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Fairness and accountability were common threads among residents' comments at a Monday evening forum hosted by a group selected to study Little Rock's current form of government.

Some expressed opposition to or support for various aspects of Little Rock's form of government. Others said they wanted more clarity and accountability from city government.

"There is a confusion among everyone as to what our [city] manager's responsibility is, what our mayor's responsibility is, and therefore I think we have duplication of approaches that are bouncing off each other and they're not doing anything but costing us more money," resident Jerry Garrison said.

Little Rock's government is a hybrid between mayor-council and city manager forms, with a board of directors, a full-time mayor and a city manager who manages some day-to-day operations.

Joyce Matthews, a Ward 1 resident, said she thought the city manager position should stay in place, because "we don't want to create a monarchy."

"One person can't do everything or be everywhere at all times," she said.

Some who spoke said they were opposed to at-large representation on the city board, which has seven ward representatives and three members elected citywide.

Resident Julius Larry said at-large representation could be unconstitutional, based on the Supreme Court case Reynolds v. Sims, which established the "one person, one vote" principle. At-large directors could give certain wards more sway than others.

"The at-large directors, I guess, represent whoever they like across the city," Larry said. "There's no consistency."

Ward 6 resident Vicki Hatter said the city needed to look at the aftermath of dissolving at-large representation, if it took that route.

"My concern is that if at-large directors are dissolved, does that mean we will break up our wards?" she said.

She added that she hoped the study group would present more information to the public about city government, which group chairman Rick Campbell said was possible.

"You have to take into consideration -- a lot of our public are not very savvy or versed on what happens in city government," Hatter said.

The city's governance study group has 11 members, selected by Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and the Board of Directors.

They are studying and debating various aspects of city governance and plan to present a report recommending the best form of government for Little Rock to the mayor and city directors by June 30.

Monday's forum at the Centre at University Park was one of multiple gatherings the study group will convene to receive input from the public, Campbell said.

Metro on 05/21/2019

Print Headline: Little Rock residents key on fairness at government-overhaul forum

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