Treasurer responds 

Treasurer responds
Matthew Jones’ letter April 13 about my office is distorted and untrue.

As our e-mail log shows, he first sent an e-mail to us on Friday, March 31, at 7:32 p.m. My response was sent the very next Monday at 7:44 a.m. Not only is it untrue that I did not respond, but he received a response before normal business hours the very next business morning. How common is that response time in government or business? You can also read from the log the professional manner in which we responded. My phone number was given should Mr. Jones have wished a lengthy and direct conversation with me. He has never called nor provided his number to be called.

As much as I wish this office could provide unlimited service options to Mr. Jones or any other customer, this office is limited by multiple constraints (budgets, cash flow, other resources, legal contracting, etc.). I said to Mr. Jones that we have a long way to go. However, the advancement in technology in my office over my five years of public service is profound. My first day on the job, Jan. 1, 2001, I did not have voice mail or a computer. The four branch offices I manage did not have a fax machine or copier. Paper memos were the communication system of the culture.

Now, with prudent purchasing and a will for efficiency, each employee has a computer, e-mail, printer access and training in multiple standard software functions and uses them constantly. Communication is swift and effective. Someone on our staff is complimented almost daily about the improvements. Great customer service is a hallmark of this administration. This staff is truly a “cut above” and I remain proud of their efforts.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond — which I have — within minutes of reading the article.
Debra Buckner
Pulaski County treasurer

McCord on immigrants
Regarding Robert McCord’s opinion on immigration, I couldn’t be more opposed. My wife works at a local hospital interpreting for those who find themselves unfortunate enough to be thrust into our outrageously expensive and crumbling health care system. The fact is that they are overwhelmingly hard working, law abiding, church attending, and family oriented, usually much more so than U.S. citizens. The reason many of our public institutions are crumbling is a result of bad management, lack of funds, and the fact that 43 million of our own can’t afford health care.

We are a nation of immigrants and the globalization of capitalism has exacerbated illegal immigration worldwide. I do not believe they take jobs away from poor Americans; they simply are more reliable than most that they are competing with. It also seems that considering we have an astronomically low unemployment rate, it is ridiculous to claim that those who aren’t working can’t find work. We are accustomed to a level of luxury that prevents us from accepting work that we deem below us.

What is to me personally infuriating is his claim that most immigrants don’t want to be citizens. The reason that most Latin American immigrants aren’t using legal means is that there are quotas (much like the quotas that prevented Jewish immigration in the ’30s and ’40s) and the cost is prohibitive. This is an issue that has been inflamed by the media and has prompted a foolish reactionary response. One-third of illegal immigrants pay taxes. By creating a solution that somehow incorporates those who are already living here, we can offset the cost of their residence.
Brandon Markin
Little Rock

A couple of issues ago I was reading Robert McCord’s column, “Stemming the Tide,” when I suddenly wondered if someone had snuck in after deadline and beefed up the immigration criticism with an insulting, ignorant, prejudicial, and completely unreported, undocumented statement:

“Many of the Mexicans are coming here only to sell narcotics and raise hell...” This is not just untrue; it contradicts McCord’s own statement earlier in the column that immigrants work mainly in agriculture and poultry industries.

So I have three questions for you, the editors: When did Jim Holt start ghostwriting McCord’s columns? When did the Times start publishing racist and logically inconsistent opinion columns? And when is McCord going to apologize for such an unconsidered public statement?
Henry Murphy
Little Rock

Homeless shelter
I must take issue with what Robert Johnston wrote about the homeless resource center on West Markham. First, he said the neighborhood in which this center has been set up is more commercial than residential. It feels to the 25-plus households in the area to be quite residential.

Secondly, he said most of those helped are not addicts. The ones that hang around when the center is closed are addicts. We see people congregating there at all times of the day and night, jumping in and out of cars, and generally acting very much like crackheads. Four men and a couple of women recently took over the house of an older resident. He was too scared to come home, and had to have his landlord call the police. The police took them all to jail and found crack pipes, etc.

Thirdly, in regard to the volunteer whose granddaughter had a wonderful lesson in charity at the resource center, I’d like to say, “Good for her.” This Saturday my son got some different lessons while we worked in our garden. He got to see a man urinate on a building across the street. He saw two men get into a fist fight in the center’s parking lot. And lucky him, he got to see his very first drunk walking around with a bottle of Colt 45 at 8:30 in the morning.

The homeless in Little Rock deserve compassion and help taking care of their basic needs. But I think this neighborhood is not the place for it.

This center was put in without public hearings or permission of the Capital Zoning District Commission. This center used to be under the Broadway Bridge. It was reported that many of the workers at City Hall felt unsafe and were getting “hassled” by some of the center’s clients. If it wasn’t “safe” enough for the workers at City Hall, why is it safe enough in my neighborhood?
Christy Ward
Little Rock

Hungry for baseball
I agree with Jim Harris’ column on the crowds for the Travs games. It makes no sense not to support a great minor league setting like Ray Winder. But, you would think with a new stadium coming in there should be big crowds at least for the honeymoon period. They are looking into putting a minor league park in Springdale. David Glass has said he thinks this area would support a minor league team. And he may move one of the Royals’ teams here. With crowds up to 8,500 for the Hogs’ baseball games it should be no problem. Add beer into the mix at a minor league field and it should not be a problem. I hope Little Rock steps up with a beautiful new field for years to come.
Todd Rudisill

Merit pay
First, let me say, unequivocally, that as a general proposition I am for merit pay. Certainly those who perform the best should be rewarded the most; but in some cases the whole proposition falls apart because there is simply no way to FAIRLY determine just who is performing the best.

I note recent news that the elementary school teachers in our state’s largest school district have voted against a merit pay proposal by a ratio of nearly 7 to 1. Why in the world would they do that?

They did it because there is just no way to do it fairly. If each and every class was the same, with the same innate learning ability, the same encouragement, by both example and persuasion, at home, and the same in-home preparation before entering school, then and only then would the program be fair.

I hate to do it, but let’s compare it to athletics. Give a mediocre coach enough outstanding athletes and he or she may become the coach of the year. Give an elementary teacher enough gifted learners that have been well-prepared at home; he or she could easily qualify for merit pay.

If one can find a way that accurately determines teaching competence. use it.
Kermit C. Moss

More from the evolution crowd
Re your article on a reluctance to teach evolution in Arkansas: Unbelievable! The facility should be closed down rather than teach dangerous pseudo science. I came to America 20 years ago and I can’t believe how stupid this country is becoming! It’s as though we’re living inside a science fiction movie and the mindless zombie hordes are stumbling around destroying all common sense. The thing is, it’s not a movie. It’s real. It’s actually happening. America is going backwards.

Unfortunately the teachers on the front line in this struggle have been thrust into a very unpleasant position. They need to make a stand. It is too important to simply “grin and bear it.”
Steve Braithwaite
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