I’m burning to bore what few readers remain with more TIF news. That’s tax increment financing if you’re late tuning in, but I’ll only take a minute.
It’s a complicated subject and I don’t think I’ve done much in three straight weekly rants to explain it. But I do have good news to report. The Pulaski County School District has issued a stout legal opinion objecting to formation of a TIF in Sherwood.
The school district has real lawyers from the Wright firm behind the opinion. A key argument remains one I’ve made previously. The constitutionally required 25-mill base school tax is a state tax, not a local tax. That means no revenues on it can be applied to build things to aid private developers. It can only go to schools.
More attorney general opinions have surfaced supporting this point of view, as well as other legal complications. Sen. Jim Argue is on the case. We can hope he’ll find a way to stop the raid on school money, but powerful forces in Fayetteville, Rogers and Bentonville believe they’ve found the proverbial gold-laying goose. They won’t give up the riches easily. Better to tax the state than themselves for city streets.
Again: Wealthy places — the only places where big new development is possible — create TIFs. They then capture the increases in school taxes to aid private developers with infrastructure. The state, to the detriment of taxpayers everywhere else, is making up the lost school money thanks to a little-known 2003 law. It’s that simple and that outrageous.
But this is a season of peace, love and brotherhood. Enough TIF.
Though I’m known as the house grinch, I was secretly happy to learn that my wife will continue Santa gifts for one more year, even though the younger of our two kids is nearing 20. She confesses she gets as big a charge out of putting the array of unwrapped, “surprise” gifts under the tree as they do seeing them. Me, too.
All is in order. A real tree is up; evergreen boughs, nutcrackers and time-worn shepherds festoon the mantels. I buy the tree, erect it and wrap it in lights. As usual, I’m told, the tree is deformed and the lights inadequate. The kids will get their annual laugh at my mutant fir when they get home.
Last weekend, the ornaments went up — a collection good for recalling Christmases past, family trips, kindergarten projects and ancestors gone. It never fails to choke me up. With the ornaments comes a spin of Charles Brown, the bluesman who wrote my favorite Christmas tune, “Please Come Home for Christmas.” (The correct version begins with three strikes of a chime.) It’s another family joke that I play it — repeatedly — at tree-trimming time. It’s a bittersweet tune, as is Christmas itself. No matter how good the day, I’m always reminded of the gentle faces no longer at customary places at the dinner table.
As you might guess, I excel at the eating part. We do Noel in the French fashion. Nothing is too extravagant. Champagne. Shrimp cocktail. Prime rib. Potatoes au gratin. Burgundy. Trifle. An honest-to-goodness flaming figgy pudding with hard sauce. Stilton. Calvados. Chocolates. Coffee. Groans.
I know I’ve been self-indulgent. But maybe it turned your thoughts to your own favorite memories and customs. As Charles Brown sang, “Friends and relations/send salutations.” Merry Christmas to all.
KARK reports that police shot a man in an alley behind Ernie Biggs on Clinton Avenue in the River Market district about 2 a.m. today. His condition was not known, but initial reports said he was in surgery. UPDATE: The shooting was fatal.
Federal Judge Brian Miller has affirmed his decision to dismiss the city of Little Rock and former Police Chief Stuart Thomas as defendants in a lawsuit brought by the mother of Bobby Moore, killed by then-Office Josh Hastings in 2012.
I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
Hog fans just can't quit blaming the refs for the NCAA men's basketball tournament loss to North Carolina. Now the Arkansas Senate has gotten in on the act, with this resolution introduced by Democratic Sen. Keith Ingram and getting bipartisan co-sponsorship from that brutish and short sandlot roundball player, Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.
IndieWire breaks news long whispered downtown — a more ambitious successor to the Little Rock Film Festival is in the works, with backing from writer/director Jeff Nichols, a Little Rock native. His "Loving" has won wide acclaim recently.
Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
An article in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reminded me of John Belushi in "Animal House" exhorting frat brothers to rally against a dean's effort to put them out of business. "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
The Arkansas Supreme Court last week delivered a blow to civil rights in Arkansas. It was another results-oriented decision that gives a clue to how far the justices likely will go to appease the legislature.