Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, in his position as pastor of New Millennium Church, has sent a letter to church members encouraging their attendance at a rally tomorrow by the $500 Million Tax — Too Much! group that will file as a ballot committee opposing the proposed city sales tax increase.
$500 Million Tax — Too Much! is led by community activist Jim Lynch, former Ward 1 candidate for city board Robert Webb and ACORN heir Arkansas Community Organizations. The rally will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the old Brandon Furniture Store lot at 12th Street and University.
Griffen says new money won't "make city government more accountable, representative or fair." It won't change underrepresentation of minorities on the city board (he objects to the three at-large positions). It means Little Rock police still can shoot people and there will still be no civilian review board to review questionable shootings. That isn't right." (Full release on the jump.)
What Lynch is going to say at tomorrow's rally is that the proposed tax — 5/8ths of a cent for operations and 3/8ths for capital projects, including funding for a "research park" and other economic development — is twice what it needs to be. (See earlier post raising the question of need here.) That the research park is a "ripoff" of Little Rock taxpayers and that a tax to support such a park should be countywide, as the tax to build the arena was. And that the city's failure to put impact fees in place to pay for western development is largely to blame for the mess we're in now.
Dear New Millennium and Friends,
I'm forwarding this message about a rally this Saturday by people opposed to proposed Little Rock sales tax increase. I'm opposed to the increase for the following reasons.
Little Rock needs to increase its revenue by $8 million. The sales tax proposes to raise $195 million, about 25 times that much. With people straining to keep their homes, pay their utility bills, fuel their vehicles, educate their children, care for their seniors, and try to have a little money on the side, it makes no sense to demand that citizens agree to tax themselves to raise 25 times more money than the city needs to balance its budget.
The sales tax won't make city government more accountable, representative, or fair. Little Rock residents will be voting to tax themselves more so that the ways things currently run can keep running that way.
That means Little Rock will still have three at-large directors on the board rather than a city board elected from wards. That isn't fair.
It means Little Rock police still can shoot people and there will still be no civilian review board to review questionable shootings. That isn't right.
And it means that the capital city of Arkansas which has a rising non-white population will still not require people doing business with the city to demonstrate a record of recruiting, hiring, retaining, and promoting persons of color in order to qualify to do business with the city. That isn't progress. It's perpetuating past injustices and demanding more tax money from the rising non-white population to pay for it while being at greater risk for becoming victims of questionable police shootings.
I've shared my position with City Manager Bruce Moore and with the Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission. I'll be speaking and writing about my opposition to the proposed sales tax increase more in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, if anyone can attend the rally this Saturday (I have a 10 a.m. conflict), please email Neil Sealy at Arkansas Community Organizations so he'll know you're coming. I've copied Neil on this message so he'll know I've asked this of you.
Grace and Peace
Wendell L. Griffen
New Millennium Church
6120 W. 32d Street (office)
21 Lakeshore Drive (worship)
Little Rock, AR 72204
(501) 562-9244 office
(501) 562-9346 fax
(501) 416-1917 mobile
Griffen Strategic Consulting, PLLC
Little Rock, AR
Sixth Judicial District, Fifth Division
400 W. Markham Street, Room 410
Little Rock, AR 72201