- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette. March 12, 2019.

For more than two years now we have heard the Democrats complain about President Donald Trump.

And they have a lot of complaints.

One of the more persistent is that he plays to the extremes on the right. That his policies and pronouncements inflame a base that embraces the worst of American conservatism.

Yes, we hear that a lot.

But those Democrats should start looking at some of their own in the same light.

Take U.S. Rep Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez from New York, for example. From her pie-in-the-sky “Green New Deal” to her recent comments at Austin’s South by Southwest festival, where she deemed capitalism unredeemable and didn’t have much good to say about former presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan or political moderates in general.

The idea of creeping socialism - even “democratic socialism” - scares most mainstream Americans and that includes moderate Democrats. As it should. Yet instead of decrying her screeds, many leading Democrats look to her as a leader for the future.

And then there’s Minnesota’s U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose ill-conceived attitudes and comments about Israel are tainting the party with anti-Semitism as Democratic leaders walk on eggshells to avoid criticizing her by name.

Talk about appealing to the worst of the worst extremes.

We don’t see how the Democrats can claim any high ground when they won’t hold their own to account. But if they continue to fail to do so, we think the president, the Republicans and quite possibly the voters will.


Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. March 12, 2019.

In the coming years, when new highways open to serve Northwest Arkansas’ transportation needs, it will be interesting to see who shows up for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Oddly enough, a big chunk of Northwest Arkansas’ representation in the Legislature might be accused of some hypocrisy if they show up.

Based on last week’s voting in the state Legislature for Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s $300 million highway funding plan, the governor owes at least as much thanks to Democrats from the two-county area as he does to Republicans, whose ranks provided a good deal of the opposition to new highway funding.

Two votes were taken last week in the Arkansas General Assembly that advanced the governor’s highway infrastructure package, which includes:

- House Joint Resolution 1018 created a ballot measure for the 2020 general election to permanently extend a half-percent sales tax for highways, generating about $205 million a year if voters give their backing. That will also provide about $44 million a year for cities and counties to spend on transportation.

- Senate Bill 33, which will increase taxes and fees to raise another $95 million a year for state highways.

Both measures passed handily. Senate Bill 336 passed 71-26. HJR 1018 passed 67-30.

In booming Northwest Arkansas, conventional wisdom suggests funding for highways and roads is an investment in the region’s future. The better the transportation system into and within the region, the stronger the case for Northwest Arkansas to make for companies to set up shop here. Highways, we’ve been told for years, cannot be separated from economic development.

It’s significant that state Sen. Lance Eads, a Republican from Springdale, helped lead the charge for the governor’s highway plan. Last we checked, Springdale was no haven for tax-and-spend liberals, but there and in other parts of Northwest Arkansas, people have long recognized that transportation is critical to the region’s success. We don’t think that has changed.

But it’s difficult to tell from last week’s votes.

On Senate Bill 336, two of the region’s six state senators — Bob Ballinger and Bart Hester — opposed the measure. In the House, opposition came from Reps. Jim Dotson, Grant Hodges, Robin Lundstrum, Austin McCollum, Clint Penzo and Rebecca Petty.

Among GOP lawmakers in both chambers from Northwest Arkansas, eight of 18 opposed Senate Bill 336. Hutchinson’s plan got a boost from the region’s four Democrats in the House - Nicole Clowney, Denise Garner, Megan Godfrey and David Whitaker. In the Senate, the bill earned favorable votes from Cecile Bledsoe, Lance Eads, Jim Hendren and Greg Leding.

On HJR 1018, the bigger funding legislation, eight Republicans in the House voted to reject the governor’s plan: Harlan Breaux, Jim Dotson, Grant Hodges, Robin Lundstrum, Austin McCollum, Gayla McKenzie, Clint Penzo and Rebecca Petty.

Republican Cecile Bledsoe and Democrat Greg Leding are recorded as not voting on the measure in the Senate, while Eads and Hendren backed the measure. Bob Ballinger and Bart Hester opposed.

Those voting in favor of the resolution included three Democrats and four Republicans: Nicole Clowney, Bruce Coleman, Jana Della Rosa, Dan Douglas, Charlene Fite, Denise Garner, Megan Godfrey, David Whitaker.

Why don’t these members of the GOP want highways and roads in Northwest Arkansas improved? And what’s the harm, especially, in letting a vote of the people decide whether a tax should be put in place for long-term funding of highways?

Perhaps these infrastructure-denying lawmakers got caught up in those ridiculous “no tax increases” pledges to special interests, so much so they can’t even allow the constituents an opportunity to decide.

Or maybe they saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall and recognized that the governor had enough favorable votes to pass his program, so they exercised their right to take political cover in a “nay” vote.

Highways serve Republicans and Democrats alike. Asphalt tends to be nonpartisan.

When it comes time to dole out the money for projects, Northwest Arkansas will no doubt get in line and make an argument that dollars ought to follow vehicles.

Last week’s votes, however, will certainly give the rest of the state’s leaders ammunition to question whether Northwest Arkansas deserves any consideration as far as demand. We may have a lot of vehicles trying to get around the region, but we also have a good number of lawmakers unwilling to support a program designed by their own party’s governor to deal with the state’s highway and road needs.

Did those who supported Gov. Hutchinson represent the best interests of Northwest Arkansas, or those who opposed his plan?


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. March 12, 2019.

Little Rock lost one of its finest with the passing of Dan Phillips last week. He personified the best of Arkansans with a love for his native state which was reflected in his many contributions.

Dan’s parents did him a great turn when they sent him to Phillips Exeter Academy, arguably the best boarding school in America then. Schools like Exeter schooled their students in a classical education, from Latin and the Romance languages to world civilization and classical American and world literature. As Dan said himself, he learned more in two years at Exeter than he did at four years at Yale.

As a buyer, Dan had a natural eye for stylish and handsome clothing. He took the family-owned store, M.M Cohn, to new heights, becoming the leading luxury department store in Arkansas.

After he became head of the family business, he expanded, adding stores in affluent El Dorado and later Memphis, as well as expanding to the new malls in greater Little Rock.

His many contributions to charities and causes in Little Rock are too numerous to name. He particularly enjoyed his service on the George W. Donaghey Foundation board, offering sage advice, especially regarding investments, which grew appreciably while he was chairman.

Dan loved duck hunting, both the sport and the camaraderie. Whether you were with Dan in the duck woods, at an Arkansas Arts Center reception, or at a dinner, you knew you were with someone who was highly intelligent, wise, and chose his words carefully. He exemplified the best of masculinity, with a deep, resonant voice, bushy eyebrows and a unique twinkle in his eye. He was not one for idle chit-chat, but if you were interested in a deep and important discussion, you were rewarded with his thoughts.

Men like Dan Phillips are few and far between. His decision to devote his life and career to his hometown of Little Rock means we all live in a better Arkansas today.

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