- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A collection of recent editorials by Arkansas newspapers:

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Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 11, 2015.

A matter of principle

Let us now praise Hillary Clinton_that’s right, Our Lady of Benghazi, she of the deleted emails and a whole career of scandals she’s trailing behind her as she prepares to run for president of the United States. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a presidential candidate with a more checkered past since the 19th Century produced dubious characters like James G. Blaine, “biggest crook in the state of Maine,” and Roscoe Conkling, boss of the New York Customs House and wheeler-dealer in general.

But this time Hillary Clinton has got a simple American principle right: This country shouldn’t have any second-class citizens. And she’s come out for that simple principle without reservation or any of the usual Clinton clauses. She’s just endorsed a path to “full and equal citizenship” for the millions of illegal immigrants in this country who now live in the shadows_neither part of American society or apart from it, playing a key role not just in the economy but in the whole American future. Whether legal, illegal, or quasi-legal, these immigrants have been hostages to uncertainty for decades now.

It’s an intolerable position these immigrants find themselves in, and that too many of the rest of us have tolerated for years, including the whole passel of Republican presidential hopefuls who are still dodging and weaving around the issue. As if afraid to come right out and challenge the prejudices and animosities that motivate too much of their party’s base. After all, the primaries are about to begin, so why risk alienating those Republican voters who still cling to their xenophobia? Sad. Let’s just say it’s no profile in courage. Quite the opposite.

Hillary Clinton’s statement that the way should finally be cleared to let these Americans in every way except legally become full citizens shines like a bright light amid all this political opportunism.

There was a time when the more forthright and far-seeing leaders of both parties could agree on a way out of this mess. The McCain-Kennedy bill of 2007 was a good-faith effort at comprehensive reform, but it may have been too comprehensive ever to pass, with everything thrown in to complicate this country’s immigration laws special new visas, a revival of the old bracero program to help farmers get their crops in, stronger border controls, citizenship and language tests for new citizens … you-name-it.

Between all those different new programs, it was easy to lose sight of an all-important first principle: No second-class citizenship in this republic. And that is the principle Hillary Clinton has now had the vision and courage to endorse. This is called leadership, and let it be noted that at least one presidential candidate now has shown it.

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Texarkana Gazette, May 11, 2015

Tornado Season

Spring is generally considered tornado season in our neck of the woods. And we are still in the thick of it. In actuality, there is no beginning or end to tornado season. They can come at any time when weather conditions are right. But spring is the season when conditions are more likely to mesh for storm activity Already this year we have seen tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. And on Sunday evening there was a tornado warning in effect for several areas in our region_Bowie County in Texas and Little River and Sevier counties in Arkansas among them. This morning will tell what damage, if any, was suffered from that storm. Tornadoes are dangerous. They can cause vast amounts of destruction. They can cost lives. It’s important to know what to do when a tornado is near. A tornado watch is issued when conditions are right for the formation of a funnel cloud. A tornado warning, on the other hand, means that a twister has developed and is likely to be imminent.

You should know what to do if danger is looming. Here are some tips from the National Weather Service:

If you are home and a tornado warning is issued, go to the basement or lowest level of the house. Avoid windows. Go to a closet or windowless area such as the bathroom or hallway. Cover yourself with a mattress or blankets to protect against falling or flying debris. If nothing else is available, get under a heavy table to similar object.

If you are in a car or mobile home, get to the nearest safe and substantial structure. If you are win public place such as an office building, shopping center, school or church, do not panic. Follow the building’s safety plan and get to the lowest floor, away from windows. Interior restrooms or stairwells are often used as safe harbors. Do not use the elevator as power could be lost, trapping you inside.

After the store has passed there is still danger from debris, broken glass and downed power lines. Remain calm and follow instructions from emergency personnel.

It is important for homeowners to have a plan in place in case of a tornado. The whole family should know the plan and know what to do. You can go to https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes for more information on tornadoes as well as tips for preparing a plan.

It could mean the difference between life or death.

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Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 12, 2015

O’Kelley delivered what Springdale needed

“We think a well-educated Irish cop just might be the right person at the right time to make a good (police) department into a great one.”

— Editorial in The Morning News, Nov. 13, 2005, on the hiring of Kathy O’Kelley as Springdale chief of police.

What’s the point?

Retiring Chief Kathy O’Kelley deserves praise for the job she’s done at the helm of the Springdale Police Department.

It’s nice when history proves you right.

Back before all the media mergers consolidated the local newspapers into one, those of us from The Morning News predicted Kathy O’Kelley would do a terrific job at the helm of the Springdale Police Department. Now, nearly 10 years later and on the verge of O’Kelley’s retirement, we see that’s exactly what happened.

Given what was going on in Springdale at the time, that is no small feat.

Some may not remember, but when the city’s Civil Service Commission tabbed O’Kelley to replace interim chief Rick Hoyt back in November 2005, the Springdale police department was in considerable turmoil. Former chief Sid Rieff had suddenly retired in July, following months of controversy generated by what he called an insurrection among some members of the force. An anonymous email, presumably sent by a police officer to the mayor and dozens of others, made a allegations against Rieff’s professionalism on the job. A subsequent investigation cleared Rieff of the most serious accusations, but not before Rieff decided to step aside. Hoyt, a former Fayetteville chief, was appointed to fill in while Springdale officials conducted a nationwide search for a replacement.

They didn’t have to look far. O’Kelley, a 22-year veteran of the North Little Rock police department, had been working at the University of Arkansas Police Department for the preceding two years. She beat out 64 other applicants to get the Springdale job, in large part based on her reputation for professionalism and integrity. Plus, she was coming from an agency outside a police department that was, by even the most generous appraisals, dysfunctional. Choosing anyone from inside the Springdale force at the time would have been a disastrous continuation of a culture that desperately needed change.

O’Kelley was just what the doctor ordered. Though faced with the daunting task of uniting a divided and damaged department, she managed to accomplish the task in short order. She reorganized the command structure, modernized the approach to policing and essentially brought a department mired in the old ways of doing things into the 21st century.

Springdale now has professional and effective police force poised to handle the current-day challenges of law enforcement. As the recent news of gang-related shootings in Springdale demonstrate, law enforcement can never relax or let down its guard. But the departmental framework now in place in Springdale puts the police in a much better position to handle what they will face.

It’s also a tribute to O’Kelley that, unlike her predecessor, she leaves office comfortable with recommending the city look inside the department for her successor.

O’Kelley accomplished all of this while breaking new ground. She is believed to be the first woman to lead a police department in one of Arkansas’ larger cities. While we all long for the day such distinctions are meaningless, that wasn’t the case in Springdale in 2005. Her job was likely made much more difficult by the attitudes of some, both inside and outside the police department, about gender roles. Her success brings to mind a comment from one of her acquaintances in North Little Rock when asked, back in 2005, what Springdale might expect from Chief O’Kelley: “She wouldn’t back down from King Kong if she thought she was right.”

For that toughness, not to mention her professionalism and integrity, Springdale citizens owe her a debt of gratitude.

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