Money for Mark 

I motored out to Mabelvale for Three Sam’s barbecue the other day and my dessert was a chance encounter with Phil Wyrick.

Wyrick is a former legislator, state agency head and Republican congressional candidate. His better half, B.J., is a member of the city board of directors.

Mr. Wyrick brought up the special election Aug. 14 to expand the powers of “my man,” as he put it, Mayor Mark Stodola.

Mr. Wyrick doesn’t like the idea much. (Nor apparently does his wife. She was one of four directors opposed to putting the issue before voters.) I surprised Phil a little, I think, by saying I wasn’t enthusiastic either.

I’d prefer mayor-council government in Little Rock. It works pretty well in North Little Rock. It would dispense with the three at-large city board seats. This is the democracy-light means by which the business establishment doled out a bit of ward representation but preserved control of city government through the expensive-to-win city-wide board seats.

Wyrick reminded me that Stodola spent most of his big campaign chest talking about crime. “So the most important thing the city has to do now is raise his pay?” Wyrick asked. (I should note that Stodola talked in his campaign about increasing the mayor’s power, too.)

Voters will have two questions in August: 1) Whether to give the mayor a veto, subject to override by eight of the other 10 board members, and 2) whether to make the job full-time and give the mayor power to hire and fire the city manager and city attorney and nominate commission members, subject to board approval.

This is a recipe for mayor-light, except in the pocketbook. Making the job full-time means, by state law, increasing the pay from the current $36,000 to at least $165,000. But the mayor won’t have full control of administrative staff as a pure mayor would, given the need for board confirmation. At the moment, with a competent and well-liked city manager, Bruce Moore, this isn’t a problem. But it could be some day.

I wonder, too, about the supposed wonders of the veto. I happened to run into former Mayor Jim Dailey at the Jim Dailey Fitness and Aquatic Center. In his 14 years as mayor, I asked, would he have used the veto power? He said he’d have to think about it.

Several days later, he called back. He said he could think of only two times in his tenure that he would have used the veto — once on a zoning issue and once on a budget vote, both of which he declined to specifically identify. There might have been one other case, he said. He thought he made more difference as a voting member of the board, because his vote could be used as a negotiating chip to reach compromises on contested issues.

In other words, re veto power: eh.

As several board members have already said, I don’t detect much excitement in the community about a change in government — to this semi-tough mayoral form or any other. You want emotion, talk about the city’s file-a-report response to repeat neighborhood burglaries, vandalism and other lesser crimes.

Mark Stodola will demonstrate real political skills if he can convince disinterested voters he deserves this big pay raise. We might be able to judge the merits of this proposal by how hard he tries.


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • The education legislature

    Republican political control in Arkansas means many things: lots of gun bills, lots of anti-abortion bills, lots of efforts to make religious belief law, such as discrimination against gay people.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Asa's team

    It's a measure of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's appointments that the most widely praised appointment so far was of a man ineligible to hold the job.
    • Mar 3, 2015
  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • So many provocations...

    Another bad week demands a Worst Of listing.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • State university secrets

    Today's subject: lack of accountability at state universities.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas 2016: the microclimate election

    In the lead-up to the past four Arkansas election cycles, the forecast has been a fairly simple one: strong winds blowing in the GOP direction.
  • The big loser

    So now the big crybaby says he's losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind.
  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The big loser

    • Here's some more information for the investigator from the Enquirer. It's a confession from somebody…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Nobody here but you said anything bad about Shelton. Nothing that happened to her was…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • P.S. - To show you how incredibly honest I am - I said above that…

    • on October 21, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation