Congratulations to Parks Commission for its warm, fuzzy, flyweight narrative entitled "Lake Leatherwood City Park Master Plan." This "plan" supposedly explains why we voters would support taxing ourselves to give Parks Commission money to spend at its discretion, without citizen input or government oversight. If you haven't read it, visualize sand castles, Cinderella at the Ball and jousting with windmills all bundled into one frothy manifesto. If Park's "Plan" got any more esoteric, they could call it poetry and pay Mr.LaPage to be a poet-in-residence!
But, really, how could any voter not rush out to support a "plan" that uses the word "special" eight times in one paragraph (page 11-12)? Yes, please, let me do that! Never mind that in 20 pages, there is no mention of "budget" or "operation and maintenance", of "ways and means," of consultation with experts, of a timeline, of prioritizing, of accountability to taxpayers or of utilizing previous master plans that we've paid for without seeing results!
I support our parks and want them to thrive, but hurling tax dollars at Parks Commission without oversight, for an unfocused and unchecked "plan" shrouded in mystery and couched in hot air is not a plan. That's flushing our money down the cosmic toilet.
Here's the simple solution: Turn Parks and Rec into, or over to, a City Department that is answerable to city government, accountable to taxpayers and transparent in its spending. Now, that's a plan that I would vote for.
Children who are involved in the arts perform better in schools, hands down. Whether we're talking about music, dance, theater, or the visual arts, involvement in the arts affects grades, test scores, depth of learning and overall educational enthusiasm. Eureka Springs is one of the foremost arts communities in our nation, and there is no reason that we could not have the very best schools in our nation... schools that reflect the deep relationship we have with the arts.
I propose a broad alliance between the schools and the arts and artists that make our community vibrant and unique. We are poised to open a new high school building, and that offers the possibility for a cultural renewal of our schools. I suggest that we consider greater integration of the arts.
All across the United States schools are struggling to improve and demonstrate improved learning, and in Eureka Springs, we are pushed along by state regulations while failing to utilize our most valuable community resources.
Just as our community is on the cutting edge in the arts, our schools in collaboration with the arts could an be on the cutting edge of educational reform, serve as a model for our nation, offer the best of all possible lives to our children, and insure their futures by making best use of what lies immediately at hand. The arts.
A+ Schools is a program that started in North Carolina and has a proven track record of raising test scores through the integration of the arts in learning. A+ may or may not be as far as we might want to go in the integration of the arts in our schools, but investigation of A+ Schools should be our first small step in what many of us know to be the right direction.
Paul Leopoulos of the Thea Foundation will introduce A+ Schools at a meeting of artists, educators, parents and interested public on Sunday October 14 at 1:30 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship 33 Elk St. Eureka Springs. I want to personally invite all interested persons (and artists) to attend.
I don't blame Obama that I was laid off three times from 2007 to 2009. After a stable career of 30 years as an Executive Recruiter holding each job for long periods of time (7 to 11 years), I experienced job losses from the down-turn in the economy. In 2007 I was laid off along with all the employees of Arkansas National Bank (ANB) in Rogers because they were shut down by the FDIC, the 3rd bank closure in the US during the bank crisis. This happened during Bush's last term.
As the economy worsened, I landed 2 more positions and was laid off due to nationwide lay-offs with two companies. I doubt that I will return to the full time work force, but am happily enjoying part time work in Eureka Springs.
Obama inherited this economic disaster and has worked to turn things around while being continually blocked and thwarted by Republican opposition to every measure he proposed. I believe Obama has kept us from sinking into another Great Depression. Remember the Great Depression? It lasted over 10 years and had 25 % unemployment, soup lines and widespread poverty. I commend Obama for stalwartly fighting for the needs of the majority of Americans as we struggle with unemployment, mortgage dilemmas, and corruption in the financial sector.
Don't blame Obama, congratulate him for hanging in there and making things better in a no-win situation. Support him to continue the good fight for the needs of a majority of Americans.