When it rains Tech Park news, it pours. This just in from Leslie Newell Peacock:
UAMS has not paid the second of four installments it's pledged toward the construction of the Little Rock Technology Park out of concern the Technology Park Authority board is not working to find a location alternative to the three residential areas under consideration from the outset.
UAMS, UALR, Arkansas Children's Hospital and the city of Little Rock donated $25,000 each last year; each partner (and ACH, which is not a partner but is giving financial assistance) has pledged $125,000, to be paid in five installments. Spokesman Dan McFadden said he believes Children's has made its second installment. Neither UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson nor city leadership could be reached to see if they planned to pay.
UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn was out of town today, but Tom S. Butler, vice chancellor for administration and governmental affairs at UAMS, said the chancellor wants to see the Authority board take part in alternative site selection, rather than just receive proposals. Dr. Mary Good, chair of the board, said at the board's last meeting that it did not plan to participate in coming up with alternatives. Rahn, Butler said, "thinks they would have the finances to be able to look at these other areas and evaluate them."
Butler, who grew up south of 12th Street on Adams, near one of the three study sites, is a member of a committee named by the board to work with residents of the Forest Hills and Fair Park neighborhoods between UALR and UAMS to hear concerns and help them find housing should their neighborhood be chosen for demolition. The committee was to meet last week, but board member Jay Chesshir sent a note out saying the "committee had not decided on either of the three spots," Butler said, and wasn't going forward.
"We want to see how things are going and that everything is being considered" before making a payment, Butler said. "I think we should look at everything. We're not hung up on the five-minute rule," he said, referring to the Authority board's criteria that the park be within five minutes driving distance between the "owners" of the park.
Chesshir, CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, said there's no deadline for payment of the contributions. Chesshir is one of three Chamber-related members of the seven-member board operating the authority. The Chamber is operating it administratively and promoted the law that created it. The Chamber also ran the campaign in support of the city sales tax that will provide $22 million as the first payment on building the tech park.
Update: McFadden confirmed that Children's has made its installment. Update 2: UALR has also paid its $25,000 "for all practical purposes," Chancellor Joel Anderson said this afternoon. He said he was aware that Rahn had decided to withhold UAMS', but that Rahn had not approached other partners to urge them to follow suit. Anderson called the tech park siting a "regrettable disaster" so far, but he is optimistic that with time consensus will emerge. "My guess is there will be some attractive alternative" arise. All proposals need to be "fully evaluated on their merit." He said he will do "what I can do to assure the process is legitimate and wholesome."
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, in what might be one of its last grants in Arkansas since it's spending down the corpus, has announced a $1.5 million grant to the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. /more/
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/
Now that the Stephens properties on Main Street and Fifth have been sold to The Little Rock Technology Park, what is Stephens' share in the Metrocentre Improvement District assets, I wondered as I wrote yesterday's item on the potential sale of Henry Moore's "Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge." /more/
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/
Roxane Townsend, the chief executive officer of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, has submitted her resignation effective Sept. 30. She joined the campus in November 2012 from Louisiana. /more/
UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn is speaking further to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees about the medical center's tight finances and the damage that would be caused if the legislature doesn't approve continuation of the Obamacare-financed Medicaid expansion here (so-called private option). /more/
Southwestern Electric Power Company announced in a news release today that it is dropping plans for a $116 million power line across Northwest Arkansas because the project is no longer needed. It would have covered 60 miles between Benton and Carroll Counties.
Attorneys for the businessman argue that his cash payments to a former deputy director of DHS, Steven Jones, did not constitute corruption. They say prosecutors cannot prove the money was given in exchange for any particular "official act" from Jones.
Plaintiffs' lawyers made their case today to continue to trial with the civil suit over then-Judge Mike Maggio's reduction of a $5.2 million jury verdict in a nursing home negligence case to $1 million, a reduction he said he made in return for campaign contributions from the nursing home's owner.
We are receiving 200-pounds of large heirloom tomatoes Friday morning from Times publisher and farmer Alan Leveritt. We have dark, brick red Carbons, Goldies (large, high acid golden tomatoes) and Annis Noire, a delicious French heirloom that is green with red marbling when ripe.
Donald Trump is right. There was a time when America was great and it didn't pussyfoot around to avoid offending people who thought they were victimized by discrimination. It was, let's see, the period after World War II, when everyone prospered and America was kicking butts, at home and abroad, and Arkansas's leaders were at the center of it.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has issued a news release about freeway expansion with relevance in Little Rock. It's about wasting money to widen freeways that only create more congestion. Sound familiar?
Attorney General Loretta Lynch is announcing she will not participate in any decisions made on the federal investigation of use of a private e-mail server by Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state.
The juicy details in a court filing by plaintiffs attorneys in a civil suit involving Michael Morton, Gilbert Baker and Mike Maggio; the repeal of Texarkana’s nondiscrimination ordinance; and the Walton Family Foundation’s announcement that it would spend $250 million on facility construction of charter schools in Little Rock and elsewhere in the U.S. — all covered on the podcast.
Watch Channel 4's news clip of Baker Kurrus, the outgoing Little Rock School District superintendent, speaking before the "stakeholder's group" supposedly talking about collaboration between the district and the rapidly expanding charter schools in Little Rock. It's a heartfelt call for truth-telling about the lack of transparency in charter schools and the peril they hold for the Little Rock School District.