by Max Brantley
I'm not surprised the backers of the Little Rock 200 percent sales tax increase are feeling cocky. The city does need more money and the people understand that. So why confuse the issue with fair debate or more information on whether the city is asking for way too much under the circumstances? I ask you only to remember this moment when the city of Little Rock fails to provide accountability on its spending and wastes a ton of money when it gets the half-billion windfall it's about to reap. ($6 million to Doris Wright's woefully unaudited neighborhood park? Give me a break.)
* NO DEBATE: An opponent of the sales tax says Mayor Mark Stodola has refused all proposals to appear in a debate with an opponent on TV.
* NO DISCLOSURE: The Committee for Little Rock's Future, which is raising money from real estate developers to cram this tax down the throats of poor people so the developers don't have to pay for the costs they lay on the city with westward expansion, say they WILL NOT disclose specific spending on the campaign. They think the law doesn't require it, though it does require specific disclosure for candidates. I WILL file a formal complaint with the state Ethics Commission on this lack of disclosure. This stealth campaign may prove legal under existing law. Whether legislators will find non-disclosure good or decide the law needs improving is a matter yet to be determined.
Republicans out there? Here's another chance to prove you're the party of good government. Is the LR Chamber of Commerce REALLY viewed as too pro-Democrat, as a defender of the secret tax cramdown contends? Or do Republicans, too, favor secrecy in spending on campaign measures? Imagine the hijinks that can ensue if all ballot campaigns allow all money to pass through a single funnel that need not disclose how the money is spent in bribes to preachers, walking around money, bottles of whiskey or whatever. It's a scandal and the city of Little Rock should demand more accountability from the people buying the half billion that the mayor soon will be tossing around to the right sort of people.