by Max Brantley
Two articles in the morning Democrat-Gazette are related, it seems to me.
* On page one is elaboration on the old news that the Little Rock police headquarters is unsafe because of a persistently leaky roof. Like everything else in city government, it's a victim (or, more properly, cops and visitors are victims) of deferred maintenance. The tab for repairs could be from $200,000 to $450,000. Reserve funds in city government are down to nearly nothing. Skeleton staffs operate some vital departments. The strong mayor prefers to put off talk of an overdue necessary tax increase (or else a drastic reshaping of city government) until after his November re-election.
* On the front of the local news section is the wholly expected news that the state parks commission had bowed to pressure from Gov. Mike Beebe to scrap a planned increase in park fees. Nobody will be allowed to use that as a cudgel against the governor in his November re-election contest. As sure as day follows night will come the reports of leaky park cabins, rutted roads and other deterioration that will make the parks less attractive to visitors, thus further reducing revenue. Ignored repairs become more costly the longer they are ignored — see the LRPD.
And, if I may, a word about police. I also read with interest City Director Kenneth Richardson's complaint about his rude handling by a Little Rock cop who took offense, apparently, that a middle-aged black man he didn't know was wearing a golf shirt imprinted with the LRPD brand. (It is not an official uniform shirt; anyone may wear it.) A spokesman for the cops' union said Richardson would have been handled more courteously had he not been sarcastic to the officer who shook him down in a private office building.
No statute or ordinance makes it unlawful to be sarcastic or disrespectful to a police officer. That doesn't mean it's a good idea. Proceed at your own risk should you choose to exercise your First Amendment rights about and to a police officer. Particularly in the dark of night. With no other witnesses around.