Their finest hour
Given a choice between clean water for the people and big profits for the developer, the House City, County and Local Affairs Committee stood firmly with the people. The legislature does have its moments — the House side, anyway. The Senate looks pretty much irredeemable.
Deltic Timber Corporation’s bill to restrict the public water utility’s ability to protect Lake Maumelle against contamination, thus allowing Deltic to build a pricey subdivision on the lake, originally seemed so outrageous as to have been pulled from the pages of The Onion, the satirical on-line newspaper: “Upper classes to pee in Central Arkansas’s water supply; little people will derive many healthful benefits, developer says.” Surely no one could take this seriously. But Deltic rammed the bill through the Senate with 22 favorable votes, almost a two-thirds majority, before the opposition could form its lines. For a time, it appeared that no cause backed by a wealthy special interest is too base to be approved by the Arkansas legislature.
Then the House of Representatives showed its mettle. Though Deltic had a mob of high-priced lobbyists working SB 230, House members heeded instead the unpaid lobbying of concerned citizens, and local government officials charged with defending the public’s drinking water. The bill was crushed in committee. Sometimes the system works.
Dreaming of Vic
What did she dream and when did she dream it? The 2nd Congressional District is not unaccustomed to strange news conferences by strange challengers to U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, but the one held by Andy Mayberry, the latest to take on Snyder, may have been the oddest ever.
First, the candidate’s wife, Julie, said that she’d had a disturbing dream about “things going on in the world,” so she told her husband that somebody needs to do something. Mr. Mayberry elaborated:
“It [the dream] was about a number of politicians and Vic Snyder being one of the ones specifically included in there. I don’t think it was a pleasant dream.” Mrs. Mayberry then refuted her husband’s interpretation. “It was not a Vic Snyder dream,” she said.
When not in dreamland, the candidate was in TV-land, which is more or less the same place except with commercials. When you think of me, think of the old “Andy Griffith” show, he said, and gushed over the “great morals and ethics” in the fictional town of Mayberry, where the show was set.
Most people prefer lawmakers with a tighter grip on reality than Mr. Mayberry has demonstrated. Vic Snyder has kept his morals and ethics high in Washington, a tougher environment for idealists than Mayberry. We’ve never dreamed about him, but he’s the closest thing to a dream congressman in the Arkansas delegation.
We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.