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Red Bark Mulch

I have a suggestion for Gov. Hutchinson, who, at this writing, has yet to issue his formal call for a special legislative session this month. He will ask the General Assembly to approve a multi-million dollar bond issue to help a big defense company win an even more valuable contract to build armored vehicles at its Camden plant.

Heart stopping coincidences abound

As recently reported by The Commercial, the Pine Bluff School District has contracted with Nashville, Tennessee-based From the Heart International Educational Services for consulting services. Such arrangements are commonplace, but this one creates more questions than would normally be anticipated.

Special session, the governor and an ‘SEC Primary’

So it appears we are going to have a special session of the General Assembly later this month. Fine, if you believe that “economic development incentives,” as they are sometimes termed, to private industry bear fruit sufficient to outweigh the costs. Or not so fine, if you’re among those who regard such state subsidies to be “corporate welfare,” in the words of one (Republican) member of the legislature.

We can’t spare change

Seventy-five years ago today, Winston Churchill ascended to the position of British prime minister. In his first address to Parliament as prime minister, he outlined the coming arduous tasks and their concomitant sacrifices.

Victory and its aftermath

Today we note the 70th anniversary of VE-Day, the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in Europe. The unconditional surrender of the German war machine exacted a monumental toll on all sides. It positioned the United States for a post-war industrial boom; while setting Europe on a course for rebuilding and partition.

Criticism shameful at every turn

You know statesmanship in your community has reached rock bottom when a member of the city council publicly castigates a teenager for daring to be politically engaged. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened at the most recent meeting of the Pine Bluff city council when Alderman George Stepps thought it appropriate to criticize Ridgway Christian School senior William Fells III, who gave a speech at the April 20 meeting.

Diplomacy takes a hard turn

While its successor, the 15th of April, is noted with greater perennial ire, April 14th is a day marking many notable anniversaries. It is the day in 1865 when John Wilkes Booth shot Pres. Abraham Lincoln. It’s the day in 1912 when the RMS Titanic struck a massive iceberg. It’s when country music legend, Loretta Lynn, was born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. It’s the day in 1988 when the Soviet military withdrew from Afghanistan.

Giving no quarter for Chambers

Most of us are probably used to hearing politicians say things that are ill-conceived, irrational or just outright dumb. In the current age of information overload, the Internet has made it possible for us to branch out into the verbal landmines of political figures all over the world. As if we didn’t have enough fodder at our state and local fingertips, we can now borrow the miseries of constituents the world over.

Shouldering our fair share

As recently reported by The Commercial, Pine Bluff City Council member, George Stepps proposed an idea last Thursday at a Pine Bluff City Council Development and Planning Committee meeting that would create a one-half-cent sales tax with a three year sunset to support revitalization of downtown in conjunction with Simmons Bank’s previously announced offer to spend millions of dollars on downtown in the form of direct expenditures and loans.

Fishers of men or fools?

While historians can’t say for certain exactly how April 1 came to be celebrated as April Fools’ Day, most proffer a religious connection dating to 1582. Most scholars believe the day has its origins in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII decreed the adoption of the “Gregorian calendar” — named after himself — which moved New Year’s Day from the end of March to Jan. 1.

Extremists count on your credulity

On Friday, the Arkansas Senate passed House Bill 1228 (SB 202), a bill to enact the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Supporters assert that the bill would offer protections to individuals and businesses who do not want to serve certain individuals based on their religious beliefs. The bill is now headed back to the House for a final amendment approval. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Ted Cruz and the Born-Again GOP

President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill making “In God We Trust” the nation’s official motto, but his approach to religion was not excessive in its rigor. “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious belief,” he once declared, “and I don’t care what it is.”

BUMPY RIDES ON HIGHWAYS MAY LAST

On Interstate 40 near Brinkley a couple of weeks ago, I drove past a sign reading something like, “Big pothole ahead.” I can’t recall ever before seeing a road sign like that on an interstate, but it was certainly accurate. Actually, “crater” would have been a better word.