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Saturday, July 21, 2018, 1:08 a.m.

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Little Rock director wants citizens committee created to study city's form of government

By Chelsea Boozer

This article was published June 19, 2018 at 10:58 a.m.

city-director-dean-kumpuris-is-shown-in-this-file-photo

City director Dean Kumpuris is shown in this file photo.

One of Little Rock’s at-large directors plans to ask for a new citizens committee be created to study the city’s form of government, particularly the makeup of the board.

At-large Director Dean Kumpuris’ recommendation comes in response to Ward 1 Director Erma Hendrix’s ordinance on Tuesday night’s board agenda that would ask voters to decide on eliminating the three at-large positions on the Board of Directors.

If Hendrix’s ordinance is approved by the board, the question will be on the November ballot for Little Rock voters to decide. If they vote in favor of the change, the city would be left with seven board members, each elected from a particular ward, and the mayor, who is elected citywide.

Kumpuris wrote his colleagues Monday afternoon to express his opposition to Hendrix’s ordinance.

“My main objection is not the proposal itself, but the method she used to arrive at her proposal. I have been part of two successful changes in our form of government during my time on the Board that were initiated by Future Little Rock and Vision Little Rock. Director Hendrix’s proposal is the product of a small group of confidants and because of that lacks the critical component of the prior processes; in-depth study and extensive public input,” Kumpuris’ letter said.

He said if Hendrix’s ordinance fails tonight, he will propose a resolution that would make the first action taken by the new board and new mayor in 2019 to be a decision on a process where the style of government question can be fully vetted.

He will propose the study group make recommendations and offer them to the public in 2019, well before the 2020 election.

The board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Little Rock City Hall, 500 W. Markham St., where it will discuss Hendrix’s proposed ordinance and Kumpuris’ recommendation.

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 total comments

RBear says... June 19, 2018 at 11:20 a.m.

The fact that Kumpuris has been around for BOTH changes in the forms of government speaks to one of the problems, extremely long tenure on the board. Little Rock's at-large directors have an average tenure of over 20 years. That creates stagnation in board decisions and had led to some of the problems we see in Little Rock today.
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That being said, I agree that Hendrix is going about this the wrong way in that it seems all she is basing it on is a study done by four Hendrix researchers that mirrors the findings of many other studies on at-large representation in municipal governments. The study should be a part of an overall community discussion on the structure of city government in Little Rock. That discussion should also include whether the current mayor-manager structure continues to make sense.
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One thing that also needs to be considered is tenure on the board. Not only do at-large members seem to have decided their board position should be for life, but Hendrix and a few others seem to have the same mindset. For Little Rock to grow, it will need new ideas that come from new members. Right now, the same old ideas are hashed over and over and over again.

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drs01 says... June 19, 2018 at 12:17 p.m.

I agree that this issue needs discussion. We can't make one change without looking at this mayor-manager issue. What would be ideal and timely would be for all the current mayoral candidates to WITHDRAW so we won't have to waste another FOUR YEARS before this important issue can be fully discussed and resolved. If any of these candidates really care about the future of Little Rock, they would withdraw. I don't believe a new face in city hall as the semi-ceremonial mayor will help.

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Razrbak says... June 19, 2018 at 12:18 p.m.

Shady tactic by a crusty old too-long-in-office city director. The study done by Dr. Jay Barth at Hendrix has all the facts you need to know about the issue. Let the voters decide. All he has to lose is his position.

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RBear says... June 19, 2018 at 12:36 p.m.

Razrback I’m not sure how many other munis you’ve been involved with but all the ones I’ve worked with typically have a public discussion on major muni restructuring changes before putting them to the voters. The study doesn’t speak to all the issues. I see you keep forgetting the other three authors when mentioning it. Have you actually read it?

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