A huge crowd and uplifting blessings Tuesday cheered many about the rise of Frank Scott Jr. as the first popularly elected black mayor of Little Rock. But I got an e-mail last night that reminded me how quickly reality bites in the form of troublemakers. Bless them, too.
I was copied on an e-mail by Luke Skrable, a longtime critic of city government, who wants to know if Frank Scott will deliver on answers given at a candidates’ forum that indicated he’d support citizens’ rights to speak before the board and even to speak repeatedly on the same topic if their previous complaints had not been answered.
Skrable was a major contributing cause to a rule by Mayor Mark Stodola not to allow speakers at board meetings to repeat complaints they’d made previously.
But …. he lives in Southwest Little Rock, as does Frank Scott, and Scott himself has said — as Skrable has long complained — that his section of the city hasn’t received the same attention as more prosperous areas. There’s evidence in
Will Scott continue the one-time speaking rule? Skrable says he intends to find out next week at the City Board meeting. Welcome to City Hall, Mayor Scott.
Speaking of unanswered questions: I’m still waiting for an answer from Scott on contributors to the cost of the party thrown to celebrate his inaugural. He promised transparency, after all.
I’ll also be interested in hearing Scott’s take on unfinished city business — whether former Mayor Mark Stodola should get $173,000 or more for putative unused vacation time (and whether that’s a policy, if legal, that the city should continue for future mayors. No other elected official in Arkansas is able to accrue pay for unused leave time.)
Also, Stodola hasn’t gotten back to me on plans for more than $70,000 he’s holding in a campaign carryover account.
UPDATE: I just now got an e-mail from Stodola on the
Good morning, Max—- been moving and in the hospital for a few days, sorry for the slow response. I am sure I will be making contributions to worthy charities , I just haven’t decided which ones.
Irritating questions from sometimes unpleasant people are part of the price of public service. Bless the questioners. Because sometimes they have fair points.
Over in North Little Rock, Jimmie Cavin is raising sand with the North Little Rock School Board over a report that members of the School Board met without public notice in advance of the Dec. 20 Board meeting with Superintendent Bobby Acklin and the district personnel committee chair on personnel policies. If true (and one school board member has responded to Cavin in a manner that suggests such a meeting DID take place), it would have been illegal. Meetings, even informal, of multiple members of public
Good luck to Cavin on his quest. Here’s hoping that Acklin, School Board member
After 46 years in Arkansas, however, my opinion is that such occurrences as Cavin describes are not isolated. He signed his letter to school officials:
“Sincerely expecting transparency,”
Don’t we all?
UPDATE: Superintendent Bobby Acklin responded to my inquiry:
Before the December 20th board meeting, a few board members came to my office. The majority of the conversation was casual; however, one board member asked a question about a policy that was on the agenda. That member just wanted some clarification. We answered her question so that we could all speak intelligently about the policy when we entered the public forum. There was no decision made in my office.
Even though we also discussed the policy in the public forum, in retrospect, we should not have talked about it prior to the meeting. I never want anyone to think that we are doing things underhandedly. I am all about transparency. I apologize for the oversight. We will always strive to follow the law.
Another board member described the meeting in the same way and called it a “teaching moment.” Fair enough. If the lesson is learned.
UPDATE II: Another good answer from Board chair Tracy Steele
When we come in for board meetings it’s normal to go to the superintendent office for a snack or beverage. Prior to the Dec 20th meeting the superintendent was watching the ADE Board meeting in which we all have interest. Several conversations took place with various board members and staff.I do know that there was no prior communication or intent to have any unauthorized conversations We as a board must be more careful to follow the law.
As board President I am recommending more training on the F.O.I laws for all board members and administrative staff.