Friday, June 29, 2007

Around Town

Vigi and I attended the retirement party yesterday for one of Hope's most respected citizens, Mrs. Helen Bearden. She and her husband, Joe, greeted close to two hundred well wishers to the reception. Helen started the Sheltered Workshop program from the ground up and it has evolved into one of the most respected facilities of its' kind throughout the state. Her vision and compassion has helped provide life changing opportunities to hundreds of special people. Our community is a much better place because of Helen Bearden. Congratulations Helen on a job and career so well done.

Governor Beebe has announced the reappointment of Dr. William (Bill) Coffee to the State Board of Optometry. Dr. Coffee's term will expire on April 26th, 2012. Dr. Coffee has been practicing in Hope for over 30 years and I appreciate his service to the state.

Even though you probably know it, just a reminder that the tax cuts enacted during the recent legislative session will go into effect on Sunday July, 1st. The most high profile of those being the sales tax on groceries. Other tax help will include off road diesel fuel and the sales tax relief to manufacturers on their energy bills.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Long Day

I drove to Ardmore, Oklahoma early Tuesday morning to attend the funeral of my uncle, Jerry Powers. We got home late last night, and even though it was a sad day, I did enjoy seeing Southeast Oklahoma for the first time in many years. I had forgotten how gigantic Lake Texoma was and also was surprised by the number of casinos I saw on the trip. Guess I need to get out more.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Stand Up For America

Stand Up for America
The annual Stand Up For America extravaganza will take place this Saturday at the Nashville City Park amphitheater. This years headliner is country music star, John Michael Montgomery. Gates open at 4:30 with local entertaiment starting things off at 5:00. The patriotic tribute to the different branches of service is always a crowd-pleaser and will put goosebumps on your goosebumps. So be there to honor all of our former and current servicemen in attendance. John Michael begins his show at 8:00. Immediatedly following him will be one of the best and biggest fireworks shows you'll ever see. It's a great way to kick off the holiday and I hope to see you there. By the way, I'm going to give away two VIP tickets ($80.00 value) that will get you front row seating if anyone is interested. First come first served. Just send your contact info to the comment section, and if you're the first one to do so, I'll be happy to set you up with the best tickets on the grounds. I'll even throw in a VIP parking pass. How can you beat that offer. Rest assured I won't publish your contact information.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Houston-Get Off That Roof

That Houston Dale Nutt is a lightning rod should come as no surprise. I now know that if you want to get a comment on something, just throw in ol HDN and there you are. As an example, if I said HDN is advocating we build a Trauma Network, here's what I'd get--"that #!*% Houston Nutt, he don't know nuthin bout no trauma center. He just needs to keep his mouth shut, cause all he's gonna do is run off the doctors we recruit to run the thing." Now if I were to say Houston is on the record being against it, here's what I'd see--"that's just like that lyin, text messagin, no play callin, sorry excuse for a major college football coach. Everytime we try and take a step up, he just can't stand it and wants to pull us back. It's ain't nuthin but Gus all over again." So my advice to Houston is-better let somebody else give the touchdown signal during a storm. (Of course that's assuming we score a touchdown.)

Trauma Center Funding

Here's a thought. I think the governor is right in his assessment that current GIF money is not the way to fund the Trauma Center. But, that doesn't mean that the 2009 legislature couldn't earmark their GIF money for that purpose. It would surely meet the standard of a statewide project. I know that is two years from now and a lot can happen in the interim, but I believe most people agree that a Trauma Hospital and system of care is much needed. It's just a thought at this point, but one that should be explored.

Back to Work

Vigi and I have been in Springfield, Missouri the last few days and now I'm back to the everyday world. Thursday morning before we left, I attended a very informative juvenile mental health workshop called System of Care 101. Cliff Davis of Washington D.C. was the speaker and he did a wonderful job of explaining the steps needed to improve our community based services and ultimately, the lives of hundreds of Arkansas families. Elisabeth Wright Burak of DHS is presenting this same workshop in Sprindale, Searcy and Monticello this week. I encourage anyone intersted in this subject, especially legislators, to attend this presentation . For more information call Elisabeth at 501-683-2644.

That same day, Senator Hill and I were in attendance at Southern Bakeries in Hope, as Randy Zook of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, presented the company with a $548,000 rebate check for adding jobs in the state of Arkansas. This incentive program rewards companies in our state for not only job growth, but quality paying jobs with benefit packages. Congratulations to Southern Bakeries.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sports Shorts

Here is my take on last week-ends U.S. Open at Oakmont. First let me say that I love golf. There is nothing I would rather do than settle in and watch one of the majors. But here's the deal, when you see Tiger strolling down the fairway in his skin tight Nike shirt and showing off his pecs and so on , you think to yourself, there is one fine athlete. Then you see the winner, Angel Cabrera, toiling down that same fairway, 30 pounds overweight and draining a pack of smokes. It doesn't do much for the argument that golfers are athletes. You got to love it though, and I do.

Do we really need a poll to tell us 63 percent of the people approve of Houston Nutt's performance as football coach. Listen, the guy was the SEC Coach of the year. Nobody thought he would win 10 games. He played for the SEC championship. His team played in a major bowl. I say get over it and let the people who do the hiring and firing decide who runs things. Lou Holtz once said there are two things everybody knows how to do--boil water and coach football. Apparently so.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Meetings Here and There

Friday morning I attended the Legislative Council meeting. I am a first alternate on the Council and do not get to vote unless Representative Bill Abernathy does not attend. Even though I didn't get to vote, it was a good opportunity to see what happens in these meetings and learn a little more about the interim legislative process.

Saturday morning I, along with Judges Culpepper and Wright, attended a Pre-Fathers day breakfast in Prescott at Munns Chapel Baptist Church. There was a great turn-out for the event, and the hopes are to do this on a regular basis, to get as many men as possible interested in acting as mentors and providing ideas to work with our at risk kids.

This morning I drove to Little Rock and attended an Aging, Children and Youth Committee meeting dealing with the recently released education report at DYS. The report pointed out a number of deficiencies at the Alexander campus, specifically with Special Education. There were a number of tough questions directed at DYS staff and the Department of Ed, to determine where this program is going. Roger Angel is the new Director at DYS, and his work is cut out for him to get this state agency going anywhere in the right direction. The legislature will need to perform its' due diligence in the interim and the next session to provide as much help as possible. A task force was established during the legislative session to look into and issue a report of its' findings regarding the needs and problems associated with the Division of Youth Services.

Hope School Board meeting at 5:30.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Odds and Ends

As I mentioned in the beginning, this blog will continue to be a work in progress as I learn the ins and outs . I do invite you to visit the photo gallery, which I will try to keep updated with pictures of things local and around the Capitol.

I will be in Little Rock on Friday for a Legislative Council meeting and back again on Monday for Youth and Legislative affairs committee.

It already feels like the dog days of summer and it isn't even summer yet. Guess I'm getting old. Nah!

If you like the web site, all thanks goes to my old friend Kevin McKinnon. He's the computer wizard leading me through the learner's manual. Please feel free to comment on anything you see regarding the web site or blog.

Finally, some of the local folks have asked if Randy and I will be back on the air this year with "In the Pressbox." I believe so, even though we may hold out for a more lucrative contract. We're not striking for more money, we just feel it's time for a first rate make-up artist.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Local Economy Takes a Hit

Just as the Little Rock Airport announces an increase of 200 new jobs with the Dassault-Falcon expansion, one of the oldest and largest employers in Hope, Champion Parts, noticed 137 workers last week that they are being laid off for an indeterminate period. There was no hint to any of the locals that a layoff of this size, (roughly half the work force), was imminent, and the company would only comment to say that a dramatic decrease in orders has necessitated the move. This is a big hit economically and the uneasiness that these layoffs will be permanent, has to be a big concern to our community. It will be difficult to assimilate that many workers back into jobs in a town the size of Hope. The Workforce Development folks should be here shortly to provide assistance to the displaced workers. Best case scenario is that this is just a temporary downturn for Champion, but there is a lot of uncertainty about this reduction.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sopranos Fans Deserved Better

At least in my opinion. David Chase may have out-thought himself on this one. I haven't talked with anyone who thought this was the best way to end what some people call the best TV series ever. There seems to be wide-spread dissatisfaction throughout the Soprano loving world. My house included. There was probably no way to come out a winner with the ending to this, but maybe Chase should have used the old political maxim of under-promising and then over-delivering. But noooo. We had to be content with fade to black. Oh well, all can be forgiven with an upcoming movie. And boy, did I miss my prediction of Tony getting whacked.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tony Sleeps with the Fishes Tonight

That's right. I believe Tony Soprano gets whacked in the series ending episode tonight on HBO. What's more, I think he'll be taken out by his own flesh and blood, as A.J. finally shows the old man he's got what it takes. That's my prediction anyway, and it sounds as good as the one about him going into witness protection. Although it's more feasible to believe Tony will still be living large when it's all said and done. Big movie coming if he makes it through.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

Or so it seems, as two of the Alabama solons went to Fist City on the floor of the Senate yesterday. Guess what they had been debating? PAC money and election reform. In other words, ethics. Well it seems to me that the ethical question of, should I or should I not put my dukes up during a legislative function, has a pretty easy answer. Apparently, sunshine in government is fightin words in Alabama.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I'm Thinkin

With another front page article regarding the woes at the Division of Youth Services, the question crops up again: is the system at DYS working. Maybe the question needs to be: has it ever worked? Lacking a better term, DYS is a juvenile prison. It takes on the kids that our Juvenile Courts have deemed unfit to remain in their communities for any number of reasons. Their crimes (or delinquincies) range from low misdemeanors to the most violent of felonies.

But there is almost always one common denominator, and that is, there is usually some type of dysfunction in the home. It might be no parents or one parent. Many times it's simply parents who don't have a clue about how to raise a child. And too often we see mentally disturbed kids with nowhere else to go but juvenile prison. In the end, the lack of direction and supervision puts these young people at odds with the law and societal norms.

What do we do? We send them to DYS and expect to have a rehabilitated kid back in our town after a few months. In some cases they are better off than when we sent them; but if you put a child back in the same old environment they have no chance. I do believe the state, and the independant companies who have contracted with them over the years, could do a better job of staffing their facilities and keeping some of these problems from happening. There have been too many deaths over the years that I believe should have been prevented.

I propose we do several things to improve the chances of getting some of these kids into a winnable situation. Number one is to regionalize the facilities. Simply put, keep your kids closer to home. That way the juvenile court can keep a closer watch over kids it has familiarity with. Also allow the Judges to mandate to the parents or guardians that, they too, take an active role in the rehabilitation process. The second thing is to make education a priority and staff it accordingly. We should approach education for these juveniles like a mini Lakeview case and demand excellence from the staff and family members to ensure progress. Thirdly, allow the schools and court sytem to identify these children and their families early on. Then be willing to pay for the proper community based services and have judges ready to sanction parents and guardians who fail in their parental responsiblities.

I believe the answer to solving problems facing DYS and our state should start at the grass roots level, and everyone, from parents, to judges, to DYS and its staff, have to be put on the same page. This is in no way a recipe for curing all of the ills that helped create the problems. But we have to be willing to make it better. Because this sytem's broke and it needs fixing. If not, we'd better start building more prisons

Proud to be Under the Dome

I want to say thanks to my seat mate in the House of Representatives and master blogger, Steve Harrelson, for listing Bubba's Blog on his "Under the Dome" links page. I feel kind of like Navin Johnson(re: Steve Martin) when he saw his name and number had been published in the phone book. Status has arrived.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Better Terms

Marvin Cossey of Sharp County wants the voters of Arkansas's approval to amend the Constitution and lengthen the terms of county officials from two years to four years. The Attorney General recently certified the amendments' popular name and title. Now it is up to Cossey and his supporters to garner 78,000 voter signatures and gain access to the 2008 ballot. I have no idea of Mr. Cossey's ultimate intentions, but I think this would be a step forward in improving the efficiency of County government and obviously saving money on election costs. At this time, I am supportive of this measure. How about you?

Good Eats

Tuesday night, I, along with Rep.Harrelson and Senators Horn and Hill, attended a steak cook-out hosted by Captain Ron Stovall and Troop G of the Arkansas State police. Many of the troopers and their families were there to take part and enjoy a great meal that Captain Stovall worked hard to put together. Thanks to Troop G and all the businesses and volunteers who made this evening a success.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Not Funny but True

The Demozette interviewed Dennis Milligan, the newly elected chairman of the Republican party of Arkansas last week and here's a quote, "At the end of the day, I believe fully the President is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on September 11th, 2001 and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this Country".
I've never met Mr. Milligan and I'm hoping he didn't mean we just need a few attacks so we can prove this President right. Hope not. He is correct about one thing though--there can be no questions about the enormous sacrifices made by our soldiers and their families. Our support for them must never waver.

It's not an Earthquake

ESPN reports that Roger Clemens will miss his first start of the year tonight because of a "fatigued groin". Who knew? For all the millions that the Yankees are doling out, you'd think there would be a "no fatiguing the groin" clause in his contract. Anyway, that blip on the Richter Scale was just Cy Young twisting in his grave.

A VW van might work

I saw where the President, while defending his illegal alien bill, uttered the phrase "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good". Now where have we heard that one before? I assure you every Arkansas legislator has. Maybe this slogan needs it's own tour bus to go nationwide and herald itself as the political catch-phrase for the upcoming election.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Bubba's World

Welcome to the world of Bubba, or the world as I see it. I'm just your normal working stiff who has the honor of spending time in Little Rock as a member of the House of Representatives. I should first of all be up front about this blogging business, and tell you this site will be a work in progress, since I am virtually a computer idiot. Nevertheless, I hope to have some fun, and more importantly, create a forum for thoughts and ideas to be expressed, not only about politics, but anything you might have on your mind. (In good taste of course). So there you are and here we go.