Favorite

While we were sleeping ... 

HOT SPRINGS — From last week's annual Arkansas Rural Development Conference, where officials of small communities pick up grants, I came away with a few observations.

The first is that Secretary of State Mark Martin, the Republican having trouble getting his bearings in state constitutional office, is, shall we say, not a scintillating public speaker.

It does not appear likely that he will be able to talk himself out of very much of the abundant trouble into which he has already found himself. That's mostly over dubious spending in his office that defies the tea party spirit that elected him, including a reported $54,000 for an employees' retreat in which a Wal-Mart-endowed institute at John Brown University was supposed to inspire everyone to work in a value-oriented way.

You need to bring your pre-existing values along with you when you enter public office. You're not likely to experience any significant applied learning of new ones by going to a weekend retreat.

I had no objection to the standing ovation the large audience gave Martin at the beginning and end of his mercifully brief luncheon remarks. In fact, there was something nobly egalitarian about a respectful demonstration, even perfunctory and tepid, for an office that, as its main duties, is charged with keeping the Capitol maintained and the Capitol lawn mowed.

Here, then, are my recommended values for the secretary of state, offered for a $54,000 discount: Evenly cut grass looks best. Precision lawn edging is good. Marble looks exquisite when expertly cleaned.

The panel of legislators I moderated immediately after lunch wasn't much more scintillating than Martin had been, or didn't seem so at the time. But then I kept discovering worthy comments as I remembered and reconsidered the discussion.

House Speaker Robert Moore, while not compelling as a public communicator, is passionate about developing geo-tourism to try to save his beloved Delta. He's also passionate about building good roads between dying towns to try to bring jobs.

He said a couple of profoundly truthful things, one being that, in the Delta, they don't covet business tax cuts to save or restore manufacturing jobs because there never were many manufacturing jobs there in the first place.

Dozing audience members perhaps missed state Sen. Jack Crumbly's poignant lamentation at the panel discussion's 90-minute mark over the 10-year difference in the life expectancy for a child born in Phillips County and one born in Benton County.

His point, a good one, is that our panel discussion of Medicaid should not center solely on those rising costs and how to reduce them, but on how Medicaid is the very lifeblood, indeed the only chance for a healthful start, for far too many of our state's children.

The legislative panel following ours, moderated by colleague Doug Thompson of those Northwest Arkansas papers, was described as more lively. Having fled the haunting echoes of my own panel, I wasn't there to behold for myself the scaling of this subterranean bar.

One advantage was that Sen. Gilbert Baker of Conway — like him or not, and I do and you might not — was on that second panel, and he has some energy.

He expended a little of that energy before lunch charting for me on scratch paper how the Republicans were going to gain three seats or more in the next election and seize outright control of the state Senate.

He seemed to think legislative redistricting, at least on the 35-seat Senate side, would not be a matter of dramatic altering.

He wondered how I might deal with GOP control.

Actually, I tend to find the current crop of state Republicans more personable and personally enjoyable than the Democrats, with a few exceptions, of course, though I've said quite enough already about Mark Martin.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by John Brummett

  • Obstruction is the preferred conservatism

    Is there greater conservative virtue in opposing federal health reform, period, or in saying it ought to be implemented locally instead of from Washington in the event we are unavoidably laden with it?
    • Oct 5, 2011
  • A fate not quite as bad as prison for Lu Hardin

    There is no crime in being overly and transparently solicitous for the purposes of aggrandizement and personal political advancement. That's simply acute neediness, a common and benign human frailty.
    • Sep 28, 2011
  • Can we talk? Can we get anywhere?

    Dialogue is good. It would be even better if someone would venture off script every once in a while.
    • Sep 21, 2011
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in John Brummett

  • Gone to the DoG

    We're now longer carrying John Brummett's column in this space.
    • Oct 12, 2011
  • Obstruction is the preferred conservatism

    Is there greater conservative virtue in opposing federal health reform, period, or in saying it ought to be implemented locally instead of from Washington in the event we are unavoidably laden with it?
    • Oct 5, 2011
  • A fate not quite as bad as prison for Lu Hardin

    There is no crime in being overly and transparently solicitous for the purposes of aggrandizement and personal political advancement. That's simply acute neediness, a common and benign human frailty.
    • Sep 28, 2011
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Viewed

  • A difference

    How low can a columnist go? On evidence, nowhere near as low as the president of the United States. I'd intended to highlight certain ironies in the career of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The self-anointed moral arbiter of the Senate began her career as a tobacco company lawyer — that is, somebody ill-suited to demand absolute purity of anybody, much less Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
  • Gratitude

    Now, more than ever, I find myself thankful for those who resist. Those who remind us of our higher common values. The fact-checkers and truth-tellers. Those who build bridges in communities instead of walls to segregate. The ones who stand up and speak out against injustice.
  • Money talks

    Democratic candidates face a dilemma in Arkansas. To take on the GOP members who are firmly entrenched in the state Legislature and Congress, they will need lots of money and lots of votes. The easiest way to get more votes is to spend more money. Obscene amounts of money. And thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and President Trump's judicial appointments, this will be our reality for a long time. The six Republicans who make up our congressional delegation have stopped pretending to care about their constituents. They vote in line with the interests of big corporations and lobbyists. They know what side their bread is buttered on.
  • Silly acts, good law

    It was unavoidable that the struggle by sexual minorities to gain the equal treatment that the Constitution promises them would devolve into silliness and that the majestic courts of the land would have to get their dignity sullied in order to resolve the issues.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • I miss my wolves. It has been over five years since the last of my…

    • on December 12, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation