- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

The Daily Citizen. June 25, 2017.

It’s difficult to gauge how Searcy feels as a whole about the city and county being either wet or dry based on the reaction to restaurants in the city seeking private club permits in order to serve alcohol by the drink.

The letters sent to the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division for and against El Almacen’s permit application were almost equally split at 230 opposed and 227 in support, according to Director’s Decision documentation, as was a poll on our website. Both of those samples could reflect how the whole feels, but it’s easy to see that not many out of 23,000-plus residents were motivated enough about the issue to tell the ABC director how they felt.

The same could be said about the number who signed petitions that were sent to the ABC Division. According to the documentation from the June 21 ABC board meeting, there were 60 petition signatures against the permit and 32 petition signatures for it. Could this mean those who oppose alcohol being served in the city almost double those who are support it? Maybe, but the sample size is way too small.

Perhaps the closest we get to how Searcy’s population feels about the wet/dry issue is how White County voted in 2014 on the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment, which would have legalized alcohol sales in every county. There were 13,467 voters against it and 8,273 for it. However, we don’t know how many of the 62 percent who voted against it did so because they didn’t want alcohol sales and how many didn’t think the state should be making that decision for the county. We also didn’t get a breakdown of how many of the voters were Searcy residents.

Since the last time a wet/dry vote was taken in White County was in the 1960s, the 2014 vote is the closest thing we’ve got to knowing how the majority of us feel about alcohol being sold in this area. However, perhaps the best gauge goes back to those numbers we don’t see.

As with only 549 out of at least 8,500 households (6 percent) being motivated to either write or sign a petition concerning El Almacen’s permit application, the number of county residents who voted on Issue No. 4 in the 2014 election totaled 21,740 out more than 55,000 adults, which is around 39 percent.

Taking out factors like some of those adults being ineligible to vote, it seems safe to say that at least half of the residents of the county didn’t really care one way or the other whether it became wet or dry in 2014. Looking at the numbers included in the Director’s Decision documentation, we can conclude that at least 90 percent of Searcy’s households don’t hold a strong enough opinion either way, or at least were unaware, about restaurants trying to serve alcohol to act on it.

Maybe those who are apathetic know that counties are really not either wet or dry, but damp. If you want to drink alcohol in the privacy of your home, then you can, with some limitations. If you want to drink alcohol at a private club, then there are four in White County where you can do so as a member. (Two of them are technically inside Searcy but are not zoned as part of the city, at least partially because they didn’t want to be subject to the city’s ordinances regarding alcohol.)

If you don’t drink alcohol, you might feel that whether a restaurant sells it is the restaurant’s business and each individual has the choice whether to drink. This apathy could come from the belief that it doesn’t really affect you personally.

Some of us certainly feel strongly about this issue, but when we look at the only measures of how we feel as a whole, the only conclusion we can draw is that a lot us of simply don’t care enough.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. June 27, 2017.

The state’s Department of Human Services has awakened to how inhumane some state-certified and state-financed services can be. The wake-up call came when a 5-year-old named Christopher Gardner, rest his soul, was left to die after being abandoned for eight hours aboard a hot van belonging to Ascent Acquisition Corp. of West Memphis. Or so say the police, though a final verdict should properly be left to the law, which still grinds slow but exceeding fine.

In the meantime, the gruesome details continue to emerge in this horror story outlined in the police report. Every box was checked, authorities say, but what good does that do if the whole procedure results in the death of an innocent? Everything was in order, according to the documentation that came complete with signatures on the dotted line attesting that the boy was taken inside the West Memphis child-care facility. Though he wasn’t. Or as doctors are wont to say when something goes terribly wrong inside the operating room, the operation was a success, only the patient died.

Joe Baker, a captain with West Memphis’ police department, says the 5-year-old was able to get out of his car seat, move to another seat across the aisle of the van, and even take off his shirt and one of his shoes. Forgive us for repeating all this distressing minutiae, but We the People are ultimately responsible for putting an outfit like Ascent Acquisition Corp. in charge of the least of these.

For now four employees of Ascent Acquisition Corp. have been charged with a felony, manslaughter, in connection with the boy’s pitiable death, and have been released on $20,000 bonds, having already been fired by Ascent, though that’s scarcely likely to bring Christopher Gardner back.

It would be even more appropriate if the state of Arkansas were to fire Ascent Acquisition Corp. All the state has done or maybe can do is put Ascent on probation for a year or so. So says David Griffin, who helps direct the licensing and accreditation operations of the state’s Child Care and Early Childhood Education - a multi-syllabic title that sounds like an exercise in irony now, thanks to the death of a once living, breathing child named Christopher Gardner.

Let the record note that Ascent also runs centers in Jonesboro, Blytheville, Paragould and Trumann and sub-contracts transportation with Southeastrans, which has already taken the appropriate action in this case: It’s canceled its contracts with Ascent as of the end of June.

Ascent’s CEO is Dan Sullivan, and he’s already issuing press releases:

“We are going to transition transportation services for our clients to local Medicaid transport providers,” CEO Sullivan says in fluent bureaucratese, a language not to be confused with plain English or plain dealing. “We will work to make this transition as seamless as possible for our clients as we continue in our efforts to meet their needs and provide the quality services they require.” Exactly what quality services? The kind Christopher Gardner got?

He says his staff “did not follow company policies and procedures, and if they had, this tragedy would not have occurred.” Tragedy is another over-used term on these occasions, with its connotations of inevitability - except that Christopher Gardner’s harrowing death was not inevitable but all too preventable.

Where will it all end? Alas, it may not end at all as the next generation of managers learns from this horrendous event only how to make unacceptable excuses, not real progress. The moral of this story? Stay alert for the kind of management that’s hard to distinguish from disaster. For that’s what the death of a child is for his family and for all of us. For anyone who snuffs out the life of a child has destroyed not just that one life but all that life might have meant to the rest of us.


Texarkana Gazette. June 27, 2017.

Advocates of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear firearms have made great strides in courts and state legislatures over the past few years. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment is an individual right not tied to service in a militia and it overturned a District of Columbia ban on owning handguns and restrictions on other firearms in one’s home.

All states allow concealed carry, some without a permit. And only a few states completely ban open carry.

But there are still a few places that make it more difficult to exercise one’s Second Amendment rights than others. And it’s possible there will soon be more.

California, for example.

The state bans open carry for the most part and only grants a concealed carry permit if the applicant can show “good cause”- a term that has never been clearly defined and pretty much depends on where you live in the state. Gun rights advocates have long said the state and cities use the flexible “good cause” provision to refuse as many permits as possible.

So they sued San Diego and Yolo counties, charging they violated the Second Amendment by refusing to issue permits unless an applicant can show he or she was in real danger. Personal protection is not considered a good enough reason.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled against the plaintiffs, saying while the right to own guns in the home has been established, there has never been a ruling on a right to carry firearms in public, either openly or concealed.

In other words, they punted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Other appeals courts have overturned and upheld state restrictions on carrying forearms in public, but the 9th Circuit is right. The nation’s highest court has never considered the question.

And they won’t now.

On the last day of its current term, the Supreme Court turned away the appeal of the 9th Circuit ruling, without comment. That means California’s carry laws stand as well as the counties’ interpretation of them.

That’s too bad. The Second Amendment says both “keep” and “bear” arms. The court has ruled on the “keep” and affirmed that individual citizens have that right. Now it’s time to clear up any ambiguity on “bear.” The court’s refusal to consider this appeal may embolden the anti-gun crowd. We may see local jurisdictions trying to restrict Second Amendment rights. The only thing that can stop them is for the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.

In refusing to hear this case, the justices missed a shot.

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