City strengths and city governance

guest commentary by David Potts

Editor’s note: David Potts is a certified public accountant with more than 33 years experience. Although every effort is made to provide you accurate and timely tax information, it is general in nature and not specific to your facts and circumstances. Consult a qualified tax professional to discuss your particular case. Feel free to e-mail topic suggestions or questions to davidpotts@potts-cpa.com

Opinions, commentary and other essays posted in this space are wholly the view of the author(s). They may not represent the opinion of the owners of The City Wire.

“After my kids are grown I might move to ...”

I often hear friends and clients with high school and college age kids make the above statement on a regular and frequent basis with the only variation being their destination. These statements don’t bother me (much) when the person making the statement is moving back to their hometown. Hometowns are important places in people’s lives.

What bothers me is when people born and raised in and around Fort Smith announce their plans to move away after they made their lives here.

People choose where to live for various reasons. A good job and children in local schools are big motivations to live in a community. Quality of life issues are important too. When people move away from Fort Smith, something in their life has changed. That change is usually a new job or a parent’s children have moved away and the parents want to live close to their children.

Wherever a person decides to live, it requires them to have the economic means to live. Relocation and setting up a new life in a new community requires money. Because of this expense, there is a bias toward higher income households to move away.

The type of economic means that predominates in a community determines the overall quality of life. If a community consists of people whose primary means of living is a government check or low paying jobs, then the quality of life will suffer. Why? Because a community’s quality of life is greatly impacted by how much money is in the community. It takes money to operate schools. It takes money to support libraries. It takes money to have good roads. It takes money to hire and train police and fire fighters. There is a cost for the most basic public services.

Money to support a city doesn’t come from the government. It comes from the profits of businesses and the hard work of its residents. The government taxes business and working people to get the money to provide the city its needed infrastructure and basic services. Therefore every city needs business and industry to survive. The stronger and the more vibrant the business community, the better the quality of life will be for all residents.

The most important benefit of a strong and vibrant business community isn’t the tax revenue it generates. A city with a strong economy is full of innovative people with new ideas, new buildings, new houses, festivals and community activities. People in thriving cities support the arts with private donations. In a city with a strong economy life is good.

If Fort Smith is going to be a city that provides economic opportunity for its people and enjoys a quality of life that keeps people from moving away and attracts new people, things need to change. I’m not a know it all, but let me offer some suggestions for discussion.

Fort Smith residents need an attitude check. Much of human behavior is determined by a person’s attitude and beliefs. As residents we need to develop a strong sense of community and purpose. We need to admit to ourselves that Fort Smith is a great place to live. But we continually keep a sense of purpose. The danger is that if we quit working to improve our circumstances, we could lose many of our best attributes.

We need to recognize that Fort Smith has to compete with other cities when companies are looking for a place to relocate or expand. We need to allow our local companies to grow too. This is the origin of job growth and opportunity. Residents who believe that businesses are takers, not givers, need to keep in mind that business investment is the golden goose that provides the money it takes to build infrastructure and provide quality services for all resident.

Fort Smith needs to develop a wider attitude of acceptance and even gratitude toward people willing to invest their own money in our community. Investing in downtown Fort Smith or the historical district isn’t a sure bet for an investor to make a decent return on their investment. Using hard earned savings to start a small business, even committing their future to repaying loans for years out of wages if this business fails isn’t for the weak at heart. Business owners and investors make the difference between a thriving town and a dying town.

The benefit of strong business investment in Fort Smith will mean more opportunity for our own graduating students and allow them to stay in Fort Smith and establish a career. When our children stay home, their parents don’t move away and take their money and future tax revenues to other places – tax revenues that support our schools, build our roads, and contribute to paying for our city services.

Fort Smith needs revival. A revival of its sense of community pride. We need to recognize and brag about Fort Smith’s great attributes without losing a foothold in reality. We have great schools, we have great community organizations, we have great people. People looking to move to Fort Smith will be more attracted when they sense a community that is motivated and works together for the future.

We need to change our language so that when we talk about Fort Smith, we speak with a sense of pride. The language we choose to use will change the way we think about ourselves and change the way we behave. Think karma. The consequences of our positive behavior will eventually make life better for us all. Today we have too much of an inferiority complex Fort Smith. It’s time to notice the good.

Finally, we need leadership. Leadership with a vision. It is not government’s responsibility to bring jobs to town, to development a sense of community, or to lead Fort Smith into the future. However we need city leadership and a city administration that is not an obstruction to the future growth and development of Fort Smith.

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This is not a criticism of the city’s rank and file staff and workers. I appreciate our city’s workers. I am thankful for their efforts and hard work. Daily efforts made by our city workers make life easy for all residents. For example, last week I needed a new trash container because the wheels had come off. I called the Fort Smith Sanitation Department and before I got home from work that day a new trash container had been delivered. That’s customer service! There are many great things to say about Fort Smith’s governance. But ...

We need a city government that participates in a vision for a future Fort Smith that thrives with economic vitality and opportunity for its residents. I doubt there is anybody in City Hall opposed to economic vitality, but I believe its culture and structure doesn’t encourage innovation and change.

I think it is time to reconsider Fort Smith’s current form of government, to move away from the current city administrator form to a strong mayor form of local government. This would give residents a structure to hold our city officials accountable for their job performance when they obstruct Fort Smith’s economic growth and discourage investment, inadvertently or not.

Five Star Votes: 
Average: 4.5 (24 votes)

Comments

Younger Leadership

One step is to keep the younger citizens concerned with the City. The JC's is that place. We specialize in training young adults in business, planning, organizational skills which leads to pride in our community. If your a business owner, a leader in a corporation and want to keep young talent here. Look into our group. May - leaders that stand out have been a Jaycee once in there life. Check us out on Facebook. Fort Smith Jaycees. Lets make a Difference!

I agree!

Great article David! I agree totally. I've lived in and around FS most of my life, and I love my hometown. But there is a cloud of stifled staleness that seems to hover over us, like a pool of water that's not moving. Many many friends of mine in their 50's & 60's have & are pulling up stakes and moving to NWA because of it's vitality. We don't want to be a city in decline! We DO need change! We DO have some great attributes and people, but I'm tired of it being common knowledge that we are not a business friendly city. There are multiple stories of businesses either walking away from discouragment before opening, swearing they will never "do it again" working with the city, or refusing to come in the first place because of our reputation. That's a shame.... Maybe the form of government change would be a good idea.

Beautiful Comment Kim N

Could not have said it better Miss Kim and you hit the nail right on the head. People are leaving Fort Smith because of the reputation that it earned as a difficult unfriendly city to start or own a business because of arrogant and unprofessional City Leadership. Thanks for telling it the way that you see it.

Agree With Mr. Potts

Another great comment by David Potts that seems to identify what it needed to move Fort Smith in a positive direction where Fort Smith can compete with other progressive communities that are growing by double digit numbers.

The buck only hovers, it never stops anywhere.

As it stands you don't even blame the city manager here for ordering a $340,000 survey because you feel somebody made him do it that wanted the survey to produce a certain pre-described result. Think of it like a company that does real estate appraisals for tax purposes. It knows darn good and well without a word being said exactly what has to happen in order for it to get the job again or one in any town forever for that matter. But what happens with a regular mayor if we continue to have a few very active citizens as in most normal people could never possibly even dream of human beings going this far in order to get what they wanted. What do we do to prevent these few schemers from them having to get only ONE person elected in order to get what they want? This is not a place where you merely come up with a good idea and go with it. This is a place where you then spend about ten times the amount of time determining where people can extract bad out of it.
As it stands you don't even blame the city manager here for ordering a $340,000 survey because you feel somebody made him do it that wanted the survey to produce a certain pre-described result. Think of it like a company that does real estate appraisals for tax purposes. It knows darn good and well without a word being said exactly what has to happen in order for it to get the job again or one in any town forever for that matter. But what happens with a regular mayor if we continue to have a few very active citizens as in most normal people could never possibly even dream of human beings going this far in order to get what they wanted. What do we do to prevent ...>> Read the entire comment.

Sorry Gen4 But

we have 7 elected City Directors and 1 elected Mayor and certain people still run the show so that blows a hole in that theory. At least we have The City Wire that will get the facts out to the people because we can't depend on a newspaper that only prints stories that are favorable to the elected government that seems to always operate by committee where there is no accountability or responsibility.

It's not even easier to influence 1 than 8?

We had the mayoral form before and much like now people then thought a city manager type would be more effective. Most likely the same few people who eat, sleep, and breathe influencing our politicians will not be quitting because of this..they will be adapting. Mayor Harry Truman sounds good to me also.. but what if they get one of theirs elected instead?

Step Up Or Step Out

Who ordered the 340,000 dollar study that duplicated past studies? It time to "Step Up Or Step Out" because the taxpayers should not be hosed again! The only way to fix the problems in Fort Smith is to IDENTIFY and solve the problems and quit burying our heads in the sand and pretending that problems do not exist! WHO DID IT?

"City Strengths....."

For us, Fort Smith was a place to move TO, not FROM! My husband and I moved to Fort Smith in 1974. He had been hired to work at KFPW Radio, which at the time was a quality CBS affiliate. He spent several more years in radio, then worked 34 years for Rheem, gaining much needed benefits and an income that allowed us to be homeowners. We now live a little ways out from the city, as we enjoy living with a little elbow room on some acreage, but we still do part of our shopping in FS and have medical appointments there. We wouldn't want to live in ANY city full time, but do enjoy what FS has to offer on days we need to go there. I don't like to hear people bad mouth FS, it has been good to us. Our home town was Springdale, and we would never go back. We could not have made the living there that we did here. Since we left, the uncontrolled growth and insane traffic have made it a place we would never go to if we didn't have family there. We love the river valley; it is our home. Northwest Arkansas thinks they are really top dog the last few years. They have no comprehension that the more they grow, the more congested and unlivable the area becomes.

Strengths

Thank you Paula for your comments. My family also came back to Fort Smith, after our children finished college and starting their lives on their own. We enjoy the quality of life in Fort Smith and have lived in NWA and Central Arkansas for many years. While our City is not perfect(I don't know of any that are), I believe we have a great city with a very bright future. I strive daily to look for ways to help make our city better. NWA is growing and very vibrant and a great area, that is doing well. I enjoy visiting, just as I enjoy visiting Little Rock. Comparing their growth to our's is not realistic. From a small five and dime store, to the world's largest retailer, to one of the largest food processing companies in the world, to the State's largest University(double the other schools), there are many reasons. Our development standards and guidelines for new businesses are less stringent than most of the Cities in NWA and it is far less expensive to operate a business here than other places. We have issues, but let's find a way to change our mentality and look for the good, and fix the bad, instead of only looking for the problems.
Thank you Paula for your comments. My family also came back to Fort Smith, after our children finished college and starting their lives on their own. We enjoy the quality of life in Fort Smith and have lived in NWA and Central Arkansas for many years. While our City is not perfect(I don't know of any that are), I believe we have a great city with a very bright future. I strive daily to look for ways to help make our city better. NWA is growing and very vibrant and a great area, that is doing well. I enjoy visiting, just as I enjoy visiting Little Rock. Comparing their growth to our's is not realistic. From a small five and dime store, to the world's largest ...>> Read the entire comment.

Disagree With ZekeB

Enjoy the good things about our city, fix the bad, and continually look for more problems that need to be fixed. Its that simple but its unfortunate that our City Hall mentality seems to be much different.

"Great City"

Please explain your words of Fort Smith being a "great city" because my definition of a "great city" is very different. Great cities have a growing economy with a vibrant job market, a little bit of something for everybody, city leadership that listens to the people, entertainment venues like the bikes, blues, and barbeque event in NW Arkansas that brings about a 100 million dollars to local merchants every year, responsible elected officials, a great newspaper that does investigative reporting, a great public golf course, a city leader who DOES NOT send out big black police vehicles to law abiding citizens homes to embarrass them because they are lawfully exercising their constitutional right to petition their government against a Prepared Food Tax, and allows citizens an opportunity to voice complaints at city meeting without being attacked and ridiculed. Now what say you Zeke?

Great City

A great city is one that gives it's residents a good quality of life, makes the necessary and needed infastructure to keep us rolling and uses the taxes that we pay as effeciently has possible. Fort Smith is not perfect, as I stated earlier. Neither are the other places that I mentioned. My point was, we can all find bad, sitting at the computers and not being involved and trying to find ways to make things better. The BBB event in Fayetteville, is completely privately operated, funded, run and was a private enterprise when it started. If we want an event like that here, start one. The City does not do those type of things. People do. If we don't like our City Administrator, then hold the City Directors responsible and vote them out. That is how term limits work. The city if Fort Smith is having to re-invent itself from a manufacturing city to something else and it is tough in the present economy. Take one business out of the economy in NWA and see what the area would be without it. I am not sure that our leaders use our tax money as efficiently as they should, and I will work to make sure they do. This conversation of efficient government takes place in every city in America. Yes, even in NWA and Jonesboro. If you have some ideas on making things better, help get the word out and help the City see them.
A great city is one that gives it's residents a good quality of life, makes the necessary and needed infastructure to keep us rolling and uses the taxes that we pay as effeciently has possible. Fort Smith is not perfect, as I stated earlier. Neither are the other places that I mentioned. My point was, we can all find bad, sitting at the computers and not being involved and trying to find ways to make things better. The BBB event in Fayetteville, is completely privately operated, funded, run and was a private enterprise when it started. If we want an event like that here, start one. The City does not do those type of things. People do. If we don't like our ...>> Read the entire comment.

Zekecity

"If we want an event like that here, start one. The City does not do those type of things." Zeke was talking about a Bikes, Blues, and Barbeque type event that could bring up to a 100 million dollars of revenue to Fort Smith merchant cash registers and up to 15 million dollars in tax revenues to City Hall every year so why doesn't the City do those type of things? The taxpayers pay a A/P Commission about 1 million dollars per year to bring in tourism, over 100 thousand dollars per year to an A/P director, over 100 thousand dollars per year to a Downtown Development Director, Over 100 thousand dollars per year to an Economic Development Director and you claim "the City does not do those things". Why not? why are the taxpayers on the hook for all of this salary money when the "city does not do those type of things?" Spending a Few hundred thousand dollars in tax money to bring in millions in tax revenues seems like a great investment to me with a great Return On Investment so why not get some bang for the taxpayer buck instead of promises that are 20 to 30 years down the road? It sounds to me like some of these Directors need to get busy Directing and getting the City to invest in an event that could return 20 times the taxpayers dollars invested immediately, unlike the pie in the sky promises of a vibrant city in 20 or 30 years. NOW sounds a whole lot better than a promise of maybe in 20 or 30 years.

My Two Cents On Events

Very interesting comment about City Salary expense verses Return On Investment so here is My Two Cents. We also have a Mayor that has an enormous expense budget that should be used to bring growth to our city and this would be a GREAT RETURN ON INVESTMENT for the taxpayers and fun for all citizens to boot. The City Manager has been reported to make about 200,000 dollars per year in total compensation so why doesn't he get to work and order his staff of people who are paid very well to quit with the 20 or 30 year promises and get it done now because real business can't wait 20 or 30 years for an economic boom that should happen now! Fort Smith needs action now not more promises, promises, promises, that we have all heard for the past 20 or 30 years.

BOD Day Job

We need Directors who have no day job. There must be retired talent available to Direct in not full time, then more of the time. How 'bout paying back the community which afforded success to the successful...that would seem right neighborly too !!

Like It Mr. Time

Great idea for retired successful folks to lend a hand and guide the city to efficient budget minded effective result driven management. Like It!

Dream On

"efficient budget minded effective result driven management" is a lot to wish for but probably not possible with this group so dream on. Hopefully the next election will solve this problem but don't hold your breath.

On the cover of the 'Old West Magazine'!

(People tend to learn..and in the past, they would have been stopped dead in their tracks over a B-B-BBQ event and most likely by some of the same people Zekebanker rubs shoulders with who are trying to help it's just that it has to meet a certain set of criteria they alone can choose before it is to be allowed. Criteria which will most likely negate any chances there is of making any money off the deal.) A dress code in a motorcycle event?? There went 99% of the riders..somewhere else! Zeke since you're sitting right next to these people planning our future for us, why don't you 'walk right in, sit right down' and tell them they need to lighten up a bit and let a few more things happen here?

Politicians and Poker Games

Never interrupt a Big Time Poker Game where there is big Money on the table because you may find yourself under serious threat and the same applies to the Big Time Local Players in politics because they are not a whole lot different when Big Money is on the table.

Back to the Future

Congratulations to you, Paula. You got yours, then left. You still voted with your feet when you left this city. If nobody left, then the city would still be vibrant. Instead you contributed to its slow death. Where does Fort Smith find itself within a state ranked in the bottom ten?....Going further down, that's where. Bottom 10 States by Well-Being •West Virginia - 61.4 •Kentucky - 63.0 •Mississippi - 63.7 •Alabama - 64.1 •Ohio - 64.2 •Arkansas - 64.3 •Tennessee - 64.3 •Missouri - 64.5 •Oklahoma - 64.7 •Louisiana - 64.9

Basement

Millions of tax dollars have been spent on duplicate studies and the economy of Fort Smith is still a basement dweller just like all the past studies that have found a home in the city hall basement. If we spend all of our time looking for the good things in Fort Smith and not addressing the problems, we will sink further down the chart of bottom ten places that lack opportunities. Yes, we should appreciate the good things in our city but to ignore the problems is exactly what the problem is and it needs to be fixed so many thanks to everyone on this site that has the ambition to want more opportunity for the people of the city while their is much shame and blame to go around to those who claim the city is just fine, just the way that it is!

"City Strengths....."

Paul, we still are part of the Fort Smith metropolitan area, only fifteen miles away. We spend a lot of money in FS. Just today we patronized a medical clinic, office supply, warehouse club, drug store, and restaurant. We are still in Sebastian County. I don't think we are hurting FS with our lifelong desire to live in a semi rural environment. We still go to FS and write a lot of checks.

Hold It Paula

You say that you love Fort Smith because you feathered your nest here and then left the city for the wide open spaces out of town because you enjoy elbow room. Your husband found a quality job because the radio station provided the job and Rheem also provided your husband with a quality job that enabled both of you to enjoy freedom of choice and you decided to leave. What about the people that can't find a "quality" job here now because of the anti business attitude of City Hall? Do you not care about those people because you have what you need and don't want to bother with a lot of traffic that generally comes with lots of business activity? Have never seen anyone "bad mouth" the people of Fort Smith like you claim, only that Fort Smith is not a business friendly city and Leadership wastes a huge amount of taxpayer money on projects to feather their own nests. For the average citizen to have the opportunities that you found in Fort Smith many years ago, we must have a business friendly city with lots of job creation so the younger folks can find the same benefits that you were able to enjoy so long ago. Your comment sounds a wee bit self fulfilling to me because you want the city to be void of traffic so you can move about freely when you decide to leave the wide open spaces and come to Fort Smith.

Problem Solving 101

Fort Smith has serious growth problems only because the basic steps of problem solving has not been tackled by city management. Its fairly clear that we don't have the right people in office that know how to solve the problems of running a growth type business or community. The biggest problem in Fort Smith is that when well intentioned people attempt to point out existing problems, they are attacked and harassed by city management until they are quiet and give up! Below, please find some proven rules for solutions that are fundamental in problem solving: !. Define and understand the problem. 2. Investigate the problem. 3. Structure the solving steps. 4. Use past knowledge as input. 5. Understand the costs. 6. Visualize the results. 7. Understand the unintended consequences. 8. Frame out the objectives. 9. Move forward. The most important part of the above steps to become a vibrant growing city is for city management and others to quit attacking the very people that are making suggestions to city officials to make Fort Smith a growing community. Fort Smith can be the premier city in the state but we must start the growth by identifying what the problems were that caused the decline and take proper action to turn things around. Leadership arrogance and "their way or the highway" is killing city business and growth.

"City Strengths....."

The traffic in Fort Smith is far more bearable than in NWA because FS had an excellent long range plan for street improvement, and growth was not rampant and uncontrolled. NWA did not stay ahead of the game on street improvement, and that was combined with overly fast growth. Disaster.

"City Strengths....."

As for being "business friendly", Whirlpool was one of the biggest business ever to be in the city, and look how they behaved. Toxic pollution and going to Mexico to steal labor for two dollars a day. Springdale is an example of a city that has bent over backwards to accomodate business, to the detriment of the city's appearance. Being business friendly needs to be balanced with being environment friendly and quality of life issues that cannot be measured in dollars.

My guess is Paula..

you weren't raised in an area where the people were referred to as 'trash' in high school. You didn't have to worry about wealthy people with a new hobby chasing your parents out of their home back then either since it's OK here to do that to trash. You didn't spend the last 30 or so years helping your mother out of this world while at least one set of them doggedly kept trying the whole time. Makes a difference.

"City Strengths....."

Generation4, I truly don't understand what your point is, at least as it pertains to me. The Springdale of my youth had an extremely high proportion of millionaires for it's small size. As in Tysons, Hunts, Jones, Steeles, Georges, etc. My own family was mostly working class; my dad was a policeman. I married a man who actually bettered his situation by becoming a blue collar worker. Despite not being among the wealthy, I've never been treated as trash, in high school or anywhere else. I'm sorry for whatever happened to you.

I went back through all the Paula's and found it..

"I don't like to hear people bad mouth FS, it has been good to us".....Glad it worked for you as no doubt it has for thousands of people who have made it through this place virtually unscathed now just like back when we might hang 6 at a time which included many who had been proven guilty. It seems like a few active citizens if a bit savvy and very determined in this town have always been able to figure out a way to wreck total havoc on the less powerful if they decided to for some reason. Very likely you, just as our ancestors did read the local news to try and keep up with what was happening in the town. I understand why you feel the way you do.
"I don't like to hear people bad mouth FS, it has been good to us".....Glad it worked for you as no doubt it has for thousands of people who have made it through this place virtually unscathed now just like back when we might hang 6 at a time which included many who had been proven guilty. It seems like a few active citizens if a bit savvy and very determined in this town have always been able to figure out a way to wreck total havoc on the less powerful if they decided to for some reason. Very likely you, just as our ancestors did read the local news to try and keep up with what was happening in the town. I understand why you feel the way you do. ...>> Read the entire comment.

Real News Not Verbatim Propaganda

What local news are you reading other than The City Wire? The City Wire is the only news source that gives both sides of the story and allows comments for and against the political propaganda. Have never seen anyone attack Fort Smith citizens but see many comments that are critical of City Management that may deserve the printed punch to get them moving in the right direction. Most comments fault the city leaders for not being business friendly, crony projects, arrogance, lack of planning, wasteful spending, and many other faults but disagree that comments have attacked the citizens of Fort Smith because Fort Smith has some of the kindest, most generous, friendly people in the world.

Well said Specialist

Well said Specialist because you hit the nail squarely on the head. The problem in Fort Smith is very weak City Management that can't get their act together and seem to be in a constant state of confusion about priorities even though they have a great citizen base who have always been willing to help the city move forward.

It was an edit..let's just forget it.

I think I triggered some HTML. My family is over a hundred here now and I am very well aware of ad delivery mechanisms that have masqueraded as news sources in the fort over the years. Soon we get our spring picture of a pretty girl sniffing a flower..subscribe and see. We've been changing leaders since at least the 50's without really liking what we ended up with. Maybe we should look at what's pushing them closer.

Pushing Failure

Ok gen4, please explain HTML because some of us less cool uninformed old timers don't understand the latest blog language laboratory word shortcuts but do agree that certain elements of control over city hall have had a strangle hold on city leaders for generations. Do you feel its necessary to beat around the bush on your comments out of fear of reprisal or are you waiting for the "pretty girl sniffing a flower" to speak up? Change will never happen unless the dogs bark loud and long enough to call attention to the menace holding up growth.

Did You Mean

failure like one of our former BOD members pushing for a $3,000,000.00 tax dollar plus homeless shelter for Downtown Fort Smith that will make the community a magnet for people who don't contribute tax dollars to the system? Have noticed that the more progressive cities are dealing with the homeless in a much different educated approach where they build individual small shelters that resemble small homes for about $5000.00 dollars each on a empty lot that give the homeless person a place to sleep but the homeless person is required to keep up the structure and contribute to the community by performing some city clean up duties. If the homeless person does not keep up their shelter, they are forced to leave and no further assistance is provided. Isn't this the same ex BOD member that wanted to build homes for the homeless that were projected to cost $169,000.00 dollars each and when that plan was voted down is proposing a 3 millions dollar plus project? We need job and business growth in the city and not more waste of available tax dollars to fund people that live off the system!

Despite the Despots

"Daily efforts made by our city workers make life easy for all residents." I agree. The "boots on the ground" get the job done in spite of the executives who undeservedly take credit for it. Throw the bums out at the top in City Hall and the worker drones will still get the job done, perhaps even better and less expensively. Scenario: City worker follows the rule; his boss tells him to not do so because doing so would negatively impact the city boss's friend or associate, etc. I can get more specific but you get the idea. There's no need to mention names as the jerks at the top will scapegoat those below. I've got an idea for anyone on the payroll for the City of Fort Smith to have skin in the game. BOD, I ask that you impose a Non-resident city employee,management and contractor payroll tax of 10%.

Boots On The Ground

Most people will agree that city workers in general do a great job and with that said, we all understand that we need a change in the style of city management. The people that we have in charge now are not getting the job done and solutions need to be found to cure the problem.

Want some whine with that cheese?

Most of these comments are negative-the city does this and won't do that. You know, WE elected the board and mayor. If you don't like it, vote them out next election. In my opinion, you can't gripe if you don't vote. Also, I encourage you all to get involved. Go through any of the Citizen Academies the city offers. It's easy to gripe, but what are you doing to fix the "problems"?

No Whine But Not Fine

What am I doing to fix the "problems"? Working 60 hours per week on my own job, paying my taxes so Fort smith City Management can take in almost 300 million dollars per year and pay city workers an average of 62,000 dollars per year to fix the problems. Are you suggesting that it would be proper to give up my limited time that is left with my family to attend a Citizens Academy so I could fix things that other people are paid good money to fix?

Bonetired-Going through the

Bonetired-Going through the Citizens Academy does not fix problems. But it opens your eyes to how the city is ran. You meet the people who makes these important decisions and see a lot of them are doing the best they can. And I don't know very many city workers who make "an average of $62,000 per year." Ask any police officer or firefighter.

You Ask Police and Fire Why

What we do know is that the city budget reflects 62 million dollars per year in salaries and they have about 1000 workers so do the math-----the average is 62,000 payroll dollars per person. It could be that some are way over compensated and some are under compensated but that is a City Management Problem but never the less, the average salary is 62,000 dollars per year! Ask your City Manager why there is such a spread in wages from top to bottom because it could be that we have too many chiefs that are over compensated and some of the Indians that really do the real work are under compensated!

Citizens Academy

If the Citizens Academy is the answer, why is it not working now? Its just my opinion that the Citizens Academy is just part of the same old, same old to justify the behavior of the current bunch that have not produced results. You claim its a chance for people to meet the people who "make important decision" that have not worked so maybe it is not the answer.

Your competition has

developed into a very powerful group of people who has had time to influence the situation probably different from how a lot of folks here wanted and the ones elected or working for the city have had to somehow get it all done around them. The big push is about history and tourism so let's hope it works but I don't see Whirlpool equivalent jobs coming out of this for regular people. Perhaps some history buffs will jump in and show me how I'm wrong. I hope they can.

Should Ft Smith AR try NOT to be like Los Angeles CA?

One of the people who has been very active in local politics for around 3 decades or so is from LA and seemingly only remembers the good parts of that city and actually appears to want 100% of Ft Smith to look like way. A recent perusal of LA news would show activists having this problem (Big Fine) with a business or that problem with one (Bigger Fine) during the rare times they weren't having another one (Huge Fine). Again we have had a dose of the same thing right in our very own mix for well over thirty years now. I'm wondering if this psyche in the crowd hasn't been an obstacle for businesses here over the past few decades. Ah slowly but surely LA is today noticing that when Gov Rick Perry pays them a visit, a corporation or two often leaves with him. No fair they are now screaming!

Governor Perry Visit

Let hope that Governor Perry does not visit Fort Smith because the stampede of business leaving Fort Smith for Texas would so loud that it may violate a City Ordinance. Then we could all say "all our ex's are in Texas".

Size matters to the 'Code Ranger'!

Don't stop just go look, and then start listening. Did someone not tell you the Code Ranger drives around town looking for things to call in anonymously and complain about ..and who knows how many times a month when a city pretends not to even have caller ID and in fact is quite happy to get rid of the guy for at least a short period of time? Did someone else also right here not complain about seeing a rat on the river (Gads) and some Ralph Irwin tiles missing on the first building past ninth by A street in Brunwick Place? Now drive down A and look at what's happening to this building. One person should have the power to cause this to happen according to his whims, anywhere in town? Told you told you told you so! We're not done yet! Keep driving towards the RAM ..you're on a street where people might leave a Marshall's museum and then want to see some art. Notice all the boarded up structures?? One person? Now left on 16th past the old US Marines (American flag appears to be gone now) house over to B ..on your left that's called a Victorian on isn't it? Bing bing...last stop on tour A! Vote's tomorrow at the Riverfront Events Building on if you want even more of this to happen or people oriented stuff!