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Smart Talk Oct. 20

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Revisionist history
Griffin Smith, executive editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has labored to reThe disease is apparently catching. Smith’s wife, Libby, travel editor at the D-G, contributed an article in the latest American Heritage magazine on things to do in Little Rock.

Said Mrs. Smith, with emphasis supplied: “One of the major sights on ‘The Little Rock and Roll’ tour is Little Rock Central High School and the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitor Center, devoted to memorializing President Dwight Eisenhower’s forced integration of the school in 1957, an early landmark of the civil rights movement.”

History books say a reluctant Eisenhower sent troops to enforce the federal court order implementing the Little Rock School Board’s voluntary desegregation plan. You might also say the museum memorializes the victory of the U.S. Constitution over “forced segregation” of public schools. Don’t try it, though, if you work for the Democrat-Gazette.

Hoosier daddies
Arkansas legislators rarely come up with new ideas, they just copy. So it shouldn’t be long before one or another of our lawmakers follows up nifty legislation drafted by Indiana Republicans (but pulled back for revision after a public outcry).

The bill would have made marriage a requirement for motherhood in Indiana and imposed criminal penalties on unmarried women who became pregnant “by means other than intercourse.”

Married couples could still seek pregnancy through in vitro fertilization and sperm and egg donation, but the draft legislation said they had to first file a “petition for parentage” in probate court and undergo the screening, including criminal background checks, employed for adoptive parents.

Let them vote cake
Voter registration applications at public assistance agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services fell by 88 percent in Arkansas from 1995 to 2004, according to a new study. At the same time, voter registration applications at all other sites declined by only 11 percent.

Nationwide, voter registration applications from public assistance agencies fell 60 percent from 1995 to 2004, while voter registration applications from all other sites increased by 22 percent.

The study was done by a voting rights coalition consisting of research and advocacy groups including ACORN. Their report concluded that the states have largely ignored provisions of the 1995 National Voter Registration Act requiring public assistance agencies to offer voter registration to their clients.

The report quoted Arkansas ACORN member Gloria Smith, who said she sought a food stamp application at the DHHS office at 1101 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in Little Rock. Smith said the DHHS employee she spoke with did not advise her that voter registration was available, and no voter registration form or information about voter registration was included in the packet that was given her.

Julie Munsell, communications director for DHHS, said “Voter registration is a part of the application process for our public assistance programs and is routinely offered.”

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