MAYOR WANTS TO TRADE LAND & PARKING DECK FOR A SCULPTURE THAT WILL BE GIVEN TO THE CITY IN 7 YEARS - LATEST SHENNIGANS INVOLVE BACK ROOM DEALS CONCERNING YEARS OF UNPAID RENT BY THE DOWNTOWN LITTLE ROCK PARTNERSHIP AND POLITICAL PAYOFFS
At the agenda meeting last week, last term Mayor Mark Stodola and City Attorney Tom Carpenter were less that truthful concerning the penned deal between the city, the Downtown Little Rock Partnership and the Arkansas Arts Center.
That deal has the city trading a piece of property it purchased for $500,000 in 1984 and which they then leased to the Downtown Little Rock Partnership to build and operate a parking deck upon.
The agreement between the city and the Downtown Little Rock Partnership stipulated that the city will take possession of the parking deck in 2025. That agreement also turns over ownership of a sculpture that the Downtown Partnership purchased for $185,000 in 1979.
That sculpture originally was placed in front of a McDonald's near Capitol and Main Streets back in the 1970's when the city foolishly shut down Main Street to vehicle traffic and bricked it as a pedestrian walkway. It was later moved across and down the street in 1999 to its current location in front of Union National Plaza at Capitol and Louisiana streets.
The Downtown Partnership has never paid the city a dime and according to city officials the amount of past due rent is somewhere near 1 million dollars.
Why has the city not demanded the past due rent? Why has the city not taken legal action to take over the parking deck for unpaid rent?
We will tell you why. The Downtown Partnership is full of developers and members of the Chamber of Commerce and last term Mayor Stodola and troubled City Manager Bruce "Home Wrecker" Moore are board members and in are their pockets.
You will also notice that Director Dean Kumpuris is also a board member. That should make the vote interesting next Tuesday night as Kumpuris and last term Mayor Stodola will have to abstain from voting on the issue due to a conflict of interest.
We sent a Freedom of Information request to the city last week and as usual they are refusing to provide a timely response, if one at all.
They don't want the truth about their shenanigans to come out before they agree to make a foolish trade for something they will obtain free and clear in a few years.
Kumpuris is a vocal voice on the board whining about lost sales tax revenue yet he is working to exchange valuable property and a lucrative parking deck that would bring additional revenue to the city just to get the sculpture before the designated date that it would be gifted to the city and have it placed at the entrance of the renovated Arts Center.
Kumpuris, the mayor, city manager and the rest of the board of directors are not too concerned about the only Confederate statue glorifying an armed take over of a U.S. Military installation which is located on city property just steps away from the Arkansas Arts Center.. but that discussion is for another day.
We also contacted the attorney for the Downtown Partnership, David Menz.
Menz told us that all the files concerning the bond and the parking deck were in storage. We found that odd as he and the city had been working out plans to scrap the 1984 agreement to favor the district.
|MENZ (ON RIGHT) BOOZING IT UP AT AN ARTS CENTER RECEPTION A FEW YEARS AGO|
No doubt last term mayor Stodola wants to make this look like the deal of a lifetime and get that sculpture over to McArthur Park as part of his deal to keep the Arts Center from moving to North Little Rock.
The Arkansas Arts Center has the sculpture situated as a focal point at the entrance of their re-imagined building posted on their blog.
Undoing the original 1984 deal now and giving up the land and the parking deck is a terrible decision. Especially when the sculpture will be handed over to the city in 2025. The Arts Center can wait until then to have it displayed.
If the Downtown Little Rock Partnership was really into helping the city and the community instead of the themselves, why are the not volunteering to move the sculpture to the Arts Center with no strings attached?
Because its all about the money, hidden agendas and backroom secret deals to keep certain individual in power that are in the pockets of the white privileged business community. That's why.