Favorite

The scholars of Clinton 

click to enlarge dumas1-1.jpg

What are the chances that a little town of 2,300 would produce two scholars with Ph.D.s from a university in the Islamic kingdom of the United Arab Emirates?

That's exactly what we learned last week. Clinton, county seat of Van Buren County, boasts two residents with Ph.D.s from Belford University: Dr. Johnny Rhoda, a financial planner, preacher and prominent Republican Party leader, and Dr. Maxwell Sniffingwell, a stud English bulldog who lives with a local veterinarian.

Dr. Rhoda's doctorate is in business administration; Dr. Sniffingwell's is in theriogenology, a big name for the study of animal reproduction. You see, Belford University confers hundreds of degrees every year, not on the basis of coursework but of life experiences. Max Sniffingwell maintains that he has sired far more than his share of little bulldogs.

Johnny Rhoda has been a functionary in the Republican Party — he lost badly in a race for the state Senate in 1996 and he is the party's First Congressional District chairman — but last week the party's chairman, Doyle Webb, raised his prominence by making him the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Governor Beebe and the other constitutional officers, which alleges that their use of state cars puts them over the state salary limits. The suit is supposed to provide a big lift to Republican candidates.

Outside Van Buren County we might not have known about Rhoda's great academic achievements had it not been for Tim Griffin, the Republican candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives. Before the lawsuit, Griffin put out a news release announcing that Dr. Johnny Rhoda had come on board as an adviser to run his campaign in the northern part of the district.

Griffin referred to him as "Dr." and explained that he had a Ph.D. in business administration from Belford University and years of successful business dealings along with pastorship of a church. The church happens to be in Rhoda's home on a county road north of Clinton. Such were his business successes that the local bank foreclosed on his home/church because he had not made mortgage payments. The home/church was auctioned by the county clerk in July but Rhoda still holds services there. (He will also ordain you as a minister, for a small fee presumably, if you answer 25 questions about the Bible on his spiritual website.)

Belford University's sole presence in the United States, as far as anyone knows, is a postoffice box in Humble, Texas. You apply for a degree on the Internet by clicking on a box that says "Order Now." You pay a fee, depending on the degree you want and whether you want to graduate with honors, which costs an extra $75. The diploma is mailed within a week from a place where it is legal, Abu Dhabi.

Belford U. got extra notoriety this week when Dr. Ben Mays, a Clinton veterinarian, posted his bulldog Maxwell Sniffingwell's 2009 Ph.D. from Belford U., which cost him $549. Max's owner, a member of the state Board of Education, is on a small crusade to stop people from duping clients by advertising phony academic achievements. Arkansas is one of the places where it is still legal to gull clients that way.

Dr. Rhoda and Dr. Sniff will have to serve as Arkansas's entry in the fake resume sweepstakes. From the Connecticut Senate race, where one candidate had to backtrack on his hints that he had fought in Vietnam, to Christine O'Donnell's serial fabrications in Delaware, the election season has been marked by candidates getting caught in lies about their past and their qualifications.

In Arkansas, we have had to deal with only the usual petty exaggerations. Griffin, who fed us Rhoda's puffery, has had to scrub up his vitae from time to time. He had boasted that he had prosecuted 40 criminal cases during a stint as a Reservist at Fort Campbell, Ky. The Army said, however, that he had been an assistant counsel and only on three cases, none of which went to trial. Now his vitae says only that he worked on the case of a private who pleaded guilty to trying to kill his platoon sergeant.

Early resumes mentioned Griffin's work for Prosecuting Attorney Betty Dickey at Pine Bluff in 1996, when he managed her losing race for attorney general. Dickey nosedived when it was revealed that the courts had dropped charges against more than 90 persons because her office missed the speedy trial deadlines for trying them. That duty has been scrubbed from Griffin's life story. He was working for the government in Washington then.

For a guy whose career was spent trashing politicians of the other party, you could say those are trivial sins.

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Tags:

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Legislative boodlers

    Which sounds like the best use of your taxpayer dollars: helping pay for medical care for unemployed people, or bribing and lobbying legislators and other government officials to bestow millions of your tax dollars on a corrupt organization that claims it helps poor people who have drug problems or disabilities?
    • Jun 14, 2018
  • Scary Granny Pelosi

    Nancy Pelosi has replaced Barack Obama as the all-purpose bete noir of Republican politicians, including Arkansas's, but will she be as potent as the black president?
    • Jun 7, 2018
  • Darkly paid judges

    This is the third Arkansas election cycle in a row where corporate interests have used the cover of dark money and semisecret political action committees to try to install cozy appellate judges.
    • May 31, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • Shrugging off sulfides

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported a shocker on its front page Sunday. The rotten-egg odor from the Koch brothers' sprawling paper plant at Crossett is still making people sick, but the state's pollution control agency is unaware of the problem.
    • Mar 29, 2018

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Legislative boodlers

    Which sounds like the best use of your taxpayer dollars: helping pay for medical care for unemployed people, or bribing and lobbying legislators and other government officials to bestow millions of your tax dollars on a corrupt organization that claims it helps poor people who have drug problems or disabilities?
    • Jun 14, 2018
  • Scary Granny Pelosi

    Nancy Pelosi has replaced Barack Obama as the all-purpose bete noir of Republican politicians, including Arkansas's, but will she be as potent as the black president?
    • Jun 7, 2018
  • Darkly paid judges

    This is the third Arkansas election cycle in a row where corporate interests have used the cover of dark money and semisecret political action committees to try to install cozy appellate judges.
    • May 31, 2018
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Him, again

    • Investigator, I think poor Oaf is feeling envious that women would be drawn to Trump,…

    • on June 18, 2018
  • Re: Hardened

    • Patriotism, said Samuel Johnson, is the last refuge of a scoundrel. He should have added…

    • on June 17, 2018
  • Re: Him, again

    • Quick, Ollie - answer your doorbell - it's Donald J. Trump!

    • on June 17, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation