“There is clearly a
need to think beyond tomatoes.” — David Acheson, assistant commissioner for
foods of the Federal Drug Administration.
And we suspect he was
looking right at Arkansas when he
said it. In Arkansas, in the
summer, it is hard to think about anything other than tomatoes. Stop thinking
about the tomatoes, with a July sun overhead, and you may start thinking “Why
But as the assistant
commissioner reminds us, we must go on, with or without tomatoes and tomato
thoughts. There's work to be done, a world to be saved.
Lu Hardin, president
of the University of Central
Arkansas, was all wrapped up in tomatoes when he
told inquiring reporters that he hadn't received a secret raise from the UCA
Board of Trustees. It was only later, when he gave his full attention to the subject,
and when reporters all but showed him the canceled check, that he realized the
extra $300,000 in “accelerated payment” he'd accepted might be viewed as a
“raise,” or close to it. Undistracted by tomatoes, he would have explained all
this in the beginning.
It was while focused
on tomatoes that Little Rock City Director Stacy Hurst carelessly used $1,770
of the taxpayers' money to buy a magazine advertisement for herself. We can
just hear her on the phone after her mistake was pointed out to her (by reporters,
again): “Your honor, you won't believe what I've done.” Stamped her feet in
frustration, most likely. “Those darn tomatoes!”
The minds of the
members of the state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission were crowded with
tomatoes when they voted not to name carbon dioxide as an air contaminant.
Questioned, one commissioner said later, “Oh, you mean the greenhouse gas
carbon dioxide, the one that's melting the polar ice caps?! Gosh, I was so busy
thinking about Better Boys I couldn't follow the discussion.”
This is the way great
mistakes have been made throughout Arkansas
history: Orval Faubus sending the National Guard to keep black children out of
Central High. Frank Broyles' pooch kick. Mike Huckabee turning Wayne Dumond
loose. All were spending too much time thinking about tomatoes; else, they
would never have acted as they did.
tomato is a blessing not given other states, and Arkansans are right to be
grateful. But we have to remember that the tomato alone cannot prevent secrecy
in higher education, or the misuse of public funds, or the predations of sex offenders.
Tomato-friendly? Yes. Tomato-dependent? No. We get your point, Mr.