Saturday, August 13, 2016

An open line: Includes the cratering of Pine Bluff and a word from Mike Huckabee

Posted By on Sat, Aug 13, 2016 at 4:18 PM

click to enlarge CHOKING CONDITIONS: Respirators were reportedly in short supply as prison labor stirred up dust tearing down derelict structures in Pine Bluff. - ETHAN TATE
  • Ethan Tate
  • CHOKING CONDITIONS: Respirators were reportedly in short supply as prison labor stirred up dust tearing down derelict structures in Pine Bluff.

Here's the open line. I'm off to another night of the Hall High 1966 class reunion with a member of that class. Still a couple to go before my half-century observance in Lake Charles, La.

Some reading:

* THE CRATERING OF PINE BLUFF: The New York Times' Campbell Robertson with assistance from local free-lancer Ethan Tate has a report on a prison labor project gone bad in what I"ve come to think of as war-torn Pine Bluff. (Prison labor in Arkansas that got f***ed up? Say it ain't so.)

The Arkansas Department of  Community Correction plan was to put inmates to work clearing some 600 blighted residences from a city where debris blocks Main Street and the population is dropping like a rock. Inmates would learn some skills, earn some money and help Pine Bluff. The project folded. Safety of workers in dealing with hazardous materials seems to have been a low priority. Work-arounds safeguards were enabled by the misleadingly named Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. A federal investigation continues. State officials naturally claim they did nothing wrong. Inmates who exposed themselves to who knows what aren't so sure.

Chain gangs. Tucker telephone. Long line riders. Blood scandals. Sexual abuse of inmates. More of the same from a penal system that has precious little regard for the swelling number of inmates, except perhaps to profit off their phone calls. Does Arkansas ever change? The correction system again degrades inmates after decades of periodic scandal and the education system still enables segregation, more than 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education. The majority of voters seem happy with the leadership that brings us this.

BEFORE IT FOLDED: Prison labor work crew while demolition was in progress. - ETHAN TATE
  • Ethan Tate
  • BEFORE IT FOLDED: Prison labor work crew while demolition was in progress.

* HUCK ON TRUMP, FLORIDA LIFE: When Mike Huckabee gets bought, he generally stays bought. So it's no surprise that he predicts a Donald Trump victory for his daughter's employer in November. This came during an interview with a home-state paper, the Northwest Florida Daily News. 

Huckabee says he loves the beach life in Florida — and who says there's no good news? — that he'll never seek public office again unless he loses his mind.

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