by Max Brantley
Your comments welcome. A few things:
* HOMELESS COALITION BACKS VETS CENTER ON MAIN: The Arkansas Homeless Coalition has voted to support location of a VA day center at 10th and Main Streets, a location opposed by Mayor Mark Stodola and U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin. In a letter to Stodola, the coalition said the VA center is a "nationally known center of excellence that has operated for 25 years in the downtown area. We encourage the City of Little Rock to welcome the Drop-In Center's move to larger and more accessible quarters." Here's a news release, which notes the coalition should not be confused with a Homeless Commission appointed by the Little Rock and North Little Rock mayors, which, according to the coalition, has not officially met in two years.
* PSST, MAYOR, A PLACE FOR IDEAS: Homeless advocate Robert Johnston notes that Little Rock's Downtown Partnership is featuring the former mayor of Austin, Texas, Will Wynn, at a coming annual meeting. Austin has a multi-purpose homeless center in the heart of its downtown, Johnston reports — 8 blocks from the state Capitol, four blocks from the convention center and a couple of blocks from a major entertainment area. (Whaddya bet you can find liquor close by?) Maybe Wynn could talk about that to Little Rock downtowners.
That photo above is of the homeless center in Austin, Texas. It includes a rooftop terrace with a panoramic view of Texas' capital. Someday, creek don't rise, Little Rock may deliver on its five-year-or-more promise to open a day-only homeless shelter. The city is slowly proceeding to bring up to code the 80-year-old rescue mission shown below, which is on the fringe of the city on Confederate Boulevard. The mayor thinks the VA should also join in the building, currently not accessible to the handicapped and still used by Union Rescue Mission, among other complications, including the VA's inability to spend its money on non-vets.
Speaking of the mayor, he had the city PR office issue a Saturday news release to say that homeless shelters will be open tonight to take in people seeking shelter from the sub-freezing cold and that you can call LRPD at 371-4829 to transport a homeless person to a shelter. From the release:
“As a community we need to reach out and help those less fortunate who find themselves on the streets without a shelter over their heads,” said Mayor Stodola. “It is a civic duty for all of us.”
* LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL: See an anti-union ad during the Super Bowl? Fellow with the soft hands and fancy watch claiming to be a non-union mechanic is a corporate lobbyist. Robert Greenwald has that story.
* SALINE SQUABBLES: Family Fest, a private promoter's July 4 event, will move next year to Benton from Bryant. Promoter says he wants out of ugly Bryant politics, Fox 16 reports. Question: Will Benton, also dry except in private clubs, allow the serving of beer to "VIPs" a practice that led to some controversy in Bryant?