Hands off War Memorial The city of Little Rock is at it again. While its own master plan locates the areas of need in our city as the west and the southwest they want to fiddle with what is actually working in midtown. So the city brought in an expert from New York City to explain the similarities between the nation’s largest city and our little town here in the South. These presentations always seem to precede our city’s little misadventures. Our city fathers have a bad case of Phoenix envy. And, these stories are great distractions, pretty pictures in place of planning, a good sales pitch. The parks master plan is an impressive document. It includes every type of facility imaginable to the tune of $68 million. They would be lucky to do it for twice that. We would be swamped by success if they completed half of it. And for all of that they want to start by destroying the city’s oldest public golf course in the only area of town that has no need for new facilities. War Memorial Golf Course is a picturesque and historic jewel in our parks system. It is the family golf course, the middle class golf course, the duffer’s course. It is part of our cultural fabric. For the city fathers and those with sway downtown it has now become a very valuable piece of midtown property ripe for reuse, perhaps abuse. We must meet the needs we have where they exist if Little Rock is ever to live up to its wonderful potential. Wasting park money in Hillcrest can easily do more harm than good but more importantly it is time to restore public trust. We could not find a better time to put an end to the exploitation at City Hall. Andy Branton Little Rock Cat lover I do sympathize with Westerners struggling to protect their civilized space from the invasion of wild cats, but please, can we have a little respect for the cat lovers of the world? I am feeling a bit protective of my old gray tabby, sleeping in his patch of sun. Not that his patchy fur would make much of a hat. If I were to suggest in jest that the pelt of my neighbor’s chow might make a sturdy and stylish chair, would that be acceptable to the cat-disparaging editor? Betsy Johnson Little Rock Observation The Observer wrote: “On Saturday, as we watched William Buckley signing a copy of his autobiography, a friend next to us — not a fan of Buckley’s — put his hand over his mouth and whispered: ‘You know what I do sometimes when I see a book at a bookstore that I don’t like? I turn it over so only the back shows.’ He was pleased with himself, and so was The Observer.” That gave me an idea. From now on, whenever I see a stack of the Arkansas Times in public newsstands, I’ll place a copy of Arkansas Real Estate on top. John Farrell North Little Rock In praise of vegetables Thank you for noticing From The Garden, the new vegan soul food carry-out restaurant at Izard and Wright in downtown Little Rock. Two vegetarian friends and I (also a vegetarian) stopped by the restaurant for lunch and could not have been more pleased. The food was delicious and appealing to a wide palate. The three of us sampled each other’s dishes and found them all to be equally flavorful and satisfying. Especially good was the black-eyed pea patties served with brown gravy and sweet onions, the pepper “steak” over angel hair pasta, the wonderfully savory mustard greens, and the subtly sweet corn pones. After years of hit-and-miss vegetarian options at area restaurants, it’s heartening to see a dedicated establishment with such hearty fare. I’ll definitely be going to The Garden often and urge others, even if you are not vegetarian, to do likewise. Brad Caviness Little Rock Marriage plank At the Saline County Central Committee meeting, a member passed around a notebook handed out at the state party convention. I flipped through the pages of the party platform and was more than surprised to find a plank titled: Marriage, indicating Arkansas Democrats support the idiot amendment to the state Constitution that codifies gay-bashing. Murder is also against the law. Why is there no plank stating that the Democratic Party is against killing folks, even if they are Republicans? I expressed my opinion and left that meeting. I jotted down three questions: (1) Is it worth expending effort, time and energy to help Democrats return to a majority status when over half the battle turns out to be fighting against narrow-minded, ignorant Democrats? (2) Do I have the energy to waste fighting Democrats? And (3) do I want to continue as a member of Democratic organizations and groups I belong to? Unfortunately, my answer to all three questions was: No. That law is Bubba’s last bastion of bigotry. I cannot promote a party that supports the bigoted, homophobic position stated in the party platform. I have traveled to Benton and re-registered to vote as an independent (even though this state does not recognize that designation). That action ends a quarter century of supporting, marching, demonstrating and working for Democratic principles and candidates. It also ends my affiliation with/membership in a number of organizations. I hereby resign. The Democratic Party needs passionate and dedicated members, not the milquetoast middle-of-the-roaders who have signed on. It has lost me as a party member and in the current political climate, that is something it cannot afford. John Achor Hot Springs Village Vouchers I have to dispute your point of view in the editorial on the public voucher system. You say, “The real purpose of vouchers is not to allow poor kids in bad public schools to move to higher-performing private schools, as voucher proponents claim publicly. The purpose is to give public money to students who are already attending private schools.” What is “public money”? Where does it come from? Does it simply magically appear out of the government’s account? Absolutely not. This is money that is paid by private individuals and organizations. It is paid by you and me, small businesses, large corporations and on and on. Government doesn’t produce its own wealth. It relies on private individuals for money. So why shouldn’t a taxpayer be able to decide whether his money goes to go to a public school or a private school? Why should a taxpayer not be able to choose? In many cases private schools outperform public schools. Many parents want to be able to send their kids to private schools. They might be able to afford it with vouchers, or if they could simply elect to take the money they have been paying to public schools and instead send it to where they really want their children to attend school. Let’s get rid of the notion that public schools must get their tax money no matter what. Let taxpayers choose which school (public or private) gets their money. Bryan McCammon From the Internet

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