AR-Land Comm: On Luddites, L.J., and Lagging Behind

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    I received an email earlier today pointing me in the direction of greedymontydavenport.com.  I must admit, I laughed, but then I have always been a sucker for pigs with cigars.  According to the site, Monty Davenport, who is currently running for Arkansas Land Commissioner, “bill[ed] Arkansas taxpayers $52,047 for per diem, mileage and expense reimbursements in 2009.”

    The website is ostensibly maintained by the aptly named “Arkansans Against Greedy Monty Davenport.”  A Google search for that group, however, turns up nothing of consequence.  A WHOIS search of greedmontydavenport.com is likewise unfruitful:

    Registrant:
       Domains by Proxy, Inc.
       DomainsByProxy.com
       15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
       Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
       United States
    
       Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc.
       Domain Name: GREEDYMONTYDAVENPORT.COM
          Created on: 08-Apr-10
          Expires on: 08-Apr-11
          Last Updated on: 08-Apr-10
    
       Administrative Contact:
          Private, Registration
            GREEDYMONTYDAVENPORT.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
          Domains by Proxy, Inc.
          DomainsByProxy.com
          15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
          Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
          United States
          (480) 624-2599 Fax (480) 624-2598
    
       Technical Contact:
          Private, Registration
            GREEDYMONTYDAVENPORT.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
          Domains by Proxy, Inc.
          DomainsByProxy.com
          15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
          Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
          United States
          (480) 624-2599 Fax (480) 624-2598

    Davenport’s questionable reimbursements are not breaking news by any stretch.  Blake Rutherford referenced the controversy a couple days ago in a post about Davenport’s new campaign commercial (side note: awful commercial — I don’t get the “can you make a song out of it” part at all, and the whole thing kind of feels like a cross between a Busch beer commercial and an ad for John Deere); and Blue Arkansas, Rob Moritz, and others have all mentioned Davenport’s comments regarding technology from last month’s event put on by the Ft. Smith League of Women Voters.

    Candidate L.J. Bryant was talking about how he wanted Arkansas to be a national leader on issues of technology with regard to the Land Commissioners office.  After Bryant finished speaking, Davenport took the stage and made fun of Bryant’s comment.

    “I would rather not be on the cutting edge of technology but on the trailing edge of computerized property data.” [Davenport further suggested the old stand-by approach of] “seeing what works best in other states prior to moving forward in Arkansas.”

    As someone who continues to think that Arkansas’s lack of technological development is the biggest issue that almost no one is talking about, Davenport’s absolutely ridiculous comments kind of hit home with me.  As I said earlier this week

    I know that I’m probably in the minority on this, but for a state that ranks near the bottom in many (most?) technological measuring sticks to embrace the concept of “our rural quality of life” seems…offputting. […]  If anything, we need to encourage the people who don’t live or work in rural environments (i.e. people in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, much of Saline County, and a good number of souls in Northwest Arkansas) to be proactive in terms of acquiring 21st-century job skills, fostering technological growth (starting with providing high-speed internet access to all Arkansans), and using our natural resources to position Arkansas among the leaders in domestic production of alternative energy.  Embracing a Green-Acres aesthetic is not the way to get there.

    The same sort of sentiment applies to Arkansas’s utilization of available technology in government.  In fact, it might even be more applicable in that realm; a state with just under 3,000,000 people, over 1/3 of which live in the Little Rock metro area, should have an easier time implementing state-wide changes to procedures, which includes state-wide implementation of technological advancements.  Besides, it’s not like Bryant was saying that the Arkansas Land Commissioner’s office needs to implement biometric retinal scanning or mitochondrial DNA analysis.  Rather, he argued and continues to argue for measures like putting property listings on the commission’s website with a GIS mapping interface so that people can find properties with unfamiliar addresses.  Smaller state, fewer people, centralized office — why in the world wouldn’t this plan work?  More importantly, why in the world would anyone, even a Luddite like Monty Davenport, think that this was a bad idea or that we should hold off until we see if it works elsewhere?

    For the record, the third Democrat primary candidate, Mike Berg a/k/a the Guy With The Red Sign, has suggested some technological changes if he is elected.  However, given the design of his website (which you can’t even easily locate through a web search engine), I don’t know how technologically savvy he really is.  Plus, according to the few people outside Little Rock that I have asked, almost no one has seen Berg at public events, so I cannot imagine that he really has a chance on May 18.

    My point to all of this is two-fold.  First, L.J. Bryant “gets it”, and I smell a strong BHR endorsement forthcoming for him.  Second, however, I am beginning to wonder if this aversion to technology in endemic in the old-guard candidates.  If so, then it is a bigger problem than I thought.  Technology and the economies that most efficiently and effectively implement it grow exponentially, which means that economies that fail to adapt get left behind at that same exponential rate, and supporting pro-technology, forward-thinking candidates becomes an imperative if Arkansans are going to better our collective selves.

    Update: Regarding greedymontydavenport.com, I emailed the address given on the site asking for a little more information on the group.  About five minutes after this post, I received a reply:

    I’m Guy Fawkes and we’re a group of frequent voters who are sick and tired of greedy politicians like Davenport.  We want someone who isn’t going to just take our tax dollars and run.  We want officials who are responsible and don’t see their offices as a way to make a buck or get perks on our dime.  We’re just private citizens who want their opinion to be known.

    Thanks,
    Guy

    While I am reasonably sure that this fellow (?) isn’t really a 16th century Englishman plotting to blow up the Houses of Parliament, I think the whole “just private citizens” is on the up-and-up based on a little extra digging that I did.  If so, I actually kind of admire the effort.