Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Huckabee no better than mayor

BY GARRICK FELDMAN
Leader publisher

How come Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett faces charges of using inmate labor to put up Christmas lights at his home and at a friend’s house, but Gov. Huckabee can use murderers to do chores around the Governor’s Mansion?

Not only use them at the mansion, but pardon them, too, at a furious pace, although the people of Arkansas, having caught on to his abuses, have pretty much put him out of the pardoning business.

While Privett’s mug shot is shown around the world — the front page of last Wednesday’s Leader reporting the arrest of Lonoke officials for various crimes, some serious, indeed, was featured Friday evening on CNN — yet Huckabee takes taxpayers for a ride every time he uses a State Police airplane for his out-of-state travels to promote his diet books and presidential aspirations.

Shouldn’t the Legislative Joint Performance Review Committee look into Huckabee’s misuse of the state plane for his personal errands?

Sure, some of those trips are connected with his travels to meetings of the National Governors Association, which he heads, but many trips are political and personal, although he’s been secretive about them, as is his custom.

The Joint Performance Review Committee should find out if Huckabee has broken the law every time he hijacks the State Police airplane for his personal use, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Huckabee says it’s none of our business what he does. That’s what he said when he was pardoning hundreds of criminals, but the Legislature curbed his pardoning powers, and now it should also limit his use of the state plane.

If the Joint Performance Re-view Committee finds he violated the law — and he almost certainly did — he should repay taxpayers the cost of those flights — and there have been hundreds of questionable trips in recent years.

The Legislature might as well take the plane away from him. Other governors managed to travel without their personal airplane. Let’s keep the State Police plane for crime fighting.

Make him take Southwest Airlines if he wants to fly around the country to sell himself as a presidential candidate.
Why is he seeking the presidency, anyway?

It’s a foolish quest, but he’s apparently running on a Thin Man platform, promising to help every fat person in America lose weight just like he did.

That’s great, but how will that help us fight al-Qaida, balance the budget and provide health care to every sick American?
He has disqualified himself from the presidency if for no other reason than his blatant abuse of power, from record pardons to record out-of-state travels on our dime.

There are those who think losing all that weight has made Huckabee delusional. They liked him better when he was pleasantly plump.