by Max Brantley
A lack of financial controls and accountability is the focus of today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette installment of a review of the LR Advertising and Promotion Commission.
Copy and paste this to read article.
Among the interesting details: the fact that LR A&P has money on a par with the Houston, Texas' visitor bureau and that some high-dollar entertaining (A $115 bottle of wine in a big meal in Birmingham, for example) isn't accompanied by a full explanation for the expenditure.
Even better than the main story is the sidebar -- an account of how the city spent $500,000 to lure the Omega Psi Phi national convention, an event that drew only 1,200 registrants ($400 per head) though 10,000 had been ballyhooed. Many of attendees undoubtedly spent less in LR than was spent on them on average. Copy and paste the following to read this excellent story.
Why doesn't the City Board of Directors, which has some tangential control of the agency, do more to insure accountability? If could be because there's always been a very cooperative relationship between the two agencies. The A&P, with its big budget, can sometimes step in and achieve projects desired by city directors without nearly the same degree of scrutiny.
This week comes an example pointed out by a mailer from the Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods.
A deal is in the works for A&P to take over operation of the amphitheater in Riverfront Park, including paying for a roof improvement. The city administration has been anxious to do this project, but has lacked money. Neighborhood groups have been suspicious about the city's continuing push for the amphitheater work when they see other larger needs. (Jail anyone?) Problem solved. A&P will take the financial hit. It is things like this that keep the city from raising the roof when questions are raised about financial issues at A&P. City Hall doesn't look so good here. An architectural firm has been at work on this project for weeks, even as the city manager insisted to neighborhood activists that the city had no plans to spend money on the amphitheater project. Suddenly, a resolution appears on the city board agenda to hire the architect this week. Not to worry. They and City Hall knew the earlier work had not been in vain. City Hall fully expects A&P to vote to take responsibility when it meets.