Mucking about in the aftermath of yesterday’s Little Rock City Board agenda meeting, I heard these whispers:
1) Despite strong lobbying that began this week, the movement to preserve a seat for Jane Dickey on the Central Arkansas Water Commission mustered, at best, four votes among the 11 board members. We now know that she withdrew her request for reappointment in the face of majority board opposition. Some of those in support were soft in the face of certain defeat. I’m surprised, frankly. Though there were legitimate disagreements on some commission decisions in which Dickey played a role — dropping the condemnation of developer Rick Ferguson’s land, particularly — she’s a respected establishment lawyer who dedicated a great deal of time and effort to the water utility. I figured she’d get the benefit of the doubt, but the debate would be useful in favorably influencing future commission action on watershed issues. Wrong.
2) As several readers have already commented, retired CAW CEO Jim Harvey is probably a non-starter as a replacement commissioner. His lobbying on the Dickey issue created bad feelings both on the commission, which will make the recommendation, and on the City Board. His eligibility may be complicated, too, I was told, by his receiving continuing retirement compensation from the utility.
3) On another topic: Observers yesterday noted Mayor Mark Stodola’s sudden interest in the height of a berm and landscaping specifics for a planned unit development on Highway 10 and Chenal. Huh? The feeling is that something else is at work other than an interest in azaleas. But his questions meant the planning change proposed for the property will be considered separately, and not as part of a consent agenda, at the regular meeting of the City Board next week. Maybe nothing. Maybe something. Foodies note: The whisper is that the land might be used for multiple restaurants, perhaps even by the Pappas family, a Houston, Texas, empire that operates popular restaurants of just about every description — steak, Greek, Italian, Mexican.