-- Brian Chilson
Big crowd downtown Saturday (and likely again today) for City Fest, a two-day Christian revival led by evangelist Luis Palau. Big enough to require North Little Rock School District school buses to shuttle attendees of the Christian revival and the evening's Miley Cyrus concert at Verizon Arena.
PS: Headline on the North Little Rock (public) School District reads:
NLRSD Transportation department providing free shuttle service for City Fest
The NLRSD Transportation Department, in cooperation with the Central Arkansas Transit Authority and the City of North Little Rock, will be operating a free shuttle service this Saturday for the City Fest Activities in Riverfront Park and the Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana) concert at Verizon Arena beginning at 1:00 p.m.
Shuttles will run every 5-10 minutes from the East Campus/Lakewood Middle Parking Lot in North Little Rock and Markham and Scott in Little Rock until 11:00 or 30 minutes past the last activity. Wheelchair accessible buses will be available as needed.
A North Little Rock blogger is pushing for answers to questions and a School Board member has promised to inquire: The questions include, not just for the NLR School Board, but the Litle Rock, North Little Rock and Central Arkansas Transit governments and perhaps other taxpayer-financed entities: Did they provide free services for this two-day come-to-Jesus meeting? (Yes, it culminated a worthy round of service projects and included lots of entertainment, but the organizers said, repeatedly, in TV interview after interview that the hallmark event was about bringing people to Jesus.) Did they provide below-cost services for the two-day revival? Did they promote a Christian revival? (We already know that LR, NLR and the NLR public schools did, in fact, do that). Would they provide similar services -- free, discounted or at full fare -- for any other organization that requested free advertising, use of a bus fleet, use of city facilities, etc.? That's the standard applied when religious groups seek use of schools and other public facilities. Religious groups may not be denied if the services are provided to other similar groups. It should work the other way around, shouldn't it?
UPDATE: City of NLR paid for buses' use, NLR School Board member says.
New School Board member Scott Miller provided the following information in response to my question:
16 buses were used and billed at the standard District rate of $30 per hour (inc. drivers)
The buses were coordinated by and will be billed thru Joe Smith with the City of NLR.
NLRPD provided security at the East Campus parking lot thru the City
The District has provided buses to many events (although none seem to be religious in nature). Clinton Library Opening, both Clinton Election night parties, NCAA and SEC tournaments, City Year National meetings etc.