Against drone legislation
Arkansas Rep. Justin Harris is sponsoring HB1079, a bill that criminalizes the use of drones to capture "images" by anyone other than law enforcement agencies. While the intent of the bill would seem noble on its face — the protection of privacy and all that — my question is whose privacy is it really protecting? That of individual citizens or of corporate agriculture? I suspect the latter.
In the last assembly, a bill was introduced that criminalized the undercover use of cameras to expose animal cruelty inside factory farms. I don't know if it was passed and signed into law, but I believe a similar law was passed in another state and then struck down in a court case as a violation of freedom of expression.
Just recently, footage from a privately owned drone exposed a factory farm in North Carolina that had a "lagoon" of pig feces and urine. This open cesspool was the size of four football fields! And it was just one of over 2,000 factory farms in that state alone.
Rep. Harris is the owner of Growing God's Kingdom Inc., an evangelical preschool program that, as of 2005, had received over a million dollars from the state of Arkansas to teach his brand of religion to kids along with their education.
I can't help but wonder if Mr. Harris, being such a loyal evangelical Christian and Republican, is affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council, and if his proposed bill is nothing more than the latest cookie-cutter legislation handed down to him by this corporate bill mill.
If such is the case, then Arkansans should be made aware that our rights as citizens are being slowly and systematically eradicated, bill by bill, by the corporate state.
Crime in midtown
I have become increasingly concerned about the crime in Little Rock's midtown. I own several houses and my daughter lives in the area. I am a member of the Hall High Neighborhood Association and am receiving multiple reports daily now about crimes, specifically burglaries, being committed in the area. It's out of control in my opinion. Offenders need to be put directly in jail and prosecuted to the fullest. The offenders seem to be becoming more brazen in that they are now breaking in when residents are home. It's simply a matter of time until this turns deadly. Little Rock police need to take this much more seriously and flood the area with patrol cars during the day. Not only do I fear for safety of residents, but property values in an upcoming Little Rock neighborhood will eventually suffer. Please LRPD, do something NOW!
From the web
In response to an Arkansas Blog post about Monday's gathering of parents, teachers, board members and students who oppose a state takeover of the Little Rock School District:
I love hearing all the passion for education. However I do believe that this is all political. Improving our educational system could be done with a few small but very significant changes that require funding those impoverished schools equally as well as the more affluent areas. 1) A teacher should have no more than 10-15 students. As a mother and former substitute, it is a challenge to give appropriate attention and care to two or more children. 2) Our teachers must have assistants ... teachers' aides. Our teachers wear way too many titles to allow for true focus on the curriculum. 3) Our students and teachers must feel safe, from disgruntled employees, students, and outsiders. Safety is always a distraction especially in impoverished schools. 4) Give our students and teachers stability and stop moving them all around; real learning and growing requires a relationship. As soon as our students and teachers become familiar with styles of [teaching] they are transferred, moved around. This gives a very inaccurate measure of progress for all parties. 5) Give incentives and pay our teachers what they are worth. My children's education is priority, and those who are dedicated to educating our greatest assets should be rightly compensated. These minor alterations will require funding, BUT isn't it worth so much more.
In response to Max Brantley's observation that Little Rock School Board member Leslie Fisken doesn't represent anyone but herself:
Patently untrue, Max.
She represents the Chamber of Commerce and the carpetbaggers that want to privatize education for profit.
After reading how much the Koch brothers intend to pour into the 2016 election, Leslie Fisken will hardly be the only elected official who answers not to those who elected her, but those that paid for her.
And once again, has the state given any clue as to what their plan is to "improve" LRSD? The options given by [school board member Jim] Ross seem to be logical first steps. If the state doesn't have a better plan ready to go, we're removing local control on the assumption that the state can do better. This is a dangerously slippery slope ... and a dangerous precedent. What state department will next decide that a locally elected government isn't doing things quite right and decide to eliminate a legally elected local entity and take over?
In response to David Koon's Jan. 15 report on Arkansas's criminalization of the eviction process, a law ruled unconstitutional by Pulaski Circuit Judge Herb Wright Jan. 20:
I am a landlord. I find this appalling. First off, the taxpayers do not come out of pocket to pay for MY evictions like that litigator would have everybody believe. Not only do non-paying tenants cost me money in the courts, all the while not receiving rent from a deadbeat who stays in MY asset, I have to pay the sheriff to do the actual eviction, plus pay a bond called a double indemnity so that if the tenant sues the sheriff, then he is covered. This is BS.
... Here is another way to look at it. Say I own a liquor store. A guy comes in and robs me. He tells the judge, "Well yer honor ... I just didn't have enough money this month." Just a guess, boys and girls, but I think the judge will put him in jail. What's the difference between that and the same guy not paying my rent. Oh, well, that was a public place ... you are a private landlord. Now wait a second, guys and gals, if I OWN the liquor store the justice system will help me put a crook away for acting irresponsibly, but if I OWN a house the justice system won't? Seems to me stealing is stealing.
Hugh, say you own a liquor store. Say you let a customer run a tab for a month and at the end of the month he fails to pay. Has he stolen from you? Arguably. Would you expect the prosecutor to file charges?
Collecting rent and evicting tenants is a cost of doing business as a landlord. If you want to avoid it, pick better tenants. Why should you expect a taxpayer like me to increase your profits by paying your cost of doing business?