The Saturday line | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Saturday line

Posted By on Sat, Mar 12, 2011 at 3:48 PM

WYE MOUNTAIN: The daffodils are blooming and crowds were  on the legendary field today
  • Brian Chilson
  • WYE MOUNTAIN: The daffodils are blooming and crowds were on the legendary field today

I'm opening it up early. I have things to do. A note:

* CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING: Roby Brock gathers a variety of thoughts on the shape of the coming congressional redistricting map. Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker is apparently conspiring with Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Ross and black Democrats in hopes of pushing a plan of maximum benefit to Republicans. Ross is the man to see for that, his own skin being the only thing that drives his political life. But there's this very significant quote from black legislative caucus leader Rep. Tracy Steele:

"I know there's been a lot of reports that say we're out for a Black district, but we're just 15% of the population," says Steele. "All of that population is pretty well spread throughout the state. It's almost impossible to have a 'majority-minority' district. That's really not the goal of the caucus. If an African-American campaigns and wins fine. If a non-African-American campaigns and wins and goes to Washington and votes our interest, we'll still be in a better situation. That's our No. 1 issue."

Smart words.

* LITTLE ROCK NATIONAL AIRPORT:I invite business sharpies to take a look at the case the airport makes in a trade magazine article for a $175 million new terminal. It's bloviation full of "new paradigms" and even a disputation of my observation that the airport has raised passenger charges and parking fees and planned an expensive new airport — complete with lots of debt refinancing — at a terminal that recorded a 25 percent drop in traffic over 10 years. I learn from this PR piece that the drop is actually good news, because the terminal is waaaaay underbuilt for the current traffic, not to mention the much higher traffic 10 years ago. Uh, OK. You'll be proud to read airport director Ron Mathieu explain our potential for growth is great because we're an anti-union, low-wage, low corporate tax state. It has been always so. And the legislature is still busy crafting still more corporate welfare because the ARKANSAS: WE'RE EASY motto hasn't made us Silicon Valley or the Research Triangle yet. Mathieu understands Arkansas corporatespeak, though, there's no doubt about it. That's one reason why he survived financial misdeeds few others would have. The document is some indication, I guess, of what taxpayers are getting for the airport's $100,000-a-year staff press agent. (Unless she farmed out placement of this document to a high-dollar consultant, as with the grand new terminal groundbreaking, a fete made soggy by our reports on financial funny business.)

* GASLAND: This is rich. Read how Arkansas's environmental watchdogs reacted after a gas drilling industry company released dangerous chemical fumes that forced an evacuation in Searcy. No fine. They've been encouraged to keep it from happening again.

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