LR and the C of C: Figures lie, etc. | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

LR and the C of C: Figures lie, etc.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 8:13 AM

The Democrat-Gazette reporter, in covering Little Rock city budget talks today, duly recorded Mayor Mark Stodola's rote defense of the $225,000 paid in corporate welfare by taxpayers and water customers to subsidize the top-secret economic development activities of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. The article noted criticism, then said:

But chamber and city officials point to the 11,054 new jobs and $431.5 million in new payroll generated between 2005 and 2010 as a measure of their success in economic development. Little Rock officials have said they couldn’t generate the same kind of results with a staff at City Hall.

About that:

* Correlation is not causation. Have we a shred of proof that the city's dollars were important in the creation of a single one of those jobs? Will they list the jobs created and the work done by the city's money? They will not. They will not, as yet, even release identities of the people supposedly working in the city's behalf at salaries a good deal richer than those paid city workers.

* Do the jobs include, say, growth at the med center or a recent decision by a telecom company to stay put in Little Rock after a corporate spinoff, jobs that could hardly be credited to city money?

* Is the figure gross or net? How many jobs did we lose because of a city with poor code enforcement, shoddily maintained and inadequate parks, underfunded mass transit and sometimes troubled schools that the Chamber delights in publicly beating up? The Chamber's money could cure some of the basic ills. Does the figure include the loss of aircraft industry jobs and a report on the high living done by the mayor and chamber in Parisian pursuit of these evaporating jobs?

* If times are so good, why then has city population and revenue been flat to declining in the years of this great prosperity?

* Is it possible that jobs gained here are not much of a gain for Little Rock? Do we lobby companies to locate themselves and workers in neighborhoods in the central city that qualify for a generous federal tax credit program? Do we push them to locations that tie in with mass transit? Do we tout schools of excellence and use them as selling tools? Or do we steer them to industrial locations readily accessible by freeway to Saline County and Cabot, swelling commuter traffic with workers who drive in, punch in, punch out and drive home, barely setting foot on Little Rock soil and spending little money and contributing little by way of other tax support? Do we create incentives for people to live as well as work in Little Rock? If we do, where are the results?

Many questions, No answers. The city board sits dumbly and accepts this tub-thumping Chamber of Commerce swill as if it were holy writ. If it's so, I quote Jerry Maguire: Show me the money. And show me the details of this supposed miraculous job growth. I won't be holding my breath.

Perhaps the city and chamber have a grand slam story to tell here. But the facts are simple: There is no accountability on either the spending of this money or the claimed results. (Even the state has come up with a list, usually wildly exaggerated, of the specifics of its job creation.) This lack of accountability is the rule, not the exception, in city government. It extends to some of the city-funded activities of some of the very city directors who robotically approve a subsidy to a group that has built a long history of working against the interests of working people. To quote the late J. Bill Becker after some similar soap selling by a certain former governor: "Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining."

PS — that nearly $40,000 average job claimed to have been created here is a whale of lot more than being paid at any major industrial job location I can think of, be it pipe plant, windmill factory or whatever. As a reader notes, be highly skeptical when a public official tries to shovel you such microscopically specific numbers as these. My dollar to your doughnut: Mark Stodola can't prove them.

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (13)

Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • University of Texas removes Confederate statues

    Confederate statuary was removed overnight from a prominent spot on the University of Texas campus because they symbolize white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the university president said.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    I was amused by the excitement of a NASA scientist over today's eclipse, as reported by CNN.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Super Bowl line

    Over to you.
    • Feb 7, 2016
  • 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
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    • The path across the U.S. Might be described as "Moon River". OK that's weak. Might…

    • on August 21, 2017
  • Re: Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    • Meanwhile, Vice News' Elle Reeve - of that powerful 22-minute documentary on Charlottesville - "Crushes…

    • on August 21, 2017
  • Re: Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    • about suggestions for eclipse music? Mine is Cole Porter's "Night and Day", "Here Comes…

    • on August 21, 2017



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