This weekend, the placard for a Little Rock judgeship caught The Observer's eye. “From Little Rock, for Little Rock,” the sign said.
We happened to know, thanks to an overzealous supporter of this particular candidate, what this slogan is all about. His opponents, see, are not Little Rock natives.
Well, excuuuuuuse me, thought The Observer, who has spent only 36 of his 58 years in Little Rock. When it comes to politics, I apparently should call in the Times' bird watching bureau chief for commentary. She's native born. Or perhaps I could call in the head of our barbecue-and-fried-catfish bureau. He's a graduate of Paron High School. That's not Little Rock, true, but it's closer than The Observer's Louisiana home. (The Observer is attempted to crack wise about Paron: Closer to Little Rock, but so far from … . Well, never mind.)
Let The Observer be serious. Do we want to elect the most experienced, best educated, most judicious candidates to judgeships? Or do we prefer homeboys? This particular campaign pitch seems to opt for Door No. 2.
A wise man might realize that an appeal to the homeys could be insulting to the significant portion of the population born elsewhere through no choice of their own. A wise man might even conclude that a higher affection for Little Rock is demonstrated by those who live here by informed choice rather than inertia.
We rest our case.
The Observer attended a function at the Governor's Mansion last week. The mansion used to be sealed shut, like a tomb, unless you happened to be part of the secretive in-crowd that surrounded the previous governor. What a difference a new governor makes.
Gov. Mike Beebe and his wife, Ginger, stood at an open door, shaking the hands of everyone who entered — and there were over a hundred in attendance. They smiled and said welcome. A man from Arizona, a guest of an attendee, was said to be floored. That's the governor at the door?
The event was for a cause near and dear to the first lady's heart — it was a sale of art by people with mental illness. But a week rarely goes by when there isn't a public event at the mansion, and the occupants are almost always there to greet and let folks in, The Observer is told.
The Beebes described the mansion as not just their home but the “people's house.” They meant it.
You can get a glass of wine there, too.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai was in town last week to speak about the environmental and women's rights efforts by the Green Belt Movement, which she founded in her native Kenya. At a morning coffee given by the Nature Conservancy, which is working in Africa as well as Arkansas, Maathai opened her remarks by acknowledging former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, who was with his wife, Betty, at the coffee. Maathai apologized, saying she didn't know how to address the governor — would it be your excellency? “With hostility,” Tucker replied. He was smiling when he said it. The former governor, despite his persecution at the hands of the Starr chamber, seems to have retained his sense of humor. Good for him.
The Observer got a call Monday from a mother at Arkansas Children's Hospital who's been living in the waiting room there since March. She's waiting, and her infant, Amelia, is waiting, for a heart. Amelia isn't even a year old and has had six surgeries; she has come here from Louisiana to get a new heart, since that state doesn't have a pediatric transplant program. Amelia's mother wanted people to know that babies need hearts. She wanted other mothers grieving over the loss of their own infants to consider organ donation. Her baby is a fighter, she said, but could use some help.