Updated: Nov 1
Washington County Update - October 29, 2023
THINGS TO KNoW:
STILL NO NEWS ON COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS FOR THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COORDINGATING COMMITTEE, BUT OTHER COMMITTEE APPOINTS ARE HAPPENING (SEE BELOW). ASK JUDGE DEAKINS WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?
COUNTY EMPLOYEES LIKE SICK LEAVE POLICY AS IS. WHY THE CHANGES?
→ JOBS EVALUATION SALARY ADMINISTRATION PROGRAM (JESAP) met Monday afternoon. It was great to see several county employees come to the meeting and voice their concerns about changes the county judge wants to make to the sick leave policy. I’m sure we’d have more county employees at all JESAP meetings if they didn’t meet during the workday (3:30 pm). I’m telling you, they are not happy about it. Judge Deakins said he “sees lots of abuses of sick leave policy.” Others? Not so much. Wanna know more?
→ ELECTION COMMISSION meeting included a detailed discussion about early voting and voting day sites for the March 5 primary. The commission is using data on past voting volume to determine which sites might be used. Watch the meeting here: https://www.youtube.com/live/04tAzx8qY6g?si=hp3LWpm5x-G8OCPK
→ RURAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY meeting Judge Deakins nominated Brad Hardin and Terri McNaughton to the WC Water Authority Board, subject to approval by the Quorum Court. The meeting may be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/live/XLL3qy3uFkA?si=iu3uKXcBQKtdW-ct
→ AR CITIZENS FOR TRANSPARENCY (ACT) held a town hall to go over the proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution known as the “Arkansas Government Transparency Amendment.” I live streamed the meeting on FB. https://fb.watch/nZjKjKMXaP/ My favorite part: If a public official knowingly violates AFOIA, he/she may be subject to a civil penalty of at least $1K (hopefully more) AND it cannot be paid by public funds, so it’ll come out of their own pockets, as it should.
→ Despite what County Attorney Brian Lester said originally when he was asking for an additional $20K for his 2023 budget (that he was appealing both my AFOIA lawsuits) the county is only appealing the most recent, Coger v. Deakins Etal. My two judgments in Coger v. Joseph Wood, Brian Lester, Lisa Ecke, Butch Pond Etal remain unsatisfied in the amount of $2,429.31 as of 10/24/23. Here’s the demand letter my attorney sent to the county’s attorney last week. Unfortunately these judgments will be paid from taxpayer funds.
REMEMBER: TWO SEPARATE CIRCUIT COURT JUDGES HELD TRIALS AND FOUND THE COUNTY VIOLATED THE ARKANSAS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT.
WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK?
ALL MEETINGS ARE IN PERSON ONLY - if you wish to participate. Meetings will be live streamed here: https://www.youtube.com/user/washcoar but, unfortunately, the county does not allow public participation by those online.
→ COUNTY SERVICES COMMITTEE meets Monday, October 30, 6:00 PM, WC Courthouse.
The agenda includes changes to the county employee policy with regard to family and medical leave and worker’s compensation. Here’s more on that. Also the ordinance by JP Dean to prohibit release of compression brakes is back on for discussion and possible passage, with some changes since its original appearance.
There will also be an update from Kristin McCallister of UAMS on the Crisis Stabilization Unit and its progress.
→ PLANNING BOARD meets Thursday, November 2, 5:00 PM, WC Courthouse.
The agenda for the Planning Board is long and I won’t go into detail here, but please check it out. It includes several storage facilities, an automotive repair shop, residential uses, and more.
We NEED Your Help!
STILL NO PUBLIC ACTION TO APPOINT MEMBERS TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COORDINATING COMMITTEE. Continue to ask Judge Deakins to appoint members to the CJCC and to do so immediately and take necessary steps to see the CJCC is properly appointed and operational. The CJCC wants to bring a pretrial services program to the quorum court for funding, but it must exist in order to do that or anything else.
Contact your JP and set up a time to meet them for coffee or just to get together. Become a regular voice in their ear and urge them to vote for criminal justice reform and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. I write this each week, but it really is important. That’s how I got started advocating to the court back in 2019. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. CAN YOU TAKE AN HOUR OR TWO AND MEET WITH YOUR JP AND SHARE YOUR CONCERNS OR COMMENTS, OR WHATEVER YOUR THOUGHTS ARE.
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I welcome your questions and comments, also suggestions you have for any county related business. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text or call 479-306-9994.
Here’s the link to email addresses and telephone numbers for JPs, County Judge, and others.
See you at the courthouse!