Wanted: pressure on LR city board | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wanted: pressure on LR city board

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 8:51 AM

Reader "Waterboy" added this comment on the Sunday night open line, but I thought I'd call further attention to his contribution to the argument that the Little Rock Board of Directors should change leadership of Central Arkansas Water Tuesday by rejecting the reappointment of lawyer Jane Dickey, who's already had 11 years on the commission.

Pat Lynch made this similar point this morning in his Democrat-Gazette column: If Strong Mayor Mark Stodola is really serious about putting new blood on city commissions (that was his argument for denying a new term to Larry Lichty on the Airport Commission) he'd ask for new blood here, too.

Waterboy adds some background as well on the current commission's role in preventing then-CEO Jim Harvey from acquiring Lake Maumelle watershed land on which Jay DeHaven and other investors now hope to reap a windfall from the water utility. Waterboy's account is the same given to me by Harvey last week.

SPEAKING OF WATER: The utility, the U.S. Geological Survey and UALR today announced a plan to use Lake Maumelle for environmental education in the course of monitoring water quality. Let's hope it doesn't result in reports on steady deterioration of hwat has been a pristine source.

COMMENT BY WATERBOY

Are you one of the 400,000 customers of Central Arkansas Water (CAW)? If you are, then Tuesday's Little Rock Board meeting is of utmost importance. The LR Board will be voting on the reappointment of Jane Dickey to another 7-year term on the CAW Commission. She has already served 11 years, 4 on the Little Rock Municipal Water Works Board and the past 7 on the CAW Board.

So, what's the process? Well, since the LR and NLR water departments merged to form CAW on June 30, 2001, the process when a commissioner's term ends is for the remaining CAW commissioners to reappoint that person to another 7-year term. What's that you say? That can't be right? They reappoint themselves for as long as their fellow commissioners are willing to do so? Yes, you have it right. No outsiders need apply. But, there is one qualifier -- both the LR Board and NLR City Council must approve the reappointments, usually a rubber-stamp deal. Last Monday night the NLR City Council rubber-stamped her reappointment, so only the LR Board vote on Tuesday can keep her from representing corporate interests for a total of 18 years.

But Jane Dickey has loads of baggage. Attorney Dickey is a partner at the Rose Law Firm which has represented Deltic Timber, the largest private landowner of Lake Maumelle watershed land. Back in early 2005 when Deltic had State Senator Bob Johnson file a bill to strip CAW of their power of eminent domain, unfortunately the only tool CAW has right now to protect the lake, Dickey was only too happy to discuss and vote on CAW Board actions despite her conflict of interest. She now claims, although she never has before, that the Rose firm has not represented Deltic Timber since November 2004. Gosh, that would have been a good thing to know back in spring 2005 when the CAW Board questioned her conflict of interest. There was nary a mention then. Cat must have had her tongue!

Until just days ago Deltic was listed on the Rose firm's online list of clients, but that was supposedly just an oversight on the law firm's part for the past 3 1/2+ years. If anyone has any information on work the Rose firm has done for Deltic Timber since November 2004, please send it on to Max.

Back about 2005 CAW Commissioner Tom Rimmer, then serving as commission chair, would not allow CEO Jim Harvey bid on over 1,000 acres of critical watershed land that Winrock Sod Farms was selling at public auction. What role did Dickey have in preventing CAW from bidding on this land? So what's the big deal? Well, Jay Dehaven and partners bought this land and are now offering to sell almost all of it to CAW for about 3 times the price they paid for it a few years ago. That's your money, folks, millions of dollars of your money.

And the topper is that Jane Dickey also voted for giving developer Waterview Estates $1 million of ratepayer money last July and reverse CAW policy to let Waterview build houses on 180 acres of critical land in the area closest to the Lake Maumelle water intake pipes. Who the hell is she representing, anyway?

LR Mayor Mark Stodola is on record as being opposed to members of LR Boards and Commissions serving long terms. He needs to be consistent and vote against Dickey's reappointment.

The aforementioned Jim Harvey, who worked for CAW for over 30 years and served as CEO, has expressed interest in being appointed to the CAW Board if Dickey is not reappointed. Wouldn't it be nice to have at least 1 of 7 CAW Board members looking out for the ratepayers?

So what can and should you do as a lowly CAW customer? Many of the LR Directors are very nervous about this vote to reappoint Jane Dickey. You should send them an e-mail and urge them to vote against Dickey's reappointment and to instead put Jim Harvey on the CAW Commission in her place. Here's contact info for LR Board members and Mayor Mark Stodola:

Director Erma Hendrix board@littlerock.org
Director Ken Richardson board@littlerock.org
Director Stacy Hurst shurst@littlerock.org
Director Brad Cazort board@littlerock.org
Director Michael Keck mkeck@littlerock.org
Director Doris Wright board@littlerock.org
Director B.J. (Brenda) Wyrick board@littlerock.org
Director Dean Kumpuris board@littlerock.org
Director Gene Fortson board@littlerock.org
Director Joan Adcock board@littlerock.org
Mayor Mark Stodola mayor@littlerock.org

You can call 371-4510 to leave a message for any Board member and Mayor Stodola. Please don't be silent. This is much too important!

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