I’m writing in response to Warwick Sabin’s “Arkansas street party,” an accurate look at state Senate Bill 1174 that would allow “entertainment districts” in the state, thereby allowing public drinking/open containers in designated areas. As the owner of one of the only remaining retail businesses in the River Market District, I obviously have some enormous concerns about its passage and its potential effect on the area, should city leaders allow the River Market to become such a district.
Trash and vandalism problems already exist here and are on the rise. Just recently, the property managers for my building and the one next door had to repaint part of my gallery and clean paint off a window after a weekend when some “aspiring” artists painted graffiti on the buildings. The beer cans, bottles, and trash are a constant problem, and people getting sick outside storefronts is already quite common. These problems never existed when the area was on the rise to be a retail district. Is this really what we want people to see when they come to Little Rock for the first time? The people attracted to Little Rock are not coming here to visit another Beale Street or Bourbon Street. These folks are scholars, business leaders, presidential historians and students. What sense does it make to turn the River Market into an entertainment district? Absolutely none.
In addition, questions come up about accountability when a person “of age” buys a beer and takes it outside and gives it to a minor. A similar question arises over the issue of when to stop serving alcohol to someone who has had too much – something more difficult to monitor when people are going from place to place outside.
The last point, which is what disturbs me the most, is what I can only perceive as a lack of appropriate vision for the River Market District. For visitors coming here to see the Clinton Library or the future Heifer Global Village, the River Market is, realistically, the snapshot image they will see of Little Rock. To take that small segment and turn it into a bar-hopping entertainment district is a travesty for the River Market and for Little Rock. We can be so much better than that, and I believe we owe it to these people to show them the best we have to offer, not the worst. If Senate Bill 1174 passes, I hope city leaders will take a stand and say no to the River Market becoming such a district.
Debra S. Wood, owner
River Market ArtSpace
The view from Pinnacle
How nice of Little Rock taxpayers to consider paying more money to build and operate a sewer treatment plant within a half-mile of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I am sure that the Wastewater Utility has let them know that there is a site that is feasible in the city that would cost less to build and operate.
Oh well. It is only money, right? Oh, and by the way, if you want to see what you are getting for your money, climb Pinnacle Mountain in a few months and take a look and smell.
Guns at school
Admittedly guns on campus are a serious problem that must be dealt with in a timely and serious manner but expulsion, as practiced at the Lonoke High School, obviously is not the answer.
I am reminded of a teen-ager of my acquaintance who hated school so badly that she refused to attend and when escorted to the campus by her guardians, cut classes at every opportunity. The school’s response to this behavior was expulsion. Duh!
There are two groups who are likely to suffer expulsion: the good student who made a mistake and the chronic troublemaker. The expelled good student is apt to suffer permanent education problems. The troublemaker, being too young to get a job, is now free to wander the streets making more trouble.
The conclusion is that expulsion does not serve the school, the students or the community. It is only a cop-out for school administrators too lazy or too incompetent to seek out a better solution.
Irony at work
State Rep. Susan Schulte (whose letter in behalf of fellow appraisers was written about March 31) is truly enlightened. She is the only legislator that has understood that lawyers should be banned from the Judicial Committee, bankers from insurance and commerce and nurses and owners of nursing homes from health and welfare, all to protect the public from bad legislation. Rep. Schulte obviously understands the irony of the foxes guarding the henhouse and the sharks guarding the aquarium.
Your recent issue about the best doctors in Arkansas brought back some thoughts that come to me at odd times. I reflect then about how my life would probably have ended a long time ago, one way or another, without the intervention of C.D. Williams and David Reding. More than most I have realized for a long time that our medical people in Arkansas are better than many believe.
Let’s consider for just a moment the right-wing argument to turn the clock back to the 1950s:
If you weren’t a flag-waving, spittle-flecked McCarthyite patriot, your neighbors thought you should be shot as a traitorous pinko socialist. But our country was stronger for it.
Minorities and women knew their place — on their knees or on their backs. But our country was stronger for it.
Frightened young women ended unwanted pregnancies with coat hangers and Lysol. But our country was stronger for it.
And a fairly clueless chief executive let the military-industrial complex lead us into all sorts of expensive misadventures in the name of democracy that had serious repercussions down the road. But our country was stronger for it.
Yep, the ’50s were a pretty great time. If you were white, male and rich.
Oh yeah — the FCC had the Fairness Doctrine in place to keep the broadcast media from becoming a mouthpiece for the highest bidder. And our country was much, much stronger for it.
Now THERE’s a piece of the ’50s I could stand to see come back!
Mark W. Riley
Low tax myth
Ernest Dumas is right when he says, “prosperity has many agents.” Why then did he fail to include geographic location and demographic data in his “Low tax myth” column? States located in the Northeast and prominent in the industrial revolution generally have a higher per capita income than states in the heartland. Asian and European Americans generally earn more than African and Hispanic Americans.
A low tax burden is only one component of prosperity and it can attract businesses that don’t need to be located near population centers. Much of the exodus from the East and West coasts are people fleeing high taxes. Eleven electoral votes moved from these areas in just one decade to help George Bush win a second term.
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright once described Slovakia as a black hole in the middle of Europe. Investors in a Dec. 8 New York Times article are now praising Slovakia for its flat tax and tax-free dividends. Reducing taxes on corporations may be the only way the U.S. can compete with cheap foreign labor.
Taxation to produce prosperity lost the debate in the Carter-Reagan election. Liberal politicians and journalists are now reintroducing this approach to sway people too young to remember or with short memories. John Kerry’s plan to repeal much of the tax cut was a case in point. Government is one component of prosperity but lowering taxes provides a stimulus that can’t be matched by government spending.