Feb 282017

by Clay Herrmann

A petition initiative resulting in a special election to return Hot Springs to Alermanic Government was attempted twice in the History of Hot Springs, first in 1990 and  again in 2013. The City Manager form of government survived both of those elections, the most recent on May 14, 2013. Despite the best efforts of partisans on both sides, low voter turnout characterized both elections (as is typical for off-calendar special elections). Success in getting out the vote is obviously key to winning for either side, and because voter turnout is almost always a small percentage of eligible voters in Special Elections,  a small and motivated minority often decides the question being voted on, while most eligible voters are either apathetic no-shows or are else simply unaware of the voting opportunity.

The Arkansas statute governing the process requires a four year wait after a failure before another election for the purpose of returning to the aldermanic form of government can be called. That waiting period is nearly up. In the current political climate with inflamed passions regarding multiple forced annexations, water and sewer connection policies, lawsuits upon lawsuits, disputes about the eligibility of some City Directors to hold office, and other issues of heated contention,  will 2017 be the year for Hot Springs to retire all city directors and bid farewell to the city manager form of government adopted in 1986?

Looking back at the last effort may be instructive for interested parties on both sides of the question. The following video is of a “get-out-the-early-vote rally” by 2013 opponents of a return to Aldermanic Government:

Opponents spent thousands on newspaper ads, mail-outs, radio, and television advertising. Following is a 30 second TV commercial:

The following video is a presentation by Hot Springs City Clerk and Historian, Lance Spicer, about the possibility of a return to the aldermanic form of government.

In advance of the May 14, 2013 election, the Hot Springs City Attorney declared that all but six of the initial petition signatures turned in were invalid … but the Arkansas Attorney General, in an official AG Opinion, disagreed.

A Brief History

  • April 8, 1986: In a vote of 4,018 “FOR” to 2,663 “AGAINST” the city adopted the City Manager Form Of Government in a Special Election called as a result of a petition for that purpose.
  • December 4, 1990: In a Special Election called as result of a “PETITION FOR ALDERMANIC GOVERNMENT”, the result was no change in the form of government with a vote of 4,292 (44%)  “FOR” to 5,554 (56%) “AGAINST”.
  • May 14, 2013: A second attempt to return Hot Springs to the Aldermanic Form of Government failed, with only 242 citizens casting ballots “FOR” to 2,962 “AGAINST”.  Total turnout for the Special Election was 2,962, or 10.68% of the registered Hot Springs voters.


 Posted by at 4:23 pm
Jan 232014

This is a “God & Country” themed music concert, NOT a political rally, however ALL candidates for elected office with constituents in Garland or Saline County are cordially invited to attend, and to meet and mingle with potential voters in attendance before and after the concert. Entourages of candidate supporters are welcome as well! Candidates may bring literature for their campaigns to display on designated tables.

God & Country Concert poster

 Posted by at 2:40 pm
May 142013

(After-election remarks regarding the May 14, 2013 Hot Springs, Arkansas Special Election for city residents to vote FOR or AGAINST return to the aldermanic form of city government:  The organized opposition representing a coalition of the entrenched “powers that be” in Hot Springs, employed a marketing professional to head their campaign to get out the vote AGAINST the proposed change. Their activity included a get-out-the vote rally the day before early voting opened, an opposition website, emails, newspaper, radio, and even television advertising. Despite their very substantial advertising effort, only about 10% of the city electorate turned out to decide this important issue. But they were, nevertheless, successful as most of the small number who bothered to vote cast a ballot AGAINST the proposed change.)

1) The petition effort that brought about this election and the run-up to the election has surprisingly served to unite former political and philosophical enemies. Six months ago, who would have ever thought that Oaklawn, the A&P Commission, Fifty for the Future, and the Chamber leadership would unite to fight for the preservation of Mayor Carney’s position, and choose her as Chairman of their collective effort to defeat a return to aldermanic government in Hot Springs?

What else could have done that, and how much is that worth? It will be interesting to see if the Mayor’s former antagonists resume their prior antipathy toward her now that the election is over.

2) A primary purpose of the petition effort and of the election, win or lose, was to dramatically raise public awareness of the ETJ problem. We have accomplished that and feel very satisfied that the hard work served that good purpose. We continue to look forward with hopeful anticipation to total elimination of municipal extra-territorial jurisdictions, perhaps by way of a State or Federal judicial ruling of ETJ’s as unconstitutional violations of property rights.

3) Today’s election leaves Hot Springs as one of only four cities in Arkansas (15 or so tried city manager government beginning in the 1950’s and most later went back to aldermanic), retaining the city manager form of government. Obviously we are not keeping up with the trend, but now in accordance with state law will have to wait out another four years of “government by task forces, studies, and consultants” for another opportunity to return to the more responsive and accountable aldermanic form, joining the vast majority of the approximately 500 other Arkansas towns and cities who retain or have returned to aldermanic government.

Thanks to each one who cared enough to exercise your right to vote in this election, regardless of whether your vote was FOR or AGAINST.


Clay Herrmann

 Posted by at 11:00 pm
May 082013

Supporters of voting “FOR” return to the aldermanic form of government have made extraordinary efforts to provide opportunities for both sides of this current election issue to appear in public debate, at moderated discussion forums, and in panel discussion in order to, in a fair and balanced manner,  provide opportunities for the electorate to have questions answered, and to become more educated and informed on this issue.

Those efforts have included:

1) an appeal to the Sentinel-Record Editor, Melinda Gassaway, for the paper to host a public debate or moderated panel discussion of this issue. No reply from the Sentinel-Record.

2) a face to face appeal and invitation to Jackie Arrison, Chief Operating Officer at the the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, that the Chamber or another affiliated organization host a debate or discussssion forum allowing the public to hear from both sides. That invitation was discussed and declined.

3) An effort to have a debate or moderated panel discussion with an audience Q&A component, at National Park Community College, cooordinating plans with Melony Ritter, Special Projects at NPCC. Miss Ritter reported that she communicated with the “AGAINST” Campaign leadership, and was informed that they were not interested in participating in any such public forum at the College.

But they were willing to have a get out the vote rally, so that uninformed city voters might eat free hot dogs and be encourged to vote for continuation of the current administration and form of government.

The color scheme in their advertizing logo is black and red, but should be black and yellow.

Clay Herrmann

 Posted by at 11:02 am
May 022013
“Hot Springs City Manager” George Pritchett VS Aldermanic Advocate – Jock MacGregor: Glenn Gallas, Garland County TEA Party Chairman, moderating at a public forum hosted by the Garland County TEA Party at Phil’s Family Restaurant on April 24, 2013.
NOTE: repeated invitations were broadly extended to numerous representatives of the “SAVE OUR CITY COMMITTEE” to participate in a moderated public forum with both sides represented so that we might have a more informed electorate on this issue, but no one from the “VOTE AGAINST GOING BACKWARDS” group came forward willing to participate. In that absence George Pritchett volunteered to play the role of Hot Springs City Manager.
Hot Springs, Arkansas Special Election May 14, 2013
(nine city polling locations)

Early Voting starts May 7

Vote “FOR” change
(return to Aldermanic form of city government)

— or —

Vote “AGAINST” change
(retain existing City Manager form of city government)

 Posted by at 3:01 pm
May 012013

Fundamental Principles Related to
 “Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction”

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

“… Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …”

– from the second paragraph of the United States Declaration of Independence –


Constitution of the State Of Arkansas of 1874
Declaration of Rights

2. Freedom and independence.

All men are created equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; amongst which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and reputation; and of pursuing their own happiness. To secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.


22. Property rights – Taking without just compensation prohibited.

The right of property is before and higher than any constitutional sanction; and private property shall not be taken, appropriated or damaged for public use, without just compensation therefor.


28. Tenure of lands.

All lands in this State are declared to be allodial; and feudal tenures of every description, with all their incidents, are prohibited.


(Allodial – Free; not holden of any lord or superior, owned without obligation of vassalage or fealty; the opposite of feudal –Black’s Law Dictionary-Sixth Edition)


29. Enumeration of rights of people not exclusive of other rights – Protection against encroachment.

This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people; and to guard against any encroachments on the rights herein retained, or any transgression of any of the higher powers herein delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of the government; and shall forever remain inviolate; and that all laws contrary thereto, or to the other provisions herein contained, shall be void. 


 Posted by at 5:00 am