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DAVIS: It's like playing catch with a tennis ball

January 12, 2012

One week into 2012 and it begins. The relative calm pond that is 'Saline County Politics' is beginning to show the first ripples of discontent, maneuvering and change. Whether or not the change is necessary or ill-advised matters not. Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion states, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." As changes are made, one group will see any decision as a step in the right direction. But beware the equal and opposite reaction from those who disagree and feel otherwise.
Let me illustrate. Imagine yourself standing ten feet from a brick wall. It's a beautiful, sunny spring day. In the hand of your throwing arm is a yellow tennis ball. Wind up and throw that ball against the wall before you. If you throw it fast and hard the ball comes back at you fast and hard. Reflexes must be keen in order to prepare for the equal and opposite response the wall will send hurling back at you. If tossed gently, the ball returns in the same manner and, therefore, is easier to catch.
In summary, big changes create big backlash. Smaller changes, even if spaced over a span of time, create less disturbance to the water on the pond.
Change was not a stranger to the city of Bryant in 2010 and if the past actually does predict the future, the odds that the waves will subside are long indeed. We are not questioning the validity or the necessity of the changes made. We learned long ago that every decision made by anyone includes rationale unknown to others, good or bad. The conviction of Mayor Jill Dabbs in her decision-making is matched pound for pound by those who see things differently. On the last business day in 2010, Dabbs fired a fast ball at the wall. She asked for and received the resignations of her city attorney and her finance director. On Jan. 4, Dabbs announced that Doyle Webb, chairman of the Republican Party in Arkansas and a resident of Benton, will serve as interim city attorney while a permanent replacement is found. The wisdom of selecting Webb is debatable and without a doubt the debate has begun. Some see it as a smart move. Others view it as a highly partisan decision. Throw the ball hard, it comes back hard.
Benton has a few ripples as well. Brad Moore and Doug Stracener, the two city alderman on the A&P Commission, were voted off the group this week. Fellow aldermen Steve Lee and Kerry Murphy were selected as replacements. The vote was made during the community services committee this week. Moore was not in attendance due to a work schedule conflict. Moore and Stracener had served on the commission during the tough times and the re-organization of the group in 2011. Will the change create ripples in the pond or a tsunami that could potentially send the commission back to the days of discord in 2010. Time will tell.
In Alexander, mayor Paul Mitchell continues to ride the waves of city government and family controversy. A city council in turmoil, a police chief that has been fired and hired and resigned and changed his mind, finances that do not meet the needs of the city and angry citizens are just the beginning. Mitchell's wife has admitted to drug use and is facing jail time. His personal health has suffered as well. Amazingly, the tidal wave that is Alexander politics has not dragged him under.
Bauxite is a town divided. Mayor Johnny McMahan sees his path for the city. A vocal group of citizens has a different idea. The two are about as far apart as is humanly possible. While the two sides battle it out, the citizens caught in the middle might just rise up and send out waves of their own in all directions.
It's going to be an interesting year. Hold on tight!

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