Thursday, February 14, 2008

Too Little, Too Late?

"There are some large, long-term revenue issues on the horizon that we need to start dealing with now," Fayetteville public information manager and policy advisor Dr. Susan Thomas Ph.D. told City Council members yesterday during a meeting at Fayetteville's abandoned airport on south School Street. Now in his eighth and final year in office, Mayor Dan Coody finally says that our city needs an economic development plan, proving Hegel's dictum that Minerva's owl “spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk."

Relying on
"the best guess on the part of the experts at the university's Center for Business and Economic Development," Coody's Director of Operations Gary Dumas predicted that the city budget would have a $10 million annual deficit by 2015. Before making such dire predictions, Dumas and the "experts" at the University of Arkansas might want to consult with developer Tracy Hoskins, who told the Johnson City Council that his "research" indicated we would be experiencing tremendous economic growth in the third quarter of this year and everything would be just peachy. It convinced them.

Coody's solution to the potential calamity was equally predictable. He had his main man, Gary Dumas, propose spending $150,000 to hire some outside consultant to tell us how to do economic development.
Dum as said, “We’ve come up with an idea that we think will help us begin that discussion, not just on how we manage growth but how we can define an economic development policy at the council level with input from all of the fractions and fractures within the community, so there will be a public policy to guide the Chamber of Commerce [sic] and [Fayetteville Economic Development Council] and all those others who really invest in the city.”

Whoa, there big fellow. I thought Mayor Coody had placed Ray Boudreaux on the payroll to handle economic development for the city. Is he admitting that is a failure? And how is it that the Chamber of Cowbirds "really invest in the city," other than cutting ribbons on public works projects paid for by taxpayers or selling us Christmas lights at a 20% markup? And why do we need to pay some over-priced outside consultant to come in and run a bs focus group to tell us what we cannot find out from all the tax-paid experts sitting up there in the UA Wal-Mart College of Business?

What we need is leadership, not another out-of-state consultant to take our money and hand us a slick report that will sit on the shelf. Two announced candidates for mayor, Jeff Koenig and Walt Eilers, attended the meeting, but neither said a word about whether they had any ideas or what they would do.

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