Little Rock hires former chief of workers’s agency to advertise mayor’s ‘LITFest’


The transparency-resistant administration of Mayor Frank Scott Jr. strikes once more.

At 4:15 p.m. at present, I obtained a response to a Freedom of Info Act request I’d made Wednesday morning for an settlement town has entered to rent just lately departed mayoral chief of workers Charles Blake’s agency, Assume Rubix, for $45,000 to deal with an occasion dreamed up by Mayor Frank Scott Jr. to be known as LITFest.

At 4:14 p.m., town introduced the association to the world forward of offering data to me. Blake’s function, which I’d requested about particularly, is talked about in passing within the information launch, however not the quantity of the contract.

Town claims a request for proposals was issued Jan. 20. Solely Assume Rubix, a consulting agency that introduced final week that Blake had been employed as vice principal, utilized by the deadline. It has an workplace in Little Rock and different cities,

There’s, I’m suggested, no cooling off interval for high metropolis workers who take non-public employment from doing enterprise with town.  The quantity of the contract places it under the $50,000 degree at which Metropolis Board approval would have been required.

Town has despatched to a high mayoral insider’s agency quickly after his departure to advertise an concept that was within the mill whereas he was at work for town. You resolve if it’s a good look.

And what’s LIT Fest?

Form of a Riverfest renewal, plus. Not a literary pageant. The library is doing that.

The mayor floated the thought in his 2021 state of town speech.


He mentioned then he supposed to launch a “signature occasion” this yr: “LIT Fest: A return to the Rock.” He described it as an prolonged weekend pageant with a “main financial influence.” He mentioned it could promote enterprise and know-how with “dynamic panel discussions, investor conferences and networking alternatives.”

He continued: “LIT Fest can even spotlight the various artwork scene of our metropolis with stay live shows from native and nationwide artists [a money-losing proposition for the now-defunct Riverfest, which the mayor remembered fondly in the 2021 speech] whereas additionally that includes dynamic native meals.”

It seems to be to me like town hurried out information as I pressed for success of my FOI, which I”d been informed was delayed by the necessity to evaluate the fabric for attainable redactions, and so forth., and for clarification of my preliminary request.  There aren’t any redactions within the settlement, nor may there be.

There’s nonetheless no fastened date for the occasion. Maybe it will likely be timed to showcase the mayor in time for the November election. The occasion will definitely characteristic a number of of his orations, lengthy on buzz phrases, brief on substance. Depend on “intentional” being intoned.

Town information launch leads with the information of the choice of a “nationally acknowledged consulting agency and occasion coordinator to prepare and handle” the fest.

It continued:

Assume Rubix, an organization with workplaces in Little Rock and three different cities, was chosen following the Metropolis’s solicitation of RFQs (Request for {Qualifications}) for occasion coordinators on Jan. 20 [11 days before Blake left the mayor’s office]. The deadline for submissions was Feb. 9. Assume Rubix submitted the one response to the RFQ and was chosen on Feb. 17. Contracting for the corporate’s companies is presently underway.

Assume Rubix’s particular occasions expertise consists of logistics and day-of-event administration for a presidential inauguration, occasion manufacturing at a nationwide conference and a 15,000-attendeee live performance occasion in Detroit.


Oh, and by the way in which:

Assume Rubix introduced final week it had employed Charles Blake, a former chief of workers for Mayor Scott and former Arkansas state consultant. Mayor Scott mentioned Blake’s addition to Assume Rubix’s group might be invaluable as the corporate plans for LITFest and identifies programming alternatives. Blake was not concerned within the submission of the corporate’s RFQ response or in its choice. Blake resigned from metropolis employment on Jan. 31.

Right here is the occasion Promotion Settlement which specifies the $45,000 fee. It additionally supplies for extra funds if mandatory, with approval of town supervisor or Metropolis Board. It features a recitation of occasions the corporate has managed elsewhere and the request for submissions of these certified to be an occasion coordinator. It was issued by the “workplace of government administration,” a part of the mayor’s growth of town government.

The settlement says Assume Rubix will try to lift $75,000 in sponsorships for the pageant. Town supplies the corporate with names of some distributors that do enterprise with town nearly as good prospects. Shotspotter, for instance. This controversial police vendor would do nicely to maintain within the metropolis’s good graces.

A secondary FOI response contained some inside communications, together with a notice from Rubix thanking town for reaching out for its companies. However there’s no paper path of when the RFQ was initiated, at whose instruction and who instructed a metropolis worker to succeed in out to Rubix. It’s harking back to the notorious out-of-nowhere invitation for bidders to get acreage in Warfare Memorial Park for a High Golf or comparable sports activities bar/leisure facility. No one ever got here clear about that both, although it was clearly the mayor’s initiative and Charles Blake was amongst these very sad on the outpouring of opposition that killed the deal.

The second response included a communication from town to Rubix that lists potential panelists:

• Darrin Williams, Southern Bancorp (he had Friday, June seventeenth on maintain for this. he isn’t out there Thursday, June sixteenth)
• Charles Phillips (has not responded to the e-mail request)
• Sam Evans (Amber Jackson advice on the Federal Reserve of St. Louis)
• Invoice Bynum, Hope Credit score Union
• Tm Lampkin (CEO of Greater Goal Co..Dionne Jackson advice)
• Denise Thomas (CEO of the World Commerce Middle AR…Dionne Jackson advice)
• Tristan Walker, Founder & CEO of Walker & Firm Manufacturers, Inc.)

And extra recommendation for Rubix:

Further audio system/panelists OR subject material:
• Klutch Sports activities representatives
• Little Rock skilled athletes (Bobby Portis, Moses Moody, Joe Johnson, and so forth.)
• VC/non-public fairness
• Angela Rye (or different politicos)
• Information correspondents
• Mayors from throughout the nation
• Little Rockians who stay in different components of the nation
• Tech professionals/founders
• Elected officers or candidates exterior of AR
They’ve additionally recognized some potential sponsors for the summit: Arkansas Capital Company
and Grandon Grey.

Potential classes:
• Fairness in Economics
• Dialog with [insert elected official] on the state of ______
• Methods to get authorities contracts
• From Little Rock to the Professionals
• Inclusive Workforce
• Storytelling and activism
• Social Justice
• Crime Discount
• Crypto
• Arts and Tradition

Extra to return.


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