The Little Rock City Board last night heard from Ward 2 residents in favor and opposed to the resignation of City Director Kenneth Richardson because of a recent drunk driving arrest.
My thoughts: Those calling for his resignation are opportunistically — and sometimes sanctimoniously — using the arrest to achieve what they couldn’t achieve at the ballot box when he was challenged in November by an ally of City Director Joan Adcock, who often feuds with Richardson. Old neighborhood pals of Adcock are at work in this resignation drive, couched as being in the compassionate best interests of Richardson.
Others who worked for Richardson’s election say he’s been a good representative. Indeed, the big police substation and other development efforts in troubled midtown owe plenty to Richardson. He’s also been a rare voice against the conventional corporate wisdom that too often controls City Board politics. He remembers whom he represents.
Don’t hear me wrong. Richardson has admitted a problem with substance abuse. He made worse than a mistake. He apparently broke the law and not for the first time. He’ll be adjudicated and, if convicted, punished.
Does it disqualify him from public service? I won’t trouble you with a recitation of other public officials — including judges who preside over DWI cases — who’ve been ticketed for driving drunk and retained their jobs. It’s a slippery slope to demand removal from office for driving offenses.
A call for sober representation is reasonable enough. It’s also reasonable not to presume Richardson guilty of serving unsoberly since his arrest. His words and deeds in the days ahead are a better judge of his fitness to serve. Along with voter wishes. He says he won’t resign. If this call for resignation is merely prelude to a recall campaign, I predict an outcome similar to that in November. He’ll survive and leave a further fractured ward. “Judge not” is a powerful theme. By his actions in the days ahead, Richardson will encourage or discourage sympathy for that forgiving point of view.