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.

20 comments:

  1. Speaking of parasites, did John Nock ever deliver that warranty deed for the 200-acre soccer park and the cashier's check for $1 million? Didn't think so. Will City Attorney Kit Williams sue to enforce the contract? Didn't think so.

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  2. No, but he and Hank Broyles visited Farmers Market on Saturday and walked around smiling as though they owned it. Can someone check at the court house to see whether they do or not?

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  3. Nock can't even pay rent on his office space, and Ted Belden and John Tyson, the owners of the building, are trying to evict him. See the Friday Aug 6 NWA Times. Nock's left a trail of wreckage and I pity anybody that got in bed with him. Obviously the City of Fayetteville is at the top of that list.

    Can anybody name one project he did that worked out? Jonah had a blog a while back about all the delinquent property tax Nock's projects LLCs haven't paid to the county, as well as being behind paying on some of his personal property. So besides the City getting the shaft, the County is too. And since he and Rick Alexander were repeatedly delinquent with their sales tax to the state for The Cosmopolitan hotel, the state is getting the shaft. I wonder if Nock's done anything shady with his tax return to screw the federal government, which would make it a clean sweep...city, county, state, and feds.

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  4. Why does John Nock need an office?

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  5. Does anyone think Malone and the wealthy members of the Northwest Arkansas Council care one whit about light rail or mass transit? They don't even know anyone who must ride a bus to work or the doctor, and there is no money to be made by them in supporting it. Their bought Congressman Boozman has opposed every appropriation for mass transit, and Dick Trammell is equally uninterested. Highway construction helps Walmart, Tyson, J B Hunt, and their contractor buddies. That's why Northwest Arkansas will never have a convenient mass transit system.

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  6. Light rails have shown themselves time and time again at cities around the country to be at best difficult to sustain and at worst financial boondoogles. Just look at LA's light rail system for a recent example.

    Here's something to think about regarding a light rail/mass transit system....why doesn't NWA have a zoo? Why doesn't NWA have an aquarium, or a jazz club, or a natural history museum? The common thread among all is that they occur in bigger cities where there is 1) a massive population with enough people that 2) appreciate that and support it so that it can 3) self-sustain. Even though they are in bigger cities, however, rails have trouble justifying their costs and continuing operating expenses.

    The wealthy people and elected/non-elected officials are wise not to push for a light rail as it is a big city concept that won't fly here, no different than a zoo, jazz club, etc.

    John Lewis, Mr. Fayetteville himself, couldn't even pull off something so measly as a history museum for Fay/Wash Co. because the numbers don't work (it's not self-sustaining) and nobody wants to be the one writing checks every month to make up the operating deficit. And that's just a little history museum. Making the gigantic leap to a light rail system here in NWA would be biting off a hell of a lot more than we could chew, and most likely bankrupt whatever municipality or organization was running it.

    We found out from the real estate bubble bursting that one might need to be a little more careful in one's assumptions when making a financial pro forma about how a project will perform in the future. There's no way anybody nowadays could honestly put forth a conservative pro forma for a light rail system and show it making money, ever (except for maybe John Nock, as all his projects make money on paper, it's just that when he starts to construct them or tries to, that they become money losers and ultimately go back into the lender's hands, but I digress).

    There are limits to what big city ideas will work in smaller and less urbane populations and a light rail is way beyond those limits.

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  7. Light rail is a great idea where there is a need.
    The need here is to create sustainable cities. That means cities that can sustain themselves with practical, long-lasting industries. Depending on a perpetually growing population is plain STUPID and WRONG.
    Sustainability means functioning well without having a desperate need for growth.
    Growth inevitably happens. But encouraging retail sales and more retail outlets and more wasteful spending are not sustainable. Residents should be encouraged to SAVE their money and SAVE natural resources.
    A sustainable situation is having hard-working residents who make a living wage and go to sleep at night not worrying about having debt beyond a mortgage for a reasonable-sized house to live in, enough good soil around the house to grow a lot of vegetables and flowers if they choose and shade trees to keep down air-conditioning costs in summer.
    The Nocks of this world will never be righteous.

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  8. My name’s Jill Nock. I’m married to the gel-haired city slicker that everybody talks so much about. My only intention tonight is to try to talk on some of the fears that people have and I would just like them to know about my husband. I challenge you to find a man with more integrity and a better father and a better husband. We chose to live in Fayetteville. We would never do anything that would other than benefit the City of Fayetteville. We care about the environment. We care about our friends. We care about our child’s school. We chose to send him to public school and I just – I think that – I understand the fear that people have with builders and developers and people in the financial world, because we’ve seen both sides of it. And I just would like for you to know, from my perspective and my point of view that I challenge you to find a man like my husband. He is – he is a man of integrity. That’s all I have to say.

    Special Fayetteville City Council Meeting Minutes, December 28, 2004

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  9. This rambling diatribe is full of crap in so many ways I don't know where to start.

    The NWA Council does great work and Malone is a decent, honest man.

    Quit whining about that stupid park deed. That development is over. Get over it. We do not need another expensive property to maintain anyway.

    The city needs to make budget cuts, not take on more obligations.

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  10. Can't we just work on getting adequate public transportation (maybe small efficient buses, that run often, and are linked to shelters for passengers waiting on the street?) for inside the Fayetteville city limits? Light rail is not the answer to the sorry fact that NWA is a wasteful sprawl that happened in bubble time and wants to keep on bloating at public expense.

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  11. C.H....good point, it's obvious that the tide for all states and municipalities is going in the direction of budget cuts, fiscal prudence, and in general, shrinkage. So for someone to propose the opposite (taking on more obligations, a vast spending project, etc.), they are swimming against the tide and showing a massive lack of common sense. The time for pie-in-the-sky projects (South Pass, Renaissance Tower, Divinity Hotel, a light rail system etc.) has come and gone, and that time was called a real estate and credit bubble, when dumb things were done, and now five years later we're all looking at the mistakes and saying "what were we thinking?".

    Thank God the Divinty didn't get built. Does anyone doubt for a second that if it did, right now we'd have a massive eyesore of an empty hotel on Dickson St that was defaulted on and back in the lenders hands, just like Legacy Building, and Metro District Building? Anybody care to take a guess on the fate of the Underwood Plaza Building?

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  12. C.H. said: "The NWA Council does great work".

    They do great work for Big Box, Big Meat and Big Truck. Fayetteville, not so much. They brought about the demise of our commercial airport and now they're going to steal our performing arts center.

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  13. I ride ORT and razorback Transit busses, so I will vote for a sales tax to support mass transit. When I choose to drive, I have no problem getting to I-44 or Kansas City, so I have no interest in paying for the Bella Vista By-Pass. I don't think spending $160,000 with world traveler Randy Mullikin on advertising in what passes for local newspapers will make me (or anyone I know) change my mind on either proposition. I hope ORT doesn't get snookered into a combined vote on these separate propositions, or both will fail.

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  14. C.H., I don't doubt that Mr. Malone is "a decent, honest man." I also might agree that the NWA Council does good work for its members. When Malone fronts for the Council to feather its own interests at the expense of the common folks who live here and work for a living, neither of them are very decent. It is unfortunate that those of great wealth have such unaccountable power in our region and that they decide in secret how they will use the compliant official public bodies to do their bidding.

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  15. Nobody who is unelected should have the power the NWA Council has. Who says these guys get to design northwest Arkansas?

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  16. Arkansas Tea PartyAugust 9, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Build the roads and they will come. How many times do morans need to hear that!

    We have enough socialism thrown at us every day so forget your government owned "light rail" and just build the roads so that privately owned vehicles can come and go as private citizens should be able to do in a free country.

    Socialism has been taught for so long in public schools you ppl think you can just have anything you want and never have to pay for it. Well, chickens come home to roost!

    It's like your own socialistic liberal leader said
    don't bet against America cause you will lose. This nation is built on good roads that lead to our homes, shopping centers and factories. Go to South America if you want to haul your drining water over dirt paths. Theres lots of green plants all over their jungles.

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  17. ATP--

    Of course there is no hint of socialism in a federal or state highway system. No collectivism in local street departments. And you never complain about the tax on gasoline.

    You'd better change your nom de plume before you post your next complaint about government waste. Some might think you inconsistent-- or stupid-- in consideration of your just-posted support for pouring government (that is, your) money down a rat hole.

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  18. TeaBaggers and their real masters, the global corporate elite (the inner sanctums of which no teabagger will EVER penetrate), want everything that's historically been developed with tax dollars and publicly owned (ie, national parks, utilities, NASA, the Post Office, prisons, the military--you name it)sold off lock-stock&barrel to the robber barons in the private sector.

    They want you to believe that suddenly all government = socialism. Think its a coincidence that this BS happens after Bush/Cheney systematically gutted most regulatory agencies and installed their anti-gov't minions with a mandate to run gov't into the ground (ie Minerals Management Agency)? Created a real firesale ripe for evermore corporate consolidation, that's for sure-- global corporations without any national allegiances whatsoever.

    And take the immigration issue--Tea Party-ers are so ignorant they can be brainwashed by Fox Noise into hating mexican farm workers rather than comprehending the simple reality that in the absence of strong labor unions (who historically were able to unite workers of all races and establish for all of us things like the 5-day work week, 8-hour workday, child labor laws, work safety regs, etc) puffed up fools who actually believe they might get to be one of the elite someday-AynRand style- duped into thinking its immigrants that are the real enemy.

    Tell me, when will the Tea Party demand an end to war as the fundamental driver of our economic engine? War funded by what - tax dollars. By your definition isn't war socialism? Isn't what we have a bunch of corporations who privatize any losses (ie the WallSt. Bankers bailout) while privatizing their profits (ie, huge CEO bonuses and stockholder dividends)?

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  19. gawd-dang-it, I meant to say of course that corporations socialize their losses and privatize their profits. Gotta go for a walk and cool off....

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  20. Arkansas Tea PartyAugust 10, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    There is an American-Tea party way to solve the illegal immigrant problems.

    Just let all of them come who want to come. We can reverse this loss of jobs to Meicco. Just have the immigrants agree to five years of free labor to the business of there choice. That way we will see who's just playing us and who really wants to be an American.

    Yea, were so ignorantce. Wait till Nov and we see who so dumb!!

    Blanche is gone. That fuzzy head liberal in Little Rock is a for sure goner.

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