Favorite

Marked man 

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola has learned the downside of enhanced  powers. With power comes blame when things don't get done.

Stodola has drawn criticism recently in a couple of high profile issues.

He's been accused of dawdling on working out a deal for use of the vacant Ray Winder Field in War Memorial Park. By contrast, he drew some criticism for having moved too swiftly on using a former motel and Job Corps center on Interstate 30 for a day center for homeless people.

I don't think Stodola necessarily should take the fall for the prolonged city dithering over War Memorial Park. There are many parties to satisfy. The Zoo wants the former baseball field. But it apparently is willing to settle for some additional land now under control of the state War Memorial Stadium Commission for parking. The commission is willing to give up this prime parking land to the zoo, but it wants more than just land compensation at a more remote site. It would like to nail down commitments for other park easements almost 15 years into the future. City Director Stacy Hurst, who has adopted War Memorial Park as her signature project, doesn't want the city to over-commit to the stadium commission. The long-term future of Razorback football games in Little Rock – the main reason for the stadium's existence – is by no means certain. Looming over it all is UAMS, the medical giant that is the city's biggest economic engine. It wants to grab all the land it can close to its existing buildings. It's happy to see the Zoo or park grow south of the Mills Freeway, but it prefers not to make that roadway leap (even though it already has in taking the former KARN building at the freeway and Cedar).

In all, this is ticklish stuff. Even the strongest mayor couldn't necessarily twist all these arms in the desired direction.

The homeless day center, still under study, is different. It pits the manifest needs of a desperately needy population against a neighborhood that doesn't want them around. No neighborhood does. Here, however, the alternative is an empty hulk of a building. That's not a good neighbor either. And there are expansive ideas for use of the building beyond a day shelter for homeless. The growing Arkansas Baptist College might be able to use some of the building for dorm space. Medical clinics and training programs are other uses for which the building is already prepared. A capable mayor could build a coalition and sell the bigger picture, still knowing the closest neighbors might remain grumpy. This will be a good test of Stodola's leadership skills.

The mayor could do worse than take up the invitation of Robert Johnston, a former state legislator and energetic advocate for the homeless, who insists crime fears related to the homeless are overstated. Johnston invites all to join him and the city's street people for breakfast or lunch at First Presbyterian's Stewpot, the Salvation Army or the River City Ministries in North Little Rock, temporarily providing day services. He writes:

“You will see 50-200 needy, well behaved citizens of Little Rock, very much like the folks who live across the street or down the block. You can get a free meal and sit down at a table, perhaps learn a little something about the difficulties of life on the street, dealing with one of the most pervasive prejudices in our society.”

Sounds like a photo opp, Mr. Mayor.

 

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

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

  • 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 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