It was a joy to get the news that a species thought to be extinct since 1944 has been discovered in Arkansas. The ivory-billed woodpecker is indeed a wonderful bird. However, I was not surprised to learn that a species which the world thought was extinct was actually here in Arkansas all along. I have seen many species in our state that the world outside Arkansas thinks are extinct. They include the following: committed volunteers in public schools and in charitable organizations, opponents of the death penalty, friendly people, conservationists, religious Democrats, compassionate Republicans, inter-faith cooperation, free-flowing streams, good public libraries and people who love Bill Clinton. These are only a few. Others have probably seen more. I am so glad that I live in the Natural State.
We were having dinner at one of our (and Little Rock’s) best kept secrets when a young (relatively) lady came in and ordered a wine cooler. She was tall, well dressed and carried herself well. She looked to be between 25 and 30 years old. She received her wine cooler, sat down and made a phone call. Then got up and started to leave with the cooler. The clerk who sold it to her stopped her and confiscated her drink since she insisted she had to go. Two minutes later, two vice officers entered and cited the clerk for selling alcohol to a person underage.
While this sting was legally correct (her ID was not checked by the clerk, she looked plenty old enough), I would hope vice should have better things to do than setting up clerks using someone who is old enough to know better and old enough to die for our country. If they want to test the “Check ID” rule, use someone as bait who is 14 or 16 years old, the REAL underage drinking problems.
Your May 5 editorial, “Devaluing life,” was very timely and right on point.
Pandering to their evangelical white Christian core constituency, Republicans are dutifully obsessed with birth and death, but their concern for life between entrance and exit depends on your economic status.
If you’re affluent, Republicans want you to be still more affluent. If you’re middle class and still working, don’t expect Social Security to do much more than pay your Medicare premiums and grocery bills — provided you cut out steak and dessert. And if you’re poor and disadvantaged, you can no longer count on entitlement programs to keep your body and soul together.
It used to be said that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Now we need to add a second clause: and the middle class will either sink to the bottom or rise to the top.
And so it goes in this new era of bifurcated Republican “family values” (sic).
I note with distress your article about the creeping cancer that is the McMansion phenomenon and its extending of its tendrils into the Hillcrest area. This is a cancer that must be rooted out before the one thing that makes midtown Little Rock what it is, the vast number of homes approaching and exceeding the 3/4-century mark, is gone forever. Once those homes are destroyed, whether deliberately or by fire or tornado, there is no putting them back. Visit the area northeast of 17th and Main that was devastated by the January 1999 tornado and see as I do the potential for a new neighborhood with home designs and floor plans similar to those in Brodie Creek, just off South Bowman.
It was my privilege and honor to save a 1910 Quapaw Quarter home from the bulldozer in 1994. In the four years I lived there before moving to DeQueen, I found it to be most livable. My eldest brother, who is a contractor in Nashville, Tenn., never fails to remark on his visits to Little Rock about what a treasure we have in these historic homes in the downtown and Hillcrest areas. Nashville’s own historic quarter was destroyed in a fire in 1910, so there is no concentration of historic buildings there, just the occasional hundred-plus acres and farmhouse whose surrounding land has been swallowed up and developed into cul-de-sac condos.
My other brother lives in a 1910 home in Cumberland, Md., a town that has a historic district authority with real teeth, having the ability, among other things, to dictate paint color. The people of Cumberland obviously saw what was happening to their historic treasures, and gave this body the authority to fine people who do not abide by the rules.
If we feel that what we have is worth preserving, we should take steps to ensure that preservation does not cost more than the property is worth. I advocated some years ago a special levy on new development, the proceeds from which would help low- and moderate-income families and individuals with homes over 50 years old to preserve what they had. I was told that the city of Little Rock could not enact such a tax on new development — it was a matter for the legislature. Perhaps it is time to revisit that proposal or something like it, as the continued shift west has left downtown and midtown with few shopping options, contributing further to the urban sprawl and traffic nightmares that Chenal Parkway has become.
I am also the proud owner of a 1919 Craftsman home in DeQueen, which my family and I find to be eminently more livable and of higher quality than the homes of more recent vintage, both here and elsewhere.
Mark W. Riley
Scam of the day
Everywhere you look today, there’s a scam waiting to take advantage of trusting Americans in need. One such scam comes in the form of modern loansharking. Like common thieves, these loan sharks go by many aliases, including payday lenders.
Imagine a grandmother like me, living on a fixed income. She finds herself in a situation one month where she can’t pay her bills. As she’s driving down the street, she sees a big neon sign reading “Up to $700 cash advance.”
After proving income and a valid bank account, she walks out with $500, but with a $75 “fee.” In just two weeks, she will have to come up with $575 to pay back her loan. If she doesn’t have the money, she will have to roll the loan over another week, paying an additional $75, starting a cycle of debt that could last months, if not years.
Let’s get rid of the check cashers law that allows this to happen.
Hot Springs Village
As a citizen, I don't get to choose not to pay taxes because I don't like what the Arkansas state government is spending state and federal money on, such as paying a Chinese company, Sun Paper, approximately $1 billion to build a paper mill in Clark County.
Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.
A former mental health agency director has won a default judgment worth $358,000 over a claim for unpaid retirement pay and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is apparently to blame for failure to respond to pleadings in the case.
Sen. Tom Cotton, cordial to a fault, appeared before a capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High tonight to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — his night didn't get much better from there.