State accounting 

Re The Week That Was and the money the federal government is seeking from Arkansas as repayment under the Medicaid program: The $18 million fine has nothing to do with AASIS. This fine was imposed for 1997-2000 and AASIS, the state’s new accounting system, didn’t come about until 2000-2001. The repayment is based on charges made to Arkansas’s Department of Human Services for mainframe services. The feds say the rate structure was wrong and we charged too much.

As far as AASIS, it is a good system, it works and gives the state a better handle on its costs and operations than it ever had previously. Any canned system of this size costs money. If the Department of Information Services had tried to do it themselves like they did the two mainframe systems that AASIS replaced, the tab would have been quite hefty and the results wouldn’t have been nearly as good.
Richard Barry Bassett
Little Rock

The ‘it’ guy
In my column last week naming several things that it ain’t, I inadvertently left out a fit night out for man nor beast. The ghost of W.C. Fields reminded me and asked that I post it here out of respect.
Bob Lancaster

What boots are for
Your editorial regarding cowboy boots Feb. 14 [concerning a gift of a $3,700 pair of boots to Gov. Mike Huckabee] is proof positive that you hang out in the upper and lower Heights too much and watch too much TV. You are talking about drugstore cowboys, not sho ’nuff cowpokes and mule swampers.

The unalloyed articles wear high-heeled boots so a foot won’t slip through a stirrup while she or he is astride an equine – if this comes to pass, there likely is to be some sad singing and slow walking in store for the dearly departed’s kith and kin.

Your grammar was fine, but the content brings your mark down to a C-; and this is given because of a charitable heart.
Billy Roy Wilson
Little Rock

Cell phones
I am a huge fan of the Times. It is the highlight of my week.

I’ve never been moved to write before today. I must express my agreement with and appreciation for The Observer’s words about cell phone use in restaurants.

This is the No. 1 pet peeve of most people I know. I cannot believe we as a society have become this rude. I only wish the use of a cell phone in a public space would result in the offender receiving a jolt equal to that of an electric fence! Maybe that would teach them to hang up or take it outside!

Thanks for letting me know some folks still care for peace and quiet.
Andrea Cooper
via the Internet

Who doesn’t get it?
I was struck with sadness when I read the letter (March 2) from Pepper Paulson. I was disheartened both by the lack of appreciation for Bob Lancaster (that rare jewel of oxymoron: the wise yokel) and by the lamentation on persistent liberalism in your fine publication. There is some truth in Pepper’s comment about the failures of government: the public schools have failed in their responsibility to teach people like Pepper the essential role of government and liberal values. (Something that even TV execs understand, if “My Name is Earl” is any indication.) But that failure is primarily a consequence of external conservatives hamstringing the schools with inadequate budgets and an unenlightened obsession with standardized tests. Secondarily, one might also wonder whether there is an internal threat resulting from neocons infiltrating public education on a mission to bring the Ten Commandments back to the classroom. After all, couldn’t our taxes be dramatically lower if the admonition against making graven images means that we can’t fund art classes? Might save each taxpayer ... gee, I dunno ... a buck a year?

Keep swimming ’round the pond to the left, “Catfish”; someone’s got to impede the clockwise whirlpool that would otherwise prevail! And, Mr. Lancaster, thou art genius, no matter what’s said by those who reside in Arkansas against their will.
Steve Barger

It is really funny that Pepper Paulson doesn’t understand Bob Lancaster. Rabid right wingers don’t seem to have much of a sense of humor and Bob is our own top-notch humorist. Pepper, like most Republicans, is stuck in the ’40s so the Arkansas Times is pretty far ahead of him.
Gus Causbie
Ash Flat

The New Orleans “refugee,” Pepper Paulson, wrote a letter complaining of how “liberal” your paper is. I would like to respond.

Years ago we used to have two state newspapers, the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat. Both papers had their good and bad points. Now, the Democrat swallowed the Gazette and the paper includes Gazette in name only. The editorial slant of the DoG is conservative Christian Republican, and the op-ed pages are monotonous in their conservative slant. Rarely do you ever find a letter writer who shows an alternate viewpoint. Even their token liberal, Pat Lynch, is pathetically shallow and inoffensive to conservatism. Mike Masterson does a big noise about the Janie Ward death yet says nothing about the injustices in the West Memphis Three case, and he conveniently ignores the religious activist bias of the “concerned mother” in the Fayetteville School Library case. I e-mailed the editor of the DoG about the latter case twice and neither of my letters was published.

As Bill Moyers once observed, the American bald eagle has both a left wing and a right wing so it can fly. In my opinion, the Arkansas Times is a needed alternative to the DoG. The late and sadly missed George Fisher chose to ink his cartoons in the Times. Lancaster may be crude but I have yet to find him nonsensical.

I chose to get a subscription to the Times because it is a refreshing alternative viewpoint to the daily state paper. If you don’t like the Times, don’t read it.
Maureen McAllister

UAMS research
During a recent visit to Little Rock I was pleasantly surprised by the article on Dr. Barlogie and MIRT. It was wonderful to read precise investigative reporting as I live in the investigative reporting desert of Louisiana. The most remarkable statement from Dr. Barlogie was “But I think when an institution wants to play big, they have to put in the resources. If one looks at the ratio of research subjects and infrastructural support, there are institutions where you have better-educated nurses, data managers, and so forth.” I was left with the understanding from the article that a principal investigator of a clinical trial is responsible for ALL aspects of the study. I find it amazing that for all of Dr. Barlogie’s brilliance that he appears to blame nurses, data managers and others for his failure to follow the principles of research. Amazing how little the practice of medicine has changed in my 26 years of nursing practice. Please continue your reporting.
Ruth Dayton
Mansfield, LA

Traffic deaths
I was pleased to see someone finally address the excessive media coverage of Kelsey Gadberry’s death. I agree that this is a tragedy, but teen-agers die almost every day in traffic accidents and the stories are always on Page B-3 and certainly not reported as the lead story on the local news. Why was she treated as a public figure? Because she was in a commercial with the other Central cheerleaders, was a homecoming queen and a member of a prominent family? In my journalism classes, I don’t believe that made someone a public figure. She was only 18 years old!

Like you, I’ve had friends die — some from drinking and driving — but those facts were never known to the general public, only to the victims’ families. I understand why the TV news and the Demo-Zette had to publish the toxicology reports after the massive amount of column inches and TV spots they devoted to Ms. Gadberry. But what a shame. I feel so sorry for her family for having to relive their grief and having to face that now the entire state of Arkansas knows why this tragic accident happened. This was simply disgraceful journalism.
Jill Eschbacher
North Little Rock

Change needed
I’m no presidential scholar, but I’m pretty sure that if both the president and vice president were to resign, the speaker of the house would then be sworn in as president. Given the last several years of proven incompetence and denial from the Bush administration, it is time that the American public begins to ask for the resignation of both President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Dennis Hastert (the current speaker of the house), though not my first choice for a presidential replacement, would no doubt be an improvement. With the myriad of problems the U.S. faces both domestically and abroad, we cannot afford to wait until the 2008 elections for a change in leadership. We all need to demand change in the executive branch now.
David Humphrey
Little Rock


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