A victory for the people
Carroll County Circuit Judge Scott Jacksonís ruling last week that an $18 annual charge being billed to Carroll County property owners is improper wonít be the final word on the issue, but it was a good first step toward undoing a massive injustice.
Carroll County residents were being forced to reach into their own pockets to repay investors who made a bad decision in buying bonds nearly 15 years ago to help the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District purchase a landfill in Baxter County.
Buying the landfill turned out to be an unwise decision for the solid waste district, which then defaulted on repaying the bonds. That clearly didnít please the bondholders ó who still havenít been publicly identified ó and they went to court to try to get their money back. Ultimately, a judge in Little Rock decided that taxpayers in Carroll County and five other counties in north Arkansas should be responsible for repaying the bondholders.
The argument over whether that order was legal or not isnít over, but the morality of it seems much clearer. As I said, the identity of the bondholders is a closely guarded secret but itís obvious they have considerable political clout.
If I had to bet my lunch money, Iíd wager that at least one major Arkansas bank is heavily involved, likely to the tune of millions of dollars. Reading between the lines in court documents, that seems pretty clear. That means some very wealthy people could be involved, and wealth equates to power and influence.
There is absolutely zero doubt that Jacksonís ruling will be appealed, and we may still be years from a final resolution. My hope is that, as the case winds it way through the court system, weíll find out more about the bondholders and the actions theyíve taken behind the scenes to try and recoup a bad investment.
Itís going to be a long fight, but the first round was a victory for the people of Carroll County.