Rather than focus on just one single issue this week, there are several miscellaneous items in my "out basket" that have been in the news recently, some of which have been subjects of past blogs, on which I would like to throw out some random thoughts for general comment and reaction.
STILL DIGGING FOR DOLLARS: As the Little Rock Board of Directors begins focusing on the 2011 budget, even though over four months remain in 2010, I suggest they dust off their copies of the audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the period ended December 31, 2009, and scour it with a fine tooth comb for areas in which savings can be achieved by reducing or eliminating city subsidies and contributions to losing operations and non-essential agencies.
WATER BILL CONFUSION: While Central Arkansas Water is to be commended for promoting water conservation by assessing a 30% surcharge for those who over-consume and applying a 15% discount for those who under-consume. Apparently, the former is based on cubic feet and the latter on gallons, which is confusing in itself. Regardless, I challenge anyone to discern from his/her monthly water bill the specific water consumption in gallons on which the credit is based. Rather, there is an unexplained conversion formula that must be applied to the cubic foot unit factor printed on the bill. Anyone know what that number is?
LOTTERY SCHOLARSHIP SURPRISE: Congratulations to the 47% of the applicant pool who received some lottery money for their college education. To the 53% who were left out of these awards thinking that any applicant who met the threshold criteria would receive one, and voted for the much ballyhooed lottery with that expectation, keep trying. Now, we'll see if these scholarships translate into raising the overall college graduation rate higher than the current abysmal 38%, as nationally we rank 12th among developed nations with college degrees in the 25-34 year old demographic, according to New York Times OP-ED columnist Bob Herbert.
CONVENIENT TRUTH: The breaking off a chunk of the Greenland glacier the size of Manhattan does not bode well for those who still insist that global warming is a fantasy. If that doesn't get your attention, then maybe the 100+ degree weather we've been experiencing all across the U.S., even beginning back in June here in Arkansas, should. At this rate we may well beat the 47 days of 100+ heat back in 1980.
DRILL BABY DRILL AGAIN? Now that the oil disaster in the gulf seems to be under control, is now the appropriate time to begin the conversation as to how and when deep water drilling will resume and under what guidelines and oversight? I just hope they don't punch another hole down below the existing cap as they seek to complete one of two proposed relief wells, or rupture the well bore that may already have cement in it from the static kill operation of a few weeks ago as they pursue the bottom up method of sealing it. Already, there is talk of some risk to proceeding with that alternative, so keep your fingers crossed.
HOMELESSNESS STILL ABOUNDS: While the announcement of an expansion at one of our local homeless shelters was great news, it still does not solve the long term problem which is growing daily nation-wide, and I suspect locally, too, due to the economy. Referencing the money crisis above, I hope a homeless resource center does not get abandoned in the City Board's budget study for next year, as the need is too great. Their just needs to be a shift some municipal priorities.
NEW REVENUE STREAM: Again referencing our money woes above, after all of the expense side items have been thoroughly examined, and if a shortfall to meet the city's essential commitments still exists, then new revenue sources have to be explored to preserve not only those basic services we all expect, but to also honor the obligations made to our city employees who have twice agreed to defer that which was promised them last year.
THE CLOCK KEEPS ON TICKING: Just so you won't forget, the national debt clock is still ticking away with reckless abandon. See for yourself at http://usdebtclock.org.
RESUMPTION OF ARTISTS & GALLERIES: After a couple of weeks of absence, you will find the list of local artists and venues which has been expanded to include some new ones. If there are others of which you are aware that might be included, please let me know.
Laura Raborn at http://paintingsofhome.com and http://claygifts.com
Jim Johnson at http://yessy.com/jimjohnson/gallery.html
Russ Powell at http://powellphotos.com
Linda Flake at http://lindaflake.com
Tom Herrin at http://tommysart.blogspot.com
Matt McLeod at http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Artists Registry at http://www.arkansasarts.org/programs/registry/default.aspx
Sandy Hubler Fine Art at http://sandyhublerfineart.com
George Wittenberg at http://postcard-art-gallery.com
Local Colour Gallery at http://localcolourgallery.com
Chroma Gallery at http://chromagallery.com
Cantrell Gallery at http://cantrellgallery.com
Greg Thompson Fine Art at http://gregthompsonfineart.com
Red Door Gallery at http://reddoorgalleryonline.com
M2 Gallery at http://m2lr.com
UALR Gallery Program at http://ualr.edu/art
Gallery 26 at http://gallery26.com