Judge Griffen says NO to LR school taxation without representation; no 'field hand' for chamber, Waltons. | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Judge Griffen says NO to LR school taxation without representation; no 'field hand' for chamber, Waltons.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 9:50 AM

click to enlarge NO 'STOOGE' TO CHAMBER, WALTONS: Judge Wendell Griffen.
  • NO 'STOOGE' TO CHAMBER, WALTONS: Judge Wendell Griffen.
Wendell Griffen, a circuit judge and Baptist pastor, has joined the opposition to the Little Rock school tax proposal May 9 with a sharply worded condemnation of the business community backing 14 more years and $600 million worth of additional property taxes.

He wrote in a blog post today:

I have always supported measures to fund public education until now, but I will vote AGAINST the millage measure on May 9. I will vote AGAINST that measure with a clear conscience. I will vote AGAINST it because I am not a fool. I will vote AGAINST it because I am not a field hand or stooge for the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Walton Family Foundation, and the state and local politicians who are pimping black, brown, and white children who attend LRSD schools.
There's much more. He writes how the state takeover of the school district followed election of — and white business establishment unhappiness with — a majority black governing board for the majority black district.

He recounts Education Commissioner Johnny Key's firing of Baker Kurrus as superintendent for objecting to runaway expansion of charter schools in Little Rock. He notes Key's next choice as superintendent, Michael Poore, decided to close schools in majority black neighborhoods. He notes Poore postponed a millage election in March. Griffen suggests that election fell too close for politicial comfort to the school closure decisions. (I agree. Also it was before the white business establishment had begun passing the hat for  a campaign to pass the additional tax authorization.)

Griffen also notes that the 12.4 construction mills on the ballot for 14 years of extension beyond 2033 produces $25 to $26 million a year more than is required to make payments on existing bond debt. In four years, that could produce $100 million for school construction, he says. (It would require district budget adjustments since that money is being redirected, not to construction but to operations.)

He notes the bond refinancing will generate hefty fees for bond lawyers and Little Rock securities dealers, as well as produce big business for construction companies (who also are part of the chamber of commerce ruling class.)

He further asserts that Key and Gov. Asa Hutchinson have no intention of returning the district to local control. That assertion is not without backup. Hutchinson this week rejected a proposal for the state Board of Education he controls to vote on a resolution calling for a school election by May 2018.

Poore, Key, and their white supremacist political and business sponsors in Little Rock and northwest Arkansas are betting that they can pimp black, brown, and white children to trick voters into supporting a millage Poore and Key will use without any voter oversight. They think voters will agree to be taxed without having representatives who can oversee how their tax dollars will be spent.

....Key, Poore, and Hutchinson’s Board of Education don't want or respect LRSD voters. They simply need voters to approve the May 9 millage so Poore and Key can continue their now more than two-year effort to destroy the LRSD and to use our tax dollars and LRSD property and equipment to create and support charter schools.
It's a harsh and cynical view of those in control of the school district and those with the most financial clout in the community. It also happens to be a view with not a little circumstantial evidence in support.

Griffen, note, was the judge in a lawsuit challenging the state takeover of the district.  He refused the state's claim of immunity, but the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed him and dismissed the suit.

(Another piece of local commentary for national reporters to read when they interview Hutchinson on the 60th school crisis anniversary about the state's strides toward racial harmony and equal treatment of black children in Little Rock schools.)

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