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After Little Rock traded in mayor-council government for city-manager government in the ‘50s, Little Rock residents snickered at North Little Rock’s backwardness. Snickered even louder than usual, that is. The North Side clung (still clings) to an old-fashioned, full-time, democratically elected mayor, often a colorful and strong-willed sort of person, as the people’s chosen leaders tend to be, and to unsophisticated and rambunctious aldermen, vigorously upholding their own wards.

We don’t hear much laughter from the south side of the Arkansas River these days.

Instead, there’s considerable admiration for the way things get done on the other bank. Little Rock’s board of directors has referred to the voters a proposed reorganization of city government. A weak, part-time, lightly compensated mayor would be replaced by a strong, full-time, well-paid mayor, such as North Little Rock’s. That much of the proposal has appeal; let the people elect their leaders, hold them accountable, and replace them when they don’t produce.

But the proposal on the ballot Aug. 14 would preserve the city manager’s job too, and no town is big enough for two chief executives. Such an arrangement would continue the confusion over who’s in charge. We’d be more supportive of the strong-mayor proposal if we could be assured that the success of a full-time mayor would lead to consideration of a return to the mayor-council form of government.

Farm Bureau abroad

“Duo Zirong, a Shanghai, China, cat researcher, and fellow cat lovers mobilized online to save a truckload of 800 live cats from the cooking pot by raising $1,320 to buy the whole load, the China Daily reported.”

What the China Daily failed to report, but we will, is that the cats were headed for a banquet sponsored by the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, which has established a Shanghai branch. The Farm Bureau hopes to sell Arkansas produce to the Chinese, a spokesman said, and “We figured a big serving of fried cat would break down any trade barriers.” The Chinese have long savored cat, and other household pets. The Arkansas Farm Bureauvians are less fond of the taste, their spokesman admitted, but enjoy the preparation. “You should hear those cats when we skin ’ em and drop ’ em in the hot grease. The kids love it.”

Chinese animal-cruelty laws are stricter than Arkansas’s, the Farm Bureau spokesman conceded, but he insisted that “We can get around them. The Arkansas legislature doesn’t mess with us, and neither will the Chinamen.” With the cats gone, the bureau is planning a panda roast for Shanghai officials, the spokesman said. “When you poke the baby pandas’ eyes out, they scramble every which way. It’s a hoot.”

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