Favorite

Praise for power brokers 

A fascinating city government drama played out over more than three hours of the Little Rock City Board of Directors meeting last week.

City power brokers rose up to block an ordinance designed to aid Mayor Mark Stodola's fight to keep a day center for veterans off Main Street. They were exactly right to oppose the ordinance, even if their motivation had little to do with the veterans center.

For years, the city has failed in its obligation to serve the homeless. It has failed to establish a day center for homeless despite years of trying. It has resisted past efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs' Central Arkansas Mental Health Services to expand its day center at 2nd and Ringo Streets. Mayor Stodola opposed a move to a bigger building across from the Salvation Army four years ago.

The VA finally decided to go it alone. It advertised publicly for new locations last summer. It found an abandoned car dealership at 10th and Main and drew up plans to convert it. A real estate agent says he told the city about the plans three months ago. The center is allowed "by right" at the location under existing zoning. When the VA announced its pending move, Stodola went ballistic and soon had an ally in U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin.

The VA provides a variety of services to veterans. Not all of them are homeless and all are duly screened participants who agree to rules for service. To hear Stodola and Griffin tell it, however, these veterans are one nip of sherry away from a destructive rampage and should be moved far, far away.

The VA forged ahead. It met with neighbors. It talked incessantly with press and city officials. Stodola was unmoved. He got city staff to cook up an ordinance — four days before last week's board meeting — to thwart the VA. It came under cover in a measure to end by-right zoning for a wide range of businesses and organizations —community welfare or health centers; establishments that serve alcoholic, narcotic or psychiatric patents; religious, charitable or philanthropic organizations, and alcoholic beverage retailers.

Stodola claimed the ordinance was about alcohol — long a concern of directors in majority-black wards. Two black directors, Erma Hendrix and Ken Richardson, didn't buy it. They noted Stodola's sudden emergency interest in booze sales came only after the vet center controversy.

Stodola still might have won but for the business community. Realtors, property owners and grocery and convenience store representatives said repeatedly that emergency adoption of an ordinance not completed until that morning was a bad idea. They said it covered too many organizations, with the likelihood of too many unintended consequences. It was styled as a cleanup of an effort to provide a public hearing process for temporary residential facilities, but the ordinance had nothing to do with transitional residences.

The business crowd got through to city directors where the war veterans had not. The ordinance was delayed for a month. That won't be enough to fix the many problems, first with the city's illegal attempt to arbitrarily interpose itself as arbiter of what businesses can and cannot qualify for an alcoholic beverage permit.

Does the delay provide enough time for the VA to get sufficiently underway? Can it begin a more convenient and efficient service center for our veterans before the mayor concocts another roadblock? More chapters to come.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The assault on Obamacare begins

    Donald Trump Friday night signed an executive order directing government to scale back Obamacare to the extent possible. Though the signing was mostly symbolic, it likely has implications for Arkansas.
    • Jan 21, 2017
  • Two dead in North Little Rock shooting

    two people were fatally wounded about 9 p.m. Friday in a home in the 1400 block of Division Street, North Little Rock.
    • Jan 21, 2017
  • 2nd Amendment meets the 1st in Fayetteville on campus carry

    They've had a forum in Fayetteville today on Rep. Charlie Collins' fervent desire to force more pistol-packing people onto the campus at the University of Arkansas (and every other college in Arkansas.) He got an earful from opponents.
    • Jan 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

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

    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.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Praising Asa

    Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More on LRSD tax

    When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a Walton Foundation-paid lobbyist, long devoted critics of the Little Rock School District, lead the messaging for a quarter-billion dollars in new tax debt for the district, it is cause for caution.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 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 Recent Comments

  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • You signed yourself "silly," and you surely are.

    • on January 23, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Lyons doesn't have an ex-wife, silly.

    • on January 23, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • What? That was all made up? Oh my. Well, let's hope he gets busy on…

    • on January 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation