Our governor has an approval rating of 80 percent, Arkansans like him because he's been good for us. For the good of people and party, Governor Beebe please consider running for the Senate.
North Little Rock
In the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission meeting Jan. 22, the conflict of interest issue by state commission members domi-nated much of the meeting. While the rules for deciding air permits under which the commission operates do not require disclosure of financial conflicts and recusal by commission members, as a matter of principle, they should.
In contrast to other state commissions, the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission makes decisions that affect the health of individuals, communities, environment, and wildlife. The commissioners whom the governor appoints must place the safety and health of our state above all else, even jobs. Tom Schueck's past decisions as a former commissioner to introduce minute orders and votes to approve the Turk air permit may have been made with environment and health foremost in his mind, but we will never know.
The conflict of interest issue belongs squarely in the office of the governor, where appointments are made. In recent public forums, I have advocated “high expectations” for the citizens of our state. Arkansans should expect public officials to place the environmental and yes, the economic health of the state above self-interest. We should expect quality and above-board decisions — and not be satisfied with less. I don't expect the Commission to support my view on all issues, but I do expect a fair and level playing field. The standard? All business and personal conflicts should be fully disclosed prior to key decisions and the commissioner should recuse him or herself.
State director, Audubon Arkansas
The library tax
“It's the library! It's our library!” This is what runs through my head as I read about the “successful” lawsuit against the Central Arkansas Li-brary System. Although Little Rock voters voted for the library to receive funds from a 1.5-mill property tax increase, because the Quorum Court missed a paperwork deadline CALS doesn't get to keep the first year's collection and has to give it back. How much? According to last Friday's article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, likely over $4 million. That works out to the average homeowner getting back about $45.
What could I do with $45? I could buy three, maybe four, books. Or my $45 plus yours and yours could buy thousands of books, DVDs, newspapers, and magazines; build two new branch libraries, one of them a children's library (with the nice ancillary benefit of increasing prop-erty values); give us free access to computers, the Internet, and online databases; pay for story-times, after-school programs, clubs, and speak-ers; provide free public meeting spaces, and much, much more.
Which is the better choice? It seems to me the voters already answered that question in 2007 when we voted nearly two to one FOR the tax. The director of CALS says he may have to close a branch, delay the opening of one of the new libraries, decrease hours, and buy fewer books — or maybe even close all the libraries for a month. I find this alarming!
It hasn't been decided whether refunds will be given as a credit on property taxes, a check from the library, or otherwise. If I get a credit, I'm do-nating that amount to CALS. If I get a check from the library, I'm going to write “VOID” across it and take it back — maybe when my 3-year-old son and I take our weekly visit to our local library to play in the castle and check out a stack of (way more than four) books. I think we'll borrow the children's classic “Stone Soup.” The group behind this lawsuit would do well to learn its lesson about community cooperation versus selfishness.
Little Rock is fortunate to have an expansive, modern, well-managed, and well-staffed library system. We voted to support it, but now this lawsuit has gone against the will of the voters. I hope others will join me and refuse to take the money back — it's the library!
Re: the article about a North Little Rock sign ordinance: Bright nighttime lights, including signs, streetlights, and private property exterior lighting, are detrimental to individuals, whole neighborhoods and the nighttime sky. These new signs create a driving safety hazard, just as glaring property lights (as opposed to even, low lighting) actually create cover for crime commitment, lighting trespass into sleeping quarters disrupts circadian rhythms necessary to good health and, not a small consideration, people are being robbed of the joy of nighttime skies.