Credit where due to Mayor Mark Stodola for noting the national movement by Republicans to seize local control on pet issues, a movement amply illustrated by Arkansas’s Republican legislature.
He cites several examples, thankfully including the attempt to have state seize control of how school districts use vacant buildings, giving preference to public school-wrecking charter schools. He also went after Jason Rapert’s attempt to strip the Clinton name from the Little Rock airport. The mayor’s weekly message:
WHAT HAPPENED TO LOCAL CONTROL?
Last week, the National League of Cities released a report highlighting the threat around the country that state preemption poses to local control by cities and the bodies that govern them. That report is timely here in Little Rock.
Last week, a state senator proposed legislation directing the city to strip the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton from our National Airport.
From the judicial branch, the Supreme Court of Arkansas struck down a nondiscrimination ordinance voted on by the people of Fayetteville based on a statute passed by the state legislature prohibiting cities from recognizing gender and sexual identity as a protected class, even though this same legislature identified such as protected in other statutes.
And finally, legislation (SB308) is currently progressing that requires surplus school buildings to be offered to charter schools. Removing local control with legislation like this is just another example of the state eroding local decision making by school districts and further aggravating the many implications of the State takeover of the Little Rock School District.
These efforts take away the ability of local leaders, who represent the level of government closest to the people, to enact policies that reflect local values and priorities.
By way of illustration, the volunteer Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission, which is appointed by the mayor and city board to govern the affairs of the airport, voted unanimously in 2012 to name the airport after the Clintons in recognition of their three decades of service to Arkansas and the Nation. It should be noted that since the dedication of the Clinton Library more than $3.3 billion in economic impact has been created for Little Rock and the State of Arkansas.
There is little doubt that efforts to usurp local control will continue beyond those that we have already seen, but as city leaders and citizens must continue to speak out loudly to our legislators and push back when appropriate so that we continue to control our own destinies. So, call or e-mail your legislator today and tell them what you think. Let your voice be heard!
The legislature long ago took away gun regulation from the cities. He didn’t mention, interestingly enough, Little Rock state Rep. Andy Davis’ legislation to strip local control on sewer line extensions outside the city, a breathtaking usurpation. With a few minutes, I could probably think of more.