by Max Brantley
The line is open. Mopping up:
* BLOWBACK: More here from Roby Brock on the Democratic campaign I mentioned earlier today to brand extremist Republican legislative candidates as enemies of Gov. Mike Beebe's commonsense governance.Blue Arkansas reports from public court records on Hubbard's unsuccessful lawsuit to regain a school district job in which he allegedly "abused sick leave, inflated mileage claims, failed to properly care for the sports equipment, mismanaged funds for referees, and had left school early without arranging adequate student supervision." An admired businessman, Harold Copenhaver, may retire this Jonesboro embarrassment unless voters are similarly deranged. Jon Hubbard: Personal responsibility and conservative wisdom at its finest. I hope to have soon an excerpt from a Hubbard book that also has people talking.
* CASINO BRIEF: Nancy Todd says her amendment to obtain casino permits in four counties shouldn't be stricken from the ballot because of the possibility that it could infringe on existing casinos at Oaklawn and Southland Parks. Amen. The tracks have said all along that they don't operate casinos and that they don't operate games of chance, merely "electronic games of skills." How could games of skill possibly be in conflict with Todd's casinos, should voters approve them? (Note: snark intended.)
* CALLING A LIE A LIE: LA Times is praised for reporting a Republican Convention lie by Rick Santorum a lie in the course of reporting on his speech, rather than turning to an after-the-fact fact-checking function. Unbelievably, some so-called journalists think it's not quite cricket to inject facts into a report on political rhetoric. Seriously.
* SPEAKING OF NEWSPAPERS: Commentary continues in favor of newspapers making more money from circulation, given the drop in advertising. This article suggests newspapers won't suffer much of a decline in readership from big subscription price increases because print readers are dedicated. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, pressed enough to be continuing layoffs in its Northwest Arkansas operation, including publisher's pet Mike Masterson from his job as opinion page editor, is betting on it. It has followed single-copy prices increases earlier this year with big subscription increases, as the publisher had hinted would likely follow. We heard from one reader who said she was going to cancel over an increase in her quarterly rate from $49 to $76, a whopping 55 percent rise. Hard to say exactly what overall subscriptions costs are at D-G, given a variety of discount offers and subscription options, plus the ability reported by many to keep receiving it free even if you cancel. But this website page puts 7-day delivery at $28 a month in Pulaski County (also for Internet only), almost $1 per day, or $336 per year. On the other hand, there's this page, which says full service home delivery is $180 a year. Arkansas Times is still available on-line and at boxes throughout Central Arkansas for the non-confusing price of free.
UPDATE: Bob Caudle, a columnist for the Hussman-Stephens Northwest Arkansas newspapers combine, wrote on his Facebook page that he was fired today after 20 years. He wrote: "Well, after 20 years at the newspaper, I got laid off today. You know, I'm much too young to feel this damned old ....." Anybody else?
* RED WOLVES PLAN NEW CAGE: Arkansas State University has unveiled plans for a $25 million investment in football facilities, part of the Malzahn-era exuberance, the season opening loss notwithstanding. The money is said to be expected to come entirely from private contributions.
* 21st TECH PARK SITE PROPOSAL: Flake and Kelley realtors have proposed as an alternative to neighborhood sites for the location of a future tech park a building on what was once the Alltel campus: Building 5, at 1 Allied Drive, a 12-story, 224,467-square-foot building. No purchase price was disclosed. The building is the second of the former Alltel buildings to be proposed: Building 2, a 7-story, 90,247-square-foot building, was proposed by Colliers International. The Little Rock Technology Park Authority's building plan calls for a 100,000-square-foot building in the park's start-up. The Flake of Flake and Kelley is John Flake, brother of Dickson Flake, who is a realtor with Colliers and sits on the Authority board of directors. FYI: City Directors Joan Adcock and Gene Fortson both have taken pains to issue statements that they won't support putting the tech park in a neighborhood. Both are on the ballot this year and elections will sometimes make even poor city leaders utter rare sensible words. But will they still love that neighborhood AFTER the election?
* OPPOSITION TO LR TAX: My statement of support yesterday for the Little Rock property tax millage, on which early voting has begun, drew a response in opposition from Joe Busby, a leader of the Fair Park neighborhood. Since his letter can't make publication before next week's election, I share it below. He makes excellent points. But I remain convinced that the city needs this continuing tax support — and then some — to even make a stab at greatness. That doesn't mean we should surrender in the battle for smarter, fairer leadership by city officials. His letter:
Bad Business for Little Rock
The 3-mil property tax needs to be defeated because it is bad business for Little Rock.
It is bad business to not tell the electorate about the pending expiration of the 3.3-mil property tax last year when the voters went to the polls on the 1 1/8 Sales Tax. The city knew last year that the 3.3-mil property tax was going to expire. It is nothing short of pure deceit and borderline lying to not tell the electorate then that they would be asking the voters to extend another tax less than a year later.
It is bad business for the city to have 3-mill property tax presented on this special election date, Sept. 11. The city knew that this date will limit voter turnout. They know that a limited early voting suppresses the participation of voters. The city picked a national day of remembering to hold a vote, so it would have to compete for voter’s involvement. It is bad business for the city to specifically arrange a vote to have a low turnout.
It is bad business for Little Rock given the planned distribution of the 3-mill property tax by the city manager, mayor and board of directors. The dividing of the 3-mill property tax equally among wards is bad business. If a business had seven branches in the city and then had an infusion of money for capital improvements, it would be bad business to equally divide the money between branches. That business would take the list of needs that all seven branches have, prioritize the urgency of the needs and then divide the money accordingly. That would grow the business, strengthen its assets and best help it prepare for the future. For the city to divide the 3-mil property tax equally between the wards, is parochial, continues division between citizens and only increases the disparity between wards.
It is bad business for the City that this 3-mill tax is being used to address deferred maintenance caused by the lack of leadership. The city must bring forth a method of funding maintenance and not call maintenance, improvements. Failure to deal with and fund maintenance as maintenance; then failure to deal with and fund improvements as improvements, is bad business for Little Rock.
It is bad business for the city to not live within its means. A tax that has been on the books since the late 1950’s, to be extended again and again shows poor management by the city. The citizens deserve a city that addresses funding for its needs on-going in a permanent way. The lack of perpetual funding causes the lack of planning, which reveals poor management and is bad business for Little Rock.
The city does need to develop a method of perpetually funding maintenance and offer it to voters. It needs to offer to the voters a defined lists of improvements for the entire city. The city needs to be up front, fully disclosing, seeking a large voter turnout and hold the elections on these issues in the daylight of democracy. That would be good business for Little Rock.
Working for a better neighborhood,