No sense of history 

Also, Huckabee struggling with bigotry, LR board declines to restructure and more.

Tweets of the week

"Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House." [With the picture above attached:]

"Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the "Hate Plate". And appetizers are "small plates for small minds"

— Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMike Huckabee) tweeting on the same day. The tweet about the Red Hen Restaurant came after Huckabee's daughter, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was refused service at the restaurant.

No sense of history

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense toured an unused federal site in Kelso (Desha County) and the Little Rock Air Force Base for possible use holding immigrants amid the Trump administration's border crackdown. Kelso is about a five-minute drive away from the Rohwer internment camp at which over 8,000 Japanese-Americans — many of them children — were held captive by their own government during World War II.

LR board declines to endorse restructure

Last week, the Little Rock City Board defeated Director Erma Hendrix's proposal to refer to voters an ordinance that would eliminate the three at-large city directors on the city board and go to a seven-member, ward-only board.

Only City Director Ken Richardson voted for the ordinance. Hendrix didn't vote. The other eight were nays. The directors themselves didn't discuss the ordinance.

Though the outcome was expected, many turned out to debate the question.

Business establishment speakers favored the current setup. They said having directors with a citywide vision was important. Some local activists also endorsed the concept, both black and white. Director Joan Adcock, an activist at-large director, got several compliments. At-large Directors Gene Fortson and Dean Kumpuris, not so much.

Others, particularly black speakers, said the poor wards were overlooked by the at-large directors and their representatives frequently ignored.

Perhaps the most persuasive argument: Several said if the at-large directors and their supporters are so sure their way is the best, what's to fear about a vote?

The fear on the establishment's part is a loss of control.

Still to come: Possibility of a petition campaign to put a change-of-government ordinance on the ballot. The business establishment can't stop that. But if it gets there, they'll spend big time to beat it.

Chris Burks, a lawyer and active Democrat, struck a third-way note. City government structure might need changing, but simply eliminating the at-large directors isn't enough. The ward structure might need work, but so does the structure of government, currently a blended semi-strong-mayor/city manager form.

Longtime Municipal League leader dies

Don Zimmerman, the longtime leader of the Arkansas Municipal League, died Sunday at 75.

He was a genial, accessible and astute leader of the powerful city government lobby in Arkansas. And though he endeavored to work with all sides, he was not afraid to take on powerful forces. He pushed for a gas severance tax increase, for collection of taxes on internet sales and departed from conventional highway department thinking in suggesting a new Arkansas River bridge crossing in Little Rock. Lately, he played a key role in the alliance of city government and county government in a class-action lawsuit against drugmakers over the opioid scourge (engendering great unhappiness from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge).

Generally speaking, the Municipal League held a more progressive outlook than some of the other entrenched lobbies and politicians at the Capitol. The differences might have been subtle, but in this generally regressive state, they were important. This was particularly true in the league's successful opposition to city-killing legislation aimed at, among other things, protecting rural dwellers from such things as sound planning practices. If cities don't have all the home rule they deserve in Arkansas, to the extent they retain some Don Zimmerman gets plenty of credit.

He'd worked for the league for 52 years and led it since 1974.



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