Favorite

A Christmas respite 

I’m burning to bore what few readers remain with more TIF news. That’s tax increment financing if you’re late tuning in, but I’ll only take a minute. It’s a complicated subject and I don’t think I’ve done much in three straight weekly rants to explain it. But I do have good news to report. The Pulaski County School District has issued a stout legal opinion objecting to formation of a TIF in Sherwood. The school district has real lawyers from the Wright firm behind the opinion. A key argument remains one I’ve made previously. The constitutionally required 25-mill base school tax is a state tax, not a local tax. That means no revenues on it can be applied to build things to aid private developers. It can only go to schools. More attorney general opinions have surfaced supporting this point of view, as well as other legal complications. Sen. Jim Argue is on the case. We can hope he’ll find a way to stop the raid on school money, but powerful forces in Fayetteville, Rogers and Bentonville believe they’ve found the proverbial gold-laying goose. They won’t give up the riches easily. Better to tax the state than themselves for city streets. Again: Wealthy places — the only places where big new development is possible — create TIFs. They then capture the increases in school taxes to aid private developers with infrastructure. The state, to the detriment of taxpayers everywhere else, is making up the lost school money thanks to a little-known 2003 law. It’s that simple and that outrageous. But this is a season of peace, love and brotherhood. Enough TIF. Though I’m known as the house grinch, I was secretly happy to learn that my wife will continue Santa gifts for one more year, even though the younger of our two kids is nearing 20. She confesses she gets as big a charge out of putting the array of unwrapped, “surprise” gifts under the tree as they do seeing them. Me, too. All is in order. A real tree is up; evergreen boughs, nutcrackers and time-worn shepherds festoon the mantels. I buy the tree, erect it and wrap it in lights. As usual, I’m told, the tree is deformed and the lights inadequate. The kids will get their annual laugh at my mutant fir when they get home. Last weekend, the ornaments went up — a collection good for recalling Christmases past, family trips, kindergarten projects and ancestors gone. It never fails to choke me up. With the ornaments comes a spin of Charles Brown, the bluesman who wrote my favorite Christmas tune, “Please Come Home for Christmas.” (The correct version begins with three strikes of a chime.) It’s another family joke that I play it — repeatedly — at tree-trimming time. It’s a bittersweet tune, as is Christmas itself. No matter how good the day, I’m always reminded of the gentle faces no longer at customary places at the dinner table. As you might guess, I excel at the eating part. We do Noel in the French fashion. Nothing is too extravagant. Champagne. Shrimp cocktail. Prime rib. Potatoes au gratin. Burgundy. Trifle. An honest-to-goodness flaming figgy pudding with hard sauce. Stilton. Calvados. Chocolates. Coffee. Groans. I know I’ve been self-indulgent. But maybe it turned your thoughts to your own favorite memories and customs. As Charles Brown sang, “Friends and relations/send salutations.” Merry Christmas to all.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Mr. Gianforte, a question? Mr. Gianforte?

    Politico says howdy to the Bruiser from Bozeman, Greg Gianforte. They'll have questions for the new congressman, who faces assault charges because he wasn't happy about a reporter's inquiries.
    • May 27, 2017
  • Abuse continues at Alexander juvenile center

    David Ramsey, writing for the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, reports on the firing of a guard for choking a child at the Alexander Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center, a lockup for juvenile offenders.
    • May 27, 2017
  • A new Trump on Twitter?

    Has a calmer — or edited — Donald Trump emerged on Twitter?
    • May 27, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016

Most Shared

  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • 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.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
    • May 25, 2017
  • You want tort reform? Try this.

    The nursing home industry and the chamber of commerce finally defeated the trial lawyers in the 2017 legislature. The Republican-dominated body approved a constitutional amendment for voters in 2018 that they'll depict as close to motherhood in goodness.
    • May 18, 2017
  • French Hill's photo op

    The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a health care bill that only the blind, dumb or dishonest could call good for any but the wealthy. For its many flaws, it has been hailed as a ticket to congressional gains for the Democratic Party.
    • May 11, 2017
  • More »

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

Event Calendar

« »

May

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Not leaders

    As soon as I saw the Notre Dame graduates walking out of their own commencement ceremony as Vice President Mike Pence began to speak, I thought, "Oh no, here we go again."

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • .... and having a beer with Gene Lyons, who gave the cutest clumsy curtsy before…

    • on May 27, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • Are you saying Karl Marx has left the building? The New York Times denies it…

    • on May 27, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • Yes, Lyon's thinks it is Fox Network that promotes the lies that the West has…

    • on May 26, 2017
 

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