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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: In the mailroom

by Mike Masterson | December 28, 2021 at 3:04 a.m.

Bruce Plopper's recent letter to the editor generated considerable response from valued readers after I asked if other Arkansans also had to pay $3 late fees after their annual license renewal notice arrived past the due date.

It was the first time in three decades Plopper had experienced a problem with the familiar courtesy reminder to renew his tags.

The professor from Conway was as curious as I to know how many other Arkansas drivers might have been similarly dunned because the state failed to notify them in time.

Turns out there were a considerable number of you out there who wrote me.

It also prompted a response from Charlie Collins, a former legislator from northwest Arkansas who now is Commissioner of Revenue for the Department of Finance and Administration.

Collins explained the problem as being his responsibility. "Our renewal reminders went out late in November," he told me. "The cause of the delay was our mailroom equipment needing repair. Our documents (motor vehicle registrations, REAL IDs, etc.) have their expiration date on them, so Arkansans can use the document itself to know when they need to renew.

"However, if a person was affected by our late reminder notice, we will waive the renewal late fee if the person explains they were late because our reminder notice was late."

There's some good holiday season news for Plopper and the others in his boat.

"To resolve the problem," Collins continued, "we are replacing certain equipment here in the DFA Revenue Division mailroom. Repairing and purchasing equipment is a slower process since covid ... but we are moving expeditiously.

"In the interim, we are very focused on mailroom scheduling and other adjustments we can make to minimize mail disruptions until we have new equipment in place. Thank you for pointing out in your column that our reminders are a courtesy."

In turn, I thank Plopper, who brought the snafu to light in his letter.

This means those who received late notices this year can get a $3 refund if they've already paid a late fee. They just need ask for one. Sounds to me like a belated Christmas gift, albeit a small one. What's that they say about it being the thought that counts?

Gun-totin' CEO

The CEO of the developing Marshals Museum in Fort Smith landed in hot water last week after allegedly threatening two workers with a pistol. Surely I misread the news story?

Nope, 53-year-old Patrick Weeks indeed was arrested on two charges of aggravated assault with a firearm last Tuesday after two OG&E utility company employees told police that, as they sat in their truck, Weeks pointed a gun at them after refusing to allow them into his yard for repairs to city street lights.

Adding further insult, Weeks reportedly even pursued the men on foot as they drove around the corner, continuing to point the pistol at them.

When police arrived at Weeks' home that afternoon, they reported finding him in a chair with a semiautomatic pistol on the armrest.

The museum's head honcho was booked into the Sebastian County jail, then released early Wednesday morning on a $6,000 bond.

Threatening utility workers with a pistol who come to one's home to work is beyond the pale. At this point, Arkansas can only wait and see what develops at Weeks' trial to get further details and determine his guilt or innocence.

But I have to say, so far this bizarre incident sounds more to me like a scenario straight out of "The Twilight Zone" than the actions of the CEO for the U.S. Marshals Museum.

Picket problem

Almost as bizarre, I read that the Property Owners Association at Bella Vista, a running adversary of Jim Parsons, the town's most outspoken resident, is taking issue those who dared erect white picket fences around their homes.

That includes Parsons, who's threatening a lawsuit against the POA if it tries to make him remove or alter his own white picket fence by Jan. 1.

"This is going to become one heck of a story," Parsons told me. "Here is the results of the city's Architectural Control Committee's 2020 Annual Report filed at the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office. This report lists its 2020 officers [board members]. [Cooper Communities] Senior Vice President Neff Basore has said publicly that the committee acts independently. And yet, this report shows at least three ACC board members also belong to Cooper Communities Inc."

According to Board Director Buddy Vernetti, the Architectural Committee's officers decided effective Jan. 1, 2022, that all of the white fences in Bella Vista have to come down or be painted a color of the committee's choice, Parsons said. "When the committee orders me to take my white fence down, I will be naming the officers that are on the attachment above as defendants in a lawsuit. This will effectively put a hold on its edict until the court decides on the reasonableness of this mandate."

The Property Owners Association's covenants also ban houses painted white.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.


Print Headline: In the mailroom

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