A morning roundup:
* REPUBLICAN SHUFFLE: Good metaphoric shot captured last night of Secretary of State Mark Martin's press spokesman, Alex Reed, at the Town Pump shuffleboard table with leading Republican Rep. John Burris. It became clear by early evening that there'd be no consequences for Reed telling a Republican crowd in El Dorado that they needed to elect Republican county clerks because of the disgraceful job Democratic clerks did registering voters, a process that he said led to many illegal immigrants on the voter rolls. Martin wouldn't apologize. Reed went to ground. A Republican shill website changed the subject, preferring to turn attention to Reed's remarks supportive of Democratic Sen. Jack Crumbly in the redistricting lawsuit. Office shills said Reed was misquoted until the tape of his remarks appeared, then the defense became that he was quoted out of context. His context was clear enough — Democrats bad and Latino voters REAL bad. That is not a problem if you're working for Mark Martin. Reed was on his own time, see? (even if he couldn't afford the gas money to El Do without that job.) Before it was over, one particularly unhinged Martin aide had tried to turn attention to anything and everything but Reed, including Mike Beebe's record in support of the NRA and against gay marriage. Anything but Alex Reed. And he whined that the press is too hard on Republicans. That old victim game again. Keep shuffling Alex. The public teat will continue to provide you beer money. As you said, the office serves people — "especially Republicans" — very well.
* THE FUTURE: Mark Martin's desire to discourage Latino voting is just part of a broader mosaic of the Republican Party's hopes to take over Arkansas. What will it mean? See Alabama for continuing instruction. There, the Tea Party is taking over public television. They want more religious programming. And more David Barton, the phony historian who uses his shoddy work to inspire religio-political governmental takeovers.
* CITY SPENDING: I'll update this later, but Acorn is promising a report later this morning on the city's spending plan for both the recent one-cent sales tax increase and a coming renewal of a 3-mill property tax, if approved by voters. Arkansas Community Organizations will contend that the supposed template of equal spending in each ward will actually produce a majority of the street and drainage spending in the western portion of the city. The inner city, where Acorn is most active, universally opposed the sales tax increase. Whether this is an indication that the field is set relative to the coming property tax election — or whether it means some city promises relative to future property tax use could still influence political thinking — is uncertain at this point.
* WATER UTILITY WOES: The state regulators' inspection report I'd posted earlier already indicated that foes of a Lake Maumelle watershed protection plan were making a mountain out of a molehill out of violations noted in site protection by the contractor working on a Central Arkansas Water pipeline project near Lake Maumelle. The Water Utility offered that defense yesterday (Fox 16's report continues to be viewed through the eyes of the watershed rules foe), though the utility stipulates that close observation of contractors is, of course, important and that nobody desires ANY deviation from environmental rules. But a quart of oil on the ground or a spilled wheelbarrow of concrete does not constitute an argument against watershed protection rules. If anything, it's the accumulating potential of those small acts multiplied by thousands of future homes that make a protection plan SO critical. The Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods got it right on an overlooked point in this staged publicity event by watershed protection foes. The Coalition wants the utility to do right and report fully, but it also says in a letter to the Water Commission:
We have long contended against a culture among contractors in this community that has the attitude it is acceptable to break the rules with impunity, where contractors generally escape any fines, or pay minimum fines from petty cash, and continue with usual practices, changing nothing.
Please tell us what firm the utility hired for this work. Tell us whether the contract specified the firm must comply with all regulations, especially pollution-control regulations. Tell us whether the contract provided that any citations for violations would result in a call for imposition of maximum penalties, which would be deducted from contractor payments. Did you specify that failures and violations would result in no further business with this utility?