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Candidate Huckabee

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I worked for the state juvenile services agency when Mike Huckabee was Arkansas governor. He gave orders to privatize the state juvenile training school (the former Alexander Youth Services Center) because the occasional escapes and suicides were hurting his political career. I was involved in contract development, policy negotiation and preparing a plan to lay off about 150 state employees, many of whom had dedicated over 20 years to working with troubled youth at the institution. He made it clear that the welfare of these kids was of little concern.

The out-of-state company that we contracted with did what you might expect for a for-profit company. They minimized their cost to maximize their profit. Mistakes were made, there were more suicides and escapes, and additional kids died. Not long after I retired, the state canceled the contract and took over the facility until another corporation could be located to manage it.

All the ethical misdeeds, use of money from the Mansion Maintenance Account to buy panty hose and gas for his bass boat, misuse of the State Police airplane for duck hunting and political advancement, my experience working in Human Services communications where Huckabee renamed the ARKids health insurance program to make it appear that he started it, printing his photo in state publications where we had never done so before, and all the rest of his shameful tenure do not compare to the utter disregard he showed for the approximately 500 children committed to the state juvenile justice agency.

Frankly, I'm amazed that Huckabee has encountered so little accountability for his abhorrent behavior as governor.

Al Garrett Jr.

Perryville

As I watch the news on TV all I see is Old Dimples, AKA The Huckster. I was sick of him as governor. Lord help me if they don't sweep him under the rug with the other dirt soon.

He stands up and talks about Romney being dishonest with a straight face? I just hope people wake up and read the story about glass houses. I read about someone who was going to Iowa to campaign against The Huckster. Bully for him!

Peggy Wolfe

Heber Springs

Garden credit

Your Dec. 6 review of “Living in the Garden Home” included a presumption that the beautiful full-page photo of New Dawn roses covering a metal archway was photographed in author P. Allen Smith's yard. No, that gorgeous landscape actually was designed and installed by my friend Kim Booth at her home in Scott. An inadvertent omission must have left out that information from the acknowledgments page in the book, so I can see how your reviewer could make that mistake. Kim is an extraordinarily talented master gardener. I'm glad more people can see her beautiful work (that's also her garden gate on page 27), through lovely books like those of P. Allen Smith. He obviously recognizes her great design talent, too.

Katherine Hale

Sherwood

Shameful period

Mara Leveritt's Aug. 16 article (“Bloody Awful”) on the Arkansas prison blood scandal was well written and insightful. As someone who has investigated this subject for several years, I would nevertheless like to point out some important facts not covered.

The prison plasma program did not end in 1991 as the article states. Alpha Therapeutics ended its contract with Pine Bluff Biologics in 1990 and another company, PFE Inc. out of California discontinued its contract with PBBP the following year, but CTM Industries out of New York took over the plasma harvesting operation at the Arkansas Department of Correction in 1991 for the next three years until the doors shut for good in the spring of 1994.

Bobby Roberts asserts in the article that prison plasma was as safe as plasma from the outside world. It's an absurd notion. Several studies, prior to Roberts placement on the board, demonstrated that blood from prisoners was not safe. As early as the 1960s the CDC recognized that prisoners were a “high-risk group of plasma donors” for spreading hepatitis and other diseases.

No matter how Mr. Roberts would like to spin it, the Arkansas Department of Correction's plasma program with all its known problems should never have been allowed to be re-open after the severe FDA violations, failed international recalls of tainted blood, and the revocation of the center's license. Dying victims say that the Department of Correction, the former members of the Board of Correction and ex-Gov. Bill Clinton all have blood on their hands.

Kelly Duda

Director of Factor 8: The

Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal

Little Rock

Grand Canyon addition

Brent Badders of Conway wrote April 19 to “protest the eyesore at the Grand Canyon” constructed by the Hualapais. His wish was that during some night it might fall into the canyon so that conservation might trump greed.

The week that his letter appeared I had flown west with a specific interest in mind of visiting this new attraction which promised a previously impossible viewpoint of the Grand Canyon through modern engineering and construction prowess. Oops! After slowly negotiating the near endless length of the worst road I have ever experienced I finally arrived to be directed to the parking lot. Inside the visitor center where tickets to the Sky Walk are purchased I happened to glance at the wall behind the ticket counter. There, conspicuous in its smallness, was a sign stating “No cameras or personal effects allowed on the Sky Walk” and, even more disconcerting, the further notice “NO REFUNDS.” Obviously were one to buy a ticket and then try to board one of their buses for transport to the Sky Walk with camera in hand, or cell phone, they could eject you with no recourse.

As the point of my visit was to photograph this new wonder for myself, I muttered a few choice words of condemnation and exited.

Nowhere in all the media coverage and hype regarding the tribe's venture into providing a great new tourist attraction has there appeared any warning about the prohibition against picture taking. Probably the visitor center had a good supply of overpriced pictures for sale but I prefer to take my own. My advice would be for all to avoid this “attraction.”

C. L. Butler

Gray, Tenn.

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