Today is primary day in Arkansas. That means it is time to wrap up our “Vet The Judge” series. I hope it has been informative as you have decided who to support for White County judge.
As we conclude today, I wanted to share this letter (seen above, emphasis added) with you. It was sent, as you can see, to JudgeLincoln on November 7th of last year. I received a copy because I was the citizen who filed the request for review with the ethics commission.
Now, Judge Lincoln has been on record saying he ‘did nothing wrong’ and after speaking with several in the community, I have realized that, thanks in large part to our prestigious local media, many have been unaware of these charges against the judge.
[Speaking of prestigious media, did you know the Searcy paper has printed 4.5 pre-election stories about Lincoln's opponent's health, but zip, zero, nada stories about his ethics violations? I know, I'm a conspiracy theorist.]
Two important observations to make about the letter:
1. The letter expressly says that Judge Lincoln violated Arkansas law.
2. The letter expressly says that Judge Lincoln signed a letter acknowledging that he broke the law, while also saying in the paper that ‘he did nothing wrong.’ I can only interpret this to mean: Judge Lincoln sees nothing wrong with breaking the law.
Don’t forget to cast your vote today before the polls close at 7:30 p.m. You can find your polling location here.
The Mayor of Letona, Mr. Sherrel Bennett, called me a little upset after reading Judge Parish’s letter last week outlining how Judge Mike Lincoln has been paving roads inside incorporated cities–a claim that everyone seems to agree on. The disagreement seems to come when we start discussing who is paying for these improvements: Mr. Parish says the county is paying for the improvements, at the expense of all county taxpayers. Mr. Bennett says the city reimbursed the county.
I made a follow-up call to Mr. Parish after talking to Mr. Bennett. He said whether or not the city pays for the improvements is irrelevant, contending that it is illegal for the county to essentially act as a contractor and do jobs-for-hire for cities–something I suspect local contractors might be a little upset about, whether it is legal or not.
Now, I do not pretend to have the answer to these legal questions. It is something I have intended to research but have not had time. Perhaps one of our legal-minded readers can weigh in. But I did tell Mr. Bennett that I would allow him to give his side of the story if he would submit something in writing. Below is the text of his letter. Continue reading
The following letter was submitted to The Patriot by former White County Judge Bob Parish. Mr. Parish served the people of White County as judge for ten years, garnering nearly 70% of the vote in his last election. In 2006, Parish supported current Judge Mike Lincoln as his successor, but has since withdrawn his support.
This letter was also submitted to the Searcy paper as well as the Bald Knob paper. They have declined to print it.
May 7, 2012
In 1989, White County voters passed a one percent county-wide sales tax. The purpose of the tax was to keep White County offices and services to the county afloat. At that time, all departments were facing a real threat of employees being laid off and services to the county being reduced. There was very little money in the treasury.
On August 8, 1995, the tax was challenged due to allegations of misuse of funds. A lawsuit was filed against White County, which resulted in the tax being struck down by an Arkansas State Supreme Court ruling in 1998.
On June 23, 1998, in a special election, White County voters went to the polls to abolish the original sales tax ordinance and to approve the adoption of a new one percent sales tax within White County. This ordinance remains in effect today.
The ballot sets forth the usage of the county’s portion of the one percent sales tax revenues:
- 50% for county roads
- 25% for county general
- 10% for non-mandated services
- 10% for capital improvements
- 5% for volunteer fire departments
Judge Michael Lincoln has used county road funds for graveling and hard-surfacing city streets, platted sub-divisions, private lanes, and other non-county roads throughout the county. Many of these roads have not been dedicated to the county, nor has a court order been filed regarding the acceptance of dozens of these roads. Two examples include recently opened and paved city streets in Letona, where new housing has been developed; and the Dayton sub-division located near Judsonia. Using county labor, materials, or equipment to build or maintain non-county roads is misuse of county funds and therefore, an illegal exaction. The practice of using county road labor, equipment, or materials on non-county property reduces potential jobs for contractors who may desire to bid on the projects.
In 2003, White County was not allowed to use county funds for the promotion of a one-half percent sales tax to fund the building of a new law enforcement center. Judge Lincoln hired an individual to promote the passage of a one percent sales tax to be used for the Searcy bypass project. This individual is being paid an amount of $2,000.00 per month by the county – another misuse of county funds.
When revenues generated by the sales tax ordinance, which was approved by White County voters, are not used as ear-marked on the ballot, it is an abuse of taxpayers’ money. The misuse of our penny tax this way jeopardizes all 16 incorporated cities and all volunteer fire departments. We stand to lose approximately 10 million dollars per year.
Judge Bob Parish
Here’s a look at our top stories from last week:
- Examining Judge Lincoln’s ‘Transparency’ Record. Judge Lincoln recently said that his office has ‘always fully complied with Arkansas’ FOI law.’ We beg to differ.
- Why I Can’t Support White County Judge Lincoln. Community leader Scott Biddle weighs in on Judge Lincoln’s recording in light of the upcoming primary.
- Audio: New Ads In White County Focus On Judge Lincoln’s Record. Two new ads have hit the airwaves in White County. One ad highlights Judge Mike Lincoln’s ethics violation. The other focuses on his OEM director’s misuse of thousands of taxpayer dollars.
Two new ads are hitting the airwaves in White County on Friday, in lieu of the upcoming primary election on May 22nd.
Hear the ads for yourself:
OEM credit card: