Prior to the statewide formation of TIGG in 2010, the Bella Vista Patriots were already in great need of such a statewide organization that deals with the use of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In 2005, the Bella Vista Patriots filed a question in the Benton County Circuit Court asking the Court to rule whether or not the Bella Vista Properties Association (BVPOA) had to allow its members to see the books and records. The association’s Protective Covenants specifically states, “The books and records shall be open to the members.” Judge Tom Keith ruled that there are no State Statutes to hold the BVPOA accountable to follow their own policies.
In 2007 the Patriots went to Court again to ask if the BVPOA was subject to FOIA. Judge John Scott ruled that the FOIA applies to tax dollars only.
In 2010, the BVPOA received $3,500.00 in turn-back funds (Tax dollars) from the county. The Patriots went to Court again and won with a unanimous vote of a 12 member jury. Judge Scott’s ruling stated that the books and records were open to the use of the tax dollars only. The judge did not award us attorney fees so the case cost us $40,000.00.
In 2011, the Patriots held an organizational meeting to form our ad hoc group called the Benton County Chapter of TIGG. We added that organization to our 501c4 Federal recognition which has an EIN number. The Benton County Chapter of TIGG has continued through the years to host meetings explaining the use and importance of the FOIA law.
In 2018, the Trafalgar Stump Dump caught on fire and burned for almost a year causing property and medical damage to residents within one half mile of the dump site. The owners, Blue Mountain Storage, never did have a permit. BVPOA leased the dump from 2003 to 2018 and they never had a permit. On April 23, 2008 the Patriots caught Cooper Communities, (CCI) throwing four huge concrete drums off into the junk yard. The Patriots informed the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and they did nothing.
In 2019, the Patriots filed a Complaint on the four entities above and Judge John Scott dismissed the case without a trial and stuck Patriot Chairman, Jim Parsons with $10,224.50 for attorney fees.
The above are just a few of the examples that our TIGG group in Benton County has had to deal with. In keeping the taxpayers informed and trying to curb corruption as mentioned in the paragraphs above it is imperative to be able to produce sound evidence and documentation. The best tool we have in our toolbox is the use of FOIA.