It was noted that the Sentinel Record front-page report of the last city board meeting referred to commenters on the city’s water policy as “detractors.” In fact, these so-called, “detractors” were explaining that the city continues to violate the Arkansas Constitution and specific court rulings by not allowing water connections in the county while encouraging connections within the city. Consent order 93-1639 clearly states, “Resolution 2821 and City policies and actions resulting therefrom violated Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Arkansas in that citizens’ rights to vote on annexation to the City were impaired and forfeited by these practices of the City.” Further, “The Defendants (city) is now estopped from requiring property owners to either annex to the City or promise to do so in the future in order to obtain city water and sewer service.” The entire court order may be seen at www.ggggnews.com. In view of the fact that the public was not informed of this court order and the city’s continuous violations possibly including “contempt of court” and the likelihood of de-annexation of all properties illegally annexed, a press conference was held this week to properly enlighten the public.
Former JP, chairman of Criminal Justice Committee, and member of the city/county water committee, Bud West chaired the conference. West explained how the city is in violation of this court order and how the city’s actions are having a “devastating impact” of the growth of the County. State Senator Alan Clark, Representative Mickey Gates, and County Judge Rick Davis also reiterated impacts of this court order.
State Representative Cozart presented a draft bill which requires all future city annexations have a vote of the citizens in accordance with Ark. Code 14-40-303.
The city attorney’s insinuations and diversionary comments relative to the court order are interesting. His reference to another case against the city that was won on appeal to the State Supreme Court are nonsense in that the Supreme Court Order (2009 Ark. 276, No. 08-611) itself states, “The issue in the Burchwood litigation was annexation. The issues in the present case concern sewer rates and debt-service charges.” The Burchwood reference is to Consent Order 93-1639. This means that in 2009, the Supreme Court recognized that the two cases were NOT related and neither has an impact on the other. The city attorney’s statement that he “has disagreements” with the court order have no relevance. It matters not what his opinion is. His job is to see that the city complies with the law including court rulings the city agreed to.
The bottom line is simple. The city directors need to stop taking actions that greatly impact the citizens without giving them a voice and a vote. The directors also need to reverse their illegal and discriminatory water policy and provide water service to all who apply.
Yet another solution to the problem is voting those incumbent law violators out of office, especially the inflexible leader of the pack from district 6, Randy Fale.
Hot Springs, Arkansas