Another week of dispiriting news, the worst being the continuing deadly crisis over police/community relations. Beyond that:
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: Read Leslie Peacock’s article this week on neighborhood worries about residential subdivision proposals on the fringes of Little Rock that would rely on subdivision-operated sewage treatment plants and pose pollution threats to waterways in the Lake Maumelle area. These plants are an issue everywhere, more so because a seller and operator of such systems, Republican Rep. Andy Davis of Little Rock, has a seat in the General Assembly.
Davis has spent much of his taxpayer-paid time in the legislature working on legislation to make easier the lives of people who operate plants he sells and who dump materials in waterways. His 2015 legislation relieved operators of sewage treatment plants from posting a bond or having insurance. If something goes wrong, a $20,000 state trust fund won’t do much. Davis defends this and other work in behalf of his industry as the natural byproduct of an expert in the field. His expertise may be judged by 21 citations he’s received for improper dumping into waterways.
MORE TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: In recent weeks, the Asa Hutchinson administration has sold state home health care services to a private operator and changed the private operator of the state’s problem-plagued juvenile lockup in Alexander. In both cases, the state is not providing details on the competing bids. The state chose a more expensive (and blemished) operator for the lockup. The outsourcing of home health services also left unanswered questions about competing bids. Whatever the bottom line on the initial sale, it is unlikely to save money. Outsourcing means private companies make more for the same services. In the Republican era, running government like a business means higher costs for government, greater profits for private business, little accountability and taking care of friends.
TAKING CARE OF BIGOTRY: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined 10 other states in a federal lawsuit to address a largely nonexistent problem. She and other Republicans don’t like that President Obama issued a reminder that gender discrimination is unlawful, including against people whose gender is different from that declared at birth. Rutledge thinks school children are at risk from transgender use of appropriate facilities, though by all accounts school districts in Arkansas seem to be coping with the rare transgender student. Rutledge denies science. She declares that birth gender is gender for all time, no matter what the facts say. Gov. Hutchinson cheered her work for discrimination. It protects no one, but further marginalizes a small number of people who’ll be more prone to bullying thanks to state-endorsed discrimination.
TAKING CARE OF BIGELOW: Sen. Jason Rapert of Bigelow, Toadsuck, Conway and the world did it again – issued a judgment-challenged Facebook rant. His ire was directed at Hillary Clinton and President Obama. He quoted someone who said he’d like to see Clinton and “Osama Obama” hanged for treason. Did Rapert respond by quoting one of the Ten Commandments, a monument to which Rapert proposes to build on Capitol grounds? No, he said: “I can understand your thoughts on that.” He then mewled that he’d been defamed by a critic who likened this remark to condoning lynching. Rapert’s own words defame him. Regularly.
All the news wasn’t bad. So far, police and protesters in Little Rock have been calm in expressing reaction to recent police shootings, from Baton Rouge to Dallas.
And Yale University students, though they failed in a campaign to strip the name of slavery advocate John Calhoun from a campus residence hall, were offered mitigation in the removal of some artifacts honoring Calhoun. Better still, the Calhoun dining hall was renamed for Little Rock native Roosevelt Thompson, Yale class of 1984, whose bright future was snuffed out by an auto accident shortly before he was to embark on a Rhodes Scholarship. You have to wonder what Rosey — who would have been in his early 50s today — would have done to calm troubled waters. Something more than what the current crop has offered, I have to believe.