Columns » Max Brantley

Love, Ark Blog

Things you might have missed if you don't read the Arkansas Blog.

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Things you might have missed if you don't read the Arkansas Blog:

• If you thought Indianapolis was a sleepy Midwest capital city, think again. It's on the list of finalists for Amazon HQ 2, has a booming population, bike trails that can be used for commuting and a mayor who thinks the highway department is wrong in proposing to spend hundreds of millions to widen a downtown freeway. Instead, the Indianapolis mayor would prefer a grade-level route for the road and redevelopment of adjacent land, with former through-town traffic diverted to loop roads.

This is an item worth mailing to the Arkansas Department of Transportation and City Hall. How to sign it? Well, let's take a page from the publicity stunt Little Rock officials pulled instead of competing for Amazon:

Love, Little Rock.

• The city of Little Rock is again planning to send $300,000 in taxpayer money to the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce to subsidize salaries for people who: support the concrete gulch freeway plan; oppose being able to sue for medical malpractice and nursing home abuse; supported the state takeover of the Little Rock School District; oppose allowing the Quapaw Tribe to have the same control over their land enjoyed by rich white men because there's a rich casino owner that doesn't want Indian competition. If you'd prefer not to pay for this lobbying, you might send City Hall a letter.

Love, Little Rock.

• The four women on the Arkansas Supreme Court decided that a single law firm that specializes in such litigation wasn't sufficient defense for a lawsuit by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen over the Supreme Court's order that he hear no death penalty cases. They hired extra lawyers at rates up to $975 an hour for Justice Courtney Goodson's D.C. talent. If you'd prefer the state cut its losses and stop abridging Griffen's free speech rights in the name of politics, write them a letter.

Love, Arkansas.

• Republican Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) went on a tear against UA Little Rock because its billboard advertising included one touting its one-of-a-kind-in-Arkansas major in dance. Hester thinks the state should just spend its money on manly majors like computers and stuff. He apparently thinks the arts have no economic benefit. Perhaps a person who lives near him could write him a letter.

Love, Alice Walton.

• Via Airlines is going to start a nonstop flight to Austin, a capital city booming with privately financed tech development and thriving despite a troglodytic state legislature. A one-way ticket will cost $99. Send them a thank-you note.

Love, Little Rock.

• UA Little Rock is a treasure for more than dance. It's a full-fledged research institution around which a city could market itself. Yet it got rolled a few years ago by the Walton billions, which have been used to stick a disruptive charter high school on campus. It has taxed traffic, library, classroom and eating facilities in addition to dropping rambunctious 15-year-olds into a population of serious students in their 20s. In return, UA Little Rock gets nothing from the Waltons except destruction of a democratically run school district. No "civic leader" dares utter criticism. Write Kathy Smith at the Walton Foundation and say thanks for nothing. Sign it:

Love, Little Rock public school supporters.

• Governor Hutchinson opened the legislative session with a promise, post re-election, to cut income taxes by $180 million on people making more than $77,400 ($154,800 for a married couple filing separately on same return). Almost 60 percent of the windfall will go to about 10 percent of tax filers, with more than 10 percent going to about 600 people. Another thank you note.

Love, millionaires.

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