by Max Brantley
My takeaway. It is possible that the Tea Party was unaware that Hutchinson planned to tap tax money for his promised "contribution" to the event. The Tea Party itself apparently was willing to toss in $500 and its leader seems unhappy that Saline Republicans have put out the word to dial back the overt partisan political overtones since I blew the lid off this waste of state tax dollars on entertainment.
Hutchinson? Bobbing and weaving as usual.
The Arkansas Project missed something I reported late yesterday that would have been useful in countering one of Hutchinson's misdirections — that the money wasn't from 2013 pork money. I reported that Rodney Larsen, director of the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District, had said the money in the short run came from a surplus operating account but it will be replenished with money from the $1 million Hutchinson directed to the CAPDD in the 2013 session.
And this is the uglier and much broader aspect of this story. The legislature is stocked with lawmakers who sent their portion of the state pork barrel ($1 million for each senator) known as the General Improvement Fund to the planning districts, run by boards of local officials and thus well-attuned to understand from whence their blessings flow. It is a sham and a scam. It is a process to dance around a past Supreme Court ruling that prevented direct appropriations of state money to local projects. Legislators now send money to the planning districts or the state rural services office with the understanding that those agencies will take care of legislators' pet projects same as the direct appropriations used to do.
At CAPDD, the grant form even includes a line to show the legislator in whose district a project will occur. Just for informational purposes, of course. I am rounding up past uses of this money to identify how legislators directed the flow. It will be interesting to watch CAPDD spending of Jeremy's million in the coming year.
I await the Tea Party's call to hold this show without public money.
The Arkansas Project wrote:
Senator Hutchinson also explained how sponsorships generally work. Speaking of the TEA Party and the GOP Committee, he said:They’re sponsoring it. Like we do all the time, and Everett GMC does all the time, and Bank of the Ozark does, and First Security Bank does. You get some advertising and some good will and that’s standard.
The difference is that when businesses or candidates sponsor events to foster this good will, they do it with money entrusted to them personally that they acquired freely, as a way to say thanks to their communities for their patronage and support. Senator Hutchinson, on the other hand, is using our money. If this is true, it doesn’t look as if it’s accurate to say that Senator Hutchinson is a cosponsor of the Saline County fireworks show. Rather, it looks more like every Arkansas taxpayer is an unwitting and involuntary cosponsor — or, more precisely, donor.
PS: Promotion of this taxpayer-financed event also promotes a related radio broadcast on KEWI. Unless he's sold his interest, Jeremy Hutchinson is a part-owner of KEWI Radio, so some personal benefits are flowing from that state aid, too.