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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.

The reality to come

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who would dearly love to be president, recently berated his fellow Republicans for insufficient fortitude in opposing President Obama’s executive orders that gave legal protection to millions of undocumented immigrants.

Yet more uninformed public policy

We’re already in touch with the fact that the current raft of Arkansas legislators is dominated by individuals whose policy positions are misguided, so it was no real surprise when we read that a bill had advanced that would restrict registered sex offenders from living near churches.

Twined fortunes communal misfortune

Watching the fractious and often poison relationship between embattled Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Linda Watson and her school board is eerily familiar. It’s almost like watching Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth fight with certain members of the city council. It’s similar because both women recognize the need for deep systemic changes — necessary changes — and their respective governing bodies appear content to let their constituents slip into the abyss.

Tough task for health care task force

Sixteen legislators will spend the next 22 months trying to figure out how to do what no one has been able to figure out so far – cost-effectively provide health care to lower-income people without growing government and making more people dependent upon it.

House bill 1681 is ‘poor option’

The House City, County and Local Affairs Committee of the Arkansas General Assembly is scheduled today to consider House Bill 1681 by Rep. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs, that will give governing bodies the “option” of placing their public notices in a newspaper or on their website.

Where no nerds have gone

A couple of weeks ago I learned that the actor, Leonard Nimoy, had been hospitalized. Upon hearing this, I remarked that it wouldn’t be long. It wasn’t. As the world knows, he succumbed last week to COPD, the cruel reward for a lifetime of smoking — a habit that he had abandoned three decades ago.

Superbugs are outstripping antibiotics

The old joke about making love to a gorilla is that you don’t stop when you’re tired; you stop when the gorilla is tired. In modern American agriculture, one of the gorillas is McDonald’s, the biggest restaurant chain on Earth. The other day it announced a change for its U.S. outlets that will force suppliers to adapt.