Thank you for noting my support for Mike Beebe. I came early and stayed late! I had the pleasure of serving with our governor-elect when we were both young legislators in the 1980s. I found him to be a pragmatic consensus builder who worked with people rather than with a specific political party. As one of six Republicans in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1985, he treated me with great courtesy and respect. Arkansans are about relationships, friendships and loyalty. As to switching sides, I always considered myself to be a pretty independent person as well as an independent legislator. I was endorsed by the AEA and the AFL/CIO during my second campaign. When elected during the mid-1980s, I always considered myself a fiscal conservative and a person who believed in a trim, well-run state government. The last election made it fairly obvious that the people of Arkansas were having trouble recognizing a party which seemed to have lost its way. Creating fear of immigrants and engaging in gay bashing is not what the Republican Party of Arkansas needs to be about. Unless they return to more moderate, mainstream beliefs, I think they are going to see a further slide in those they elect.
City homeless effort
The Arkansas Homeless Coalition issues the following statement regarding the Dec. 12 announcement of the selection of Jimmy Pritchett as Little Rock Homeless Services coordinator by City Manager Bruce Moore.
In a Dec. 13 morning meeting of the Arkansas Homeless Coalition, the members expressed their disappointment and shared amazement at Mr. Moore’s selection of Pritchett. Pritchett was a city employee for many years in code enforcement, and later in neighborhood programs. Homeless advocates of the Arkansas Homeless Coalition have fought the city since 2004 over the methods of both entities in destroying and throwing away possessions of the homeless, in attempts to drive homeless out of the city, and for offering no alternatives for their very real need for a place to exist. Advocates have experienced with both code enforcement and with neighborhood programs, instances of these entities sweeping homeless camps and making promises of homeless assistance that have never materialized.
Advocates have spent three years working with the different efforts of the city to develop a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness. The position of a Little Rock Homeless Services coordinator has always been addressed in the planning process as a person who can work to secure funding to build a day resource center, a person who can bring the business community and homeless service providers together to help end homelessness through joint cooperation, and a person who can develop the programs required to meet the myriad of needs of the homeless.
The news release from Moore quotes David Sink as saying, “Jimmy Pritchett knows City Hall.” This quote very succinctly sums up the concerns of homeless advocates. The same release quotes Estella Morris saying, “Jimmy will have a steep learning curve.” Again, this is also our concern. Homeless people need help now. Homeless advocates are concerned that the city has simply created another position whose duty it will be to rid the downtown of the homeless by destroying their camps, and attempting to drive the homeless from one area to another, then to another.
Many people gave freely of their time to develop the 10-year plan. Advocates held forth the slightest hope that some positive action could come from the plan’s development. The homeless can not simply disappear from downtown, midtown, east, west, south, or North Little Rock until they have alternatives to living on the streets.
Sandra R. Wilson, Chair
Arkansas Homeless Coalition
I championed a candidate for the position of homeless coordinator who had experience as a professional working with the target population and who had worked tirelessly with those of us on the front lines of the war against hunger. This person worked daily for months volunteering her time helping me feed breakfast at the center on Markham Street.
I don’t know Jimmy Pritchett. I’ve never seen him give a blanket or a coat to a homeless person or arrive before 7 a.m. to fix coffee. He hasn’t (to my knowledge) raised one dime to feed the homeless. I know he hasn’t boiled an egg or passed out a single donut. From the news release his main qualification for the job is that he knows how City Hall works. Well, I know how City Hall works. Business interests and political cronyism supersede the public interest.
I am finally and truly disgusted with the city of Little Rock. Those of us who have been trying to feed the hungry were lied to about the building on Markham Street. It has not sold. We were promised support in getting another place for feeding. That has not happened. Time and time again we find a building and then business and political interests take precedence and we are left hanging. And the hungry and homeless are still hungry and homeless.
I predict that a year from now there will be no permanent center. There will be no temporary center, and any help for the homeless will be provided by beleaguered volunteers who are working in the elements without any support from the city. In fact, they will be working as they are now, despite the underhanded efforts of the city of Little Rock.
Save tennis courts
The justification offered recently in a Democrat-Gazette article for the destruction of the tennis center in War Memorial Park is that “there are 16 city parks that feature at least one tennis court.” But most are concrete surfaces, without tennis nets and with basketball goals at each end.
The most prominent falsehood in the article is that the Walker Tennis Center, built in 1959, “was built more than 20 years after the football stadium.” War Memorial Stadium was, of course, as everyone in Little Rock should know, constructed after World War II, which ended in 1945. The reporter apparently thinks it was built as the Hoover depression ended, not after FDR led this nation to victory after Pearl Harbor — yet another way Republican papers and reporters distort facts.
William B. Brady