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Smart Talk March 9

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Cold, hunger slated for poor

The first President Bush called Arkansans “the lowest of the low” and the second Bush seems determined to punish us accordingly. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and the Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association analyzed President Bush’s proposed federal budget and found that it would:

• Cut federal funding for K-12 education in Arkansas by $71 million from 2007 to 2011, with the reduction reaching more than 8 percent in 2011.

• Cut Arkansas’s funding for the WIC program (the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children) by $26.9 million over five years, which would mean 5,200 fewer people could be served in 2011.

• Cut Arkansas’s child care funding by $12.3 million over five years.

• Cut Arkansas’s Head Start funding to the extent that more than 1,100 children would be denied participation.

• Eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, which is the core funding for the 16 community action agencies that assist families and communities with vital services.

• Cut federal weatherization assistance for low-income Arkansas households by 32 percent in the first year alone.

• Reduce funding to repair public housing by $10.9 million over five years.

• Reduce by $40 million funding for road improvements, rehabilitation of blighted buildings and other activities.

• Cut federal energy assistance for low-income Arkansas households by $12.5 million over five years.

Kathryn Hazelett, research and fiscal policy director at AACF, noted that these cuts harmful to low-income Arkansans would be made at the same time the administration would extend tax cuts to benefit affluent families.

Local boy makes good

Mike Trimble, a veteran Arkansas journalist whose work once graced these pages, has won another national award. His oft-reprinted memoir of his time as a Bauxite Miner football player was a national award winner while he was at the Times.

Now editor of the opinion page at the Denton (Tex.) Record-Chronicle, Trimble is this year’s winner of the prestigious American Society of Newspaper Editors’ award for editorial writing. He beat the nation’s largest papers for the national award. In addition to the recognition, he gets $2,500.

Trimble, whose resume includes stints at the Arkansas Gazette and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, won for a selection of five editorials on topics local and national — from Denton code enforcement to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s suggestion that gay Iraq veterans should move elsewhere. Check out for clear, common sense editorializing with a hefty dose of humor.

Onward Christian football players

For all that’s been written about those highly recruited Springdale High School football players who’ll be attending the University of Arkansas next year, we didn’t know until we saw the cover of the Feb. 23 Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine that three of them are members of the huge and controversial First Baptist Church of Springdale, pastored by the hugely controversial Ronnie Floyd. Mitch Mustain, the quarterback who was named the U.S. high school player of the year by USA Today and Parade magazine; wide receiver Damian Williams, who won the Landers Award, recognizing the outstanding Arkansas high school player, and Andrew Norman, another wide receiver who was an all-stater, all belong to the church where Pastor Floyd is known for dabbling in pro-Republican politics. The players’ high school coach, Gus Malzahn, who has been hired as an assistant coach at the UA, also belongs to Floyd’s church. Incidentally, Williams is black. Black members are rare in Southern Baptist churches.

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