We have been amazed for years that our elected and appointed officials lack communication skills ó both oral and written ó when it comes to carrying out the public's business. It is disturbing because communicating ranks up there with common sense when it comes to accomplishing goals.
We have been amazed for years that our elected and appointed officials lack communication skills ó both oral and written ó when it comes to carrying out the publicís business. It is disturbing because communicating ranks up there with common sense when it comes to accomplishing goals.
The Pine Bluff City Council on Monday adopted a resolution demanding the state Board of Correction apply for zoning approval for a planned halfway house facility consisting of four duplexes to house 32 parolees.
The chairman of the board said that wonít happen because the state agency is not required to obtain zoning approval for the complex on state-owned property.
We are inclined to think the stateís position is the correct one from a legal standpoint. We are also inclined to suspect the state agency has done a less than satisfactory job of handling the public relations element.
The city didnít help its case last week at a public forum held at a west Pine Bluff church. Alderman George Stepps said the city had an injunction to block the project.
Perhaps he misspoke, because we didnít see an injunction tucked away in any pocket of the suit he was wearing. An injunction is a legal order issued by a judge to enjoin or prohibit an individual or business or agency from carrying out a specified action. The city has not sought an injunction from a court of competent jurisdiction.
The resolution authorizes the city attorney ďto seek legal redress to a court of competent jurisdiction in the event the state refuses to comply with the cityís land use and zoning rules.Ē
While Corrections Board Chairman Benny Magness has made it clear the state does not intend to apply for zoning approval, he left a door open by saying the agency stands willing to provide information and explain plans for the transition housing for parolees.
Community Correction missed an opportunity to reduce the public opposition to its plans if it had acted in a proactive fashion, not reactive, after residents of the impacted neighborhood became worried about felons convicted of violent and sex crimes would be housed in the halfway houses.
When Magness and Community Correction officials appeared at the public forum, they didnít deny some of the parolees may have been convicted of some of the crimes that worry the neighborhood. Instead, if we understood their explanation, plans had not been finalized on that subject.
That response was less than comforting to the individuals that packed the pews at the church.
We can understand the rhetoric voice by some elected officials at the forum. This is an election year and elected politicians have a tendency to often say what they think the public wants to hear.
Pine Bluff Mayor Carl A Redus Jr. didnít join the mob telling the state it needs to seek zoning variance, noting that other state agencies have not applied for zoning clearance for projects on state-owned land.
Will some of the parolees housed in the halfway housing commit crimes in the city? Possibly. But individuals who are not in state custody do it each and every day.
The property in question was not in the city limits until 1999, when the municipality petitioned to have it annexed so the inmates could be counted in the 2000 census.
It includes the minimum security Southeast Arkansas Community Correction Center, which houses several hundred nonviolent female offenders, and is near a state prison.
Two wrongs still donít make a right, but they make for good excuses.