Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. (file photo)

There’s plenty of potential intrigue to watch out for at tonight’s Little Rock Board of Directors meeting at 6 p.m. You can stream it on the city’s website here.

*The board will have its first shot at consideration of the latest attempt to put a residency requirement on Little Rock first responders. Director Ken Richardson has proposed requiring all new Little Rock Police and Fire Department personnel to live within Pulaski County. The ordinance wouldn’t apply to those currently employed. City ordinances require three readings before the board takes a final vote on them, but the board often votes to suspend its rules and move through the three readings all at once. Such a motion requires eight votes. Both departments have struggled to recruit new employees, something several city board members mention frequently. It seems unlikely this ordinance will muster the necessary votes for consideration tonight.


*At-large Director Dean Kumpuris promised last week to introduce a resolution to allow the board to discuss a proposed settlement in a lawsuit brought by the family of Bradley Blackshire, who was fatally shot by a former Little Rock Police officer. The proposed deal has become a subject of great controversy among the board. Might the board try to nix the tentative agreement?

*At-large Director Antwan Phillips said last week he would ask the board to put his ordinance to change the city’s form of government on tonight’s agenda. His plan would allow the mayor to fire the city manager and city attorney and do away with at-large positions in favor of regional ward directors. He’ll need eight votes to get the ordinance added, which seems unlikely.


*Meanwhile, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. will likely have more to say about redistricting. He released two proposed maps earlier this month, one of which would dramatically reshape ward boundaries in the center part of the city. The board, which will ultimately approve the new election map, responded by passing an ordinance that puts the process of drawing maps for redistricting solely under the authority of the city manager and any staff of his choosing.

On Oct. 29, the mayor sent the following email to board members:


As you are aware, last week, the Board passed a resolution that gave complete control of the redistricting process to the City Manager. In that resolution, it states in Section 1 that, “The City Manager, in conjunction with any persons of his choosing… shall outline proposed boundaries for the seven (7) ward positions on the Little Rock Board of Directors.”.

I formally request that Mr. Moore uses the powers in this resolution to select a task force made up of three to five residents (with the assistance of key staff members) to help lead discussions and to assist with drafting maps to be presented to the Board for approval.

It is my strong believe that Resident participation would silence the claims of incumbent protection, gerrymandering, and favoritism that have already begun by having an employee of the city board completely control this process. This taskforce should be an impartial, diverse representation of our community. And this task force could meet with each board member and public representatives to gather input while ensuring an equitable and transparent process.

My office continues to receive requests and questions from our residents about public input in this process and the desire for residents’ voices to be heard. And I think we all can agree hearing our resident’s voices, particular at this time, is paramount and vital. Which is why I am also requesting that there be public input sessions held in all 7 Wards of our city to both listen to our residents and allow input in this process.

I look forward to visiting with Mr. Moore, discussing these requests in our City Board meetings, and hearing your input and suggestions on how we can improve this redistricting process and stay true to the principles that should guide it:

1.       First and foremost, we must be guided by the legal requirements for redistricting (“one person, one vote,” compact and contiguous wards, respect for communities of interest, and the relevant provisions of the Voting Rights Act).
2.       We must also provide opportunities for genuine public input on the process.  Relatedly, we should carry out a process that is transparent so that all of our community feels that this important work has been done fairly.
3.       We must eliminate I-630 as a dividing line in our community with an eye to crossing that barrier for wards through the heart of the City.
4.       To the greatest degree possible, we should avoid wards that are overwhelmingly single-race in their composition to enhance unity in our representation process.