Why not pay what’s due city?


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The city of Pine Bluff is considering a civil action against the Horizon Foods poultry processing plant, 2201 W. Second Ave., in an effort to collect $26,620.50 in unpaid sewer fees.

City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott warned Horizon in an April 2 letter that if the debt to Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility wasn’t satisfied within 10 business days, the utility will be forced “to pursue any and all remedies permitted under Arkansas law.”

Hadden-Scott’s letter stated that Horizon — with a workforce of about 190 people — owed $12,936.48 for December, $6,425.53 for January and $7,258.49 for February. March’s charges were yet to be determined.

We are reminded of the companies and individuals here who have failed to remit prepared food taxes they collected from their customers. They are known in legal circles as scofflaws — a person or firm who habitually flouts the law, including those who fail to pay debts.

Hadden-Scott might be advised to take a similar approach on scofflaws that Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson adopted for dealing with “deadbeat dads.” Robinson and his deputies arrest individuals who fail to pay court-ordered child support.

While the Horizon debt is a civil issue, we have never understood why the city fails to take a tough approach with firms that collect sales taxes from their customers, but don’t turn the money into the city and stick it in their pocket.

If you don’t like the term scofflaw, pay your debts.

Try again

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An informal April 5 meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council called, in part, to help aldermen determine how they and Mayor Debe Hollingsworth might “communicate more effectively” failed.

The 50-minute meeting featured fireworks, not only among the elected officials but also from the audience.

The exchange began on a reasonable note, but began slipping and sliding when Alderman Glen Brown, who arrived several minutes late, began to “whisper” to fellow Alderman Thelma Walker while Hollingsworth was speaking. The mayor challenged Brown, who quickly lost his temper and began contesting her.

Hollingsworth hammered her gavel and told Brown he was “out of order.” Brown protested, telling the mayor, “I’m not going to put up with that.” Brown went on to say that he’s “not a kid in a classroom” and “not in jail.”

An audience member began shouting.

“It’s rude for anyone to talk when someone else has the floor,” the mayor said. Brown responded by loudly commenting toward audience members, but other council members managed to quiet him.

Alderman George Stepps chided the mayor, saying, “Some of what (Brown) said is not out of order. It’s an attitude thing.”

Stepps’ “attitude thing” comment spoke volumes. Some members of the council apparently have not read Robert’s Rules of Order, as previously approved by the body.

The mayor said that future violators of that policy — whether council members, observers or “commenters” — will be “removed” from meetings.

Retired senior Alderman Irene Holcomb knew how to keep order when tempers flared. She could do it with a look.

Saturday delivery

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The U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday that it would cancel plans to end Saturday mail delivery this summer, saying the new budget Congress recently passed would prohibit the move.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe announced in February that the Postal Service would end Saturday mail delivery in August to save $2 billion a year. The Postal Service lost $15.9 billion last year.

The short-term budget that Congress and the president recently approved to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year requires six days of delivery.

The elected officials listened to the folks back home.