by Max Brantley
The Thursday line is open early. Some notes:
* EX-PROSECUTOR CITED IN AUDIT: A tipster calls attention to a legislative audit released today for 2010 activities of then-Prosecuting Attorney Marcus Vaden of Conway. A number of bookkeeping shortcomings cited, included an extra payment to a deputy prosecutor that the auditor said appeared to be for official duties. The audit also recommends that Vaden pay $1,439 for labor costs associated with reconstructing data on hard drives that Vaden had removed from the office. He returned them, but by then they'd been cleared of office data.
* PULASKI TECH SETS RECORD: Pulaski Tech reports 11,947 enrollment this fall, a new record and up 7 percent over last year.
* COMPLAINTS AT UAMS: Several UAMS employees have complained about Chancellor Dan Rahn's e-mail to staff (see jump) with an overwhelmingly positive assessment of the slush fund to be created by a 200 percent city sales tax increase that would have taxpayers fund a research park that might be used by UAMS employees. He doesn't expressly advocate a "yes" vote. A spokesman says this is merely an educational e-mail, but she declined my offer to write a similarly educational e-mail for mass distribution to UAMS employees from another point of view. UAMS employees believe this to be a violation of policy against employees' use of the institution's name in "political activities." UAMS insists singing the glories of a potential tax handout is not political. Same old same old. We already knew the rules just don't apply to the fat cats. Not the FOI law when it comes to chamber spending of tax money. Not the ethical disclosure law when it comes to spending money to pass this half-billion-dollar bureaucrats' gold mine. Wait until the good suits get their hands on the city taxpayers' money. They'll treat it like it's THEIRS. UALR is busy shilling for it, too, of course, officially and unofficially.
CHANCELLOR DAN RAHN'S LETTER TO UAMS STAFF
Dear UAMS Family,
Early voting has begun on the proposed 1-cent sales tax increase that is on the Sept. 13 election ballot in Little Rock. A portion of that sales tax increase will fund development of a research technology park in partnership with scientists from UAMS and UALR. I wanted to share some information with you about research parks.
The ultimate goal of a research park is creating new businesses and jobs. Research parks provide facilities and support services to start-up companies engaged in taking university research results and turning them into new products that change lives. New knowledge-based businesses benefit by being located in a research park near a university where they have access to faculty experts in science, computing and technology. Universities are key partners in research parks, providing the businesses with student interns, professional consulting and formal partnerships. In this case, the research park would be built at a location somewhere between UAMS and UALR.
Research parks help recruit scientific talent and businesses and lead to the creation of jobs for a community. The Biotechnology Research Park in Richmond, Va., for example, is located near Virginia Commonwealth University and is home to 66 companies. Our own UAMS BioVentures has helped create more than 50 companies in the last 12 years. In 2010, 32 of those companies employed 532 people with an annual payroll of more than $26.5 million.
A research park is a public-private partnership that provides an economic stimulus for the community and the state. Approval of the sales tax increase would help make it a reality for Arkansans. With the research resources of UAMS and UALR and private sector entrepreneurial drive, it could prove a formula for new economic success stories, business development and job creation.
If approved, the tax increase would also fund a number of city improvements including hiring more police and firefighters, construction of new police and fire stations, paving and repair of roads and sidewalks, needed repairs to the city’s 911 communication tower, and improvements to parks and recreational areas.
If you are a registered voter in Little Rock, I urge you, whatever your position, to go out and vote on this issue.
Dan Rahn, M.D.