Monday, October 29, 2007

Kermit--I Hear Ya Brother

Kermit the Frog's proclamation that it's not easy being green came to mind last Saturday night at the Crossroads VFD fundraiser. What's my point? Just this--It ain't easy being bald. Crossroads always has a great turn-out for their barbeque and auction, which raises money for a well run fire department. I always enjoy spending for the cause by bidding on the home-made muscadine jelly and pear honey. In fact, I always buy it no matter the cost, and it's money well spent. But here's where the bald abuse comes in--There I was, just minding my own business, clutching 2 jars of jelly that would end up on Sunday mornings hot buttered biscuits; when all of a sudden, somebody pipes up that they'd give $100 to have the face painter put Vigi's name on the top of my head. Well, I'm proud of my wife, but I still had to go to wal-mart before I got home. So, in an effort to save face-- and my head too, I bid $110 not to be painted. The end result is they kept bidding it up, so I shelled out a healthy $225, just so I could walk into the grocery store with some sense of dignity. Whadda ya gonna do? Pay up and take it in stride that both frogs and bald guys have a few warts.

Rumor Mill

One of the rumors being floated out there is that SWEPCO paid myself and other legislators to attend the various PSC hearings. That is so much tripe it probably doesn't deserve a comment---but, I'll comment anyway. First of all, I attended five sessions and each time it came out of my own pocket. I know it's hard for those spreading the rumors to believe that there are other people in this world as honorable and committed as they are, but that is probably the arrogant and elitist attitude we are dealing with. They want what they want and are willing to say or do anything it takes to ensure they get their way. I have made no bones about my support for this plant and my support has always taken into consideration what is best for all concerned. I am firmly convinced this will be a huge economic step forward for Southwest Arkansas, and the environmental impact will be negligible to all concerned. Those in opposition to the plant may yet quash this project, and the hopes it brings to our area. Let's hope not, and continue our support of the Turk Power Plant.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Turk's Final Arguments

All sides got to lay it on the table at today's final arguments before the PSC. It's all in the hands of Chairman Suskie and Commissioner's Bassett and Newbern now. They have 60 days from today to render their decision whether SWEPCO is granted the permit to proceed. There was a nice contingent of locals in attendance to show their support. Senator Horn, along with Representatives Stewart, Cowling and myself were there to provide a legislative presence. It all boils down to this--Does this small number of hunting club members get to keep their ball and go home, or will our community and its' children have a chance at untold opportunities this project offers? The environmental collapse predicted at today's hearing was put into words by the intervenor's attorney when he told the commissioners that if they allowed this plant to be built, they would regret their decision in 20 years. He didn't say why the people in Gentry don't regret their power plant 30 years later, or why the environment there is as viable and beautiful as it was 30 years ago. They don't like that comparison because it doesn't suit their argument of ecological disaster. As I have said before, SWEPCO and the hunting club can live in harmony without the environment being compromised. You only need travel to Gentry and see for yourself.

Black Tie Affair

I've been to quite a few fire department fundraisers since I started down the political road and have always thought each one provided its' own unique flair. But the one I attended in Old Washington last Saturday night, pretty much tops the chart for being one of a kind. The black tie event with dinner provided, offered big band swing music and a concert by country singer, Johnny Lee. Senator Jim Hill and wife Charlotte, Representative Steve and Lori Harrelson, Representative Scott Sullivan and date Christie McQueen, along with Vigi and myself, filled out our table and we couldn't have had more fun. Best of all was the $43,000 raised for the Fire Department. What an unbelievable amount and night it was. Although, here's hoping I don't have to break out the tux for all my VFD's. But it's on the ready if needed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Power Plant Arguments

Monday will find me in Little Rock once again as the Public Service Commission hears closing arguments concerning the SWEPCO Power Plant. Each side will have 30 minutes to make their case before the commissioner's and then it's just sit back and wait for the decision. The commission has 60 days from closing arguments to approve or deny the permit to proceed. I hope we can have a decision sooner than later, but I suspect they will take the maximum amount of time in what most certainly will be a monumental decision for Southwest Arkansas. In the end, I believe SWEPCO and the hunting clubs can co-exist quite well with little or no environmental impact to the area. I base that presumption on the evidence I saw at the 30 year old plant in Gentry, with all concerned being very happy for the industry being there. We will see if our state genuinely believes in economic progress or whether we're just giving lip service to making a better life for our children. I can certainly envision the rich and powerful hunting clubs being able to stop this project to protect their playground, but I'm holding out hope that the PSC enables the vast majority of Southwest Arkansas citizens to have a say in their future, and some day have a chance to enjoy the same prosperity enjoyed by the intervenors. Now we will wait.

Politics and Football

I will be in Little Rock on Thursday to attend a house caucus that will basically be a housecleaning session during the interim. There was talk of an amendment to the ethics rules in the House and now it appears that will not be presented at this time. There were a few legitimate concerns with changing the rules regarding lobbyist, but I didn't have any huge problems with the proposal and most likely would have voted for the change. It certainly would have created an uneven playing field with the Senate as far as ethics responsibility goes, but I'm in favor of showing voters a good faith effort in the House to promote ethics reform. It's a moot point now, but will surely surface again in 2009.

I'll be staying over to attend the Legislative Council meeting on Friday morning. Afterwards, I'll be hustling back to Hope to call the Hope-Fairview game for the TV station. I'm looking forward to seeing the 3 razorback commitments who play for Fairview. I saw them play last year and was particularly impressed with running back, DeAnthony Curtis, who I believe is the best player in the state. Sounds like a fun way to start the week-end.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Week Ahead

October will be a busy month and it gets started this week. Tuesday I will be in Little Rock for a Public Health committee meeting at the Capitol. Wednesday morning I will start the day with Mark Keith's morning show on KHPA. I'll be on the air at 6:45 and intend to talk about the Turk power plant and whatever else is on Mr. Keith's mind. I always enjoy doing the radio spots. At noon I'll attend a luncheon with DHS and Court personnel. That evening the Arkansas Economic Development Commission will be meeting at Old Washington in the 1914 School, and I will welcome the commissioner's and their staff to Hempstead County. I'll hurry back to Hope and get to the television station so Randy and I can do "In the Pressbox" at 9:00. Thursday night the Farm Bureau will be hosting their annual banquet and I look forward to presenting James and Phil Thurman with a Legislative citation as the Farm Family of the Year. Friday will put me back in the Courthouse for a little office time, and that evening I'll be in the pressbox to call the bobcat game against Hot Springs. Lot's going on but I'm looking forward to all of it.