They'll always have Paris 

It has been revealed through articles in the Arkansas Times that an already warm relationship between the Little Rock mayor's office and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce was heated still further by a sumptuous dinner in Paris, paid for by those inveterate romantics, the taxpayers of Little Rock. It would have been nice if Mayor Stodola and C of C director Jay Chesshir could have at least brought back a doggy bag for the rest of us.

The taxpayers' generosity was funneled through officials of the Little Rock Airport, which picked up a sizeable tab – more than $800 in U.S. currency — for dinner and drinks for Stodola, Chesshir, airport executive director Ron Mathieu and a fourth, unidentified, person. The festivities broke out during one of many overseas junkets by airport officials and their guests. When they're not in Paris, they're in Maui, it seems, or Prague or Las Vegas. Their duties have not yet taken them to Shreveport.

(Everybody except the Airport Commission seems to have had enough of Mathieu, incidentally. Every report the Times publishes uncovers more offenses at the airport — overpaid executives, overpadded expense accounts, oversneaky diversions of public funds to inappropriate purposes.)

The affair between the mayor and the chamber is a long-running thing. Through its political action committee, the chamber has contributed to Stodola's campaigns. For his part, the mayor supports the city's annual $200,000 subsidy of the chamber, a private organization, and he evidently approves of the chamber's refusal to reveal what this money is used for. It's likely that part of it, at least, is used for the same sort of thing that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spends millions of dollars on. That is, supporting causes and candidates that promote corporate well-being and keep the working class in its place. Wages are never quite low enough for the chamber of commerce.

Whatever the chamber spends the public's money on, the public is entitled to know. How many firefighters or police officers could be hired with the dollars now going in the pocket of a special-interest group that lobbies against the interests of most Little Rock residents? The U.S. Chamber just spent an estimated $75 million attacking candidates who wouldn't follow corporate orders, and it appears that some of that $75 million may have come from foreign governments, in violation of federal law. Both the U.S. Chamber and the Little Rock branch believe that if the politicians are in your pocket, you don't need the law. Government by crony is very much to their taste; progress is arrested.


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Most Shared

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


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

  • Cotton to CIA?

    Political junkies without a real election to overanalyze fill the void with "what if?" scenarios. With the State Fair underway, consider this column a helping of cotton candy for such readers.
  • The casting couch

    Long ago and far away, I had an academic superior who enjoyed sexually humiliating younger men. There was unwanted touching — always in social situations — but mainly it was about making suggestive remarks, hinting that being a "hunk" was how I'd got hired.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The casting couch

    • sigh............ I would argue that the idea of 'freedom from fear' is part of the…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • As to the AR Chamber of Commerce-DO NOT FORGET it supports passage of SJR8, which…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • Freedom from fear is a human right.

    • on October 19, 2017

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