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Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers

January 3, 2019

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Jan. 2, 2019.

The holidays weren’t even over before the 2020 election began. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Planned Parenthood) is the first Democrat to pull the lever, but there’s more to winning a race than bursting out of the gate.

If you’ve ever had the “pleasure” to run a 5K before, you might notice those runners who take off full sprint from the moment they hear the gun. You’ll usually pass them a couple hundred feet later either walking or on the side of the road. Pacing is important. And being first out doesn’t guarantee victory.

The Democratic senator will be quick to prove herself as the progressive champion, hoping to put some distance between her campaign and those of other likely contenders Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. It looks like any hopes for new blood in a Democratic presidential candidate continue to drop.

Sen. Warren has a history of picking fights with the president, but she can ask her counterpart Marco Rubio how he fared doing the same in 2016. Want to impress American voters? Put down Twitter and get with the smart policymaking.

Speaking of policy, a glance at the senator’s short political career (she’s only been in office since 2012 and was in academia before that) shows little ability to work across the aisle and get legislation moved through either chamber.

But perhaps her biggest problem, the one that has us shaking our heads, is this continued thread of identity politics she somehow works herself into. Remember a few months ago when she released a DNA test showing she had a tiny piece of Native American ancestry? (As if that’s a rare thing among Americans.) But identity politics is a cancer to the election process. There’s nothing of less value in an election than demographic box-checking.

When looking for well-crafted policy, a candidate’s ancestors aren’t really that important to the process. If you’re a good candidate, be a good candidate. Don’t rely on DNA makeup to win over voters.

Over the next few months, the 2020 Democratic primary is going to escalate in terms of noise and socialism. Sen. Warren isn’t the right pick, and she’s probably not going to be the left pick, either. There’s not enough political experience, too many populist ideas, too heavy an emphasis on her cultural identity. But we doubt she’ll get that message until sometime in the summer of 2020, when the nomination goes to somebody else. Until then, brace yourself, Gentle Reader.

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Texarkana Gazette. Jan. 3, 2019.

Many in the Twin Cities are looking forward to a better year ahead in 2019.

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mike Malone made a fine case for our area’s economic prospects in a story Jan. 2 on the front page on this newspaper.

It’s true we have a great transportation infrastructure that keeps getting better. We have a ready workforce and, with Texas A&M University-Texarkana, Texarkana College and University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana, we have plenty of educated young folks seeking opportunity. We have existing buildings and plenty of land available for business construction and expansion. There are a lot of things here to attract small and large businesses.

But we are deficient in one area that most would consider essential in today’s economy — fast, reliable, affordable internet service for both business and home that is accessible in every part of the Twin Cities.

Businesses need the fastest, most reliable service. These days they tend to demand it before even considering a location. And they want the same level of service at an affordable rate at home. That’s not just for amenities. A lot of work gets done away from the office.

Internet service in Texarkana is not particularly fast, nor particularly reliable and, for many, not particularly affordable. That’s a problem.

The two cities and the chamber have discussed this before. We remember reporting on meetings about this very subject dating back to 2014. It’s time to concentrate on Texarkana’s internet service. Because with a serious upgrade, all our other advantages look even better.

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Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Jan. 3, 2019.

Happy new year! We appreciate all the readers who contributed ideas and comments for our (almost) weekly Thursday’s thumbs. Keep those cards and letters (OK, mostly emails and calls) coming. We appreciate hearing from you. It’s also an easy contribution to make if you just can’t find the time to draft a letter to editor. We encourage letters, but we understand folks are busy, busy, busy. Just follow the directions included with today’s thumbs to offer a thought.

Meanwhile, we have a few thoughts of our own, too, to offer as we roll into 2019, which is sure to be full of news like any year around Northwest Arkansas.

— THUMBS UP — On Wednesday, we launched the inaugural edition of “Speaking of Arkansas,” a podcast we’ll use to speak with people involved in issues of importance to the state and to the issues in our communities of Northwest Arkansas. It’s easy to listen, even for those who aren’t into podcasts (although it’s worth getting into if you haven’t already). Readers can visit nwaonline.com/podcast to see the collection of Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette podcasts, including “Speaking of Arkansas.” Our first guest is Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is about to start his second four-year term with a regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly. We discussed the legislative session, the underground fire fouling the air in Bella Vista, his appointment to the Arkansas Highway Commission and more. Listeners can also subscribe to our podcasts on Apple iTunes or Google play. A search for Northwest Arkansas usually turns up our feed. Listen in when you get a chance, and stay tuned for more to come in 2019. Thanks to Gov. Hutchinson for sitting in.

— THUMBS UP — Just about any expansion of services to help people facing a mental health issue will get an upturned digit from us. For many years, there was little to celebrate as such services evaporated. People are catching on, though, that many troubles for the individual and society can be minimized or avoided by dealing with mental illness, which can be anything from a bout with anxiety to a lifelong struggle against schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The latest news from the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville is an $11 million expansion of Pat Walker Heath Center, including doubling of space for mental health services and the addition of three classrooms. Officials say younger people are more willing these days to step forward to acknowledge a struggle, and we commend them for it. We also give the leadership at the UA a thumbs up for recognizing the need and responding to it.

— THUMBS UP — Three cheers for connectivity! An official ribbon cutting will be Friday, but traffic has been flowing for a little while on two extensions of Arkansas 265 that take the highway through Lowell and into Rogers. It’s all part of the process to create a viable north-south route east of the communities also connected by the busier Interstate 49 and still-busy U.S. 71B. Traffic is often like water — it flows where there is least resistance. These extensions can open the spigot to the east, providing motorists another option to travel through the two-county area. The extensions represented much-needed relief. Officials gave credit to Dick Trammel of Rogers, who just ended his 10-year term on the Arkansas Highway Commission, for his longtime support for the 265 projects.

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