by Max Brantley
Disclosure: I've contributed to ACI in various ways in recent years and may do some of the introducing at the event at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the new children's library.
Bobby Roberts will receive the Second "Truth Teller Award" at a public reception at 5:30 pm, Thursday, June 27th. The Truth Teller Award recognizes exceptional public leadership by persons who demonstrate integrity and consistent commitment to fairness and full disclosure to the public. The reception will be at the new Children's Library at 4800 West 10th Street.
Since his appointment as Executive Director of the Central Arkansas Library System in 1989, Bobby Roberts has championed greater access to libraries as he organized the construction of 12 new branch libraries in Pulaski and Perry Counties. Roberts' decision to locate the new library main branch in downtown Little Rock in the 1990s is widely acknowledged as anchoring the growth of the River Market District.
Expanding branch library sites and adding services to the public library in an era of increasing taxpayer skepticism of government, Roberts' straightforward message about library taxes and library spending successfully captured public approval at voter referendums in 1993, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2012. Roberts also led a statewide campaign in 1992 to reform the Arkansas Constitution's 19th century limitations on library financing. That campaign won 59 percent voter approval.
The Truth Teller Award is sponsored by the Arkansas Community Institute, a non-profit organization helping low and moderate income families to achieve self-sustainability. A major project of the Institute is the free preparation of federal tax returns enabling low income families to capture the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Over the last three years the Institute has helped low-income tax filers prepare more than 3,000 returns and receive more than $5 million in refunds.
The first recipient of the Truth Teller Award was Ernie Dumas, a veteran state capitol reporter and editorial writer for the Arkansas Gazette.
The public is invited to the reception. A $50 tax deductible donation at the reception is suggested to help the Institute with its work in low income neighborhoods.