by Max Brantley
A light input overnight. A few things stand out.
* IT'S ALL ABOUT MEDICAID: Will today be a climactic day on Arkansas's decision on expanding Medicaid under President Obama's health care initiative? Will the House vote to appropriate the money, with the required 75 votes? Don't know yet. But note that the 27 Senate votes also remain an open question, particularly if tall-talking tea baggers such as Jason Rapert and Missy Irvin scuttle back into the corner of their patrons and soulmates on the Koch-financed reservation. One unconfirmed report has national Republican leaders making calls to fence-sitting Republicans to oppose the Arkansas plan, devised by Republicans to make Obamacare more palatable.
UPDATE: Now have a second report that House Speaker John Boehner is meddling in Arkansas politics, encouraging Republican legislators to vote against Medicaid expansion.
UPDATE II: Need a good uurp this morning? Read Roby Brock on Rep. Rick Crawford's appeal to Arkansas legislators to defeat Medicaid expansion and then, for a real urrp, catch some U.S. Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin posturing in Congress this morning with HHS Secretary Sebelius. She's not getting into the Arkansas debate.
* MORE GUNS IN SCHOOL: The move to put more guns in schools in the person of armed security officers seems likely to only contribute to this trend reported by the New York Times. When you put more guards in schools, you wind up with more kids arrested and put into the criminal justice system for offenses, routine fistfights, that once were better handled in the principal's office.
* FIE ON THE NEW BROADWAY BRIDGE: The Democrat-Gazette reported this morning on a letter by Jim McKenzie, director of Metroplan, excoriating the planned design of the replacement Broadway Bridge. Better late than never. He's right. It will be a plug ugly monstrosity, with an awful paint job and fake bricks, supposedly to mimic Dickey Stephens Park, that will soon look like homemade s***.
The eternally ugly edifice will be but nothing to the poor traffic design, which will sacrifice safe and useful pedestrian/bike access to the mission of moving motorized traffic as fast as possible between Dogtown and South Dogtown. Walkers and bikers will take their lives in their hands, particularly, trying to cross the high-speed funnel down to LaHarpe Boulevard, a nightmarish ramp now.
The Highway and "Transportation" Department honors non-motorized traffic only to the barest extent required by federal law. It is going to build this new bridge just because it can and because some free federal money's available, though not enough to do it right. The state never had an interest in waiting to get enough money to do this bridge right — or better yet, build a new crossing on a new site and make the existing Broadway Bridge a hanging garden of public enjoyment between a remodeled Robinson convention center and the north shore's lovely riverfront. It was always this approach for the highway builders: We're going to build a monstrosity NOW, so you better get out of our damn way.
The two-year nightmare of downtown disruption of construction will seem blissful by comparison to the 100-year legacy of poor planning that the Highway Department is soon to dump on the river.
The Highway Department spokesman seemed pissed that the director of a planning agency had used his letterhead to urge a well-planned bridge. Where does he get off doing such a thing?
* ANOTHER LAWSUIT ON EXXON PIPELINE OIL SPILL: Here's a copy of the second federal lawsuit filed by a property owner who claims damages from the busted pipeline and tar sand crude deluge at Mayflower.