All politics is local | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, September 27, 2008

All politics is local

Posted By on Sat, Sep 27, 2008 at 4:47 PM

And it doesn't get more local than clean water.

On the jump, a long message from Lake Maumelle protector Kate Althoff on the race for county judge. Republican challenger Phil Wyrick continues to say the right thing about watershed protection. Incumbent Buddy Villines, not so much.

Villines is preferable on a range of philosophical issues. But, in this race, it's hard to argue that the soundness of county administration in recent years, the condition of the jail and commitment to water supply protection are not more important.


September 24, 2008

A note from Kate Althoff

Twenty Seven days remaining until early voting begins.

About one third of registered voters are estimated to vote during Early Voting instead of on Election Day, November 4th.    It is important that before you vote you know the facts on one very important local issue — the future of your drinking water.

The worst thing that could happen for our drinking water is development of house upon house on the land supporting Lake Maumelle .   And yet that is the very thing that Judge Villines ’ proposed Pulaski County ordinances will do.
  Additionally, the only protections his proposed ordinances provide for the lake are the building of manmade structures.   Guess who will certify their design?   The engineers who are hired by the developers themselves. 

The developers and their engineers will sell their developments, make great profits, and leave the maintenance of the structures for the citizens of central Arkansas to deal with.   When one of these structures fails, it will impact the water of Lake Maumelle , our drinking water.
  Who will pay to have it fixed?
  How long will it take to fix it?
  How many of you have experienced the frustration of waiting for a local government to fix something like a jail house?   Is this what we want when it comes to our drinking water? 

To protect the water quality of Lake Maumelle it will take planning and that planning has been completed. It was conducted in the very best possible way: the Lake Maumelle Watershed Management Plan.

Judge Buddy Villines is unwilling to follow the Lake Maumelle Watershed Management Plan (WMP).   The result:

* Judge Villines has chosen not to follow the agreement reached by 22 community leaders representing the full spectrum of competing interests in Lake Maumelle .

* He has chosen not to heed the science and engineering expertise of the top consulting firm in the nation.

* He has chosen not to follow the plan that cost the rate payers of Central Arkansas Water $1.2 million dollars. 

* Judge Villines has placed our drinking water at even greater risk than before.

Why is Judge Villines unwilling to follow the WMP?
  He is unwilling to limit the density of development.   The most influential group in local politics is the developers and they do not want anything to keep them from building in this very scenic area just west of Little Rock

March 12, 2008 Pulaski County presented to the public a draft of proposed ordinances and they closely followed the WMP.
  Then on March 20, 2008 an all new draft was presented to the public.  What happened?  Politics!
   You can view both drafts at

What can you do?
  Ask Judge Villines to follow the WMP and when he tells you that he is following the plan, ask him if his proposal is limiting the density of development.   When he tells you that to limit density will cost money the County does not have, remind him that Central Arkansas Water signed a resolution and repeatedly stated they will provide the funding.   And when he tells you that Pulaski County has never been in the business of zoning, you tell him that it is time to begin and begin by zoning only in the watershed with simple requirements of minimum lot size of 5 or 10 acres.
  And when he tells you that to place such limits on the property owners is unfair, you tell him that by limiting development you create scarcity and that leads to escalating property values just as it has done across the nation in every place in which a watershed management plan has been enacted. 

Countless times over the past few years hundreds of people have expressed their gratitude for the work I have done to protect Lake Maumelle .   To those people I say, it is time for you to act.
  I have done all that I can.
  I have attended meeting after meeting. I have studied in great detail the issues.
 I am sounding the alarm.
  The ordinances that Judge Villines has proposed are only a shadow of what is needed, and the only reason he is not doing more is due to politics.

Some of you may look to the utility of Central Arkansas Water to ask more of Judge Villines and the County.
  They will not do it.

If Judge Villines is unwilling to follow the Watershed Management Plan, then maybe you should not vote to re-elect him.

What do you want in the protection of your drinking water — politics as usual or limits on the number of houses built on your drinking water lake?

What can you do?

* Ask Judge Villines questions ( 340-8305 or email )

* Vote accordingly

* Forward this e-mail to your friends and family

* Write the newspapers to express your concerns
    ( or   )

* Ask the Justice of the Peace who represents you on the Pulaski County Quorum Court to stop waiting for Judge Villines and enact requirements of minimum lot sizes of 5 and 10 acres in the Lake Maumelle watershed only.  ( )

If you have questions you may e-mail me at



* Lake Maumelle is very small and shallow lake and can not tolerate very much disturbance.

*  The watershed is only 7% of the land area of the county. Zone it.

* It will be much less expensive to protect the water quality of Lake Maumelle than to treat the water after it is degraded.   This is a broadly accepted fact within the water treatment industry across the nation.

* 95% of the population of Pulaski County depends on Lake Maumelle . That is 398,000 people.

* The WMP is based on science and the agreement of the community leaders.
 Who were these community leaders -
 Check it out at

* Central Arkansas Water is in the process of adding a Watershed Management fee to your water bill at the rate of 45 cents per month.   This is good.   It will provide the money needed to fund the County, purchase property, hire consultants, and much more to protect Lake Maumelle .

* Tetra Tech, who provided the science for the WMP, has been the number one contractor for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for over 20 years.


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