Favorite

Back home 

I'll spare you all but a few tidbits on my three-week Asian vacation.

Best stop: Easily Shanghai, exploding with commerce and space-age skyscrapers, but still richly endowed with landmarks from the days of Western colonial outposts.

Best food: A heaping platter of boiled crawfish, awash in hot pepper oil, part of a feast of spicy dishes in a simple Beijing restaurant.

Funniest moment: When, after much gesturing and an utter failure of spoken communication, I realized that a Chinese family — large in number but very small in stature — wanted to have their picture made with a pale-faced Western giant they had encountered on a tour of the Forbidden City. I obliged.

The jet lag was fearsome and not helped by a 10-hour layover in Chicago on account of American Airlines' bollixed schedules last week. But I finally managed to get some sleep, get the clothes washed and hurry through the stack of newspapers that accumulated during my absence.

After the catastrophic weather, it didn't appear that I missed much by way of big news. As expected, Gov. Mike Beebe won legislative approval of a gas severance tax. (Take a bow, Sheffield Nelson, for the critical nudge of the governor with a proposed initiated act.) I know the tax includes some significant breaks for gas producers over what Nelson had proposed. I know that the deal was done in secret and that key players included a Beebe pal who now lobbies for a gas company. I know that I've long been put off by Beebe's coziness with the lobby. But still. I just can't join the carping that has accompanied this historic tax achievement. The state essentially had no severance tax on gas. It now has one. It should soon be producing tens of millions annually. The few previous governors willing to try to correct this outrage failed. The outcome may not be perfect, but it isn't bad.

Permit me to carp, however, about one local story that developed while I was away. It is the continuing opposition — by greedy developers and wrong-headed politicians — to a Pulaski County land use ordinance that would cover the Lake Maumelle watershed and protect Central Arkansas's major water source from undue pollution.

Pulaski Justice of the Peace Doug Reed emerged as a leader of an effort on the Quorum Court to urge the county to default on assuming its rightful responsibility for land use. He described himself as a “property rights” person. I suggest somebody install a pig feeder operation next door to Reed's house. Should Reed object, invite him to pay the pig feeder whatever outlandish price is necessary to remove the stench, but, please, no land use restrictions. Reed seems most interested in forcing Central Arkansas Water to pay highway robbery prices to opportunistic land developers who can threaten environmental degradation as a bargaining chip to peddle their acreage.

It's the second time in a year that Reed, a Republican who teaches at Pulaski Academy, has provided a useful reality civics lesson on bad government. The first was in self-dealing. A few months ago, he sponsored legislation to allow his employer, Pulaski Academy, to use municipal finance to pay for school construction, a benefit worth millions to the school. Now he's gone to bat for the interests of a handful of property owners over the broad public interest in clean water. Sadder still is the number of other Quorum Court members who've joined him.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • Guest Playlist: Flap Jones of "Not Necessarily Nashville" schools us on real country music

    "Not Necessarily Nashville," which airs on KUAR-FM 89.1 every Saturday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., celebrates three decades of the "best of the rest of country music" Saturday, October 21 at the White Water Tavern with Brad Williams of The Salty Dogs & The Creek Rocks, and we asked host Flap Jones to curate a playlist for us ahead of that anniversary celebration.
  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Caution: government at work

    I have several government targets this week.
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • Pork barrel III

    Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Fishy lawmaking

    Last week, the legislature decided not to press a fight that could have further upended a balance of power in Arkansas already tilted too far in favor of the legislative branch.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • The people of Arkansas need to keep demanding that our state government be accountable to…

    • on October 21, 2017
  • Re: Cotton to CIA?

    • Watching C-Span last week, they were talking about Cotton for the head of the FBI…

    • on October 21, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • sigh............ I would argue that the idea of 'freedom from fear' is part of the…

    • on October 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation