Favorite

Flying first-class 

Symbols are powerful in politics.

When Mike Huckabee accepted more than $100,000 worth of gifts his first year as governor, it dictated a narrative for his decade in office.

The gift- and perk-rich Huckabee years set up a home-run pitch for incoming Gov. Mike Beebe. With just a modest effort, he could appear a model of self-denial. Hasn’t happened..

Beebe is continuing the Huckabee practice of using the Governor’s Mansion expense account for groceries and already has some Mansion and office re-do projects in the works.

Small stuff, I know. But bigger is travel. The Beebe administration also plans to get about in presidential style. Beebe and his wife both are using State Police escort service for trips in and out of town.

It’s silly. State troopers aren’t necessary for the first lady to travel safely to Home Depot. Two state troopers aren’t necessary for the governor to attend a Democratic governor’s meeting in Arizona. A governor can get more work done with a driver, but it need not be a trained law enforcement officer.

Most disappointing is Beebe’s lame excuse for moving by royal entourage. His spokesman points to a state statute, passed at the behest of Huckabee’s State Police director, Tom Mars. It says it shall be the responsibility of the State Police to provide security for the governor. This was passed to provide an excuse for Huckabee to use the State Police plane in his extensive travels. When questioned about the plane’s frequent use — or its whereabouts — he could always plead security, both as justification for the expense and to obscure the destination of his travels.

The statute does not say State Police shall provide security at all times. It’s a weak chief executive who believes he’d be overruled if he called up Steve Dozier, the head of the State Police, and said, “Colonel, tell your boys to stand down. I can fly out to Arizona for a little golfing without paying for a couple of your guys to fly along.”

No, you have to conclude Beebe wants that big plane at his disposal. He’s just won approval from the legislature to spend more than $4 million to replace the King Air Huckabee wore out.

It’s true that Beebe has taken one political trip on commercial carrier. But he could take many more flights on commercial carriers, including many that are official business. Many states get by without an executive aircraft, which this King Air will be. It might be cheaper, even if Southwest is too chintzy for the governor, to charter a plane rather than buy.

You can charter a King Air to Washington and back for about $12,000, plus $80 an hour for the two pilots’ waiting time. Add a day of waiting time and you’re still out $13,000. You can fly to Washington at that rate 307 times, or once a week every week for six years for the cost of a new King Air.

The $4 million, of course, isn’t the only cost. Pilots cost money. Hangars cost money. Fuel costs money.

If Beebe is determined to have a big plane and motor pool at his command, he shouldn’t play us for chumps. Spare us the fiction that security demands it. Spare us the fiction that the governor of Arkansas is powerless to tell the State Police director he appoints that he’s capable of driving himself around town. I didn’t buy it from Huckabee and I don’t buy it from Beebe.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Death Row inmates argue to keep stay of execution in place; urge 8th Circuit not to 'rush' analysis

    Early this morning, attorneys for nine Death Row inmates, filed an argument with the 8th United States Court of Appeals contesting the state's effort to override Judge Kristine Baker's order Saturday that halted executions scheduled this month.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • Federal judge denies execution stay for Don Davis but larger stay continues

    Don Davis, who's been moved to the killing facility of the state prison for killing tonight at 7 p.m. if a stay of execution is lifted in another federal suit, sought a stay in another federal court Sunday, but the request was denied.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016

Most Shared

  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • The end of democracy in LR

    The state Board of Education was scheduled to talk this week about the Little Rock School District, under state control for two years because six of its 48 schools failed to meet an arbitrary pass rate on a standardized test.
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • Internet looting continues

    The 2017 legislative session concluded without passage of a bill to encourage internet merchants to collect and remit taxes on sales in Arkansas, though internet giant Amazon has begun doing so voluntarily.
    • Apr 6, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Art bull

    • Well, when the Bull was first put up there, it meant one thing, and that…

    • on April 24, 2017
  • Re: Art bull

    • the nice thing about art is that it is what it is, but what it…

    • on April 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation