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Know Any Politicians Who Speak Their Mind? -Shelli's Courier Column 032810

It started as a simple discussion on MySaline.com about whether the county should be wet or dry. That is, whether the law should be amended so that it's legal to sell alcohol in Saline County for home consumption. Not a controversial topic at all!

A newer member, Dan Berry, has my immediate respect for speaking his mind, yet staying respectful. He chimed in with the following comment.

'Yep, making Saline wet would help alleviate global warming - less driving. It would mean less drunk driving also. The revenue stream will be such that the politicians will actually have a hard time finding a way to spend the money. The 22,000 signatures is gonna be hard to do,and it is probably a low figure. The odds are stacked against getting the petition and signatures validated. You need 38% of registered voters, and they cannot be new registrations. Now then, the first two guys who will fight this with a vengeance will be the owners of RedGate and Rafferty's. I'm all for it but it will be very hard to do. Politicos will likely not give any public support.'

It wasn't long until we heard from a local elected official responding to that remark. Ed Collins, a City Alderman in Bryant's Ward 2 didn't say what was might have been expected.

"I would like to have the county wet as they say. It's 2010, let's move forward a little. If I am not mistaken, there was wine served at the last supper according to the bible and portraits of the last supper. As an elected council member of the city of Bryant, I would and will be in support of this action. What both the county and local city governments need to keep in mind is control. Control of taxes, rules and so on. This can be done.

I told you that Berry has been respectful, but even respectful people aren't great at showing up after they've been shown up. Dan did came back.

"Mr. Collins, I salute you. I never would have thought that any elected official would say that.
Keep the money at home. It's a pretty simple concept."

I know Ed. He's been a neighbor to my parents for years. I appreciate his honesty and willingness to serve. It's not for the faint of heart. I was impressed that Dan came back to say what he did so I had to say something that changed the subject a little bit.

"To Dan and anyone else who has a few minutes to read this:
I think if you check Ed Collins' record, he's not a politician or a crony. In fact, what I've seen from him is that he can make the cronies rather angry as he fights for what Bryant residents really need."

Perhaps I should have stopped there, but...

"Bryant residents should enjoy their Fall Fest at the newly developed Bishop Park in Bryant. Just be sure not to ask about a lawsuit against the City of Bryant regarding a two-year-old unfinished project in Forest Cove that keeps mosquitos biting at children, and children reaching for basketballs through a giant metal fence surrounding a six-foot-deep trench dug while at least one homeowner was out of town. It's okay, the fence isn't that intimidating since it's crouching inward evermore each time it rains. It is rather unsightly though, since it stretches around 1000 feet from the neighborhood pond to Highway 5 North."

I inserted links and photos here. You can see the long, wide trench on Google's aerial map, as well as the "before" picture with clean-cut, level green grass on Google's street view map.

"My, but those photos differ. Where's the trench in the close ups? Have I made a mistake? No."

In the word "No," I embedded a link to a past post with "before and after" photos that my parents had made.

"But really, the trench, the fence, the mosquitos and the flooding that still persists two years later aren't that big of a deal when you consider that every resident and visitor to enter the neighborhood through Forest Drive must encounter... well some call it a ski slope, I call it a skate ramp. It's very popular with the skaters. It's a rather steep grade, comparable to driving your car off the back of a hitched trailer. Would you like to do that in a school bus? How about a fire truck or an ambulance?" [street maps and photos inserted]

"Well, thank goodness someone's doing something about it. What's that, Bryant City Officials? You don't have the money to fix it, don't know where it's coming from?"

I went on and I added five links to where MySaline members have talked about this problem since 2008. I do get peeved when someone gets on a discussion and completely changes the subject. Members had been talking about becoming a wet county and I didn't set a great example by veering off topic with my uppity bad self. So I ended like this.

"I wonder how a city would come up with money to fix a project like this and still have money to build parks and throw parties..? I've got a GREAT idea! Let's sell something we haven't been able to before, and reclaim the tax money that has been spent by people buying it outside the county! What kind of a thing could that be? Hmm... Lemme go get a beer and contemplate."

I didn't have a beer because I would have needed to drive too far to get it. And okay, that wasn't the final thing I said.

"One more thing, Dan and others. Please note that an elected official started this discussion. It was Joe Lee Richards, Benton City Councilman, who also doesn't mind sharing his mind."

Dan then came back and suggested Joe Lee and Ed be the leaders of the movement. I'm for that.

See the archive of Shelli's columns here http://www.mysaline.com/notes/Courier_Columns

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Comment by Ed Collins on March 29, 2010 at 8:06am
What we are looking at is an old law on the books and the only ones gaining from this law, taxes, and sales profit are those businesses at the county line who are in Pulaski County, which of course is the city limits of lIttle Rock. Apple Valley, Minnesota who has a population of over 50,000 plus and has three city owned and operated liquor stores contributed a total of $400,000 to the City's General Fund.

Now, I know that the city of Benton and Bryant does not have that that type of population, however it would be interesting to think what the cities and county government could pay for and accomplish with the tax revenue that sales of liquor or adult beverages would generate. It’s basically down to helping ourselves here and getting what needs to stay in our county and cities and that’s the taxes on what others are going out of the area to buy.

But, of course there is a warning label here as well. Do our elected officials always spend your tax dollars on what you want or do they, the elected officials, stay the course on their own agenda and not meet the obligations that they have created. Vote wisely this year, but vote!

So let’s move forward!

My thoughts,

Ed C.
Comment by dan berry on March 28, 2010 at 11:47pm
Golly, I feel so special. The dry county sillines has been a pet peeve of mine for a while.
Here's a weird kicker for ya: a buddy of mine from Colorado,where they have a LOT of microbreweries, is also a beer geek. He drives about 14 miles each way to his beer store.
Shewt, I don't drive THAT far. Of course, he is still in his county. I hafta send my money to Pulaski county. You know, that's the county where the judge said it wouldn't be a good idea to add the 3rd lanes to I-30.

We hear the city fathers crying about a lack of money. It's time to catch up to the 20th century and solve our revenue problems. Anybody want a beer?

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