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Happy to do it

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One felt like cheering when Julie Mayberry cited the generosity of six state legislators, all supporting her plan to build a handicapped-accessible public park in Saline County. Awesome they were, she said.

"[Rep.] Ann Clemmer gave $4,000. Sen. Alan Clark gave $10,000. [Rep.] Andy Davis did $5,700. [Rep.] Kim Hammer did $5,000." Mrs. Mayberry's own husband, Rep. Andy Mayberry, and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson were even more open-handed, each "giving" $50,000 to the project.

It became easier to hold the applause when one learned that these donations were not coming from the legislators' own pockets but from Arkansas taxpayers, and that the legislators were channeling public money to the park in such a way as to circumvent a constitutional prohibition against local legislation. This involves a fairly complicated process that requires the approval of local planning districts, all of which obligingly give their approval, unwilling to offend local legislators, and it's a clear violation of the spirit of the law.

It's easy to be a cheerful giver when you're being praised for giving somebody else's money. Mrs. Mayberry might come back seeking funds to erect statues of the Stalwart Six in the new park. They'd be glad to "give" again, we're sure.

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