The Hot Springs Sentinel-Record is behind an absolute pay wall, so I can't link you to a story there today on an ongoing community controversy that we'll be writing about before long.
Religious Right Tea Partyers in Hot Springs have pretty well taken over city government in Hot Springs. Outgrowth here: A push for more government spending. Really.
The Tea Partyers really like the work of some district judges — one a member of the same Nazarene congregation headed by Mayor Ruth Carney's husband — who give alcohol and drug offenders the choice of assignment to a religion-oriented rehab program or jail. Naturally, many offenders choose the Bible over the crossbar hotel, though some aren't happy about it.
The Tea Party wants to expand rehab offerings in the city, which naturally raises questions about who'll receive the jobs and money that flow from this. They are arguing that the county will reduce jail costs, and enjoy a net gain, by diverting people to rehab.
The Tea Party is hot for local governments to buy a VFW hall appraised at $1.2 million, using sales tax money and the fees the court violators will be ordered to pay to a non-sectarian rehab outfit. Nobody opposes the idea of rehab, but Sheriff Larry Sanders injected a note of reality in a discussion "called" yesterday by the Tea Party, now seemingly the sinful spa city's shadow government. "We still have to have a jail," he commented.
Yes. And I wouldn't take to the bank the Tea Party's assurances of $1.5 million in savings from diversion of violators to rehab. Faith is one thing. Cost accounting is another.