The morning's outrage -- UPDATE II | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The morning's outrage -- UPDATE II

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2006 at 7:38 AM

We had a spirited office discussion yesterday about ideas to redevelop War Memorial  Park. Some favor more green space. Some want to protect the tennis courts and golf course at all costs. Some simply distrust any big proposal by the city, sure there's a special interest lurking somewhere ready to capitalize on it and make money at the expense of park users.

It is a widely and deeply held cynicism about our city government. Do you wonder why?

Check the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning.

City Director Dean Kumpuris has been working secretly to hurry up a vote on sale of Gillam Park land to a company that happens to be owned by friends of his. The company wants to do more blasting for mining. Granite Mountain neighbors, among the city's most powerless, seem likely to be blasted yet again. Why not at least wait until the new city board takes office Jan. 1 for this vote? You know the likely answer to that question. The miners might not have the votes on the real board, as opposed to the current lame duck board.

Then there's the Airport Commission, where Commissioner Carl Johnson, in partnership with businessman Sherman Tate, wants to take off his official hat long enough to snare a "disadvantaged" minority contractor interest in the airport's concession contract. Republican insider Marcus Devine (hopefully to be out of work soon as the state's top environmental officer) also is another one revealed to be seeking the deal. This concession contract has always carried a smell ever since Bill Walker got it when powerful friends like Lottie Shackelford and Les Hollingsworth were in positions of influence at the airport.

UPDATE: I just talked with an aggrieved Bill Walker, who's justifiably unhappy. His own airport deal came under intense scrutiny, including FBI review. He gave up the minority contract to avoid a conflict with his race for mayor and now he sees a sitting airport commissioner dickering with one of the airport's major contractors. "It's not right and it's not fair," Walker said. We couldn't agree with him more. If Johnson fails to get the contract, no action he takes relative to the concession operator in the future can escape evaluation in that light.

Walker contends, too, that Johnson had been pressuring him to give up the contract . "He's been trying to push me out to make an opportunity for himself."

Walker is right, too, in urging the press to see that incoming Mayor Mark Stodola ends his law firm'srelationship as counsel for the Airport Commission sooner rather than later, whether Stodola himself is doing the work or not.

 Why indeed would anybody think some special interests might be at work behind the scenes at War Memorial Park? It would be unheard of.

UPDATE II: Funny how things work. After I posted this this morning, I got quick calls from 1) a member of the study group and 2) City Director Stacy Hurst, who's pushing the War Memorial stadium effort. They assured me up and down that any concern about capture of park land for private use was paranoia. Hurst, I really think, envisions this as the Central Park of LR, money and time and effort all playing a role. OK. I had been the naysayer in our office conversation against the skeptics who said if there's any big deal cooking, a sleazy developer is in the background ready to cash in. I couldn't see it.

I related all this to a person of my acquaintance Thursday afternoon. It does not mean Stacy Hurst is anything but sincere in what she said, or what the study group member said is incorrect. But my friend said he'd talked directly in recent days to a prominent LR developer who was still eying a portion of War Memorial Golf Course for residential development and making an impassioned argument in the development's behalf. Silly me. Forewarned is forearmed. Eternal vigilance is the price of preserving War Memorial Park.


Favorite

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Saturday's open line includes Kavanaugh news and a stunning political ad

    Here's the open line. For entertainment, if you have one minute, watch this political ad against  Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona. Wait for it.   In other news: It appears the hearing is on for Christine Blasey Ford to talk about Brett Kavanaugh's alleged sexual assault of her when she was 15 and he was an older high school student.
    • Sep 22, 2018
  • Remembering an ‘enemy of the people’ of 1957

    David Margolick pays tribute today in a New York Times op-ed to Jerry Dhonau, the former Arkansas Gazette editorial writer who died recently. He invoked a modern theme.
    • Sep 22, 2018
  • UA-Little Rock copes with enrollment decline and charter high school

    UA-Little Rock is facing a financial pinch because of a sharp drop in enrollment and Chancellor Andrew Rogerson talked bluntly about it Friday in a campus meeting, remarks that included a reference to simmering unhappiness over the eStem charter high school that opened on campus last year.
    • Sep 22, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Your daily dose of Jason Rapert

    Sen. Jason Rapert really, really didn't like it when a KATV reporter asked him about the hypocrisy of his political arguments.
    • Feb 4, 2017
  • Little Rock housing study finds linkage between respiratory-related hospital stays and property code violations

    People hospitalized for a respiratory-related illness at UAMS were twice as likely to rent a property that at some point has been issued a mold-related violation notice from Little Rock's Code Enforcement Division when compared to a control population adjusted for demographic differences.
    • May 2, 2018
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017

Slideshows

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation