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Adding a cent's worth to deal with Diamond.

Adding A Cent's Worth To Deal With Diamond

I thought I would add my one cent's worth about the Diamond Center.

That is what it would cost me, a penny on every dollar's purchase, a penny I am paying already because we voted to pay it temporarily for a new county jail.

"It won't cost you an extra cent." That should be the campaign slogan. The election should be called in February, a cold day in the dreariest month of the year. Maybe the masses won't brave the elements to vote, but the true believers will. That's politics.

I'm for it because I want Little Rock to become a major city, not remain a big town. I might never go to the multipurpose arena. I've outgrown rock concerts and basketball games are much more enjoyable from the sofa. At home, I don't feel uncomfortable when the hog-calling starts.

But the Diamond Center is more than a basketball-entertainment arena. Yes, it is possible that the dreamers behind this proposal - Jim Moses, Mark Grobmyer, Wally Allen and Buddy Villines - threw in museum and a library to make the proposal more politically palatable. But that's politics. And a new museum and a state-of-the-art library are exciting prospects.

The proposed location is ideal: visible from the most-traveled section of interstate in the state, perfectly situated to stimulate downtown and enhance a stagnant area - bridging east and west, black and white.

Yes, people are worrying about what people in these parts always worry about: Where am I going to park my car? There is no massive asphalt lot. What am I to do?

Carpool and then walk, that's what. Park four blocks away. Park six blocks away. You do it at War Memorial Stadium. They do it for Cardinal games in downtown St. Louis.

I say we should do it all: Extend the penny tax we already pay, take some of the money and give pay raises to the police and firefighters, pledge the rest to $100 million in bonds to build the Diamond Center, expand the Statehouse Convention Center and, if skyboxes won't do it, re-inforce and expand War Memorial Stadium.

Moses, Grobmyer, Villines and the rest need to set out to raise about $300,000, at least, for a forceful campaign, complete with direct mailings and television, radio and newspaper advertising. They need to commission a poll to help them determine how best to promote the project.

They also need to be commended, just for trying.

Two disclaimers: Jim Moses is a good friend and tennis partner. And I seldom meet a tax I don't like.

We will see a power shift in this state in the 1990s. It will sap political strength from the regions of the state needing it most and transfer it to the regions doing fine without it.

From the depressed east and south to the steady central and the properous northwest - that's the shift.

Something has to be done about shoring up the South and East. We can't let regions wither on a vine where human beings are trying to survive.

The preliminary census figures are being argued nearly everywhere as mayors send their troops door-to-door to try to prove that the Census Bureau missed a lot of people. But the figures set a trend that surprises no one.

People are bailing out of the Delta and South Arkansas, leaving impoverished blacks and welfare families to share space with a few lingering and anchronistic plantationists. If not for teen pregnancy, there might be no one left at all.

People are flocking to the jobs provided by major state industries - retailing, poultry, trucking - and the ancillary enterprises that spring up around thriving giants. That means they are moving to Northwest Arkansas, where you will find most of Arkansas' money.

As you know, our Constitution requires that legislative districts be redrawn each decade to adhere to a one-man, one-vote principal after each census. Legislative representation follows the people, not the need.

So when the Board of Apportionment - the Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State - sits down next year with the census figures, it will have to shift maybe a dozen House seats, maybe three or four Senate seats, from the Mississippi River Delta region to areas where people are moving - Cabot, Conway, Bentonville, Springdale, Fayetteville, Rogers. The only eastern exception is Jonesboro, which is doing fine.

Furthermore, court-ordered redistricting to provide new black districts already has turned the legislative power structure upside down. Where Knox Nelson was before, (taking care of his friends in Pine Bluff and Southeast Arkansas), a new minority senator will roam next year. One should harbor no illusions about what a freshman legislator can do, one of three blacks in the Senate, one of 12 blacks in the 135-member legisltaure.

Bynum Gibson is the progressive member of the dynastic Gibson clan of Southeast Arkansas. He led the legislative fight against a dump for out-of-state garbage that a relative, Jack, had a vested interest in securing. He represents a district that is more then 60 percent black after court-ordered re-apportionment, and he is to return without opposition.

"Nobody wants to be a state representative from down there," he said last week. "Don't congratulate me. I'm the only guy willing to go to Little Rock."

He is the new president of the Delta Council.

Not the Delta Commission. The Delta Council. The Delta Commission was all-white, a showcase for the young governor' club, comprising the finest that Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana had to offer in sanitized political talent. Sanitized politicians tend to issue sanitized reports, which is precisely what we got from the Delta Commission.

The Delta Council is what Gibson thinks might save the Delta.

He describes it as an advocacy group, a lobbying group, that would present a united political voice for the eastern portion of the state, from Lake Village to Blytheville, from Olly Neal to Mike Wilson. Gibson and other Delta leaders, such as state Representative Charlotte Schexnayder of Dumas, are busy meeting with corporate leaders to try to raise $50,000 to get themselves going. It is a worthwhile investment. Arkansas can be no stronger than its weakest region.
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Title Annotation:financing of the proposed Diamond Center sports arena, Little Rock, AR
Author:Brummett, John
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:column
Date:Nov 26, 1990
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