Since we are rapidly closing in on the end of this year, now would be the perfect time to once again purge my inbox of carry-over items, and prepare to start 2011 with a new clean slate of issues. So, with your indulgence, here they are.
1. NIMBY - Once again "Not In My Back Yard" raises its ugly head and threatens to kill the latest site for a homeless shelter in Little Rock. What exactly are people afraid of, particularly in an industrial zone across from a scrap yard? Is it better to have our homeless population roam the streets of our city in a scattered fashion and set up shop in their de facto day resource center on the southwest corner of Markham and Cross Streets, or have a clean, sanitary, safe and protected place for them to go? The need is urgent and the time is now, so I trust our city fathers will not once again cave on this issue and instead will do the absolutely right thing and make that proposed 9th Street location the proud new home for our homeless population. And please don't use that tired old excuse of no money. How about re-appropriating that annual $200,000 unaccounted for gift to the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce as start?
2. Vive la France, and Hawaii, Too - Several years ago there was a flap about extensive, and in some cases questionable, travel of some Little Rock City Directors to foreign countries. One of the off-shoots of that issue as I recall was that at the very least the travelers owed the taxpayers a report of what was learned or gained to the benefit of the city as a result of those travels. Has any such reporting of recent foreign travels by city representatives been made to the public?
3. Here We Go Again - Once again it's time for the revolving door of replacing superintendents of the Little Rock School District to start spinning. At least this time it has taken 3.3 years to make another change when the average tenure of a LRSD superintendent since 1978 has been a dismal 1.7 years (yes, we've had 18 during the past 32 years, some of whom were interim, others repeats). By that measure I guess we should rate the current occupant of this office as a major success. Do the names Masem, Kelly, Jones, Williams, Carnine, James, and Brooks, to name just a few, ring a bell? With all of the challenges that this district has gone through during these past three decades, it would seem that the one thing we need more than any other is stability in leadership, including a firm commitment to this community. In that regard is it necessary to again spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to conduct a national search to find another superintendent (see above list for the track record of that method) when, in fact, there may be other excellent candidates within the State of Arkansas, if not Little Rock, who have a deep appreciation of our history, as well as the professional knowledge, to bring that needed stability to our local situation?
4. I've Got Mine, Now You Get Yours - So, let me get this straight. Our congress is now debating the merits of whether to extend unemployment benefits to those in our country who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own during the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression , but only if the top 2% of the richest members of our society get their reduced taxes extended. What's wrong with this picture? Are we so selfish in this country that we would further penalize those who have been impacted the most by this latest recession at the very time they so desperately need help, and add another $700 billion to our $14 trillion debt in the process? Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Ted Turner among others don't think so, and neither do I.
5. Good-By to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - Simply put, it's past time to put this policy of asking many our brave military personnel to live a lie when they are risking their lives daily to defend our freedoms, one of which is to not be persecuted for sexual orientation. I would suspect that among the multitude of young men and women in uniform under 25 years of age this is a non-issue, so it seems to be influenced by demographics with some post-Vietnam generals just not able to face reality. Somehow we have got to purge ourselves of this homophobia not only in the armed forces, but in our society in general.
6. Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil - Listening to and reading about all of the reaction to the Wiki Leaks matter, I must confess some ambiguity. On the one hand, if the release of all of those documents has caused irreparable harm to our national security and diplomatic apparatus and put people's lives at risk, not unlike the Valerie Plame outing in 2003, then it is obviously a bad thing for which appropriate legal measures should be taken against the perpetrator(s). However, if it is a release of information to which the public is entitled anyway, then my reaction is somewhat tempered. Also, it calls into play the question of how the world might have been different had the public been privy to the truth at critical times in our history had we known about them at the time (e.g. our early engagements with Cuba and the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, the truth about the Iraq War, etc.). If nothing else I trust this affair will place all diplomats and others in public service on notice to be much more circumspect in their comments, lest they bear the brunt of them being publicly disclosed.
7. The Last Station - As history marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Leo Tolstoy at the Astapovo train station in the bleak cold winter of 1910, may I recommend the movie "The Last Station" about his life and that event. It's a great story with a cast of marvelous actors.
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
Will Barnet at http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,17315,23628,23670,24472,25834,26095,26328,26562,26637,26761,26790,26849,26992,27095,27126,27139,27147,27178&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=will+barnet&cp=9&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=xpfETMT1O4L6lwf66ugE&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=2&sqi=2&ved=0CEkQsAQwAQ&biw=1350&bih=501
Barry Thomas at http://barrythomasart.com
Sherry Williamson at http://meowbarkart.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
Boswell Mourot Fine Art at http://boswellmourot.com