Pitching for the kids | Arkansas Blog

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pitching for the kids

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 8:08 AM

City Director Doris Wright sends a plea for the Little Rock City Board to reconsider its refusal to continue funding for a park program for mostly minority kids in her ward while continuing to funnel money to a golf course. Her pitch is on the jump.

Wright injected a strong note of racial tension toward the end of the board meeting last week in talking about how cuts in the budget were being made. She's not one-dimensional, however. She also raised some useful questions about continued funding of a number of programs aimed at reaching at-risk minority youth. She wonders how many kids are being served by the many coordinators hired for these programs at comfortable salaries. At her park, you can see the kids at play.

I'd also like to see Wright go after the City Board's continued $200,000 subsidy of the Chamber of Commerce, as Robert Johnston suggested here last week. This type of subsidy has become fashionable all over Arkansas and it's just as wrong here as it is everywhere else. There's no accountability for money shipped off to these private organizations, which are sufficiently fixed without municipal assistance to do economic development work. It's work in which taxpayers already invest heavily at the state level. What's worse about these socialized development outlays are the political agendas of the chambers, frequently at variance with larger public interests. (The LR chamber's ham-handed intervention in the Little Rock School District a few years back produced a political disaster.) They've never met a taxpayer giveaway they couldn't support. There's never been a clawback provision for busted promises that they'd advocate.

Give the money to Wright's park. Fat chance, given establishment dominance now and always of the LR Board.

UPDATE: But by all means, make Wright answer questions, too. She's pushed this money through apart from the normal grant process for youth programs. And she tried to push it up to $75,000 this year while other summer programs and the whole youth program are taking hits. Does she need to hire more people? Does she need, indeed, to supervise the program herself?

LETTER FROM DORIS WRIGHT

I am writing to ask your assistance in getting funding restored for the West Central Sports Complex.   The West Central Sports Complex located at 8616 Colonel Glenn Road (old Rosedale Optimist Park) has been a city park for the last 5 years.  I have spearheaded programs at this facility providing athletic programs for kids ages 3-17.  We have received a grant from the city in the amount of $50,000 for the last three years with the funds being administered by the parks and recreation department.  These funds paid the salary of a part time city employee who served as athletic director and for maintenance of the facility.

During budget discussions this past Tuesday, the Board eliminated funding for this program and chose to find a way to preserve funding at First Tee.  As you know not many African American youth play golf but they do play baseball, football and T-ball.  This year the West Central Sports Complex served over 600 kids.
 
I am asking for assistance in raising awarness about this situation.  The Board will meet in an Agenda session on Tuesday December 8 at 4 p.m. and will vote on the budget on December 15.

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