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Sunday’s Letters to the Editor

OPINION February 26, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

The Huckabee tree

Dear editor:

Article 14, Section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution states in part: "Intelligence and virtue being the safeguards of liberty and the bulwark of a free and good government, the State shall ever maintain a general, suitable and efficient system of free public schools and shall adopt all suitable means to secure to the people the advantages and opportunities of education. ... "

In his 2014 book, "God, Guns, Grits and Gravy," former Gov. Mike Huckabee brags: "I am a product of the public schools." He goes on to proudly say that his three children attended public school from first through 12th grade. He concludes by saying he was the first governor in 50 years that could say his children went to public school exclusively.

When Mike Huckabee's daughter became Arkansas governor, her first instinct was to echo her father's pride in Arkansas public schools by declaring, in effect: "Bring me a bill that helps teachers and I will sign it." Shortly thereafter, SB149, the RAISE Act of 2023, was placed before newly elected Gov. Huckabee Sanders.

Senate Bill 149 sets a minimum teacher salary at $50,000. Grants every teacher an immediate $10,000 raise. Keeps the traditional step pay for experience and additional degrees. And gives staff a minimum salary of $15 per hour. Knowing that presently Arkansas is close to the bottom of states with its $36,000 minimum salary for teachers (thank goodness again for Mississippi), Gov. Huckabee Sanders refused to follow through with her pledge. Instead, she has leaked out her own LEARN plan for education.

From what we know now, with the exception of adopting the $50,000 base from the RAISE Act of 2023, the LEARN plan appears to be a scheme to create a second, publicly funded, school system in Arkansas. The governor's omnibus bill would take the lid off the number of charter schools and offer public tax dollars to fund vouchers for private schools. Dollars that would otherwise go to fund the public schools. In addition, charters would not be held to the same standards as the public schools and could discriminate in choosing and keeping students.

Finally, the governor's bill would remove all job protection for teachers. In effect making teachers "at will" employees, meaning they could be dismissed at any time for good reason, bad reason or no reason at all.

It is often said that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." It appears in the case of the Huckabee tree, the younger rolled a long way in terms of public education. All the way from rural Arkansas to Washington, D.C., in 2016 and back again.

Steven Rittenmeyer

Hot Springs Village

Detriments to education

Dear editor:

As a retired educator with 47 years of experience, I should like to inform readers that our governor's LEARNS Act and her promotion of legislator Sullivan's library act are both detriments to Arkansas public education.

The LEARNS Act has one positive, the $50,000 beginning salary for teachers. However, if the current graded schedule for raises is eliminated, what are the future incentives? How does this affect a teacher with 20 years' experience? How much damage to public education will the barrage of vouchers for private and charter schools create? Every year, some charter schools die from ineffective programs and overall costs of operation.

The library act introduced by Sullivan is simply another act of censorship. Both public and school libraries have handled questions of inappropriate materials well. Why complicate the matter? This act reminds me of the McCarthy era, when a search for a Communist under every bush was underway. Many innocent teachers lost their jobs for teaching about the failures of Communism. That was an earlier GOP attempt of autocracy.

Ms. Sanders may be an expert at politics, getting what she wants regardless of the "downs," but she is obviously not well grounded in matters of education.

John W. "Doc" Crawford


and Hot Springs

'Staches 'thanks'

Dear editor:

The Historic Downtown Farmers Market Board would like to express its gratitude to The Sentinel-Record for its coverage of the "Show Off Your Beards and 'Staches" contest at the Hot Springs Farmers and Artisans Market on Feb. 11.

Thanks to your intrepid reporters and photographers, the Hot Springs community is reminded the market is open year-round. Though the winter market is smaller, we still have big fun. Thank you, Sentinel-Record staff, for your support and coverage before and after the event.

Much gratitude also goes to the Hot Springs community for showing up and supporting not only the event, but the market. We had 31 contestants! One of whom declared he will be back next year to, "defend my title." The Beard and 'Staches contest will now be an annual event. The 2023 winners may be viewed on the Hot Springs Farmers Market website.

Thank you to all vendors, participants and customers. It was great fun!

Bonnie Fiedler

The Historic Downtown

Farmers Market Board

Debt 'fiction'

Dear editor:

A recently published letter by Jerry Davis lambasted the Republicans for increasing the national debt, and while there is some truth to that, he completely leaves out the Democrats' role in that. He also presented quite a bit of fiction in his letter.

First off, he tries to say Reagan accelerated our national debt. In reality, the national debt started to accumulate under every president beginning with Herbert Hoover and ending with Trump and now Biden has continued the trend. The list of presidents includes both Republicans and Democrats, which includes Obama adding $8.6 trillion in his eight years. To be fair, if Trump had been reelected, he might have held the distinction of him adding the most.

Secondly, Mr. Davis fails to mention any extending circumstances on why spending was increased during those times. For instance, Roosevelt had the social programs he instituted in the New Deal, as well as World War II to contend with. George W. Bush launched the War on Terror after 9/11 and the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. Bush also dealt with the 2001 recession and the 2008 financial crisis, which was largely caused by Democrat-pushed policies (Community Reinvestment Act among others). Obama had to deal with the 2008 crisis with several massive spending packages and the bailout of GM. Trump had to deal with the COVID pandemic.

Lastly, Mr. Davis tries to lay much of the blame on tax cuts. This is pure fiction, and a widely used, but false, Democrat talking point. Tax cuts do not add to the deficit; in fact, if one would check the federal revenue tables by year, you would see with the exception of a year or two, revenues increased after every tax cut. It's because tax cuts tend to have a stimulative effect on the economy. Excessive spending is the cause of increased deficits and debt, not tax cuts.

He also used another worn-out Democrat talking point that only the rich receive the tax cuts. Taking the Trump tax cuts, for instance, IRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans the most. Filers who earned $50-$100K got a tax break of around 17%, while those earning above $1 million only got around a 6% cut. If you look at raw dollars, then yes, the rich appear to gain the most, but that's because they most of taxes by a large margin. The top 1% pay nearly 40% of federal income taxes, while the bottom 40% of earners pay none.

Hopefully, this has added a little more balance to Mr. Davis' one-sided view.

Mike Williams

Hot Springs Village

Jazz Society 'thanks'

Dear editor:

The Hot Springs Jazz Society would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all those who participated in making Party Gras 2023, a collaboration with the Vapors, and the Musical Notes Foundation, a huge success.

Of note: Darrell Faircloth and Jimmy Miller at the Vapors Live (thank you for the invitation to collaborate!), Queen Dona Pettey and King David Higginbotham (what gracious ambassadors for our cause), the Hot Springs Civitans for setting up and conducting the Casino room, all the board members of the Hot Springs Jazz Society, and past board members Bill Freeman and Sharon Turrentine.

Thank you to the following for their generous donations to our Silent Auction: Surry Tobin and Goslee Inc., Susan and Grady Bean, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, the Embassy Suites Bistro 400, Diamante Golf Club, Artfully Baked, The Beehive, Ryan Brown of Spa City Ink, Stardust Big Band, The Gangster Museum, The Porterhouse, Hot Springs Country Club, Rolandos, Brad and Stacy Hudgens, DeGray Lake Golf Resort, Joanne Magione, AdventureWorks Lake Catherine, Adrianne Kahn, The Yoga Place, Clampits, Beth and Richard Gipe, Hot Springs Haunted Tours, Diablos, The Big Axe Battleground, SQZBX Pizza, Laras Jewelry and Design, Bart Bump of Bear City Wood Works, Deytrah Elsworth at Tri Lakes Liquor, Lake Hamilton Animal Care, Frank and Lynn Janaskie, Bob and Sallye Kellam, Ron and Joyce McHone, Claude Smith and Georgia Happy, Jim and Nancy Kelly, Shirley Chauvin-Miller, members of The Masqueraders Band, Gary and Katrina Meggs, and Gretchen Miller, Christina Allen and Ellen Walker.

We truly thank you for your donations, for volunteering and for all the hard work that went into the event to make it successful.

Valerie Tobin

President, Hot Springs

Jazz Society 2023

Hidden charges

Dear editor:

I have noticed recently several local businesses have begun adding additional charges to their bills whenever I use a credit or debit card to pay for purchases at their establishments. In most cases, you don't find out about this "hidden charge" until you get your receipt and find out it's been added.

I feel this is dishonest. Customers should be notified in advance if there is an additional charge to use a credit/debit card. They could then decide if they wanted to pay with cash or check instead -- but wait, that's right, some businesses no longer accept cash or checks, either. So you're just out of luck either way.

Oliver Driver

Hot Springs

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