Beware of tar sands oil exposure
Thank you so much for your work to publicize the horrific situation in Mayflower. Your articles are the only coverage being given to this terrible tragedy.
I live in Alberta, Canada, six hours south of the tar sands. In 1980, I got my first teaching contract in Fort McMurray, the center for the tar sands. Back then no one knew anything about the dangers. At the end of the first month after breathing the heavy pollution and seeing my daughter's health affected, I left. I would love it if you could write about the effects of these toxic bitumen-diluting chemicals such as benzene and PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] so that the residents can be aware of the dangers to themselves and to their future children. This stuff alters DNA and the effects are passed down through generations. I've done my utmost to warn the residents through the Mayflower Facebook pages, but articles by you would help convince people they simply cannot stay in the area. I know their reluctance, I endured several years of poverty due to having left that teaching job but nothing is worth more than the health of the residents.
Access to UA board
I continue to read about the internal chaos in the University of Arkansas System. Recently the university fired John Diamond, who was in charge of university relations and apparently was very concerned about the University's lack of openness, accountability and freedom of information. All this follows on the heels of some stunning mismanagement in the financial fundraising office of advancement.
A small, but possibly relevant, hint as to the apparent insensitivity of many university administrators and trustee board members to public accountability and accessibility is on the web pages of these universities. For example, on the website of the University of Arkansas System Office there are wonderful photos of the board members and a paragraph about the background of each, but there is no prominent phone number or even a direct email address by which the public or employees may contact them directly without the filter of the university officials they are charged to oversee. This is also the case with a number of other universities in the state.
One would think that public institutions of higher learning would provide clear, multiple, and protected access for the public to the key decision and policy makers. Board of trustee members are at the top of that food chain.
William L. Russell
Offended by Rapert characterization
I read and appreciate your perspective and journalism for the Arkansas Times. Reading Max Brantley's online posting about Sen. Jason Rapert (Arkansas Blog, "Jason Rapert: Serves God before his constituents," Aug. 29) prompts this direct response to you.
First, in my opinion, Sen. Rapert has his priorities right, in line with his faith. His faith is not only a private matter, but since he is an elected official, it is public as well. Agree or disagree, he has the right to proclaim and live by his faith. As do you and I.
Secondly, I appreciate the post on the Arkansas Times online page. I would not have known otherwise, and informing the public is a core tenet of journalism in America.
However, I am offended and disappointed in the tone and inference of the "editorial remarks" in the post. Specifically, "Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway/Bigelow presumably won't anger the good Christians of his Senate district with a declaration that he serves God before them. Because, hey, he has a direct pipeline right? From God's lips to Jason's ears. Do what Jason says and you are marching for the Lord."
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Boy, did I ever exercise some poor judgement at JD's 30 something years ago.