Little Rock police criticize Mayor Stodola on insurance deal | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Little Rock police criticize Mayor Stodola on insurance deal

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 6:58 AM

click to enlarge MARK STODOLA: Municipal League leadership riles cops.
  • MARK STODOLA: Municipal League leadership riles cops.
Drew Petrimoulx of KARK/Fox 16 Tweeted last night that the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police had said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola should resign as president of the Arkansas Municipal League because of a "conflict of interest" in the city's recent decision to switch coverage of city employee insurance from QualChoice to the Municipal League's insurance plan.

I haven't found a story posted yet, but I know some of the back story.

When Qual Choice came in with a 7 percent rate increase (on top of a 15 percent increase the year before), the mayor urged City Manager Bruce Moore to investigate the Municipal League as an option. It came up with a similar benefits plan for a savings of $1 million and the City Board made the switch.

Stodola is president of the Municipal League, a lobby for city government in Arkansas in which all elected city officials participate. There's no pay in that position, so there isn't a direct financial conflict of interest. But some critics see other problems.

Stodola is a candidate for national office in the Municipal League. That, too, is only honorary, though it comes with plenty of travel to national conferences. It could also lead to presidency of the National Municipal League. Local league officials, such as long-time director Don Zimmerman, could help a local candidate in that pursuit.

Would national prominence help somebody who might have a mind to seek a bigger office in the future — say U.S. Senate in 2016? It's the sort of speculation that fuels critics.

It reminds me that it is time to look at the mayor's campaign finance report. Who stuffed it with money despite his lack of an opponent this year. Why does he need to carry a fat carryover in the account (the city law allows him to keep up to his $160,000 or so salary)? Could he use that money in politically advantageous ways?

This might help you understand where the FOP is coming from.

One other question to  be answered today: Did the city of Little Rock do a formal RFP for the Municipal League insurance proposal? Was one required? The QualChoice contract had a provision allowing a rollover of an existing contract had it been extended.

UPDATE: City Attorney Tom Carpenter responds to question about an RFP

The AML coverage normally would have to be the result of a competitive bid. The City passed a sole source ordinance based upon the time demands under the Affordable Care Act, and the fact that it had to notify QCA that it would not renew the policy with it by 17 November 2014 or the policy would automatically renew. So, the BOD passed a sole source ordinance last week.

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