I have no doubt that Madison County officials, when asked, are ready to respond with a list of issues that concern the county. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has taken it upon herself to be that person, the one asking what issues face our county, by scheduling a roundtable discussion with county leaders that was to take place on Tuesday morning. 

Even if we weren’t in a pandemic, I’d question her use of the attorney general’s office and funding to make a goodwill tour into Madison County after conveniently announcing her candidacy for governor in 2022. I don’t recall seeing Rutledge grace us with her presence on a regular basis, so one has to question her timing to visit our county. 

In the absence of attending the meeting, I’d like to let her know of one concern that I have and that is that the day she chose to visit, our county was experiencing a 10 percent positivity rate of those being tested for Covid-19. In light of that, the idea of bringing our county and government leaders together inside in one room, against suggested safety protocols, during a raging pandemic is not a good idea and appears to be self-serving. What issue is facing this county, in her opinion, that she will actually do something about, is so very important that it requires a socially distant meeting rather than one that could be conducted more safely, efficiently and less costly via Zoom? 

We asked what precautions Rutledge would take. Her spokeswoman said if Rutledge wasn’t able to socially distance, she would wear a mask. That’s a change.

Her spokeswoman went on to say, I kid you not, “Unlike any other elected official, the Attorney General prioritizes” … wait for it … “face-to-face meetings with Arkansans.” Nope, that’s not a typo, our attorney general during a raging pandemic prefers “face-to-face” meetings. 

She’s visiting our county a week before Thanksgiving when people will celebrate in very small gatherings this year so that we don’t infect family members by exposing them to the virus, when Kingston High School is learning virtually due to an outbreak of Covid-19 among its students, and when Huntsville School District announced several different cases of Covid-19 just this week, sending more teachers and students into quarantine. 

We asked Rutledge’s spokesman if Rutledge would have a covid test before conducting the meeting to make sure our county leaders aren’t exposed to the coronavirus. After all, Rutledge spent a good part of her fall campaigning for President Donald Trump, without a mask by the way, attending super-spreader events. Her social media shows photos of her galavanting around the country, sans masks, but with people who were later diagnosed with covid, including Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Rutledge wouldn’t commit to having a covid test administered before the meeting, but instead said, that she had been tested numerous times and all have been negative. I guess she doesn’t know the pandemic is still ongoing and past tests, well, are just that, past tests. 

If she truly cared about Madison County and our concerns, she would spare us a “face-to-face” meeting on the state’s dime during a pandemic in which our county is currently facing a 10 percent positivity rate. We’d rather have healthy elected officials so that they can work and care for the county’s citizens during the pandemic rather than a nice little “face-to-face” meeting. I tend to agree with those elected officials that Rutledge condemns for not having face-to-face meetings. Perhaps they’re more likely to keep our county safe.

Ellen Kreth is publisher of the Madison County Record and can be reached at ekreth@mcrecordonline.com