by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Leader recently noted a classy act by a public servant who declined having a facility named in his behalf -- though he richly deserves accolades for his work. Yes, of course, the comparison with the self-aggrandizing Gov. Mike Huckabee and spouse is inevitable. The Huckabees could just say no, you know, rather than "modestly" accepting an honor bestowed by people who owe their important bestowing-able commission seats to the guvn'r.
Here’s a small news item that missed the regular prints last month: Admirers of the marvelous work of Bobby Roberts, the director of the Central Arkansas Library System, conducted a broad but muted fund-raising effort to outfit a conference hall in the new Arkansas Studies Institute and name it after Roberts. The institute, which will be in a renovated old building on President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock, was one of many library projects undertaken with Roberts’ vision and genius. It will be a historical research center like none other in Arkansas and rarely matched in the country.
But Roberts got wind of the plan — the dedication was to be a surprise — and ordered a halt to the fund-raising and the memorial. All the money that was raised was returned with apologies. Thanks but no thanks, the director said. Quietly, letters went out from Roberts to everyone who had received the solicitations saying that he deemed it inappropriate to memorialize a public official for doing his job. He might have added, especially when he’s still alive and running the show.
And we happen to believe that Roberts deserves a monument someday for turning the moribund metropolitan library system into one of the finest, most accessible in the United States. We mention the episode merely to ask, what if that had been a Huckabee instead of Roberts? What a contrast with Arkansas’s First Couple. Bobby Roberts did not need to be reminded what public duty is or what grace in public office means.
There's much more context. Click the link above to read more. And click here to read about the ethically challenged Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission, whose action in giving a car to a retiring boss, can't help but recall Mike Huckabee again. And click here to read Arkansas Business' editorial on the "tacky" wedding registry and "appalling" gift by A&P to Barry Travis.