John Walker stirs up City Hall | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 29, 2010

John Walker stirs up City Hall

Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 10:03 AM

JOHN W. WALKER
  • JOHN W. WALKER
Laywer/legislative candidate John Walker has filed a Freedom of Information Act request aiming to learn all the city-related business done by every member of a Little Rock board or commission.

What a can of worms.

The city doesn't really have the tools to fully answer that question. There's no repository in which every board or commission member reveals work done with the city. Some are more obvious than others, however.

Just the same, the well-known fact that Marcus Devine was a Planning commissioner didn't stop the city recently from issuing his construction firm a contract for demolition of a building on W 12th street without the required ordinance permitting city business with an appointed city official. He and partner Billy Rouse resigned from the Planning Commission after this was revealed to preserve their firm's business on a significant Little Rock National Airport construction contract. Since then, the city has been struggling to come up with a new ordinance guiding future business relationships.

Walker wonders why Devine was singled out on a practice that, if not epidemic, is commonplace and of long standing in Little Rock city government. Planning Commissioner Bill Rector noted recently that his publishing company prints city legal notices. Walker's FOI request took pains to note that Airport Commissioner Virgil Miller is an officer of Metropolitan National Bank, which has many banking relationships with the city. Does every business relationship in which a city official is involved require an approving ordinance? City Attorney Tom Carpenter, in saying a local lawyer need not resign from the Sisters Cities Commission because of her firm's legal work for city agencies, I think may have stretched the rule too far to say someone has to be a partner for the ordinance to apply. But who knows? Court tests may lie ahead. The city clearly needs better disclosure rules. State legislators must file notice of business interest when legislation arises that touches on their financial interest. That might be one way to go.

Meanwhile, as I reminded yesterday: The city conflict of interest rule is a misdemeanor when violated. A prosecutor need not prove intent when a city official gets work without an ordinance permitting it. It's possible that there are dozens of potential violations awaiting prosecutions, in addition to the Devine case.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation