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Smart Talk

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Presidential library woes

In Little Rock, if it wasn’t Gene Pfeifer’s legal fight it was a soon-to-disappear group of right-wing zealots promising mischief that dogged the creation of the Clinton Presidential Library.

In Dallas, where President George W. Bush is considering SMU as a library site, opposition is developing from the other end of the political spectrum. SMU faculty fear intellectual dishonesty will rule the project (a fair bet, given his presidency). A group of Methodist ministers has also organized in opposition to a monument to the warmaker.

Then there’s opposition, too, from the Hope for Peace and Justice, a social justice group. According to the Dallas Business Journal, it opposes the library because it will “no doubt be a terrorist target,” said Rev. Michael Piazza. Piazza, who has been pastor of what’s described as the world’s largest gay church, the Cathedral of Hope, fears traffic will stress the SMU neighborhood and create security concerns.

“Dallas has worked for decades to escape the reputation as the ‘City that killed Kennedy,’ ” Rev. Piazza told the Business Journal. “We do not need to return to that right-wing reputation. Playing host to Mr. Bush’s well-funded, neo-conservative think-tank will taint our reputation indelibly. Residents need to guard their reputation and say, ‘No thank you Mr. President.’ ”

Wrong arena

James Brewer and Ronald Dedmon, who’ve had previous unpleasant encounters with the police, chose a poor place to get into a fight last week. They were on R Street in the Heights, solving philosophical differences with fists, when Chief of Police Stuart Thomas happened to emerge from Burge’s restaurant. Thomas approached the men and they, stupidly, started yelling at the chief, asking to see his badge. One started yelling that it was his desire to kill someone. The chief called for backup, and got it in the form of several patrol cars. Brewer and Dedmon were cuffed and hauled off. They were later charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct and failure to appear in court on previous similar charges.

As it turns out, Thomas was in Burge’s not for the catfish but to talk to the Heights Neighborhood Association about a recent crime and neighborhood concerns about a parole office opened on R Street. The altercation and its location in front of the office are thought to be coincidental, however.

The two men were not jailed. Not enough room. The police say they usually hang out downtown, so R Street may have seen the last of them.

Opponents of equal rights

An interesting fight is brewing in the legislature over approval of the Equal Rights Amendment. The federal amendment could be ratified, some legal scholars think, with ratification by three more states and congressional extension of an earlier deadline for ratification.

Rep. Lindsley Smith and Sen. Sue Madison have been pushing the issue and the House, with about 70 sponsors including Speaker Benny Petrus, seems likely to pass it. The Senate had only 11 sponsors at the outset, needing 18 for passage, though several not on the legislation are believed to be supporters.

What’s surprising is the absence of sponsorship from several Little Rock-area legislators, who represent one of the most progressive parts of the state. Democratic women Reps. Dawn Creekmore and Pam Adcock aren’t sponsors. Republican Reps. Sid Rosenbaum and Dan Greenberg similarly are missing and we’d bet their West Little Rock territories are full of ERA backers. Greenberg, who (sigh) the Arkansas Times endorsed, says an amendment about equality based on gender somehow would lead to gay marriage. (That would be OK with us, but it is not likely or the point.)

Senators who should be called to support the ERA: Paul Bookout of Jonesboro, Shane Broadway of Bryant, Jack Critcher of Batesville, Bobby Glover of Carlisle, Jim Hill of Nashville, Barbara Horn of Foreman, Gene Jeffress of Louann, Jimmy Jeffress of Crossett, Bob Johnson of Bigelow, Randy Laverty of Jasper, Jim Luker of Wynne, Percy Malone of Arkadelphia, Paul Miller of Melbourne, Jerry Taylor of Pine Bluff, Robert Thompson of Paragould and Ed Wilkinson of Greenwood.

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