by Max Brantley
Occupy Little Rock has, according to reporting in the Democrat-Gazette, floated some ideas about moving its small demonstration encampment to a site less offensive to the eyes of City Director Lance Hines, who wants the blight removed from potential glimpse by speeding I-30 travelers. According to the account, Occupy LR said it might even move to private land if the city would pass a resolution condemning Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave unlimited rein to corporate electioneering. Other major cities — including Portland, often cited here as an exemplar of urban development — have passed such resolutions.
City Manager Bruce Moore was not encouraging that the City Board of Directors would express official alarm at out-of-control corporate influence in governance.
Moore said he doubted the city would opt to denounce “corporate personhood.”
“We usually don’t engage in passing resolutions regarding Supreme Court decisions,” Moore said. “That would be new territory.”
CORRECTION: City Manager Moore says he was misquoted by the Democrat-Gazette and it carried a correctionin Saturday's newspaper about the direct quote relative to "corporate personhood." He tells me in an e-mail Saturday morning: "The main point of my comments is that we are reviewing all the options that were presented."
A clarification was needed because:
* The City Board most certainly does get into the resolution business. It was only December when the City Board passed a resolution — with backslaps all around — repealing a 1957 pro-segregation resolution. That December resolution did more than repudiate the 1957 seg resolution and, a half-century late, embrace the promise of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision. It also called for a review of city ordinances, resolutions and declarations that may “classify or reflect negatively upon citizens because of their race, religion, economic or ethnic background.” So, clearly, we DO do resolutions on constitutional topics.
Corporate influence? Corporations don't have to pay to influence Little Rock government. WE pay THEM. $200,000 a year to the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, without accountability, to name just one handout among many. The Chamber ran the city's half-billion-dollar sales tax campaign and refused to say how the campaign money was spent. The Chamber now runs the publicly financed Technology Park Authority (including destroying public documents) that's about to tear hell out of an inner city neighborhood to build an office park that will be further subsidized by public money.
Want a resolution? See the Chamber. The Chamber of Commerce set up the task force that recommmended repeal of that seg resolution. See, it looks bad for business to be on record as opposing integration. Bad for business? You can imagine what the Chamber would say about a resolution opposing corporate influence in politics. You might as well ask them to condemn mother's milk.
I went down this road once before.
Bruce Moore's correct answer should have been:
"We do resolutions around here, just not resolutions that offend corporate sensibilities, particularly as reflected by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce."
Given the corporate control of the majority of City Board seats, the assessment given in the newspaper, whether Moore said it or not, is absolutely correct politically, if not factually. Lance Hines, for example, would have to run such a resolution by his overlords at Deltic Timber. If you don't get my drift, see Leslie Peacock's post last night on Death Star Bob Johnson's bodacious rewrite of history on land protection in the Lake Maumelle watershed for context. In Johnson's world view, Deltic was looking out for the little guy when it tried to run roughshod over watershed protection through Johnson's office as senator.
OK, blood's boiling for the day.