Saturday, August 28, 2010

God and Mayor at Springdale

Springdale's Mayor Doug Sprouse pontificated on his position as mayor and told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week, "I have no doubt that I’m doing what God wants me to do." Such certainty of Divine purpose is widespread among the boastful politicians in Benton County, but Springdale is more like the land of Uz where it is rare to find a man so "righteous in his own eyes."

Sprouse said he is very aware of Springdale’s image — "that it’s rundown and dirty, backward and provincial, industrial and overrun by illegal aliens." I have heard many such things. Miserable comforters are ye all, but “we can’t let others define the truth for us,” he said.
I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these? I am as one mocked of his neighbour."

This month, Chickenopolis was the only city in Northwest Arkansas to show yet another drop in sales tax revenue. Earlier this year, Standard & Poor's Rating Service downgraded the city's 2006 improvement bonds. So far this year, there have been 138 home foreclosures slated for auction in the city, compared with 102 in Rogers and 58 in Fayetteville. Despite these cold hard facts, Sprouse has ignored those realities, has kept a happy face, and has tried his best to improve the reputation of Springdale, which is "not that bad." He brought his own Weed Eater to a downtown cleanup event, and he sang the national anthem during the opening of the Marshallese Consulate. As the owner of Sprouse Upholstery, Inc. and a longtime Chamber member, he has continued to hand over taxpayer dollars and leave economic development and world travel to the Springdale Cowbirds. Sprouse even endorsed Republican Mark Darr for Lieutenant Governor against Senator Shane Broadway.

Mayor Sprouse said if it’s in God’s plan, he’ll seek re-election in 2012.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Preacher and the Prostitute

News finally appears in the local print media on the third day that Rev. Joshua Wisdom, 37, one of the pastors at The Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, was among nine people arrested Wednesday for sexual solicitation during a sting operation aimed at customers of local escortitutes, according to Bentonville Police Chief James Allen.

We are told that everything happens for a reason according to God’s plan, but are we to believe that He planned an online sting operation to nab one of the Pompous Pharisees looking for illicit nookie? There must be another explanation for this sad event, and there is. Rev. Wisdom should get the Benton County taxpayers to hire Asa Hutchinson for $600 an hour to write a brief that goes something like this:

May it please the Court, the Pompous Pharisee desired him that he would eat with him. And Rev. Wisdom went into Ronnie’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that rev. Wisdom sat at meat in the Church of Ronnie at Pinnacle Hills , brought a tube of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when Ronnie’s loyal lieutenants saw it, Andy Wilson, the executive leader of ministry and operations at First Baptist Church of Springdale and The Church at Pinnacle Hills, spake “This man, if he were a better youth minister, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. We are shocked at this news; however, we are looking to the Lord who provides us strength in the midst of a crisis, and we are demanding his immediate resignation.”

And Rev. Wisdom answering said unto him, Andy, I have somewhat to say unto thee. There were certain banks which had five debtors: John Nock, John David Lindsey, Brandon Barber, Hank Broyles, and Collins Haynes. And when they had foolishly spent the borrowed money and had nothing to pay, they either defaulted on loans or declared bankruptcy and were forgiven their debts. Tell me therefore, which of them will love the federal bankruptcy code the most? Which of them made off with more money than this troubled working girl? Who is the greater sinner?

And Wisdom turned to the woman, and said unto Andy, “Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

And Rev. Wisdom said unto the undercover cop pretending to be prostitute, “Thy sins are forgiven. Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” However, Rev. Wisdom was not forgiven. The Church of Ronnie at Pinnacle Hills and First Baptist Church of Springdale didn’t buy his story about wanting to love the sinner while hating the sin, and they demanded his resignation, effective immediately. Bentonville Police Chief James Allen didn’t bite either, charging Rev. Wisdom with Sexual Solicitation, a Class B Misdemeanor. None of the morally bankrupt developers were charged with any crime for welching on their debts to the banks, but they might have been unable to read the notes they signed for multiple millions. Verily, this is a fundamental case of religious liberty, just as much as that self-ordained tree-sitting minister down in Fayetteville professing that selling mushrooms to undercover cops was a sacrament.

That should be enough for Rev. Wisdom to get off in Benton County.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Airport 2010

Mel Bakersfeld: Joe, this is Mel. There's no more time. Stop all engines and get out. Repeat. Stop all engines.
Joe Patroni: I can't hear a thing. There's too much noise. Hold on. We're GOIN FOR BROKE!
Ray Boudreaux: Huh? Oh. Gee Whiz. Not me!

Once again, Ray Boudreaux, husband of City Council member Brenda Thiel and director of the Fayetteville Executive Jetport, is submitting an unbalanced budget. For next year, Boudreaux is projecting a $30,000 drop in revenue from this year, and he will ask Alderman Thiel and her colleagues to approve a budget deficit of $68,700. He says he expects the Council to approve his deficit budget without any questions or problems.

Director Boudreaux is on the payroll at about $90,000, accounting for more than 12% of the entire budget and 131% of the entire deficit. He is supposed to find high-rolling tenants to rent hanger space at the Jetport, but the facility continues to lose tenants to surrounding cities.

Bob Nickle, head of the Fayetteville Airport Board, says, “All we’ve got to do is get a tenant that can pay us a reasonable amount of money ... that really takes care of a whole bunch of this.” Bob didn't say who had failed to "get a tenant" and caused the deficit.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Dog Days of Blogging

Bloggers and those who leave comments seldom have anything nice to say about anyone or anything, but that's okay. No one wants to be thought the political equivalent of a sports writer and get accused of being a homer or sucking up to power, so complaining becomes an art form with criticism and sarcasm flow freely upon public institutions and public figures. Sometimes it appears to be jaundiced cynicism, and sometimes it appears deserved commentary meant to correct the errors and improve things for the polis.

There are signs that bloggers and their readers might not really care, much less be up to the real responsibility of government and public affairs. Take, for example, the two best news sources in Northwest Arkansas -- the Fayetteville Flyer and Ozarks Unbound. Both have recently provided information about openings on Fayetteville city boards and commissions, including those on Environmental Concerns and on Tree and Landscape. How many reader comments on the Flyer? None. How many reader comments on OU? Zip. What about the upcoming races for City Council? Ozarks Unbound has an informative article with zero comments, tied with nada on the Fayetteville Flyer article.

Does the dearth of reader response reflect a lack of interest in public service, or is actually getting involved not worth the time to comment? An article on chicken wings drew 23 comments on the Flyer, so that gives you some idea about their readers' relative hierarchy of interests. But it is not just the wired kids who seem disinterested in political involvement. The only contested race for county office this fall in Benton and Washington Counties is a race for Washington County Assessor, where seeking a sinecure is far more central than implementing ideology of government. Meh.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Predator Is on the Prowl

After sucking up every available federal dollar for the stillborn Bella Vista By-Pass and the Walmart HQ Driveway to I-540, the Northwest Arkansas Council is back again stealing crumbs from the poor. Mike Malone is the front man for this unelected group of rich corporate executives that has captured the Northwest Arkansas Regional Mobility Authority. This public body would have been an excellent vehicle to apply for light rail and mass transit funding; that is, until Malone and the Economic Ephors so generously offered to staff the organization and turn it into a convenient receptacle for their own pet projects.

The Advocates for Public Transit, an advisory board to Ozark Regional Transit, has decided to seek a 2011 election date for a 1/4 cent sales tax to support the undernourished public transit system serving Washington and Benton Counties. Then the board said it wanted the transit system to work with the Northwest Arkansas Regional Mobility Authority and the Northwest Arkansas Council on a sales tax election, which was all the opening that Malone and the Millionaires needed. Get the Vaseline, because they are coming back for more.

Malone and the captive Regional Mobility Authority want to raise the sales tax to get even more money for the Bella Vista By-Pass so that a certain retailer and the truckers will not have to pay up for a toll road. They want you to pay a sales tax for their bypass. Malone said he and the group might consider including something for the transit system -- if their tax passed and there was anything left.

To scare the Advocates for Mass Transit, they brought in an advertising slick to tell them how hard it would be to pass a sales tax without the backing of the Millionaires Club. One Randy Mullikin, owner of the Mullikin Agency and frequent world traveler courtesy of Springdale taxpayers funneled through the Springdale Chamber of Cowbirds, told the public transit supporters that it would require an advertising campaign costing exactly $158,900 to win an election.

Randy didn't mention how much of that might go into his pocket for creative, production, and commissions, but it would be more than any of my friends or I make in a year. He also didn't tell them what a bullshitter he was, because that's more than twice what Asa Hutchinson charged David Bisbee to prove he was illiterate, more than twice what Marilyn Edwards spent to get elected County Judge in 2008. He just made sure that the beggars would run to Malone for his "help" and that he would get his cut from the campaign.

Ozark Regional Transit will lose $750,000 in federal funding for operating expenses after this census report, and the paltry 1/4 cent sales tax could solve that problem and allow significant expansion of services. They deserve it, but there is not a chance of it passing if the greed of Mr. Malone and the Northwest Arkansas Council overwhelms the need of those who depend on public transportation for their livelihood and their lives.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Walton Arts Center Expansion

Yesterday was the deadline for proposals related to the expansion plans for the Walton Arts Center. Here's the weak proposal from the Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, and here's the even more insulting one from the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce. Then there is the poor one from the Springdale Chamber of Commerce that brags about the availability of billboards, but at least they tried, unlike the smug drivel submitted by Bentonville and Rogers. There were also numerous suggestions from people wanting to sell their real estate.

The joint proposal from the City of Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas is awesome. Totally awesome. It presents a thoughtful and detailed narrative instead of the glib representations from the other applicants. It addresses each issue and provides both specific plans and helpful designs. It includes funding mechanisms for parking decks and theaters. It throws in bigtime concerts in Bud Walton Arena and Razorback Stadium. No other proposal can touch it, and the others should slink away in shame. However, if you want to hear the opinions of local residents who don't like anything about the current Walton Arts Center or the joint proposal for expansion in Fayetteville, drop by to read the comments on the Fayetteville Flyer, here and here.

Will the Fayetteville-University proposal be accepted, or will the Walton Arts Center Board decide to build the huge theater expansion project in what one local leader dubbed "a big field in a dry county"? We will soon know. We will know soon whether Peter Lane and the WAC Board were seriously seeking strong proposals or running a charade as cover for decisions already made elsewhere. We will know whether it is called the Walton Arts Center because it honored the role of Helen and Sam Walton among the founding forces of the Fayetteville institution, or whether it is called that because the Walton Family Foundation can wield its checkbook and demand that it be built in Benton County.

Either way, the Fayetteville-University proposal smokes them all on merit. Congratulations to Mayor Jordan and Chancellor Gearhart on an excellent proposal.