The line is open. Finishing:
* WORST STORY OF THE DAY SO FAR: This from KTHV — two Washington County inmates charged with raping and torturing a fellow cellmate. Who was on watch?
* NO VOTE URGED ON TIF DISTRICT: Arkansas Community Organizations has written a letter urging the Little Rock Board of Directors not to approve tonight a tax increment finance district to contribute property tax money for infrastructure improvements for Tommy Hodges’ Bass Pro Shops and Gateway Town Center developments in Otter Creek. I suspect they’ll do so anyway, though other developers don’t get similar handouts (yet) and though TIF financing was theoretically invented to jumpstart development on unpromising property. The Bass Pro Shops is already built and the other project, with outlying parcels, is underway. The city will give up its property tax on the improvements to Hodges, but it knows it will get new sales tax revenue to offset the loss. The Little Rock School District will give up 9 mills worth of property tax with no added benefit in return. The letter from ACO:
Our organization urges you to vote against the proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District that is on the agenda today. This proposal comes at a time when the Little Rock School District will lose funding from the state as part of the settlement of the desegregation lawsuit. We will need a strong local revenue stream to support our Little Rock schools.
Great public schools are essential to successful economic development. Diverting future revenue from public education for private projects will hurt the school system and our children.
We urge you to work with the developer to find other ways to finance the project besides a TIF District.
Arkansas Community Organizations
* ENTERGY’S SWAN SONG: The Arkansas Public Service Commission issued a news release today to note that Entergy Arkansas will end its “system agreement” with other Entergy operating companies Thursday of this week. No more Grand Gulfs to burden Arkansas ratepayers with the cost of power benefitting other states. PSC Chair Colette Honorable says the development means the Commission will be able to give “more focus to efforts and allocate more resources concerning the provision of cost-efficient rates, reliable service, and the meeting of public policy goals.” There was a time when Entergy swore systemwide sharing was of similar benefit. Check back in 20 years or so.
* CLINTON TO MODERATE HEALTH DISCUSSION: Former President Bill Clinton will be in town Thursday, in part to attend the annual Christmas party for staff and volunteers at the presidential library. He’ll also moderate a discussion at an invitation-only meeting about the Clinton Health Matters Initiative’s Central Arkansas Blueprint for Action, a plan to transform community health in the area.
* NEW DIRECTOR NAMED AT WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER INSTITUTE: Marta Loyd, who’s been vice chancellor for advancement at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, has been named new director of the UA’s Winthrop Rockefeller Insitute, a conference center at Mount Petit Jean established on the former ranch of the former governor with support from his charitable trust. Full details here.