The City of Little Rock has found a new way to channel taxpayer dollars to private business concerns, with a $100,000 subsidy to Metro Little Rock Alliance, an offshoot of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, added to the 2013 budget proposed last week. The Alliance's 2012 budget was $277,000 and its proposed budget for 2013 is $300,000, meaning one in three of its dollars will come from Little Rock taxpayers. The Alliance's mission is identical to the Chamber's: To attract business to Central Arkansas. Its financial support comes from Central Arkansas counties, cities, agencies and the Hussman Foundation.
The Times has asked exactly what the Alliance does, but has gotten no response from director Joey Dean so far. An Alliance budget sheet for 2012 provided the Times says the Alliance has spent $145,000 this year, including $56,000 on "general marketing," more than $10,000 on "direct marketing/travel/professional development," $4,300 on "event sponsorship," and $35,000 on an "administrative agreement," the latter perhaps with the Chamber. The particulars we'd like to know: What was its "general marketing" and "direct marketing"? Will it be transparent on how these public dollars are spent? How did the city decide to provide $100,000 to the Alliance? And so forth.
The city also proposes to channel another $200,000 in taxpayer dollars to the Chamber, so that we can all chip in for its anti-public school, anti-union, anti-Obamacare agenda.