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October leaves impression on state leaders.

Gazette Closure, Clinton Candidacy Has An Impact

Hardly a month had passed before several members of last year's Arkansas Business "30 For The '90s" list felt the winds of change.

October had a big effect on the professional life of Max Brantley. For that matter, the same can be said for Arkansas Democrat Publisher Walter Hussman Jr., whose acquisition of the Arkansas Gazette's assets Oct. 18 put columnist Brantley temporarily "on the street" and literally displaying a sign "Will Edit for Food."

And, although he did not know it at the time, the month of October also would change the professional direction of James L. "Skip" Rutherford.

For the main men behind Little Rock 2000 -- businessmen Wally Allen, Jim Moses and Mark Grobmyer -- Oct. 8 proved to be a day of disappointment. The sales tax proposal they backed to fund the improvements project failed at the voting booth.

Others among the leadership update list had interesting, if not traumatic, moments over the course of the year.

October seemed to signify what was to come.

The past year has been eventful for many more state leaders, as the accompanying story details in updating the "30 For The '90s" from September 1991.

Arkansas Times, then a monthly magazine, rescued Brantley on Dec. 1. He became editor of the fledgling weekly newspaper that debuted in May.

"I'm relieved to be working, glad that it's in journalism and glad that it's in Arkansas," says Brantley as he put the Tuesday finishing touches on another issue of the Times. "Finally, we're at the point that we're having fun putting out this paper. In the early going, it wasn't always fun.

"We've settled into a routine. We've got a little bit better idea of what works and what doesn't. We've got a tremendous group of writers. We're beating the local competition week in and week out in many areas. I enjoy being a part of it."

Brantley was one of the more vocal Gazette employees during its last days. He helped organize an employee group for a potential buyout of the paper from Gannett Co., but the effort fell short. The death of the 171-year-old institution still touches him.

"It's pretty much a secondary thing now," he says. "But I don't think I'll ever completely get over the loss, any more than you get over the loss of someone you love."

Joining The Clinton Corps

When Gov. Bill Clinton announced his candidacy for president in October, it affected Rutherford's life.

Rutherford became involved in many aspects of the campaign, including helping with a major fund-raising effort in November.

His work with Clinton's presidential effort eventually led to Rutherford's departure from Arkla Inc., where he had worked eight years. He joined Clinton-Gore Campaign Chairman David Wilhelm as an assistant in early September.

"I'm really having fun," says Rutherford, who also has worked on the staff of Sen. David Pryor, D-Ark. "It's exciting. I'm having the time of my life."

Rutherford was vice president for public and governmental affairs at the Little Rock and Shreveport, La.-based utility company. Leaving Arkla was not easy, he says.

"It was a great experience and working with |Arkla Chairman~ 'Mack' McLarty was a real great experience," he says. "He is one of the finest people I have ever known."

Before joining the campaign full time, Rutherford was an "Arkansas Ambassador" at the Democratic National Convention in New York. He also worked on a variety of other projects in the campaign, ranging from state-specific projects to helping coordinate the Arkansas Traveler program involving Arkansans that go to other states in support of Clinton.

In a little less than a month, Rutherford has done some traveling, too. He has accompanied Hillary Clinton to the "Home" television show in Los Angeles and helped open the Clinton-Gore campaign headquarters in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Frequently, Rutherford is questioned about his post-election day plans. He says his "scope of vision" now points just to Nov. 3.

"After Nov. 3, I'll take a deep breath and start thinking," he says. "Right now, there is too much work to be done between now an Nov. 3. The work is long, and sometimes very high-pressure, but it is always fun.

"For someone who, I guess, is a political animal -- I think that's a fair description -- I couldn't have a better opportunity. At 42, I'm having a lot of fun. My family is very tolerant, thankfully."

2000 Regrets

Allen, the Little Rock hotel magnate, is constantly on the go. He's spending much time with the Little Rock Advertising & Promotion Commission and "working feverishly" to get an expansion to the Statehouse Convention Center.

His firm has expanded business to management of non-owned hotels. It now has 10 throughout the South and Southeast.

But hardly a day passes that Allen does not look out his window and envision what might have been -- the many ambitious projects of Little Rock 2000. The proposal of two half-cent sales tax increases would have funded the $117 million necessary for a Diamond Center multipurpose arena, a museum and library, work on the convention center, expansion of War Memorial Stadium, extensive street and sidewalk improvements, improved funding for city police and so forth.

"It took a while to get over, but I think it laid a groundwork for the Future-Little Rock process and opened up dialogue for people in different areas of the city," Allen says. "I think we'll look back on it as the building of a better city. I lot of hard work went in, and it didn't pass, but I think it will be viewed as a positive step."

Allen is on Future-Little Rock's task force on economic development. Moses, who recently broke from architects John Allison and Rick Redden to form Moses-Nosari Real Estate with partner Jim Nosari, is on the Future-Little Rock steering committee.

Allen says Little Rock would have looked "awfully bright" to its many visitors during this high-profile election year had the proposal passed.

"It could have been a real showcase, but it wasn't meant to be," Allen says. "Some good will come out. It made me real committed to help my hometown and make it a great place. I'm not bitter about it.

"I just want to keep working."

So, apparently, do others in the "30 For The '90s."

Allen, Moses and Grobmyer developed much support for Little Rock 2000, and many of the backers have also continued on to have a hand in Future-Little Rock.

The Future Is Now

Curt Bradbury, Worthen Banking Corp.'s chairman and CEO, heads a Future-Little Rock task force on economic development. Jim Dailey, president of Dailey's Office Furniture Co., directs a task force on public safety.

Dailey agrees with Allen that Little Rock 2000, although unsuccessful, could still result in a brighter city. Dailey admits he was a little reluctant in believing in Future-Little Rock but "the more I get into it, the more I think it's going to be good."

Dailey, a Little Rock city board member, says he was strongly committed to the overall Little Rock 2000 project. He says that as a board member he took a "holistic approach" to the package and what it would offer to police and foot patrol, sidewalk and street improvement and the like.

Without it, he says, "Now, it's where do we go from here? That's why there's so much significant in the Future-Little Rock proposal.

"Now we're sitting here facing many of the same budget problems and not having the money to do something about them. We're still asking, 'How do we get there?'"

Future-Little Rock will try to devise ways with 13 task forces. But it won't be able to get past the main problem that faced Little Rock 2000 -- raising taxes to pay for the needed services. That's why Future-Little Rock is taking time to wade through all the issues with a diverse group of people, Dailey says.

"We don't want to rush out on all these ideas until we get the big picture and educate the public, or when the public educates us as to what they want," he says. "We don't expand our services without some revenues to do it with."

As interesting as the past 12 months were to the "30 for the '90s," the next year could be likewise. November alone, with its general election, will have an impact.

Dailey is running for re-election to the city board, with the hopes of being voted mayor by the board in its first meeting in January.

Jim Keet, a former state representative, tries a return to politics by taking on incumbent John Pagan for a state Senate seat.

And, of course, Clinton's bid for the presidency may continue to alter Rutherford's professional career, as well as others featured in the "30 for the '90s" or in the previous two Arkansas Business issues focusing on state leadership -- minorities and women.

One can count on more updating.
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Title Annotation:effects of political and business developments on lives of successful Arkansans
Author:Harris, Jim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 5, 1992
Previous Article:Still feeling the August heat.
Next Article:Updating our 30 for the '90s.

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