Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A legislator gets huffy about 'his' state surplus

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 10:35 AM

SEN. KEITH INGRAM: Moves 'his' money.
  • SEN. KEITH INGRAM: Moves 'his' money.
Interesting story in the West Memphis Evening Times about finagling by Democratic Sen. Keith Ingram with "his" general improvement fund money.

You know GIF money. It's legislative pork barrel. A lawsuit by former Rep. Mike Wilson put a stop to the unconstitutional practice of special legislation for local uses, but the legislature came up with a naked ruse. They appropriate much of the surplus to regional planning and development districts. The districts largely distribute the money as directed by legislators.

It appears Sen. Ingram has a beef. As the newspaper wrote it, with some supplied emphasis:


Senator Keith Ingram (DWest Memphis) has pulled his funding from East Arkansas Planning and Development District and transferred it to a planning district in Batesville, in Independence County, with no ties to Crittenden County, to administer.

Ingram, who represents State Senate District 24 (all of Crittenden, as well as portions of Cross, St. Francis, Lee and Phillips counties) asked EAPDD in September to present his request to the regional board to transfer $353,584 of his remaining General Improvement Funds to the White River Planning and Development District
.
The phrasing emphasized in boldface is nothing but accurate. A pending lawsuit over the use of the planning district as pass-throughs to launder the pork barrel money into a constitutional appearance says that this procedure is a sham in which legislators control handouts to local projects, an unconstitutional expenditure. The money is spent as legislators like Ingram dictate.

Ingram is peeved because the local planning district wanted to charge a 4 percent fee to administer the handling of the money.
Judge Woody Wheeless, who is on the board, said there were two votes taken — one to not approve the transfer, and one to let Ingram move the money to another district.

"It was controversial," Wheeless said. "There were board members who said ‘no, we’re not going to let him move it.’ What changed their mind was that there were several members who felt it wasn’t going to hurt the district, and that if we didn’t let him move it he was just going to give the employees of EAPDD a hard time."
A legislator take retribution against a public agency? Say it isn't so.

There are eight planning and development districts that administer grant money, nominally to support economic development. When it comes to GIF money, that has meant such fine economic projects as a fireworks show in Benton and some warmup suits for some North Little Rock athletes.

I particularly liked this descriptive of the money scheme in the West Memphis Evening Times.

General Improvement Funds are a pool of state money given to legislators for their districts to be used for city and county enhancements as well as for non-profit organizations.

I wish Judge Chris Piazza would take judicial notice of that self-evident fact and bald admission of unconstitutional spending and get on with ruling in Mike Wilson's favor in the lawsuit challenging the current funding scheme.

Ingram, by the way, said the planning district already gets operational funds and shouldn't diminish benefits of his pork by taking an additional fee. (He didn't call it pork, of course.)

A couple of planning and development districts have stopped distributing GIF money while the lawsuit pends and the FBI is also investigating distribution of GIF money in Arkansas. A hearing is set in the case Nov. 1.


Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • An open line: And a note about Texas

    Here's the Memorial Day open line. And an AP report from a chaotic session of the Texas legislature, where police were called to remove demonstrators from the legislative chambers where they were noisily protesting a new law to prevent "sanctuary" cities for immigrants.
    • May 29, 2017
  • A Memorial Day message on Medicaid

    A Memorial Day reminder of the good the Medicaid expansion did for veterans and what's at risk if it goes away.
    • May 29, 2017
  • Babies having babies: Good news not so good in Arkansas

    The good news is a drop in teen pregnancy. The bad news is that Arkansas remains a leader in this statistic as well as in the somewhat related statistic of child marriages.
    • May 29, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • From Dallas, creative thinking about the Interstate 30 project

    An urban planner in Dallas says freeways are not always the answer. Incorporating some creativity already being used in Dallas and looking at the Interstate 30 project from a broader perspective, here are ideas that Arkansas highway planners have not considered. But should.
    • Nov 6, 2015
  • A response to police arrests becomes a tutorial on race, class and policing in Little Rock

    John Walker, the 79-year-old civil rights lawyer, and his associate, Omavi Shukur, 29, a young lawyer devoted to criminal justice reform, talked to press this afternoon about their arrests Monday by Little Rock police for supposedly obstructing governmental operations in observing and attempting to film a routine police traffic stop. It was a tutorial on sharp views of race, class and governance in Little Rock.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015

Most Shared

  • That modern mercantile: The bARn

    The bARn Mercantile — "the general store for the not so general," its slogan says — will open in the space formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages at 301A President Clinton Ave.

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Most Viewed

  • An open line: And a note about Texas

    Here's the Memorial Day open line. And an AP report from a chaotic session of the Texas legislature, where police were called to remove demonstrators from the legislative chambers where they were noisily protesting a new law to prevent "sanctuary" cities for immigrants.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

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