Recap of Monday’s White County Judge’s Debate

Many thanks to citizen reporter & Patriot guest contributor Scott Biddle, who attended last night’s debate & provided these notes.

[Note to the reader: I took these in a hurry, as the debate was happening. They may seem jumbled and confused at points, and I tried to only use quotation marks when I could get down most or all of a direct quote. I have tried to clean them up and make them easier to follow.]

Winston Collier begins at 7:07.

Terms/housekeeping: All were discussed and agreed to by both candidates. Five minutes each for opening remarks. Two minutes per answer followed by 2 minute response followed by 30 second rebuttal. Five questions each. Nobody knows the questions but the moderator. 7.5 minutes each for closing remarks.

Intros finally over after 5 minutes.

Haynie:

Thanks to all. (his microphone isn’t centered on his podium and it seems to be making it a little difficult to hear him)

Lists problems:

  • Inequity of road program
  • Lack of accountability of employees
  • Poor administration
  • County government is a business that needs to be run like a business. Haynie has a background in business, law enforcement, communications, construction make him well suited.
  • Background with heavy equipment makes him more qualified to judge when and whether to fix versus replace equipment.
  • People and employees need to be treated fairly. Open door approach to leadership.
  • FOI act is expected to be followed, records have been “destroyed” and info not provided when he has made FOI requests of the judge’s office.

Lincoln:

  • I’m a blessed man.
  • I’m willing to discuss any issue with anyone at any time.
  • First administrative job was at Judsonia/Riverview.
  • “Government can’t always be run like a business.” Rural water and electric coops.
  • “Government is to serve the people.”
  • “I don’t have any conflicts of interest.”
  • Thank veterans.

Transparency

You’ve publicly stated that transparency is something you’d like to see improved and lack of trust exists. What lack of transparency exists and what would you do to improve it?

Haynie:

  • There are no answers to way tax dollars are spent. No online system for agendas of quorum court, expenditures, upcoming ordinances. He wants everyone to see these things online. Transparency is seeing what’s out there, seeing the truth. Don’t charge people different things for the same thing.

Response from Lincoln:

  • You can request any of these documents at the County Clerk’s office and go to the meetings. Money is all spent after appropriation by JPs. Amendment 55 sets the standard. If you want info, go to the clerk’s office.

Rebuttal by Haynie

  • My idea of transparency is to put it on the web site. Why don’t you want this?
Budget

Significant surplus in general fund. How will you use it if re-elected?

Lincoln:

  • JPs are legislative authority to appropriate money. They are in charge of finances. There are several different funds in the county and many don’t have surplus. Roads fund and Sheriff’s fund don’t have surplus. General fund revenue comes from turnback, millage, etc. We have set aside $1M for bypass and $2M for “special projects”.

Response by Haynie

  • Money from general can be appropriated to road fund. The county can’t keep taking in small gravel roads that haven’t been done the right way from the beginning.

Rebuttal by Lincoln

  • “I believe in progress.” We don’t have all the roads we need.

Roads/Infrastructure

If elected, what would you do, and what facts do you have to support allegations of political favors for Lincoln’s supporters?

  • All should be equal. All charged equally. County records have been FOI’ed and shown that roads are chipsealed by the county that aren’t county roads. They were chipsealed before the tax vote.

Response by Lincoln

  • We do charge $20k per mile, but we don’t charge by cemeteries and we do “state aid” projects. We have only chipsealed county roads, but we have partnered with cities to “help them” (Beebe, Searcy, Rosebud, and others specifically listed)

Rebuttal by Haynie

  • Cities have their own budgets, grants, etc. They should pay for their own road work. I will list specific roads in my closing comments.

Taxes

In 2011, citizens voted down tax. Your office came under scrutiny for the way you handled this. Do you stand by your actions and would you do anything different?

Lincoln:

  • Governor Beebe wanted us to form a strategic plan, and the tax/bypass was part of our strategic plan. Mayor LaForce and I got together and decided we wanted to do this. I proposed a countywide tax to support all of the cities. I stand by the effort and the way we promoted the tax.

Haynie response:

  • I have no problem with the southern bypass. I did have a problem with the north bypass because I don’t see the traffic load to justify it. I’d much rather they spend that money on something like Joy Mountain. How many people are going to have to be injured, lose their lives, etc. before we do something? I wasn’t against the tax, I was against the fact that it was for four times as much as was needed so they could hang a carrot in front of the cities’ noses.

Lincoln rebuttal:

  • My opponent said “no new taxes” during the county tax election but didn’t oppose Searcy’s city tax.

Personnel

April 1st Citizen story talked about personnel changes you would make if elected, what personnel changes would you make and why?

Haynie:

  • I plan on keeping every county employee employed except for one. There is no need to sugar coat it, hide it, or lie about it. I have in my hands a report by the Arkansas State Police. In the 144 pages of report, the Arkansas State Police classified it as Theft of Property and turned it over to the county attorney for possible prosecution.

Lincoln response:

  • Thank God we live in a country where it is innocent until proven guilty. We have “nothing missing from the county”, so we have no theft. No charges were filed. “Aren’t we entitled to correct our mistakes?” Why did Mr. Haynie go to the State Police when he was given information about this?

Haynie rebuttal:

  • If this were a mistake, why would they make full restitution of $7,000 two years after the fact and only after it was brought to the attention of the media and the State Police? I went to the state police because when a citizen is told of a crime being committed, they should go to the police.

Gas exploration

Over the past few years, the gas industry changed things. Discuss positive and negative impact and what you’ll do to address that.

Lincoln:

  • Restitution was only $30, not $7,000. (Haynie says “Lowes”) moderator says “stay on topic”. We have many jobs and roads because of natural gas industry when the economy was suffering. Gas price has dropped, so gas drilling is down.

Haynie response:

  • You can’t make natural gas prices go up unless you have a cold winter up north. I don’t foresee the prices going any higher. I don’t want us to keep depending on natural gas to make our County better.

Lincoln rebuttal:

  • It’s a matter of supply and demand. We need other economic development.

Conflicts of Interest?

You are owner of Haynie Utility Construction and the Judge says he has no other interests and conflicts. Can you run your business and county, or will there be conflicts?

Haynie:

  • We very seldom work with the public. We often do work for cities/churches for no charge. We are a utility construction company and we set poles, run cables, gas distribution lines. We did a lot of work for Chesapeake, but if I am elected, I think it is a conflict of interest if I do any work with any gas company, and I won’t do any work for them.

Lincoln response:

  • Having been a judge for 3 terms, I would find it challenging to have another job and be judge. With all these responsibilities, meetings, mayors, fire departments, I don’t see how anyone could have any outside interests. Would Mr. Haynie not do any work with those companies anywhere?

Haynie rebuttal:

  • No, I will not do any work for any gas company. Is it a conflict for JPs to work with gas companies? (judge is allowed to reply to this direct question and says that is not a conflict for JPs to work with gas companies)

Veterans Services

What has your administration done for veterans, and what would you do better?

Lincoln:

  • 10 percent of the population of our county is veterans. 8,000 and growing. I have hired a VA officer. We acquired a veterans clinic in Searcy.

Haynie response:

  • These people are true heroes. There is money for folks like this, and we will do whatever it takes.

Lincoln rebuttal:

  • I think we agree 100 percent. Whatever we need to do for our veterans, we’ll do.

Personal Health Issues

Share with us information regarding current health and ability to perform tasks if elected.

Haynie:

  • Before 2007, I had severe headaches and it was discovered I had a non-malignant tumor. I had surgery and they successfully removed 90% of the tumor. They didn’t go any further because of the possibility of causing a stroke. The headaches came back, and they found a problem with the superorbital nerve. It is fine now with treatment.

Lincoln response:

  • On January 12, 2010 I had a stroke, and I have no left peripheral vision in both eyes. It has made me unable to drive, but I can get anywhere I want any time I want. I was conducting quorum court a week after the stroke. I watch my health and what I eat. I am fine.

Haynie rebuttal:

  • Neither of us is using health as a campaign issue.

Problems facing the county

What is the biggest problem facing the county, and what will you do to overcome it?

Lincoln:

  • I am interested in the future of White County. The issues are economic development and infrastructure. The tax would have addressed that, but we still have to work on it now. Several one lane wooden bridges have been replaced by two lane concrete bridges, and we are continuing to do that. Infrastructure is improving our road system. When the quorum court gives me that extra money, they trust me to be fair and “spread it around” the county as appropriate.

Haynie response:

  • Number one thing I hear about when I talk to people around the county is roads and bridges. I’m not going to say the judge is all wrong, but we differ on how things should be done. I’ll address some specific things in my closing comments.

Lincoln rebuttal:

  • It appears I’m in for a lot of surprises in the closing statement, and I won’t have a chance to respond. Ask me about those surprises later.
Closing Statements

Lincoln closing statement:

  • County government is the best governmental process in existence.
  • There is “so much accountability” in county government. Amendment 55 has set up a “beautiful system”. I am honored to be a part of that system.
  • I believe my record speaks for itself. Go out and see the bridges we’ve replaced.
  • We’ve continued to chipseal what the weather and our funds have allowed us to do. JPs have looked at ways to do special projects.
  • We are considering putting in a new 911 dispatch center near Law Enforcement Center. It would be state of the art. High Tech.
  • We’ve assisted all the cities in doing their roads.
  • The state police and my office found no charges to Lowes that the county paid for Jenkins.

Haynie closing statement:

  • True, the county was not out any money over OEM thing. This was because it was all paid back after two years when the story broke. I’ve got Lowe’s receipts with White County OEM account and Tamara Jenkins name on them for her home improvements.
  • If elected I will be: fair, equal, and consistent with all county residents; full-time judge.
  • I will bring true transparency to county government. Agendas, budgets, and expenditures will be available online for free. It’s your money, you have the right to know how it is being spent.
  • I will create fair and equal chipseal system. All roads will meet same standards, like under 99-9 that was repealed when judge Lincoln took office. Morris School road has been done 1.4 miles, not the .5 miles we authorized paying for.
  • The county should buy towers and radios for EMS folks instead of holding fundraisers.
  • I will hold county employees accountable for their actions.

Side note: Four people are holding signs complaining about corruption in Higginson (pertaining to Randall Homsley) and why Prosecuting Attorney Chris Raff won’t prosecute.

Editor’s note: We will have more analysis of the debate this afternoon.

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7 comments

  1. nut501

    Scott, thanks for the excellent report!
    You Sir are a great American!
    We do need to get rid of Chris Raff!!!
    Can anyone tell me what this guy has ever done??
    Why does he fill charges in this case?????

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