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More meanness

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Use their water supply for a toilet. Close their zoo. When it comes to tormenting people, Sen. Bob Johnson thinks big, like Satan.

Johnson was rebuffed, at least temporarily, when he tried to let developers and polluters have their way with Lake Maumelle, but he was not reformed. His evil eye is now trained on the Little Rock Zoo, which has enlightened and entertained generations of Arkansans, brought families together, educated and amused, made memories. In fact, all of War Memorial Park, in which the zoo is located, seems to offend Johnson, what with its valuable acreage being unused for commercial purposes, and its golf and tennis facilities available to people who don't pay dues to a country club or a senator. Rip it all up, is Johnson's inclination.  There's more money to be made from parking lots than elephant pens, and real-estate speculators can do more for legislators and aldermen than starry-eyed children not old enough to vote, much less contribute to a re-election campaign.

We exaggerate little. There's clearly a move afoot, and it is not just Johnson's, to tear the green jewel that is War Memorial Park and the Zoo out of central Little Rock, and to fill the hole with asphalt and for-profit ventures. Johnson says he won't propose such a bill in the current legislative session, but we can't put our full trust in him. People who care about parks and zoos should make their feelings known to city and state officials, promptly and emphatically.

 

Into the breach again

The legislature convened Monday facing the usual large opportunities to do right and temptations to do wrong. Education needs money, as always, and health care needs it more than ever. Bills to punish animal cruelty, and to remove cell phones from the hands and ears of drivers, should have been enacted before now. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's proposed legislation to slow the transition from legislator or regulator to lobbyist sounds promising. As McDaniel notes, the most recent state insurance commissioner has gone to work for a company that a month ago she was regulating, and in making this crossover she merely followed precedent. The usual grabs for more tax breaks for special interests must be fended off. A new problem is how to run a state lottery. The voters approved it in November, the revenue is designated for college scholarships, but the details remain devilish. Finally, a legislator's proposed guarantee of a right to “harvest” game should be quickly rejected, for abuse of the language. 

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