Warren Stephens on city politics -- UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Warren Stephens on city politics -- UPDATE

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2006 at 1:35 PM

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Stephens Inc. CEO Warren Stephens raised some eyebrows this afternoon when he used an award acceptance speech to share some specific opinions about the direction of Little Rock politics and development.

Stephens received the 2006 Vision Award from Lions World Services for the Blind at a luncheon held at the Peabody Hotel. In his address, he made three pronouncements.

First, he bemoaned traffic on Little Rock's east-west thoroughfares and said that the city needs another one. He did not mention Rebsamen Park Road (which hugs the Arkansas River from I-430 to Riverdale and passes over Jimerson Creek), but that's the option that usually comes to the forefront when this subject is raised.

Second, he forcefully called for a strong-mayor form of government. Little Rock needs someone who can devote 24 hours a day to the job, he said, and a strong mayor can provide that kind of leadership.

Finally, he said he went out of his way not to mention Little Rock, North Little Rock or Pulaski County because he wants to see more regional cooperation and fewer "unnecessary boundaries."

Stephens also said that a great city needs a downtown core, and he called attention to the new Dickey-Stephens ballpark being built in North Little Rock, as well as his $24 million renovation of the Capital Hotel and accompanying teardown of the old Trailways bus terminal. He said that's a sign that Little Rock is ready to "turn the corner" in the rehabilitation of Main Street, where he has purchased numerous buildings south of Markham St.

UPDATE: This item has prompted a number of comments related to the mayor's race. The candidates will appear at a forum at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Wed.) at the UALR Donaghey Student Center.

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