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Washington County Update - August 20, 2023

Here’s everything you need to know about the August QC Meeting:


My ordinance to fund nonprofits with ARPA money failed. Read more here...


JP Lyons ordinance which would have stopped the QC from hearing appeals from the Planning Commission failed. Read more here...


JP Lyons copied the work I had done on the ordinance (an ordinance is law) to require online publication of ordinances and resolutions and turned it into a resolution (a non binding “request” or “ask.”) passed. Read more here...


Judge Deakins is removing our ability to speaking as to what someone tells us or communicates to us. I regularly speak to county officials, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, the sheriff, and other elected representatives. I do that to get knowledge, information and data that I use in decision making. Watch the video here (starting at 1:17:15). Read more here...


Fourth Judicial District Drug Task Force met. Here’s a copy of their monthly report.


Full explanation of each item below




Let’s talk hypocrisy:

Some Republicans on the QC, including the County Judge, tried to rewrite history and say the county never committed to funding nonprofits. A huge thanks to JP Shawndra Washington for calling them out on that. When you see JP Washington, or call her, and let her know you appreciate her courage.


If we didn’t commit to funding, then explain these actions:

  1. What was that $35,000.00 we paid to NWA Economic Development District to assess the applications? Can we get that back?

  2. Why did we INVITE the nonprofits to apply if we weren’t going to allocate funds. The application actually says, “We invite you to apply.”

  3. Why did we hire an ARPA Director and prepare the application process?

  4. Why did the majority ignore the FACT that Former County Judge Joseph Wood said last year the county would distribute $2.3M of ARPA to nonprofits?

  5. Why did the county make a promise and not keep it?

  6. Why did JPs Leming, Pond, and Dennis vote FOR giving $2.9M and $1.9M, respectively, to two nonprofits and $5.4M for individual breathing devices to rural fire departments, also nonprofits, yet vote against giving money to the boots on the ground people who provided food, medical and mental health care to people during the pandemic, and then say it “wasn’t our job” to fund nonprofits?

  7. Why did we invite the nonprofits to come and “present” to the court? Was that a waste of their time and ours?

Beth, what’s the real reason they are being hypocritical and stingy with ARPA funding? Judge Deakins and the Republican JPs are set on building a new emergency operations center. They want all remaining ARPA money to go for that. We could have both!


The following JPs voted AGAINST funding nonprofits:


District 2 David Wilson NO

District 5 Kyle Lyons NO

District 6 Lisa Ecke NO

District 7 Charles Dean NO

District 10 Robert Dennis NO

District 13 Willie Leming NO

District 15 Butch Pond NO


District 1 Coleman Taylor and District 14 Gary Ricker were absent. Three of the “NO” votes are in flippable districts.


Curious to see the hypocrisy for yourself? Watch the full QC meeting here and the County Services meeting from 7/28/22 here.


Starting at 17:23 in the above video: JP Sam Duncan speaking: “Speaking with the judge over the last couple weeks that was his intent was to make up to 10% available we don't actually have to appropriate anything until there's a request that's approved because the money's already sitting in a line item.”


So, after saying we didn’t need to appropriate because the money’s already in a line item, Thursday, they used that excuse - NO ORDINANCE WAS PASSED - to hide behind and deny funding to our local nonprofits.


Thankfully the ordinance by JP Kyle Lyons which would have stopped us - the Quorum Court - from hearing appeals from the Planning Commission - failed. Why would the court even consider giving up any more of our legislative authority?


JP Lyons copied the work I had done on the ordinance (an ordinance is law) to require online publication of ordinances and resolutions and turned it into a resolution (a non binding “request” or “ask.”) - passed. I tried to amend the resolution to at least add all county contracts, but that failed. I voted against this because County Clerk Becky Lewallen is already publishing these and has added funding to her 2024 budget to do so and make them searchable, and because it doesn’t include contracts.


So now it looks like Judge Deakins is going to try to stop JPs - the legislators of our county government - from speaking as to what someone tells us or communicates to us. I regularly speak to county officials, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, the sheriff, and other elected representatives. I have to do that to get knowledge, information and data that I use in decision making. It’s ridiculous to say we can’t comment on what other people tell us. The QC is not a court of law. We aren’t bound by the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure or Rules of Evidence. There’s no sworn testimony. It’s a public meeting!!!


The fact is, that as JPs, we have more access to our elected officials, county employees and stakeholders than the average citizen. We’re not doing our jobs if we don’t take advantage of that access and use it and, therefore, bring that information forward in public meetings.

Watch the video here (starting at 1:17:15).


Judge Deakins, “I apologize to the public and the court it is rules of Robert's Rules and decorum you cannot speak for another individual in debate and I we we're getting too loose with that and so I just want to let you guys know that I'm going to be a little bit more cognizant of that moving forward that you absolutely can share your points of view you can share your opinions but if once you start speaking for somebody else and especially people who aren't here I think that's very problematic.”


Did you know? I started holding monthly meetings “Conversation with JP Coger” to keep the community informed about the QC, answer questions, help people get information from the county, or address any county governmental issues the community might have. Our first gathering was held last Monday.


A big thank you to everyone who came. It was a great time and it’s helpful for me to hear what the community has to say about the big issues facing our county, such as: ➦ Jail overcrowding ➦ Justice reform ➦ Out of control spending ➦ Decorum on the court ➦ Difficulty getting the county to respond to AFOIA requests from citizens ➦ and much more… The next Conversation with JP Coger will be in September via Zoom.


Did you know? We still don’t have a JP for District 4. I FOIA’d the governor and she claimed her information is “working papers” and not subject to FOIA. We need YOU to call County Judge Deakins and ask him why the people in District 4 still do not have a representative on the WC Quorum Court. I’ve already asked him, and he has ignored my request for information.


_________________________

Upcoming Meetings & Events

(all meetings this week are at WC Courthouse)


WC QUORUM COURT FINANCE & BUDGET COMMITTEE meets Tuesday, August 22, 6:00 PM. IN PERSON ONLY The meeting will be live streamed here: https://www.youtube.com/user/washcoar

  1. We will review the Sheriff and Jail Budget for 2024. You can study the details here. Also the Zip file here.

  2. The Sheriff and Jail Budgets make up well over one-third of our total budget.

WC CRIMINAL JUSTICE COORDINATING COMMITTEE meets Thursday, August 24, 12:00 PM. IN PERSON ONLY

  1. No agenda is posted. This is the first meeting of the full CJCC since the CJCC Coordinator, Drew Smith, was fired last month.

  2. At this meeting I expect to hear from the Pretrial Committee on progress being made toward implementing a robust pretrial services program in Washington County.

  3. Sheriff Cantrell has worked with a professor from Hendrix College to calculate the daily cost of housing a person in our jail and he will present that at this meeting.

WC PLANNING COMMISSION meets Thursday, August 24, 5:00 PM. IN PERSON ONLY but the meeting will be live streamed here. Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) to be considered:

  1. Meyer Boys Garage, Applicant Sam Meyer, location 18263 Harmon Road, WC 31, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Proposed use: Commercial Automotive Restoration

  2. Belle Terra Venue & Grounds, Applicant Blew & Associates, location 17996 Bethlehem Road, WC 237, Winslow, Arkansas.

  3. And one variance hearing for Jennifer Lavender, 15484 Riches Road, WC 841, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

_________________________


We NEED Your Help!

  • ATTEND the Finance & Budget meeting Tuesday 8/22 @ 6 PM where the Sheriff & Jail Budgets will be reviewed.

  • Call Judge Deakins, Sheriff Cantrell (he’s on the CJCC) and as many Justices of the Peace as you can. Get to know them. Meet them for coffee. Tell them you want them to implement the recommendations of the 2020 Criminal Justice Assessment Study for which the county paid $70,000. Why do we not follow the recommendations made by the National Center for State Courts? We’ve had three years and have done nothing. It’s all about priorities. If we don’t make it a priority, it’s not going to happen.

  • Share this Newsletter with your friends and neighbors!

I welcome your questions and comments, also suggestions you have for any county related business. You can reach me at ejcoger@gmail.com 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!


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