DE FACTO CITY HALL?: Does Chamber of Commerce call city government shots? Tech Park site outcome will be evidence.
To simplify various developments reported here yesterday on the proposed Little Rock Technology Park, a city taxpayer-funded office building project dreamed up by the private (but taxpayer subsidized) Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce:
The independent, unanswerable board of the authority has made all sorts of placating noises in response to Fair Park neighborhood outrage that residents might be bulldozed for an office building.
But ... the Authority board has NOT taken the neighborhood off the table, not even with partner UAMS withholding money and UALR leadership referring to the unfolding "regrettable disaster." UALR's effort to be a beacon of racial and ethnic advancement is suffering from its role in the potential devastation of a portion of its nearby neighborhood, populated heavily by lower income black people.
The question: Will the Chamber of Commerce faction's long preference for the poor residential neighborhood near UAMS be deterred by the rising opposition? Or will the Authority's criteria be drawn to exclude all but this option? And, finally, if that happens, will the Little Rock City Board of Directors have the brass to just say NO, for once, to the Chamber of Commerce? Without $22 million in city money, there is no Tech Park. This issue, better than any yet, will demonstrate who calls the shots on spending the accumulated Taco Bell sales tax pennies of city residents. Its elected representatives, influenced by wishes of the neighborhoods they nominally represent? Or a self-selected group of Little Rock business establishment insiders, plus Death Star Bob Johnson, the city water despoiler from Perry County?
The Little Rock City Board will consider Tuesday night an appeal of the Planning Commission's denial of a request to allow a Jimmy John's fast food sandwich shop at 4520 W. Markham, previously occupied by a branch bank. /more/
The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded researchers at Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences a $1.4 million grant to find out why Arkansans are among the fattest people in the nation. /more/
I had a conflict and couldn't watch Education Commissioner Johnny Key's appearance before the Little Rock City Board of Directors but two TV accounts and a comment or two from others discouraged those hoping for a return of a democratically controlled universal system of public education in Little Rock. /more/
Little Rock City Director Dean Kumpuris, one of three at-large members of the
Board, told me this morning that he will seek a fifth elected term to the board. He joined the board by appointment in 1995. /more/
It's June 1, which means candidates for Little Rock Board of Directors may begin soliciting money for November races. Molly Miller, challenging long-time Director Joan Adcock, is up and running. /more/
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/
Layoffs at the Welspun pipe plant in Little Rock are a reminder of the folly of corporate welfare and the inability of Arkansas to separate itself from global economic forces. See the Fayetteville shale. And keep a watchful eye on that Sun Paper pulp mill proposed near Arkadelphia.
Melinda Gwin, 49, of Hamburg has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to repay $210,875 stolen from the First National Bank of Crossett. She was sentenced in El Dorado federal court, according to a Justice Department news release.
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Politico delves deeply into the political machine begin built with the Koch brothers' fortune — a data-driven colossus for voter identification and turnout that has eclipsed Republican Party machinery to the extent that people like Tom Cotton used it over party tools.
Little Rock School Board member Leslie Fisken's blast of most fellow board members as rude, arrogant and dysfunctional — first reported here yesterday — has drawn a letter of response from new Board member Jim Ross. He disagrees with Fisken point by point.