Defends Medical Board 

I disagree with your report in the July 20 “Smart Talk” section that intimates that the Arkansas State Medical Board is not living up to its obligation to protect patients from doctors who are “not practicing medicine in the best manner and are….endangering…….residents.” The physician and lay members of the State Medical Board take seriously the charge to protect the public and to enforce the Medical Practices Act. Prior to each meeting, there are approximately 500 to 1,000 pages of documentation to review concerning licensure and physician complaints, and in the interest of fairness to each individual this review must be careful and thorough. The meetings consist of two full 8- to 10-hour days each 2 months during which time additional testimony is heard and various disciplinary issues are considered.

The Arkansas State Medical Board is a member in good standing of the Dallas-based Federation of State Medical Boards, which was founded in 1912. It provides an array of services to assist medical boards in their mission of protecting the public from the incompetent or unprofessional practice of medicine. I quote from their most recent report “Trends in Physician Regulation April 2006”: “While medical boards sometimes find it necessary to suspend or revoke licenses, regulators have found many problems can be resolved with additional education or training in appropriate areas. In other instances, it may be more appropriate to place physicians on probation or place restrictions on a physician’s license to practice. This compromise protects the public while maintaining a valuable community resource in the physician.”

State Medical Board meetings are open to the public and the press. I would invite the Arkansas Times to attend the next two-day full meeting and draw further conclusions based on this experience.
Dr. Joseph Beck
Member, Arkansas State Medical Board

Builders respond
The July 20 article “Build now, OK later” inadvertently mischaracterized the local residential construction industry. In effect, the article singled out the unfortunate errors of a few builders and suggested that the whole industry pushes limits at our community’s expense. I wholeheartedly disagree. Please understand that I am not excusing the miscalculation of these builders, but rather pointing out important ideas that should have been considered when framing the article.

First of all, it’s impossible to discuss residential construction without bearing in mind that it’s one of the most heavily regulated industries in this country. Little Rock, like all municipalities, has a number of codes and ordinances that serve to guide builders. These exist primarily to ensure the safety of the general public. Every home is inspected in each stage of development, from pouring the foundation to total completion. Nearly every violation an inspector encounters is a small and unintentional oversight that can be easily remedied. Footprint or setback issues, like the ones the article referred to, are rarely substantial. Major infractions, such as sliding foundations or materials failure, can pose significant consumer risk and need to be addressed without delay. Little Rock, thankfully, has a well-respected process in place to help builders work through such matters.

Moreover, the article suggests that these recent violations are on the rise. However, after considerable conversation with Chuck Givens, Little Rock’s building codes manager, I was reassured this was not the case.

Nevertheless, I understand and empathize with neighbors who feel the builder next door might be “pulling one over” on them. Through the years, I’ve found that most of these feelings lie with the development itself. I couldn’t imagine anyone who would willingly welcome construction next door, especially when the neighborhood’s been relatively undisturbed. That’s the double-edge sword of development — we desire the economic activity, but not always at the expense of a wonderful view we’ve enjoyed for years.

I’d also like your readers to know that none of the builders or companies mentioned in the article is a member of the Home Builders Association of Greater Little Rock. I say this not to distance the association, but to show that this response is not a hastily written reaction to “protect our members.” Certainly builder members of our association do make mistakes; however, I believe we create more well-rounded and capable tradesmen and women through the comprehensive educational workshops, programs and resources we offer.

In closing, I would like to thank the Arkansas Times for keeping the community attentive to issues we all care deeply about. I would also like to thank the city of Little Rock and its inspectors for working hand-in-hand with area builders and community to maintain the health and integrity of this important industry.
Joseph Cole Burak
Executive Officer, HBA-GLR

WR tributes
Thanks to John Brummett for saying what many of us were feeling about Win Rockefeller and his father. I thought that his column and that of Ernie Dumas captured the spirit and importance of not only Win Paul, but his father as well. These columns have been better than anything else that I have read on the subject because they lived through and experienced the era. Both Rockefellers were great men who, working with countless others, brought our wonderful Arkansas out of the dark ages.

We will be eternally grateful for their leadership and devotion to making the state a place where modern ideas and ways of life became the norm, instead of the shame of the nation. We all are better for having known them both. Thanks again to John and to Ernie for saying it for all of us.
Lazar Palnick

Death Row
This is for Betsey Wright, who wrote about inmates on Death Row. Save a little sympathy for the victims and their families. What’s a little pain to a murderer? He or she has already demonstrated by action how little regard he has for the pain of others. Maybe the poor people on Death Row were poor because they were out wreaking havoc on others instead of working a nine to five day.

Also does she have the same regard for the life of children murdered by abortion? They suffer and die and they are completely innocent.
Betty J. Hambuchen
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