Transparency In Decline: Searcy Repeals Notification Ordinance, Averts “Huge Box” Crisis

Well, they thought they could sneak this one through–and they almost did.  But alas, at 11:00 on Friday night, I ran across this dandy of a headline in the local paper: “City repeals notification law.”  I knew it couldn’t be the ordinance that was passed in 2007 that required the city to send out postal notices to all registered voters before a special election on the city’s tax rates could be held.  But it was.  And they did in fact repeal it this week.

By the way, I requested that copy of the ordinance back in October.  I knew that, given the amount of seats the ‘other side’ has on the council, they would soon be coming after this transparency policy.

I don’t know how they do it, but somehow, these people always find a way to leave me absolutely speechless.  And maybe you’re sitting there, reading this, stunned like I am, thinking, “Why would they do this?  What could possess them to so blatantly try to manipulate the system so they can sneak more tax increases through?”  But just wait–you haven’t even heard their ‘reasoning’ yet!

According to the paper, there are three key reasons why the city thought it was absolutely necessary to repeal this ordinance:

  • This ordinance cost the city ‘thousands of dollars.’  Now, granted, they don’t mind the thousands of dollars that are being spent to actually hold the special election–or the thousands of dollars we spend paying their salaries to sit around and turn Searcy into the U.S.S.R.  They only care about the ‘thousands of dollars’ we are ‘wasting’ by informing voters that their taxes are about to go up.  This is about saving money, people!  Can’t you see?
  • The city clerk has a ‘huge box’ of returned notices from the last election.  Not just a BIG box, a HUGE box!  I mean, that’s even bigger than a big box!  And this is absolutely unacceptable.  We can’t just have a huge box of notices sitting around.  Someone might get hurt.  And think of all those trees that were unnecessarily slaughtered.  The humanity.
  • “The notices do not play a major role in voter turnout.”  And yes, that’s a quote.  And no, I do not have any idea how they could possibly quantify that claim or believe that it is true.

But don’t lose heart!  The city has other great ideas for informing voters about their taxes going up!

The first one, and my personal favorite:  “Purchase a large electronic sign on Beebe-Capps Expressway to inform voters about upcoming elections.”  This idea comes straight from the mayor’s biggest brain (yes, that should terrify you), Jay Shock who, by the way, ran former mayor Belinda Laforce’s campaign out of city hall, on city time, against current Mayor David Morris, but now works for Morris.  And while Shock was Laforce’s chief of staff, I believe the council passed an ordinance that outlawed these types of signs for private businesses.  But no matter–government can do what they want!  After all, they do know best.

If you still think this repeal is about ‘saving money,’ keep reading!  It gets better.

The second ‘solution’ to solving the ‘huge box’ crisis: “Posting signs at designated places in the city during times of a special election.”  Well, I’m sure the city can get those signs for free from their friends over at Think Advertising…right?

Perhaps the only sensible thing that was mentioned at Tuesday night’s meeting was Alderman Don Raney’s assertion that “not every resident reads The Daily Citizen.”  And that, my friends, is something we can all be thankful for.

Serious note:  I have at least attempted to use absurdity to illustrate the absurd in this article.  These developments should outrage every Searcy voter.  Make no mistake:  this is nothing short of a concerted effort to make it easier to pass tax increases in the city–something that watchdogs like myself have made somewhat of a difficult task the last several years.  Now the city is fighting back.

I don’t do this very often, but I am going to encourage everyone to let your alderman hear about this one.  They have, once again, really overreached here.  Despite having a new mayor, it does not appear that much has changed in our city government.

Nic Horton

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Vote Tally on Searcy Transparency Ordinance Repeal: Unanimous «
  2. Pingback: Searcy Mayor Hosting Town-hall Meeting Tonight «

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