Here is the 2019 Budget that will be voted on in tonights (December 3rd, 2018) Maumelle City Council meeting, for those who would like a closer look at the proposed budget and actual expenses for previous years. Click here or on the image below to veiw a larger image.
I'd like to shout out "Thank You" to Maumelle Ward 3 voters for their confidence in electing me to the City Council yesterday.
November 7th 2018 Update
Running for political office is the ultimate act of the knight-errant. Like Don Quixote, candidates charge the windmills of public opinion as they battle the challenges of the day.
My first foray into politics focused on the issues, but was done on the cheap, which flew directly in the face of conventional logic that states: "Accepting no campaign contributions and doing no spending equal no chance."
So it was a gratifying surprise to win!
The campaign was a perfect opportunity to get to know so many of my wonderful neighbors, both near and far in the city. I now have an even greater appreciation for our community, and the hearts that make it beat.
I vow to fulfill your confidence by addressing your concerns and the future of Maumelle with fresh perspectives, innovative thinking, and long-term planning.
The work begins now.
Early voting works completely differently from Election Day voting, the most important difference being that YOU ARE NOT RESTRICTED TO A SINGLE POLLING STATION.
October 27 2018 Update
If you live in Maumelle and work in Little Rock, where there is a polling station close to you, you can use that polling station. The same goes for those who work in Maumelle and live in Little Rock. The only limitation to which polling station you use is that if you live in Pulaski County, then you have to use a polling station inside Pulaski County. That's it.
When you go in you'll be asked to fill out a form that, once completed, will be checked by a poll station assistant. If no problems are found, you'll then be directed to another station where the poll worker will identify which ballot you need and write that ballot's computer file number on your form.
Then you head to the voter booth, where another assistant will dial up your particular ballot and, if needed, give you instructions on how to use the touch-operated computer screen. So, if you don't trust computers and want that printed ballot to complete, then early voting is not for you. But if you want the convenience of voting at ANY polling place through the entirety of Pulaski County, then you can avoid the long lines on election day and have your vote counted now!
I'd like to thank the Maumelle Chamber of Commerce for hosting the Maumelle election debate last night. A video of the entire proceedings is available here on their Facebook page.
October 19, 2018 Update
photo by Shannon Odom
I'd like to thank the NCAAP and the Bethel Church A.M.E. in North Little Rock for extending me an invitation to their election debate last night, even though it ending up only being a speech. It was great listening to not only the concerns of the attendees, but also the candidates for Governor, Attorney General, and so many other public offices.
October 17, 2018 Update
photos by Shannon Odom
October 8, 2018 Update--1 of 2
The League of Women Voters asked me three questions to put up on their website: www.vot411.org.
They were good questions, so I thought I'd share them here.
Plus, since League's answer spaces were limited to 1,000 characters each, this also provides me an opportunity to give a full, unedited answer to their most important question, #3.
Question #1: What qualified you for this position?
I've been a resident of Maumelle for 24 years, and have owned and operated specialty bookstores in both Little Rock and North Little Rock since the 1980s. Many residents of Maumelle are my customers, so I've had countless conversations about their concerns and desires for the city. I've been active in the politics for all three cities, having served on the Business License committee that successfully redesigned the business license system for Little Rock, and was a volunteer on the committee that rewrote the zoning laws for Park Hill in North Little Rock. In Maumelle, I was active in city council meetings in opposition to a proposal to give up their right to question any Maumelle Water rate increases, which was defeated, as was their subsequent request for a 50% increase. My familiarity with both Maumelle and its neighbors is part of why I'm running for office, which gives me a unique perspective when it comes to dealing with the top issues that face our city today.
Question #2: How do you plan on communicating with the residents of your city?
Communication is my strong point. I have a lengthy bibliography as both a fiction and non-fiction writer that includes over 1,000 books, short stories, articles, reviews, reports and opinion pieces. One of the ways that I communicate with my customers throughout the state, and especially here in Pulaski County, is through my website that I personally maintain, and which gives me the ability to instantly provide information to the public. There you will already find an ever growing webpage about my candidacy for the Maumelle city council, which mirrors my campaign's Facebook page. I will supplement this web information with mass emails sent only to those who request it.
Question #3: What are the top two issues facing your city today and what are your solutions or recommendations?
Reducing taxes and traffic congestion are the two greatest issues that face residents of Maumelle. These are the primary reasons that I'm running for office.
During a question and answer session with the Maumelle Chamber of Commerce, I was asked if I would ever consider relocating my businesses to Maumelle. I replied that I'd love to. Maumelle is centrally located, but the problem is that I'm a destination business, and Maumelle has become inaccessible.
The third entrance will hopefully help, but the fact that residents are now footing an additional 15 Million dollar tax bill because the project was not properly coordinated with the Arkansas Highway Department is, to me, something that should not have happened--and everyone I talk to gives me a different reason as to why.
Residents have also been paying on another bond issue that was rolled into the Counts Massey extension in 2013, which was intended to change Crystal Hill Road from two lanes to four, along with a bike path and sidewalks. Unfortunately, this would require easements into people's front yards, which I do not support. Worse, this expensive plan is only for the Maumelle section of the road. I've asked a North Little Rock alderman, who also asked the Chief of Staff for the Mayor about their plans for participation. According to them, no one has ever before approached North Little Rock about this project. I was the first one. The Chief of Staff wrote: "...if Maumelle starts engineering for improvements on Crystal Hill Rd, then NLR will evaluate what if anything should be done with the part that lies in our City." Since any work done by NLR would require a large bond issue of their own, and probably a vote, there is a very real possibility that Crystal Hill could end up being a half four-lane and half two lane road.
I advocate scaling down the Crystal Hill project to bringing the two-lane road back to a respectable condition, and then take the unused money and pay off the bond early--thereby reducing the taxes being paid by Maumelle residents.
But to improve our city's access even more, I believe that the city council should also become proactive in planning for a fourth entrance-exit, with this one being a bridge across the Arkansas River.
Two Maumelle alderman have confirmed to me that they have heard how the State plans to build such a bridge. One heard it might be in Mayflower. Another heard it would connect Roland on the south side with Palarm on the north, which is not far from Maumelle's current city limits. I've also talked with a state employee who heard the Palarm location. I believe Maumelle should grow by annexation in that direction and become proactive with the State to ensure that this is indeed the location, and plan out city's growth to take full advantage of that opportunity, without unexpected costs resulting from a lack of planning.
So, yes, there are ways to solve our traffic problems, and reduce taxes--all at the same time.
These are my two main goals, and how I plan to achieve them.
October 8, 2018 Update--2 of 2
Since today's other post was so serious, here's an opinion piece that suggests change by accomplished by smaller actions--as simple as suggestion.
Please keep in mind that the following combines serious with satire:
Wind Drafting in the Land of the Black Knights
It happens so often when traveling down Maumelle Boulevard--someone in the fast lane drives the exact same speed as the lead car in the slow lane, blocking faster traffic for miles as traffic piles up behind.
Not so long ago, I heard a radio announcer complain about this. He stated that the Highway Patrol had done a survey which determined how slow drivers in the fast lane are the cause of most highway traffic accidents, as a result of faster drivers having to constantly maneuver around them. The dawdlers are never involved in these wrecks, and just go ambling slowly along without obstruction in the fast lane, oblivious to the chaos they leave in their wake.
Drivers like this remind me of the Black Knight in the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, who fanatically guards a bridge with the declaration of; "None shall pass!" It also reminds me of George Carlin's excellent observation of, "Did you ever notice how anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a damn fool?"
Yep. Highways are filled with Monthy Pythonish Black Knights who consider faster traffic to be a bunch of damn fools.
So I offer an incentive for them to do what should be a courtesy. This incentive was common knowledge where I grew up in Kansas, but seems to be unknown in Arkansas. It's the technique known as:
There's a reason geese fly in a V-pattern, which is an example of wind-drafting. By wind-drafting, geese to the rear use less energy as the leader does most of the work by cutting a path through the wind.
This technique also works for cars. By driving behind another car doing the same speed as you, gas mileage can be improved by 5 MPG, or more. Once on an interstate highway from Wichita, Kansas, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, I remember wind-drafting behind a semi-truck, where you can't see the road signs as well, but knew what time and where my gas gauge should be by the time I should start watching for my turn. When nearing those marks I discovered that I'd way overshot and was outside Oklahoma City. That was when I truly realized just how BIG a difference wind-drafting can make.
So if dawdlers in the fast lane will not clear the fast lane out of courtesy and for public safety, then maybe they will move over to the slow lane for the financial incentive of gas savings from wind-drafting?
This would be a win-win for everyone.
If it works, then maybe my next word of mouth campaign might actually get people to stop running red lights! I've often summed up the prevalence of this practice with the following joke:
"My girlfriend gave me a ride the other day and she blew right through a red light. When I asked what she was doing, she replied, 'My brother does it all the time!' Then she stopped at a green light, looked both ways and complained, 'Look out! My brother might be coming!'"
click on the following image to view a larger, easier to read file:
Maumelle's History, New Entrances, and the 50 Year Plan in 800 words.
click on the map below to find your ward
Maumelle, Arkansas has a history that can be traced back to well before the Louisiana Purchase, when French trappers first rounded a bend in the Arkansas river, saw the pair of mountains we call Pinnacle and Rattlesnake, and shouted out, "Mamelle," because of their resemblance to female anatomy. The name they gave this area stuck with the addition of the letter "U," and marks the beginning of our spoken history. That legacy is no longer spoken aloud in public for obvious reasons, but you can't get mad at those weary explorers who journeyed so far from home.
Our recorded history began when a couple of brothers named James and Jacob Pyeatt settled the fertile river region in 1812. James was a farmer and is buried in a cemetery near the Maumelle Country Club Golf course. Jacob operated a ferry across the Arkansas river, which included a bayou on the northern shore around where the Big Maumelle River emptied into it. The Big Maumelle was dammed in 1956 to create Lake Maumelle.
The township named Maumelle on the southern shore continued as a farming community until the U.S. Government purchased the land in 1941 and created the Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP).
Maumelle ceased to exist during World War II, during which the AOP produced in excess of a Trillion detonators and relays, along with another half a Trillion fuses, primers, and other various triggers for explosives.
The workers of the AOP were primarily women who were referred to as Women Ordnance Workers, or WOW for short. The popular word of "Wow" has no officially recorded origin, so we've possibly found a clue that those early French explorers would appreciate.
The ordnance manufacturing plant was eventually abandoned after the war ended, and sections to the northeast became part of the Little Rock Air Force Base. Other areas were sold back to farmers, while the rest was purchased by Perry Equipment Company in 1951, and later by the city of North Little Rock in 1961. NLR's plans to build an industrial park never saw fruition.
In 1967 an insurance executive with a forward-thinking community plan named Jesse Odum bought 5,000 acres and formed Maumelle Land Development, Inc.
Financing was made possible by the government's encouragement of Planned Urban Developments, and on June 20, 1985 Maumelle was officially incorporated as a First Class City.
Maumelle's population according to a 1985 census was nearly 1400 people. In 2018 that population is estimated to be in excess of 18,000. The AOP would have been proud of causing an explosion of that size.
As evidenced by the 1200 percent growth, Jesse Odom had a good plan. But Maumelle's growth has slowed drastically in the last few years. Our population in 2010 was just over 17,000. There are reasons for this slowdown. Our traffic congestion has been compounded by heavy growth along our North Little Rock borders, and specifically along one of our only two exits out of Maumelle.
We should soon see new growth of our own along the areas where a new third entrance onto Highway I-40 is planned. This is a project for which Maumelle residents will be ultimately be billed $49 Million in property tax dollars. I know some out there will point out how the extension of the Counts Massey Road was $14 Million and the new bond issues for the interchange are $14 Million. How does that add up? The Counts Massey Road tax has already had other improvements rolled into it, like the money just sitting in the bank and waiting to be used to improve Crystal Hill Road. That's why the City Council couldn't simply extend that tax when it was learned how the Arkansas State Highway department would not be building the cloverleaf access until years later. The Counts Massey tax had already been ballooned to $35 Million. Add in the new $14 Million for the interchange and we've now got $49 Million dollars in bonds counting against our already heavily taxed dollars. But there are ways that some of this could be paid off early and start to relieve that burden.
This is one example of why, as a candidate for the Council in the upcoming election, I would like to not only stop the endless taxation from the shoulders of Maumelle's residents, but reduce it. Our residents do not have bottomless pockets into which the City Council can forever continue to reach.
Stopping runaway taxation is my short term plan, and better planning to keep costs under control is part of that goal.
The long term plan is a 50-year development idea to also expand the city to the Northwest along the river, and perhaps one day build a fourth entrance with a bridge across the Arkansas River, which would connect our city once again with the north shore.
It's an idea that old ferryman Jacob Pyeatt might approve of. Now you understand why the history lesson was included.
Michael Tierney -- August 26, 2018
A podcast for a radio show? Yep. You can watch and listen to me talking on Friday, September 7, 2018, with Dave Elswick's guest host Shane Stacks about my candidacy for the Maumelle City Council.
September 18, 2018 update:
Today during a Maumelle Chamber of Commerce meeting, former Maumelle Monitor reporter Neal Moore said to me:
"You want to reduce taxes while building an indoor swimming pool AND a 150 million dollar bridge--you're talking out of both sides of your mouth." And he went back to this again later with, "I'm hearing talk about bridges and flying cars."
For the record, I never said anything about flying cars, and at no time was I doing double-speak.
But I welcome his questions.
It gives me a chance to elaborate.
About my stand on taxes: Yes. I'm against new taxes and will be looking for ways to reduce the tax burden on residents while maintaining the infrastructure and security of our wonderful community. As a someone with decades of business experience, I'm adept at finding places to cut wasteful spending and funneling those funds to areas where they're needed most. A previous promise of providing an indoor swimming pool was made to residents, but never delivered. I want to work to find a way to fulfill this need.
About the bridge: One of my campaign initiatives is the development of a 50 year plan, and part of the long-range plan is to develop a plan for a fourth Maumelle entrance/exit, specifically with access to a bridge connecting with Little Rock. Am I advocating spending 150 million dollars of Maumelle tax payer's money? Absolutely not! If this confuses Mr. Moore, it might confuse others, so I will elaborate even further.
The State of Arkansas has been doing it's own long-range planning, called Long Range Intermodal Transportation Plan (LRITP), with a vision that reaches to 2040. You can access the public record of this plan here:
You'll see a lot of discussion about bridges in this plan. You will also see how 15% of our bridges are in dire need of repair, and how Billions will be allocated to repairing and improving our bridge infrastructure.
You will find no mention of any of this in Maumelle's current long-range plan.
Something that at least one member of the Maumelle city council has heard is that another bridge in our area across the river is indeed part of this 2040 plan--although the current planning seems more likely to target our neighbor city, Mayflower.
This is something that needs to happen, and will happen at some point in the next fifty years. Maumelle needs to plan in that direction, and prepare if possible to become a part of that plan. At the very least, as new areas are annexed to the north of the city, we should be planning an avenue to provide a northwest corridor in the direction of wherever this bridge is eventually placed.
So, again, no flying cars in anything I'm proposing.
This is no fantasy, this is all fact.
Spoke with another Maumelle Councilman today who had also heard from "two or three sources" how the highway was in the planning stages to construct a new river bridge.
The good news in the discussions he has had is that the bridge would potentially run from Palarm to Roland, with the intent of alleviating I-430 bridge traffic.
That's right on our back doorstep.
With a little planned growth, that could be a part of our city.
We don't want another opportunity to slip away like having the State Highway Department build the third entrance cloverleaf did.
September 19, 2018 UPDATE
I've been informed that my candidacy is about to be attacked further.
So I'm just going ahead and presenting their argument against me here:
If you're happy with the way things are now in Maumelle, then I am not your candidate.
If you want taxes to increase, then I am not your candidate.
If you DON'T want someone who questions the established status quo, then I am not your candidate.
If you think planning for the future is science fiction, then I am definitely NOT your candidate. I'm sure someone said the same thing about Jesse Odom when he drew up his initial long-term plan.
If you DON'T want me going through the budget and targeting wasteful spending to be reallocated to better use, then I'm someone who makes you very nervous.
If you try to accuse me of not doing MY research, then you've never even looked at my website. The facts and many examples of a wide range of research are there. Maybe it's research where certain people don't want me looking--but it's there. Now I will add the caveat that if you ask two different people in our city's administration the same question, you're likely to get two completely different answers. So there is still a lot of sorting going on, and definite answers are simply not available to those of us on the outside. One thing I learned a long time ago is that the more you know, the more you don't know. So you will hear that my research is still ongoing, but that doesn't mean that I'm not doing it.
I'm not a politician. I'm not going to tell you what you want to hear and then do something else.
What I am is a straight shooter.
I have no fear of being attacked. I knew this would happen going in, and actually I don't mind. It gives me an opportunity to further expound on my goals. What I don't appreciate is innuendo and baseless insults. But, again, I knew this was coming.
You can't advocate change without being attacked. This happened to me at my bookstores when the comic book publishers dropped their age rating system and began slipping mature material into books that had previously been All Ages, with absolutely no warning. I advocated for responsible packaging that alerted retailers to the content, but was attacked by comic creators as being a censor and my customers were called ignorant and referred to as Nazis. Yeah... things get ugly when you tell people things they don't want to hear. But the publishers heard what I was saying and re-instituted the age guidelines I was suggesting. Sales immediately turned around nationwide, but if you were to ask certain people about me today, they'll still call me a bad guy and a censor.
So some in Maumelle will no doubt going to be calling me a bad guy as well.
But I'm here to represent all those of you who have asked me to run and make the changes that are needed to grow our community into a better and brighter future. I'm running for office because Maumelle faces many issues that are currently being ignored.
One of those is that Maumelle Flight has already begun.
Whenever I mention about how some of the neighborhoods I canvassed have seen 50% turnover in residency, it's argued and denied. Now, I did not say this was the case for ALL of Maumelle, but it is happening in many pockets of Ward 3. And in every case these new residents were thrilled about how much of a bargains their houses were.
That is not a good sign for property values in Maumelle.
What it does signal is that changes need to be made now before these pockets of Maumelle Flight become a city-wide epidemic.
Now that you've heard my plans and aspirations, here are some articles written about me over the years by unbiased reporters for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.
Click on any of the images below to view larger files for reading:
If you're still curious to learn more, visit any of the links down the lefthand column which connects to the many pages of my Wild Stars website.
There you can learn about my businesses, my writing in both fiction and non-fiction, perhaps laugh at some of my cartoons, scuba dive with me into the middle of a shark feeding frenzy or journey down Bimini road to the lost civilization of Atlantis, and much, much more.
Thanks for visiting and don't forget to vote this November!
On the lighter side of politics: