Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blake's Think Tank responds to my commentary on the LR power grab UPDATE: I respond to Blake's response

Blake Rutherford wrote an incredibly reasonable and complimentary response to my recent postings on Little Rock city government's current proposal to further solidify control in the hands of wealth special interests in his "Blake's Think Tank" blog.

He does me honor by the extensive quote of my arguments against the August 14 ballot measure. Alas, he's wrong.

It is an understandable error to take the twin items before voters as a first move toward more needed reform in Little Rock city hall. Alas, if this first step passes, it will surely be the last step taken for many years.

Proponents have only one object in the initiatives. They intend to preserve the three at-large seats which favor the wealthy interests that make contributions to those who run citywide for those positions. Doing so is essential to the larger plan to impose the land use plans of greedy real estate interests.

Let me quote myself. (Is this some sort of Internet first???)

The problem is the underlying hybrid manager-council arrangement in Little Rock, which includes three at large city directors. One more time, let us do the math. It costs more money to run citywide, so those individuals must raise enough to buy advertising and are more beholden to the special interests who make campaign contributions. They mayor also runs at-large. That’s four votes. Now, follow me. This is important.

There are eleven votes on the council, so it takes six to get something passed. There are two wards which would be considered affluent. Taken together with the mayor and three at-large seats, the wealthy special interests win every important vote.

The slick ad you got in the mail today never told you any of this, did it? They also did not tell you that, under this proposed reorganization, the mayor can hire and fire the city manager and city attorney. (Yes, we keep those high paying positions even though the mayor becomes a six-figure executive.) With six votes always in his back pocket, the mayor will attain absolute control over city hall.

As hard as it is to believe, things could actually get worse for neighborhoods and regular folks.

(WOW! That was fun!

Indeed, Little Rock needs a strong mayor and I would have no object to that man being Mark Stodola. The problem is institutional. The wealthy elites will never allow taking away their playhouse. As things are set up now, they win every time and this election changes none of that.

None of the cities cited as being successful with strong mayors has even ONE at-large board member AMONG THEM ALL. Without exception, the mayor-council form has local ward representation. One man, one vote. If it can work in South Africa, why not Little Rock? Why must the wealthy run everything?

Passing these measure assures 15 years of relentless tyranny.

Little Rock needs a mayor-council form of local government and the big shots will do anything to keep that from happening.

VOTE "NO" TWICE in early voting and on August 14.

UPDATE: My further response to Blake (who has a really cool and thoughtful blog and is going to be on my radio program Friday morning.)

It is true that I cannot foretell the future. I am good, but not that good. I do know something about history and human nature. The last tiem we in LR had the chance to "reform" city government was about 15 years ago. The power brokers ran a sneaky deal to keep control of things by offering up this hybrid thing with which we have been saddled ever since.

I must imagine that, once passed, the rich owners of local government will tell us worthless peons to "wait and see" how it works. All the while, they will continue robbing us blind. 15 years form now in 2022, we MIGHT get a chance to vote on a mayor-council arrangement. That is 15 long years of exploitation.

It would be such a good thing if the highly paid and more powerful mayor were held accountable by the people, but how is that supposed to happen? Who will have the money to run against him? If we got a mayor who represented neighborhood interests, the special interests would still control 5 votes. They only have to fool one ward representative to win the big ones.

I am holding out for the mayor-council form of government, and passage of the twin ballot items on August 14 assures no more reform for years. I believe my analysis is supported by history, common sense and an understanding of human nature.


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