Pine Bluff passes on crime rating


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Residents of Pine Bluff are not marching on Main Street shouting “We are No. 2,” as one wag suggested. We have been visited by CQ Press and its annual crime rankings, which are about as much fun as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Unlike the annual return of the swallows to Capistrano and the Old Faithful geyser, CQ has listed the Pine Bluff Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Jefferson, Lincoln and Cleveland counties, as among the most dangerous in the country. We dropped from No. 1 in last year’s rankings to No. 2 this fall, behind Detroit.

“City Crime Rankings 2012-2013: Crime in Metropolitan America,” is published by a Washington-based company.

Only the Detroit MSA was ahead of Pine Bluff in terms of incidents of crime in 2011, based on data reported to the FBI in six categories: Murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.

The crime data for the Pine Bluff MSA includes not only reports from police and sheriff’s departments in all three counties, and reported by the Arkansas State Police listing crimes that occur in the prison system. There are nine prison units in Jefferson and Lincoln counties.

The residents of the Department of Correction did not earn a bunk in one of the state’s steel bed and breakfast facilities by singing too loud in the church choir.

The numbers were for 2012, and based on 2011 statistics, and frankly don’t add up. We’ve noted in the past that the CQ Press employees did not major in math.

Other Arkansas metropolitan areas listed as dangerous were Memphis, Tenn., (ranked 355) which includes areas in Arkansas and Mississippi; Little Rock (351); Texarkana, Ark. (344), which includes areas in Texas; Jonesboro (244); and Fort Smith (184), which includes areas in Oklahoma.

The three safest cities listed were Fishers, Ind.; Johns Creek, Ga.; and O’Fallon, Mo., while the three least safe cities were Camden, N.J.; Detroit, Mich.; and Flint, Mich.

We admit that Pine Bluff has a crime problem, but at least it is falling and was down slightly better than 10 percent for the third quarter of 2012.

We recall a Pine Bluff alderman complaining that he did not understand why a number of big box retailers had not opened stores here. “City Crime Rankings” is one of a number of sources for researchers, including individuals and firms checking out potential development sites.

The CQ Press analysis is simply flawed and has likely cost us jobs in Pine Bluff.

No deal, no pay

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Congress has imposed the fiscal cliff, national default and sequestration for failing to do what it’s charged with doing.

The latest such proposal is the “no budget, no pay” proviso that lawmakers would not be paid until both the House and Senate pass a budget this year. The Senate, in case you were wondering, has not adopted a budget in four years.

Congress takes lots of breaks. It is scheduled to adjourn for the equivalent of a full month this spring while we confront at least two critical deadlines: March 27, when the government faces a shutdown if temporary funding resolutions aren’t renewed, and May 19, when the debt ceiling will rise. They take a week off for every federal holiday and most of August.

A typical man or woman in Southeast Arkansas is on the job over 90 percent of weekdays, while members of Congress work just 49 percent of weekdays.

The idea is very simple: Stay in Washington and do the job they signed up for until it’s finished.