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.