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Friday, February 15, 2013

Top of the morning — new library, abortion, schools, rails to trails

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Odds and ends:

OPENING IN MARCH: New Childrens Library.
  • OPENING IN MARCH: New Children's Library.

*CHILDREN'S LIBRARY TO OPEN: I've marveled at the beautiful building as it rose along Jonesboro Drive on the south side of Interstate 630 across the freeway from the Little Rock Zoo and now comes word that the Central Arkansas Library System's Children's Library will open Saturday, March 16. A computer lab, teaching kitchen and theater are among the features. Yes, books, too. I've been admiring the handsome grounds as well. Said a release: "The grounds reflect the topography of Arkansas's ecosystems, from the native hardwood trees in the highlands to vegetation of the wetland areas, which are both planted and original to the site. Walking paths offer families an attractive place for exercise while learning the names of the trees and plants, and an amphitheater has seating for outdoor programs or nature watching." Computers and iPads will be available for kids' use. The library will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10-6 Friday and Saturday.

* GOD, GUNS AND FETUSES — UNCONSTITUTIONAL ABORTION BILL ON TRACK: Sen. Jason Rapert's unconstitutional bill to ban abortions three months before viability was delayed briefly in House committee yesterday because it fell a vote short of endorsement. Anti-abortion Republican Rep. Justin Harris was a no vote because he objected to an amendment to allow abortions in cases of "highly lethal" fetal abornmalities. The fetus is more important the living woman and family. In any case, against the amendment though he is, Harris told AP he'll vote for the bill next week. So it should then speed along. Amended or not, it's unconstitutional and the state will pay plenty to see it struck down.

* SCHOOL CHOICE: Will the Arkansas legislature go to unfettered school choice — which Sen. Johnny Key favors — with instant segregation effects, an open door to rampant football recruiting and financial headaches for dozens of school districts? Or will it take Sen. Joyce Elliott's approach in which the law would continue to retain some recognition of the historic discrimination in Arkansas by considering economic circumstances and other factors as part of a transfer law that allows students to continue to seek a different school? Negotiations over a compromise apparently have broken down. The plan currently is for both Key and Elliott to present their bills and hold an open debate in committee before a later vote, perhaps Feb. 27. The Stepford Republican vote that comes on most issues in the God, Guns and Fetuses session isn't quite a certainy on this bill because of powerful opposition to unwise, unfettered choice from local school people.

* CITY DREAMING: Good story in the New York Times this morning on urban dreaming, based on Atlanta's huge plan to convert abandoned rail lines to trails and parks around the city. We could do some of that. Or we could take every dime we can muster to widen freeways to move people faster from Little Rock to more distant suburbs.

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