Monday, April 12, 2010

Arrogance and Plunder -- In Secret Yet Again.


About a month ago, we had a good discussion here about the secrecy that abounds at the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission. Chairman Tim Freeman posted several comments promising to make its operations more transparent and accountable. Nice words, and a new section was put up on the A&P website. Nice words, but nothing else has changed. Nice words, but we are still being kept in the dark.

The A&P Commission meets today to dole out grant funds. There is no notice of that on the website, which only says it meets at 2:00 p.m. on the second Monday at the Town Center. I've heard a rumor that they are meeting somewhere else, but, if so, that is not information the Commission staff has shared on its website. Even more disturbing is that there is no listing of which groups applied for A&P Grants, and there is no information about which ones the Commission staff is recommending for funding at what level. How convenient for a cabal that wishes to do its work in secret. How unacceptable.

If a citizen wanted to show up today and comment or voice support or opposition, it would be difficult to do so, despite Chairman Freeman's Nice Words and Empty Promises. You would have to know where the A&P Commission is meeting. You would have to know what is on the agenda. You would have to have a crystal ball or be well connected with someone on the staff, because, like the A&P Commission, the local excuse for a newspaper has again failed to do its job of informing the public. Otherwise, unless you check out the Fayetteville Flyer for the new meeting place and the agenda, you are SOL. Again.

15 comments:

  1. You can also find the agenda on Ozarks Unbound at the end of the story about the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
    http://www.ozarksunbound.com/is-the-cosmopolitan-hotel-in-downtown-fayetteville-closing/9369

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  2. Thanks for mentioning the article, libertas.

    A pdf version of the agenda is at the end of that story about the possible closing of the Cosmopolitan.

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  3. Tim Freeman resigned today, so someone else will have to take the lead in getting the staff to share the goods.

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  4. Wow great stuff Libertas.
    Guess this means that the City will have to wait a L O N G time to get its $1m out of the SoPiss deal. But sorry, we are not supposed to talk about that in relation to anything else with these developers, forgot.
    But look at it this way: Closing the Cosmopolitan will increase demand for a new 22-storey TIF Renaissance hotel, right?
    snark. Sorry, payback is a b*tch.

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  5. Wow...
    Wrong, wrong, and WRONG. As usual.

    It is difficult to describe how wrong this posting is. Almost everything in it is simply pulled out of an ignorant netherworld. But it always is with regard to A&P.

    Let's tackle where you're wrong one by one, shall we?

    First, you said we meet today to dole out grant funds. WRONG--we just received the applications today, funds will be doled out at the May meeting.

    Second, you said that we changed the meeting location and did not put it on the website. WRONG--it was the first thing on the agenda, which you CLEARLY did not take the time to read.

    Third, you said that there was no information about which groups the staff recommends funding. This is actually true, but not because we didn't make it available, but because we don't get that until the agenda of the funding meeting comes out--NEXT MEETING.

    Fourth, you said that you would have to have a crystal ball to know what was on the agenda. WRONG--one would only have to have an Internet connection, or the ability to type in "experiencefayetteville.com" or "ozarksunbound.com".

    Our agenda was available, as promised. And it clearly mentions the meeting location change (at the Clinton House). In fact, that's the first thing on there. The public was welcome, as always. It was on television, AS ALWAYS. We had over a quarter of a million dollars in funding requests, so obviously the word got out through our efforts to advertise it publicly in the paper. There is no staff recommendation yet because the funding requests just came in and won't be voted on until NEXT meeting. The commissioners just received them this meeting. Staff recommendations will be publicly available via the A&P website (experiencefayetteville.com).

    So what were you right about? Well we did have a meeting today, so you were right about that. Everything else was pretty much invented or imagined. Why didn't you mention the steps that we took today to make our business contracts more transparent? Or the steps we took to encourage groups applying for funding to be more environmentally sustainable? Looks to me like you have one agenda: getting people to read your blog.

    Now I resigned today, and I am moving to Little Rock, so some might say that I shouldn't care. But when I see blatant misrepresentation of facts I feel that it must be responded to with real facts. Facts DO have a place in dialogue, regardless of whether someone had a well-read blog. If you want to be respected and want people to know the truth, then you should make a minimal effort to determine what is true for yourself first--before you write an inflammatory blog that is wrong on almost every point.

    What is so secret about A&P? Mostly how we stay awake through the meetings (Diet Coke most of the time). Agendas are available on our website. As is our meeting time and place. It is always on TV. The breakfast lady at one of our hotels watches it every month, and so I know Jonah could as well if he so wished. Not to mention the fact that the public is always welcome to attend in person.

    That is all, and I will let the readers here determine for themselves who is right based on the actual actions of the hard-working A&P Commission employees and unpaid volunteer commissioners.

    Tim Freeman, signing off.....best to you, Fayetteville

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  6. Mr. Freeman could enlighten the benighted of the ignorant netherworld by letting us know precisely where on the experiencefayetteville.com site one might see the agenda.

    And if applications were due on April 1, ("Applications are due to the Executive Director of the A&P Commission by April 1 and October 1.") why does he say in an April 13 comment: "we just received the applications today"?

    We need illumination down here, not indignation.

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  7. Monroe Jesuser, Jr.April 13, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    Based on previous experience, I would speculate the agenda was taken down from the Web site because the meeting was over.

    Based on previous experience, I might speculate Mr. Freeman was saying the *commissioners* just received the applications, since they were due on 4/1.

    Not running to their defense, I think they still have areas of improvement in terms of communication with the public (sorry, being on television after the fact doesn't really do the public much good)

    But at least they are taking *some* steps. Let's encourage them to take more. They need encouragement, not indignation.

    Just my humble opinion. To which their own each has the right.

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  8. Freeman is the local leader of your far-left, Socialist Democrats. You progressives reap what you sow.

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  9. Is there any reason that the A&P cannot post the list of applicants? It has been almost two weeks since the deadline. Springing the list at the May meeting would be shady.

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  10. Anon 7:43: By "we just received the applications today", I assume Mr. Freeman meant that the committee as a whole was first PHYSICALLY handed the applications. I believe the practice of not allowing the A&P members to see bid or applications until they are all turned is a great practice.

    These people don't work full time for the city in a little cubicle where mail is hand delivered to them every day. 11 days is reasonable time for the numbers applications to be logged, separated into packets for each member, then delivered at the next official meeting of the A&P.

    Mr. Freeman was and is a great leader of all the things he is associated with. When he says "we", he does not mean "I". He speaks for the A&P as a whole. The process followed was exemplary.

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  11. Anon 9:29: I read the list in the newspaper. On the website would be nice as well, but the information is out in the public. Perhaps in the interest of letting in light, this blog might post the applicants?

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  12. Does the Iconoclast ever write on UofA issues? I would love a little diatribe about the recent ASG elections. The last day of the election was a PRINT day for the Arkansas Traveler and they didn't see fit to mention the last day of election. Then this week's print day (Wednesday) they didn't see fit to mention the election results at all except for in passing by saying in a different article "blah person-ELECT". They did however lament the low turnout in a letter from the Editor.

    The Traveler laments the low turnout out but doesn't thing announcing on the last day of the election is important enough to print. Neither is printing the results of the officer elections or the multiple referenda that included an increase in student fees.

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  13. @Mr. Willits: Isn't there a popular blog for/by UA students on student issues? If not, why?

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  14. I am not familiar with one yet for/by UA students. I think there are many blog features on the Traveler website.

    Like any student endeavor, a blog is probably challenged with high turnover rate especially because those most active in leadership are juniors and seniors.

    Also I have a feeling that with the popularity of blogging, many students blog for individual organizations or causes, but not as a general watchdog. I always kind of thought the STUDENT newspaper was serving that role. I am sadly mistaken evidently.

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  15. I think all the ASG elections were uncontested, so anybody who cares knew who was going to win.

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