coverings in public, this is a civil liberties matter with regard to the face-covering mandate enacted by Gov. Hutchinson. This mandate needs to be legally challenged quickly, and there should also be some form of pushback from the Arkansas state Legislature due to the actions Gov. Hutchinson has taken with how he placed such a mandate into effect. A censure against Gov. Hutchinson for his recent actions by not allowing the Arkansas Legislature a voice in this matter is a reasonable action the Arkansas Legislature should be taking against Gov. Hutchinson, and it should pass with bipartisan support. We should live in freedom, not under fascism. We should live in liberty, not under tyranny. We are not living under a totalitarian dictatorship. Our governor can and should fight the coronavirus, and if he wants to make health care recommendations and encourage certain health care behaviors, that is necessary and proper. However, he must respect the separation of powers and our Arkansas state Legislature, and he cannot attach criminal penalties with legislation by executive action and go unchallenged.
Ever hear of the Rev. William Scarlett, who stood with Arizona miners against the owners in 1917 when unions were illegal and no laws prevented kidnapping and dumping workers across state lines? One line in Wiki.
You may know some of the following, and even what they stood for, but I didn't until recently: Charles Williams? Francis McConnel? Ethel and John Moors? Everett Clinchy? Newton Baker? Roger W. Straus? Carleton Hayes? Nathan Soderblom? William Temple? R.H. Tawney? Howard Chandler Robbins? Charles Gilbert? Samuel Press?
Theologian Karl Barth, who in 1914 condemned Germany's top intellectuals for supporting the Kaiser's war?
Paul Tillich? Ernst Troeltsch? Walter Rathenau? Paul Humburg?
Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom Hitler hanged?
Myles Horton, haunted because his commitment to nonviolence prevented him from stopping a union leader's murder in 1933, who founded the Highlander School in Tennessee, training civil rights activists in nonviolent techniques?
Harry Emerson Fosdick? George Barry Ford? Stafford Cripps? William Temple? John Strachey? Henry Sloane Coffin? W.A. Visser't Hooft? Margaret Wedgewood Benn? George Bell? Paul Douglas? Helen Gahagan Douglas? Jim Loeb? Joseph Rauh? Arnold and Doris Wolfers?
They comprised a loose amalgam of clergy, teachers, diplomats, theologians, writers, attorneys, unionists, politicians, economists and unnumbered citizens that flourished in the early to mid-20th century. They were broadly international and represented numerous confessions. They believed the prophets and the Gospel required the church to lead in remedying the social and economic inequities they saw. They took action in the courts, state and national legislatures, union halls, classrooms, the streets, at ballot boxes, and by encouraging ecumenical unity.
And, of course, at no risk to themselves. ...
I discovered these "faith heroes" by reading, at a brother's urging, "The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War," by Elisabeth Sifton, daughter of the great Gospel-driven social activist Reinhold Niebuhr. This riveting account peeled the scales from my eyes respecting our obligation to these heroes for their work in constructing the liberal democracy we enjoy.
You know, the liberal democracy where most have roofs, food and clothes and, as Scripture enjoins, widows, orphans and the poor are tolerably supported. The one with universal voting rights and public schooling, employer and government-supported health care, legal unions and civil rights legislation. And yes, the one with First and Second Amendment rights interpreted to include publicly parading AR-15s and racist slogans.
They weren't "evangelical" in today's lexicon, recruited through a sense of sin with a whiff of brimstone. Their more ancient evangelism knows our sins are obscure beyond confession and continuously under Christ's judgment, yet is secure in His continuously forgiving open palm of mercy, evangelizing by extending it into the world.
Ask one of them the moment they were "saved," and after pausing to grasp your frame, they'd say, "The moment Jesus said, 'Get to work!'"
Like Ms. Sifton, I first despaired of their current vitality. Then I heard the principalities' fear of them luridly shouted in this and other pages, leading me to see their heirs still peopling the ramparts.
Kudos to the recent letter writer who noted the outrageous fees and pricing residents are forced to pay to the Hot Springs Municipal Utility Department.
Not only are they outrageous, the customer service is awful. When we lived in Hot Springs, on the attempts we had to make to contact them, hold and wait times were sometimes up to a half-hour, to then speak to a rude and unhelpful customer service rep. The autopay never worked, and despite the fact that I am married, because when we opened our account no one suggested putting my wife's name on it, they would not even speak to her, as she was not the "primary" account holder, despite the fact she was trying to make a payment to them.
All in all, during our time in Hot Springs, it would probably have been a tie between the water department and the city streets maintenance and repair division as to what the worst-run branch of city operations was.
The letter writer stated that in a household of two, his bill had run over $84 for water, sewer, and garbage. We receive the same three services from Montgomery County and our highest bill ever since moving here has been $41. I recall a time when numerous people were complaining about the high bills, and board member Karen Garcia's solution was to offer a place on the billing statement where people paying their own bill could voluntarily donate extra money to help pay someone else's. A joke.
Maybe the next solution Hot Springs government will come up with will be to capture the runoff water from the half dozen spots or so along Central Avenue that flood every time it rains.
An 'honest headline'
Reading Tuesday's paper, let me make sure I understand this: the Hot Springs Board of Directors has announced that the vacant eyesore formerly known as the Majestic Hotel, which has been sitting derelict since 2015, is now their number one priority for 2021? The honest headline for this board should have been "reelection in November No. 1 priority." What a joke.
Recent letter writer Michael Lucas asked if the city had a planning agency, or the people in charge ever had a coherent plan on any project they undertake. The simple truth is no, they don't. Typically it always starts with a large consulting contract to an outside entity, then either nothing gets done or it's done wrong, with taxpayers taking the hit.
Perhaps District 1 board member Erin Holliday, who is an art curator or something like that, said it best when she was quoted on finally doing something with the Majestic site: "The data shows when your residents are happy your tourists are happy." What? Where did that nugget of wisdom come from? Was that another one of the independent studies the board commissioned to some out of town think tank for $50K?
Mr. Lucas, you are dealing with a group, as another letter writer pointed out Tuesday, who approved a multimillion dollar construction project (Majestic Park, not to be confused with Tuesday's article) without even the knowledge that the site lay in a flood plain. In fairness, that's not just on the board -- City Manager Bill Burrough, Steve Arrison, and City Engineer Gary Carnahan also bear a great deal of responsibility (or lack of) on that decision.
So in short, Michael, you're dealing with a board and local government who honestly don't have a clue what they're doing, and some of that is understandable. As I said, one board member's background is in artwork, another packs and declutters people's home, one has a rather checkered history in the construction industry, and one's claim to fame is having been on the board of directors of the Webb Center (which didn't turn out well). One is a CPA by trade, but apparently any sense of fiscal responsibility went out the window upon joining the board.
The good news is two are not running for reelection. As taxpayers, all we can do is vote the others out and hope their replacements will find good new people to take over the appointed positions of some of the aforementioned people in Hot Springs government, replacing them with good personnel.