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Blame Dutch and Tracy

This last week, the conservative movement remembered Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday.  Countless documentaries aired, new (and controversial) books were released, and hundreds of quotes were copied and pasted on twitter, Facebook, and countless forwarded emails.  Now, I am not going to expound upon his politics, philosophy, personal life, marriages or children.  What I will tell you, is a little known story in my little family circle.

I can’t count the amount of times I have been asked the question, “Kerry, how did you get into politics?” Typically, I go into the short version of my resume and leave it at that.  However, the story goes back to 1984 and I was a 9 year old little girl.  My first vivid memory of President Reagan was when he was making his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas.  All I clearly remember is asking my Mom if she was going to vote for this tall handsome man who clearly had a lot of folks cheering for him.  She quickly told me, “Kerry, that’s none of your business, and you shouldn’t ask adults that.”

Well, my little sister didn’t take that to heart, because she soon after decided that she and the President could become friends and pen pals.  My adorable sister wrote him letters with her sharpened Care Bear pencils on her very own personalized stationary (Mom was a stickler for thank you notes).  Throughout his second term, Tracy diligently sent him Christmas cards, birthday invitations and sweet little notes to let him know he was doing a good job being our President.  She regularly asked him about his dog and kept an open invitation for him to come and visit us in south Arkansas any time he liked.  One of her letters I especially remember because of what the President said in his response.  It went something like “My dear friend Tracy, thank you so much for inviting me to your 7th birthday party.  The clown sounds like fun and I know you will have a nice time.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend because of some important meetings, but I do appreciate you offering your back yard for me to land Marine One.”  He literally sent Tracy a letter for each one she sent him, along with pictures of Rex, the presidential pooch, complete with inked paw prints.

It also turns out that Tracy was quite determined and industrious at a very young age and refused to take NO for an answer, even at the ripe old age of seven.  Not happy with the President’s perfectly acceptable written RSVP for her birthday, she decided to take matters in her own hands by picking up the phone.  Tracy actually called the White House numerous times (successfully I might add) to try and convince her hero that he could postpone those meetings and come to her party.  After all, she offered the backyard as a landing platform for his helicopter.  Mom and Dad were unaware of their youngest daughter stalking the President of the United States until the phone bill arrived.  Mom was torn between being angry at Tracy for the long distance phone calls (and potential Secret Service visit) or being proud of her pint sized daughter’s determination and ingenuity.  Somewhere in the depths of moving boxes, is a picture of Tracy grasping the hand of a life-sized cardboard cut-out of the Gipper.  I am not sure which is most humorous, the fact that she is holding the hand of a cardboard president, or the 1980’s bubble dress she is sporting.

In order to come full circle with Tracy’s fondness for President Reagan, this final tidbit must be shared.  After President Reagan departed this life and he was brought to Washington DC for his state funeral, who do you think watched the procession in front of the White House, complete with a riderless horse and his very own boots in reverse?  That little girl, who adored her President, was actually working for the current President at the time of Reagan’s death.  I can only imagine the emotion she was feeling when she watched “her President” ,  depart in Air Force One from Andrews Air Force Base for the final time, taking him home to California.

This “love” for President Reagan truly changed our immediate family’s view of politics.  I never again had to ask Mom who she was voting for because it was quite apparent in our conversations.  Political events were discussed openly and with vigor.  Immediately after college, Tracy got her foot in the door by working on a national campaign, hence our family learned from then on that we were to regularly attend phone banks and go door-to-door.

So, when I am asked how I got involved in politics, I will now only answer, “blame Dutch & Tracy.”

Conway, AR Activist Training

Our nation was founded by ordinary citizen activists desiring a government that was accountable to the people.  Today, ordinary citizens across our nation are tired of the status quo and ready to engage for the betterment of their communities. American Majority’s political training addresses these passions by providing education and resources to help you meet your goals.

American Majority is pleased to announce an Activist Training will be conducted on Saturday, March 5th to provide citizens with the tools necessary to become effective activists.

The political training will take place at the McGee Center in Conway, located at 3800 College Avenue.  Registration opens at 8:30AM, with training from 9:00AM-1:00PM.  The cost is $5 if you pre-register online by March 1st.

Space is limited.  Pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

*Topics to be covered during the training include:

•       The System (an in-depth look at the system we’re in, how we got there, and what we can do about it)

•       Grassroots Action (ideas and practical steps to engage our communities and organize a coalition of volunteers, and using the Freedom of Information Act)

•       Precinct Power (changing your community one precinct at a time with specific micro-targeting and focused action)

Full training materials, samples and supplements will be provided to help you apply what you learn to your organization, candidate, cause or community.

Political Training Registration

If you have any questions or would like additional information, contact Kerry Baldwin at Kerry@AmericanMajority.org,  or call 501-801-1030.

American Majority is a non-profit and non-partisan political training organization whose mission is to train and equip a national network of leaders committed to individual freedom through limited government and the free market.

*Topics subject to change

Google before you Tweet – it’s the new think before you speak!

Every once in a while, I receive emails from well- meaning friends that tell of all sorts of treacherous and nefarious things going on right under our noses.  “Events” that are mind numbing to imagine yet happen and no one will pay attention because the media are part of the “global conspiracy”.

You have probably received a few of these yourself.  Do you recall the email describing President George W. Bush’s lamentable IQ score, labeling him as the most obtuse president in American history?  Or, how every US Presidential election since 1936 can be accurately pre-determined based upon the outcome of the Washington Redskins home games.  Or how about the one that says: If we all ban getting our gas from a certain distributor on Wednesdays, then our prices will lower.

Without double checking and even triple checking our facts, we risk the possibility of being perceived as people that are just not living in reality.  When someone is branded as wearing a tin foil hat, they often are never taken seriously again.

This goes beyond just forwarded emails.  With all of the social technology that is available at our fingertips, verbal miscues can be made at break-neck speed and they last on the internet for virtually ever.  False information can be forwarded by accident with incredible ease.  Status updates that border on the crazy can follow you all the way to your next job interview.  Opposition research will have a field day searching Facebook statuses for years to come.  Immature college antics coming back to haunt you could become the “better than Christmas” gift your political opponent will use for 10,000 get out the vote mailers.

Here are a few tips to consider before you hit the reply, forward and update buttons:

  1. Do your due diligence
  2. If something sounds particularly dramatic, it deserves extra special attention and research.
  3. Perception is reality.  If readers perceive you to react irrationally to everything, you will quickly lose all credibility.

Your Mom always told you to think before you speak.  Now you must google before you tweet.  The vernacular may have changed, but the concept has not.  For more information on American Majority’s trainings, check out our resources page at http://americanmajority.org/resources/ and learn additional tricks of the trade when it comes to effective activism and campaigning.

Paging Senator David Johnson~Where Are You?

Kudos to Senator David Johnson (D, Little Rock) who received  ZERO dollars in per diem, mileage and expense money for 2010, according to an admirable enterprise story by Michael Wickline in Sunday’s Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Going back to 2009, during a regular session as is 2011’s session, Mr. Johnson received only $1081.

I recognize Mr. Johnson is at an advantage over the majority of Arkansas legislators because he lives in Little Rock.  Yet so does Senator Joyce Elliott who in 2010 received $25,979 in expenses along with Representatives Greenberg ($31,826), Allen ($31,332), Webb ($29,754), Adcock($28,2 00), D. Williams ($27,976), J. Edwards ($26,500) and A. Kerr($24,600). These 8 legislators alone were reimbursed tens of thousands of dollars, all in addition to their regular salaries of $15,869.

The closest example to Mr. Johnson’s fiscal restraint in 2009 was Representative James Word, (D-Pine Bluff) who received $24,600. And the totals soar from there, reaching a maximum collected of $60,092 by Senator Jimmy Jeffress (D,Crossett, appoximately 150 miles from the Capitol)…YES~I just wrote 60 thousand dollars in expenses reimbursements.  This year, Sen. Jeffress cut back a bit after receiving some backlash over his steep expenses during 2009, and only collected $52,427.

We should give Rep. Nate Steel recognition, too, because in 2010 he only received $3,833, and he lives in Nashville, which is some 150 miles from the Capitol. Third runner-up for most fiscally responsible legislator is Rep. Steve Cole (D-Lockesburg) who rang in at $13,647 for 2010 (much less than his figure in 2009 of $35,468).  Lockesburg is also right around 150 miles from the capitol.

Wonder why there is such a HUGE discrepancy in the amount of money reimbursed for basically the same travel? I understand that different legislators are on different committees and have different responsibilities but a $60,000.00 annual difference is a pretty big difference…

Wickline’s article points out that the first time an Arkansas legislator collected more than $50,000 in a single year was in 2007. Since then: In 2008 four lawmakers collected in excess of $50 thousand and in 2009 a whopping TWENTY legislators joined the crowd. The word obviously got around.

Those in the Top 20 during 2009 and what they collected from taxpayers for expenses (again, not including their salaries)

Sen. Jimmy Jeffress, D-Crossett          $60,092
Rep. Bill Abernathy, D-Mena               $56,592
Rep. Ray Kidd, D-Jonesboro                $56,366
Rep. Mark Martin, R-Prairie Grove    $56,290
Rep. Eddie Cooper, D-Melbourne       $54,892
Rep. Buddy Lovell, D-Marked Tree    $53,998
Sen. Gene Jeffress, D-Louann                $53,949
Rep. Billy Gaskill, D-Paragould             $53,524
Rep. Mike Patterson, D-Piggott            $52,588
Rep. Monty Davenport, D-Yellville     $52,047
Rep. Jon Woods, R-Springdale              $51,949
Rep. Gregg Reep, D-Warren                    $51,898
Rep. Tommy Baker, D-Osceola              $51,641
Rep. Curren Everett, D-Salem                $51,492
Rep. George Overbey, D-Lamar             $51,452
Rep. Nathan George, D-Dardanelle        $50,860
Rep. Robert Moore, D-Arkansas City   $50,603
Sen. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette                $50,522
Sen. Steve Bryles, D-Blytheville              $50,442
Rep. Allen Maxwell, D-Monticello         $50,087

And then there were 8 lawmakers collecting over 50 thousand dollars in 2010:

Sen Laverty, D-Jasper                         $59,745
Rep. Kidd, D-Jonesboro                       $54,064
Sen. J Jeffress, D-Crossett                   $52,427
Rep. T. Baker, D-Osceola                      $52,199
Rep. Gaskill, D- Paragould                  $52,100
Rep. Patterson, D-Piggott                   $51,814
Rep. Woods, R- Springdale                 $51,467
Rep. Davenport, D-Yellville               $51,186

Senator Laverty was the only one of the 2010 big expense collectors not to also reach the $50K mark in 2009, although he was just shy at $43,966.
These numbers are stunning to me, especially since I spent 2010 continuously traveling Arkansas from corner to corner and back again. Kerry Baldwin and I held 41 trainings, over a dozen events and a handful of speaking engagements from Texarkana to Mt. Home to Jonesboro and over to Fort Smith.
I traveled over 100 days and sometimes hit four cities encompassing 400 miles over a two-day period and never submitted a travel reimbursement voucher for more than $1000 in any single month.
It’s my understanding that legislators who live within 50 miles of the Capitol receive a  flat fee” per diem of somewhere between $2,000 to $2,200, never having to even fill out an expense report. Those living more than 50 miles away receive $.51 per mile, round trip, and $149 a day per diem, with no expense report required.

As a business owner, I can’t turn those kinds of records into the IRS. Could you? I mean, can we talk some common sense here?   And as a person who works for an organization that reimburses my proven travel expenses, I have to turn in a detailed expense report every two weeks with receipts attached. That’s if I expect to receive reimbursement. So someone tell me why should our public servants be any different?

Today, and not a moment too soon, Arkansas legislators introduced SB194. A bipartisan “Ethics Bill”. Please read this bill (it’s only 2 pages) and let me know if you think this will alleviate the obvious problem of paid officials continually soaking the taxpayers?
In 2010 $4.7 million was paid to 135 part-time legislators, most of whom have other vocations outside of their public service.   I don’t think there’s a constituent in our state that would expect or want our law makers to absorb personal costs for officially tending to the affairs of our State. Yet I believe – and am convinced- that the sizes of these “expense” numbers as reported by Mr. Wickline are questionable.
I’d also encourage each of you to contact legislators in your area and make a habit of regularly submitting FOIA requests for their expense records. Show them you care and are watching our business as closely as any newspaper reporter.  Itemized accountability has a way of curbing anyone’s desire to “inflate” numbers in the private or public sector.

Transparency is a beautiful thing….

So, the elections are over and the legislative sessions have begun. Everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what those freshmen legislators are going to do, and tea partiers are hanging on every quote and vote to hold them accountable. If you don’t think times are changing, think again. The Pulaski County Quorum Court now has their budget available online here http://www.co.pulaski.ar.us/comptroller.shtml and Arkansas legislators from the last session are having their reimbursements scrutinized with a fine tooth comb here http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2011/jan/30/expense-tabs-8-10-top-50000-20110130/ It’s never good news for a lawmaker when their expense reimbursements are listed in the state’s largest newspaper. And of course, the newspaper is blamed for doing “a very detrimental thing to the people of Arkansas in the way that you constantly hound elected officials and make them look bad,” Laverty said. “You all do it more than anyone else.”

Transparency….shining the light on the good, bad and ugly. It is one thing that all activists – conservatives, liberals, and just about everybody in between can agree upon.

Jonesboro, AR Activist Training

Our nation was founded by ordinary citizen activists desiring a government that was accountable to the people.  Today, ordinary
citizens across our nation are tired of the status quo and ready to engage for the betterment of their communities. American Majority’s political training addresses these passions by providing education and resources to help you meet your goals.

American Majority is pleased to announce that an Activist Training will be conducted on Thursday, January 27th to provide citizens with the tools necessary to become effective activists.

The political training will take place at Ryan’s Restaurant, 2809 E. Highland Dr. in Jonesboro, beginning at 6:00pm.  Registration opens at 5:30pm.  The cost is $5 if you pre-register online by January 25th. Space is limited.  Pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

*Topics to be covered during the training include:
•       The System (an in-depth look at the system we’re in, how we got there, and what we can do about it)
•       Grassroots Action (ideas and practical steps to engage our communities and organize a coalition of volunteers, using the Freedom of Information Act)
•       Precinct Power (changing your community one precinct at a time with specific micro-targeting and focused action)

Full training materials, samples and supplements will be provided to help you apply what you learn to your organization, candidate, cause or community.

Political Training Registration

If you have any questions or would like additional information, contact Kerry Baldwin atatKerry@AmericanMajority.org or Laurie Masterson at Laurie@AmericanMajority.org or call 501-801-1030

American Majority is a non-profit and non-partisan political training organization whose mission is to train and equip a national network of leaders committed to individual freedom through limited government and the free market.

* Topics are subject to change.

Getting the Straight Skinny

Last week I had a story ping into my inbox that immediately set my fiscally conservative tail feathers into a spin.

As way of background: My money-wise sensors had been over-stimulated by stories of Arkansas legislators taking tax-paid helicopter rides, chauffeured trips for hundreds of miles to the Capitol and the expenditure of nearly half a million dollars of our tax dollars on Live
Streaming equipment that was unused.
So when the “You’ve got mail” voice chimed and I opened this tidbit of Intel, I felt a little like that cartoon character with smoke streaming from both ears:


The Arkansas House of Representatives has hired former Democrat State Representative Gregg Reep for the right handsome sum of $85k annually to be a liaison between the incoming freshmen and the Governor.

Yep, you read it right: $85 K.

I’d like to be able to tell you that I immediately did the right thing, the same thing I continually encourage folks around the state to do when they hear something that set their own alarms to buzzing – GET THE FACTS.
But NOOOO I commenced instead to venting on my poor husband, Mike. Please keep him in your prayers because that is usually my first sounding board. After several minutes of decompressing in this hyperbolic chamber of matrimony, I dashed to my trusty computer and googled (don’t you love how we have turned a proper noun into a verb) the name – Gregg Reep – and found very little concerning the newfound hearsay about his position.

Then I turned to my closest friend list, calling people I know that are most likeminded to justify my rant of this latest apparent irresponsibility and lack of transparency by government.

A few placated me, but thankfully, most encouraged me to dig a little deeper. Wait, wasn’t that my advice? So that’s exactly what I did.

I called my state representative and asked him about this latest hire. He encouraged me to go to the source of the decision which would be the Arkansas House Chief of Staff, Bill Stovall.
I called Mr. Stovall, who was gracious and helpful, and these are the actual facts he shared with me about Mr. Reep’s hiring:

The position Mr. Reep is in has actually been around for several years and in fact was at one time two positions.
That Mr. Reep’s salary of $85K (which will be prorated for his time serving) is precisely what the other two positions had made, so in
essence $85K has been “saved.”

In the process, I also learned the Arkansas House has gone from 24 full time jobs in 2001 to currently 19 and has even trimmed its budget by $115K for the 2011 session. Hmmm. But what happened to my initial overreaction?
How can I still remain in a state of outrage when facts don’t justify it?

In short, I’ve learned some valuable and hopefully enduring lessons. First of all, knee-jerk reactions to information are not productive and may not even by justified. We live in a world of instant (and often anonymous) communication today where credibility is at a premium. Secondly, I’ve learned to practice what one preaches by performing one’s due diligence of actually gathering hard facts before engaging mouth.

So here’s to the Arkansas  House- Kudos for reducing your budget (and thereby our expenditures) while finding well-qualified people to reduce the size of government and for taking steps on different levels to help our beloved state of Arkansas to become a more fiscally responsibly place.

We must all remember to seek out and get our hands firmly around the truth before needlessly and mistakenly throwing legislators, administrators and public service staff under the bus.

TEA Parties Brew Results~

Ever heard of the TEA Party? If you have been alive in the past two years you have.  TEA Parties across the nation are making a huge difference in American politics and for certain politics in Arkansas.

There are approximately 30 TEA Parties in our state. They range in size from hundreds of people to just a handful but regardless of size they are a force to be reckoned with because they are bursting with folks who have made conscious decisions to become informed and engaged.

The November elections in Arkansas were a clear demonstration of that force. Conservatives won 7 contested Senate and 16 House seats in the election. The Arkansas Republican Party now holds 45 State House seats, 15 Senate Seats, and 3 State Constitutional Offices. The largest freshman class since 1999 was sworn in on Monday fully demonstrating Arkansans want change.

The events of the first week of the Arkansas legislature were already riff with anticipation and enthusiasm. Unlike any other time in Arkansas politics this session is swarming with not just lobbyist, reporters and visitors but with citizens that are determined to make a change in politics as usual. I am sure the  whirly bird and chauffeured rideshuge spun yarns, and phone foolery would have made it beyond the doors of the capitol but something significant happened, and hopefully will continue to.

Here is a facebook note from David Crow, Chairman of the Faulkner Co TEA Party:

We won!

by David Crow on Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 10:28pm

We want fewer taxes, less spending and smaller government….that is our Tea Party position and we did not back down! AR state senate Joint Budget Com. passed HB 1063 giving raises to Judges and Prosecuting Attor….we said no and in less than 24 hours the House reversed itself and is now removing the raises from the original bill! How did it happen? One person attended the committee mtg and witnessed the vote…challenged the Faulkner Co Tea Party and others across the state to make calls to their reps, and the COL increases are history! The power rest with the people if we use it! This is proof that together we will and are making a difference! There are many other bills our spend, spend and spend progressives liberals want to push through we must have a Tea Party rep in every committee meeting. Keep it up folks….together we can restore fiscal sanity and reduce the size of government!

As a result of the actions of attentive engaged voters, Arkansans were saved half-a-million dollars in just the first week; and legislators are once again reminded that times are a changin and they are accountable to the people.

Once again I strongly encourage you to get plugged in, help broaden the network of responsive individuals by informing your sphere of influence and making sure you have your elected officials contact information.

There will be plenty more comin down the pike, as of today there have been over 160 bills filed that our legislators will deal with over the next several months.

Together we are making a difference, you are needed~

Disenfranchised Arkansas District 83?

If you have ambitions of being a playwright I hope you are taking notes on the political happenings here in Arkansas. You could have a best-selling drama.

Remember the story of Tom Fite and Leslee Post from district 83? Mr. Fite was found ineligible to be an Arkansas Representative by Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Collins Kilgore because he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor bribery charge more than 26 years ago. (Read more here)

Yesterday afternoon members of the 2011 Arkansas House of Representatives voted to seat Leslee Milam Post (D-Ozark) who received only 41% of the vote.

Rep. John Burris (R-Harrison), the Minority Leader, made a motion to delay the seating of District 83 (Post’s seat) asking that the Claims Commission be able to review the case just as they had for Rep. Elect Fred Smith just days prior.  Burris explained that the wished of the people in district 83 need to be taken into account and their votes counted.”

His motion failed, 60-28.

Then there was a motion to seat Ms. Post to which Rep. Nate Bell (R-Mena) made a statement pointing out that the ruling to disqualify Tom Fite clearly usurped the Arkansas State Constitution and a ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court case in 2002, Magnus v Carr.

Here is a note from Rep. Bell explaining~

Today I spoke against the seating of Leslee Post in District 83.  My opposition was based on the need to preserve the constitutional separation of powers outlined in the Arkansas Constitution Article 4 sections 1 and 2  and Article 5 section 11 and was not intended to address the merits of the Post/Fite case which is pending before the Arkansas Supreme Court.  The Pulaski Circuit Court ruled in October that the ballots cast for Tom Fite were not be counted.  My argument today was based on the Arkansas Constitution as interpreted by the Arkansas Supreme Court in Magnus v Carr and numerous precedent cases.  The court held that the judicial branch does not have jurisdiction in election cases involving the legislative branch of government due to the separation of powers.  The court has repeatedly held that allowing the judicial branch to intervene in matters related to legislative elections would allow the judges to essentially choose members of another branch of government.  My viewpoint was defeated today 61-29.  I will always stand for constitutional principles even when it is politically unpopular.  6 Republicans voted with the Democrats to allow the judge to usurp the constitutional authority of the legislature.

The citizens of District 83 deserve to have their votes counted.  The votes would have been counted and Fite would have been declared the winner had the judge not intervened. The House would then have determined Fite’s eligibility as outlined in Arkansas law.  If he was deemed ineligible then a vacancy in election would have been declared and a special election held.  Instead, the house today voted to seat the person who lost the election garnering less than 42% of the votes cast.  We allowed a circuit judge to elect a person to the legislature who received less than a majority of the votes cast.  I believe we set a very dangerous precedent today.

Here’s a link to the case I cited:

http://courts.state.ar.us/opinions/2002b/20021024/02-604.html

The legislature voted 61-29 for Ms. Post to be sworn in and seated on Monday.

Anyone else see a problem here? The way I understand it ( and if I am wrong please let me know) according to the Arkansas Constitution and a case that was decided just 9yrs ago by the Arkansas Supreme Court, Judge Kilgore circumvented the Constitution of our state, ignored precedence, and did a huge disservice to the voters of Dist. 83.

The voters clearly voted for the more conservative candidate, as did the majority of voters in the state, and nation for that matter, and were smacked down. Was this a case of  over-reaching judge. Isn’t that the story?

P.S

THANK YOU!! to our 29 Arkansas State Representatives that held the line. Thank you to Representatives John Burris and Nate Bell for attempting to stop the circumvention of our Constitution. I look forward to working with these men and women to bring to Arkansas fiscal responsibility, limited government, and Constitutional soundness.

Time for your New Year’s resolutions….

That time of year has come where everyone is vowing to do this or that.  Probably the most popular is to lose weight and get in shape or maybe quit some unhealthy vice or habit.  Other old standard resolutions are to de-clutter the house, clean out the closets, and reorganize the kitchen pantry.  All are quite logical resolutions to have and a couple just might last through January for those daring to make the pledge.

As I read an interview with Queen Latifah yesterday morning, I came to agree with her 2011 resolution – NO RESOLUTIONS!  Her reasoning made sense to me.  Why set yourself up to fail by making a list of so many things you want to change about yourself?  Her outlook made me think of the way I address the Lenten season, not by taking something away, but trying to do something that you don’t normally do often enough.  Anyway, Queen (We are on a first name basis now) had a great solution to the resolution problem.  She suggests to start earlier in the year to gradually make improvements upon yourself by the time your birthday rolls around.  This makes the pressure of quitting something or starting something new cold turkey on one specific day (along with the rest of the folks in your world) a thing of the past.  I think we all are familiar with the success rate of trying anything cold turkey…the statistics are not in your favor.  So instead, take it one day at a time and make every effort to be a better person without putting additional pressure on yourself. 

So, I have a few ideas for self-improvement up my sleeve for 2011 – and yes, some of these are the stereotypical resolutions previously mentioned.   However, one thing I pledge to do is to help these elected officials that are new to the political scene.  You see, we have a legislative session starting next Monday.  Plus, there are countless new justices of the peace and city council members that are trying this whole new accountability thing out.  Therefore, I am going to do my part to help them out in a friendly, got your back sort of way.  Personal phone calls, hand written letters (like thank you notes when they do something really great) and invitations for a quick cup of coffee are just a few of the ways I can encourage my new elected officials to stay on track.

In the same weekly periodical I found Queen Latifah’s article, I read an interview with Joe Scarborough, host of the Morning Joe on MSNBC.  He was asked what advice he would give the incoming elected officials who professed to be members of the Tea Party.  He mentioned that to keep conservatives from overreaching like they did in 1996, they should “focus but make sure they don’t scare little kids and pets.”  Which got me thinking.  I know, scary.  I need to help our local leaders focus.  Concentrate on what they can improve and not set themselves up for failure.  Let’s make those resolutions and do our very best to improve those things that we care about – one item at a time.  Here’s a novel idea, let’s start with the spending and go from there.

Kudos to Arkansas Officials!

“Arkansas House Chief of Staff Bill Stovall says top officials in the chamber won’t commute any more in state vehicles.”How exciting! The decision was evidently made because of the latest brouhahas with the AGFC and AHD.There are only four vehicles in the mix here but this is a wonderful step in the RIGHT direction. Voters should be flooding the office of Mr. Stovall with affirming phone calls, emails and even perhaps a fruit basket!Thank You Bill for making one of the first steps of the new session in Arkansas politics to help Arkansas government become more fiscally responsible!

http://www.kait8.com/Global/story.asp?S=13753392

Bill H. Stovall, III
Chief of Staff
bill.stovall@arkansashouse.org

In Session Phone:
501-682-6211

Out of Session 
Phone:
501-682-7771

Little Rock, AR Blogger/Activist Training

Our nation was founded by ordinary citizen activists desiring a government that was accountable to the people.  Today, ordinary citizens across our nation are tired of the status quo and ready to engage for the betterment of their communities. American Majority’s political training addresses these passions by providing education and resources to help you meet your goals.

American Majority Arkansas is pleased to announce a Blogger/Activist Training will be conducted on Saturday, January 8th in Little Rock, AR to provide potential candidates with the tools necessary to effectively report on legislative activity.

The training will take place at the KARN News Radio Studios located at 700 Wellington Hills Road in Little Rock, AR from 9:00 AM to 12:00 pm. Registration opens at 8:30 am.  There will a $5 charge for this training to cover the costs of materials and the program. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

Full training materials, samples and supplements will be provided to help you apply what you learn to your organization, candidate, cause or community.

Political Training Registration

If you have any questions or would like additional information, contact Kerry Baldwin at Kerry@americanmajority.org

American Majority is a non-profit and non-partisan political training organization whose mission is to train and equip a national network of leaders committed to individual freedom through limited government and the free market.

* Topics are subject to change.

Twisted Christmas

.As with many things across our culture today the heritage and story behind the Twelve Days of Christmas has been mangled.

This particular Christian observance may have been hijacked by eggnog swillers and little elves who choose to rewrite those things that would bring glory and honor to celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world.

For months now I have committed to take nothing for granted, to start from scratch and research my values and traditions, to make sure what I believe is not based on lies or half-truths.

This journey, while time consuming and sometimes tedious, has helped solidify my foundational beliefs.

As with many of our Western “traditions” The Twelve Days of Christmas is actually an historical Church tradition that begins on Christmas day and ends on the beginning of Epiphany (the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season).
This is an occasion for feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King’s Cake as part of the festivities of Epiphany (a King’s Cake also is part of the observance of Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA)).

The familiar “Twelve Days of Christmas” song is not just a nonsense version for children with secular origins; it is a song with hidden meanings steeped in traditional Christian instruction. It’s believed, but not proved, that it was used during the 16th century by the Catholic faith as a secret means of preserving Christian tenets.

There are those who have questioned the historical accuracy saying this version actually is a myth.
(http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/music/12days.asp)

Although there is not “hard” evidence to prove it true there really is none to refute the Catholic story either. So, since there’s no “proof” either way and it certainly is not worthy of a “crusade” to prove one way or the other, I vote that those reading this make the choice for themselves how to perceive the classic song, realizing that many of the symbols we use for Christmas, even including the date, are not inherently religious.

What I believe is important for Christians to remember at Christmas is the reason for the season, Christ; that we encourage our friends, neighbors and families to rejoice the birth of the Light of the world.

Hopefully this writing will inspire you to search, pray and reflect on your beliefs this Christmas season and to share your findings with others as we step into the beginning of a new year, a chance to change our world for the better becoming informed, engaged and empowered.

With all this in mind, here’s what the research I’ve done says are the intended religious symbolism of the “Twelve Days of Christmas:”

1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

P.S.  At American Majority we work a lot with Social Media, I was sent this video by a friend on facebook and it is truly AMAZING~ Enjoy~ http://www.ignitermedia.com/mini-movies/1905/A-Social-Network-Christmas

Notice of Another Crisis? Storage …

In a story that has been playing out for a few days, outgoing Pulaski Circuit/County Clerk, Pat Obrien is wanting to shred court documents. In an article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette “O’Brien said the records needed to be shredded to help avert a storage crisis. The files had been electronically duplicated, and made easily and reliably accessible by computer to the judges”

It was also reported that over 50,000 files from cases dating from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s by Obrien’s predecessor. So why the brouhaha now? Maybe someone in Pulaski county could let me know.

Get Back in the Groove

Coming off a 5 day holiday sabbatical, it is hard to get back in the groove, but I need to stay focused. There is so much that has happened in the past week there is not sufficient room on this site to list it all. Legislation is being written faster than a speeding bullet; segue into super heroes, I am still experiencing my “Bullet-deflecting bracelets Wonder Woman” syndrome, even more now.

American Majority believes that change is best made at the local level so we want to give you some helpful hints  that will make this process easier for those who wish to help hold elected officials accountable and to build a farm team of future leaders.

Recently American Majority launched its New Leaders Project that will work with local TEA Party leaders from across the nation to identify 10,000 new, credible candidates in advance of the 2011 and 2012 elections. Already the major TEA Party groups in Arkansas have stepped to the plate and said “YES WE WILL”.

I encourage you to gather some folks in your area take advantage of our progams and commit to making sure those elected in the Arkansas School Board elections of 2011 are willing to respect the will of their communities. American Majority Arkansas is ready, willing and able to come alongside and help.

Another way to get engaged is to visit the Arkansas House of Representatives web page and review the bills that have been pre-filed for the 2011 session. If you are a person who likes research and blogging this may be your way of aiding the cause.

Additionally you can step-up by committing to attend public meetings in your area i.e school board, city council, quorum court and if you are really zealous, committee meetings in Little Rock.  Meetings are listed on the Arkansas State Legislature web page.

I know here in NWA Cox Communications has just made that easier for citizens to stay abreast of government happenings.  A story published in the NWA Times Cox Communications To Adjust Lineup PUBLIC, EDUCATION, GOVERNMENT CHANNELS TO CHANGE stated that all cable customers in the area will be able to view school board and city council meetings starting December 9th.

If you want more details on how-to’s read “~ WANT TO BE AN AGENT OF CHANGE? HERE’S HOW~”

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