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Editorial for February 19, 2014

Big Shots in Greenwood!

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) held one of its monthly meetings in Greenwood. They routinely meet in Little Rock with the Director and staff. Occasionally, they are invited out around the state. They’ve all been appointed by the Governor to that commission and they’re all politically savvy folks. Several of them are old friends of mine and none of them think of themselves as big shots. It was good to see them in our town and learn from them that trying to be a big shot gets you nowhere.

Mayoral Candidates Should Know What the Mayor Does

When a guy wants to be mayor to control spending of your tax dollars, know this: Mayors don’t do that. The City council controls spending. The Greenwood City Council has complete authority over the budget. The mayor can fire someone and save some money. He can turn off the street lights. He could choose not have fireworks at Freedomfest. He could cut back on the services the city offers and that’s about it.

When one wants to better supervise city service efforts, know this: Mayors don’t do that. The department heads in city government may need a leadership vision, a pat on the back, a mayor who can run interference for them, but no, mayor’s don’t’ supervise city service efforts. The mayor does not tell the police how to arrest a criminal or the Fire Chief how to arrest a fire and you sure enough don’t tell Greg Cross how to make water. Mayors offer vision.

One wants only “good” press in the Fort Smith newspaper. Oh good grief! You are never going to read anything good about Greenwood in a Fort Smith newspaper. That’s why THIS newspaper has been such an immediate success. The Fort Smith paper didn’t even run a story about the AEDC being here. They try really hard not to even make a big deal out of the Bulldogs, unless we loose. The Greenwood mayor’s work, the candidates’ pasts and private lives and bankruptcies, the city council’s actions or the mayor’s personal issues are what Fort Smith media thrives on. We had a mayor resign for “health issues” and the press was filmed pounding at his door, showing his house “for sale” sign and speculating about the real reasons for his very suspicious resignation and how a “deal” was brokered whereby no one would talk. Okay, all the cloak and dagger secrecy did not help matters, most assuredly compromised some folks, and was peculiar at best, but, no one read “Greenwood doing just fine without a mayor” in the Fort Smith press. We have the best City Council, the best schools, the finest athletic programs with the finest coaches, the best kids, full churches on Sundays, beautiful parks, great police and fire protection, scholarship athletes and scholarship thinkers galore, the best Veterans Memorial, Eagle Scouts everywhere, the safest neighborhoods and a prosperous business climate. What do you expect from the Fort Smith media…a great big “Congratulations Greenwood. You Make Other Towns Look Like the Real World” headline? Concentrate on Greenwood and leave your Fort Smith friends and co-workers to wonder how it is we do what we do in spite of envious press!!  A mayor should have a vision, share a vision and know how to lead you to it.  As long as nuts accuse the mayor of every crime from theft to zoning, you’re going to read negative things about Greenwood’s mayor unless you elect the town nut mayor!  

A mayor is our representative in Little Rock seeking money, our representative among other mayors and county officials, our go between with the County Judge, our ambassador to the regional efforts and our emissary to the college, our spokesperson before the press and our speaker at public functions. The mayor is our visionary to goes after ways to make plans work by dealing with legislators and the guy who goes to the Governor with pleas for help and a plan worked out with the City Council do back up our part of the plan. Our mayor strong arms local utilities to get things moved, finished, installed, halted, sped up or re-routed.

Our mayor has to know their way around the capital building and speak the language of legislation to people from other parts of the state in order to help them get what they want in exchange for their support for what we want. Yes, I know we have a lobbyist for that, unless someone wants to save some money there and not have a lobbyist, then what?  No matter how good our lobbyist is, the mayor has to be in Little Rock routinely to get anything done. I can cite examples. Love to. Lots of ‘em.  Ask any legislator how critical it is to have a mayor who knows his way around down there. Drive around Greenwood and look at what all came out of Little Rock. A mayor has to work with the Governor. The department heads of state government (where money comes from) all work for the Governor. Except, that is, for the Highway Department! I have not heard anyone mention how well they get on with the bosses at the Highway Department. That’s what a mayor does. Listen closely. Let’s not make this election about signs.

Speaking of Elections     

Seems we’ll have several this year. In non-partisan races, what the candidate can do for Greenwood is key. Some can run on their records and some on their dreams and some on their egos.  In partisan races, except for Governor, Greenwood is expected to vote for the “R” in a way that was never done in my childhood. There weren’t any “R’s” in those days except for Hammerschmitt. He got more votes that Arkansas had Republicans. Kermit McNabb and George Johnson were the only two Republicans in town and when Johnson ran once, his wife did not even vote for him! She was a ”D” like everybody else. Last election, Greenwood gave its legislative clout to a woman from over around Alma. She’s doing a nice job, here more than I expected and I have nothing to say negative about her, except that she’s from “over there.” Regardless of “D’s” or “R’s” or levels of conservatism or platforms or who’s in the White House, the rest will take care of itself if you’ll just vote for what’s best for Greenwood, Arkansas, where I remain,


Yours for a kinder tomorrow,

Kenneth Lawton Edwards, Editor  

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