Arkansas's engine 

I meant to offer my thanks to Max Brantley much sooner for his column regarding Jeff Collins’ statements about Central Arkansas. I read the coverage of Collins’ remarks by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was more than a little offended (not surprised unfortunately). I am certainly proud that Brantley offered facts to show that Central Arkansas is a driving force behind the economy of our state. I am always amused when folks in Northwest Arkansas talk about how Benton and Washington Counties will soon outgrow Pulaski County. They seem to forget that they are comparing the largest part of their MSA to a single county in ours! I was in one meeting where a business person from Northwest Arkansas talked about how he knew that government was the only business activity that took place in Central Arkansas. I thought it would be funny to say that to Scott Ford, Warren Stephens, Charles Morgan or Bill Dillard. Perhaps they would have a different opinion. It is unfortunate that we cannot get to the point where folks in Northwest and Central Arkansas see that they have more in common than not, but perhaps that is what happens when you have two strong urban centers in a rural state. I am sure the same happens between Oklahoma City and Tulsa or Memphis and Nashville.

By the way, I thought you might be interested in some recent job growth numbers released by the Department of Workforce Services. In comparing job growth from December 2004 to December 2005, Benton County grew 5 percent, Washington County grew 4.5 percent and Faulkner County grew 5.3 percent Jeff might be interested in those numbers. These numbers do not include much of the natural gas related growth we have seen since January, but it speaks to the fact that Arkansas has other strong local economies that are equally as diverse and dynamic as those in Northwest Arkansas.

Thanks again. We all need to do a better job of defending Central Arkansas.

Brad Lacy
Director of Economic Development
Conway Development Corporation

Homeless center
I just sent the following to Deputy City Manager Bryan Day. It reveals my thoughts on the closing of our homeless feeding center.

We served our last 75 breakfasts this morning. I’m contacting River City Ministries in a few minutes to offer them our remaining food. By tomorrow afternoon your people will be able to move our furniture and equipment to storage. I suggest you have the new owners change the locks.

I read with great consternation the article in the paper about the 10-year-plan for the homeless, the time frame for setting up a day center and the cost. As you know I am no friend of conspiracy theories, but even I am suspicious. It appears that the 10-year committee has inflated the costs to allow the various governmental entities the out of saying the cost is too high and we’ll have to wait longer. Our little center at 1307 Markham is proof positive that you don’t have to wait and that it doesn’t cost much. Our total cash expenditures from March 20 to August 14 were $3,179.26. From that money we paid Mark Hicks $50 per week and bought what food we didn’t have donated.

All that is needed is a building with a reasonable kitchen, a couple of bathrooms, and the city’s backing. We had put together a coalition of faith-based, humanity-based, and homeless clients as a volunteer and work base. We served 60 to 75 breakfast meals five days a week, plus dinner on Tuesday night and breakfast Saturday morning. We effectively eliminated the problems under the Broadway Bridge and were almost assured of getting Capitol Zoning District permission.

We didn’t have 18 months of meetings like the 10-year-plan folks and then present a scare budget of millions of dollars while STILL NOT feeding one person.

In short, there are those who meet and talk about wanting everything planned out before one thing is done and there are those who go out and get things done. Just seems strange that the doers don’t get the backing and support of the governments who say they want a solution. We are certainly cheaper and faster. Makes one think that the city really doesn’t want to solve this problem.
Matilda Buchanan
Little Rock

After reading Mike Beebe’s support for teaching intelligent design in public schools, I am amazed at his sheer intellectual gutlessness. Is he really the best the Democratic Party could offer up this year?
Richard S. Drake

A sorry law
State Rep. David Evans plans to introduce legislation intended to help reduce the number of malpractice claims by allowing doctors to apologize to patients for medical errors without admitting fault or having the statements used in court proceedings.

At first blush this seems to be a good bill or at least a bill that would do no harm. Supporters claim that it will benefit doctors, which it will. That would be a good thing if it also benefited victims of medical malpractice.

There is a problem that seems to undercut the implied sincerity of the “I’m sorry” approach. Many doctors need to attend a seminar to learn how to apologize. There is the occasional doctor who offers a sincere apology following malpractice, often with the outcome supporters of this bill are seeking; however, apologizing by the book reflects a cynicism that will surely be noted.

Victims don’t need seminars to know how to express their emotions. They scream when they are in pain. They cry when they think of their lost hopes, their lost dreams. Family members who stand beside the grave of a medical malpractice victim don’t need anyone to tell them that it is time to weep.

Providing swift justice for victims sounds like a good idea on the surface, but I fear that the swift approach might deny justice for victims who are looking at a lifetime of suffering. Following malpractice, victims and their families are in a state of emotional turmoil. They are also on unfamiliar ground and may very well not have the information needed to determine how much it will cost to care for the victim for the rest of his life.

I hope Arkansas legislators will consider the impact of Evans’ proposal on medical malpractice victims when they are considering his initiative.
Jane Marshall
Dover, Tenn.



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