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Better than Detroit 

Better than Detroit

Really? You print a dated column (Ed Gray's "Walking in East Little Rock," March 20) spouting statistics without citing sources on an area of Little Rock that has had more money poured into it than most places, an article that wanders into a food stamps versus the farm bill debate, and ends in a full attack of the Republican party not caring about the poor. All written originally for a website so extreme that it borders on Inverse Tea Party Squared!

Are there issues with poverty in Little Rock and Arkansas? Absolutely! Is the city addressing that particular area? Yes they are. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than say, Detroit? Without a doubt.

Why would you allow that kind of writing in your paper? What purpose does it serve? Since you "invited" Mr. Gray's comments, should I believe you agree with him and his website? Are you that extreme? Is that how you view good reporting? Have you been to Second Street? Are you forgetting what the Clinton Library, Heifer Project, Chamber of Commerce, the Airport Commission and the city have done for that area? Do you remember the area before all that money was poured into the zone?

You thought it was a good idea to bring in a "Guest Writer" to do a smear campaign on Little Rock? Really?

Thomas McCain

Little Rock

Highway money

I doubt the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats on the General Assembly really want to support what the Highway Department director had to say about the state's response to the icy conditions last week that led to thousands of motorists being stuck on I-55 and I-40 for hours.

They just want to cut taxes for their big business pals. They forget that small cuts may look good, but they don't really affect people or businesses much. However, combined, that money adds up to a lot of cash for much needed state improvements.

But in the short term, let's just solve some of that limited exit problem by putting state prisoners to work building gravel and dirt emergency off ramps connecting the interstates and major highways with nearby county and state roads. If I had been stuck on I-40 or I-55 for hours, then I would have gladly driven a couple miles down a gravel road if it would have gotten me rolling on the way to pavement and a store, restaurant or motel! I remember my parents driving a couple miles on gravel roads to get to my grandmother's farm in Wisconsin in the 1970s. It's slow going, but at least a gravel road will eventually get you to a location with food and that all-important restroom.

If the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps could have built dams, roads and other public projects without modern tools, then the state ought to be able to train prisoners to operate road construction equipment. They could even build a few paved exits, say one every five miles with gravel exits every mile. Give the prisoners job training and put them to work off the prison farms.

If the highway department needs more money, then the legislature just needs to dedicate sales taxes on vehicles and repair parts to a special appropriation fund to pay for improvements based on population. This means appropriating the funds back to the areas where the taxes were collected.

Central Arkansas could have had access roads on both sides of an eight-lane U.S. 67/167, a four-lane Hwy. 161 and a six-lane Hwy. 107 years ago if Governor Rockefeller and the legislature had done this in the 1960s.

Lastly, legislators need to remember that transportation delays cost businesses more than the savings they get from tax cuts wangled by crooked lobbyists.

Keith Weber

Jacksonville

From the web

In response to Gene Lyons' March 20 column "Ryan needs Swift kick":

It surely seems like Gene Lyons is trying to put words in Paul Ryan's mouth. Ryan simply stated a fact that there is a welfare mentality in the inner city, which has bloomed during the failed War on Poverty that was declared by President Lyndon Johnson. Ryan did not resort to name-calling, as Lyons did in throwing his (I assume) deceased grandfather under the bus and referring to Ryan as a "tinhorn." And to associate Ryan's statement to the genocide that the English were certainly guilty of during the Irish Potato Famine is outrageous! Ryan did not propose taking away food or benefits from any recipients. He stated the system is broken in certain areas, which is, unfortunately, the case. We can and should do better to help those who are down on their luck, but it is not a permanent solution and should not be thought of that way by anyone.

chicago irish

Ryan should have left out "tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular" if he did not want his comments to be perceived as a racist dog whistle, or, as Gene characterized it, a "GOP air-raid siren." There are ways of talking about poverty that don't send that message.

Gene, I'm remembering a column of yours during the last presidential election where you said Ryan was good looking. We had a short discussion about it. I don't share your opinion, but even if he looked like George Clooney, his black heart would cancel out the good looks. He certainly hasn't been listening to the Catholic Church doctrine about social justice, our obligations to our fellows, etc. Do you suppose Ryan likes Ayn Rand for the rapey sex scenes as much as he likes her morally bankrupt political philosophy?

chicago, you might want to spend some time with David Simon, creator of "The Wire." He's as good a chronicler of inner city life as you will find these days.

theoutlier

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