Brummett’s Blog the past couple of days has been tongue in cheek in mention the U. S. Marshals National Museum.
One Fort Smith resident tamed him a bit. now I’d like to point out that if he’d quit tilting his tennis racket at Oklahoma winds, and spend a little more time touring the National Historic Site, the Museum of History. the Fort Smith Public Library, and Tom Wing’s Historical Interpretation classes at Drennan Scott House in Van Buren, then he’d understand the grass-roots energy and excitement that is a gathering storm of preserving, protecting, and sharing our robust past — in the context of the Marshals Service 217 year historyl
Comparing the museum to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. pleeeeeeze
Just made a few state Capitol calls and this is what I found: A wild rush for chunks of this $843 million surplus. This new federally approved U. S. marshal’s museum at Fort Smith needs many millions. There’s an aging center in Jonesboro lining up at the trough. Colleges and universities are the most aggressive. There’s even a meeting in a couple of days in which the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, a collection of old Razorbacks who have a cocktail party once a year, and which serves no public government purpose and is not remotely a government responsibility or operation, will seek more money. It got a hundred grand a few years ago, about which I’m still seething. I’m telling you — we should get an equal share for an Arkansas Newspaper Hall of Fame. We can throw cocktail parties with the best of ’em.
The snorting at the trough for the $843 million surplus is getting louder. They’re coming up on the deadline for filing appropriatons bills. So legislators want to know what they kinds of bills they can file for the General Improvement Fund and meet constitutional muster, meaning for capital projects of statewide, not solely local, purpose. Meantime, uncertainty abounds over this commission the Brotherhood wants to create to launder — I mean funnel — local projects. It’ll probably come up in the Senate this afternoon, and we’ll see if the Brotherhood wants to pass it without changing it, though the attorney general advises changing it. If they want to get it and their volunteer fire departments thrown out by the court, that’s up to them. This morning they chewed on a little of all this at the Joint Budget Committee meeting. Rep. Betty Pickett wanted someone to provide a list of project categories suitably legal for their own separate GIF bills. Co-chairman Chris Thyer said no one outside the Supreme Court could do that and that there was a part of him that couldn’t see the difference between money for the Alltel Arena and money for Bigelow streets. Well, Alltel is a big thing that serves people coming from all around, and the local taxpayers anted up a tax increase for a generous match, and a local company chipped in some funds for naming rights. There are three differences right there. Someone asked if maybe the boys from Finance and Administration would provide some advice. Richard Weiss said oh, no, I’m not gonna touch it. Fort Smith people have asked for $25 million for this new U. S. marshal’s museum that was supposed to be a good thing when Fort Smith won it from the federal government. You have your unfunded mandates. Now you have your unfunded federal tourist stops. I’m told the Fort Smith people would settle for $10 million. Fort Smith people tell me the whole thing was sold as not costing taxpayer money. The state surplus is taxpayer money. A local hotel and restaurant tax, which Fort Smith probably ought to do before it seeks state largesse, would be taxpayer money.
State legislators from across the state asked how they could help. We put together ballpark estimates as wide as Texas and presented them at the Capital this week. As requested by our legislators. We weren’t expecting this kind of interest, but we sure won’t walk away from it meekly. A thousand tax-paying citizens showed up to celebrate the museum today — we’d be selling them short if we didn’t ask our lawmakers to recognize and respect the grass roots support that continues to grow. We’d be foolish not to hold up our hand and say, “We’re economic development and education — for the entire state and the region. We’re tasked with telling the story of the U.S. Marshals Service. We’re tasked with launching a national campaign for the bulk of the funding. If the state of Arkansas is willing to help give us a jump start — knowing its investment will come back in the form of tourism dollars — then I’m all for it.
Ah, ha!!! You can be educated!!! Next time you come to Fort Smith, quit wasting your time twisting your racket at windmills. Get Bill Black to lead you through the National Historic Site. Go visit Tom Wing’s Historic Interpretation Class at Drennan Scott House in Van Buren. Then you’ll understand why 1000 people show up and chant in favor of a decision Washington made about HISTORY. Imagine that.
Come see us, Mr. Brummett. There’s much more rewarding stuff to do here than be baffled by lofting tennis balls.
A Fort Smith blog-reader invites me to get down off my Central Arkansas, Alltel Arena-loving high horse (see preceding item/diatribe) and understand that this new U. S. Marshal’s Museum in Fort Smith will be a good thing and deserves state aid. Well, I deny I’m pro-LR. I live in LR, yes, but my readership base anymore is Fort Smith and due north up the mountain along Prosperity Corridor. I like Fort Smith; get over there all the time. The way the wind whips out of Oklahoma messes up my tennis, but I have no complaint otherwise. This federal museum is more than a local project; it’s a legitimate target of General Improvement money. My point about Alltel was that it got state money after a local tax, and that, as a general rule, state funds for capital projects ought to be spent in partnership with the locals. My other point was that it’s a rather hollow victory to beat out other cities for this museum, then get no federal money. “The prize is the opportunity,” my Fort Smith correspondent said. Anyway, he said, Boozman, Lincoln and Pryor are working on it.