Many of you have written, inquiring about the results of the A&P tax in Searcy. In short, it was a rear-kicking:
That’s a margin of about 14% (I predicted a larger defeat than the last go around, which was 10%, and said the margin could be as much as 16-18 points).
(Sorry for being so slow to the party here — I was up until early Wednesday morning doing live election coverage for The Arkansas Project and have been quite busy since, prepping for the upcoming general assembly and traveling for work)
I’ll have more analysis of the tax election in the coming days, but let me just say here now, as I told the folks on Newstalk 99.1 FM on Tuesday night:
I hope the city gets the message. I hope they can finally realize that the people of Searcy do not want the A&P tax — not now, not ever.
I’ve been saying this for years — they have called me crazy, accused me of being “against the children,” blah blah blah. But guess what? I’m right. The people of Searcy have affirmed this once again. Unfortunately, as I predicted on the radio, the fight is probably not over. The hosts were shocked by this statement — “This is a settled issue,” the said. But, the very next morning, Alderman Don Raney apparently left the door open to another run at the tax in his post-election interview with the local paper.
I’m not trying to be a sore winner. For whatever reason, there is a fairly large faction in this city that now thinks that the city is now doomed and their children’s futures are doomed because higher taxes have not been forced upon the people of Searcy. Scarily, they seem to think my fiscal conservatism poses a greater threat to threat to their children’s’ future than Obama does. If you hold these viewpoints, please seek psychiatric help immediately.
But here’s the really scary part: A failed city council candidate with a WordPress account is now more in touch with the people of Searcy than the 8 city alderman, who voted for the tax, and the mayor.
This is a problem that needs a solution. A serious disconnect exists between the people of Searcy and their “leaders.” It’s (past) time to start working to bridge this divide.
More analysis (and perhaps a few samples of recent hate mail) to come!
Nic Horton, Editor
I posted last night about the awful Tim Tebow tax sign that has popped up in Searcy. Now a citizen watchdog has submitted this photo of a pro-tax sign in front of Sidney Deener elementary school:
The watchdog also confirms that a sign is being displayed in front of Southwest Middle School as well.
If the signs are on school property, it is unclear at this point whether or not that would be illegal, but as a general rule, it seems to be a no-no to put election signs on public property. At the very least, I think these signs — which clearly imply endorsement of the tax by these schools — are being inappropriately displayed. Public property shouldn’t be used for electioneering and that is a principle that is woven through Arkansas ethics laws. That property belongs to all of us taxpayers, including me. I don’t want it being used to push a tax hike.
If the signs are not on school property, then they are in the right of way, which is a violation of the city code, according to the city of Searcy Code Enforcement’s Mike Cleveland. He made a few candidates move some signs last election cycle because they were “too close to the street,” telling them it was against city law to put signs in the right of way — I wonder if Mr. Cleveland will enforce the law in this case?
I have also personally seen a sign at the entrance of Harding University on Race Street which leads me to believe that the pro-tax workers, in all of their recklessness, are simply sticking signs wherever they want them and not thinking of the legal ramifications.
Cindy Barker of the White County Election Commission tells me that the commission has no jurisdiction over sign placement until election day. She says this issue would likely fall under the purview of the state Board of Education.
Greg Niblock, the local attorney who represented the people against the city of Searcy when they were illegally denied their right to vote on the 2010 A&P tax, has launched a new radio ad against the latest A&P tax proposal. Niblock is also a candidate for Justice of the Peace in White County and pledges to fight tax increases if elected to the quorum court:
Why do they say this? They ran a poll. Why is the poll crap? I’m about to tell you, because this so called “poll” is an insult to poll-lovers and statisticians everywhere. I would accuse them of being ignorant, but they have been proven to be much more deliberate at their attempts to influence opinion for me to believe they are really just this stupid–or that they think the people of White County are this stupid.
(I know the paper is trying to hide behind a local university political science professor that they mention in their story to loan credibility to their poll, but I can almost guarantee he would agree with my analysis below. He may have drafted the questions, but I am highly confident that he didn’t endorse this methodology.)
I ran this poll by a Republican political consultant who has worked on gubernatorial campaigns, ran targeting on congressional campaigns, and has run a targeted 527. Needless to say he has done more than a few polls. He agreed that the poll “has multiple issues with accuracy, and cannot be used to conclude that Lincoln has any kind of a lead.”
The alleged results of the poll:
- Lincoln: 49%
- Haynie: 34%
- Undecided: 17%
And that huge “15 percent” number the paper tosses around can be a little deceiving. The margin represented by that 15% is only 63 votes. They called 410 folks, who we can only assume are actually registered voters, but based on the rest of their “methodology,” I’m not sure that’s a smart assumption.
1. They didn’t poll ‘likely voters.’ This is kind of a big deal. The paper, according to their own story, didn’t make any effort to identify people who were actually likely to vote in the primary. Sure, they asked people ‘do you definitely plan to vote,’ but that’s essentially crap. There is much more that goes into determining likely voters than asking people on the spot, who will almost all say yes out of fear of being considered a ‘bad citizen.’ “Likely voters” should only be defined as people who, based on their voting history, are actually likely to vote. I know, I’m a conspiracy theorist.
2. They didn’t poll identified Republicans, meaning those who are either registered as Republicans or have consistently voted in Republican primaries. Oh, I’m sorry, you’re doing a Republican primary poll and including Democrats? I’m sure my ‘ultra-partisanship’ will blind me to why this is a good idea. But seriously guys, this is crap. You aren’t getting meaningful results here and, once again, you are misleading the public by purporting crappy poll results as credible.
3. Lincoln’s name was placed first in the poll question. See, the paper knows this is shady because they preemptively defend any attacks by saying, “Well, he’s going to be first on the ballot!” More bull. This isn’t the same as someone going into a polling booth and looking at two options. The results will be slanted heavily towards the first person identified because people want to get off the phone. The order of the names should be randomized. Lincoln easily gained 5-10% from this trick.
Now, just because the results are ‘crap,’ that doesn’t mean we can’t still glean something from them, both statistically and politically speaking. What have we learned?
1. Despite the attempts to slant this poll, Lincoln doesn’t even receive 50%. This is the real story here. Think about this: a 6-year incumbent judge cannot even break 50%, despite being listed first on the poll which easily gave him 5-10%. Subtract 10-points and a nearly 5% margin of error, it is very possible that this race is actually tied (Lincoln -15%, erasing his “+15%”). As an entrenched incumbent, Judge Lincoln should be easily polling above 60% right now, and my consultant friend agreed.
2. This is a very close race. Look, if this wasn’t a close race, the paper wouldn’t be running sketchy polls in an attempt to help out their favorite judge. It’s really that simple.
Despite what you’ll read in the paper, these poll results are very good news for lovers of liberty & transparent government in White County.
I received a tip on Saturday afternoon that White County Judge Mike Lincoln was using the “White County Cleanup”–a time for county residents to bring garbage to the county fairgrounds and have it disposed of, at the expense of the taxpayers–as a campaign event. I arrived at the event to find this sign in front of the gate, on public property:
Here is a zoomed-in look at the figures you see in the background. In yellow is OEM Director Tamara Jenkins, the judge’s favorite county employee who used taxpayer money to purchase Thanksgiving dinner for her family, a heat pump, and a couple of trailers. Mike Lincoln is pictured leaning down, apparently looking at the truck’s tires. And Jenkins’ assistant is laying down in the back of the truck. I am not sure who the young lady is. There is also an older gentleman sitting down in the lawn chair next to Jenkins:
Here is another photo. At the far left you can see a sign that says “White County Cleanup ENTRANCE–>”
Here’s a zoomed in look at that photo. This was after the judge noticed my presence on county property and began yelling at me. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he began charging at me and so to avoid conflict, I left. His shirt features his campaign logo. You can see him front and center, facing the camera:
So what does the law say about using public property/publicly-funded items for campaign use? Well, let’s just say Judge Lincoln has several questions to answer.
1. Was the judge using publicly-funded property for campaigning?
(e) No public servant shall use for campaign purposes any item of personal property provided with public funds. “Campaign purposes” refers to the campaign of a candidate for public office and not efforts to support or oppose a ballot measure.
See the Suburban with the hatch popped? And the truck with the lights on top? Both county vehicles, paid for by you. Being used for campaign purposes.
2. Were the two county employees pictured here asked to attend the event and were they being paid by the taxpayers? We can’t say for sure, but it’s certainly a question worth asking.
Again, from the Commission:
(c) No public servant shall coerce by threats or otherwise any public employee into devoting time or labor toward the campaign of any candidate for office or for the nomination to any office. 
(f) No person shall assess any public employee for any political purpose whatever or coerce by threats or otherwise any public employee into making a subscription or contribution for any political purpose.
I think the words “or otherwise” in Section (c) are problematic for the judge here. Were the employees asked to attend? Were they being paid?
Also, in Section (f), “No person shall assess any public employee for any political purpose whatever.” The judge can say that this was not a “political” or campaign event, but by putting up a sign & wearing a campaign t-shirt, didn’t he make it one?
3. There is a clear double standard in Judge Lincoln displaying his sign on public property. I remember just a few short years ago when we had a rally on the courthouse lawn. Someone attending the event asked the judge if they could display campaign signs. He said yes, and then once they put them up, he went ballistic. He even went so far as to call the police and tried to have the whole event shutdown. He said, “I”m the keeper of the county grounds! You can’t do this!”
Well judge, you may be the keeper of the county grounds, but that doesn’t excuse you from unethical activities. You were probably right back in 2010 to not let the demonstrators post their signs on public property. So do you still agree that this is an unethical practice? If you do, then why would you do it? Would you allow your opponent to do it? Or do these special provisions only apply to yourself and those you support?
Keep in mind, this is a judge who has already been charged with a violation by the Arkansas Ethics Commission for breaking the law, but he said he ‘still didn’t think he did anything wrong’ after the ruling was handed down.
And a judge who is pictured here with Tamara Jenkins, who misused hundreds of taxpayer dollars, who he consequently rewarded with the purchase of a $320,000 building at the all-time high price of $590,000!
And he is still defending her nobility. So don’t expect any remorse from him after this incident.
And don’t think this is the first or only time that Judge Lincoln has used public property to promote his campaign.