Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
In banning fireworks in Garland County, our GOP County Judge, Rick Davis, reminded folks of the burn ban in effect due to extreme drought (the highest level), lack of rain, low humidity, and tinderbox conditions. He even spoke about ashes (fortunately not live embers) falling on his Bonnerdale property — all the way from the Amity fire in Clark County miles away.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that this same Rick Davis — plus Sheriff Larry Sanders, Piney Fire Chief Tim McDorman and State Fire Marshal Lindsey Williams — had signed off on a public fireworks permit behind the scenes and without any public hearing or opportunity for neighbors to object. Although over the lake, the fireworks site is in a residential neighborhood and adjoins over 150 acres of scrubland and grown-up fields backing up to about 100 feet of Hot Springs Baptist Church.
For two days I wrestled with these folks. No one seemed willing to take responsibility for their names on the firework application. Each and every one pointed the finger at someone else. I repeatedly pointed out the obvious: the extreme drought, the 150 acres of ready fuel, winds, lack of insurance in violation of state law, a fictitious entity (Lazy Lane POA, which neighbors on that street tell me does not exist). I pointed out that a risk is measured not by the possibility a fire will occur but by the potential disastrous consequences. Thus, if there is only a 5 percent chance of a fire, given the consequences the risk is much too great.
Common sense, no?
No. At least not according to our two elected officials, the Piney fire chief, and the state fire marshal.
Fortunately, thank God, there were no fires. I am thankful that my fears were not realized.
However, that does not mean that Rick Davis and Tim McDorman made the right decision. No way! The decision they made to permit a public fireworks for wealthy folks and ban fireworks (under threat of arrest, $2,500 fine, and a year in jail) for ordinary folks is simply not right or fair.
I feel fervently that our elected officials let us ordinary Garland County citizens down and gave special preference to the moneyed and influential few. I feel that in permitting the fireworks to proceed these officials were derelict in their duties, abused their powers, and acted in a way that is tantamount to malfeasance in office. Had there been a fire, I was prepared to publicly call for resignations and, if necessary, to take legal steps to remove them from office.
I might add that I speak as the former research director for the Arkansas Republican Party, where I honed my political operative skills. I am now prepared to use my political skills against "God's Own Party" (the GOP) in Garland County. The Republican Party here — excepting Pat McCabe and (until now) Rick Davis and a couple of others — is not Winthrop Rockefeller's Republican Party. No, it is a captive of the Tea Party and the Religious Right.
Spider-man not like the poor
Philip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette begins his review of "The Amazing Spider-Man" with an awfully conceived and drawn out 40-word sentence. The sentence is so complex that it contains two hyphens, a set of parenthesizes and words such as "hegemony."
There are few rules of decorum in the world of the written word. However, I feel there must be a rule against ridiculous comparisons. Martin claims that movies about superheroes will always be around "Like the poor ..." The first words of Martin's sentence and review are "Like the poor" and then follows this outrageous connection between two unconnected things or at least two things that should never be connected. One cannot help but wonder how Martin crafted such an opening and wonder even more why an editor had no qualms with such an opening.
Patrick Christopher Kangrga
Stotsky needs to venture out
Like all loyal conservatives, Dr. Sandra Stotsky ("Still can't read, Johnny," July 4) paints with a broad brush in order to accomplish her political and ideological agenda. This fact is no more evident than her current accusations regarding Arkansas public school teachers, and in particular, her over-generalized proclamations regarding phonics education in Arkansas's colleges of education.
Of course, by employing this approach she remains a darling of the right. Let's consider just one important, but very troubling, example of what she has stated as absolute truth. Now I could critically analyze other statements of hers, but at this point in time I will just focus on just one!
Dr. Stotsky proclaims that colleges of education in Arkansas do not teach phonics instruction to future teachers. If we believe what Dr. Stotsky is claiming, then either Dr. Deborah Owens, an associate professor of reading, and Dr. Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education at the University of Arkansas are at best, misinformed and at worst, just outright liars. I do not believe they are either, particularly because as an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education at ASU/Jonesboro, I can, without fear of being wrong, comfortably invite anyone to e-mail me and we can set up a visit to our campus, visit reading classes, talk to the students who are taking these classes, and then allow whoever visits to make up their own minds! We can even go for barbecue at Demo's!
Now I would hope that Dr. Stotsky, and even the Arkansas Department of Education, who she says seems to agree with her, would take my invitation seriously. However, I doubt that will happen. Why? Because she admits that "she has not probed deeply on her own campus, not wanting to ruffle feathers in her own nest." I would imagine if she can't take a short jaunt to see her colleagues at the U of A, it is highly unlikely she will ride all the way down to Jonesboro and talk to Dr. Owens and see what our reading professors are doing!
Dr. Thomas Fiala