ENG: Michael Avery “Mike” Ross (born August 2, 1961) was the U.S. Representative for Arkansas's 4th congressional district. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Ross is was the dean of the Arkansas congressional delegation, or its most senior member. Ross stated on July 25, 2011, that he would not seek re-election to the House in 2012.
Early life, education and career
Ross was born in Texarkana, Arkansas, the son of two public school educators, and he graduated high school in Hope, Arkansas. He was educated at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, working his way through college as a local radio announcer.
Together with his wife, Ross owned and operated a small pharmacy in Prescott, Arkansas, which they sold in May 2007. The Ross family has two children and attend the First United Methodist Church of Prescott.
Ross also served as Chief of Staff to then-Lieutenant Governor Winston Bryant from 1985 to 1989.
Arkansas State Senate
In 1990, Ross was elected to the Arkansas State Senate becoming the legislature's youngest member at that time; he served for ten years until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000.
Ross won a narrow victory against incumbent Jay Dickey in 2000 by portraying himself as a moderate, like the political tendencies of his district. In contrast, Dickey was seen as a controversial conservative because of his comments on stem cell research and homosexuality. Ross was the only Democrat outside of California to defeat a Republican incumbent.
Ross easily defeated Dickey in a 2002 rematch, then ran unopposed in 2004.
He picked up an easy victory in the 2006 election, defeating the similarly named Republican, real estate executive Joe Ross, 75 percent-25 percent.
Ross had no Republican opponent but did face Hot Springs lawyer and Green Party candidate Joshua Drake, who he beat with a decisive 87% of the vote.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, like most Arkansas Democrats, Ross endorsed former U.S. Senator and former First Lady of Arkansas Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) for President.
Winning 58% of the vote, Ross handily defeated Republican nominee Beth Anne Rankin (40%) and Green Party nominee Josh Drake (2%). Ross was the only congressional representative of Arkansas's delegation seeking reelection in 2010 and became the only House Democrat in the Arkansas Congressional Delegation.
2014 gubernatorial campaign
Ross was considered a potential gubernatorial nominee for the Democrats in 2014. In November 2010, Ross said that his interests lie in Arkansas, not in national party politics and that "it's no secret" that he'd want to help lead the state "at some point in the future." He said that he does not know if that will be in 2014.
On July 25, 2011, Ross announced that he would retire from Congress at the end of 2012. As for possibly running for Governor of Arkansas in 2014, he said "Whether I run for Governor in 2014 is a decision I have not yet made and won't make until sometime after my term in this Congress ends.
But I do know if I was re-elected to the U.S. Congress next year, my term in the Congress would overlap with the Governor's race. I believe it would be impossible to successfully run for Governor here at home, while effectively carrying out my congressional duties in Washington."
In May 2012, Ross announced that he would not run for governor in 2014. Instead, he plans to become senior vice president for government affairs and public relations at the Little Rock-based Southwest Power Pool.
On September 22, 2009, an investigative report co-published by a New York City-based group ProPublica and the The Politico reported that in 2007, Ross was paid $420,000 for the building and lot of his family pharmacy in Prescott, Arkansas by USA Drug, a Pine Bluff, Arkansas-based pharmacy chain. The property had been assessed in 2007 by the county at $263,000; an independent appraiser hired by ProPublica put the 2009 value of the property at $198,000, although it was well into an economic recession that began in 2008.
USA Drug also paid roughly $1.2 million for related assets of the property, such as stock, and paid roughly $100,000 for a non-compete agreement. As of the date of the report, Holly Ross remained the pharmacist at Holly's Health Mart under USA Drug.
Additionally, USA Drug owner Stephen L. LaFrance donated $2,300, the maximum contribution allowed, to Ross' campaign two weeks after the sale was made. In two previous elections, LaFrance had supported Ross' opponent Jay Dickey, a close friend of LaFrance.
Following up on the story, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported shortly thereafter on September 23 that, “Richard Jackson, a professor of pharmacy administration at Mercer University in Atlanta and an expert in evaluating the worth of pharmacies, said the price tag for the pharmacy’s assets was ‘well within the ballpark’ of what similar pharmacies in similar communities would bring.”
The same article continued saying that Jackson agreed that the keys for the buyer of a pharmacy are those assets — such as the inventory, the fixtures and the “good will” the business has established in the community, an intangible asset “with significant value especially in a rural area.”
It quoted Jackson as saying that the price the Rosses received for the pharmacy’s assets — between $500,000 and $1 million — is “very average” and that “there’s nothing unusual about that whatsoever. I value pharmacies every day, and most are going to fall within that range.” He also commented on the noncompete agreement – standard in pharmacy sales – saying that “people come to that pharmacy not because of the bricks and mortar, but because of the pharmacist. There is a distinct and significant value to that pharmacist being there.”
That same article continued saying, “Scott Pace of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association echoed Jackson, noting that the sale of any pharmacy’s assets would take into consideration a number of factors in addition to the value of the real estate. He provided data from the National Community Pharmacists Association showing that the average independent community pharmacy had $3.6 million in sales in calendar year 2007, with an average inventory of more than $298,000.”
On September 25, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that the only other pharmacy owner in Prescott — Ross’ former political and business rival — said the deal seemed fair. All Care pharmacy owner state Sen. Percy Malone was reported to say, “I would have bought it for that." In 1992, Malone and Ross ran a spirited Democratic primary campaign against each other for the state Senate, the Democrat Gazette reported. Malone said he “didn’t see anything out of line” in the price USA Drug paid and added that since there were only two drugstores in the town of 3,686 people, the price would likely be higher than the property’s assessed value.
The same article interviewed other pharmacy owners in Arkansas who have in recent years have had similar business transactions, such as David Smith who sold Central Pharmacy in Conway to Cardinal Health Care in 2006. Cardinal subsequently sold it to the Medicine Shoppe. Smith, who manages the pharmacy said that he received at least $50,000 in a noncompete agreement that stipulated that he couldn’t work for another pharmacy within five miles (8 km) for a threeyear period. Holly and Mike Ross received $110,000, but their noncompete agreement came with much more stringent terms. They agreed not to work for a competitor within 20 miles (32 km) for a period of 10 years. Smith said USA Drug “got an incredible deal." That’s because, Smith said, to a great extent a pharmacy’s value is tied up in the pharmacist himself. “The store revolves around the store owner or pharmacist,” he said. “That’s the face people trust.” To illustrate how important the noncompete agreement is, he said it was a “huge” deal that LaFrance hasn’t switched signs on the front of Holly’s Health Mart. “It’s a very shrewd move on his part to have retained that name,” he said.
The same article stated that it’s also common for a pharmacy chain to pay higher than assessed property values when acquiring land and buildings. Larger chains have paid premiums for land in smaller Arkansas towns in recent years it reported. For instance, Walgreen Co., the Illinois-based drug giant, purchased 2.8 acres (11,000 m2) and a building in Wynne in 2007 for $650,000. The current value of the land, according to the Cross County assessor’s office is $145,800. The same year, the chain bought an empty 1.3-acre (5,300 m2) plot in Newport for $560,000. In 2008, the Jackson County assessor pegged the land’s value at $35,900. And in 2008, according to Garland County records, Walgreen paid $990,000 for 1.8 acres (7,300 m2) and a building that was listed with a $282,650 value.
January 23, 2013