Just so you’ll know
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that it was legal for a city in Connecticut to condemn private residences to lease the land to a private hotel and office development. It was ground-breaking because it means economic development can be used to justify the taking of private property for another private purpose.
Some media coverage noted that Arkansas was one of several states that allowed for taking of property for redevelopment, but also said the power was restricted to “blighted” property. That’s misleading.
The Arkansas law that enables Tax Increment Financing districts in Arkansas says local governments may condemn property not only to combat blight but also to increase development. Furthermore, blight is defined, among other ways, as undeveloped land “in an area that is prominently developed” — timber acreage on the fringe of western Little Rock development, for example.
The Arkansas law specifically allows creation of TIF districts to “construct capital improvements to be leased or sold to private entities in connection with the goals of the redevelopment project.”
Neither of two TIFs underway in Arkansas have required condemnations. Defenders of the concept say city councils will look after the interests of citizens and private property owners and not abuse this law. Believe that at your own risk.
Last week’s media column by David Koon reported on the list Michael Frazier sent to co-workers on his Top 10 reasons for leaving the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for a job with Newsday in New York. Frazier was one of just two black reporters at the D-G. Space prevented running his full list. Here it is:
10. The subway
9. Free parking at work
8. New Yorkers are more concerned about crime bosses than methamphetamine
7. Reporters don’t have to punch a time clock
6. The Tribune Co. pays more than 26 cents a mile, because Long Island is just that — Long
5. The ocean
4. The pay and the union
3. There are no police radios
2. They welcome aggressive reporters
1. Frazier is no longer an oddity on the city desk; At Newsday, there are reporters who are black, Hispanic, Indian, Asian and, yes, even shrewd funny talking women from New Jersey. But there are no Maine natives, though.
Stupidity must die
KDJE-FM radio disc jockeys Corey Dietz and Jay Hamilton got a slap on the wrist last week for posting a cartoon on their website depicting an ivory-billed woodpecker being strangled and the slogan “The Woodpecker Must Die.” Clear Channel Communications suspended the 100.3’s Corey and Jay Show for a day and a spokesman assured the world they would never urge destruction of an endangered species.
Perhaps more telling about the boy’s hearts was the fact that they continued to market “Corey and Jay Show” caps, shirts, mugs, etc., on cafepress.com, with the same image and slogan that had been removed from the station website.
On the web, Dietz and Hamilton were unrepentant. “We still believe in what we said. We’re simply accepting the consequences of our political stance on how the state should spend our tax dollars and on what.”
What Dietz and Hamilton apparently don’t get is that no state tax dollars are being spent on the woodpecker — unless the state Game and Fish Commission has to spend its money to rebuild the Bayou DeView bridge, a bird-viewing platform torched by arson. Who knows? Maybe it was burned by people like Dietz and Hamilton, wildly uninformed about taxes, woodpeckers and who knows what else. But what do you expect from a pair of guys whose mascot is Crampy the dancing Tampon?
Several people have been shocked in checking to see whether a business or government office was open today and found, along with normal hours, a statement that hours might vary because it is Robert E. Lee's birthday in Arkansas and hours might differ. No mention of Martin Luther King Jr.
Blogger Russ Racop uncovers another curious bit of spending of the pork barrel money known as the General Improvement Fund: Shipment of more than $40,000 from Northwest Arkansas legislators' allotment to a little-known outfit in Saline County that promotes an alternative medicine known as ozone therapy. Familiar legislative names were involved.
The Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District today provided me with the subpoena it received from federal investigators in a probe that led to former Republican Rep. Micah Neal's guilty plea to taking kickbacks from money he guided to a nonprofit agency and a private college in Springdale, apparently Ecclesia College.
Having gotten a deep security briefing and probably a confidential glimpse of our own vast cyberspying operation, Donald Trump is no longer pretty sure that the Kremlin didn't hack Democratic computers or employ other tactics to help his election.