In a press release by Comcast in August 2011 I was quoted in support of Comcast's program to close the digital divide as follows, "We are proud to pledge our support, but we can't do this alone. We need parents, educators, community leaders and other government officials to join in this effort, spread the word and help increase broadband adoption in our communities."
I recently became aware of local criticism concerning the rollout of this program (Media, Feb. 1). Well over 40,000 nationally have taken advantage of this low-cost Internet access program, low-cost computers and the training to be able to utilize this access.
I understand that Comcast looks forward to multiplying those numbers 10,000 fold, and I eagerly anticipate many of those additions being from Central Arkansas.
Let me repeat my support of Internet Essentials, and I am thankful for what Comcast is trying to do and has done to bridge the digital divide here in Central Arkansas and across the country.
Mayor Patrick H. Hays
North Little Rock
At the sit-in
Thank you for telling our story ("The history of the sit-in movement in Little Rock," Feb. 1). I was the student who remained at the lunch counter with Worth Long when we were sprayed with mace by the White Citizens Council. A force drew me back to remain at the lunch counter with Worth. I felt very strongly that this was very important work of justice that I needed to participate in.
The students at Philander Smith College who participated were instructed by Ozell Sutton and William Hansen representing Dr. Martin L. King and SNCC to sit-in and study. It was difficult to stay at the counter. Our books were open and we tried to study. I prayed more than I studied. We were threatened, called names, poked in the back, not knowing if it was a finger or a gun that was poking us.
We celebrate the Little Rock Nine and their contribution but finally the students at Philander Smith College are being acknowledged for the role they played in the civil rights movement and the history of integration of restaurants and movie theaters in Little Rock.
Veronica Brady Nesbitt
1964 graduate Philander Smith College
FROM THE WEB
In response to "Bank of America denies loan for LR container house," Feb. 8:
The appraisal system is a huge force of inertia. Most houses built in recent decades are low-quality, energy-inefficient, too big, outside of cities, and car-dependent by design. As a result, banks will now mostly loan for projects that are equally stupid and inefficient. Innovative, sensible, modern construction is deemed outlandish. As a result, the U.S. now has a huge overhang of housing stock that is close to useless (but was financed based on housing-bubble inflated appraisals) and in my view has the crappiest housing stock overall in the Western world. What is sorely needed is investment in infill construction or renovation in existing cities. With few exceptions, the banks will not finance this necessary modernization. Sensible investment in housing has to be jump-started with public money.
A special irony that I can't quite explain is the lavish financing that up to recently was available for very expensive downtown condos. In Fayetteville, several multi-million dollar condo projects went bankrupt and are mostly vacant. These projects were appraised at $300-$1,000 per square foot. At the same time, banks would deny loans on the order of $100,000 to remodel existing downtown homes. Those projects would be appraised at less than $100/sq. ft. — based on comparisons with old and run-down homes. Yes, I have seen it: New or extensively remodeled urban homes appraised by comparison with 50-year-old ones. There must be some method in this madness; I just don't know what it would be.
In response to a post on the Arkansas Blog about the Department of Human Services' proposed rule to enforce the state statute that is supposed to prevent religious instructions in schools that receive money under the Arkansas Better Chance program. The rule would only apply during the seven hours of instruction required of the ABC program.
The DHS approach is so typical of an establishment "remedy" to wrongs. Rather than provide a correction, a modest appeasement is proffered, to pretend a surrender, but to keep the established powers mollified that current practices can go on, with minor adjustments.
This puts the wronged party in an only slightly improved position, but still wronged, needing more evidence to start the push again toward real remedy. However, the offenders, armed with a new rule that gives them wiggle room to continue to commit future offenses and the knowledge that they are being watched, can stave off future challenges. For a while.
This has been a tactic used to stymie civil rights, free speech, voting rights and women's rights movements.
Rather than conniving around the matter, DHS needs to just say "No" to the scofflaws like [Rep. Justin] Harris and [Sen. Johnny] Key and stop the abuse of the Constitution.
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