Thursday, April 03, 2008

UFOs & Municipal politics

What happens when small town municipal politics and UFOs meet?

In 1997, in the city of Horseshoe Bend (pop. 2,271), Arkansas, Ruth Parks was elected the city recorder / treasurer, where she served with Mayor Robert Spear, who was elected to a four year term in January 1999. While the relationship between the two elected officials began well, a rift developed after a dispute over the city's contract for ambulance services. Parks expressed disagreement with the mayor on other policy issues, as well.

Shortly after the ambulance service disagreement, one of Spear's friends, David Perkins, began to drive by Parks's home at a high rate of speed, honking his horn. Parks believed that Spear had directed Perkins to undertake this annoying practice, and reported the incidents to Spear and Police Chief Fred Mitchell. Mitchell had Parks file an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant for Perkins, and Perkins was arrested for harassment. The state court entered a no contact order prohibiting Perkins from continuing the conduct. Nonetheless, Perkins continued to drive past Parks's home, honking his horn.

Perkins was tried in state court on the harassment charge; the state court also considered whether Perkins violated the no contact order. At trial, Parks and her husband, Arlon Parks, testified. During cross examination, Parks was asked if she believed in unidentified flying objects (UFOs), whether she had ever seen a UFO, and whether she had been abducted by a UFO. She testified that she believed in UFOs, and had seen them in the past. She stated she had never been abducted by aliens. The defense attorney asked Mr. Parks similar questions. Mr. Parks testified he believed in UFOs, but had never seen one. He denied he had been abducted by aliens, but stated his wife had been abducted by aliens, commenting that she had scars to prove it.

The trial court found Perkins not guilty of harassment, but concluded Perkins had violated the no contact order and held Perkins in contempt of court.

The local newspaper, The News, reported on the Perkins trial. Janice Fae Mitchell, the wife of Police Chief Mitchell and a member of The News staff, authored an article about the Perkins trial that was published in the The News. In the article, Ms. Mitchell recounted the testimony regarding UFOs. Specifically, the article noted that both Ruth and Arlon Parks testified that they believe in UFOs and had seen them in the past. It said they each denied having been abducted by aliens, but noted Mr. Parks's testimony that he believed his wife had been abducted by aliens.

Parks sued. She didn't challenge the accuracy of the article's account of the UFO testimony, but instead claimed the article, and others written by Ms. Mitchell about the Perkins controversy, were defamatory and designed to make her look foolish.

During the Perkins controversy, The News published a letter to the editor written by Parks. Underneath the letter, The News ran a cartoon lampooning Parks. Parks alleged the cartoon, which was published without attribution, was drawn by Police Chief Mitchell, although she never provided a factual basis for this assertion.

Subsequent to the Perkins controversy, Parks ran for re-election for recorder/ treasurer. Two candidates ran against her: Charles "Chuck" Simmons and Ann Shaw. Parks alleges Spear selected Simmons to run against her to silence her. Simmons, then the court clerk for the City of Horseshoe Bend, won the election, with Shaw receiving the second highest number of votes.

Parks filed a lawsuit in which she alleged that Spear, Simmons, the City and the Mitchells violated her constitutional rights by conspiring to prevent her re-election in retaliation for her vocal opposition to Mayor Spear. Parks claims the events described above were part of the alleged conspiracy.

The case was summarily dismissed, a decison upheld on appeal.

Only in America...

Paul Kimball


Anonymous said...

Seeing a ufo or believing some things about them, like in the Kucinich/reporter exchange during a primary debate, is now becoming what it must have been like to be black in the South (and elsewhere) during the 1930's. Which, then and now, since it's based on elemental ignorance of history and prejudice, is just basic bullshit.

Joseph Capp said...

I don't know who was right in that case, I wasn't there, but this is true of many witnesses to the unexplained. Taking a stand and what you are reporting, especially if it is detailed, has ended a job, career, a marriage and even a life. I am learning to practice caution even when I hear strange tales from witnesses these days.

Joe Capp
UFO Media Matters Post: "The Other Skinwaker Ranch: Contact"
Non-Commercial Blog

Anonymous said...

Seeing a ufo or believing some things about them, like in the Kucinich/reporter exchange during a primary debate, is now becoming what it must have been like to be black in the South (and elsewhere) during the 1930's.

This has to be one of the most ignorant comments I've ever seen on the internets. You fail.