Gov. Mike Huckabee, ever ready to capitalize on the popular issue of the day, got a little blowback when he magnanimously volunteered to put some State Police on patrol in the murderous streets of LR. As the D-G reported, some LR officials suggested -- ever so politely -- that the state could probably help the city more by taking the state prisoner backlog out of local lockups so some space could be opened for more local criminals.
Huckabee isn't happy with how the D-G reported the story. The governor's electronic statement is on the jump. Seth, we feel your pain. (Seeing no corrective by the D-G Saturday, we presume they are standing behind their reporter's work. As they should. We still don't get what set the Huck off, but we know he has a short fuse and a mean streak, despite his recently professed devotion to the Golden Rule.)
GOV. HUCKABEE'S STATEMENT
I have a deep respect for people who work in the news industry. I realize
how difficult it can be to chase a story, especially when you are juggling
two or three of them at a time. Reporters are always on a deadline and
they sometimes have to talk with numerous individuals in order to get a
story. It can be tedious work to make sure all your facts are correct –
but that is the responsibility of their profession. Good reporters report
the news, not invent the news.
So you can imagine my surprise when I read the Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s
article entitled, “Huckabee doubts jail space LR’s answer: Homicides up
elsewhere, not linked to state inmates kept in county jail, he says.” I
hadn’t been interviewed by the reporter for this piece and was disappointed
and shocked, to say the least, when I read words that were credited to me
that I never said. Seth Blomeley’s blatant disregard for accurate
reporting and his complete fabrication of what I said in my “Arkansans Ask”
interview is not just frustrating - it is recklessly irresponsible.
I never said that “I didn’t put much stock” in the jail overcrowding issue.
I plainly stated that I did not know what the driving force behind the
murder rate was, but that in the past we have had far greater jail backup
problems and the murder rate was lower than it is today. I also said that
there has been a sudden and dramatic rise in homicides in several urban
areas in other states and no one has found a connection between those
crimes and overcrowded jails. I in no way claimed there was not a
connection; rather I implied it would be haste, at this point, to conclude
Never once did I say “I didn’t put much stock” in this theory.
It is a sad day for the news industry when a reporter makes the
irresponsible decision to deny the truth and instead fabricate facts in
order to create his version of a story.
HERE'S THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE LEAD FOR REFERENCE
Gov. Mike Huckabee late Thursday said he didn’t put much stock in theories put forth by Little Rock and Pulaski County officials that a lack of jail space is helping fuel a spike in Little Rock homicides this year.
“The murder rate is also spiking in places like Memphis and St. Louis and Houston and that has nothing to do with Arkansas’ prison backup,” Huckabee said on his monthly television callin show on the Arkansas Educational Telecommunications Network.
Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey, Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas and the administrator of the Pulaski County jail called Wednesday for Huckabee to have state officials more quickly move state inmates from the county jail into the state prison system to free up spaces for newly arrested suspects. State inmates typically wait four to six weeks to be transferred.
Their request followed Huckabee saying on his radio show that he was offering Arkansas State Police to help patrol Little Rock neighborhoods to combat the city’s homicide problem.
Dailey said Thursday that Thomas informed him that the state Department of Correction had transferred 44 inmates that afternoon and more were to be transferred today.
“I just appreciate the fact that [Huckabee] has responded and is helping,” Dailey said in an interview after Huckabee made his comments.
But Dailey said he didn’t know whether the transfers were routine or were specifically ordered by Huckabee.
Dina Tyler, a spokesman for the Department of Correction, said Wednesday that the state couldn’t move inmates out of Pulaski County more quickly than they are now. She said Thursday that the state isn’t doing anything different in regard to Pulaski County.
On Wednesday, a Huckabee spokesman said the governor pledged to move out the inmates from Pulaski County as “quickly as possible,” but the spokesman said Huckabee didn’t say how quick that would be.