Thursday’s thumbs

Hero­ics, pol­i­tics top off week’s de­vel­op­ment

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

It’s hard to be­lieve most North­west Arkansas stu­dents are just a cou­ple of weeks away from a re­turn to the class­room, their sum­mer nearly fin­ished. Some might be tempted to give that a thumbs down, but great things lay ahead for the ap­proach­ing school year.

Here’s our lat­est col­lec­tion of thumbs from here and there:

Of­fi­cer Steven Creek of the Fort Smith Po­lice Depart­ment re­ceived his depart­ment’s Life Sav­ing Award and the Chief’s Award for his ac­tions on Feb. 22, when a mother re­ported her son was at­tempt­ing sui­cide at River­front Park. Creek found her son face down in the Arkansas River and jumped in. A strug­gle en­sued but Creek ul­ti­mately brought him back to the river’s banks. Creek, a fiveyear of­fi­cer for the depart­ment, put his life on the line for the sake of an­other. Our com­mu­ni­ties are well served by peo­ple like Creek every day.

Min­nesota Rep. Keith El­li­son needs a les­son in Con­sti­tu­tional law. He told NPR last week that Pres­i­dent Trump’s “mean” tweets about po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents, his own cab­i­net mem­bers and peo­ple who don’t agree with him con­sti­tute a vi­o­la­tion of Twit­ter’s terms of use. The Demo­cratic con­gress­man goes on to say that Twit­ter should con­sider ban­ning the pres­i­dent be­cause of it. That’s a ridicu­lous ar­gu­ment. El­li­son should re­al­ize ban­ning some­one from a so­cial me­dia plat­form for po­lit­i­cal speech is a bad idea. While Trump’s tweets are fre­quently out­ra­geous and in­sult­ing, Twit­ter doesn’t ban out­rage and in­sults. And Twit­ter should be es­pe­cially care­ful about how it han­dles po­lit­i­cal speech — any­one’s po­lit­i­cal speech. Un­like Trump’s par­tic­u­lar brand of loy­alty, the First Amend­ment is a two-way street. The is­sues some peo­ple have with Trump isn’t about the medium, but the man be­hind the mes­sages.

Joseph Wood has been the Wash­ing­ton County judge since Jan­uary, but his work to pro­mote the statewide Repub­li­can Party goes way back. He was the party’s trea­surer and served un­der Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Mark Martin as a deputy. Be­cause of his years of ded­i­ca­tion and con­tri­bu­tions to grow the GOP, he was named win­ner of the John Paul Ham­mer­schmidt Party Builder Award for the 3rd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict.

It al­most sounds hope­ful, a move by U.S. Sens. La­mar Alexan­der, the plaid-shirted Repub­li­can Ten­nessean, and Patty Mur­ray, a Demo­crat from Wash­ing­ton, to begin work on a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort to sta­bi­lize the 2010 Af­ford­able Care Act. Didn’t they get the memo from their party lead­er­ship? It’s about notch­ing a win, not mak­ing things bet­ter, right? One has to won­der how far they’ll get. It’s not lead­er­ship if you look be­hind and no­body’s go­ing the same di­rec­tion as you. But we ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­fort, be­cause progress will come from peo­ple who rec­og­nize the Se­nate. as Sen. John McCain said on the Se­nate floor re­cently, hasn’t “been over­bur­dened by great­ness lately.”

“Our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are im­por­tant, vi­tally im­por­tant, to the con­tin­ued suc­cess of our Repub­lic,” McCain said. “And our ar­cane rules and cus­toms are de­lib­er­ately in­tended to re­quire broad co­op­er­a­tion to func­tion well at all. The most revered mem­bers of this institution ac­cepted the ne­ces­sity of com­pro­mise in or­der to make in­cre­men­tal progress on solv­ing Amer­ica’s prob­lems and to de­fend her from her ad­ver­saries.”

Hear, hear.

It’s great news — sad, but nec­es­sary — that Arkansas

State Po­lice troop­ers will soon carry with them a nasal spray that coun­ter­acts the ef­fects of opi­oid over­doses. The state has seen sig­nif­i­cant growth in the num­ber of opi­oid-re­lated over­doses, from 153 in 2011 to 227 in 2015. Oh, there’s a cost in­volved ($47,088), but the lives saved are worth so much more, don’t you think?

We vote “yes” to our own pro­posal that the county-ap­pointed elec­tion com­mis­sion­ers in North­west Arkansas de­serve ku­dos for their de­vel­op­ment of re­gional elec­tion com­mis­sion groups. Other such groups are form­ing across the state, in­spired by the ac­tions of the North­west Arkansas group. County elec­tion com­mis­sion­ers are the foun­da­tion of fair, ef­fi­cient elec­tions in every county, but many of the laws and rules they op­er­ate un­der orig­i­nate within the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments. Th­ese re­gional groups will give them a clearer voice in help­ing to in­flu­ence poli­cies and en­sur­ing all 75 coun­ties have strong sys­tems.

Speak­ing of re­gional elec­tion com­mis­sion groups, we note that while in­ter­est is strong among county of­fi­cials, Sec­re­tary of State Mark Martin’s of­fice hasn’t shown up yet de­spite be­ing in­vited. His of­fice only su­per­vises the state’s elec­tions and se­lects the kinds of equip­ment that will be used. A re­porter’s ef­fort to get a com­ment from the of­fice’s spokesman met with a voice mail­box that was full and no re­sponse to emails. The of­fice should be at the fore­front of ef­forts to en­sure the state has a trust­wor­thy and ef­fec­tive elec­tion sys­tem. It’s hard to lead if you don’t show up.

Although the pre­cise na­ture of a fu­ture sci­ence cen­ter may be a lit­tle hard to see, astronomy en­thu­si­asts brought a 106-year-old, 36-foot-long te­le­scope from Swarth­more Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia to North­west Arkansas last week. The te­le­scope, one of the largest re­frac­tors in the na­tion, will be stored for now, but the group Sup­port­ing STEM and Space Inc. has grand plans for a fa­cil­ity that will pro­mote sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and math. The group’s vol­un­teers have taken one gi­ant leap to­ward their goals with the te­le­scope’s ac­qui­si­tion.

A mas­sive blaze in Jan­uary de­stroyed nearly the en­tire fleet of buses Ozark Re­gional Tran­sit re­lied on to pro­vide mass tran­sit ser­vices in Ben­ton and Wash­ing­ton coun­ties, but it’s good to hear news rid­er­ship has re­turned to near pre-fire lev­els with the as­sis­tance of many other tran­sit sys­tems who loaned or gave Ozark buses to use. Ozark Re­gional Tran­sit of­fi­cials say they could ac­quire new buses within months. This re­gion needs a mass tran­sit sys­tem, and that will be even more true as it grows. The tran­sit sys­tem de­serves praise for nav­i­gat­ing its way through its un­ex­pected dis­rup­tion.

Con­grat­u­la­tions are in or­der for Janie Darr, the re­tired su­per­in­ten­dent in Rogers who re­ceived the Dick Daniel Distin­guished Ci­ti­zen Award given by the Rogers Ro­tary Club and named af­ter the for­mer pres­i­dent of Daisy Man­u­fac­tur­ing. The award rec­og­nized ex­cel­lence, creativity and ini­tia­tive in im­prov­ing the com­mu­nity; de­vo­tion of time and en­ergy to im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life for oth­ers; and help­ing oth­ers de­vel­op­ing and use their full lead­er­ship po­ten­tial.

It’s Ton­ti­town Grape Fes­ti­val week, giv­ing folks from there and from all around a good rea­son to join in the fun, whether it’s car­ni­val rides, some Ital­ian spaghetti, mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment or a 5K run. What a great slice of North­west Arkansas cul­ture!

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