Open letters to Governor Hutchinson
As a proud Arkansan, Hog fan and former refugee, it's very upsetting to see Gov. Asa Hutchinson turn his back on people who are not much different from me.
As a product of the conflict in the Balkans, my family escaped war-torn Bosnia and immigrated to the U.S. We made our home in Hot Springs, opened two businesses, paid our taxes, and never once asked for a handout. I moved on to attend the University of Arkansas and now make Little Rock my home. Nothing makes me happier than an Arkansas tailgate and beating LSU.
Instead of opening your arms and fostering an environment where you have the opportunity to create proud Americans, Arkansans and a new generation of Hog-calling Razorback fans, you choose to turn your back.
Luckily, you don't have the power to turn away refugees and that gives me hope, because you can't deny future generations from experiencing the Arkansas I know and love.
North Little Rock
The rapid actions of you and too many of your colleagues to deny shelter for women, men and children under extreme threats has left me bewildered. Our nation of immigrants, "the greatest and strongest country in history," has always been strengthened, enriched by our historically open-armed inclusion of such threatened peoples. To doubt the ability of the United States to filter through those seeking safe harbor makes me sadly question your faith in the abilities and motivations of your fellow citizens to "protect and defend," a proposition that dilutes the bellicose slogans we repeatedly are exposed to on both sides of the current presidential campaign.
Xenophobic is a distasteful term at best and to add politically motivated to the adjective creates a very unflattering label and, as uncomplimentary a term as it is, it applies to actions formed in such a hurried collaborative effort.
If only truly frightening ubiquitous problems could be dealt with as comprehensively, problems like the number of murders in Little Rock. The capital city of Arkansas, a state with one of the highest per capita gun ownership rates nationwide, but then I am sure all of those weapons are needed to protect ourselves from the Syrian hoards.
The exclusion of humans from the welcoming protection of the U.S.A. is a pathetic exploitive maneuver that diminishes the standing of our nation in the eyes of history.
North Little Rock
Waste not exclusive
Those on the right talk about the wastefulness of government, preferring instead a set of circumstances that grants private business the power to control the economy. What the right fails to mention is that private business is just as, if not more, wasteful than government. It's just that private companies can hide their waste in write-offs, or by passing the cost of waste to customers and employees. How many times have products gone to waste while some corporation waits out more favorable market conditions?
30 Crossing needs
to be reimagined
I write today to urge Mayor Mark Stodola and the Little Rock Board of Directors to vote for Directors Webb and Richardson's resolution that recognizes that the development of 30 Crossing will affect Little Rock and the Central Arkansas area for the next 50-plus years.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's process thus far has been based on a narrow criteria that does not include quality of life and the desirability of living in our city. AHTD's expertise lies in engineering freeways. Its primary concern is moving traffic quickly through town. That is good for folks in Cabot, Benton, Bryant and others commuting to Little Rock. It will cut their drive time by 10-15 minutes. However, it is clear to me that Little Rock will be the loser. AHTD's proposal will magnify an already hulking barrier in the heart of downtown. The River Market/Clinton Library area is the jewel of our city, one that has been created by pouring millions of dollars and human effort into it for the past 30 years.
Should AHTD — engineers who build really good highways — be in charge of visioning our future? I believe the people visioning our future should be our city directors and citizens. The tail in this case is wagging the dog. We should bring a vision for the engineers to execute.
We all recognize that the corridor needs improvements and management, yet at this moment, no alternatives have been brought forth by AHTD despite vocal and intelligent opposition by many individuals, representatives and community groups, including:
The Downtown Neighborhood Association, the Quapaw Quarter Association, the Central High Neighborhood Association, the Capitol View/Stifft Station Neighborhood Association, the Heights Neighborhood Association, the Hillcrest Residents Association, The League of Women Voters, Reps. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) and Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), eStem Principal John Bacon, the Metropolitan Area Transit Consortium, UALR Engineering Department faculty and others.
While AHTD has constantly cited figures and data drawn by modeling conducted by Metroplan, they have ignored Metroplan's central tenet that states that no freeway should be widened beyond six lanes. Why? You cannot build your way out of these traffic problems. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, quoted in Inside Business recently, said, "We can't build enough roads to solve our transportation problems. We can't widen enough." "[And if roads are the only solution] the South is going to be stuck in traffic. Period." Foxx, and many other experts nationwide, believe transportation solutions must be multimodal with roads, public transit, good walking environments and good land planning.
Predicting the future and how people will behave is not as easy as multiplying numbers derived from recent and past data. An interest on the part of young people in moving to SOMA and other downtown areas is based on a desire for living in spaces that allow freedom from the tyranny of the car. For my generation, a car meant freedom. For this generation, a car is expensive, polluting and dictates an infrastructure that negatively impacts walking and biking. Other disruptors to the transportation status quo include technology that will make cars far safer and able to read traffic and navigate routes more easily.
We need to take a hard look at the directions our society is taking and at what is happening all over the country where freeways are being ripped out and replaced by boulevards. Boulevards are used in all the great cities of the world to move traffic safely and dependably through human-centered environments. Boulevards also allow for corners that can be developed with shops and restaurants and businesses, for the enjoyment of walking humans and provide a great tax base. Freeways suck our capital out of our cities.
The need to embrace change in transportation planning and policy is urgent. Please vote for the Webb/Richardson resolution, which simply asks AHTD to perform a more thorough analysis of all the options.
Our citizens are counting on you.
Ellen M. Fennell
From the web:
In response to Gene Lyons' Nov. 19 column, "ISIS isn't an existential threat to the U.S.":
Had to ask what existential means. Real. The French do not like their cafe life invaded. Real fear. Music concerts are places to express joy. When gunmen appear, it turns the joy into real fear.
Reading in the Wall Street Journal about the tunnels under Sinjar inspires visions of Vietnam and the futility of boots on the ground.
The ideology of ISIS seems to spread like a virus. The herd of displaced families is a terrible human suffering.
Maybe ISIS is not an existential threat, but like herpes it hurts like hell.
Do away with the distribution of the world's income from its upward flow and quit screwing with the fragility of this thing we call Earth. Treat the causes of the disease and not the symptoms.
Thanks, Dubya. You really screwed up here.