Favorite

City Hall's bias 

Elsewhere on this week's editorial page, you'll learn that the editorial board of the Arkansas Times decided after some debate to support the full penny worth of sales tax being sought by Little Rock City Hall.

I'm not likely to go so far, though I understand the sentiment for the full penny. I'll support the operational millage (5/8ths of a cent). It's excessive, but in due course we'll need the money, particularly if suburbs and the Internet continue to shrink the local sales tax base. The so-called capital millage (3/8ths of a cent for 10 years) won't enjoy my personal support.

City Hall hasn't shot straight on its needs, for one thing. And I just can't countenance the $38 million economic development slush fund for 1) a research park of dubious value 2) port land purchases that could be made as needed, not now, and a honey pot of money to pass out as insiders direct for corporate welfare, preferably to companies that hate unions, hate government health care, don't care if their employees live in the suburbs and don't fully support the local public schools.

You may think I exaggerate. But I've done no more than lay out the politics of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, which kept its unaccountable $200,000 city welfare subsidy despite hard times for city employees and whose leaders already have been designated to oversee the bulk of slush fund spending.

These fellows (and I do mostly mean fellows) have always called City Hall shots. Look at another small but telling example last week. Neighborhood groups and average citizens rose up to oppose a rule change to allow construction of five-story buildings across the street from the state Capitol. The existing three-story limit is meant to preserve views of the historic Capitol.

But a land speculator and business community powerhouse, John Burkhalter, bought land at Sixth and Woodlane where he wants to build a five-story building. Since he's a major supporter of Gov. Mike Beebe, many thought he'd have little trouble bringing around the Capitol Zoning District Commission on the rule change, since most commissioners are appointed by the governor.

But no. With the Commission set to vote last week, a head count indicated Burkhalter was going to lose. Up steps Little Rock city government with an urgent plea for more time for "study." This has been studied to death. City Hall just wanted to give Burkhalter more time to turn the screws on commission members. City Hall joined lobbying for Burkhalter by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated General Contractors for another. They give not a damn about historic preservation or the neighbors. Burkhalter is one of them and controls billions in spending as a highway commissioner.

There's a nice wrinkle here. Secretary of State Mark Martin, a Republican whose opponent got Burkhalter support in 2010, may have the swing vote through a commission seat he controls. An engineer, he has the training to be able to question representations Burkhalter has made about whether his building will block views of the Capitol. (It will, in some places.)

Martin, of Prairie Grove, was strong-armed by a stream of special interest business lobbyists. But he and the Republican Party chair opposed the plan, making them more solicitous of neighborhood feelings than Little Rock City Hall.

Maybe if everybody in the Quapaw Quarter took out a Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce membership they'd get more attention.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

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…

  • 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

  • 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 Recent Comments

  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • Gene Lyons' craft in writing his columns is superb. Many times, I don't agree with…

    • on May 29, 2017
  • Re: Virgil, quick come see

    • Runner55K Would you please clear up a mystery that has befuddled both my late fatherinlaw…

    • on May 29, 2017
  • Re: Not leaders

    • I like Autumn Tolbert's articles. She uses logical reasoning and makes some good points. My…

    • on May 28, 2017
 

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