by Max Brantley
Monty Davenport is firing back at 23-year-old L.J. Bryant, his opponent in the Democratic primary runoff for the land commissioner nomination, for naivete about state spending and underestimating the cost of promised improvements in land office technology.
A hot race for land commissioner. Who knew?
UPDATE: Bryant has responded. He says Davenport's assertions are "far-fetched" and he'd prefer to continue a positive campaign. But he offers some specific responses to Davenport on the jump.
DAVENPORT NEWS RELEASE
L.J. Bryant shows his inexperience…again
According to Sunday’s Arkansas Democrat Gazette, L.J. Bryant said he favors using aerial image of property statewide for better marketing of tax-delinquent properties. When asked the cost of such a program, he cited that it would cost taxpayers $1.3 million dollars1.
What Bryant failed to include, or perhaps even realize, is that $1.3 million barely scratches the surface of funding an adequate aerial imaging program. According to the Arkansas Geographic Information Office (AGIO), $1.3 million only pays for a portion of one-time costs associated with aerial imaging. AGIO has actually recommended that in order to run a responsible aerial imaging program, the state would need to pump in close to $15 million over the next 5 years to ensure accurate and updated mapping…nearly 15 times the amount my opponent was quoted as saying.
FOLLOWING IS A BRYANT RESPONSE
Ask Mr. Davenport who looked this information up for him because surely a guy who declares that he’ll always be “on the trailing edge of technology” probably wouldn’t know where to begin. Even so, this ridiculous price estimate is almost as laughable as Davenport saying last week that “On Google Earth, one can look at a home and a car with an address.” What this non-technology-believer doesn’t even understand is that most of the property records in the Land Commissioner’s office do not contain street addresses, but rather only legal descriptions like: “THE SOUTHEAST QUARTER OF THE NORTHEAST QUARTER; LOCATED IN PART ON THE EAST ONE HALF OF THE SOUTHWEST QUARTER, SECTION 22, TOWNSHIP 1 NORTH, RANGE 8 WEST, CRITTENDEN COUNTY, ARKANSAS; THENCE EAST 1330.42 FEET TO THE POINT OF THE BEGINNING; THENCE EAST 208.71 FEET; THENCE SOUTH 208.71 FEET, etc.! And guess what? Google Earth is of no value in locating that piece of property.
My research shows that many counties already have this technology—it just doesn’t exist at the state level. Poinsett County Assessor, Johnny Rye just told me that, "A statewide aerial flyover would be a cost savings to taxpayers. It would generate much more in income for public schools and county governments than the less than two million dollars that it might cost.” And then there’s Craig Jones, St. Francis County Assessor , who told me, “The technology is here and its vital for our state. And as far as a $15 million price tag, that sound just like big government---simply taking the first (and many times the highest) price quote! This job can be done in Arkansas for about one tenth of that number.”
Oh yeah, and if Davenport is so good with numbers, how come he couldn’t divide $15 million by $1.3 million and come up with 10 times rather than “nearly 15 times”? Or is it that he is just used to inflating numbers—like the $52,047 that he charged Arkansas Taxpayers for expenses last year alone for a job that pays less than $15,000!
BACK TO DAVENPORT NEWS RELEASE
“This is a major misstep on my opponent’s part, a misstep made due to lack of experience and state government know-how,” said Davenport. “I have spent 40 years working in real estate, farming and business and have served 3 terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives. I know how our state budget works and how to properly fund state programs so that they receive adequate funding without overspending our tax dollars.”
BRYANT RESPONSE FOLLOWS
“40 years working in real estate” and Davenport couldn’t even secure the endorsement of the Arkansas Realtors Association—losing out to me, a guy who has been in Real Estate for less than one year! And when asked what he had done significant as a legislator, all he could come up with was “I attended a lot of meetings”. A long resume without works or achievement just doesn’t hold up too fresh ideas and a basic working knowledge of technology.
BACK TO DAVENPORT RELEASE
Davenport continued, “When it comes to state budgets, L.J. Bryant needs to remember that nothing has a one-year cost. And in these times of tough economic struggle, we need to be more wary than ever before throwing our tax dollars after poorly researched ideas. It’s reckless to simply pull numbers out of the air when dealing with taxpayer money.”