Your headline, "La belle vie" — is that French for "or how to steal from the saps back home"?
I don't speak French but that's the attitude people like Ron Mathieu and "Mayor" Stodola must have after reading your article (November 25, 2010). A 500 euro ticket for one supper is outrageous, even if it is allegedly not at the taxpayer's expense (and while not at the taxpayers expense, try flying out of the only public airport in Little Rock without paying those "passenger fees" that support airport operations).
The only thing you missed in the article was pointing out the following: the total bill (in US dollars) was approximately $670, with $289 (US) being spent on alcoholic beverages. That is some drunk that Mathieu, Stodola and company put on — at Arkansans' expense mind you, not their own. Now maybe you know why Stodola won't demand an accounting of funds from the Chamber of Commerce. What wonderful expenses does the CC have associated with "the mayor" that would be disclosed?
Your article stated that "almost all of the commissioners ... have taken trips. ..." Could it be that the reason for the lack of concern by the commissioners is they too are feeding at the trough, like fat swine?
A $180k job, unlimited credit card expenses for booze and lavish dinners, trips to places most Arkansans can't afford to go, vehicles provided by the "board" — the smell from the Little Rock National Airport Commission and the Executive Suites is rising above the city like the stench from an old paper mill.
Hire instead of raise
With unemployment so high and Little Rock proposing a 4 percent raise for all of its employees, my question is: Wouldn't it be more helpful to hire someone that's been unemployed for the last 2 years, rather than give a raise to people that have been gainfully employed for the last 2 years? Isn't that the concept someone tried to foster with the "each business hire one person" idea?
North Little Rock
A plug for Old Mill
It has come to my attention that the Arkansas Times rarely mentions Old Mill Bread and Flour Co. Especially after reading "Best Breakfast in Arkansas." I'm aware that this local business mainly focuses on specialty breads, but muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, breakfast sandwiches and a breakfast casserole you can only find on Sundays are also wonderful features in this modest but delicious bakery. The Arkansas Times claims to support local businesses, but for whatever reason, your weekly periodical failed to even mention this staple in the local restaurant scene. This bakery supplies goods to such local favorite as Dave's Place, Acadia, Cafe 42 and Capers. It's astounding to me that it could just be so casually overlooked. It mills its own flour for god's sake!
At last!!! An actual responsible adult in Washington, D.C. has stood and listed, out loud, the hard choices that must be made in order for this country to avoid the inevitable financial catastrophe that will land squarely on the backs of our grandchildren. Any thinking person who has ever had to balance a checking account knows a country, just like an individual, cannot continue indefinitely spending far more than it takes in without ever having to pay the piper. We have avoided taking responsibility, on both sides of the aisle, for more than two decades by denying the problem exists. Well the jig is up and kudos to Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles for putting on their big boy hats and telling the truth.
An opportunity to have begun this difficult process was squandered after 9/11 when every American was ready and eager to sacrifice for the greater good. As a nation our proudest moments are those when we close ranks and pull together for the sake of family, faith and country. Being encouraged to shop somehow fell short of those lofty aspirations. Without disaster to motivate us it is unlikely those in charge in Washington will risk their cozy fiefdoms to do the right thing, but we can always hope.
Clean the world
I just heard about the non-profit organization "Clean the World" today on NPR. I was so impressed that I immediately started contacting major hotels in Little Rock. This amazing organization collects used soaps and other products from premium hotels across the U.S. and Canada, sanitizes them for re-use, and then distributes them to those in need across the globe. Currently they are active in Haiti where the deaths from cholera are increasing daily. Millions of lives are lost every year to diseases that could be prevented with access to hygiene products and proper education about hygiene.
"Clean the World" does so much good in so many communities while also keeping barely-used products from going into landfills. Please, readers, contact the hotels in your area and ask them to participate. One can also donate directly to them. Here is their website: www.cleantheworld.org.