Arkansas voters uniquely distinguished themselves in two respects in this presidential election. First, as a map published in the New York Times titled “The McCain Belt” graphically illustrated, a much higher percentage of Arkansans voted for McCain in 2008 than for Bush in 2004, more so than any other state. Second, as the election approached, polls in other states converged on the ultimate actual vote. Not in Arkansas. While state polls consistently reported McCain with a 10 percent lead over Obama, he actually won Arkansas by a surprising 20 percent margin. What are we to make of these two facts?
I fear the most plausible and parsimonious explanation is an unhappy one. Why did McCain garner more votes in Arkansas than Bush did four years ago? The answer may have been skin deep. Why did McCain win by 20 percent while the polls were saying 10 percent? Studies indicate that the “Bradley Effect,” wherein many people tell pollsters they plan to vote for the African-American candidate and then don't, died out elsewhere in the United States in the mid-90's. This effect appears to persist in Arkansas.
The 2008 presidential election results suggest both bigotry and hypocrisy are alive and well in the Arkansas electorate.
My soaring spirits about Barack being our president hit a ceiling when I saw the outcome of Act 1, banning unmarried individuals from fostering or adopting the many waiting children in foster care. Aside from preventing good, single, cohabitating individuals (whose marital status is unimportant to child well-being, and the presence of an unmarried partner is more linked to economics), it is likely that Act 1 has barred a large percentage of the likely pool of relative caregivers, including grandparents, aunties, cousins, siblings, from becoming the adoptive or foster parents of their relative's children, as many are single and “co-habitating.” I would like to think the Family Council did its homework, exploring the unintended consequences of their exclusion effort. We will now deliberately exclude the single grandparent caregiver with a partner for consideration as a foster or adoptive parent, insuring them the least amount of economic support.
Act 1 is so disturbingly cruel and disrespecting of these unsung heroes, devaluing them once more, and likely closing the door for many to become foster or adoptive parents. Without them, we, the taxpayers, would have to ante up an additional $200 million to serve their children in foster care. Act 1 is a voter-supported act of disrespect and holier-than-thou virtuousness that hurts children and families. I also wonder how the state will be able to uphold federal law under the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act, mandating identification of relatives first to be their grandchildren's foster parents when the children come into the child welfare system. It is hateful for the Family Council and their faith-based supporters to inflict further harm on the children left behind. I expect every voter for Act 1 to stand in line to foster and adopt these children, although I am uncertain how much I would wish these self-righteous and self-serving people into the lives of our children who need compassion and healing.
Dee Ann Newell
National Policy Partnership for Children Left Behind: A 14-State Collaborative Effort
My wife loves Indian food. Every town we go to we make concerted efforts to find the Indian restaurants. We love Indian food. We were deeply disappointed that Star of India was the only Indian restaurant in Little Rock when we moved here because we thought so poorly of it. The food comes across as watered down and the ingredients cheap. I have heard that they add food coloring to the sauces to make up for their lack of spices. I'm in the tech industry and every Indian person that I work with has, for the last 4 years, told me that they did not like the Star of India and did not go there. They would actually travel to Dallas to get Indian food. Now, they eat at Amruth's.
I'm shocked that your writer feels “spoiled” by Star of India in contrast to Amruth. Every one that I know, my wife included, has clearly chosen Amruth over Star of India. Your writer obviously has no experience with Indian food.
Michael A. Dugas
I recently sent a letter of resignation to Mayor Stodola that outlined my reason for resigning as a commissioner on the Little Rock Planning Commission.
As you could see from the letter, my reason for jumping out of the “frying pan” — quitting my term a year early — was not the 800-pound gorilla named Stephens, who was mentioned in a recent Insider item. It was the illness of my 230-pound husband named Robert Pruitt.
Valerie Dawson Pruitt
I sincerely hope your paper will follow up on Amos Barshad's article about a bullying complaint in a North Little Rock school and other such stories. This is a teaching opportunity, a chance to make young people understand that everyone deserves respect; what empathy, discipline and good manners mean, and that violence cannot be tolerated in schools.
It is shocking that the authority figures in the schools don't seem to understand these things much less teach them to the students.
Possibly your story and the court case will inspire some action.
Unhappy with Villines
Our county government did have delegates working to create the plan to protect our drinking water, although County Judge Floyd (Buddy) Villines said there were none.
Your readers should know that Pulaski County government was represented in formation of the Watershed Management Plan for Lake Maumelle, contrary to the statements from Villines printed in the Oct. 30 issue of the Times. Just because Villines said it does not make it so.
As the record shows in the plan itself, JP Pat Dicker was on the Policy Advisory Council and Ashley Pope, director of the Pulaski County Department of Planning and Development, was a member of the Technical Advisory Council.
Campaigning for re-election is one thing. Falsely claiming an elected justice of the peace and a county employee never performed these official duties, when, in fact, both did, is wrong.
Now Dicker's laments about how she could never get a meeting with Villines to brief him on the progress of the Council's work become understandable. Our county judge kept his distance, so that he could one day claim others wrote a plan without any county role, and shoved it down the throat of county government. False.
Dicker sat beside me during those long Council sessions, so I personally witnessed her effort to attend, to learn, to question, and to assert county interests in formation of this plan. With the rest of us, she worked to balance the competing interests of protected drinking water, private development and the role of the county in implementing this Plan.
There's politics, and there is a Do Right Rule.
Villines violated the Do Right Rule when he was so flagrantly disrespectful of the public service performed by Dicker and Pope.
I hate to criticize my favorite weekly newspaper, but I am surprised that the doctor and lawyer on the Nov. 6 cover are portrayed by white men. What's up with that? I expect better from the Arkansas Times.