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Helping homeless

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The city of Little Rock in response to a petition signed by over 100 homeless for a meeting with the mayor and city manager recently scheduled and held a public forum. The mayor and manager were not able to attend, but other city officials did. The Democrat-Gazette news story on that was somewhat incomplete.

I thanked the city for the breakfast trailer and the forum. I then suggested three things: 1) the city provide a breakfast building as promised a year ago; 2) the city move rapidly to open a day resource center as promised in a 10-year plan (two years in the making) to be operational in July 2007; 3) schedule a meeting for the homeless with the mayor and the city manager as requested within the next 30 days.

Robert Johnston

Volunteer-Donor Coordinator/ Feed the Hungry

The strong mayor

I am trying to understand why Little Rock should pay at least $160,000 per year for the mayor to name the players and call the shots under the guise of running the city. And why do we want another parallel operator, the city manager, who we pay still another $160,000 for a total of $320,000.

The man who runs the city of San Jose, Calif., has recently requested a salary raise from about $115,000 to $127,000 and asked for a car allowance of $400 a month. San Jose is one of the 10 largest cities in the country. Is Little Rock so much more difficult or complex to govern than a city with over 900,000 people?

Veto power is another way of saying total and complete control. Add to that the authority to hire and fire the city attorney and the city manager and you end up with an autocrat. Is this really what the average citizen wants? How is the average citizen going to benefit from this change if it occurs?

I sure would like some answers.

Allan Dishongh

Little Rock

Supports Griffen

Enough is enough. I’ve been reading back and forth regarding the charges brought against Appeals Court Judge Wendell Griffen for exercising his First Amendment Right to free speech by making a few comments.

What did Griffen say? He said minimum wage should be raised, he said the response to Katrina was poor, he criticized the war. In short, it appears he spoke on the general state of things, just like every Arkansan and American sitting at the coffee shop or barber shop is doing.

Let’s be clear, because of the First Amendment we ALL can do that, including Judge Griffen. None of the things Griffen mentioned was forthcoming before the court, therefore he did not violate any judicial canon or rule. However, he was charged with misconduct for speaking freely in a free society. Are we in the Twilight Zone? You can’t charge someone in this country for speaking freely or exercising their 1st Amendment rights. Or can you?

I guess you can if you are Director James Badami and the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Commission postponed Griffen’s hearing on July 20 without contacting him or giving him notice of the delay.

Is the Judicial Commission now violating its own canons? What kind of JUDICIAL commission is this? Their actions against Judge Griffen seem anything but judicious. My question: what governing body is going to charge the Judicial Commission with violating judicial canons?

Lisa Burks

Conway

Prison phone rates

Re your item about a reduction in the rates charged New York prison inmates and higher rates in Arkansas:

Arkansas families of inmates are statistically among the poorest people in the state, but still usually step up and accept custody of prisoners’ children, keeping them out of foster care and saving the state approximately $27 million per year by doing so.

So why is the Arkansas Department of Correction profiting millions of dollars annually by adding surcharges to the collect calls they receive from their incarcerated family members through this unlegislated tax?

The Arkansas Department of Correction reported this spring that it would lower its percentage of commission received only after the threat of legislative action. In fact, the department had announced just months before that it had negotiated an increase in the surcharge that would have made it the largest in the nation.

Before the beginning of the legislative session, our coalition contacted every member of the legislature asking for an investigation into how much money has been collected via surcharges and in what way that money is being spent. What did they do instead? They increased the ADC’s budget for the biennium to a record high — nearly $600 million — and refused to hear a bill that would have provided for legislative oversight of prisons even in the midst of investigations into $50,000 worth of missing laptops (later determined to have been stolen by an ADC employee) and a rash of inmate escapes.

The legislature and Gov. Mike Beebe stepped up on the politically advantageous tax on food, but have done nothing about the most regressive tax burdening the poorest of Arkansas families. Will any legislator step up and do the right thing during the inevitable special session?

Jennifer Hicks

Telephone Tax Taskforce Director

Arkansas Coalition for the Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated

Parents

Daisy, Daisy

In neither the Democrat-Gazette June 26 editorial nor Mike Masterson’s June 28 column “Daisy is homeward bound” did they mention that when Daisy moved its production from Rogers to Neosho, Mo., the workers were told that they could apply for their jobs up there, but their seniority would amount to nothing.

Did anyone ask if the move home meant that the production workers would be stripped of their seniority? Will Daisy keep both plants and every 10 years or so move back or forth to keep any worker from getting more than 10 years’ seniority? Will anyone outside of management receive a pension?

Jerry Shell

Leslie

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