As Bob Hester's letter detailed, when the legislative and executive branches of government fail to act in the best interests of those they serve, who's left of trust?
On Nov. 2, the Jonesboro City Council voted 11-1 to add a brand-new tax on eating. Only Councilman Bobby Long voted against it.
Beginning on Jan. 1, all meals in restaurants and all other prepared foods from grocery and convenience stores will cost 2% more. Councilman Joe Hafner, the council's math guy, avoided mentioning this $1.2 million amount transferred out of our wallets and purses annually, by adhering to the spenders' mantra that it will only hurt each eater a little.
The Jonesboro Advertising and Promotions Commission sought the tax and the A&P chairman projected an additional $100,000 "cha-chinging" into its coffers every month. He assures that, as due diligence, a third-party feasibility study will be conducted to recommend how to proceed with a project, supposedly an indoor sports-complex.
According to the A&P Commission and Councilman Chris Gibson, the cost of that feasibility study will range up to $50,000 but that retail cost could be reduced by $15,000, if there's a matching grant from the state of Arkansas — so $35,000.
In stark contrast, a feasibility study for an indoor sports complex in Fort Smith, began last week. The Fort Smith A&P commission and city contributed $7,500 each which, with the $15,000 state grant, paid for a $30,000 study, after which, Fort Smith will determine how to proceed. This is a much less expensive and less harmful process to the Fort Smith residents and its visitors than the shafting the Jonesboro City Council laid on us — $30,000 "all-in" — even less than Councilman Gibson's "stubby pencil" analysis.
Search online for "Can Fort Smith support an indoor sports facility?" The council and Mayor Harold Copenhaver were notified of the Fort Smith option repeatedly by email starting on Oct. 24, then at the lectern before the vote, of the less harmful option of one-time $30,000 vs. $1,200,000+ into perpetuity.
This reprehensible abuse of public trust is like the movie, "Ocean's Eleven," in which thieves took down casinos in Las Vegas. In this take-down of the residents of and visitors to Jonesboro, the taking was by the Jonesboro A&P Commission, in collusion with the Jonesboro City Council "eleven."
As emphasized by Councilman David McClain before the vote, Mayor Copenhaver was not involved. It was worse, as Mayor Copenhaver knowingly sat idly by and failed to intervene on behalf of the community he serves, as we were robbed. As Councilman Moore, has noted (figuratively, of course), "taxes are collected at the point of a gun" ... until revoked. Perhaps Councilman L.J. Bryant can lure, now, Mr. Speer out of retirement?
Any lawyers in the house?
Howard L. Weinstock