The Arkansas Green Party nominated candidates for all four U.S. House races in Little Rock today, including two candidates who have run multiple races.
Meanwhile, Fred Smith, the former Harlem Globetrotter whose attempt to run as a Democrat was voided by a judge’s ruling in April, will run for House District 50 as a Green.
The following candidates are running for the U.S. House:
First District – Jacob Holloway, a 24-year-old ASU student
Second District – Barbara Ward of Little Rock, who works at the Historic Arkansas Museum
Third District – Rebekah Kennedy, an attorney from Fort Smith. Kennedy ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in 2006; for U.S. Senate in 2008; and for attorney general in 2010
Fourth District – Josh Drake, an attorney from Hot Springs. This is Drake’s third consecutive attempt to be elected to this seat.
Independent Arkansas caught up with Kennedy, Drake and Ward at the convention and was able to get video interviews with Kennedy and Drake. The three were realistic about their chances. Drake even said, “I joke that if I had a chance of getting elected, my wife wouldn’t let me run.” But Kennedy in particular promised a vigorous campaign.
The three believe in Green Party values – stopping climate change, nationalized health care, a reduction of corporate influence in Washington. Drake was more passionate about health care while Kennedy focused on energy and the environment.
Asked why they aren’t running as liberal Democrats, they all said they believed in the Green Party. Kennedy and Drake asserted that there’s not much of a difference between Democrats and Republicans, anyway.
Kennedy said it would be more effective to compete with Democrats from the left than to simply lose to “prepicked” candidates in the primary. She said both parties are so poll-driven that they won’t do much to change the status quo – in particular concerning her primary issue, climate change.
“Instead of having an intelligent conversation among the people of this democracy about where we want to go in the future, we just have people rehashing the same things over and over, and unfortunately, it’s not true that you can leave well enough alone and never change everything and everything will stay the same,” she said.
Drake said, “You’d rather run with a party that stands for ideals that you can believe in, that you can be proud of, rather than always apologizing for the lesser of two evils that the Democratic Party has become.”
Smith’s earlier Democratic candidacy was thrown off the ballot after a circuit judge ruled that he had not provided proof that his felony conviction for theft had been dismissed or expunged by the filing deadline. It’s a long story, so if you want more, here it is.
All told, the Greens nominated 14 candidates in Arkansas and endorsed Dr. Jill Stein for president. Roseanne Barr – yes, that Roseanne Barr, was a candidate.
Arkansans are going to the polls (again), this time to decide on whether the state should do a $575 million bond issue that would repair 400 miles of interstates.
They should say yes, even though it means adding to Arkansas’ state debt, which the nonpartisan State Budget Solutions totals $25 billion counting pension liabilities.
That’s because when it comes to roads, the state is going into debt whether we realize it or not. Every day, the interstates deteriorate. We can pay a lot to fix the cracks now, or we can pay a whole lot more to totally rebuild them, after they have torn up our cars and caused accidents.
Bottom line: If we are going to have interstates, we have to maintain them.
At Lincoln High School near Fayetteville, students learn not so much by listening to lectures but by working in self-directed group projects using laptops they can take home.
Could this be what schools will look like in the future? Maybe. This year, Lincoln is one of two New Tech schools – the other being Cross County High – using the New Tech model.
Begun 15 years ago in Napa Valley, New Tech schools give teachers and students more flexibility to decide how they will learn. Students are given a set of standards and then a project that they use MacBook laptops to design – in groups. They are graded not just on content mastery but also on their work ethic, communication skills and ability to collaborate with others.
Expect more Arkansas schools to adopt the New Tech model. Gov. Beebe’s STEM Works initiative encourages them to do so. Schools like Manor New Tech near Austin, Tex., have seen great success using the model. In the past month-and-a-half, at least 17 Arkansas schools have visited Manor.
Here’s more in my Sunday column.
Warren Buffett has gotten himself involved in politics, and he’s probably going to be sorry about it.
Buffett, the billionaire investor, has made the point lately that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. He’s talking about the unfairness of the tax system and, indirectly, the budget deficit.
President Obama has proposed a “Buffett Rule” that would place a minimum tax on million-dollar salaries. Republican Sen. John Thune has proposed his own “Buffett Rule” that would allow people to pay extra money to reduce the federal debt. Arkansas Sen. John Boozman is one of the co-sponsors.
Thune’s bill is a waste of time and a personal attack. In effect, Republicans are saying, “If you want to pay more taxes, Mr. Buffett, go right ahead.” But that would not solve the problems Buffett was pointing out.
I asked Sen. Boozman for some time to talk about this and sent him my questions, which were not softballs. He called me that day ready to answer them, and to his credit, he didn’t back down from any of them. Even when my questions were a little more direct than they should have been, his tone never changed. Man, he’s a cool customer.
Boozman’s main policy point was that Obama’s Buffett bill won’t address the problem Buffett was discussing because Buffett will still take advantage of the loopholes and deductions he uses now to pay a lower tax rate than his secretary. What’s needed are less spending and tax reform, he said.
Here’s more in my Wednesday column for the Arkansas News Bureau.
Several hundred Occupy Little Rock protestors marched through the streets of the state’s capital city Oct 15, and while lots of people, particularly Republicans, are dismissing them, they shouldn’t dismiss their concerns.
The protestors were a more diverse group than many would expect. I didn’t see a lot of the aimless young hippies they have been painted as being. They certainly weren’t a “mob,” as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called them, “anti-American,” as Herman Cain called them, or “the FLEA party,” in the words of a Democrat-Gazette columnist who wasn’t at the protest.
The protestors represented a variety of political persuasions, judging by the signs – everything from the Ron Paul-ian “End the Fed” to the Marxian “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
The protestors directed their anger mostly at big corporations and the government, and I agreed with a lot of what they were saying. Any American who is not outraged at the bank bailout hasn’t been paying attention. As the columnist Nick Kristoff put it, “The banks have gotten away with privatizing profits and socializing risks.”
But we don’t want America to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Most corporations aren’t causing the world’s problems; they just provide needed goods and services and employ people.
Finally, if the Occupy Little Rock protestors really want to accomplish their goals – and right now, it’s not clear what their goals are beyond expressing their anger – they need to organize and work within the system as the TEA Party has done.
As they marched along the street, the protestors chanted, “This is what democracy looks like!” I thought, “Well, really, this is part of democracy, but democracy really looks like people voting, running for office, and contacting their legislators.” If Occupy Little Rock doesn’t evolve into that, it won’t accomplish much.
Arkansas’ health care system, and the rest of the country’s, is finally adopting the same communications technology that the rest of the economy adopted two decades ago.
Eventually, that will mean no more handwritten prescriptions or paper files. The same information that your doctor has about you will be available to your cardiologist.
The transition has not been easy. The transition will disrupt practices that are already busy serving patients. Some older doctors do not want to change. Parts of Arkansas are still on dialup. Plus, there are privacy concerns.
Across America, physicians are eligible for up to $64,000 in federal funds to ease the transition, while hospitals can get up to $2 million. It’s a fraction of the cost, but that’s still taxpayer money going to doctors to do something the rest of us did on our own.
There’s more at my column this week for the Arkansas News Bureau.
I publish a magazine for the state’s two engineer associations, the Arkansas Society of Professional Engineers and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Arkansas.
These are good folks, they work hard, they are mathematically inclined, and sometimes they are a little nerdy. I wish they would run for Congress.
You won’t see a road-building project stalled because engineers refuse to budge on some side issue. You won’t see a project fail because one faction of engineers wanted to embarrass the other.
Engineers build bridges and roads; our current congressmen can’t even agree how to fund them. In fact, Congress is two years late passing its latest highway bill.
It’s time to replace these rigid ideologues and political game-players with practical problem-solvers who know how to get the job done. That’s why I’m endorsing Arkansas’ engineers for Congress.
Eric and Kara Gilmore were working as house parents for a group home for foster kids when he decided he needed to do more and enrolled at UALR to earn a master’s degree in social work. He was selling ads for a radio station when one of the foster kids they had worked with got into trouble.
Here’s how he describes it.
“She left with one bag of clothes and one night’s worth of her bipolar medications. And that was her entrance into adulthood.
“So that lasted, I think, about a month. They kicked her out. She lived with us for a little while but decided that she wanted to be a prostitute, and that was where she was going to make the most money. So unfortunately, that’s what she’s still doing. …
“It was one of those things where we decided two things: One, this is not OK. There’s an injustice here. And two, we can do something about it.”
That was what they were supposed to do – help foster kids who age out of the system to transition into adulthood. It’s a difficult path for all of us but can especially so for foster kids. According to a 2007 report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one in five foster kids who age out will become homeless within two years.
The Gilmores founded Immerse Arkansas, which now provides an apartment, counseling, and volunteer mentors for six ex-foster kids. But there are 250 who age out every year.
So far, Immerse Arkansas is in its early stages. Open for business since August 2010, this year’s budget is $65,000, but it has recently raised a chunk of money that will enable it to serve at least 15 people.
Want to invest in this great organization? Read more here.
Here’s a column I wrote about Immerse Arkansas for the Arkansas News Bureau.
How do you feel when you spend too much time on the internet?
Dr. Erick Messias, a psychiatrist and epidemiologist, and his fellow UAMS professor, Dr. Juan Carlos, have found a correlation between heavy internet/gaming and depression among young people.
They looked at the results of the past two Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, a biannual report by the Centers of Disease Control in which thousands of young people are asked about their health habits. Kids who said they spent five or more hours surfing and playing were more likely to have had two-week periods of sadness in the past year. They also were more likely to have contemplated, planned or attempted suicide.
Which came first: the screen time or the sadness? They freely admit they don’t know.
Also interesting, kids who never played/surfed were more likely to have been sad than those who played or surfed an hour or less a day. The non-users were more likely to have thought about or planned suicide than some of the other groups and were the second likeliest to have attempted suicide.
Again, the authors don’t know why this is so, but a good bet is that a large percentage of the non-users are living in poverty, which is a risk factor for depression and suicide.
Still, maybe balance is best. Messias lets his own son play/surf one hour a day and two on the weekends.
More here in my column this week for the Arkansas News Bureau.
Joyce started the Center in 2001 less than a year after her son, Charles Jr., was murdered by two men in Little Rock. Its mission is to help victims of crime, but part of its purpose was to help Joyce heal. The wounds were so deep that she found it hard to get out of bed, but with God’s help, she forgave the men who did it.
As part of her ministry, Joyce started teaching life skills to inmates. One day at Tucker Max, one of her son’s killers, Christopher Bush, was there. Already warned that this would happen, she was prepared to see his face for the first time since he was sentenced to 40 years in prison eight years earlier.
Before starting the class, Joyce told the rest of the inmates that she couldn’t talk about forgiveness and reconciliation without practicing them herself. She approached Bush.
“Mr. Bush, today is, I guess, our day of reconciliation,” she said. “I understand that you have something that you want to say to me. Guess what? This is your time.”
He asked for permission to stand and apologized for what he had done to her family.
“What did you do?”
“For killing your son.”
“My son has a name, Mr. Bush.” She reminded the rest of the class that they always included the names of their victims in their discussions.
“I’m sorry for killing Charles Raynor Jr., that everyone called Chuck,” he said.
She told him she appreciated it and that she already had forgiven him, but if he was being insincere, that was between him and God.
For more, check out my column this week for the Arkansas News Bureau.