Archive for Letters

Kurrus spoke truth

Just so we understand: [Arkansas Department of Education] Commissioner [Johnny] Key, who does not have a teaching certificate, replaced [Little Rock School District Superintendent] Baker [Kurrus] because he did not have a teaching certificate.

Kurrus spoke truth

Just so we understand: [Arkansas Department of Education] Commissioner [Johnny] Key, who does not have a teaching certificate, replaced [Little Rock School District Superintendent] Baker [Kurrus] because he did not have a teaching certificate. If that is the reason (no teaching certificate), then why does it not apply to the commissioner as well? Oh yes; the accepting public does not hold Powerful People (PPs) to the same standards as the workers. Baker has a Harvard education in law, and the new guy has an education degree from a state school. We will pay the new guy $75,000 more than Baker, along with other expensive goodies. For that type of treatment, the new guy will make sure the right people get the best choice, and the others will get what is left. Without community support, many kids will fail in the leftovers schools. The new guy will place the blame for the failing schools everywhere except where it belongs. As always, a few students will do well in the failing schools, and their example will be expected of all. The PPs do not understand the hell of poverty. The new guy will maintain choice schools for the right people as long as he can, and will get more and more money each year for doing so. Baker's ethics requires truthfulness, so he spoke out against charter expansion. That cost him and the city big time. So the new guy will be here as long as he does what the PPs tell him to do, no matter what damage is done to Little Rock. I thought Baker was warming to the idea of school villages placed along major traffic corridors. Sadly, my dream will remain just that.

Richard Emmel

Little Rock

That I-30 mess

I know everyone has opinions about the Interstate 30 bridge mess. I, for one, still think the area needs a bridge from the bottom of Cantrell Hill or Chester Street across to the Pike Avenue/Pulaski Tech area.

But for me and lots of other people on the north side, an extension of Interstate 630 and/or Interstate 530 to cross the river and link up with U.S. 67/167 would be best in that it would ease the I-30 headache and redesignate the Jacksonville freeway as an interstate. But that's a financial pipedream.

The people in the Heights and Hillcrest who are fighting the bridge expansion to 10 lanes should have to work nights and have to come across the bridge at 7:30 a.m. on their way home. Better yet, let them drive from Jacksonville or Cabot for three months. We may live elsewhere, but we pay sales taxes in Little Rock and North Little Rock, too.

But the best suggestion is that the project be built as four side-by-side bridges: three or four lanes for the I-30 and I-630 southbound traffic with the exit at Sixth or Ninth streets, and a separate bridge section with a two-lane on-ramp for the [East] Broadway traffic that would exit onto Capitol Avenue or Fourth Street. The two bridges would be separate and traffic couldn't merge until across the river.

The highway department would need one of those Texas under/over ramps like they have in San Antonio on Loop 410 intersections to move traffic wanting to get on the freeway and Jacksonville traffic wanting to get off at Ninth or Sixth Street.

And it would really help if there were a way to keep part of the North Little Rock traffic from the JFK onramp separate from the I-30 southbound and I-630 bound traffic if they want off at Capitol Avenue.

Again, the main problem with the bridge is the steep, slow climb up the ramp and merging by the [East] Broadway traffic. Make that traffic separate and you solve most of the backups.

Keith Weber

Jacksonville

Smart to invest in pre-K

What would you do if you were given an opportunity to invest $1 in an idea that would give you a return of $8.60?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, for every $1 invested in high-quality pre-kindergarten there is a return to the taxpayer of $8.60 in the future. Taxpayers save money in the future when they invest in high quality pre-kindergarten because research shows that children who attend a high-quality pre-kindergarten program are less likely to repeat a grade while in school, are less likely to need special education services and are less likely to get arrested as adults.

Research shows that gaps in development between children of low-income families and middle-class families are apparent by as young as 18 months of age. A study by Anne Fernald, a psychologist at Stanford University, showed that children from professional families were able to identify pictures of simple words faster than children from families living in poverty. The study also followed the children's language development from 18 months to age 2. The results showed that children of professional families increased their vocabulary by 30 percent more than children living in poverty. Without some type of intervention, the gaps in development continue to increase during early childhood and children from families of low income enter kindergarten 12 to 15 months behind their peers from middle-class families in language and pre-literacy skills.

Research shows that high-quality early childhood education and pre-kindergarten can help narrow and prevent gaps in development between children living in poverty and their peers because the early years of a child's life are critical times for development and the brain is most malleable during this time. It is also during this time that it is the most cost-effective to do so.

Sadly, not all children have the same access to attend a high quality prekindergarten program. The current resources available to help low-income families access high-quality pre-kindergarten are not enough to fill the current need. According to the Department of Education, 60 percent of 4-year-olds are not enrolled in a public funded state preschool or Head Start. Also, the Child Development Block Grant is only able to help one out of every 10 eligible children attend a high quality early childhood education program.

The good news is that the Strong Start for America's Children Act of 2015, if enacted into law, can help increase access to high-quality pre-kindergarten for Arkansas children from families of low income. The legislation will expand access to high-quality pre-kindergarten by giving state matching funds to Arkansas Head Starts, Arkansas school districts, and local childcare centers that implement research based high-quality early childhood education standards.

Investing tax dollars into a program that yields a return of $8.60 for every $1 initially invested is a wise investment for all taxpayers. Please consider supporting the Strong Start for American's Children Act of 2015.

Chelsie Kennedy

Farmington

From the web

In response to last week's cover story, "The war on Little Rock schools":

The Waltons, with strong support from Hussman, Madison Murphy, et al., will not rest until they have destroyed the LRSD and others are to follow. Key and Hutchinson are merely the puppets put on stage to perform the dirty deeds and take the flack that follows. The previously named culprits do not have the intestinal fortitude to come out front. 

It is all a part and parcel of the Koch brothers to eliminate GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE! And take over this great country so the poor guys don't have to pay taxes. 

Ralph Cloar

Little Rock

Where is our government of the people, by the people, and for the people? 

Why do we allow ourselves to be ruled so haughtily by the 1 percent? 

Is Asa now a King, with his jester Key? Is the Chamber of Commerce the Chamber of Earls and Dukes? Is Walter Hussman now Count Hussman? 

How did all this inherited wealth come to believe that they know better than the people whose sweat created that wealth? 

WHY DID THE PEOPLE OF LITTLE ROCK ALLOW DEMOCRACY TO BE TAKEN FROM THEM?

Paying Top Dollar for Legislators

I am admittedly more than a little cynical about all of this, but ...

Think about all of the pieces mentioned above.

1. State board approves charter expansions. Lots of new seats to fill.

2. School report cards come out and show that LRSD middle schools are BETTER or just as good as the charters that were just expanded.

3. [Baker] Kurrus brought stability (read: trust) to the district and talked a lot about how the LRSD was going to have to "compete" with the charters, even opens a new middle school.

4. Oh, shit! How do we fill all of those new seats at the charter schools?

Get rid of the stability. The resulting shake-up will send enough parents, kids and maybe teachers, running for the exits. Seats filled. Problem solved. Oh, and by the way, we can let Baker off easy now so that this new guy can take the real fall for all of this in another year or two.

Morris

I was struck while listening to the video by [new LRSD Superintendent Michael] Poore that he stated he had been offered the job two weeks earlier. For two weeks, Key and Hutchinson had planned this change and yet they made no effort to inform the public or Baker Kurrus or any of the elected representatives of the Little Rock area. I am so angry with this usurpation of the people's right to have a voice in government. Public schools belong to us, not to the Department of Education or the appointed (not elected) Board of Education. Every citizen of the state should protest this unwarranted exercise in fascism by the very politicos who claim to be opposed to authoritarian big government. Well-meaning people can work together on issues but there must be trust. Where was trust in Commissioners Key's action?

Nell Matthews

Correction

Last week's issue of the Times incorrectly reported the title of the book from which Guy Lancaster read at the unveiling of the Readers Map of Arkansas. He read from "The Moaner's Bench" by Mars Hill, not "Mourner's Bench" by Sanderia Faye.

Lancaster notes that there is another book, "The Mourner's Bench," by Susan Dodd. He did not read from that book, either.

Lyons on the Clintons

"In his latest column, Gene Lyons was true to form watering down the record of the Clintons."

Lyons on Clintons

In his latest column, Gene Lyons was true to form watering down the record of the Clintons. I'm wondering what gyrations he'll go through in explaining away Hillary Clinton's strange remarks at the Brooklyn Navy Yard about her position on the federal minimum wage.

Besides making fact-free claims worthy of Donald Trump, she contradicted what is written on her own campaign website.

Lyons also makes some strange claims. Like the one that "the 1994 crime bill has little political salience in 2016." While Bernie Sanders did vote for it, the implication is that Clinton was also in a position to vote on it. But she was not in Congress in 1994. By the way, that was two years before she declared in public that black men must be "brought to heel." Lyons pooh-poohs the incident as "one time, twenty years ago" when she was just using "a comic book term."

Why does Lyons refer to the Clintons' confrontations with Black Lives Matter activists during the campaign as "hubbub"? We must remember that no one seems to be forcing Clinton to wrap herself in her husband's reputation. We must remember that he signed off on the Crime Bill, the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 and the abolition of banking regulation in 1999. Oh, and the 1993 Defense of Marriage Act.

Clinton has set herself up for criticism. And defenses of her actions are becoming more desperate by the minute.

I hope there'll be coverage of the latest Fight for $15 protests in Central Arkansas, part of a national day of action. Now, that's newsworthy.

Anthony Newkirk

North Little Rock

Make recycling easier

I have been a dedicated recycler for my entire adult life. I live in the county, just outside of the city limits, and Pulaski County Sanitation does not provide recycling pickup. Ever since the city closed its drop-off locations, I've been driving to Waste Management HQ on I-440, a 14-mile drive. But they recently shut down their drop-off. (They closed their electronics drop-off some time ago.) Natural State Recycling, also on I-440, has bins, but they require recyclables to be separated, and they don't accept glass. I would like to do the right thing, but it's getting very difficult, and other concerned county residents have the same problem. I'm not sure, but I suspect apartment dwellers in the city likewise have no options. For a city that likes to consider itself progressive, I think this situation is disgraceful. Please help.

Matt Patton

Pulaski County

Trusting Ray

I learned what I needed to know about Ray Thornton the night in 1972 when Roger Glasgow was arrested for allegedly smuggling marijuana across the border with Mexico (Arkansas Times, Feb. 25).

Glasgow was an assistant to Attorney General Thornton and was acquitted at trial. Properly so, I'm convinced.

I was the anchor and managing editor of KTHV-TV, Channel 11, new to Arkansas, young, and I'd spent the previous three years in Athens, Greece. I had little history with General Thornton, or Glasgow, though I'd certainly met and covered them.

I learned of the arrest just after the 6 p.m. broadcast. I called Thornton's home. Mrs. Thornton answered and told me that he was not yet home, but on the way. I asked her to have him call me as soon as he arrived. I told her why.

He soon returned the call, said he had to check on some things, talk to Roger, and drive back to Little Rock.

He knew I wanted an interview (he probably did, too) and asked me to meet him at his office in an hour or so.

Remember, these are the days of film, not videotape, not live transmission. It required 30 minutes to process and several minutes more to edit.

Thornton, our cameraman (I think it might have been John Miller) and I met outside the AG's office. In those days the anchor (me) wrote and produced the entire broadcast, so all of us felt a great deal of pressure, but none more than the attorney general.

The interview was straightforward.

Too much time has passed to get this exactly right, but here is what I remember Ray Thornton saying: "I hired Roger Glasgow because I thought he was a fine lawyer and a trustworthy man. He has told me he is innocent. I trust my judgment in hiring him, and I will stand by him as this develops."

Please don't take the quotation marks to mean that's an exact quote. It's a paraphrase at best.

That's why I say I learned about Ray Thornton that night. He was a man who trusted himself, so he could trust his own judgment about others.

It also meant we could trust him.

J. Craig Barnes

Phoenix, Md.

GOP craziness

The presidential primaries have become more contentious. Donald Trump is still the frontrunner for Republicans, but the Republican establishment hates Trump, so House Speaker Paul Ryan will likely reject Trump as nominee for president and Republican delegates at this summer's nominating convention in Cleveland will likely be instructed to vote for Ted Cruz. In a nutshell, there are at least four host committee chairs, but Ryan is in charge. Even if Trump wins the magic 1,237 delegates in the primaries, he may still be rejected. The really heavy lifting would start if Cruz were nominated. Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be required to motivate the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress to quickly pass a constitutional amendment to allow foreign-born citizens to serve as president. Cruz was born in Canada, and if the case of Cruz's eligibility to serve as president goes to the Supreme Court, Cruz might be disqualified.

The Democrats have a bigger problem. Obviously, for political purposes, the FBI is maintaining an open investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails and will likely press charges for an October surprise. Of course, Hillary is innocent and most of the charges would be dismissed, but a hearing would naturally follow. If the FBI could charge Hillary now, Bernie Sanders could be the nominee, Congress could refuse to amend the Constitution, and Bernie Sanders would be in like Flynn.

Gene Mason

Jacksonville

Dominionist influence in Arkansas

A recent CBS article revealed the source of the plethora of so-called religious freedom restoration laws that were introduced in some 20 states across the country and that specifically disenfranchise LGBT people.

The culprit is Liberty Counsel, a conservative law group devoted to imposing a Christian Dominionist version of Sharia law on everyone else through force of legislation.

The minions of Liberty Counsel here in Arkansas are legislators like Sens. Bart Hester, Jason Rapert, Cecile Bledsoe and Reps. Justin Harris and Bob Ballinger.

The head of LC is Matt Staver:

According to Jeff Sharlet, author of the books "C Street: the Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy" and "The Family: the Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power," the twin political pillars of Christian fundamentalism are the public legislation of morality and the privatization of resources. The latter agenda endeared the Dominionists to the corporate state and secured their rise to power.

But in the intervening years, corporations have realized that discriminating against LGBT people is a dead-end street that ultimately affects the bottom line. So now, the corporate state and the Christian Dominionist movement have reached an impasse.

Power-drunk after decades of rule, the latter refuses to sacrifice its written-in-stone religious ideology on the altar of the free market.

But more and more people are finding out what the Christian Dominionist movement really is: a garden variety form of fascism with a long hit list of undesirables to eliminate in its utopian quest to establish a "Kingdom of God" on earth. And like most fascist movements, democracy and an open society are chief among its enemies.

Brad Bailey

Fayetteville

On the web

In response to Max Brantley's April 14 column, "Bootstraps for me, not thee" on Rep. Josh Miller (R-Heber Springs):

While I sympathize with the situation in which Miller finds himself through nobody's fault but his own, I find him otherwise repugnant and despicable. He made sure he has his. Everyone else can go screw themselves. And just who are these deadbeats to which he refers? How about some names or photos? Let's put a face to these living off the largesse of the public dole. Of course any such lineup would have to include Miller himself. He really needs to crawl back in his hole, and the people of his district need to elect someone a little more concerned about the public good rather than making sure the young, the elderly and the disabled have no chance of getting government assistance.

HolyGuano

Dear Arkansas 66th District,

Really? You can't do better than this cretin? Seriously. There's gotta be someone with more appeal who can run against this excuse of a legislator and win.

Vanessa

No. Our district CAN'T come up with better. Before Josh, we had a rodeo clown. Lasted one term. Had an old theft conviction on his record when running for sheriff and dropped out. Ran again and lost. Josh was not working while receiving all of his benefits until he was elected. Our district should win an award for the most mean/un-Christian pols in the state. We also have Missy Irwin as our senator and she is even more of a tea-bagger, mean-spirited pol.

David Smith

Equality and Greenberg

The state's other newspaper recently ran a piece by longtime laissez-faire champion Paul Greenberg entitled "Down with equality."

Equality and Greenberg

The state's other newspaper recently ran a piece by longtime laissez-faire champion Paul Greenberg entitled "Down with equality." Mr. Greenberg suggests in his column that the meaning of the word "equality" has been changed since the time of our founding fathers. A word once meaning "equality only before the law" and "equality of opportunity," as Greenberg says, has undergone a profound transformation and now means "material equality — an equality of income, of property, of spoils," as he puts it.

What Mr. Greenberg is saying is that founders like Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith envisioned a level playing field where attributes like integrity and determination could win for one a position of power and material wealth within society. Or as he puts it, "an aristocracy of merit arising out of an equality of opportunity." Wow, by using the word "aristocracy," Mr. Greenberg doesn't even hide the fact he believes in a ruling class.

To put it plainly, Greenberg believes in a free market utopia where honest and hard-working individuals are rewarded for their efforts. Yes, the political right has its dreamers, too.

This all sounds good, but the fair and free market of opportunity so desired by Greenberg is only possible if everyone involved starts at the same level materially and educationally and conducts themselves morally while participating in the market. This, however, is not the reality of the situation. We don't all start life with the same opportunities laid before us. There's a lot of hard-working and honest people out there struggling, and with few, if any, prospects of doing better. And there are members of a ruling elite that seek to profit off the misery of the struggling masses.

If we truly want to achieve a free market of equal opportunity, as Mr. Greenberg says he wants, then we must acknowledge the playing field is not level and consider measures to even it a little. As most Americans know, freedom comes with a price. If we want more freedom of opportunity among the masses, then the privileged few may have to give up some freedom — at least the freedom to benefit disproportionately from the labors of others.

Richard Hutson

Cabot

On 'Nowhere Man'

To Will Stephenson: Wow! What a joy to read your superbly composed feature ["The Ballad of Fred and Yoko," March 31]. As a veteran DJ and vinyl lover and a lesbian, I was deeply moved. What a great tribute to a tragic soul. Thanks.

Alicia Banks

Little Rock

From the web

In response to an Arkansas Blog post by David Ramsey on state Sen. Terry Rice's statement that Medicaid expansion to cover health care costs for the poor would be "enslaving" future generations, a term that state Sen. Stephanie Flowers, who is black, took exception to:

David, less than a year ago, your paper published an article by Ernest Dumas entitled "Slaves to the past." The force of the metaphor in Dumas' title is that we are, sometimes and to some extent, controlled by things that happened long ago. You can fight the metaphor all you want, but I find it hard to believe that a smart, well-read guy like you really finds its use all that unusual — apparently other Arkansas Times staffers do not. I think a more sober analysis of the metaphor is that, if anything, its use approaches a cliche. I appreciate that there are some members of the legislature with an almost entrepreneurial talent for taking offense, but this is a pretty slim reed.

Thanks for the link to the Arkansas Project — I think if you go back and read it, you'll see that there is a pretty strong argument that the .0004 percent figure is not the relevant one. Medicaid expansion on a national basis is very, very, very expensive.

Dan Greenberg

Hi Dan! The argument that the .0004 percent figure is not the relevant one is not strong, but silly, as I already addressed in the post: "The Arkansas Legislature has no control over whether or not other states accept the Medicaid expansion." 

The Arkansas Legislature's decision on Medicaid expansion has an impact on the debt so trivial as to be meaningless. You are well aware of this, but my understanding is that you oppose the state's decision to move forward with the Medicaid expansion for other reasons.

David Ramsey

Dan Greenberg, for your enlightenment, my husband might have died seven years earlier than he did had he not had Medicare. As it happens, he was treated and remained in reasonably good health for most of the rest of his life.

I might now be in a nursing home because of increasing blindness with a resultant inability to drive. Or I might have developed another malady that could have led to my death, had it not been found and treated early, all with the assistance of Medicare. 

I'm not about to deny anyone else the opportunity to have decent medical care on the basis that it's going to cost too much. That you would shows what kind of person you are.

Doigotta

Money well spent

Some cynical people who are not loyal to our valued athletic traditions question our current culture's curious emphasis on athletics — particularly in colleges.

Money well spent

Some cynical people who are not loyal to our valued athletic traditions question our current culture's curious emphasis on athletics — particularly in colleges. They claim there's an imbalance between academics and athletics that is demonstrated in various ways, but none as dramatically as in money matters.

Even if they were correct, there is evidence that the operating budget pendulum is swinging in favor of academia. The University of Arkansas recently hired a new chancellor for the Fayetteville campus — the CEO. In a fit of exuberance, even if fiscal irresponsibility, the Board of Trustees agreed to pay the new head of the campus almost as much as some of the assistant football coaches make.

Further evidence of this momentum in favor of academia is a more equitable balance of capital expenditures. The university will issue $160 million in construction bonds. The proceeds will increase seating — in the end zone — for the football stadium. This fine facility, which was expanded in recent years, is frequently filled in the six afternoons that it is used each year. This large sports investment, however, is balanced by the pending issuance of $30 million of bonds with proceeds divided among various academic facilities and programs. That's about 5:1 — a reasonable ratio. So, the complainers don't really have much to gripe about. Fair's fair. We must keep our priorities straight.

Go Hogs, go!

W.W. Satterfield

Little Rock

When we talk about health care

There is some talk of a group of self-absorbed and wholly self-interested people getting together this month at the Capitol under the umbrella of being a "legislature" and tinkering with the lives of Arkansas residents. One of the themes of their tinkering is encompassed in the broad and ill-defined phrase "health care." In its current configuration, the phrase "health care" almost always means you are talking about paying somebody other than an actual health care provider to pay the people who claim to be health care providers. We call that "health care insurance" in a feeble attempt to avoid facing the real prospect that we all get sick and we all need care. The self-absorbed people getting together this week will trivialize the notion of care by using sterilized terms such as "beneficiaries," "providers" and "benefits." That allows them to dig the denial hole deeper so no one has to face the real-life fact that all of us require actual care, health and otherwise, from the moment of birth until we die. They will bluster mightily about how we are all just self-sufficient engines driving some imaginary economy rather than being the actual poor, needy and care-dependent beings we, in fact, are.

Our local bastion of health care provider education, we'll call them the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) as a kindness, has told some of the aforementioned self-absorbed people that they will be overwhelmed financially by "indigent care" if they don't get a heaping pile of dough out of this tinkering. Again, we have to be careful not to speak directly about the real "care" problem and focus on the "indigent" part. The reality they will not deal with is that we are all indigent when it comes to paying for health care. The only ones who are not indigent are the people we pay to pay the health care providers for us, that is, the insurance companies. No one will ask the insurance companies to chip in a small percentage more of their gigantic haul of our money to help provide actual care of any kind.

Perhaps strangest of all, this meeting of tinkerers will be seen not as an opportunity to meet some real need of Arkansas residents. Rather, it will be viewed as a contest of some useless imaginary skills imputed to the self-absorbed people doing the tinkering and whatever befalls us will be secondary to who wins or loses the contest. No one will ask: Where did we go wrong? If someone did, what would be an honest answer?

David Steadman

Damascus

From the web

In response to Will Stephenson's cover story last week, "The ballad of Fred and Yoko":

Devastating. Every preacher in Little Rock should have to read this and deliver a sermon on it. I wonder what they'd say?

YouWho

What an amazing life and lonely death. I work with others to provide outreach and assistance to people in the Little Rock and North Little Rock area who do not have homes. The people we serve are a diverse group of people with a wide variety of experiences, hopes and challenges, as is true for all of us. There are never enough resources to provide the comprehensive health, housing and supportive services needed, but some progress has been made locally in recent years, including a day resource center, veterans' center and other expanded services and improved efforts. Fred Arnold's story should, indeed, be read from every pulpit, at every civic group luncheon, by every provider of services to vulnerable people. We, as a society, must acknowledge our failures as well as our successes. The notes he sent show just how badly we failed Fred Arnold. May he rest in peace.

sayno2pharma

The churches fell down on the job, didn't they? A prime example of why charities can't be our only way to help others in their time of need.

Well done story.

rablib

Great piece of journalism, Will! Heartbreaking in the end as it was, all those wonderful eccentric characters could populate several Charles Portis novels.

I think there really is an afterlife somewhere where Fred and John hang out together, playing and writing music, counting down the days until Yoko will join them. I imagine that all this came as a delightful surprise to John after he died. He wasn't really expecting it, of course. No doubt, George comes around every now and then, but he stays mainly over in the Hindu territories of East Heaven, practicing his sitar. And you, Will. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff. You're a good man. I can tell it from your writing.

Olphart

In Arkansas, only in the Arkansas Times would we find such an interesting and human story. It makes one wonder how many others among the homeless people that we pass by without giving much attention have equally fascinating back stories. Despite all the efforts of his friends to help, he could not be helped.

Plainjim

As a longtime/long ago Charleston friend/Beatles fan/record store customer of Billy's (i.e. Fred Arnold), I was very moved by your beautifully written story, Will.

I had completely lost touch with the man by the late '70s and was dismayed to read how badly south his life had gone since, no matter how much he may have contributed to it himself. Appalling to see how little assistance he received from most of the Little Rock community, particularly those who espouse their Christian values — Christian when convenient, apparently. A salute to Pastor Marty Mote, however, for being there for Billy when he could.

Billy was quite the character in '70s Charleston society, and became a colorful counterpoint to a lot of what conservative Charleston was then all about.

Thanks again for the story, Will. I look forward to reading more of your work down the line.

Steven Prazak

How fascinating! It was such a sweet surprise to hear about his relationship with Yoko and how kind she was to him. I wonder if his collection ended up in a dumpster or if someone is still holding onto it. Great story with a local connection.

Joni Davis McGaha

One of the most brilliant pieces of journalism I have encountered in years. Bravo, Will!

Kelley Bass

In response to Gene Lyons' column last week, "Obama's success":

Seems nice that unemployment is down, except when you realize how many people are not employed, are under-employed and how job creation has taken a step backwards.

Bonds suck, since confidence in the government is tanked, so stocks are higher, which could lead to more sudden volatility and less stability.

Obama had no choice about Syria, since he squandered a coalition that turned its back on him when he finally did decide to try something. Obama wasn't active, he was hapless to those events. Hardly leadership.

Don't forget, too, that Obama was the one that ignored ISIL when it could have been dealt with, and instead went ahead with his policy of removing the one thing that could have stopped ISIL while it was still the "JV" team.

Few females of the species are as disgusting and hateful as Michelle, so it is hard to see how anyone could see her on the same level of Jackie O or Ladybird or anyone else who can refrain from showing contempt for the country that elected her hubby into the White House, twice.

We also have Obama to thank for making race relations what they are, with his inability to keep his mouth shut until the facts are out, so as to create as much hate as possible so no amount of facts will allay the hysteria created by a president who will attend the funeral of a thug shot trying to murder someone but not the funeral of a Supreme Court justice.

Steven E

Steven, you are playing the "blame the victim" game here. It isn't promoting racial division to publicly point out the latent and overt white elitism that permeates every aspect of our country. Every time the president invites any black celebrities to the White House he gets called racist. Yet white presidents could invite white celebrities without getting tagged as showing favoritism to their own race. Yes, he used some high-profile mass shootings to bring attention to insane racial hatred. I would hope that a white president would have done the same thing. But we have far too many mass shootings in this country for him to attend the funeral of all of the victims. The funeral — get over it. He was following long established presidential protocol for that and for Nancy Reagan's funeral. I travel frequently outside this country, and in every country people tell me they respect and admire our president. You just hate that, don't you!

Another brick in the wall

On drug testing

Gov. Hutchinson has implemented a statewide mandatory drug test for every new applicant for a welfare program known as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).

On drug testing

Gov. Hutchinson has implemented a statewide mandatory drug test for every new applicant for a welfare program known as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).

The original bill, SB 600, was created and sponsored by 39 Arkansas senators and representatives, all but two of which were Republicans, and seven of which were members of ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council). ALEC is a notorious corporate bill mill that gives newly elected Republican legislators a free family vacation at selected resorts in exchange for sponsoring its cookie-cutter bills that favor corporate interests at the expense of taxpayers.

In a 2014 Time article, Darlenam Cunha wrote: "The [drug] testing is meant to assure taxpayers their money isn't being 'wasted' on the less desirable, those who would somehow manage to buy drugs with the assistance. But in Tennessee, where drug testing was enacted for welfare recipients last month (July 2014), only one person in the 800 who applied for help tested positive. In Florida, during the four months the state tested for drug use, only 2.6 percent of applicants tested positive. Meanwhile, Florida has an illegal drug use rate of 8 percent, meaning far fewer people on services are using drugs than their better-off counterparts. The drug testing cost taxpayers more money than it saved, and was ruled unconstitutional last year."

In 2013, the U.S. District Court in Orlando struck down the Florida welfare drug-testing law as a violation of the Fourth Amendment right to protection against unreasonable searches.

For anyone who hasn't realized it yet, let me reiterate: The Republicans are the party of the very wealthy and big corporate interests, and this law testifies once again to their well-organized and well-funded class warfare against the poor and disenfranchised.

I urge any TANF applicant who is denied access to this program for refusing to answer drug-related questions to contact the Arkansas ACLU and consider filing suit against Blake Johnson, the bill's sponsor, Gov. Hutchinson and/or the state of Arkansas.

Brad Bailey

Fayetteville

The state's other newspaper announced the Department of Workforce Services' launching of a drug-testing program for welfare recipients in Arkansas. The new law requires that funds bypass heads of households who test positive for drugs and then fail to meet the requirements of rehabilitation, all in an effort to keep aid from being spent on drugs. According to the legislation's co-sponsor, Rep. Robin Lundstrum, (R-Springdale), the goal is not to keep the "truly needy" from receiving assistance, but to stop aid from being paid directly to drug users. Lundstrum was quoted, "I want to see that money gets into the hands of the truly needy, get it to those kids, whoever is in charge needs to be drug free."

I agree with Lundstrum. Public assistance meant to help those in need should not be used to support a self-destructive habit. I applaud Lundstrum and other Republicans who do not simply promote the cessation of all public assistance. This shows that some of our current Republican leaders possess at least some measurable level of compassion, an attribute seemingly in short supply among today's conservatives.

While this all sounds good, there is a bigger picture to consider. The provisions of the new law allow tax revenue to be spent on identifying and labeling drug users, while simultaneously denying benefits that help the user pay for assistance in overcoming their addiction. So, once again we see modern day right-wing thinking at work. Spend money on identifying, labeling and punishing, but not on helping everyone who is in need. Lundstrum and her supporters want to help the children of those who may be addicted to drugs, but they also want to punish their parents. This proves that many conservatives refuse to see drug addiction for what it is: a sickness. For whatever reason, many on the political right are determined to keep drug dependence within the realm of criminal activity, as opposed to seeing it as a public health issue requiring understanding and compassion.

Another question comes to mind. What happens when the head of the household's failure to adhere to the stipulations of the new law results in eventual incarceration and the state must step in and assume the cost of caring for the children? Now we have a scenario where tax money is being spent on prosecuting and warehousing the drug-using head of the house, and providing care for the children through foster parenting and all the public services that typically accompany this approach. This is a far more costly route than simply trying to help the sick individual overcome their addiction in the first place. Again, this shows the conservative propensity to care more about punishment than compassion.

Richard Hutson

Cabot

Bob Jones and Asa

I read Gov. Asa Hutchinson's biography that was online prior to the election. I noted that it omitted his time at Bob Jones University and that of his wife and brother. The school website is boastful of them as graduates.

I regard that as deceptive and an indicator of character weakness. It is well known that BJU taught racism, homophobia and was disparaging of women and their autonomy. Women who were raped were counseled that it was their fault because underlying sin in their lives brought it upon them. That they should ask their rapists for forgiveness!

My point: If Asa refuses to publicly admit marinating in such tripe and doesn't renounce its teachings, we citizens have reason to believe he still holds those values. Backing legislation by those of his party that codifies such garbage into law would indicate he still holds such values. Allowing such tripe to become law without his signature would seem to indicate he agrees with it or fears the tea party and fundamentalists among them. How should we regard him for that?

Asa is catering to Obama haters in changing the private option. He obviously had that intent while campaigning, but refused to say as much. The refusal to release the budget before election would have revealed his present efforts and that he feared the tea party.

We need some answers as to why Asa hid his BJU background and up-front admittance of adherence to its mess or renounce it publicly.

Karl Hansen

Hensley

Balancing act

It warms the cockles of my heart to witness the exquisite balance that the Arkansas Times' writers strike between objectivity and bias. Of course, no one expects perfection from this gang, with the possible exception of Gene Lyons, whose yeoman efforts to canonize Bill Clinton continue apace and could bring him a Pulitzer Prize, perhaps after the current committee takes pity on him or dies.

Joe Anderson

Cotton Plant

Failing Gideon

On March 18, 1963, a diminutive man accused of stealing $5 and soda from a pool hall threw himself at the mercy of the Supreme Court and changed the course of American history.

Failing Gideon

On March 18, 1963, a diminutive man accused of stealing $5 and soda from a pool hall threw himself at the mercy of the Supreme Court and changed the course of American history. Prior to this moment, Clarence Gideon had been sitting in jail, trying to overturn a five-year sentence he had received because he was too poor to pay for a lawyer. The Supreme Court sided with Gideon, declaring that those that could not afford counsel still had the right to receive one in criminal proceedings. Gideon would go on to be released and to die in obscurity, buried in an unmarked grave.

It's important to ask, however, as we pass the 53rd anniversary of this decision, whether Gideon would be better off in the legal system that has been crafted in the wake of the case that bears his name. The nation, and Arkansas in particular, is in a legal crisis. In January of last year, the Arkansas Public Defender Commission stated that the average public defender in the state handled 537 clients, far above the American Bar Association's recommendation that attorneys manage 200 misdemeanors or 150 felonies per year. In March 2015, a study found that in rural Arkansas counties, there were .44 lawyers per 1,000 residents, perilously below the national average of 4.11 lawyers per 1,000 residents. Cleveland County had no lawyers at all. A Brennan Center for Justice study in 2012 found that public defenders are so overworked that they can only average a meeting of six minutes per client. Appointed lawyers have become placeholders in a system that was supposed to provide the poor with equal opportunity of justice.

When deciding Gideon, Justice Black noted that, "[A]ny person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided to him." Unfortunately, as the public defender's office continues to be woefully underfunded in the current fiscal year, we as citizens of the state should take pause. As we watch our favorite police procedurals on television and hear that famous recitation, "You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you," we should realize that we live in an age where those lines are becoming more and more like those dramas: works of fiction. And should we not act, the right to counsel for the poor, for those most at risk of incarceration and those who stand to lose the most, will end up just as Mr. Gideon: buried in obscurity.

James Colston

Fayetteville

From the web

In response to the Arkansas Blog post, "How the Walton education agenda harms public schools":

Just because your daddy was rich does not mean you know what is best for me.

In Arkansas, we have no democracy. We have rule by the 1 percent.

Paying Top Dollar for Legislators

Regressives have always declared war on education. An educated and informed electorate will always vote for progression. That scares the crap out of Republicans.

Errol Roberts

Absolutely despicable conduct by the charterists. They care nothing for the kids affected by this idiocy, they just want to own everything and everybody below their station. It is sad to see the billions of dollars spent on a concerted effort to continue and expand the divisions in our country rather than on positive steps to ensure the future of education for all.

ozarkrazo

Schools aren't bad because of the "rich." Schools are bad because the way children perform/act in school starts at home. Not at school. So all these inner city schools are filled with children that could not help being born with no dad, no mom, no discipline, etc. But the easy thing to do is "blame it on the rich." Why not start holding parents accountable for their own children? The schools that you are whining about are a direct reflection of the community it serves. Period. It all starts at home. It's no one's fault but the parents or lack thereof. Let's start blaming the real people responsible instead of who you liberals think is responsible.

anti liberal

It's beyond credulity that the Billionaire Boys Club cannot just create an alternative school system but do it with our tax dollars. Something constitutionally wrong with this picture.

JB

Anti, how exactly do you propose we hold those parents accountable? None of the eight different phone numbers on file are working, the emergency contacts do not answer, no one answers the door at home at 6 p.m., and DHS can't track them down, either. So, even when and if DHS takes custody, then what? Struggling parents, often mentally ill even ... how are you going to force them into caring for their children? Will you move in with them? I bet you also love ASA! and his plan to starve essential services. Family supports, more resources for DHS, more reliable and safe foster homes, more tax dollars to help are what is needed. How about we stop blaming struggling parents and start building healthy parents and children?

Yellowdogdaughter

In response to the Arkansas Blog post, "Report: Tom Cotton to join meeting with Donald Trump":

If Trump wants to curry favor with Cotton, he needs to memorize this sentence: "Under my administration, this country will take no shit off of anybody." Cotton would wet his pants upon hearing those words and would follow Trump to the ends of the Earth.

Olphart

If Trump picks Cotton as his VP, he better have two Secret Service agents assigned full-time to keep an eye on his back. Little Tom is far too ambitious for his intellect.

couldn't be better

Establishment Republicans know it will be a matter of months before President Trump is impeached and they might be ok with Cotton and therefore support a Trump nomination. President Cotton would be as dangerous if not more than Trump. At least Trump will want to be liked. All Cotton cares about is killing the bad guys and punishing Americans he doesn't like or care about.

Joshua Drake

A party in disarray

To say the least, our national Republican Party has quite a mess on its hands right now in the primary elections for president.

A party in disarray

To say the least, our national Republican Party has quite a mess on its hands right now in the primary elections for president. One candidate, Ted Cruz, was not even born in the U.S. and may not be eligible to serve as president. Another candidate, Marco Rubio, has a history of buying personal items with his GOP credit card. The most viable candidate is Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, here in Arkansas, Trump has already won the Republican primary race. Unfortunately, Gov. Asa Hutchinson endorsed Rubio, even though Rubio was a known credit-card criminal who has yet to pay his debt to society. Sure, Rubio admitted in 2012 to reimbursing the party for the items, but Florida's Republican Party let Rubio off the hook. They made the poor decision not to charge Rubio with felony theft by deception. This reminds me of when Arkansas Attorney General Steve Clark, a Democrat, was charged.

Anyway, the big question now is whether Asa will actually support Trump as the Republican nominee. After all, Asa has worked diligently all these years to promote the interests of wealthy capitalists over the interests of the democratic masses. He must now accept responsibility for helping create the candidate Trump.

Gene Mason

Jacksonville

Krugman off

Recently the state's other newspaper ran a piece by well-known economist Paul Krugman. The article suggests Bernie Sanders' recent primary win in Michigan may be the result of Sanders misleading the people of Michigan in regard to the effects of free trade. While I agree with Krugman on most points pertaining to the economy, I must disagree with his assessment of Bernie Sanders' take on free-trade agreements and how they have hurt Americans living in what were once thriving industrial communities, like Detroit. I also notice Krugman's attempt to compare Bernie with Donald Trump. I know Krugman's a Hillary supporter, but likening Bernie to Trump shows him to be more of a lapdog pundit, at least in this case, as opposed to being a true liberal/progressive journalist.

Krugman willfully misrepresents Bernie by accusing him of "demagoguing the issue" of "trade liberalization," making it out to be much more detrimental to American workers than the facts suggest. Krugman offers as evidence comments made by Sanders regarding the effects of "trade liberalization" on Michigan. Krugman's words suggest Bernie blames "Hillary Clinton's free-trade policies" for what happened in Detroit. I don't think Sanders has ever said the loss of jobs in Detroit starting in the '60s and '70s was the result of trade policies enacted in the '90s. That's ridiculous. Bernie simply says that trade policies like those supported by the Clintons have contributed to, or exacerbated, the problems caused by "trade liberalization." Bernie doesn't say we must stop all agreements with other countries. He says we must change these agreements in order to keep jobs from leaving our shores, and to stop other countries from taking advantage of laws that favor foreign workers over American workers.

Ultimately Bernie wants to help American workers. He's not advocating the dismantling of established trade agreements. Sanders wants to negotiate with other countries over mutually beneficial agreements, so that everyone wins, not just America, as Trump boasts.

Any way you slice it, free trade has not worked out for most Americans. It's been great for the economic elites of the world, but the rest of us have suffered. And, any way you slice it, Hillary has supported these measures.

Richard Hutson

Cabot

From the web

In response to Gene Lyons' March 10 column, "Cats and dogs":

Kind of hard to equate any morality among animals basing it just on levels of joy. As noted by Gene, cats achieve levels of contentment that would make the Dalai Lama jealous, and the joy of dogs is often off the charts, so how can you measure any kind of morality?

Does it make a difference, does it prove the emotional capacity of dogs or cats?

Well, by a lot of easily observed data, dogs have it all over cats ... except when you dig deeper into stories of how cats defended their human companions from attack by human and animal.

I have been around critters most of my life. I was 13 when I rescued my first cat. She was a kitten that was put in a box and placed under a pinball machine. Kitty was a great cat. She got along with my pet rat, shared the pillow with me, and even walked across busy city streets on my heel, like a dog. Many a night I would be reading and Kitty would lie on my lap for her hours' worth of ear rubs. She would let me know her food was empty by jumping on my bookcase and knocking off my model airplanes. When I was sick, she was with me. When I was heartbroken, she would be there, rubbing against me and licking my hair. It would be years before I had another cat of her equal.

By the time I ended up with an awesome pair of cats, Jasper and Iggy Pop, I also had a pack of six wolves. The cats got along with the wolves and old Toby dog. During cold, northern Nevada winters when the outside temps were 19 below, the bed was covered by some wolves and some cats. Toby was too old to get on the bed, so one or two of the wolves and at least one of the cats would curl up next to Toby.

Toby died. I cried, the wolves howled, and I will be dipped if Jasper didn't howl along. Iggy just kept looking for Toby. She didn't understand the way the others did.

In all the critters I have raised, I poured all my love and affection into them. They were all indoor/outdoor companions. I nurtured them like kids, and they grew in emotional scope. It was a discovery that humans are like animals and otherwise as well.

That which grows best is that which is imbued with values and training and regard and concern and sympathy. Like humans, animals have the capability to reciprocate in most emotional matters. You mistreat an animal, they grow up distant, mistrustful, tending toward violence. You treat them well, they will stay by your side, mourn your loss, rejoice your joys, share your struggles.

Steven E

Yeah, we really need another test to divide us into factions. Recently, I've noticed a lot of people almost demanding to know whether I'm a cat person or a dog person. (Where did this come from all of a sudden? Some TV show?) I guess it's a question designed to immediately separate the wheat from the chaff, or the goats from the sheep. The question invariably confuses me and I usually answer, truthfully, that I like both dogs and cats. Of course, that answer satisfies none of the questioners. In one respect, it makes me a weasel person, unwilling to commit myself. (I've never owned a weasel, however, so it's hard for me to say. Although I HAVE known a couple of folks who were fond of ferrets, so weasels might not be all that bad.)

The last person who asked me the dog/cat question was ready for me when I weaseled out of it. She immediately asked me her backup question: Do I like guns or not? Rolling my eyes at the question didn't seem to help my status in her eyes at all. I flunked her test on the spot. I was definitely not one to be trusted.

Yes, I'm a cat person and a dog person. More and more, though, a people person? Not so much ... .

Olphart

Legislators: Embrace home care for elderly

Advice for Arkansas legislators: Never get old.

Legislators: Embrace home care for elderly

Advice for Arkansas legislators: Never get old.

If you ask an old person, What's the worst thing about being old?, the answer may surprise you. It's not the nagging pains of arthritis or neuralgia. It's not the need for incontinence products or the forfeited driver's license. It's not the Post-it reminders all over the house, the pill-dispensing boxes in the kitchen, or the 5X magnifier next to the telephone. Rather, it's the loss of choices — when to rise and shine, what to wear, what to eat and when to eat it, and — at the top of the list — where to live.

Whoever said that when you reach old age, you suddenly don't care whether you continue to live in your beloved home, surrounded by neighbors you know in a community as comfortable as an old shoe, or whether you share a tiny room in a hospital-like setting with a total stranger? AARP tells us you do care. We older folk overwhelmingly want to stay in our own homes, "aging in place." So why isn't anyone listening? Why did the state of Arkansas hire The Stephen Group, a nationally recognized health care consultant, to tell us to stop pouring long-term care dollars into nursing homes if we aren't going to take its advice?

In its first report to the legislature, The Stephen Group pointed out that almost 70 percent of the state's long-term care spending is on nursing homes. Arkansas Medicaid paid private nursing homes $605 million in 2014 to care for an average of 11,544 residents per month. During the same timeframe, Medicaid spent $344 million to provide home and community-based services to 18,963 individuals per month, including 775 residing in assisted living facilities.

Clearly it is more cost-effective to give old people and people with disabilities what they want — more care options within their own communities. The Stephen Group says that reform of Arkansas's long-term care system must be driven by an overall commitment to shift funds from institutional settings into "the least restrictive setting" that became the law of the land with the 1999 Supreme Court Olmstead Decision.

But, as John Brummett said in his "Stuff and Nonsense" column on April 15, 2015, "that would alarm the nursing homes, the smart ones of which ought to quit spending money to buy judges or lobby the Legislature to cap damages or build more old-people warehouses, and instead spend that money to open home-health and community-based programs as components of a modern full-service company. Everyone else is adapting these days. So should the nursing homes."

Speaking before the legislature on behalf of the Arkansas Health Care Association on Sept. 16, 2015, association president Jim Cooper implied that the financial bottom line of nursing home owners outweighs the wishes of consumers because, "We have skin in the game." The packed audience of consumers, self-advocates and families of elderly relatives and people with disabilities visibly cringed at the suggestion that the financial viability of a failed business model was more important than their own future and that of the people they love.

Legislators who care about their parents and grandparents — and understand that they also will one day be old — can act now to give their family members and themselves down the line the peace of mind that comes from having choices. Rebalancing the long-term care system to equally fund institutional and home and community-based long-term care services will save Arkansas Medicaid a bundle while easing the minds of those of us who value our independence and hope to keep it as long as possible.

Gloria Gordon

North Little Rock

From the web

In response to the March 4 Arkansas Blog post, "Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth":

It's amazing, isn't it, that the first thing officeholders do upon taking office is to try to figure out a way to get around the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act? My advice is to forget about it. You can't do it. Arkansas's FOIA is just about the best in the country.

plainjim

This situation is disappointing, since Lea was previously one of the more intelligent GOP legislators. But now she is in a legitimate scandal.

I'll guess that she got some bad advice. She can redeem herself be throwing her bad advisor under the bus.

radical centrist

"As I've learned through my years of public service, transparency should be the foundation of any public office, and that would be my foundation if Arkansans elect me to be their next State Auditor." — andrealea.com.

Richard Roe

One consequence of the GOP's rigid orthodoxy is that saying the right things is more important than competence.

Who needs an actual "auditor" who is honest and knows anything about finance when the primary qualification for office in Arkansas is opposing Obama's liberal agenda?

An auditor who makes side deals with attorneys in secret so they can't be audited is simply demonstrating freedom, I suppose.

Paying Top Dollar for Legislators

I'm not certain exactly where it is, but I think there may be an amendment to the Arkansas constitution that specifically exempts elected Teapublibans from telling the truth or acting in an ethical manner. Couldn't some of those researchers you have on staff help find that for us?

RYD

Her offered excuse is that she could not access her state account from home (dubious, to start with). But if that were the issue, then why direct her employees to send from a personal account? Why not simply send to her normally with a copy to her personal email? (Yes, the questions are rhetorical.)

Theodosius

People make mistakes, but this was no mistake. This was a concerted effort to create a communications channel among a constitutional office entrusted to honestly and fairly oversee the state's business. It is clear now that Lea is more concerned about concealing what they're doing than being open and transparent in the conduct of the office. She's sorry now that she's been caught. The honorable thing would be to resign. Lea can never again be trusted.

HolyGuano

Sanders’ message

Why do so many insist Bernie Sanders is offering freebies to Americans?

Sanders' message

Why do so many insist Bernie Sanders is offering freebies to Americans? Arkansas's other newspaper ran a cartoon depicting the senator as the Pied Piper, tooting his flute to the tune of "free health care," "free college tuition," as a mesmerized group of young Americans follow like a bunch of mindless zombies, chanting "Bernie" over and over.

While it's true many young people are drawn to Sanders' message, what's equally true is the set of circumstances allowing for a self-described democratic socialist to emerge as a contender in the Democratic primaries.

Today, many American college graduates are starting their adult lives saddled with tremendous debt. Add to that the ever-rising cost of health care and it makes for a situation in which saving for the future becomes quite the challenge.

It's no wonder so many working young adults experience such high rates of depression and addiction. They are uncertain about their financial futures.

It's easy for conservative leaders to reprimand young workers for not saving money, along with unfairly blaming them for just about all of society's woes. The GOP's failed policies do need a scapegoat, you know. However, saving for the future is difficult when such a large chunk of one's income goes to paying off huge educational loans and ridiculously high health care expenses. Add to that the cost of long-waged and unnecessary wars of occupation, corporate bailouts, tax breaks for the wealthy, subsidies to major industries and stagnant wages and it's no wonder this particular demographic is willing to support a candidate like Bernie Sanders. Who can blame them? Look at the sorry state of affairs their fathers have left them. The same fathers that hold them accountable for circumstances they did not create, but were born into.

Oh yeah, I started by asking why so many accuse Bernie of wanting to give away freebies. He never said these things would be free. He simply says those who have wreaked havoc in this country over the past few decades, i.e. proponents of Reaganomics, will pay for them. It's not too much to ask, considering the extent to which wealthy citizens disproportionately benefit in this country. And, as the senator reminds us, we bailed them out, now it's time they returned the favor.

Richard Hutson

Cabot

From the web

In response to the Feb. 29 Arkansas Blog post, "And clown the stretch they come: GOP rivals spar over insults, KKK, Mussolini, dick jokes":

The GOP has spent the last decade enforcing compliance to their ideology to the point where no candidate dares disagree with a single point for fear of being Koch-blocked.

Such an action can only generate an equal and opposite reaction: a front-runner for the presidency who only gets stronger by pissing on that ideology.

Imagine any other Republican defending Planned Parenthood, laying 9/11 at the feet of George W. Bush, and saying he'd refuse to let people die on the street for lack of health care.

Paying Top Dollar for Legislators

Trump's earpiece wasn't working during the interview? That's a good one that I haven't heard before. He's at the point where he knows that he can say anything and it won't matter.

In a way, it's hard to believe that there are this many people in the good ol' USA that would follow someone like Trump. The worst part about Trump being president to me would not be that fact itself but the realization that I'd been trying to swim in a sea of idiots all this time.

Olphart

The chickens are coming home to roost. — Malcolm X

Black Panthers for Open Carry

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and predict that the R convention will be brokered and that Romney will actually end up as the nominee. But he'll lose the same way the rest of them would lose.

Vanessa

In response to the Feb. 27 Arkansas Blog post, "Hillary Clinton dominates in South Carolina primary over Bernie Sanders":

I sure hope that when Hillary wins the nomination, she does not forget all of the young people (mostly) who went all out for Bernie. If she does, then we are doomed to have nothing but politics as usual — establishment Democrats running as if they were stuck in 1992 and not living in 2016. The Clintons moved the Democratic Party to the center. I think it is now time to regain our proud position on the left — working for poor people, for workers against greedy corporations, for women to make sure that they are treated equally in the workplace and have control of their personal choices, for equal rights for all persons. If she doesn't, then little will be gained when she wins against the Republicans, which I think she is sure to do.

Plainjim

I'm not convinced Clinton can win in November. It would be great to elect the first woman president, but Clinton has so much baggage, American voters could well decide to give her a pass come November. Stranger things have happened, even if voters would be voting against their own best interests by voting for the amorphous TrumpRubioCruzCarson.

Sound Policy

Leadership and corruption

Early voting has started and the March 1 primary is coming up fast.

Leadership and corruption

Early voting has started and the March 1 primary is coming up fast. There is only one candidate who is not taking Big Money donations and is willing to seriously take on Wall Street and other powerful interests. Our soldiers supposedly kill and die for democracy all over the world, but our Supreme Court and congressmen work overtime to dismantle democracy at home. Only one candidate can be trusted to get Big Money out of politics, and actually protect and improve our democracy, which is drowning in corrupting cash.

Our national government is broken and gridlocked, in large part from campaign finance corruption and a tragic dearth of real leadership. Too many politicians are mere followers, following Big Money donors and opinion polling. These status quo followers will change nothing.

A real leader takes positions that may be unpopular and then leads with the people toward goals that are good for all. Why can only Europeans have tuition-free college and a more cost- efficient, fully public health care system? A real leader can lead us out of our putrid swamp of systemic corruption and gridlock.

Only one leader is running for president, Bernie Sanders. He also happens to beat all the clown car candidates by larger margins than his scandal-plagued, untrustworthy Democratic opponent.

Stand up and vote wisely.

Abel Tomlinson

Fayetteville

Hunger and senior health

In the next couple of months, the Arkansas legislature will make key decisions about health care access, delivery and quality for low-income and vulnerable Arkansas populations, including Arkansas seniors. In addition, upcoming budget hearings will determine the level of funding for senior services such as senior citizen centers and Meals on Wheels.

These programs are critically important to low-income and/or homebound seniors, many of whom live in food- insecure households. Currently about a third of all Arkansans aged 60 or older — more than 160,000 people — are not sure where their next meal is coming from, giving Arkansas the dubious distinction of No. 1 in the nation for senior food insecurity.

This is a major public health problem for our state, as senior hunger leads to poor health, depression and limitations in mobility and activities of daily living. Adequate nutrition is essential for preventing and managing chronic medical conditions, including diabetes. Without proper nutrition, seniors are at increased risk of disability, deteriorated physical and mental health, decreased resistance to infections and lengthened hospital stays, all of which have the potential for substantially increasing Medicare/Medicaid costs.

During the 2015 legislative session, the state Department of Human Services budget for senior services was cut 20 percent — from $5 million annually to $4 million. Thankfully, our legislators voted to restore the lost $1 million with state general revenues to avoid substantial cuts to senior centers' services — socialization programs, wellness and fitness activities, transportation and, especially, home-delivered meals. However, this was not a permanent fix.

Vulnerable Arkansas seniors need their legislators to restore the senior services budget to its previous level or possibly increase it to accommodate the growth of Arkansas's aging population, which is expected to double in the next 20 years.

Food security is essential to the health of Arkansan seniors, and senior center meals programs play a major role in ensuring that Arkansas seniors do not go hungry. It is time for our legislators to acknowledge that providing adequate funding for critically important senior services is both morally right and a good cost-containment strategy for Arkansas Medicaid.

Gloria Gordon

North Little Rock

Buses are lifelines

Buses are among the vital lifelines that help keep a city vibrant and alive. You may not ride the bus, but you sure do know lots of people who do — those who wait on you at your favorite restaurants, who assist you when you are in hospitals. The buses transport hundreds of hard-working employees to their jobs daily and reliably. The buses are there for the elderly who no longer drive, there for all the kids too young to drive, and there to give the disabled and visually impaired a lift to places they could not get to without the buses' help. So please consider voting for the buses on March 1 — and keep these lifelines flowing.

C.H. Ware

Little Rock

From the web

In response to Sarah Scanlon's guest column, "For Bernie":

I just voted for Bernie today. I voted for Bill Clinton every time he ever ran for anything, and I think he was a tremendous president, but Hillary Clinton is running the campaign of 20 years ago, not the campaign of today. Believe it or not, when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, income inequality was not the problem that it is today. It was incongruous for her to deny that she was an "establishment candidate" in the debate with Bernie, because, of course, the Clintons own the Democratic Party. If the party is to nominate her, it will be politics as usual. What has that got us? It is time for a revolution, rather than politics as usual, and that is why I am supporting Bernie Sanders. Hillary would not change anything. She is too indebted to the rich and the powerful.

plainjim