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Better ordinances not crusades

Sometimes Pine Bluff City Council Alderman Steven Mays is like a dog with a bone: once he seizes on an issue, he just won’t let it go. Most probably recall the time and effort wasted with his crusade against the 71602 ZIP code. In shades of zealousness that are eerily similar, he has decided to waste the people’s time with a protracted and pointless harangue against contractor Danny Bradshaw of Mr. Brick Antique Buy and Sell, who has contracted with Pine Bluff to remove some of the collapsed buildings along Main Street.

Twined fantasies doom the poor

Watching the predictable machinations of the Arkansas State Legislature has become tiresome. Whenever the state’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens are concerned, Republican lawmakers invariably see how close they can get to unconstitutionally punitive restrictions and mandates.

Echoes of pandemics close to home

There were a pair of stories this week that reported on major public health issues potentially affecting Arkansas. The first of these by Arkansas News Bureau reports on an announcement by Arkansas state health officials. In it Arkansas health officials said Tuesday the Shelby County Health Department in Tennessee has confirmed six cases of measles in the Memphis area and said some Arkansans may have been exposed to the infectious disease. The second ANB story reflects the Arkansas Department of Health report of a fourth Arkansan infected with the Zika virus, that has been spiraling globally.

Parties dangerously ignoring context

If you were to visit the National Archives in Washington, D.C. you might pass by the 1935 Robert Aitken sculpture, “The Future.” The piece is comprised of a seated female figure with a large open book on her lap. It is part of a pair of sculptures that flank the Archives entrance. The other is “The Past” a male figure, also seated, but the book he holds is closed.

Population number bear reflection

A recent story published in The Commercial details one of the most serious issues facing the people of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County: population loss. The county and city have been in decline for almost three decades. Peaking at just over 57,000 in 1970 (and hovering there until 1990) the region has seen one of the most precipitous population slides in the nation.

Steering the national will

One hundred-fifty years ago this week, Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth mortally wounded U. S. Pres. Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theater at Washington, DC. History well records the sequence of events: Booth’s furtive move into Lincoln’s private theater box; the fatal shot to the back of the head; the assassin’s leg-breaking leap to the stage and his infamous cry of “sic semper tyrannis!”

Protect them to protect us

On this day in 1866, the cause of animal welfare took a giant leap forward. New York philanthropist and diplomat, Henry Bergh, founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Bergh’s interest in protecting animals began while he served as the U. S. representative to the court of Russian Tsar Alexander II. While at this post, Bergh often saw the Russian peasantry mercilessly beat their work horses with whips and knouts.

Tesla vs. dealers: Let buyers decide

America is the land of the free - unless your idea of freedom includes a right to build cars and sell them directly to the public, rather than through a third party. For those who try to do that, America morphs into a semi-feudal system of state-law trade barriers and bureaucracy whose ostensible purpose is to protect consumers but whose actual one is to protect incumbent holders of automobile retail franchises, as expert testimony confirmed at a Federal Trade Commission conference on the subject in January.

Putting words in someone’s mouth

I recently saw a silly cartoon that gave me an idea for this column. The first frame showed two siblings sitting on the floor amidst piles of torn paper. The second frame showed the older of the two with a comic bubble showing a lightbulb above his head. He then began sticking bits of paper in the younger one’s mouth, saying, “Chew! Chew! Swallow!” at the younger’s loud cry, the mother rushes in and asks, “WHAT’S going on here?” The older calmly answers, “Aw, nothing, I’m just puttin’ words in Timmy’s mouth.”

Life, death and pocket change

It didn’t take the villains of Pine Bluff long to claim their first victim in 2016. Lenon Buie, a local storekeeper and pillar of the Packingtown community, was shot dead Friday morning. He had operated Buie’s Grocery on Port Road for over 65 years.

Parole efforts find better path

As recently reported by Arkansas News Bureau, the state prison system has reduced the overflow of inmates temporarily housed in county jails. This is a very positive move; and one upon which the Arkansas Department of Correction should capitalize.

Parole efforts find better path

As recently reported by Arkansas News Bureau, the state prison system has reduced the overflow of inmates temporarily housed in county jails. This is a very positive move; and one upon which the Arkansas Department of Correction should capitalize.

With gun control a powder keg

With President Barack Obama’s recent announcement of new gun control measures, the predictable fusillade of criticism and doom-saying has erupted. Whether one is in favor of the looming changes, an immutable fact remains: The government — which is to say, the people of the United States — have a reasonable expectation that the sale of firearms be sufficiently regulated so as to prevent certain persons from acquiring them. Loopholes for gun shows and private sales undermine this expectation.

Outside voice provides confirmation

Recent remarks made before the Pine Bluff School Board by William Robinson, executive director at the University of Virginia Partnership for Leaders in Education, should come as little surprise. Moreover, his concerns about the future of the district mirror sentiments we’ve expressed many times. Perhaps having an informed outside voice will prompt district officials to make a few changes.

Fears still founded today

Seventy-five years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his famed “Four Freedoms” speech before the U.S. Congress. In his January 6, 1941 State of the Union address, Roosevelt enumerated four universal freedoms that are the common, rightful expectation of all people: the freedom of speech; the freedom of worship; the freedom from want; and the freedom from fear.

2016 – A new Brenda

I spoke with my crazy friend Deb on New Year’s Eve morning and she asked if I’d made resolutions yet. I said I’d thought about a few and shared them. She gave a few of her own and, by the time our conversation ended, we had gotten down-right silly. As usual. So, the following is a collaboration with my friend as we discussed the resolutions we INTENDED to make before giving serious thought to the outcome…

Dirty business of litter

One of the most inviting parts of our city is Lake Saracen. With its large pavilion, accessible walkways and scenic piers, it’s a great place to host an outdoor event or just spend a little time. If you visited the lakefront this past weekend you would notice how high the water is. Small waves lapped at the base of the wooden pier. The typical sloping bank was covered almost to the sidewalk.

The greening of Cuba

Fifty-five years ago today, January 3, 1961, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower closed the American embassy in Havana, Cuba, severing diplomatic relations with the island nation. The severance was emblematic of the deteriorated state of affairs between Eisenhower and the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro.