The Gathering of Authors assert the Advertising & Promotion Commission hasn’t treated them as they have other applicants in the past. This isn’t the first instance of the A&P Commission not awarding the requested amounts to entities they have historically granted funds to.
The A&P commission issues revenues from the Texarkana, Arkansas’ 3% hotel, 2 % restaurant taxes to support the city’s tourism and hospitality industries. The idea is that this will drive the economy and attract new businesses to the area, making the area more marketable.
The A&P was ordered by Judge Rhoades, The United States Bankruptcy Court For The Eastern District Of Texas Texarkana Division on September 27, 2017 to give Dr. Jim Naples monies sought in a motion for reconsideration for the agreement known simply as The City Agreement.
Other complaints and allegations against the A&P’s ambiguous guidelines and rules go back prior to 2016 when Tim Johnson, Ward 3, Texarkana, Arkansas Board of Directors and A&P Commissioner, urged the A&P to adopt proper guidelines and laws.
The most recent complaint filed against the A&P is by The Gathering of Authors, Tammy Thompson and Amanda Bowers; they filed a formal complaint with the City Manager, Kenny Haskins, September 29, 2017.
“We are hoping that they investigate our allegations and remedy these possible ethics violations, as well as their overall standards and practices,” said Bowers.
The Gathering of Authors attracts children’s authors nationally to share their books, give lectures, and give autographs. Proceeds go to fund St. Jude’s Children Research and Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
In the past two years, the A&P Commission has awarded the Gathering of Authors approximately $13,240 for each event. However, this year, the Gathering of Authors was awarded around half of what they requested, approximately $7,848 was awarded.
“I went before the A&P Commission on behalf of the Gathering of Authors event for remaining funding to complete the event taking places later this month at the convention center. Something needs to be done about our city government A&P Commission,” said Thompson.
Bowers and Thompson are calling out two actions from the A&P Commission. First, they are concerned with the legality of Buddy Allen calling in by phone to attend the meeting, calling into question quorum. Secondly, the issue of ambiguity and lack of oversight with the A&P Commission that has been an issue for years.
Bowers added, “It is my belief that the A&P Commission is violating their own bylaws.”
CIty Attorney, Josh Potter, spoke with Bowers to clarified considered a quorum for the A&P Commission.
“I was told by the City Attorney that all members must be present to be considered a unanimous vote,” said Bowers.
If this is the case, there are several past instances where funding was approved or denied and all members were not present.
$75,000 to City of Texarkana, Arkansas Parks and recreation in 3-1 vote
April 20, 2017
$65,000.00 to Railfest in 3-0 vote
July 20, 2017
$150,00.00 to Texarkana, Arkansas Parks Department in 3-0 vote
The ladies from the Gathering of Authors emphasized that their complaints are less with not being awarded the amount they requested and more to do with the ethics and standards violations by the A&P Commission. They urge for the A&P Commission’s financial and procedural transactions be reviewed by City Attorney, Josh Potter, and the Arkansas Department of Finance.