Clay Herrmann

May 132017
 

Joanne Filiatreau “I told them on my way out that their signs were soooo funny to me since I had been in DC on 3 occasions holding the same words on my sign…..”Hands Off My Healthcare” when Obama crammed Obamacare down our throats with $5,000 – $12,000 deductibles and just kept walking and laughing at them.”

A crowd of friends and supporters, as well as several Democrat protesters, some of whom who attempted to vocally disrupt the meeting, turned out for a Bruce Westerman for Congress campaign event on May 11, 2017 at the Lake Balboa pavilion in Hot Springs Village. Speakers included Congressman Westerman, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas Land Commissioner John Thurston, Arkansas Lt. Governor Tim Griffin, and Congressman French Hill.

 Click here for photo album (79 pics) of “Biscuits with Bruce” event on Facebook.

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Is Hot Springs Ready to Return to Aldermanic Government?

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Feb 282017
 

by Clay Herrmann

A petition initiative resulting in a special election to return Hot Springs to Alermanic Government was attempted twice in the History of Hot Springs, first in 1990 and  again in 2013. The City Manager form of government survived both of those elections, the most recent on May 14, 2013. Despite the best efforts of partisans on both sides, low voter turnout characterized both elections (as is typical for off-calendar special elections). Success in getting out the vote is obviously key to winning for either side, and because voter turnout is almost always a small percentage of eligible voters in Special Elections,  a small and motivated minority often decides the question being voted on, while most eligible voters are either apathetic no-shows or are else simply unaware of the voting opportunity.

The Arkansas statute governing the process requires a four year wait after a failure before another election for the purpose of returning to the aldermanic form of government can be called. That waiting period is nearly up. In the current political climate with inflamed passions regarding multiple forced annexations, water and sewer connection policies, lawsuits upon lawsuits, disputes about the eligibility of some City Directors to hold office, and other issues of heated contention,  will 2017 be the year for Hot Springs to retire all city directors and bid farewell to the city manager form of government adopted in 1986?

Looking back at the last effort may be instructive for interested parties on both sides of the question. The following video is of a “get-out-the-early-vote rally” by 2013 opponents of a return to Aldermanic Government:

Opponents spent thousands on newspaper ads, mail-outs, radio, and television advertising. Following is a 30 second TV commercial:

The following video is a presentation by Hot Springs City Clerk and Historian, Lance Spicer, about the possibility of a return to the aldermanic form of government.

In advance of the May 14, 2013 election, the Hot Springs City Attorney declared that all but six of the initial petition signatures turned in were invalid … but the Arkansas Attorney General, in an official AG Opinion, disagreed.

A Brief History

  • April 8, 1986: In a vote of 4,018 “FOR” to 2,663 “AGAINST” the city adopted the City Manager Form Of Government in a Special Election called as a result of a petition for that purpose.
  • December 4, 1990: In a Special Election called as result of a “PETITION FOR ALDERMANIC GOVERNMENT”, the result was no change in the form of government with a vote of 4,292 (44%)  “FOR” to 5,554 (56%) “AGAINST”.
  • May 14, 2013: A second attempt to return Hot Springs to the Aldermanic Form of Government failed, with only 242 citizens casting ballots “FOR” to 2,962 “AGAINST”.  Total turnout for the Special Election was 2,962, or 10.68% of the registered Hot Springs voters.

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Jan 272017
 

The irrepressible 86 years young, Hettie Lou Brooks, was keynote speaker for the 2017 Garland County TEA Party Patriot Awards Banquet at the Five Star Dinner Theatre in Hot Springs, Arkansas on January 27, 2017. (Hettie Lou was awarded the group’s Patriots Lifetime Achievement Award last year, but was unable to attend because of a hospitalization.)

Enthusiastic, energetic, entertaining, and challenging, her thoughts about the meaning of patriotism were spot-on target for her attentive TEA Party audience. Historical anecdotes reinforced her message that modern American patriots must be engaged in government, in schools, and in the marketplace to be effective in educating others, and in restoring what has been lost of the essential American values of our founding fathers.

– click below to view video –

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2017 Patriot Awards Banquet (Five Star Dinner Theatre)

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Jan 182017
 

 – Notice submitted by Tom Wilkins – Five Star Dinner Theatre

The 2017 Patriot Awards Banquet featuring guest speaker Hettie Lou Brooks will be held at the Five Star Dinner Theatre on Thursday, January 26 at 6pm.  This second annual event features speeches, professional entertainment, great food and honoring great civic leaders that have touched us all this past year. Scheduled to appear also will be Second Amendment Patriot Jan Morgan to support this cause.

All tickets are $50 each with the proceeds going to go to the Garland County Tea Party to support various causes each year in the community. Reservations can be made by contacting us at 501-318-1600 this week. You may also contact Tom Wilkins at Banjostrings@gmail.com.  You do not have to pay when you reserve your seats.  You can pay at the door. 
 
Our famous All You Can Eat Dinner is at 6pm and the program starts at 7pm. Winners of last years categories are not eligible in the same category this year. However they can be nominated in another category.  Last year’s winners of each category are asked to present this year’s winners on stage.
 
This is a fun and professionally done event.  We hope to see you there.
 

ATTENTION ATTENTION!!  Here are the nomination instructions.  All we need is the answers sent by email to Tom Wilkins. Today is the deadline.  Send to Banjostrings@gmail.com

NOMINATION INSTRUCTIONS:

To Nominate a Person or Organization/Business for the Second Annual Garland County Tea Party 2017 Patriot Awards Banquet, merely choose your category(s) and send to Banjostrings@gmail.com. You will need to put the name of the nominee and why you think they should be nominated. We will also need to have an email address of the person or organization being nominated so we can contact them.

Here is what it should look like (You don’t have to nominate in every category, and you can nominate in all categories. Last year’s winners cannot be nominated in same category as last year):

Category (Example Only) – The XYZ Award

  1. Person or group being nominated for this award and why
  2. Contact information – email address of person or group being nominated
  3. Your email address (Nominator)

Nomination deadline is Wednesday, January 18th. The categories are as follows:

  • Patriot Man of the Year
  • Patriot Woman of the Year
  • Patriot Organization of the Year
  • Patriot Business of the Year
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Patrick Henry Award – this Award is designed to provide recognition to local officials and civic leaders, who in a position of great responsibility distinguish themselves with outstanding and exceptional service to our town.
  • Bulldog Award – Awarded to an individual who doesn’t follow politically normal means to solve a problem in our community or is basically a “Bulldog” to see that integrity and transparency reign.
  • Media Award – An organization or individual that consistently promotes the Garland County Tea Party Patriot News throughout the year with media support.

Send this information to Banjostrings@gmail.com. Anyone who won an award last year cannot be nominated in the same category.

Again, nomination deadline is today, Wednesday January 18th.

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Jan 132017
 

Hal & Michelle Stanley with five of their children, at the office of attorney Joe Churchwell on January 12, 2017 (the two-year anniversary of the beginning of their DHS nightmare). Their Federal Civil Rights lawsuit was ready for filing at the Hot Springs Federal Court building on the 12th, but because the court was not available to accept their filing, it was delayed till Friday the 13th in Fort Smith.

A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed today (Friday the 13th, 2017) two years and a day after a small army composed of approximately 30 government agents descended upon the Garland County residence of Hal & Michelle Stanley and seven children still living at home at that time.  The occupation of their property included numerous vehicles parked in front of their home making it “look like a used car lot”, including an ambulance with a medical examiner onboard … and a marked coroner’s vehicle. A SWAT team was reportedly deployed nearby, ready to engage at the scene if called upon to do so. A neighbor reported viewing a sniper laying in the bushes at the edge of the Stanley property, apparently positioned to take-out Hal Stanley and/or his pregnant wife Michelle Stanley who were being detained on the front porch, if deemed necessary.

Authorities commandeered the home and the surrounding property on Treasure Isle Road, where the Stanley’s had lived peacefully for twenty-one years, for over five hours. According to the plaintiffs, DHS officials on the scene and the medical doctor who examined the children on the scene, maintained there was no justifiable cause for removal of the children. Nevertheless, the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division Investigator (not a law enforcement officer despite the title)  was evidently determined to have the children taken anyway, and according to the plaintiff’s claim, a cooperating Garland County Sheriff’s Deputy, following a phone call to the Garland County Sheriff, ordered the removal on the insistence of that CACD investigator. A very long nightmare for the Stanley family had only just begun …

StanleyFedSuit (55 pages)
-click to download pdf-

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Jan 042017
 

Senator Alan Clark was featured guest presenter at the January 3, 2016 Hot Springs Village TEA Party Luncheon Program at Charlie’s Pizza Pub. Hal & Michelle Stanley and attorney Joe Churchwell were also in attendance and participated in the program.

At the request of multiple concerned constituents who contacted him, State Senator Alan Clark became reluctantly involved in looking into the facts surrounding the removal of seven children from the home of Hal & Michelle Stanley in January of 2014. Based on claims made by law enforcement and DHS officials he contacted, he initially believed that the action would likely prove justified. In his efforts to be thorough in investigating the case, however he concluded otherwise. Clark did not take well to the idea of a State Senator being stonewalled by public employees in his quest for relevant information, and in some instances even blatantly lied to. When DHS funding was held up by the State Senate in response, DHS officials become somewhat more cooperative.

Since beginning, Clark reports that he has spent literally hundreds of hours as an individual State Senator investigating the policies and practices of the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Crimes Against Children Division of the Arkansas State Police (CACD).

The agenda quickly expanded beyond the Stanley Family case as more and more citizens contacted Senator Clark as well as other State Senators and Representatives about DCFS and CACD alleged civil rights violations and other misconduct.

In addition to his individual investigation, Senator Clark has served for the past two years as the Senate Co-Chairman of the Joint Performance Review Committee (JPR) Co-chaired on the House side by Representative Kim Hammer. This joint Senate/House investigative body has served as a powerful tool in compelling public testimony under oath from officials, whether voluntarily or in response to a subpoena.

During Senator Clark’s two-year JPR co-chairmanship ending December 2016, there have been approximately two dozen JPR hearings related to DCFS & CACD legislation, policy and practices, The range of testimony at these hearings has included aggrieved parents & grandparents, various public employees including top DHS, DCFS & State Police officials, experts in various related fields, DHS legal counsels, other lawyers, and at the last December 2016 meeting, circuit judges and an Arkansas Supreme Justice all testifying under oath!

Senator Clark shared about his 2014-2016 JPR experience. Some questions he spoke to included:

  1. Institutional policy improvements ALREADY being made by DHS without new legislation?
  2. Related issues to be addressed legislatively in the upcoming 2017 session by the Arkansas House & Senate?
  3. Needed reforms that he considers highest priority?

Specific reforms being called for by some, include:

  1. An institutional acknowledgement (within DHS-Division of Children and Family Services) of the civil rights of Arkansas families, including respect for the 4th Amendment prohibition against warrantless home intrusions and seizures.
  2. Miranda Warnings to parents by DCFS investigators.
  3. Body-cams on child-welfare workers in their interactions with parents and children.
  4. Referrals for criminal prosecution of those who knowingly make false and malicious child-abuse reports by hotline or otherwise.
  5. End the use of “case confidentiality” to protect child-welfare workers who trample on civil rights and otherwise violate the law.
  6. Strengthen legislation and agency policy prioritizing placement of children removed from parents with caring extended family members, including grandparents, as the preferred option when possible, rather than with strangers.
  7. Change the “Kangaroo Court” system by which investigators can make what they call “true findings” about alleged misconduct of parents in secret proceedings, without the due process afforded citizens for criminal charges, and as a consequence have names added to the State’s Child Central Maltreatment Registry which can result in loss of employment, ineligibility for other employment, social stigma, and other negative consequences.
  8. Improve the current anemic system with it’s inherent conflicts-of-interest that inadequately provides accused parents legal representation … when any is provided at all.
  9. When serious criminal child maltreatment is alleged, officials should file criminal charges as applicable, employing the criminal justice system so that defendants will be entitled to all their civil rights afforded in the U.S. Constitution, rather than be denied those rights in secret civil proceedings. This would include public trial, the right to face accusers, and right to a jury.

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Catherine Silk on FBI Uniform Crime Reports & Annexation

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Dec 162016
 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

I am writing in response to the November 29, 2016, article written by David Showers titled, “City attributes reduction in crime to new jail”.

Having spent the last three decades married to a law enforcement professional who has over 15 years in an upper-management/leadership role in both domestic offices as well as in foreign environments, I feel that my exposure to the law enforcement community provides me an advantage to speak proficiently on issues related to crime.

As a Garland County resident who works in the City of Hot Springs, I paid close attention to the candidates who showed an interest in filling the vacancy for City Manager. During the selection process for the position of Chief of Police, I closely followed the progression and met with the final four candidates at a reception, days before a decision was made by the new City Manager. I was impressed with the breadth of experience possessed by most of the aspirants.

In David Shower’s article, I found that the comments made by Chief of Police Jason Stachey to raise more questions than they provided answers. The lead paragraph of the article indicated that the Hot Spring Police Department (PD) reported 21.9% fewer criminal offenses and that arrests were down 44%. The first question raised is that in 2014 and 2015, there was no recorded data in the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hence, what is the 21.9% “fewer criminal offenses” compared to? Second, both criminologists and sociologists agree that jails or detention facilities are not interconnected to the rise or fall in crime rates. It is the certainty of punishment not the severity of punishment, that produces deterrent benefits. The question raised with another of Chief Stachey’s quotes is: How does a 44% reduction in arrests correlate to the opening of a new detention center?

I ask the citizens of Garland County and the City of Hot Springs to think about this: If a new jail facility is the cause in the reduction of crime as Chief Stachey asserts, then why are cities and counties throughout the United States not building new detention facilities to take advantage of this new-found crime stopper?   Common sense should answer that question.  

Reading David Showers’ article pushed me to conduct some research related to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. I noticed that there was no data available for the Hot Springs PD for 2014 and subsequently, no data submitted for 2015.

If there was a reduction in crime during the past year in the City of Hot Springs as David Showers’ article points out, then citizens and visitors of Hot Springs should be comforted: Should they not? Again, as a Garland County citizen and frequent visitor to Hot Springs, I believe the real question that should be asked and answered by Chief Stachey is: How does crime compare to other cities in Arkansas of similar size to Hot Springs?    

With that question in mind, I took the liberty to compare FBI UCR statistics from 7 cities in Arkansas that have populations within 15,000 of Hot Springs. The crime rate for the City of Hot Springs, compared to those cities, was exceedingly higher for the selected years of 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.   For example, in 2013, the last year that statistics were published by the FBI UCR for Hot Springs PD, my study showed:

CITY   Property % Burglaries % Thefts % M/V % Violent %
    Crimes + or –   + or –

 

+ or – Thefts + or – Crimes + or –
                       
Hot Springs   3,181   721   2,294   166   140  
                       
Benton   1,370 57%+ 313 56%+ 976 57%+ 81 51%+ 107 23%+
Bentonville   686 78%+ 117 83%+ 557 75%+ 12 92%+ 61 56%+
Jacksonville   1,443 54%+ 339 52%+ 1,035 54%+ 69 58%+ 217 9%-
Russellville   1,150 63%+ 227 68%+ 832 63%+ 91 45%+ 94 32%+
Paragould   1,692 47%+ 483 33%+ 1,073 53%+ 136 18%+ 127 9%+
Sherwood   1,290 59%+ 356 50%+ 868 62%+ 66 60%+ 130 6%+
Texarkana   1,704 46%+ 409 43%+ 1,237 46%+ 58 65%+ 305 117%-

 

Readers may ask: Why are the FBI UCR statistics important to our community? The answer is that they provide accessible crime statistics to the public for our review and consumption. The process of searching for these statistics is simple: First, search for FBI Uniform Crime Reporting – Crime in the US; next, insert the year that you are interested in (i.e. 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 or 2015); then go to Offense Tables (Arkansas) and finally; click on Table 8 (cities) and Table 10 (counties).      

One other important note in the 2013 FBI – Uniform Crime Report for the City of Hot Springs is the fact that 7 murders were reported. Hot Springs had more murders in 2013 than all seven compared cities combined. The collective murder rate for all cities was six, with Jacksonville reporting 3 murders in 2013.

On January 19, 2016, then Acting-Chief Stachey spoke at a City of Hot Springs Board of Directors meeting about the fact that the Hot Springs PD did not show FBI UCR statistics for 2014. Chief Stachey was captured on camera taking a tough stance on the issue saying there was an information technology (IT) error with the records management system (RMS) company contracted, Spillman Technology Inc., which was the cause of the problem. Chief Stachey stated this was “not acceptable” and that he was taking steps to rectify this issue. Chief Stachey further stated, “We have got to get our stats to the FBI.”

Eleven months later, on November 15, 2016, a citizen once again appeared before the Board of Directors and asked why the Hot Springs PD statistics were not submitted to the FBI UCR for 2015. When this citizen finished, Mayor Carney asked Chief Stachey if he wanted to respond, to which Chief Stachey stated, “If the board has any questions, I would be glad to.” I found it odd that the Board of Directors, along with City Manager David Frasher, both of whom are supposed to represent the people of Hot Springs, failed to ask Chief Stachey any questions or remind him of his January 19th commitment. Chief Stachey’s comments can be viewed by: Accessing www.cityhs.net; then clicking How do I?; then clicking View City Board meeting videos; then clicking View Past City Board meetings; finally, go to the date requested.

Where are the 2015 FBI UCR statistics for the City of Hot Springs? Obviously, the problem was not fully resolved which should raise serious questions to the tax-paying citizens of Hot Springs. If the problem lies with the current RMS, are steps being taken to review the contract and services provided by Spillman Technology Inc.?   Are other RMS companies being interviewed? Again, more questions than answers.

Being engaged in current events, I would like to comment briefly about the issue of annexation. If one is to believe that the FBI Uniform Crime Reports are indeed accurate, how can the City of Hot Springs provide adequate and proper policing services to the newly annexed areas if it appears the police department is challenged to service their existing area of responsibility, as evidenced by the statistics provided in the earlier chart? A more precise question to the elected officials is with the reduction of Hot Springs’ citizens from 2000 until 2013 (FBI UCR data: 40,633 to 35,551 or a 14% drop): Is annexation being used as a “land grab”? This term was coined by State Representative Bruce Cozart in a separate article written by David Showers on December 3, 2016. As a concerned citizen, my fear is that annexation may lead to a geometric progression of municipal problems for the City of Hot Springs. It cannot be presumed that it will be more economical for Hot Springs to provide services to a larger area.

On the Hot Spring Website (www.cityhs.net, Proposed Enclave Annexation) under the Police Section, it reads: Coverage will begin on the effective date of annexation. The Hot Springs Police Department is AACP accredited and is a leader among law enforcement agencies in the state and region. Although my heart goes out to all law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line everyday to safeguard our well-being, questions must be asked to Chief Stachey: As a “leader among law enforcement agencies in the state and region”, why is the crime in Hot Springs so high compared to other cities its same size? A follow-up question would be if there is an immediate need, the day of annexation, to provide additional coverage, will the Hot Springs PD be able to tout a 21.9% reduction in criminal offenses in years to come?

As a Garland County citizen with strong ties to the City of Hot Springs, I urge hard questions be asked to our elected and appointed leaders: (1) Is Hot Springs a safe place to live, work, shop or play?; (2) What plan does Hot Springs top-cop have to combat crime?; (3) Does Chief Stachey have a plan to address one of the biggest problems faced by law enforcement executives at every level, the recruitment and retention of officers?; (4) Is there a retention problem in keeping officers at the Hot Springs PD and if so, is that affecting morale and/or crime rates?; (5) Will the Hot Springs PD correct the problem that caused no statistics to be reported to the FBI in 2014-2015?; (6) If 2016 UCR statistics are made available, will those statistics fall in line with David Showers’ article which indicate 21.9% fewer criminal offenses?

Being a college graduate, wife, mother, grandmother, medical professional and active member of my community, one of the most valuable lessons I have learned is that, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” I hope that our elected and appointed leaders provide solutions to the problems that face our community. If not, I view them as part of the problem, and as such, would strongly advocate more robust representation in the next election.

Very respectfully,

Catherine Silk
Garland County

Protect Families From DCFS Rally

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Nov 212016
 

dsc_0030

Garland County Attorney Joe Churchwell, Searcy attorney Paul Love, and Cumulus Media radio personality Doc Washburn, address an audience from the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol on November 19, 2016. The “Protect Families From DCFS Rally” was scheduled on short-notice following announcement that Senator Alan Clark (viewed by supporters as a hard-working champion for major DHS-DCFS reforms) is being replaced by Senator Missy Irvin as the Senate Co-Chair of the Joint Performance Review (JPR) committee. (Clark’s counterpart with the House of Representatives has been Co-Chair Representative Kim Hammer. The JPR has been involved in prolonged investigation of abuses by officials of the Department of Human Services as well as officials of the Crimes Against Children Division of the State Police for months, holding their feet to the fire requiring sworn testimony and questioning by JPR members. 

Reforms being called for include:

1. An institutional acknowledgement (within DHS-Division of Children and Family Services) of the Constitutional Rights of Arkansas Families.
2. DHS-DCFS to respect the 4th Amendment prohibition against warrantless home intrusions and seizures.
3. Miranda Warnings to parents by DCFS investigators.
4. Bodycams on child-welfare workers in their interactions with parents and children.
5. Referrals for prosecution of those who break the law by making false and malicious child-abuse claims.
6. End the use of “case confidentiality” to protect child-welfare workers who trample on civil rights and otherwise violate the law.

Videography by Clay Herrmann (www.garlandcounty.info).

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Access Denied to Public Records

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Oct 272016
 

Garland County citizens who were anticipating access to public records in order to answer questions related to financial malfeasance in the County Judge’s  office, have now been denied access to public records related to “STATE OF ARKANSAS VS. KRISTI LYN GOSS” by order of Circuit Judge Marcia Hearnsberger.

 

gag-order-300x220

Scanned Document Scanned Document Scanned Document

 

Subject:
FOIA Request – State Police Investigative File, State of Arkansas vs. Kristi Goss
From:
Sherry Jones <SJones@garlandcounty.org>    
Date: Wed, Oct 26, 2016 12:53 pm
To: “‘ceh@july4.org'” <ceh@july4.org>

Mr. Herrmann,

Terri Harris dictated the following:

This letter is a follow-up to my correspondence with you of October 25, 2016, regarding the subject of this email.  The Office of Attorney General was unable to address my issue.  However, at this time in the pending criminal case, a protective Order has been entered respecting pretrial publicity.  Pursuant to A.C.A. , Section 25-19-105(b)(8), the documents you have requested are protected from disclosure by Order of a Circuit Court Judge.  Accordingly, I am prohibited from any further discussion of this case in the media and am further prohibited from disseminating any documents pertaining to this case.  This Order also applies to the State Police and any other investigative agencies involved in the criminal litigation.  You can, however, gain access to the charging documents and the Affidavit of Probable Cause that are found in the Court Connect web site.  Those documents are of public record. 

With reference to your question pertaining to any alleged violation of the Public Meeting provision of the Freedom of Information Act, I watched the video in question but it was unclear as to the date that the meeting occurred.  There are two issues of concern.  The first is if the meeting occurred more than one year ago, any action, criminal or otherwise, would be barred by the Statute of Limitation.  I am also concerned that the statement you make reference to in the video is somewhat vague.  I have doubts as to whether or not the statement made on the video rises to the level of triggering a criminal investigation.  If you disagree with me, you may feel free to contact the Garland County Sheriff’s Department and request that they conduct an investigation into this matter. 

Based upon the above and foregoing, I believe I have fully complied with my statutory duties pursuant to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. 

Terri L. Harris
Prosecuting Attorney

TLH/sj

Sherry Jones
Administrative Assistant
Garland County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
18th Judicial District East
501 Ouachita Avenue, Suite 107
Hot Springs, AR 71901
P: (501) 622-3720
F: (501) 622-3797
SJones@garlandcounty.org

order-regarding-publicity

https://caseinfo.aoc.arkansas.gov/cconnect/PROD/public/ck_public_qry_doct.cp_dktrpt_frames

 

 

Subject:

 
From:
Sherry Jones <SJones@garlandcounty.org>    
Date: Tue, Oct 25, 2016 11:46 am
To: “‘ceh@july4.org'” <ceh@july4.org>

Terri Harris dictated the following:

Dear Mr. Herrmann:

I am in receipt of and responding to your Freedom of Information request regarding the investigative file pertaining to alleged criminal wrongdoing by the former Administrative Assistant in the Garland County Judge’s Office.  I have conducted research on the issue of whether or not the law requires that the records of an investigation conducted by the Arkansas State Police as well as other investigative agencies should be closed to the public.  Your argument is that the investigative file is a public record under the FOI and you believe there are no applicable exceptions which would prevent disclosure.  The more compelling issue in your request is whether or not the release of the investigative file would deny the subject of pending criminal charges the right of due process to a fair trial.

There has been a high level of publicity and media attention in this case.  The Constitutional rights of an accused to a fair trial must be weighed against the public’s right to access to public records under the FOIA.  The Arkansas Supreme Court has previously noted that if the question is whether a defendant can or cannot receive a fair trial as required by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, then conflicting law must give way to a defendant’s right to due process.  The Arkansas Supreme Court has also noted that a law enforcement agency’s file is not disclosed merely because the press has published articles concerning the matter or everyone knows about it.  If an investigative agency discloses a file it obviously is not exempt under the FOIA.  It also follows that the file does not necessarily become disclosed after a criminal conviction or acquittal.  The file may still contain information not subject to disclosure under the FOIA. 

I intend to send a letter this date requesting an opinion on your issue for the release of these files from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.  Until such time as Attorney General Rutledge issues an opinion either in your favor or denies your request, these records will not be released. 

Terri L. Harris
Prosecuting Attorney

TLH/sj

 

Sherry Jones
Administrative Assistant
Garland County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
18th Judicial District East
501 Ouachita Avenue, Suite 107
Hot Springs, AR 71901
P: (501) 622-3720
F: (501) 622-3797
SJones@garlandcounty.org

From: ceh@july4.org [mailto:ceh@july4.org]
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2016 6:35 AM
To: Sherry Jones
Cc: Sentinel Record; news@hsvvoice.com
Subject: FOIA Request

Terri Harris
Prosecuting Attorney
501 Ouachita, Room 107
Hot Springs, AR 71901
501.622.3720

RE: FOIA Request

Terri,

Please provide a complete copy of the recent State Police Investigation Report about financial malfeasance in the County Judge’s office.

In addition, please also provide copies of all of the County Judge’s credit card itemized statements from 2011 to the present which I previously requested, but was not provided because at the time, as I was informed, the records were connected to an “Undisclosed Investigation” by a law enforcement agency.

I would prefer to receive the records in PDF or other appropriate digital formats rather than paper.

Also could you please let me know if you have made a decision about whether or not to address the “open meeting” FOIA noncompliance by Quorum Court members that we previously discussed?

Thank You,

Clay Herrmann
Garland County Info – Managing Editor
www.garlandcounty.info
4246 Park Avenue
Hot Springs, AR 71901
501.620.3176

Does Joshua Drake Endorse Clay Herrmann for County Judge?

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Oct 162016
 

2014 Green Party Arkansas Gubernatorial Candidate and local attorney, Joshua Drake, responded to a Facebook post of a 60 second radio ad by Independent Conservative Garland County Judge Candidate, Clay Herrmann. After hearing the ad he commented under the Facebook post: “While we might need a change it should not be just any extremist we replace him with.”

I answered: “Joshua Drake, just any extremist? There are only two candidates in this race. Are you referring to someone in particular? If so, what exactly do you mean by that disparaging remark?”

jushua-drake-governor

And he wrote: “I mean you make many good points about transparency and accountability in county government then go off the deep end with some silly ad that claims it will be crime to sell property without the county Judge’s blessing unless you are elected.”

And finally I replied: ” Joshua Drake, send me your email and I will send you the actual proposed ordinances and call your attention to the precise language that conforms to what I have stated … and then I will await your apology. Email me at ceh@july4.org.”

Drake did promptly send an email address. So, after taking time to carefully read the language in the actual ordinance proposals that the “extremest” incumbent judge has made repeated efforts to get passed by the county legislature (Quorum Court), and after reviewing the other related info provided, does Joshua Drake now endorse Clay Herrmann for Garland County Judge?

If either the “long” or “short” versions of the “Subdivision and Development” ordinance were passed as written, the language in the proposed ordinances plainly state that IT WOULD IN FACT BE a punishable crime to deed a portion of a land parcel without the county judge’s permission. Saying so is not exaggerating or lying. Accomplishing a checklist of numerous other burdensome, costly, and time-consuming requirements are prescribed to precede obtaining written permission from the judge to execute a deed. See below.  The county judge, by the way, is also President of the county legislature with no vote but with veto authority. He (or someone working directly for him) prepares the agendas and info packages for the monthly Quorum Court meetings, and most of what the QC deals with are agenda items (including ordinances) of his choosing and design.

county-judge-permission

violations-penalties

application

(The above excerpts are from The “Short Version” ordinance proposed by Rick Davis. The “Long Version” previously proposed by incumbent County Judge, is even more restrictive of the property rights of Garland County citizen property owners.)

Other articles related to the County Judge race include:

Subdivision & Development Ordinance Options

REGULATION vs INFORMATION

ALL S.D. ORDINANCE OPTIONS TABLED INDEFINITELY!

Letter From Ralph Ohm On Behalf of County Judge Rick Davis

Mohammad and the County Judge

 

Conditional Offer

Complaint Filed with AG

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No Time for TEA but Plenty for LGBT

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Oct 102016
 

Incumbent Garland County Judge, Rick Davis, and Independent Conservative County Judge Candidate, Clay Herrmann, both spoke at a candidate forum hosted by the Hot Springs LGBT Alliance on October 9, 2016. The invitation to participate in the forum was extended to all local candidates in contested races, and was moderated by former Garland County Election Commissioner, Alan Clark.

The participation by Davis was in contrast to his unwillingness to participate in a debate between the two Garland County Judge candidates proposed by the Chairman of the Garland County TEA Party, Dr. Jack Sternberg.

Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2016 10:47 AM

Dear Judge Davis:

At our Tea Party meeting yesterday, we discussed the Vice Presidential debate and how the moderator refused to control the debate and allowed each candidate to interrupt the other and also not answer the questions that she asked.

At the end of the meeting, Clay Herrmann, your opponent, challenged me to invite you and him to a real, one-on-one debate in front of the Tea Party.   That I would moderate and ask the questions.  I would not allow each candidate to be interrupted by the other and lastly, that each candidate would answer the questions asked or be confronted and chastised for their avoidance of answering a direct question.

If you are agreeable, then we could schedule it for November 2nd, giving both sides plenty of time to prepare. 

Please let me know if you’re willing to accept the challenge.

Doctor Jack

According to the email time-stamps, Davis replied only 11 minutes later as follows:

Date: Thu, October 06, 2016 10:58 am

Dr. Jack
I appreciate the invitation but will not be able to attend due to other commitments. I know people do not understand but my calendar is  booked  up months in advance.  My focus is still on doing the job the people elected me to do and campaigning has to  come second.

Thanks

Regards,

Judge Rick Davis
Garland County
Judge’s Office
(501) 622-3600
rdavis@garlandcounty.org

Video of the full 2016 General Election Hot Springs LGBT Alliance Candidate Forum is available below:

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Oct 022016
 

circlewagons

by Clay Herrmann

In an email sent on behalf of the county judge’s legal counsel, county officials are urged to circle the wagons in order to deny interested citizens or the press information regarding investigation of financial matters in the County Judge’s Office. Concurrent investigations have been initiated by the Office of Legislative Audit, Prosecuting Attorney Terri Harris, and the Arkansas State Police.

The email to County officials was in response to a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request sent to Garland County “Comptroller”, Susan Ashmore.
circle-the-wagons-1 circle-the-wagons-2
Ashmore now heads the new “Finance Department” created in January of this year by an ordinance enacted by the county legislature (Quorum Court) at the request of Judge Davis. Employees of the Finance Department, some of whom transferred from offices of other elected county officials, all now work under the authority of the office of County Judge. Davis made Ashmore the highest paid county employee in Garland County (with the exception John Wells, Director of the Garland County Library. His salary is reported to be $108,489. The county library has its own governing board and separate dedicated millage funding. Consequently, library employees enjoy some of the highest public-service pay scales in our area, as can be seen in garland-county-personnel-2-2016. The Comptroller’s salary as reported by County Clerk, Sarah Smith, in response to an FOIA request in February of this year is $89,610. (The county judge and sheriff have the highest salaries among Garland County elected officials. Both receive a current annual remuneration of $78,113.14).

Paying an employee a salary higher than the employee’s supervisor is, of course, unusual. County Attorney Ralph Ohm informed me in a conversation several months ago, that he had advised Judge Davis against giving the comptroller such a salary. That advice was not taken. Evidently Judge Davis feels that the scope of Ashmore’s services and the responsibility she bears deserve more compensation than what either the sheriff or county judge do.

A listing of county employees, hire dates, and salaries can be viewed at: garland-county-personnel-2-2016.

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So Others May Live

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Oct 012016
 

7-years

by Clay Herrmann

1962 Air Force Academy graduate and CH-3C “Jolly Green” pilot, Captain Jerry Singleton, had only been in Southeast Asia a month when his search, rescue, and recovery craft was shot down in North Vietnam. He had been assigned to the 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron based at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, and was on an Air Force rescue mission when the helicopter he was piloting burst into flames. (Air Force Search & Rescue motto is “So Others May Live”). That was November 6, 1965.

Landing in a tree with third degree burns, he evaded apprehension without consuming food or water for 5 days before being captured and incarcerated in the infamous Hao Lo Prison (the “Hanoi Hilton”). He survived prolonged “punishments” and sparse food and water barely adequate to sustain life for seven years, three months, and one day before being finally released by his communist captors on February 12, 1973.

Hear his remarkable story as the 9/30/16 Guest Speaker for the Ouachita Speaker Series
at the Woodlands Auditorium In Hot Springs Village by clicking on the image below:

Read his bio on http://www.pownetwork.org/bios/s/s102.htm.

pow-bracelet
Click on this sentence for an article about Singleton, being sent over a thousand POW bracelets (so far since his return) engraved with his name & date shot down. The bracelets were worn by U.S. citizens to keep awareness of the POW’s plight alive. 

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Dr. Mike Hernandez on 4.4-mill Property Tax Increase Proposal

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Sep 082016
 

more

Dr. Mike Hernandez, Superintendent of Hot Springs School District, was guest presenter for the Garland County TEA Party on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at the Hibachi Sushi Buffet in Hot Springs. It was unusual in that Dr. Hernandez is leading the campaign to raise the millage rate 4.4 mills for a range of facility renovations and new construction and appealed to the “Taxed Enough Already” audience to consider voting for a long-term and substantial property tax increase to benefit the school district.

Early voting opportunity runs from September 13-19 at the Election Commission building (649 A Ouachita Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71901). September 20 is election day with polling sites at the Jones Building, the Webb Center, and Hot Springs High School.

Despite the purpose of the presentation Dr. Hernandez was personally well received by the audience, even if the tax proposal was not.

Doyle Webb at HSV TEA Party

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Sep 082016
 

dsc_0407

Arkansas Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb was featured speaker for the monthly luncheon program of Hot Springs Village TEA Party at Charlie’s Pizza Pub on September 6, 2016. He was asked to talk to the audience about issues that currently especially concern him as Arkansas’ Republican Party Chairman, and afterward to take questions from the audience about issues of concern to them.

 

County Judge Challenger Offers Reward

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Sep 032016
 

The reward has not been claimed yet!
Come on people! How hard could it be?

There is a long line of Garland County Judges previous to the incumbent to reference. They were ALL Democrats, ALL members of the major political party generally most associated with growing the size of government, increasing taxes and fees, and increasing regulation. So how hard could it be to find one who did more to grow government, increase taxes/fees, and increase government regulation than the incumbent Republican?

Looking forward to someone claiming this reward soon … but not holding my breath.

Sincerely,

Clay Herrmann
Independent Conservative Candidate for Garland County Judge

100 dollar reward

Complaint Filed with AG

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Jul 132016
 

In the place on the online Arkansas Attorney General Attorney Consumer Complaint Form that asks a complainant to “Please explain the circumstances surrounding your complaint”, the following was entered:

Arkansas FOIA Violations

INFORMATION vs REGULATION Presentation to QC Committee (YouTube video)
https://youtu.be/a-cLA7vT9Xs

Complainant was told to take down www.garlandcounty.info website.
0:34 – 4:59 (https://youtu.be/a-cLA7vT9Xs)

In this video segment it seems clearly evident that elected officials deliberated away from public meetings in violation of the open-meetings section of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. This evidence includes the Chairman announcing to complainant, without prior public discussion, that he would be getting a letter demanding that the www.garlandcounty.info website be taken down. (Letter from County Attorney was received and answered: http://garlandcounty.info/mohammad-and-the-county-judge/). Other JP’s shown in the video segment made comments indicating they had earlier conversation about the topic, including Justice McKee cuing Justice Griffin to rebuke the complainant about use of what they thought at the time was a county-owned “seal”.  Further, those earlier conversations/meetings/communications were evidently made without FOIA required advance notice to the press.

Justice McKee moved to “table consideration” of the complainant’s proposed ordinance immediately before hearing the complainant’s presentation of it. The Chairman promptly called for the vote without any invitation for discussion of the motion by committee members … presumably because discussion was previously done in private.

4:59 – 7:35 (https://youtu.be/a-cLA7vT9Xs)

In this video segment Justice McKee explains that since the last committee meeting he has been “in consultation with the judge and other members of the quorum court” regarding proposed Subdivision and Development ordinances. This appears to be a frank admission of FOIA violation by himself, the county judge, and other quorum court members.

The effect of these violations of the open-meeting provisions of Arkansas Freedom of Information Act resulted in the following:

  • The Garland County public was denied opportunity to witness deliberations by elected officials on important public matters that the law requires be conducted in the open.
  • The unprecedented “reject consideration of the proposal before we hear it” tabling action barred committee consideration of the proposed “INFORMATION” version of a Subdivision and Development ordinance (http://garlandcounty.info/regulation-vs-information/).
  • The complainant was denied opportunity to answer questions and discuss details of the ordinance proposal following his presentation to the JP’s who could have made a “Do Pass” recommendation to the full Quorum Court (http://garlandcounty.info/tabled-indefinitely/).

In the place on the complaint form that asks for “Your view as to a fair resolution of the matter”, the following was entered:

  1. Quorum Court members should be exhorted by the AG office that failure to comply with Arkansas FOIA is a crime subject to prosecution by local prosecutors or the AG.
  2. The tabling of the “Information Version” of the GC Subdivision & Development ordinance should be undone and the proposal brought up for public discussion and consideration by the Garland County Quorum Court, and the public.
  3. If not prosecuted, QC members who violated FOIA open-meeting provisions should at least publicly apologize to citizens who their violations of the law may have adversely affected.

Clay Herrmann
Independent Conservative Candidate for Garland County Judge

Conditional Offer

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Jul 012016
 
Letter To Editor
(and notice to Garland County Judge Rick Davis, Garland County Republican Party, & Garland County Election Commission)
Subject: Conditional Offer To Withdraw From Garland County Judge Race
Date: 6/30/2016
Garland County Judge Rick Davis and the Garland County Republican Committee and Party can be spared the expenditure of thousands of dollars, as well as lots of time and effort by volunteers working for Judge Davis that could be better put to other use in advance of the November 8th General Election.
If Judge Davis will successfully support passage and implementation of the currently tabled “Information Version” of Subdivision & Planning Ordinance that I invested many hours of work on last year, accomplishing passage of it before the August drawing for ballot position, then I will withdraw from the County Judge race.
  • The ordinance takes the path of serving citizens with INFORMATION rather than the path of more government REGULATION, county zoning, creation of a county planning commission requiring more employees for enforcement of more rules & restrictions … not the path of bigger government necessitating more taxes and fees. (INFORMATION vs REGULATION)
  • The ordinance requires the GC Judge’s office to share road maintenance and other important real estate related information on it’s website and by brochure.
  • The ordinance would be innocuous toward the citizens of Garland County as it would not burden Garland County property owners with any new regulations.
  • The ordinance contains specific language to protect against the possibility of future violations of citizen property rights by action of the Quorum Court.
  • No new taxes or fees are prescribed.
Last July I had requested and been scheduled to present a Subdivision and Planning Ordinance proposal as alternative to the two other versions previously submitted to the Public Health, Welfare, and Safety Committee of the Garland County Quorum Court by Judge Davis. Though I was allowed to make a presentation to the committee, the committee first voted to table consideration of the proposed ordinance before even hearing it. The vote to table in advance was called for by Justice Matt McKee (who also currently serves as Chairman of the Garland County Republican Party).
 

If I understand the process correctly, there would need to be a motion by a committee member to bring the previously tabled proposed ordinance up for consideration, a majority of the committee would need to vote to give it a “DO PASS” recommendation, and when the full QC next met, a majority of the Justices could pass it … and the provisions would become law and could be promptly implemented!

If Judge Davis is willing to take a good look at the proposed ordinance, it should not be a problem for him to decide that he can in good conscience endorse it to the QC, and if passed, something significant and worthwhile for the benefit of Garland County property owners would be done. It would be far from accomplishing EVERYTHING  that I care about regarding county government, but it would be SOMETHING.

Links to the complete proposed 10 Page “Information Version” Subdivision & Planning Ordinance and related information below:
This conditional limited-time offer to withdraw from the County Judge race expires in August at the drawing for ballot-position at Garland County Election Commission headquarters. Sincerely,
Independent Conservative Candidate for Garland County Judge
phone/text 501.620.3176

GED Graduation at GC Detention Center

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Jun 302016
 

by Clay Herrmann

grads-blackwhite

Six members of the The “Class of 2016 B” donned caps and gowns for their GED (General Educational Development) graduation on June 28, 2016 at the Garland County Detention Center.

The honored graduates were Calob Mills, Juan, Santiago, Dokotah Gautreaux, Maria Lamb, Larry Moore, and Day Watson. Eligibility for graduation required that following preparation for examination, each student had to satisfactorily pass all four components (literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies) of the GED testing battery. The assessment provides opportunity to earn an alternative high school credential, and is intended to measure “a foundational core of knowledge and skills that are essential for career and college readiness”.

Following a welcome by Chief Deputy Mark Chamberlain, the graduates and audience were addressed by William Ritter (NPC), Chief Mark Chamberlain, Sheriff Mike McCormick, and Lt. Belinda Cosgrove. Presentation of Diplomas was by William Ritter representing National Park College. Chaplain Ed Losey gave the opening invocation and closing benediction.

Military Veterans in GC Detention Center

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Jun 242016
 

An interview with military veterans in the Garland County Detention Center was accommodated by Sheriff Mike McCormick on June 23, 2016.

Jock McGregor and Jerry Neal of Hot Springs Daily (www.hotspringsdaily.com) sat down with some of the resident military veterans and discussed the facilities pioneering programs with some of the prior-military service personnel currently confined in Garland County’s new incarceration expanse.

The 0.625% county sales tax for construction of the approximately 42 million dollar 156,000 square feet complex is expected to sunset (when bonds are paid off in full) by the end of 2016.

Videography by Clay Herrmann.