Archive for Letters

Defunding Planned Parenthood hurts Arkansans

Planned Parenthood provides critical and preventative health care to a lot of low- and moderate-income women and men. Contrary to popular belief, abortion is not the only, or the most important, service provided by Planned Parenthood, and federal dollars are not used to provide abortions.

Defunding Planned Parenthood hurts Arkansans

Planned Parenthood provides critical and preventative health care to a lot of low- and moderate-income women and men. Contrary to popular belief, abortion is not the only, or the most important, service provided by Planned Parenthood, and federal dollars are not used to provide abortions. In fact, abortion services make up only 3 percent of what Planned Parenthood does. And using federal funds to provide abortions has been banned by law in almost all cases since 1976. Instead, Planned Parenthood provides affordable birth control and sex education. It provides more than 800,000 cancer-screening tests for men and women each year. It also provides more than 4.5 million sexually transmitted disease tests for both women and men each year. These services are particularly important in a state with the third highest teen birth rate and a high rate of teen STDs (Arkansas ranked 21st in 2008). Teen pregnancy and childbearing and the spread of STDs affect the economic well-being of the individuals, but also the state. For example, having a child in adolescence makes it more difficult for young people to achieve their educational career, and other life goals and affects the future prospects of their children — at considerable cost to taxpayers. Therefore, it is critical that Gov. Asa Hutchison not defund Planned Parenthood.

In 2013, among high school students in Arkansas, 49.4 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse and 48.9 percent of those students who were currently sexually active did not use a condom during the last instance of sexual intercourse (Center sfor Disease Control State Profiles). In 2012, more than 4,300 girls ages 15 through 19 gave birth. That is approximately 12 per day. Not only does Planned Parenthood provide access to contraception, it also provides basic sex education that is fundamental for the future of Arkansas's young people.

STDs are extremely widespread in Arkansas. In 2013, there were 2,132 cases of chlamydia, 532 cases of gonorrhea, 56 cases of syphilis, 13 cases of AIDS and 26 cases of HIV diagnosed in Southeast Arkansas (Arkansas Department of Health). Arkansas ranks seventh in the nation in the rate of Chlamydia infections, seventh for gonorrhea, ninth for syphilis, and 32nd for the number of HIV diagnoses (Centers for Disease Control State Profiles). STDs add an estimated $14.7 billion to the nation's health care costs each year (Arkansas Department of Health). This makes Planned Parenthood extremely important if you consider that 42 percent of its budget each year is dedicated to STD diagnosis and treatment.

There are many myths about Planned Parenthood. It does not use federal money to fund abortions. Instead, the organization uses money from other sources — private donors and foundations as well as fees — to fund its abortion services.

All Arkansans should have the opportunity to make choices that lead to health and wellness. Teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and cancer are uncomfortable topics to discuss. But they don't go away if we ignore them or stop funding clinics. Access to affordable health care and contraception is key for a healthy Arkansas. Tell Gov. Hutchinson that you want better for the young people in this state and you do not support the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Jodi A. Barnes

Monticello

Wrong direction on prisons

I awakened today to learn of the governor of Arkansas's proposal to build 200 more prison beds for $7.4 million near Pine Bluff. Taking a deep, deep breath, I wonder what we gain from this decision to build more prisons. Hmm, the sheriffs will no longer have the backlog of state prisoners, a good thing, and the public will gain a 200-persons-behind-bars' improved sense of public safety by punishing more of our criminals, most of whom are nonviolent. Again, the up-front value is $7.4 million. But if we knew some of the hidden costs, would we reconsider and think of innovative alternatives? I have to wonder, and hope.

These are some of the hidden costs that matter to me, using simple arithmetic, and are unconsidered in our outreach for public safety, if that is what we choose to call it.

Of the 200 prisoners we will send to this new prison space, an estimated 75 percent are parents of minor children, meaning 378 minor-aged children will lose a parent to incarceration, fall more deeply into poverty with its associated risks, and will gain more risk factors, as this group of children has the greatest volume of risk factors among all at-risk children. And, along the way, many of these children will suffer the emotional harms of stigma and shame so pervasive among children of incarcerated parents. In the long-term, many of these children will pay the cost with poor health outcomes, both physical and mental, and with such a volume of risk factors, the CDC's Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) study tells us their lives are likely to be shortened.

A reliably estimated 20 percent of the children of the planned 200 prisoners will enter foster care at an annual rate of $25,000 per child, equaling an additional $1.9 million in foster care expenditures by the state, with no dollar amount to claim the trauma and harm of separation from their parents. Furthermore, the children who do not enter foster care (80 percent) when their parent is incarcerated will likely remain with a custodial parent whose economic well-being is known to slide further into deeper poverty when the other parent is incarcerated.

Alternatively, the child will reside with a grandparent or relative. If that individual even knows of the TEA-child only public assistance offered in our state for relative caregivers — and most caregivers do not know of its availability — the grandparent or relative will receive cash assistance for one child of $2.70 per day, an amount that has not seen a COLA increase since 1996, when Welfare-to-Work went into effect. We, the public, will chronically complain about such assistance. However, the average number of children per incarcerated parent is three, and the relative caregiver will receive public assistance from opening a TEA-child only case that amounts to $1.83 per day per child, as the rate diminishes with the second and third child.

We certainly do an excellent job of punishing the poor, and we certainly know how to spread the pain of parental incarceration to our children and seniors, along with struggling custodial parents.

Dee Ann Newell

Little Rock

Summit won’t help mass incarceration

I have decided to boycott Gov. Hutchinson's Restore Hope Summit, aimed at bringing faith leaders together to discuss ways to improve recidivism. I have publicly criticized this and the previous administration about governmental policies and practices responsible for producing the largest population of incarcerated persons in Arkansas's history. Those policies, not anything faith leaders are doing, have done, or may be asked to do, lie at the foot of the Arkansas version of mass incarceration.

Summit won't help mass incarceration

I have decided to boycott Gov. Hutchinson's Restore Hope Summit, aimed at bringing faith leaders together to discuss ways to improve recidivism. I have publicly criticized this and the previous administration about governmental policies and practices responsible for producing the largest population of incarcerated persons in Arkansas's history. Those policies, not anything faith leaders are doing, have done, or may be asked to do, lie at the foot of the Arkansas version of mass incarceration. I have carefully examined public statements by Gov. Hutchinson and others about what he has called "criminal justice reform."

Respectfully, the public (and now faithful people and leaders) are now being invited to embrace measures that will not do anything to release the captives. Most of the people now in prisons, jails and other adult detention facilities (whether in Arkansas or whether shipped and warehoused for tens of thousands of dollars per inmate in other jurisdictions) are nonviolent offenders. In fact, the top 10 offenses responsible for incarceration in 2014 included only one violent offense (battery in the second degree), according to data compiled by the Arkansas Department of Correction. Drug convictions were far and away the reasons most people were incarcerated last year.

Faith leaders are now, as in the past, being asked to lend our moral authority to a hypocritical agenda that will not address any of the root causes of the non-violent crimes that are responsible for mass incarceration. We are being asked to lend our moral authority to the fruit of racial profiling, draconian laws that criminalize the public health issue of drug abuse and dependency, sentencing legislation and the entire prison-industrial complex that has now made it possible for nonviolent incarcerated persons and the business of catching, sentencing, and warehousing them to be commodified.

Gov. Hutchinson did not champion early childhood education during the legislative session this year. He has not proposed any measures to expand and strengthen community mental health centers, drug abuse and dependency treatment centers, job training programs for ex-offenders, affordable housing for ex-offenders, or to eliminate previous criminal convictions on employment applications. And remarkably, he has not suggested even a desire to address these matters (whether with faithful people or others).

In short, the Restore Hope Summit is a charade. Faith leaders are not being "summoned" (what happens when someone convenes a "summit") to engage in candid conversation with Gov. Hutchinson and other policy makers aimed at doing justice or anything else remotely akin to restoring hope. We are merely being invited to endorse measures responsible for the despair associated with what Professor Michelle Alexander has correctly exposed and denounced as "the new Jim Crow."

I decline the invitation to be part of this latest exercise in political hypocrisy about justice, liberty and hope.

Wendell Griffen

Little Rock

Flying an obscure Confederate flag

It is common knowledge throughout Independence County, as well as adjacent counties, that Confederate flags have been removed from public property nationwide in response to the heinous Charleston murders. I and other Sons of Confederate Veterans abhor the use of our battle flag by hate groups or individuals for any purpose other than preservation of history or our heritage.

There is a flagpole on Independence County courthouse property that, until recently, flew a Confederate regimental Hardee Corps flag. It is a plain blue three-foot square with a white moon in the center. Unless one is knowledgeable about all of the many Confederate flags from 150 years ago, the Hardee flag can be considered quite obscure. There is no writing on it. The flagpole and flag are owned and maintained by the local camp of The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). The SCV is a national heritage group. It has many African-American members and is certainly not a racist organization.

The SCV exists solely to honor the memory of 350,000 Confederate soldiers (both black and white) who perished in combat during the War Between the States. Over 300 battles and skirmishes were fought in our state alone after it seceded from the Union.

The Stainless Banner [the Confederate flag] looked like a flag of surrender when hanging limp on a pole.

In the year 1911 the large Confederate monument, also located next to the Independence County courthouse, was erected by the United Daughters of The Confederacy. Sons of Confederate Veterans flags have served to embellish that impressive monument. That's it. The obscure Hardee flag was only there the past few years to embellish the monument — not to make a racist statement! It was removed the day after the horrendous Charleston incident when a local attorney called concerning a Facebook conversation about our flag. The flag was promptly hauled down out of respect for the Charleston victims. It was also done to protect it from developing local controversy, as well as division within our community. The Batesville SCV camp was notified and acknowledged what had happened. We optimistically look forward to the day when an appropriate Southern flag will once again grace the UDC Confederate monument.

John R. Malloy III

Batesville

The Medicaid debacle

I have a friend that was living with me a couple of years ago and used my home address. She had the hardest time getting them [DHS] to change her address. Ambetter said she had to go to the website. The website wouldn't process the address change. DHS said she had to go to Ambetter.

The Medicaid debacle

From the web, in response to stories posted on the Arkansas Blog in the past several days about the Department of Human Services' Medicaid renewal system that, among other problems, gave people only 10 days to supply income information to keep from being kicked off their plans:

I have a friend that was living with me a couple of years ago and used my home address. She had the hardest time getting them [DHS] to change her address. Ambetter said she had to go to the website. The website wouldn't process the address change. DHS said she had to go to Ambetter. After considerable effort she finally found someone at DHS to change her address. At least I am conscientious enough to keep her mail for her and drop it off to her from time to time.

Ambetter is also alerting their insureds that they may be getting a letter from DHS and to respond quickly. So, I'm hoping the insurance companies that are part of the private option will help their insureds navigate the system to get their insurance reinstated.

My point mostly being they don't have a good system in place to get an address changed either.

imjustsaying

Do you remember the time when people used to be making jokes about the Soviet bureaucracy? That's long ago. Nowadays, the joke is on us. And who's responsible? Republicans taking any opportunity they can to make citizens' interactions with Repub-controlled government as unpleasant as possible.

I hope some of the people who got kicked off unjustifiably — especially those who did send in the requested documentation and still(!) were terminated — will sue the ass off the governor and his henchmen. This was a deliberate political decision to find a way to kick people off of health insurance, and the reason isn't even saving money (it's federal money after all), it's pure and unadulterated sadism. They just get a kick out of seeing people needlessly suffer. (Sidenote: Ohio Gov. John Kasich explained his decision to expand Medicare by quoting the Bible. Result: Self-anointed Bible-thumpers hate him.)

TM 

In the spring, I attended a legislative task force meeting on teacher and state employees insurance. The tone was sometimes hostile when discussing certain conditions. In dealing with a new policy on hepatitis C, it was implied some cases were a product of drug abuse or other behavior. At least Cecile Bledsoe offered that many medical professionals were often exposed to hepatitis C. It was stated that people with diabetes and other conditions be charged a $750 per month penalty if their condition is not under control. It was stated that, if these people would control their conditions, prices would be cheaper "for the rest of us." Of course, several of the young men sitting on the committee appear on course to develop the same conditions. If legislators are this hostile toward STATE employees and teachers, it can be assumed they would be even more insensitive to citizens using the public option.

aqua blue

The sad thing is, I completely believe this is an accident. I've worked with the state's IT departments, and it's not pretty. Arkansas, due to its size, has the most to gain from well-implemented systems. Sadly, in large part because they're not willing to pay for it, and the leadership doesn't know how to use email, let alone build complex systems, we instead shoot ourselves in the foot with the very tool that should be rescuing us. It's especially ironic, given how much our politicians extol the virtues of private enterprise, that they can't recognize the market at work when they can't hire good employees.

odoketa 

It's been nine months since Hutchinson was elected office. He should have had his team prepared for this. Remember how our state Repubs were screaming when Obamacare had its computer issues? Well, the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, now. I don't see them screaming for a screwup that occurred on their watch. We shall see how Asa handles this.

Poison Apple

It's like Gov. Asa got drunk and tattooed a big swastika on his forehead ... this private option scandal. It's his ugly baby and he should have known better than to birth it. 

As someone who unfortunately has some tedious health problems I can tell you lots of long stories about what happens when I can't get my medicine or insulin pens. My young doctor avoids working on Fridays and due to my lack of attention I've had to go without insulin over the weekend.

So if, thanks to Team Asa I couldn't buy insulin for a month ... one of my nine cats would have to take over my typing duties on the AT blog. 

Why would a politician happily screw up someone's delicate health? Are ALEC or the Koch brothers worth killing an innocent person? And how could Asa live with that on his conscience? Doesn't Asa's vengeful god make little notes about things as important as this? 

We can scorn crack dealers and meth heads all we want but really ... who's worse? A guy selling you drugs or a guy knowingly kicking sick people off the health insurance rolls? I'm sure Republicans sleep well at night. I just don't know how they do it?

deathbyinches

It would be great if those who were dropped and needed to refill life-saving prescriptions could show up at one place and get these matters resolved. I nominate the governor's door tomorrow morning.

jj

Well, the Republican screwup of state government is well underway and their ability to employ those who are incapable of thinking is working well. They will, of course, double their workload since probably at least 80 percent of those cut off by the state will have to be re-enrolled with more labor on their part as well as screwing health care companies who will have to re-do their work. 

Wouldn't it have been a lot easier to just stand outside and drop 20-pound anvils on your foot since the same amount of public good would have occurred and they wouldn't have looked like the fools they are?

 couldn't be better

This debacle is a planned debacle. Sabotage was inserted in the plan from the beginning by the GOP. Like many of you repeatedly say, they don't want to help the poor. They might set one up in the first place as a sop to the many, deluded poor who, for some well-designed reasons, tend to vote Republican. Yet they only want it to operate long enough that they can blame Democrats or dark people when it goes belly up. It's a devious plan to have it both ways and it works — at least here in the South.

Smiling Asa is the perfect figurehead for a bunch of hateful, vicious, selfish people who make up the Greedy Old Patriarchs party in Arkinsaw.

Olphart

In response to reporting on the Arkansas Blog about the major change to the Little Rock teacher's union contract:

Asa saw Scott Walker effectively destroy the public employees unions in Wisconsin, and took a lesson from him. I'm afraid it is all but over for the Little Rock Classroom Teachers Association. I don't know anything about the Little Rock situation, but across the nation, a lot of the public employee unions have brought widespread public distrust upon themselves. I am a union man; however, I never belonged to one. The Newspaper Guild local at the Arkansas Gazette had already been defeated and put out of business by the time I went to work there.

plainjim

Seniors hurt by cuts

During the 2015 legislative session, the budget for state Senior Citizens Centers was slashed 20 percent, from $5 million annually to $4 million projected for 2016, despite the fact that the 65-and-older population is steadily growing and is expected to double in the next 20 years.

Seniors hurt by cuts

During the 2015 legislative session, the budget for state Senior Citizens Centers was slashed 20 percent, from $5 million annually to $4 million projected for 2016, despite the fact that the 65-and-older population is steadily growing and is expected to double in the next 20 years.

Senior centers provide essential services, such as home-delivered meals, socialization programs, wellness and fitness activities and transportation. However, the vast majority of funding is utilized in meal programs. The reduced budget for FY 2016 will potentially result in 127,000 fewer meals served to our seniors.

Currently about a third of all Arkansans aged 60 or older — more than 160,000 people — are living with food insecurity. The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger ranks Arkansas first in the nation for senior food insecurity, yet revenue streams to fund meals for seniors continue to decline. The negative health effects associated with food insecurity — malnutrition, poor overall health, cardiovascular disease and extended hospital stays — have the potential for substantially increasing Medicare/Medicaid costs while profoundly impacting quality of life for this vulnerable population.

Older adults attending senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual and emotional well-being. For this reason, we should all ask Gov. Hutchinson to restore $1 million to fund senior centers from the current budget surplus.

Gloria Gordon

North Little Rock

Unfit to lead

Former Gov. Huckabee, running for the Republican presidential nomination, has said that if elected president, he would ignore his oath of office and use the FBI and troops to deny Americans their legal right to abortion. This he is happy to do in order to force his own view and interpretation of his religion. This is inherently un-American. It's one thing to be against something; it's quite another to threaten to ignore the Constitution. He is unfit to lead anyone.

Dennis Hawley

Weaverville, N.C.

From the web

In response to Jay Barth's column last week on U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge's possible challenge to U.S. Sen. John Boozman in 2016, "Battle Boozman: worth the fight":

Boozman has been nothing but a yes man his entire career. It is time for him to go and be replaced by someone who is progressive about the USA!

golfpro

Bozoman will be hard to beat for the reasons Jay mentioned. I suspect that only Mike Beebe could make that race competitive, no matter how attractive a candidate Mr. Eldridge may turn out to be. To challenge a GOP senator effectively will require millions of dollars and high name recognition and high favorability. A lack of negatives by itself won't suffice.

Armed Bears

One notable thing: The 2010 election was in a Republican-favored cycle. During those cycles they usually take several seats in Congress. The next cycle will be Democratic-favored.

There will be at least seven Republican senators running for re-election in Democratic or Demo-leaning states.

If Beebe is to be a candidate he's kept it close to his chest. Said numerous times as he finished his second term as governor he would not be seeking election; he was retiring save for some law practice. I've never seen a lawyer retire unless he was a corporate attorney.

They practice until their mind or health gives out.

eLwood

In response to an Arkansas Blog post reporting Chief Justice Jim Hannah's imminent retirement from the Arkansas Supreme Court:

We are doomed. Who will Asa! appoint? This is a position not for small minds, and Shawn Womack has proved that he is a small mind. His equal protection argument about other state court judges' salaries was utter BS on its face. His recusing in a criminal case because he was "unqualified" is a big red flag that he's not qualified to be an appellate judge.

TuckerMax

I met Hannah 15 years ago when he was campaigning for the court position. I was impressed with him in our conversation as to the responses he gave to the few questions I posed. He hasn't disappointed me. Hate to see him go for fear of who will take his seat.

Cato

Final sale of the Arkansas Supreme Court will close Sept. 1. Under a new state law passed by the Republican legislature the new owners' names may not be disclosed under penalty of law.

Arkansas justice, thy name is mud.

Sound Policy

Well, the Republicans finally have it — their trifecta. They got the Tea Party Lite governor, the Tea Party legislature and a Republican state Supreme Court that flaunts the law. This is all about showing us how they can govern? Right?

Or just how they can enrich their benefactors and their own pockets?

Congrats, Arkansas; it's amazing how you let your hatred of a president of color ruin our future.

wannabee conservative

How about Hutchinson nominate Milligan to get him away from the Treasurer's office? I am sure that Hutchinson won't worry about any requirement that the person be a trained lawyer. The Republicans have already waived the requirements for so many high level state jobs, e.g. Treasurer's office staff, director of Arkansas Department of Education, et al.

couldn'tbebetter

Justice Hannah is an excellent jurist and Arkansans should be thankful for his service. He represented Arkansas well both statewide and nationally. Justice Hannah was no small mind on the court and will be hard to replace.

Let's hope for one who puts the Constitution before all other constituencies.

Cicero

Incarceration, child welfare entwined

Once again, your articles on mass incarceration and the efforts within our child welfare system have gained the attention of many, including people outside of Arkansas.

Incarceration, child welfare entwined

Once again, your articles on mass incarceration and the efforts within our child welfare system have gained the attention of many, including people outside of Arkansas. I have just returned from the Soros Foundation's Senior Justice Fellowship conference in Baltimore, and Arkansas's prison plight was topical at the event. Thank you for the two pieces that highlight the most difficult problems facing our citizens in Arkansas: the over-incarceration of adults and the increasing number of children in foster care without adequate oversight or enough placements.

I wish we could cross-pollinate these two issues as they are entangled in so many ways. With 20 percent of our children in the state's custody due to parental incarceration, the connection with mass incarceration is obvious, but few want to talk about the intersection, much less seek a solution that might transcend conventional thinking. I teach a course on this intersection at the University of California Davis and am witness to the many incarcerated parents and children who are caught in the web of these two systems.

Dee Ann Newell

Little Rock

Write more on Bernie

The Arkansas Times isn't paying enough attention to Bernie Sanders, the only true progressive in the field of presidential candidates. I've heard contributors to this publication refer to it as a "lefty rag." If that's true, and this is a leftist paper, then why do your journalists have their heads so far up Hillary Clinton's ass? She is about as close to a progressive as any contender in the current Republican field. You guys are the closest thing we have to a liberal publication in this state. If you truly want to own this moniker, then give your support to a real progressive.

Richard Hutson

Rose Bud

From the web

In response to "Rally round, designers for a new Little Rock flag" (July 23):

I think that Pinnacle Mountain actually looks like a pile of dog poop. Must instead refer to the Big Dam Bridge.

TuckerMax

Create a wide blue winding strip to represent the river, then have six curved strips going over that to represent the six bridges. A little dot could be added to represent the Little Rock. The Little Rock side of the river (winding blue strip) could be green and North Little Rock side left white.

Kurt Sims

In response to "Root Out Hate," a guest column by Acadia Roher about standing up to hate groups:

The Southern Poverty Law Center's numbers are dubious, at best. It was their director of intelligence, Mark Potok, who predicted "explosive growth in hate groups" in 2008, due to "the tanking economy and a Black man in the White House." This was the "reliable source" for the Department of Homeland Security report.

In 2009, the first full year of the Obama administration and the worst year of the great recession, Potok counted exactly six new "groups" for an explosive increase of less than half of 1 percent. Since then, according to Potok's own "Hate Map," the number of "hate groups" has dropped 27 percent. Potok's "explosive growth" turned out to be a damp squib.

Last March, Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League told reporters from the South Jersey Times that Potok's numbers are inherently inaccurate:

"The Southern Poverty Law Center's list is wildly inflated," Pitcavage said. "They list skinhead groups in places where there are no organized groups, but instead it's just a couple of individuals."

Potok is a public relations man. He creates his annual hate group lists as part of the SPLC's decades-long fear campaign. Last year, Potok's map brought in more than $40 million in donations, and that does not include the $21 million in tax-free interest generated by the SPLC's $302 million endowment fund.

Sadly, there is much genuine hate in the world, but citing the SPLC's fundraising materials is a poor way to document it.

Richard Keefe

From the Arkansas Blog, in response to a picture of The Eagles performing at Verizon Arena:

Don Henley grew up in east Texas. He founded a group called the Caddo Lake Institute, which works to improve the ecological health of Caddo Lake — the only natural lake in Texas, although now highly altered and degraded.

Arkansas needs a conservationist philanthropist like him. It's shocking to me that there's no one, at least none that I know of, who has put real money into protecting and restoring the threatened gems of Arkansas. The Rockefellers come closer than any but Winthrop never rose to the level of Laurence or David in landscape preservation efforts. I guess people figured they'd done all they needed to do in "saving" the Buffalo River, in name if not in fact. To be fair, in those days if you stopped a dam you saved a river. That was before the industrial livestock holocaust came into being.

By the way, one of Arkansas's only natural lakes, Grassy Lake, was protected by a group of wealthy businessmen only to be trashed in the last few years by SWEPCO's massive Turk Power Plant. Sadly appropriate that it is right down the road from a place called Hope. Fitting, I suppose, that that is where Huckler or Huckstick or whatever his name is started his campaign.

Oh well. I'd better take it easy, and try not to let the sound of my own wheels drive me any crazier than I am already ... .

Thanks, Eagles! Come back and play again sometime while you're still able-bodied. Welcome to the Hotel D'Arkansas. There's plenty of room.

Armed Bears Against Hypocrisy

SCOTUS and the Gospel

Most of us know by now. SCOTUS has struck again. This time the Supremes are letting gay folks get married in every state. Of course, religious folks in Arkansas are upset, but why get so bent out of shape when we can take comfort in the perspective of Jesus of Nazareth?

SCOTUS and the Gospel

Most of us know by now. SCOTUS has struck again. This time the Supremes are letting gay folks get married in every state. Of course, religious folks in Arkansas are upset, but why get so bent out of shape when we can take comfort in the perspective of Jesus of Nazareth? Let us review Jesus' attitude toward marriage and family.

It all started some time after Jesus' baptism. Mother Mary was with Jesus and a few disciples at a wedding celebration and Mary complained there was no wine, so Jesus made wine. That is about the extent of the story.

Later when Jesus was traveling, Jesus told a disciple, "Let the dead bury the dead," so the disciple would not return home to bury his father and lose the nerve to follow Jesus. Since the disciple's family was not followers of Jesus, they would all eventually perish. Disciples do not spend time on spouse and house.

Just think, according to "The Revelation of Saint John the Divine," Jesus is probably on his way back here right now with an armada of angels to destroy our world so the Father may create a new world. The time to marry is finished. Besides, Jesus is the only groom, and Jesus' church is the only bride.

The Supremes have read the Gospel. They know what marriage is. Let the dead marry the dead.

Gene Mason

Jacksonville

Funny things

This is a letter about funny things. Seemingly random funny things, yet a fountain of flummery, deep and wide, flows through them all.

Funny thing about that young bigot who slaughtered Charleston, S.C., churchgoers a few weeks ago: Suddenly there's a surge of patriotism right here in Hot Springs. Grown men and women are waving flags and honking horns as they circle an 80-year-old statue dedicated to the memory of a 150-year-old war. Funny thing about that "civil" war: Lots of Americans were butchered on the altar of states' rights. Seems like the most important state right was to keep right on allowing human beings to be bought and sold like cattle and farm implements.

Funny thing about that statue, too: It's across the street from where the Como Hotel used to be, on a patch of land called Como Triangle. In 1922, a dozen years before the statue was erected, 28-year-old "negro" Gilbert Harris was politely taken from the city jail and hanged on this spot by a mob of 500 "very orderly" men. You can still read all about it in the Hot Springs New Era's archives. Funny thing about that newspaper: "Negro" got mentioned a lot that day. Once upon a time, having the word "negro" anywhere in your human pedigree could get you sent back to your Southern slave masters. In 1922 it got a man lynched. And for the last century and a half, it has kept people from voting, and relegated them to second-class schools and second-class jobs and second-class justice.

Funny thing about human pedigrees: They're mostly just made up. There's a fascist impulse that still rages in too many of us. It whispers that my race, my ethnicity, my religion, my skin color, my civilization, my heritage — they're all superior to yours. Surrender to that impulse has invented pedigrees that justified centuries of slavery and cleansed the American landscape of its first peoples. The Germans used theirs as an excuse to exterminate millions of Jews. Funny thing is, now even Israel peddles imaginary pedigrees to perpetuate its occupation of Palestine. I've seen Glenn Beck weep crocodile tears as Israel's frothy prime minister, always itching for Armageddon, revealed an ancient artifact inscribed with "Netanyahu." Clear evidence of an anointed pedigree reaching all the way back to the bloody Old Testament's glory days.

Funny thing about facts, though. Bibi's daddy was one Benzion Mileikowsky. From Warsaw. His "chosen people" pedigree points to Poland, not the Promised Land. Awkward, and yet our obeisant Congress still fawns over Netanyahu so much it's just plain embarrassing. For them, "Bomb Iran" Bibi is our latter-day Joshua, reborn in the nick of time to smite today's philistines. Huzzah, huzzah! Facts be damned, preach our hyperbolic, gilded evangelists, we must stand with Israel no matter what.

So stand with Israel if you must, and wave your flags if you must. These, too, are funny things. Deep and wide, deep and wide, there's a fountain flowing deep and wide.

John Ragland

Hot Springs

From the web

On the Arkansas Times' July 16 cover story about gang wars in the 1990s:

I've never understood the fascination that the AR Times has with the glorification of gang violence in Little Rock. It was ugly, it's still ugly, and they love it when you give them air time. This is a story that doesn't need to be told over and over again.

Arkansas panic fan

On Wesley Clark's call for interning "disloyal" and "radicalized" Americans:

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

Yes, Wackadoo Clark, FDR interned the American Japanese when WWII started and since the war has ended, everyone of the correct brain wiring has condemned that move, and only those of the wrong brain wiring still think it's a great idea. We used to own black people too, but now at least 50 percent of living Americans think that was a horrible idea. ...

There is a way to chill the radical Muslims. The way has nothing to do with war or interning them. Only through negotiation and concessions can we make peace with them. Mostly they want us OFF THEIR LAND. We could start with that point first. America is involved in the business of the Middle East for ONE THING ... OIL. They can pretend we're there for humanitarian purposes but that is 100 percent bullshit. Peace through war has only worked for us two times ... the Revolutionary War and WWII. After WWII we waged a cold war with the U.S.S.R. and China for nearly 50 years. Yes, we did win in Grenada, though does anyone remember what we won? But we've lost all other wars since the end of WWII. Lost to countries a fraction of our size, with very little wealth or weapons ... better write that down. ...

We'd be far better off building internment camps for Fox News watchers ... but, but, but ... thanks to FDR we're supposed to quit doing that crap! Oh, but clearly America would be a better place if we locked up every single Trump supporter by supper time tonight. But ...

Deathbyinches

Correction

In last week's cover story, "Bangin'," an entry in an accompanying timeline said that Nicole Chunn was permanently paralyzed in a drive by shooting in 1992. Contemporary news accounts said she was disabled after the shooting, but she was not, in fact, paralyzed.

Trump, hatred and the economy

I hope The Donald has to cancel his appearance in this state, because if he makes a speech here he'll probably inspire more anti-Hispanic hatred.

Trump, hatred and the economy

I hope The Donald has to cancel his appearance in this state, because if he makes a speech here he'll probably inspire more anti-Hispanic hatred. He's the No. 1 Republican candidate, because most Republicans hate for any Hispanics to be living in this country, despite the circumstances. It's like, for many Arkies, the war against Mexico didn't really end in the 1800s. 

I wasn't disappointed by Hillary's economic proposals. I'd be feeling very disappointed now if my expectations had been high. But when it comes to the Clintons, I have Walmart-style expectations — always the rock-bottom-low expectations — always.

Our economy keeps getting worse — and I don't expect that to change. It's a crisis due to a combination of problems: too many big corporate mergers, outsourcing, and increased automation and computerization, two factors that can't be stopped and will get worse.

Private enterprise has never provided enough jobs that pay a living wage or even just enough jobs — and it never will. Here's what we need: an upper-wealth limit and an upper-income limit. A minimum wage that stays at the optimal amount that computers at the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve say it is. A government works program that provides a living-wage job to every American who wants or needs one. A guaranteed minimum income for every American, whether they're working or not.

Randal Bean

Pine Bluff

Create school campuses

The only avenue available for a plain person to talk with the Little Rock School District's Powerful People (PP) is randomly called public meetings. At these forums, one has a few minutes to express oneself in a room of nonpliable, often angry, people. Such meetings allow the PP to say that they listen to us. Have you ever noticed the uncomfortable facial expressions of the PP and their supportive agents at such meetings as they dutifully listen to the comments of common folks? Not giving people quality time to talk with the PP assures that the LRSD acts in the Same Old, Same Old (SO, SO) way — worse, now the business model is being foisted onto the district by Arkansas's most powerful PP as if our schools were a part of Wally World. Congratulations to the Little Rock superintendent who said that school leaders needed more power and that the district could sell schools. Now if only he became fully aware of three successful schools within his district: Lisa Academy, eStem Charter School and Forest Heights to a lesser degree. All three schools have a campus structure. Two of the schools serve pre-K through 12th grade with K-8 attending Forest Heights. The superintendent could also study the successful private schools in our town. Guess what? They use a campus system, and they serve pre-K through 12. There is plenty of open space in Little Rock to create attractive Pre-K–12 campuses. A campus by design is not attached to a particular neighborhood, but rather an instructional space serving the community. For example, think of UALR, Children's Hospital, the medical school and Episcopal Collegiate. Those places are associated with what they do, not with where they are located. The same thing will be true for good public school campuses wherever they are situated. Therefore, Mr. Superintendent, I hate to rain on your parade, but the millions you spend on Baseline Elementary will not significantly change its effectiveness. The worn-out school is locked into a neighborhood, and no matter who runs it, and how much you spend, you will not create a diverse population or better school. For you to think that the former employees were the problem is stinking thinking.

The PPs generally use and support their own churches, clubs and schools, and that diverts their attention from public schools. Because they separate themselves from the public, it is difficult for them to have concern for us. However, Little Rock and Arkansas might decide to end SO, SO schooling and build a campus system. The Finns have a saying that the school building is another teacher. That is certainly true for a school village. Little Rock and Arkansas are ripe for a new vision of public education. Will our superintendent open the door for change or keep it shut with the SO, SO lock?

Richard Emmel Little Rock

Children should become priority

Thank you for this excellent first report of the upcoming series on Arkansas's child welfare system in the Times, and for your readers' help in funding Kathryn Joyce to conduct this series. She is an outstanding reporter and her journalistic skills are so evident in this first report.

I have worked with children of incarcerated parents for 30 years, and many of the children have been in our child welfare system. I know the flaws of the child welfare system too well, and the long-lasting impacts of priority failures and politicized policy-making and practices of the system.

The urgent need for prioritizing of these children, who are in every way OUR children when the state takes custody, will require new policies and substantive improvements in our judiciary system, which is often imperial in its many decisions. We need to recognize our own accountability for permitting legislators to put these children on the back burner when it comes time for budgeting. A more uniform system would certainly help, removing the county-based culture as the primary decision-maker, often defying the senior management and the mission of this system.

We can see the lack of priorities that permit children to be so destabilized that they are packing up multiple times a year for placements in myriad different settings. One child I served had moved 13 times in three months. The mantra of "if in doubt, take 'em out," which I have heard more times than I ever wanted to, is an inadequate response to these children. It is a CYA malady and does harm to the children. It is also playing cavalierly with the very serious effects of attachment disruptions and the lifetime harm of such.

We the citizens of this state need to recognize the urgency to take a more substantive role to create state policies to protect these children.

Dee Ann Newell, founder and director of Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind

Little Rock

Support CALS

On July 14, Little Rock voters have the opportunity to lower their annual property tax by 0.1 mill in exchange for agreeing to have the Central Arkansas Library System reissue bonds at a lower interest rate and extend the life of these bonds by 3 to 5 years.

Support CALS

On July 14, Little Rock voters have the opportunity to lower their annual property tax by 0.1 mill in exchange for agreeing to have the Central Arkansas Library System reissue bonds at a lower interest rate and extend the life of these bonds by 3 to 5 years. This is the same thing many homeowners do when mortgage interest rates fall and we refinance to lower our monthly note payment. If voters approve, the library will realize approximately $15 million. The money will be used to purchase thousands of new books and eBooks, buy more computers for better Internet access and expand three branch libraries: Dee Brown, Thompson, and Fletcher.

It would be difficult to find another public library system in a city our size with comparable resources that has a better track record for using taxpayers' money to create innovative programming and inspiring public spaces. Little Rock and Central Arkansas have reaped cultural and economic dividends from the new Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library & Learning Center and the Ron Robinson Theater. CALS has enriched us with special projects like the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture and the Arkansas Literary Festival. While doing all of this, CALS has skillfully navigated the demanding challenges libraries face in a new era by providing access to digital content while maintaining the core functions of traditional libraries.

To help ensure that CALS continues to serve citizens of all ages, interests and neighborhoods, I urge Arkansas Times readers in Little Rock to vote "FOR" the proposed library bond refinance. The actual cost of the investment in our community will be about $3 per year over the life of the bonds for a taxpayer with $150,000 in real property in the county. Given CALS' successes and many services, this is a great bargain.

Nate Coulter

Little Rock

An open letter to Sen. Jason Rapert

Asa Hutchinson is a career politician who's been around for a long time. He knows how this farce of a government works. As a Republican governor he will pay lip service to the right-wing religious base in this state. He knows, like you, that will get him votes. However, while you are a young state level politician who seems to actually believe the excrement you spout, Asa has played this game on a national scale. He knows that an extreme stance such as yours might please a few demagogues back home, but won't do much for the bottom line. While you claim to be speaking for God, Asa will bow to the real deity of the Republican Party, the almighty dollar.

Richard Hutson

Rose Bud

From the web

In response to "The Banned Old Flag" (July 2):

Here's the thing. Yes. Arkansas Flag and Banner owner Kerry McCoy has the right to sell the flags. And, yes, those who have experienced the impact of racism and all that comes packed in that word firsthand, they have a right to ask her to no longer sell the flag.

The building that McCoy houses her business in was once known as Taborian Hall.

In 1918 it housed a number of black-owned businesses. The clubs at the hall hosted some of the most famous black entertainers of the time: Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan and Nat King Cole, et al.

Taborian Hall was built in a time that black people were forced to establish their own resources. The legendary black entertainers of the time could not walk through the front door of the establishments they worked in. If they were headlining at a hotel they couldn't eat in the dining room or sleep in the hotel.

McCoy is cognizant of this history and has done an incredible job to preserve it.

And it is exactly because of the building's history that it seems so offensive to sell and profit from the very flag carried into battle to defend the institution of slavery.

That flag was the battle banner for men who started a bloody war that killed 620,000 Americans in an effort to keep slavery.

It was the banner of the KKK as it became the enforcement arm of Jim Crow laws and terrorized, brutalized and lynched black people across the South. It is because of the KKK's activities that the first anti-terrorism laws were enacted.

This same flag was resurrected in the 1940s by the Dixiecrats who opposed integration and President Truman's proposed anti-lynching laws. Over 4,000 (almost all black) were lynched between Reconstruction and the 1960s. No anti-lynching law was passed due to the obstruction of Southern legislators.

The flag was then raised by Southern governors and legislatures as an act of defiance as they fought the civil rights movement tooth and nail.

The flag has been taken up by the vast majority of white supremacist groups in the nation who violently ascertain their intent to dominate, if not eradicate, people of color, especially black people.

This is the heritage of this flag.

Because of this history I believe McCoy should reconsider selling the flag and to stand in solidarity with those whose history lies in the bones of her building.

TexMexLez

I am an amateur historian, so I have spent a lot of time studying the use and origin of Confederate flags.

First, the use of the Confederate flag or "poorly hidden versions" of the Confederate flag should not be flown or used as official government symbols. The argument in regard to heritage is B.S. If heritage is the case, why is South Carolina not flying the Union Jack, given it used to be a British colony?

Second, the modern use of the Confederate flag would probably make most pro-Confederate ancestors turn in their graves. Not only is the wrong flag being worshipped — the flag that is so popular now is a battle flag, not the Confederate national flag — most people who display the battle flag don't know the first thing about the history or heritage they claim to support.

I do worry about the knee-jerk reaction, including putting pressure on private citizens and vendors to stop selling or displaying the flag. The pressure to erase Confederate history entirely is extremely alarming.

In the case of Kerry McCoy, she has every right to sell the Confederate flag without being harnessed. If you don't like it, don't buy from her.

OnlyInArkansas

Not leading

Supporters of justice were very pleased the Supreme Court helped advance equality and gay rights. However, some celebrants are applauding in the wrong directions. Many on Facebook, and surely elsewhere, are promoting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are not Supreme Court justices, as leaders who made this happen.

Not leading

Supporters of justice were very pleased the Supreme Court helped advance equality and gay rights. However, some celebrants are applauding in the wrong directions. Many on Facebook, and surely elsewhere, are promoting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are not Supreme Court justices, as leaders who made this happen.

Please research that Obama and Clinton opposed gay marriage until very recently. They opposed gay marriage when polls showed only a minority supported it, and supported it, only after heroic activists helped advance this issue and polls began showing majority support. Google the Gallup polling trends, and discover Hillary and Obama's "evolving" support directly correlates with public opinion.

An ABC News timeline of Obama's "evolution" on gay marriage shows his poll-chasing clearly. In 2004, Obama said "marriage is between a man and a woman." In 2010, Obama said, "I have been ... unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage." In 2011, Obama's communications director said, "The president has never favored same-sex marriage. He is against it."

According to a Washington Post timeline of Hillary's "evolution," she, too, flip-flopped like Obama. In January 2000, Hillary said, "Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman." In 2002, Hillary was asked by "Hardball" host Chris Matthews if she thought New York should recognize gay marriage. Hillary unequivocally responded with a resounding, "No!"

So exactly when did Hillary and Obama "evolve"? Another Washington Post article reports, "Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage in 2012, and Clinton in 2013..." There you have it. These professional politicians did not lead this effort, but merely responded to public opinion.

Newsflash: This is not leadership!

The real leaders were the thousands of gay rights activists that helped legalize gay marriage in many states, which also raised awareness.

We all need to applaud gay marriage or any other beautiful success, but clapping intelligently will accelerate our progress much more effectively. Leadership identification is equally important.

Please see that each one of us can be important leaders with great power to ripple ideas to friends and family and outward to all.

Regardless of all this, hooray for the gays! May we all live happily ever after in loving justice and respect.

Abel Tomlinson

Fayetteville

Learning to hate

We now know that Dylann Roof, the young man who murdered nine people in Charleston, S.C., last week, left behind a manifesto. And from it, we know that the killer's Damascus-road conversion happened once he believed in the righteousness of the Passion of George Zimmerman, the Miami, Florida vigilante who gunned down a black teenager for wearing a hoodie and carrying Skittles.

But what informed his deadly opinions about the Trayvon Martin case? Where did his virulent racism, his born-again awakening about "white race" superiority come from? Was it voices inside his head? Or did he learn how to hate from others? His manifesto credits a group with the innocuous-sounding name of the Council of Conservative Citizens. With a name like that, it could almost be one of our local, holier-than-thou watchdog tea parties. Interestingly, the leader of this group, Earl P. Holt III, is a regular contributor to little Tommy Cotton and a gaggle of GOP presidential candidates now tripping over themselves to return his donations.

Where does a high school dropout like Dylann Roof go to learn how to be a bigot? Surely some intrepid journalist will soon connect the dots for us. Did he watch Fox News? Did he bathe regularly in Rush Limbaugh's flying spittle, or listen to any of the other wingnuts polluting America's airwaves? Did he follow some gilded evangelist beguiling his flock to shed their wealth and hate Muslims and embrace Christ's love of Western civilization? What books did he read and what websites did he visit? When are we going to realize that the poison these hucksters peddle has deadly consequences? How many more innocents have to die?

As is the case with most shooters who are a whiter shade of pale, there is a rush to blame whatever lurked within Dylann Roof on mental illness. But whatever sparked his evil rampage, whether it spontaneously erupted from within a rotten soul or was cultivated by others on the callous, careless fringes of our impolite society, would Dylann Roof be as infamous today without his God-blessed Second Amendment right? That's a rhetorical question, by the way. Arthur Chu, in a recent Salon article, stated the obvious. A "sane" person holding a gun is intrinsically more dangerous than a "crazy" person, no matter how crazy, without a gun. That, ironically, is bulletproof logic.

John Ragland

Hot Springs

Guns like autos

A recent New York Times op-ed, "You're Better Than This, Europe," led me to thinking about one of the biggest and easiest ways to fix problems in the U.S.: deaths by guns. All it takes is will, legislation and overcoming the greed of the gun industry. We should treat guns like autos.

Licensing guns and gun owners like autos and auto drivers would take a giant step, particularly with a requirement for liability insurance for guns and gun ownership. Is it irony or lunacy that we are far more restrictive and sane about autos than guns? Imagine if gun owners had to register their guns and themselves every year or three. I see the day when liability insurance companies would restrict ownership of weapons, so that far fewer crazies take out nine worshipers or 20 kids at school, and far fewer kids are killed in homes.

Robert Johnston

Little Rock

From the web

In response to an Arkansas Blog item wondering if the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's society page will now feature profiles of same-sex marriages:

They did publish extensive listings of all the couples who applied for marriage licenses in Pulaski County last year after Piazza's ruling. To get on the one or two pages in the High Profile section on Sundays requires that you are somebody, know somebody, or have a lot of money (based on what I've heard and seen — not a confirmed fact). So depending on the number of weddings they may have a full-or-half page spread with multiple photos of the bride and groom, their families and the wedding party, or maybe just four to a page with big photos of the bride with more specific information about the wedding and reception than you find in the tiny notices buried elsewhere in that same section.

Maybe we should take bets on when we think they'll feature a gay wedding anywhere in the High Profile section.

NeverVoteRepublican

Whether the DoG decides to publish gay wedding announcements, I am sure, will depend on how much influence and money the people getting married have. Society pages have always been for the wealthy and influential, and about the only people who read them are wealthy and influential, or people who wanna be wealthy and influential.

plainjim

Free James Weaver

The Arkansas Times cover story on June 18 regarding the plight of James Weaver, an inmate in the Tucker Maximum Security Correctional Facility who was sentenced in 1990 to life without parole, was timely and informative.

Free James Weaver

The Arkansas Times cover story on June 18 regarding the plight of James Weaver, an inmate in the Tucker Maximum Security Correctional Facility who was sentenced in 1990 to life without parole, was timely and informative. Weaver was convicted for his forced participation in the disposal of a dead body. I will not attempt to retell the entire story in this letter since David Koon did a wonderful job writing about Weaver's situation, in which I became involved due to my position as one of seven commissioners on the Arkansas Parole Board this past year. I would encourage everyone to read Koon's article, as well as visiting the website freejamesweaver.com, and form your own opinion whether Weaver's 25 years of incarceration have been ample punishment. The website includes a four-page letter and links to all information given to the governor outlining many of the reasons why the parole board unanimously recommended that Weaver be granted clemency and released from prison.

James Weaver filed an application for clemency, which was received by Gov. Mike Beebe on Oct. 1, 2014. Gov. Asa Hutchinson inherited the file because there is generally an eight- to nine-month backlog of clemency and pardon requests that must be taken up by the governor. By statute, the governor had until July 5 to render his decision.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Hutchinson has issued his decision. He did not deny as was done previously by Govs. Mike Huckabee and Beebe, neither of whom had all of the information that was available to Hutchinson. A denial would have meant that Weaver could not reapply for another six years. Hutchinson took "no action" on Weaver's request, which means that Weaver can reapply for commutation immediately. Weaver is in the process of that already. There is some question as to how long this new process will take, but I am of the opinion that the governor could render a decision immediately once the new application is received and reviewed by his office. Others imply that the process could take over a year. Public opinion could help speed up the process, so I ask all of you to help free James Weaver.

There is no doubt in my mind that former Pulaski Circuit Judge John Langston was wrong in not allowing a continuance in Weaver's trial that would have enabled the actual killer, who was being evaluated at the State Hospital, to be available at that trial. And, how many of you have ever heard of a murder trial being held two-and-a-half months after a murder? That just doesn't happen ... but, it did! Again, read Koon's story as well as the information sent to the governor shown on the website. You will also be able to read about a case in which a much more involved accomplice to a murder received a 20-year term but was paroled after serving only 14 years.

Arkansas's criminal justice system needs a great amount of reform. Hutchinson has formed a task force to look into this burdensome and costly system. As of May 27, there were 18,839 imprisoned individuals compared to 17,864 on Dec. 16, 2014, in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). There are also approximately 54,000 individuals in Arkansas Community Correction (ACC). That number includes individuals on parole and probation, those in drug courts and boot camp, and approximately 2,000 incarcerated individuals. That is a total of almost 73,000 who are directly overseen by ADC and ACC. This does not count the unfortunately huge number of family members, including numerous children without a parent, who are indirectly affected and suffer immensely.

Our state cannot afford to continue "as is." So many of our prisoners, and those out on parole, are repeat offenders. The majority of those committed lesser crimes (drug offenses lead the list) than those who need to be kept in prison for worse crimes such as murder, sex crimes, assault and domestic violence. What can the state do to end this vicious cycle that sometimes affects three generations of a family? For starters, provide pre-K education to properly prepare all children in this state to earn a high school diploma or vocational education as well as a college diploma. Why do we wait until they reach prison to teach them these things? And then, Arkansas must attract good jobs that pay much more than minimum wage. We must spend our tax dollars more wisely on education and job creation, which will, in turn, lower our crime rate.

In closing, I would ask all Arkansans to help "free James Weaver." His bunk at Tucker Max should be occupied by someone who scares us.

Dennis Young

Texarkana

Modern vs. historic

Little Rock's Historic District Commission is entertaining a proposal that would allow the construction of modern-looking structures in the MacArthur Park Historic District. In fact, it engaged a consultancy to consider how the standards associated with preserving the historic district might be changed to facilitate the construction of modern-looking structures. These would not be modern structures stylistically consistent with old-time structures, but simply modern structures. Modern structures that could be placed adjacent to, or surrounding, National Register properties. Modern structures that could comprise entire half-blocks of the district. Modern structures with no attempt at stylistic harmonization with historic structures.

What sense does this make? People who choose to live in an historic district do so because they enjoy the ambiance associated with such an experience. And people who visit an historic district expect to see something historic, not something modern.

Those interested in preserving the historic character of the MacArthur Park Historic District need to let the historic district commissioners know their feelings before the district is reduced to an architectural hodgepodge of historic buildings and modern suburbia.

Dale Pekar

Little Rock