Saturday, May 10, 2014

TOP STORY >> Supporters roast Carter

Leader staff writer

Speaker of the House Davy Carter (R-Cabot) was in the hot seat during the Cabot Scholarship Foundation’s 19th annual Roast and Toast held Tuesday night at the Cabot Junior High North cafeteria.

“Davy’s hard to talk about because he is not very controversial. In fact, he is kind of boring. He’s as controversial as coleslaw,” Gov. Mike Beebe said.

“He reminds me of a young version of me. I had a Buster Brown haircut, just like he’s got. Difference is I got over it,” Beebe said.

Beebe said Carter has both Dale Bumpers’ and David Pryor’s mannerisms down. He says yes ma’am, shuffles his feet and is humble like Pryor and then lords it over the House of Representatives like Dale Bumpers, the governor joked.

Beebe said he’s been at the Capitol for nearly 32 years as governor, attorney general and state senator. He’s seen people come and go, talent wasted. He’s seen crooks and laziness but also saw hard-working people who deserve to be there, who are good public servants.

Carter is among the governor’s top six people he can name who define what public service is all about, Beebe said.

“It wasn’t easy what he did. He stole the House of Representatives’ speaker. It really was a coup. Those guys had their speaker picked out. They came out of the room, and it wasn’t the guy they picked out. It was the guy with the Buster Brown haircut. He had an impossible task. He had 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats. The Republicans were divided between traditional business Republicans and the Tea Party. A lot of them were mad at him because he beat the guy some of them wanted,” Beebe said.

Bill Vickery, a political commentator, said, when Carter became speaker, it was the first time ever that the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.

“What’s the first move he does? He gets the former chairman of the Democratic party (Gabe Holmstrom, a Cabot High graduate) to be his chief of staff,” Vickery said.

Beebe said, “(Carter) had to manage all that with tough issues; a $24-billion budget, how to make things better for our students, parents and seniors, how to make Arkansas a better place.

“How do you balance this with competing interests? Some people who care and some people who care in a different direction didn’t like Davy and still don’t. How do you get that — honesty, hard work, perseverance, credibility and trustworthiness. Davy Carter is as good as it gets,” the governor said.

Vickery said, “In politics you often see the bad side of people, and that’s unfortunate. But you have a person here in this community that rose to the occasion. A lot of folks in politics, they do the right thing when everyone is looking. Davy Carter does the right thing when no one is looking. It is an honor to call Davy Carter my friend.”

Centennial Bank regional president Tracy French said Carter, “is a banker, a lawyer and politician, what are the odds of someone surviving all three of those.

“I met Davy 11 years ago working at Community Bank. He said he was in the neighborhood and dropped off his resume. I hired him on the spot. He is the 167th person I’ve ever done that to,” French said.

“Then he went into the lawyer business. I don’t think he won a case,” French said.

“I don’t know if you ever rode with (Carter). But he always has a shortcut. Remember this. I’ve put an extra 4,618 miles on my car, because of his shortcuts. Don’t ever do shortcuts with him because you are going to be late. But you do get there,” French said.

“How many of you heard (Carter) sing? He is really bad. But he doesn’t know that. He thinks he is good, so there’s nothing any better. One week in Florida we listened to Elvis all week long. He is not an Elvis guy, but thinks he is Garth Brooks,” French said.

Beebe said Carter thinks he is George Strait when he sings.

Carter said, “I was going to counter some of the things but Bill has the power of the radio to get me back, Tracy signs my paycheck and I didn’t become speaker without being smart enough to not make fun of the governor.”

Carter said his family moved to Cabot 11 years ago and that it’s a great community. He said what makes Cabot special is the quality of teachers. It didn’t start overnight, Carter noted.

“I hope (the community) doesn’t forget and (everyone) appreciates it. It’s not that way everywhere. Unfortunately, in our state, we have some school districts that struggle,” Carter said.

Beebe said the Cabot School District is a special place. He said he gets the chance to see 238 school districts in the state that have really good people who care about children and grandchildren and want them to have the best opportunities and teachers who work hard to teach them.

“For some reason they don’t have the community support like (Cabot). They don’t have a tax base, the facilities, the kinds of teachers and administration that is able to see and plan for down the road. They don’t have a school board that is so committed and takes the tough stances,” Beebe said.

“So you are very lucky. You should never take this for granted. That’s why so many people want to move to Cabot, because of your school system. It breeds other people like it. It breeds this importance and significance of education.

“If we’re ever going to improve the quality of life of our people, that’s the key. It is the reason I’m standing here. It’s the reason Davy is being honored. It’s the reason everybody on this dais had some degree of success in their professions. It’s because of education. Your commitment to it and to the students is pretty spectacular,” Beebe said.