A holiday for only a King

Martin Luther King, Joyce ElliottBy Steve Brawner

© 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Visitors to the Arkansas Capitol this January 15 won’t see a sign saying the building will be closed to honor Dr. Martin Luther King and Gen. Robert E. Lee.

This year, the holiday will be King’s alone.

Legislators voted last year to separate the days. The third Monday in January will be Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Robert E. Lee will be acknowledged on the second Saturday in October with a “state memorial day,” not a holiday. The law also requires schools to develop teaching materials about the Civil War and the civil rights struggle.

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Hopes for a new year

By Steve Brawner

© 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Christmas is over, so it’s too late to make a wish list. But now arrives the new year, a time of hope and renewal. So here are my hopes for some of Arkansas’ leading public figures.

– Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Legislature. I hope the upcoming fiscal session, which starts in February, is brief and boring, as it’s generally supposed to be.

– U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford. I hope eastern Arkansas’ congressman sees success with his continuing efforts to open up Cuban markets to Arkansas products. Doing so also opens up that country to democratic and free market ideas.

– U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman. I hope the Senate passes his Resilient Federal Forests Act. The California wildfires have demonstrated that current federal policies are not protecting our forests. Westerman, Congress’ only forester, has tried for several years to pass a fix. The House approved the bill Nov. 1. Continue reading Hopes for a new year

Wanted: an open golden door

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” – “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus, at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Christmas has passed and a new year is beginning, which means that nearly 800,000 young people have spent the holidays not knowing if they’re subject to being deported in a few months. Meanwhile, almost a year after President Trump took office, little progress has been made on his promised wall.

The Founding Fathers created a Constitution that depends on compromise and common sense to address problems imperfectly but nondictatorially. Lately it hasn’t worked very well, but these two immigration issues should be fairly doable.

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(My) Arkansans of the Year

Arkansans of the YearBy Steve Brawner

© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

This is the part of the calendar when I list my “Arkansans of the Year.” As always, take it with a grain of salt.

Any list of mine will be heavy into politics and policy, which interest me and provide my living. It would be more accurate to call it “Arkansans of the Year (whom I know about, am interested in, and are what journalists consider ‘newsmakers’).”

Besides, who’s to say what’s important? Journalists mostly focus on the earthly and the temporal rather than the eternal, which runs on a different set of deadlines. What creates headlines this year can be a historical footnote after 20. Important moments happen every day in this state with now 3 million people, but they go unreported. The teachers imparting knowledge in the classroom, the soldiers and firefighters in harm’s way, the cops on the beat – those people matter, a lot. They just don’t make the news very often.

Finally, like Time magazine’s Person of the Year, this list recognizes impact, for good or not so good, rather than achievement or nobility. It’s a newspaper column, not an honor.

So let’s get to it. Continue reading (My) Arkansans of the Year