THE NEW LOOK: Of city government.


Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr.
announced today that he intended to take control of hiring of the next police chief, along with other executive powers that had been ceded previously to City Manager Bruce Moore.

Scott said in a news release that a 2007 ordinance made the mayor the chief executive officer and the city manager, Bruce Moore, the chief administrative officer.

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Scott says he’s decided six departments will report to the city manager, but finance, fire, human resources, planning, police and public works will report to him. Moore will oversee the Zoo, parks, housing and community programs, information technology and fleet services.

Thus, Scott plans to choose the next police chief. Moore had been guiding that process and applications have been received, including from two current assistant chiefs. The previous mayor, Mark Stodola, ceded that power and choice of the fire chief as well to Moore.

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Baker Kurrus, who lost a runoff for mayor with Scott, was the first to raise in the campaign this powerful interpretation of the existing mayoral powers ordinance.  Scott soon adopted that view as well.

It does raise some questions, however, about duplicative administrative staffs for both the mayor and the city manager.

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It was already clear under another part of the law that the mayor had the power to hire and fire the city manager and city attorney, currently Tom Carpenter. Scott asserted that power in his release and noted it was subject to approval of the City Board.

Said the release:

“The mayor will exercise his executive powers to hire department heads, including our next police chief.”

Scott continued:

More than 10 years ago, the citizens of our great city voted for change in leadership at city hall and in December they elected me to bring it forth.

Now it is my responsibility to A.C.T., that is to be Accountable, to be Clear and to be Transparent. This organization structure is to ensure that city hall is aligned with the ordinance and that our city knows that City Hall will be accountable, clear and transparent to the citizesn of Little Rock. I’m excited about the progress our city leadership will now be able to focus on under my direction.

Enter the strong mayor. That was promised by this year’s field of candidates and I believe voters were excited about the potential for change. This is change.

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PS: Lindsey Millar spoke recently with Scott about the shape of his administration. He said then that Moore was aware of the direction he was heading

I’ve already spoken with Mr. Moore on how I would like the police search process to move forward and he is operating in the direction I’ve given him. That direction is that as CEO, I’ve asked my COO to utilize the HR functions, sift through some—I think we’ve gotten 50 to 60 applications. Those have to be reviewed. Then based on some other questions, we hope to find 2-5 individuals that we’ll present to the community and the city board. I’ll be attending those meetings. I think it’s of the utmost importance that the community played a huge role. I think it’ll be between 2-3 individuals who make the cut.

Then he said there’d be conversations with the city board and city manager and then interviews and then he’d make a final decision.