Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mayor Stodola's secrets

Posted By on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 2:11 PM

stodola.PNG
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola crushed token opposition in Tuesday's election. You'd think he'd be cheery. But he hasn't seemed too chipper in recent exchanges with me.

Perhaps it's because, I've been asking him about:

1) What he plans to do with an enormous amount of carryover campaign funds. His last pre-election report showed him sitting on $90,000. His 30-day post-election report will include more expenditures, but also more fund-raising. City ordinance doesn't allow carryover of campaign money. It must be refunded to donors, given to the city general fund or it may be given to charity. Several city directors say Stodola has expressed an opinion that this restriction might be unconstitutional (dubious, since the state law is similar) and he also, according to several directors, has expressed an interest in repealing the restriction. That would be pretty grabby and naturally give rise to wondering why Stodola would want to have a political slush fund, other than the obvious benefits of a political slush fund. To prepare to run for Congress in two years, maybe? Who knows.

Stodola wanted to know why I was interested. He said he would follow the law and give the money to charity as he had before. This, however, was before I told him I understood he contended the law was unconstitutional. He then said he'd merely inquired to the city attorney about the law because a city director candidate's report of carryover money had raised the question. He said he "contended" nothing. He, however, has not responded to my further question, based on comments from other city directors, about whether he'd like to repeal the ordinance. The idea will meet resistance, I gather. I should hope so.

2) Stodola is prepared to take a trip to China in the next few days with the Sister Cities Commission. Curiously, he won't confirm the trip, talk about the details or respond to my question about who's paying. Somewhere in city hall, presumably, is a document reflecting the mayor's travel plans. An FOI request so far hasn't produced a response from the mayor, the city manager's office or the city's paid information officer.

3) Stodola, a beneficiary of Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC money, also has refused to respond to my FOI request for details on how the chamber has spent the city's $200,000 handout to be an "independent contractor" on economic development. (I happened to write on that subject this week.) The city refuses to ask for information on which employees are paid and how much; on what types of publications and research the city has financed; on what type of "minority business" the city money has financed. The Chamber says it's exempt from the FOI, though it's contract with the city requires it to obey the FOI as applicable. I believe it's clearly applicable to these requests under a Supreme Court decision involving a private contractor with the UA. I've asked also for a record of the "unique services" the chamber provides for the taxpayer's $200,000. An FOI request to the city manager on this did get a response, of sorts. There was no record of any communications between the chamber and city officials or other record of services rendered, I was told. They do have on file the standard report the chamber sends to all members.

Welcome to transparent government, Mark Stodola/Little Rock Chamber style. Tea Party anyone?

UPDATE: Ah. so. The city's public information officer has provided a news release. Stodola is leading a "trade mission" along with his buddies at the LR Regional Chamber of Commerce and state officials. Here are the details he grudgingly supplied after all my yammering. He's still not saying who's paying for his trip; whether any city money shipped to the chamber is being spent on this or whether the city is incurring any other costs for the trip, a return of a visit to Little Rock by people from sister city Chanchung. No wonder he's not insisting that the Chamber fulfill the FOI terms of its contract. Wouldn't do to make his traveling buddies uncomfortable.

UPDATE: Another city contractor cheered my complaint about the Chamber. This 501-C3 has had a city contract for services and was required to make specific and detailed reports to the city — thus open to public inspection — for all its work and spending. Why don't we require the same accountability for the fat cats? I'll tell you why. Because they can't provide it. This $200,000 handout is a general subsidy, pure and simple. The independent contractor ruse is a fiction to step around constitutional prohibitions on the likes of this.

Tags: , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • More on LRSD tax

    January 5, 2017
    When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a Walton Foundation-paid lobbyist, long devoted critics of the Little Rock School District, lead the messaging for a quarter-billion dollars in new tax debt for the district, it is cause for caution. /more/
  • Little Rock school tax? No deal.

    December 22, 2016
    The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce is busy back-room politicking and — again — supporters of democratic public schools should be wary. /more/
  • Fighting for the Little Rock School District; absent a state commitment count me a skeptic

    December 20, 2016
    Little Rock School District supporters met with the governor today in hopes of getting a commitment for return of local control and to prevent school closures. Count me a skeptic, particularly about a movement to support a school tax. Will it just end up benefitting charter schools? /more/
  • Chamber of Commerce at work picking a Pulaski school board

    November 6, 2016
    Campaign finance reports reveal the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce efforts to control the majority of the Pulaski County School Board, all to be decided in elections next wek. /more/
  • City Year joins chamber to focus on Hall High School

    May 25, 2016
    City Year, the Americorps program that has put volunteers in Little Rock schools since 2004, will join city business leaders today in a partnership to be based at Hall High School in the 2016-17 school year. /more/
  • LR Chamber praises Kurrus, but silent on the outrage

    April 19, 2016
    I don't guess I should have expected better from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce than "concern" on the Hutchinson administration's undeserved ouster of Baker Kurrus as Little Rock school superintendent. /more/
  • Another endorsement for bus tax: NLR chamber

    February 12, 2016
    The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce has been mum on the public transit tax to be voted on March 1, but not the North Little Rock chamber: It announced today its support for the 0.25-cent increase for Rock Region Metro operations, saying it would "provide the agency the autonomy needed to make the current transit route system more efficient and responsive to our community's changing mobility demands and support more, better and modern bus service to central Arkansans." /more/
  • Smart growth? Not in LR

    January 21, 2016
    The Highway Department is one thing. It builds freeways. Alternative roadways, bike lanes, pedestrians and mass transit are low on its priority list. But you'd hope for better from Little Rock leaders. /more/
  • Freeways: Widen them and traffic moves slower

    January 5, 2016
    More research on the futility of widening freeways to speed traffic . In Houston, they've more than doubled the width of a major freeway and commuting times are slower. /more/
  • Caution: Freeway planners at work

    November 17, 2015
    More thoughts on the Interstate 30 expansion project, including an alarmed reaction to a highway engineer's idea of one way to improve the LaHarpe-Clinton Avenue intersection — with an elevated divided highway ramp! /more/
  • More »

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Abuse in nursing homes: Another reason to oppose 'tort reform'

    CNN couldn't have been more timely for Arkansas with a monumental investigation of nursing home abuse cases around the country. Advocates for nursing home patients say it illustrates what's wrong with the legislative push to make it unprofitable to sue over nursing home abuse.
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • More gun sense from Rep. Clarke Tucker

    Gun sense legislation from Rep. Clarke Tucker. Just because it makes sense doesn't mean the gun lobby will allow it.
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • A morals clause at the emergency room: Your legislature at work

    The chamber of horrors known as the Arkansas legislature rolls on. Latest installment: A "freedom of conscience" bill for health care providers from Sens. Jason Rapert and Linda Collins-Smith and Rep. Brandt Smith.
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Monticello preparing for KKK rally

    Drew County authorities are taking precautions, but also watching their words, about apparent plans for a Ku Klux Klan meeting Saturday.
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • Arkansas: Land of .......

    Welcome to Arkansas: Land of cowardly politicians, discriminatory laws, inhumane turkey drops and lots and lots of Trump voters.
    • Oct 8, 2016
  • In defense of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights

    An op-ed in today's New York Time by Katha Pollitt says what I've been struggling to say about the reaction to the attack on women's reproductive rights launched by means of the undercover videos made by anti-abortion activists.
    • Aug 5, 2015

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation