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Monday, December 17, 2012

City of Little Rock: Easy come, easy go

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 11:19 AM

FUTURE HOMELESS CENTER: City proposes to let Union Rescue run it. Can non-believers apply for jobs paid with city tax money?
  • FUTURE HOMELESS CENTER: City proposes to let Union Rescue run it. Can non-believers apply for jobs paid with city tax money?

That half-billion in new sales tax money is absolutely burning a hole in the pocket of the city of Little Rock. It's hungering to pass the money out to private groups in a pattern I've complained about before. And, no, I'm not talking about the $22 million taxpayer-financed tech park office building, which still lacks a dollar of private skin in the game.

* CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: The city proposes, out of the blue with nothing passing for serious justification or discussion, to give an additional $100,000 to a group administered by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce (on top of the $200,000 direct subsidy to the Chamber) for supposed regional economic development. Little Rock would become the single biggest contributor to the Metro Alliance, paying for more than other cities and counties for reasons unclear. The Chamber has given me the cold shoulder on requests for details on specific expenditures by this largely publicly funded committee and how a 50 percent budget increase wholly funded by Little Rock was justified. Does the city of Little Rock give a rat's ass? It does not. UPDATE: Three weeks after the fact, I have begun receiving some responses to my FOI requests for details on the Metro Alliance spending.

* PANKEY HANKYPANKY: There has been some slowdown in City Manager Bruce Moore's push to funnel tens of thousands of city dollars into a largely inoperative community organization in the Pankey Community in the form of rent payment for a police substation in a long dormant white elephant of a supposed community center on Highway 10. Why Moore wants to pour tax money into the treasury of an organization with a demonstrated inability to manage its affairs effectively is anybody's guess. Start with political clout of some sort. PS — The Little Rock School District deserves some grief here, too. It gave the property to the community group and had the right long ago to recapture the property since it hasn't been converted to community center use. The district could use the land to work out, if nothing else, some land swaps with the city regarding other school property. a win/win. But the school district has been reluctant to invoke its rights under the agreement.

* HOMELESS CENTER: The latest outrage is news that the woefully overdue day resource center for the homeless on Confederate Boulevard is now targeted for another cloaked subsidy payment to a private operation, this time in a proposed contract with the Union Rescue Mission to operate the center, which will take over a rundown Union Rescue building that was set for abandonment. Workers will be employees of the Union Rescue Mission, not the city of Little Rock. Will they proselytize, as Union Rescue regularly does? The city says no and says a contract is in the works to spell all this out. Somebody better tell Union Rescue. Homeless advocate Robert Johnston notes that the evangelical group sought applicants for the job in November for people who'd be hired contingent on getting the city business. Jews, atheists and non-evangelicals need not apply if these rules hold. From the announcement:

Personal and Character Qualities Required
- Personal commitment to Jesus Christ and lives under the authority of Scripture.
- Professional and personal life reflects integrity, personal responsibility and Christian character.
- A servant’s heart and compassion for those who are lost, and are hurting yet not an enabler.
- Willing to sign the Union Rescue Mission’s Statement of Faith
- A current member or regular attendee of a local evangelical Christian church.
- Able to fully support the core values and philosophy of ministry held by URM

The full solicitation for jobs follows on the jump.

Couldn't the city hire its own employees for economic development? Hire non-believers to work with the homeless? Rent a building without providing sweetheart payola to a community group? All this smacks of ways around clear state constitutional prohibitions on granting of municipal funds to private corporations. That's bad enough. But when it also means richly subsidizing a political organization that lobbies against the public interest (Chamber of Comerce) or a group (Union Rescue) that discriminates on religious grounds in hiring, you really have to wonder if the tax money has gone to someone's head.

The Union Rescue Mission, a Christian ministry serving the last, least and lost in Central Arkansas, will open the application process for the following positions beginning December 3, 2012 with anticipated employment to begin Jan 14, 2012 (this is subject to the City of Little Rock's completion of the Day Resource Center). These positions are contingent on Union Rescue Mission being awarded the contract with the City of Little Rock to manage the Day Resource Center.

Applicants understand they are employees of the Union Rescue Mission NOT the City of Little Rock.

POSTION OPENINGS

1. Director of Social Services - Master's Degree in Social Work - LSCW - Full-time

2. Case Manager - Bachelor's in Social Work - LSW - Full time

3. Case Manager - Bachelor's in Social Science - Full time

4. Receptionist - Experienced only need apply - Full time

5. Janitor - Experienced only need apply - Part time (25-30 hrs per week)

6. Kitchen Coordinator/Chef - Experienced only need apply - Full time

7. Laundry Attendant - Part - time

8. Security - Experience only - Part time (weekends and holidays during the yr) 12-18 hrs per week

9. Facility Supervisor - Part time (weekend and holidays during the yr) 12-18 hours per week

Job Description will be forwarded with application to any interested party.

Applicants must meet the following conditions:

Personal and Character Qualities Required
- Personal commitment to Jesus Christ and lives under the authority of Scripture.
- Professional and personal life reflects integrity, personal responsibility and Christian character.
- A servant’s heart and compassion for those who are lost, and are hurting yet not an enabler.
- Willing to sign the Union Rescue Mission’s Statement of Faith
- A current member or regular attendee of a local evangelical Christian church.
- Able to fully support the core values and philosophy of ministry held by URM

Request for applications will be received December 3, 2012 and until positions are filled by contacting Dr. William D. Tollett, Executive Director of the Union Rescue Mission, at 501-529-1490.

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