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OPINION

REX NELSON: The strong mayor

By Rex Nelson

This article was published May 27, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

In an August 2007 special election, 61 percent of Little Rock voters supported an initiative to make the position of mayor a full-time job while retaining the city manager form of government.

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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 total comments

RBear says... May 27, 2018 at 8:55 a.m.

A very good column by Nelson on the current state of Little Rock municipal government, echoing similar thoughts I have after moving back to the city from nearly a quarter of a century in San Antonio. While I see the value of a good city manager, Little Rock is not in the right place for that now and needs to revert back to a strong mayor form of government. While many of the major cities of TX have council-manager forms of government, they are also of sizes 6 times or greater than Little Rock. Heck, one city council district in San Antonio is almost as big as all of Little Rock.
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But there is one point Nelson makes that I think merits greater conversation. "The first is the fact that the city's business leaders have never united on a common vision and then put their private capital to work to achieve that vision." That one point is what has struck me about Little Rock and why I think this city has never really moved to the next level of development. Without a shared vision built by the community, there is no plan for growth.
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That fact became evident when I joined over a thousand residents of San Antonio to build SA 2020 collectively. It was our city's road map to the future and still serves as the blueprint for the city. It wasn't built by a few "leaders" in a back room. It was built in full transparency by 800-1,000 citizens in weekend sessions at venues in every corner of the city. The final report even shows the table sessions where we all came together to write the plan.
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What came from it is Pre-K for SA, Cafe College, the Decade of Downtown, a growing Emerald Necklace of greenways and parks, economic development in all parts of the city, infill development to eliminate urban deserts, and greater investment in public art. Those are but a few of the benefits of the community plan. But they have helped San Antonio continue to grow, recording the largest growth in 2017 in major cities in the nation.
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I've mentioned this to two of the three candidates and feel the next mayor of the city should strongly consider such an effort. It will help he or she with plotting a course for the city that everyone can buy into. If Little Rock really wants to survive and thrive, it needs something all can agree to.

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drs01 says... May 27, 2018 at 11:06 a.m.

One thing for sure about Little Rock. When voters decided to create this 2-headed government, they had no idea what the results would be. It looked good on paper and ideally it sounded like a good idea, but....
Nelson speaks the truth about this city. We're the city with the responsibility for state capital infrastructure and improvements but not enough support ( $$$$) to provide it; and an ageless resentment from the legislature to help fix the problem.
Stodola has done what he could under the circumstances; faced with stagnant growth, a commuter work force, failing schools and resentment to a charter school alternative, his focus on downtown revitalization was his only choice. Create a downtown environment where tourists can mingle; attempt to make the Clinton Library a destination address, and attract young adults if possible. And don't overlook the "arts".
Stodola's comment " We keep going back to the same families year after year, and some of them are tired." is indicative of an ageless problem we have in Little Rock. For too long, the same civic and political re-treads have been attempting to shape the future of this city. What my father called the "dirty dozen" of years past may have been expanded in numbers but little else.
If Little Rock wants to progress, we need to decide what form of government will lead us. Two heads confuse the citizens and dilutes the power. Fix this before we elect another mayor who will struggle as Stodola has.

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RBear says... May 27, 2018 at 11:23 a.m.

Drs it cannot be fixed before we elect a new mayor. The voters must fix that and the next mayoral election is in November. That being said, the charge of the next mayor should be to lead an effort to fix the issue and help set forth a new vision for ALL the city.
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Another need is for a new, younger BOD. The average tenure of the curent board is almost 20 years, with the average for at-large at 23 years. Drs speaks the truth when he says, “For too long, the same civic and political re-treads have been attempting to shape the future of this city. What my father called the "dirty dozen" of years past may have been expanded in numbers but little else.“
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It is time for new leadership and new ideas. I call on some of the current board to NOT seek re-election and allow those new voices to come forward. Bow out gracefully instead of being forced out. If the later is your choice, you WILL be forced out as your time has come.

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PopMom says... May 27, 2018 at 11:52 a.m.

Fixing up Robinson Auditorium is like putting lipstick on a pig. That money should have been spend on fixing the schools, social services, and crime enforcement. Little Rock needs a Bloomberg who will do what needs to be done and take the political heat. The schools are bad from elementary on up. Teachers' contracts need to be renegotiated or purchased and better teachers hired. School days and years need to be lengthened. Birth control needs to be distributed to drug addicts and unfit parents. Children need to be taken away from unfit parents. The gangs need to be controlled through stop and frisk. When the schools improve and crime decreases, people will return to Little Rock to live.

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NoUserName says... May 27, 2018 at 11:56 a.m.

Bear is, of course right. The problem is that nobody is going to tank their own meal ticket to do what needs to be done.

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Dontsufferfools says... May 27, 2018 at 5:56 p.m.

Come on, RBear, "shared vision?" What would that shared vision look like, and why would discrete business interests have a shared vision? And why is it the capitalists' vision that is so important? That's is just BS. The columnist comes close to figuring things out when he alludes to the "half-century of litigation surrounding the public schools." The litigation starting this was Brown v. Board. After that, it was just a matter of the folks who wanted to keep their separate schools, churches and neighborhoods moving to Cabot, Bryant, and Conway and hollowing out parts of the city. In-fill development can be a slow and painful process, but it happened downtown and it will happen elsewhere in the city's east and south.

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RBear says... May 27, 2018 at 6:07 p.m.

DSF I suggest you Google up SA 2020 and see what I'm talking about. I've talked to several in Little Rock who would BEG for this and it's not about some capitalist dream. In fact, during our process in SA we had all at the table working together at the table, literally. The report has many photos from the sessions which shows how that came about.
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"And why is it the capitalists' vision that is so important? That's is just BS." Where did that come from? I don't think I ever mentioned something like that.

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Razrbak says... May 28, 2018 at 7 a.m.

Last Term Mayor Stodola is full of crap. The violent crime rate in LR is twice the national average. I guess that only two tourists murdered in the last two years (one from Italy and one from IL) is functionally zero risk for tourists. Stodola and the board have given the CoC public funds for years while each sitting member of the LRBOD & Stodola have accepted funds from the CoC associated PAC - Progress PAC. We have most of the white police officers working for LRPD afraid to live in the city due to crime and schools, and the department is divided along racial lines. The COP is trying to get a job elsewhere and we spent almost $15k sending him to Harvard to boost his resume. We need to get rid of all the sitting LRBOD's and city manager Bruce Moore. Then with the election of a new mayor and fresh city board members the problems LR faces can be tackled. #TimeForChange #CleanOutLRCityHall #ByeByeBuckner

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Razrbak says... May 28, 2018 at 7:21 a.m.

And for the record, Stodola has been mayor so long, he was first elected to office before the first iPhone was released. He like the first iPhone is outdated and worthless.

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