Thursday, February 26, 2009

Don't let the contractors take all your brushpiles; the birds won't forgive you

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of mockingbird on brushpile at World Peace Wetland Prairie on February 25, 2009,

The more buds you spot on the ends of small limbs the more likely these limbs are the ones to keep on your property if you want plenty of song birds to be in your neighborhood when spring comes. You might also try to convince your neighbors to preserve some similar brushpiles on their property. And urging neighbors to preserve ice-damaged trees on their property also will help.
Many won't understand. But every property owner who keeps a brush pile or resists pressure to cut down a damaged tree can make a difference in the reproductive success of song birds in the coming spring.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rosa Rosales, president of Lulac, in Fayetteville to fight discrimination; Mayor Lioneld Jordan speaks in support of equality

Please click on image to enlarge view of Mayor Lioneld Jordan quoting President Abraham Lincoln in support of human equality before the Citizens of NWA Against Racial Profiling on Dickson Street's walk down Dickson Street to protest discrimination. Members of the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology walked in support of the anti-discrimination effort. Please see story below from the Northwest Arkansas Times for Saturday, February 21, 2009, for more information about the issue.
Northwest Arkansas Times

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of Rosa Rosales, national president of LULAC, addressing the crowd in front of Walton Arts Center at 7:37 p.m. Saturday February 21, 2009, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. For more about Rosoles, please visit
Rosa Rosales elected president of LULAC

Allegations of racial discrimination on Dickson Street have prompted one local group to take a stand.
Members of the online Facebook group, Citizens of NWA Against Racial Profiling on Dickson Street, plan to raise awareness this weekend by taking part in the African American Heritage Walk at 7 p.m. today.
The walk will start at the St. Paul's Episcopal Church parking lot on Dickson Street and will end at the front of the Walton Arts Center.
"It's a way to celebrate African-American heritage achievements in Northwest Arkansas and to bring attention to issues like racial profiling," said Corbin Blake, who helped create the online group. "We want this to be a peaceful awareness type of event. We don't want to overstep our boundaries - we're just out to try and help the situation."
Since joining the group several weeks ago, Blake said membership numbers have continued to skyrocket.
The site, which can be access by visiting www. php?gid=61630505119, features an open forum where members can share their thoughts, ideas and experiences.
"We started the Facebook page to try and collect as many stories as we can from people," Blake said. "It's pretty powerful right now. Last week we had 200 members and this week we have over 700."
Site administrator Lesleigh Creel said the group's popularity has prompted numerous residents to come forward with their own stories of racial discrimination. Blake said tonight's walk aims at furthering the group's awareness initiative through community education. Instances of racial dis- crimination on Dickson Street, he said, have become an all-too-common experience.
"I didn't realize it was so prevalent," he said. "I've experienced a couple things personally and have heard the same stories from a lot of other people. We just feel like this has gone on long enough and someone needs to be held accountable."
Though he admits that instances of racial discrimination aren't a common experience at every bar, Blake said most stories have centered around two Dickson Street bars owned by David Bass.
Bouncers at both Shotz and Stir, he said, have been accused of selective policy enforcement.
"There have been times when I've been asked to remove my hat, while other, white people in the bar didn't have to," Blake said. "I've also been told that my pants are too baggy but have seen other, white people with clothes a lot baggier than mine."
According to a sign posted on the window of Stir, the club prohibits customers from wearing sunglasses, hair net, hats, baggy clothing, jerseys, hoodies, towels and or chains.
Willy D's Piano Bar has a similar sign prohibiting the same items, in addition to tank tops, sweats, medallions, oversized T-shirts, bandanas, cut-off sleeves, skull caps or beanies. The policy also bans hats from being worn sideways.
"The dress code isn't a problem for me," Blake said. "They have the right to enforce their own policies. What bothers me is when they apply them to whoever they choose."
Blake said group members attempted to contact Bass to no avail.
"We feel like it's a slap in the face," he said. "We were taking the stance that maybe he didn't know this was going on, but he hasn't returned any correspondence with us or the mayor in about a month. We'd just like to talk to him."
As of Friday, Bass said he didn't plan on contacting the group.
"There's no discussion here," he said. "Any allegations of racial profiling are absolutely untrue. The inference that such statements are being made is extremely disappointing and unfortunate."
Bass described most of the allegations against the business as "hearsay."
"Anytime you're in the club business, you'll have a lot of gossip and water cooler talk," he said. "The fact of the matter is that we, like any other business, have a policy set in place that we will enforce and abide by. If you don't meet the conduct or dress code, regardless of race, creed, nationality or age, you won't be welcome nor should you be at any other business."
"If you conduct yourself in a professional manner, then you're welcome here," he said.
In addition to starting a Web page and hosting awareness events, members of the anti-racism group have submitted letters to the mayor, the police chief, local media and business owners to address the issue.
"We haven't received any complaints about racial profiling, other than the letter that was sent out," Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor said. "It's against the law for a business to discriminates against someone based on age, race, gender or religion. It's not a criminal offense, but it is something that could be pursued civilly."
The letter, which can be accessed by visiting the group's Facebook page, asks that Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan take a stand by publicly addressing the issue.
Calls made to Jordan weren't returned Thursday or Friday.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Red dirt abominable: West Fayetteville Citizens for Environmental Quality step up against red-dirt farm, limestone quarry

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of dump truck full of red dirt being hauled to construction site in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Please click on images to ENLARGE photos.

In the photo above, a layer of something approximating topsoil has been spread over red dirt used in trail construction but the chances of a strong enough crop of grass and other natural vegetation taking hold there to prevent erosion on a slope is questionable. Erosion from this site enters Scull Creek, a tributary of the Illiinois River.
In the photo below, red dirt has been built up several feet for the foundation of a strip shopping center in the riparian zone of a tributary of Fayetteville's Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

The story linked below is about as good as it gets for coverage of local resident/environmental groups' meetings. However, it is important to note one mistake, a mistake that may explain why comments about red dirt in water-quality discussions never get quoted by local reporters.
Red dirt is misunderstood.
Red dirt is not "rich, red dirt." A soil expert may be able to tell us about "rich, red dirt" someplace on earth. But "red dirt" in Northwest Arkansas is not topsoil even when one sees it on the surface. The natural topsoil has been removed by the mining process of scraping away the soil found above it.
The red dirt found in Northwest Arkansas is non-organic dirt that will not sustain life. It is stone and clay that has been hidden under a layer of organic soil for eons.
"If God had been proud of red dirt, God would not have buried it out of sight," said one Northwest Arkansas natural-resource conservationist speaking about its use on construction sites.
Road-builders and contractors putting up buildings use red dirt for foundation material. Some engineers and planners and developers call red dirt "good dirt" for their purposes. However, red dirt is the opposite of good for growing food or trees or flowering plants. Contractors who spill it beyond the bounds of a foundation quickly hide it under a layer of some type of organic soil that will at least grow a bit of grass.
But that means the possibility of raising a healthy garden or having a tree grow successfully for the long term is impossible forever, or at least until the red dirt is removed! Whole subdivisions may be found with solid red dirt where truly rich almost black topsoil formerly created fertile prairie land with the immense potential for agriculture and wildlife habitat. NOTHING LIVES IN OR ON RED DIRT. Human beings and other living things depend on organic soil for their existence.
Basically, red dirt-covered development sites are as impervious to water as paved lots. Stormwater runs off rapidly because it cannot soak in. The elements that erode from red dirt discolor streams and lakes and rivers and the silt doesn't stop discoloring the water for a long, long time. Native lIfe in streams decreases permanently after such changes in the watershed.
So, please, editors and reporters, let's not use the words "rich" and "red dirt" together. Certainly, people selling lots of red dirt may be enriched. But their product is not "rich" as an agricultural or environmental expert would use the word.
West Fayetteville serious about fighting red-dirt and limestone quarry

Neighbors decry noise, effects of blasting at Big Red Dirt Farm
BY DUSTIN TRACY Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2009
They're tired of the blasting, they're tired of the noise at all hours of the night and they certainly don't want to see the Big Red Dirt Farm, just off Hamstring Road north of Wedington Drive, converted into a limestone quarry.
That's why members of the West Fayetteville Citizens for Environmental Quality asked Ward 4 Aldermen Shirley Lucas and Sarah Lewis at the group's meeting Monday for the City Council's help in the battle against what has become a noisy, arguably dangerous, big hole in a number of resident's backyard.
"Quarry blasting on the edge of city limits can't be a good thing," Dave Bolen, president of the group, said.
The issue dates back to 2004, when about 50 acres were purchased by the William G. Sweetser Trust and A. Brad Johnson, who began farming the land for its rich, red dirt. Soon, the company decided to harvest the pillars of limestone that ran up through the dirt. Bolen said that was when his headaches started.
"They decided to fire up a rock crusher at 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday night," Bolen told Lucas and Lewis.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lindsley Smith's weekly report from the Arkansas legislature includes important information on medical scam

Arkansas Business article on medical-provider schemes

I presented my bill in committee last week to deter physician kickbacks that result from doctors who refer their patients to medical imaging centers in which the doctors have a financial interest—essentially the doctors buying into this “leasing agreement” are making a great deal of money merely for the referral, and the patient or patient’s private insurer pays for that referral when paying for the imaging. Such actions have been criticized by the American Medical Association as unethical, but some doctors still choose to make extra money on this scheme. Arkansas Business had an article about such schemes, which is at Arkansas Business article on medical-provider schemes The plot thickens as to the political realities surrounding this bill, which I must relay. The lobbyist for the men who seek doctors to buy into such schemes set my bill for a Special Order of Business for Feb. 12. A SOB can only be requested by the bill’s sponsor and needs a 3/4 vote of the committee; however, I found out about the SOB date through an e-mail. I tried to pull “stakeholders” together on the bill, but found that I needed to cancel the meeting set by the lobbyist, which I did (I thought). On the 12th, however, the men and their lobbyist came to the Capitol to testify, and I was told to present the bill since a SOB could not be canceled once it was set. At the time, I was about to sit down and present the bill authorizing the new judgeship for the 4th judicial district in the Judiciary Committee room. Rather than cause a stink, I did as instructed and luckily had my file for the self-referral bill upstairs, and I ran up two flights to grab it and got back to the room and presented the bill on the fly. I felt I did a good job, considering, and covered most of the main areas of research; however, because the hearing was canceled for that day, the amendment that I had been working on was not available, so I had to speak to issues until it could be printed and given to the committee members. The amendment was eventually presented to the committee. The imaging center businessman (Sparks, whose lobbyist is someone who just a month earlier was a state legislator and who set the date of the hearing) was present and sat up at the table but did not testify, Dr. Michael Morris of Fayetteville was the main person testifying against the bill, Dr. Anthony Taylor testified against it, and Dr. Lynette Brian testified against the bill, arguing that she hadn’t read the bill, but she was against it. The hearing became very heated when it was revealed that in Fayetteville there are doctors who are refusing to accept Medicaid or Medicaid patients. The federal government prohibits such kickbacks with Medicaid or Medicaid patients, but not with private insurers. Twenty-three states have passed legislation to also limit such practices for patient-pay or private-insurer-pay patients so that patients are paying for medical work, not mandated tips for non-service.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fayette Junction Master Plan to be presented at 6 p.m. Thursday

Please click on image to ENLARGE one of the slides found at the link below.

The Fayette Junction Master Plan Community Presentation has been rescheduled
for Thursday, Feb. 5 at BioBased Companies, which is located at the SE corner of Razorback Road and Cato Springs Road. Over 100 stakeholders contributed to the vision that will be presented, and a draft of the vision document and Illustrative Plan are now available at
Please paste in address above or go directly to the information at the link below:
Access Fayetteville drawings and photos from Fayette Junction planning session

Please join us on the 5th for tours at 6:00 p.m., the presentation at 6:30 p.m., and light
refreshments following the presentation.

Karen Minkel

Karen Minkel
Interim Director of Long Range Planning
City of Fayetteville
(479) 575-8271