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In response to an Arkansas Blog post on the state Education Department's charter school board approving a virtual charter school that would spend tax dollars on a contract with a private, (and unaccountable to the public,) corporation:

The state needs to drop that per-pupil funding level to 10 percent of the state base for virtual schools. They can tell them it is "virtual funding" to cover their very small labor costs since the coursework was already paid for. They should also put a dollar limit on the salary (with no bonuses) paid to administration of this no-student school district so that it would be the same as the principal of a district that size with the same degree.

couldn't be better

In response to the Nov. 12 cover story on the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's plan to widen Interstate 30 to 10 lanes as it passes through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock:

IT WAS HORRIBLE! I drove from West Little Rock to North Little Rock at 5 p.m. rush hour last night in the rain, AND IT TOOK 15 MINUTES!!!! THE HORROR! THE PAIN! 

And last Friday, it took me 5 minutes to get across the I-30 bridge at 8 a.m. OH MY GOD. 

AHTD SAVE ME FROM THE TRAFFIC APOCALYPSE!

ark7788

First off, a disclosure, I was an AHTD engineer for over 33 years. The last 20 or so in roadway design. What we are going through with all the hearings and public meetings is a vetting process. 

Does AHTD have a preferred plan? Of course! They've got to start somewhere. The process now is to take this plan and adjust it as feedback comes in. I know, you are all thinking, right, we spill our concerns to the AHTD and they still build the road they wanted. Far from the truth! We do make adjustments to initial plans to the point that we may throw that design out and try again. I did it several times.

It would be so frustrating at these public hearings when you'd explain to the public that this is the suggested design, what don't you like or do you like about it, and then they would say, "What for, you're going to do it your way anyhow."

This is a massive project for such a small state and somehow after everyone has had a say, the engineers will go back a cobble together a set of plans that meets the public's demands, meets all standards and practices, and hopefully looks good too.

The designers will get the job done as long as you tell them what you want. It was what challenged me to want to go to work all those years.

Skee Hee

In response to an item on the Arkansas Blog about the League of Women Voter's stance on the I-30 project, also known as 30 Crossing:

I applaud the action of the League on this critical, urgent policy question. I hope that many other nonprofit organizations and faith groups, especially those who deal with issues of social justice and the environment, will quickly step forward and join with the LWV in unison to oppose the "dirty" 30 CROSSING project, and to advocate for a future Little Rock that is focused on making its downtown and close-in neighborhoods more livable, walkable, and protective of the environment. 

Making downtown a destination rather than a place that heavy trucks and commuters pass through and/or escape from will drive human-centered redevelopment, which will benefit landowners, employees of center-city businesses (including commuters) and tourists. The construction industry will see long-term growth potential, while taxpayers will be relieved of spending the huge amount of money required to finance and build the dirty 30 CROSSING. Why not take a portion of that projected cost and invest it in making Little Rock more attractive, consistent with the progressive ideas and plans being put forth by architects, planners and civic activists?

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club Arkansas Chapter and Arkansas Audubon need to step forward now to help catalyze the growing movement against a 10-lane highway. Don't let the League stand alone in this fight. We need leadership!

Armed Mexican Invader

In response to news broken on the Arkansas Blog that Mayor Mark Stodola would seek an increase in the hamburger tax to raise $60 million to update and expand the Arkansas Arts Center:

Even if I'm not paying it, why should I support a tax that Stodola supports? 

If our mayor can say to hell with Little Rock by supporting the billion dollar I-30 bridge boondoggle, then I say to hell with our mayor's plans for Little Rock — especially when those plans involve spending millions of dollars to improve a museum located next to that freeway.

Let us not forget his involvement in the tech park boondoggle. The man has a history of being on the wrong side of these projects, and I don't see that changing. 

That Arts Center needs to relocate to a city that appreciates its downtown and is working hard to revitalize it: North Little Rock. 

It does not belong in a city that sees providing office space to people who live in Benton as the reason for its existence.

Paying Top Dollar for Legislators

In response to Gene Lyons' column on Republican presidential nominee seeker Dr. Ben Carson:

Another piece of the Carson story is, he won't get the nomination because there aren't enough Republicans who are ready to vote for an African American. Maybe in another generation or two, but certainly not now. Republicans as a whole aren't ready for a woman either, and I would be very surprised if a man with a Latino heritage gets the nomination. That narrows it down a bit.

Tony Galati

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