Mayor Mark Stodola has ignored my request for an explanation of his tie-breaking vote to put a 20-pump Murphy Oil gas station and beer outlet at 12th and University, beneath the venerable University Park neighborhood.
Technically, Stodola or any of five directors who went for the Murphy gas station — despite no demonstration of community benefit — could rescind their votes at a City Board meeting at 4 p.m. tonight. I doubt Stacy Hurst, the Republican House candidate, Dean Kumpuris, Lance Hines, Brad Cazort or Gene Fortson will do so.
But, with the clock running out, I think I’ll go ahead and give readers an early look at my column this week on the subject. Murphy insulted our intelligence in its pitch for the station. The vote, too, demonstrated continuation of the favoritism Murphy money has enjoyed in Little Rock in tax, planning and school decisions, sometimes to the decided detriment of other parts of town. Example: They pay much lower property taxes than residents of University Park on land they sell for higher prices. Example: Their money underwrites school initiatives damaging to the Little Rock School District.
Connections count. So I’ve also used my column this week to respond to supporters of Stacy Hurst, who think it’s improper for me to write critically about her policy decisions because I’m likely to support a friend, Democrat Clarke Tucker, in the race for a state House seat and because my wife is a Tucker supporter, financially and otherwise. It’s simple: Policy not friendships guide my political decisions (I have some friends and kin I couldn’t support for public office) and my wife isn’t chattel. But judge for yourself.