Before we go too far, let me state all of the following for the record: I voted for Michael Lincoln in 2006 and again in 2008.
When his opponent in 2006 complained about losing, I wrote a letter to the editor of The Daily Citizen defending Judge Lincoln. I am in no way opposed to the man personally, but he began making policy related decisions in 2009 that were questionable at best and contemptible in some instances, and in 2010 I voted against him.
Let’s look at some of the policy decisions that Judge Lincoln has made:
In 2009 & 2010, Judge Lincoln supported Belinda LaForce’s efforts to impose an A&P tax and A&P commission on the city of Searcy without voter approval. Judge Lincoln has recently complained about city taxes being terrible because county residents pay them while only the city gets to spend the money. This is a different tune than the one he sang just two short years ago.
Judge Lincoln’s support of a tax in the city of Searcy was so strong that when a very peaceful TEA party protest was held at the courthouse square in Searcy on April 5, 2010 (attended by our current Lieutenant Governor as well as several other candidates for statewide offices), Judge Lincoln called both the Searcy police and the White County Sheriff’s office and attempted to convince them to remove the protestors.
In 2011, Judge Lincoln was made aware that one of his county employees had charged several thousands of dollars in home improvements to a county credit card at Lowes in addition to purchasing items for holiday meals on county credit cards. Judge Lincoln declined to take any disciplinary action against the employee in question and claims that any criticism of that employee is politically motivated.
In 2011, Judge Lincoln proposed raising taxes by $18 million because the county allegedly needed $3 million to work on roads. The proposed tax failed, and the county found the money for their portion of the road without any new tax revenue.
In 2011, Judge Lincoln promoted his proposed tax increase by hiring a “consultant” for $2,000 per month. The Arkansas Ethics Commission sent Judge Lincoln a letter on November 7, 2011 which declared that Judge Lincoln’s actions in this regard “violated state law” and the judge signed a “written offer of settlement” specifically acknowledging that he violated state law with regard to how county money could legally be spent as part of a plea deal with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
In 2011, Judge Lincoln pushed for the purchase of a piece of property (using county funds) without getting an appraisal. After citizens and the quorum court pushed for an appraisal, Judge Lincoln provided an appraisal by an appraiser not licensed to perform appraisals on properties of that type. Furthermore, the county purchased the property for $590,000 when the county’s own appraisers valued it at $346,000 in 2009 and its previous sale price in 2006 was $320,000.
Judge Lincoln’s behavior in office has turned into a comedy of errors highlighting choices that are unwise, unethical, and (by his own written admission to the Arkansas Ethics Commission) illegal. I cannot in good conscience support such a candidate for the highest office in our County.
I will be voting for and supporting Bill Haynie – and then I will be watching him like a hawk, as I do all elected officials. I encourage all of you to do the same.
Scott Biddle is a guest contributor to The Arkansas Patriot and former chairman of Searcy Friends of the Voters.