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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.

Reason prevails in Senate committee, not Gov.’s office

While the current manifestation of the Arkansas legislature has been more miss than hit, reason prevailed this past Wednesday as the Senate Judiciary Committee declined to refer House Bill 1228, the so-called Conscience Protection Act, to the full Senate. The bill, authored by Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, would have prohibited the state from interceding in matters of conscience due to a person’s religious beliefs unless the state has a substantial interest in doing so, and does so by the least restrictive means possible.

Do you believe in miracles?

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s surprise victory over the global Leviathan of hockey, the Soviet Union. The triumph is often called “the Miracle on Ice.” As modern “miracles” sometimes do, a great mythology has grown up around this storied game.

The day the music died

Symphony orchestras all across America are struggling both financially and in terms of relevancy. American appetites for cultural products have changed over the last 20 years. One of the more notable casualties has been a precipitous decline in live orchestral music. While orchestras, such as the now closing Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra, are reeling from the sting of it all, they are hardly alone.

Dinner and a show tune

Most folks have probably heard of the organization, ASCAP, but have no idea who they are or what they do aside from somehow being involved in the music industry. Today marks the 100 anniversary of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. ASCAP was founded as a means to ensure artists were fairly compensated for the public performance of their work. Among the founding members of ASCAP were the musical greats, Irving Berlin, James Weldon Johnson, Jerome Kern and John Philip Sousa.