Mayor Claybaker's Big 5, and a Top 10

Posted in the Camden Forum

Ed Parham

Little Rock, AR

#1 Jun 30, 2012
Mayor Chris Claybaker became president of the Arkansas Municipal League on June 20 in Hot Springs. A week later (Friday), the Camden News ran a front-page story reporting that it was a magical moment for the mayor, a This-Is-Your-Life event which had him thanking an entourage of family and Camden elected officials and employees. Prominent among his remarks was that becoming league president makes his life’s “Big Five,” ranking up there with being Christianized, getting married, having children and grandchildren, and winning election as Camden’s mayor.

Mr. Claybaker has told his supporters that this is his last term at City Hall, and in the recent past has sought (unsuccessfully, obviously) to move on to high-paying jobs at state and federal levels. There’s some speculation that he’ll use his high-profile year with the Municipal League to arrange for himself some suitable post-Camden employment.

So I’m trying to work ahead to that eventful day, and Claybaker’s “Big Five” has gotten me to thinking I need to prepare a Top 10 of not accomplishments exactly but the truly historical developments with strong connection to Claybaker which have occurred during his nearly two terms as Camden’s mayor.

Off the top of my head, and in no particular order, here’s a working list:

(1) the loss of the International Paper mill.

(2) the River Walk.

(3) the Adams Avenue Redevelopment Project and the business incubator.

(4) the “Big Announcement” of new jobs which deteriorated into the departure of Atlantic Research operations from Highland Park.

(5) the white-flight-underlined decline in Camden’s population.

(6) the Phoenix fiasco.

(7) the water pipeline to East Camden.

(8) the conversion of the old Fairview school campus into the Boys & Girls recreation complex.

(9) the proliferation of city fees and taxes — specifically the A&P, economic-development and so-called Public Safety levies.

You’ll notice that Claybaker’s becoming president of the Municipal League didn’t make my list (neither did Percefull’s $100,000 flower-pot boat). Also that it only runs to No. 9. I’m saving room in case the civic-center tax is enacted.

There may be better items which should shove one (or more) of these off the list. Or perhaps you’d just like to comment, or make your own Top 10, or even Top 100. I’d appreciate any worthwhile feedback.
Claybaker

Pine Bluff, AR

#2 Jun 30, 2012
Still jealous aren't you Ed?
guest

United States

#3 Jun 30, 2012
Looks like Ed states very valid points. And whatever this new 'election' as a 'president' of some unheard of organization is...it only lessons my faith in this state to ever do anything worthwhile or to have politicians with brains. Betting, once again, it's so much more about 'who you know.' The only highlight to this state is the Children's Hospital, and Camden itself is becoming a cesspool of degenerates. Thanks, Claybaker.

“O.G.”

Since: Aug 09

Original Gamester

#4 Jul 1, 2012
Are you referring to accomplishments only?
Ed Parham

Little Rock, AR

#5 Jul 1, 2012
Mr. C: still working, with what I've got to work with.

Deak: great accomplishments; spectacular failures. The mayor's lengthy tenure reminds me of Faubus (and Orval was governor of Arkansas for only the first 12 years of my life); the high (or low) point of his administration was the LR Central High crisis. At some point I'll have to compile a list of Claybaker legacy; after nearly 20 years, that's a lot to sift through, and, of course, there is the reasonable skepticism about my objectivity (see above). So I'm asking for input. Any ideas?
big nothing

Camden, AR

#6 Jul 1, 2012
Ed Parham wrote:
Mr. C: still working, with what I've got to work with.
Deak: great accomplishments; spectacular failures. The mayor's lengthy tenure reminds me of Faubus (and Orval was governor of Arkansas for only the first 12 years of my life); the high (or low) point of his administration was the LR Central High crisis. At some point I'll have to compile a list of Claybaker legacy; after nearly 20 years, that's a lot to sift through, and, of course, there is the reasonable skepticism about my objectivity (see above). So I'm asking for input. Any ideas?
what happened to his splash on the ouachita river valley board? is he gone from there now?

“O.G.”

Since: Aug 09

Original Gamester

#7 Jul 1, 2012
Ed Parham wrote:
Mr. C: still working, with what I've got to work with.
Deak: great accomplishments; spectacular failures. The mayor's lengthy tenure reminds me of Faubus (and Orval was governor of Arkansas for only the first 12 years of my life); the high (or low) point of his administration was the LR Central High crisis. At some point I'll have to compile a list of Claybaker legacy; after nearly 20 years, that's a lot to sift through, and, of course, there is the reasonable skepticism about my objectivity (see above). So I'm asking for input. Any ideas?
I certainly think that Claybaker's admitted activities concerning the investigation and subsequent resignation of Stan Kendall and the admitted leaking of internal documents during the 2010 mayor's race should be in the top 10.

He wants to nitpick firefighters' sick time but raise taxes for an unneeded civic center. It's sad.
Ed Parham

Conway, AR

#8 Jul 3, 2012
These are two good suggestions, and they had both occurred to me, but I don’t see either cracking the Top 10.

B.N.: being head of the Ouachita River Valley Association had been his main qualification when Claybaker first ran for mayor, and he used it thereafter to leverage his influence as mayor in circles beyond Camden. That wore thin by the time of his stepping down last year, if subsequent newspaper coverage of between-the-lines bickering between Claybaker and his successor is any indication. The bottom tally is that despite all his years of lobbying, the Corps of Engineers is cutting loose maintenance of navigation on the Upper Ouachita. The wider economy and federal budgeting are beyond Claybaker’s control, of course, but a current assessment of his impact at ORVA has to be that it came to naught. Despite the promise of his early years, he’s not bringing any boats upriver to Camden, and even the annual Bargin’on the River spectacle is now a thing in his political past. It served a purpose — just not the purpose that people were supposed to suppose.

Deak: the Kendall affair was Claybaker’s Watergate, except that he didn’t resign to avoid impeachment. If he had, it would make my list. About all it did was serve to establish how low the bar has been set for Camden’s public servants. Because of it we know that the people who are left here are willing to tolerate criminal activity in the Mayor’s Office. Kendall neither buoys nor sinks Claybaker, it merely deflates his legacy — and it’s a minor leak at that.
pedee

Camden, AR

#9 Jul 3, 2012
We have the invisible Ouachita County Museum in downtown Camden. Where has that idea gone to? And where is all of the Camden River Port traffic that was suppose to be happening? I'll be thinking about more and will post later.
Guest

Camden, AR

#11 Jul 10, 2012
Things I know for sure:

Camden is better now than it was when I moved here 12 years ago. There wasn't a downtown to speak of - now businesses are coming in and attracting more business and it looks like younger residents are taking an interest in their town.

Stan Kendall is a liar and sociopath and the PEOPLE of Camden chose NOT to elect him as their Mayor.

The only thing that's gone on longer than Claybakers tenure as Mayor is Ed Parham and Deakon making crap up about him and carrying on like a bunch of cry babies. YOU LOST ED! Stop your whining and move on - because the people told you what they wanted in the last election and Deakon - just shut up - you are the biggest bag of wind on here.

It isn't up to Claybaker to impose a sales tax on the Civic Center - it has to be voted on by the PEOPLE of Camden.

Claybaker had nothing to do with Phoenix, he thought, as well as several area businessmen, that it was going to be a viable job-creating venture.

Why are you so interested in what Claybaker does when he leaves office? That's none of your business. He'll have no problem finding a job - and one that doesn't include trashing people for a living.

“O.G.”

Since: Aug 09

Original Gamester

#12 Jul 10, 2012
Guest wrote:
Things I know for sure:
I bet it's hard to breathe with your head that far up his arse. You obviously suffer from lack of oxygen. That's crazy talk. It certainly sounds like you're whining about us big bad men picking on your innocently incompetent wittle mayor. Crybaby indeed. lol
Reality Check

Warren, AR

#13 Jul 10, 2012
Guest wrote:
Things I know for sure:
Camden is better now than it was when I moved here 12 years ago. There wasn't a downtown to speak of - now businesses are coming in and attracting more business and it looks like younger residents are taking an interest in their town.
Stan Kendall is a liar and sociopath and the PEOPLE of Camden chose NOT to elect him as their Mayor.
The only thing that's gone on longer than Claybakers tenure as Mayor is Ed Parham and Deakon making crap up about him and carrying on like a bunch of cry babies. YOU LOST ED! Stop your whining and move on - because the people told you what they wanted in the last election and Deakon - just shut up - you are the biggest bag of wind on here.
It isn't up to Claybaker to impose a sales tax on the Civic Center - it has to be voted on by the PEOPLE of Camden.
Claybaker had nothing to do with Phoenix, he thought, as well as several area businessmen, that it was going to be a viable job-creating venture.
Why are you so interested in what Claybaker does when he leaves office? That's none of your business. He'll have no problem finding a job - and one that doesn't include trashing people for a living.
No, Claybaker was not directly responsible for the failure of the Phoenix debacle but he and the rest of the city leaders should have at least checked into the guy. The red flags would not have been hard to spot. Anything that wants to come to town, as large as the Phoenix was proposed to be, from someone out of state should be checked into before any city resources are made available. It's called doing your due diligence and it's smart business. Claybaker and the city leaders thought they had really lucked up on something great. That prospect blinded them and it just so happened it was just another black eye for Camden. It is decisions like this one that causes our citizens to say "It will never happen" when there is a potential prospect for growth to our town. If the due diligence was done behind the scenes and only the prospects that checked out made it to public knowledge our citizens would not have the attitude they do about growing our town.
Aces High

Pearcy, AR

#14 Jul 10, 2012
Guest wrote:
Things I know for sure:
Camden is better now than it was when I moved here 12 years ago. There wasn't a downtown to speak of - now businesses are coming in and attracting more business and it looks like younger residents are taking an interest in their town.
Stan Kendall is a liar and sociopath and the PEOPLE of Camden chose NOT to elect him as their Mayor.
The only thing that's gone on longer than Claybakers tenure as Mayor is Ed Parham and Deakon making crap up about him and carrying on like a bunch of cry babies. YOU LOST ED! Stop your whining and move on - because the people told you what they wanted in the last election and Deakon - just shut up - you are the biggest bag of wind on here.
It isn't up to Claybaker to impose a sales tax on the Civic Center - it has to be voted on by the PEOPLE of Camden.
Claybaker had nothing to do with Phoenix, he thought, as well as several area businessmen, that it was going to be a viable job-creating venture.
Why are you so interested in what Claybaker does when he leaves office? That's none of your business. He'll have no problem finding a job - and one that doesn't include trashing people for a living.
Well at least you got the Stan Kendall part right.
Kendall

Concord, CA

#15 Jul 26, 2012
I don't think they got it right at all. True, you re-elected a liar, crook and self-absorbed pre-madona so don't complain. All of you who bought into his lies and rhetoric get what you deserve, a dying town being run by individuals who think themselves as untouchable. Well I am here now ready to reach out and touch someone!
pedee

Camden, AR

#16 Jul 27, 2012
Who will be running in the next mayor race???
Reality Check

Warren, AR

#17 Jul 28, 2012
pedee wrote:
Who will be running in the next mayor race???
That is a great question and, given the past opponents Claybaker has had, a pretty unsettling thought. If someone good steps up and takes the bull by the horns, this town could see a bit of a turnaround. All of the elements of a great town are here and just waiting to be tapped into. We just need someone who is savy enough to encourage the town to go and get it and to have the city support those efforts even if they lie outside the city limits but would indirectly benefit Camden.

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