Editorial June 2 

Looking for cover You wouldn’t expect that a 74-year-old woman in a wheelchair, a victim of multiple sclerosis, could panic a government agency, but Betty Murray seems to have scared hell out of the Little Rock Housing Authority. Or maybe it’s a guilty conscience that has Housing Authority bureaucrats jumping out of their skin. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. In any event, Housing Authority officials have misreacted wildly to Murray’s report that the fire alarm system in Cumberland Towers may have malfunctioned on May 5. Murray is a resident of the apartment building, as were two elderly women who died in a fire that night. They and Murray lived on the seventh floor. Murray says the fire alarm in her apartment never went off, and the alarm in the hall only squawked intermittently. Since Murray came forward, other residents of the building also have complained of malfunctioning alarms, and the Arkansas Times has gained possession of documents suggesting that the Housing Authority knew about malfunctioning fire alarms at Cumberland Towers long before this year’s tragedy. (See page 9.) The Housing Authority operates Cumberland Towers. After Murray told her story to the Times, she received an eviction notice ordering her out of her apartment by June 6. The notice, signed by Housing Authority official Dorothy J. Brown, said that Murray had broken her lease by engaging with the Times in a “planned scheme to gain illegal access to the 7th floor with the sole purpose of maligning the LRHA and other local officials.” In fact, it is Ms. Brown who is doing the maligning. The Arkansas Times was not part of any scheme to gain access to the seventh floor, and a Times reporter and photographer who visited Murray in her new apartment on the second floor complied with all Housing Authority rules, including signing a guest book and identifying themselves as Times employees. They did listen to her story, investigate it, and print it, as a good newspaper should. Bad bureaucrats hate it when good newspapers do their jobs, and when whistleblowers like Murray blow their whistles. At a meeting called by Murray Saturday, May 28, Housing Authority representatives turned out in force, which may have had a chilling effect on tenants, who are, like Murray, subject to eviction. Tenants attending the meeting, in what is purportedly their home, also were made to write their names on a sign-up sheet before entering the room, a requirement that Murray and others said they couldn’t recall being imposed at past tenant-led meetings. So far, all the Housing Authority has done is try to cover its own patootie. Eventually, it’ll have to face up to the real issue, which concerns the deaths of two old women, and whether those deaths might have been averted.

Sign up for the Daily Update email


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Trade places

    I confess that over the years I've wished a fall from grace upon a number of people. I've come to call it the "Trading Places Award." The recipient is someone who has shown no compassion or empathy for someone else in a tough situation.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Now, the main event

    • Good article and an accurate observation of the inconsistencies in Gov. Asa Hutchinson's words and…

    • on May 24, 2018
  • Re: Flooding the swamp

    • Nations who negotiate sweet deals with the US pharmaceutical companies are only able to do…

    • on May 24, 2018
  • Re: Like wrestling

    • Trump's policies to help a financially failing US Postal Service are nothing compared to the…

    • on May 24, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation