Quapaws Hint at Savaging Arkansas…with Economic Progress?

21 Feb

John Berrey, Quapaw Tribe Chairman

Very interesting developments could be in the works as leaders from the Quapaw Indian Tribe of Oklahoma continue to hint at the group’s long-term plans to replicate their successful casino business model with “new” formalized “legal” gambling to central Arkansas, which, goin’ by what the good folks here tell me, is somehow entirely different than what they’ve been doing down at Oaklawn in Hot Springs and on east of here at the dog tracks in West Memphis . . . but I digress.

You may recall that the tribe  purchased an 80-acre tract south of the Little Rock Port Industrial Park for $775,000 late last year, leading to the original speculation about the group’s true intentions on down the road.

Hey, for the record, I am certainly no gambler, and frankly have never quite wrapped my brain around the idea that all the unnecessary anxiety that comes with risking your own cash could be fun or entertaining. That being said, you can also put me on record as being counted among the generally pro- new revenue & stuff-to-do club on these sorts of things, rather than the many hell-in-a-handbasket Chicken Littlers we often find to have the loudest political voices among us. You know who I am talking about, that Family Council crowd of misguided do-gooders who continually seem happy in letting each of our bordering-state neighbors reap the financial rewards we have more or less gifted to their respective state budgets due to our collectively misplaced moral stands, which may very well come from an altruistic viewpoint, but obviously misses the bigger picture.

Source: Tribal Government Gaming (2009)

What the people who lobby hard against the prospects of a state lottery, bizarre legal relics like Sunday alcohol restrictions, and legal gambling via tourism-friendly casinos near the state’s most populated areas, is that maybe if a few slot machines and blackjack tables directly lead to helping our state combat hunger, provide our public schools with more resources or smaller class sizes for our children, or even might mean we can finally finish that Interstate 49 project Missouri and Louisiana keep waiting on us to complete our portion of (or any of the myriad other road improvements we desperately need for a modern economy), then by all means BRING THIS ON. Am I right or am I right?

(Editor’s Note: I am right.)

Tunica certainly isn’t Mississippi’s great ethical failing, folks. Perhaps Jerry Cox and the like can secretly lobby for passage of Arkansans for Compassionate Care ballot initiative and have a way to combat all those stressful, sleepless nights sure to come when those squaws bring all that sinful abomination to town.

Source: Arkansas Blog

It’s probably worth noting to readers that John Berrey, the Quapaw Tribe’s Chairman, recently completed a four-year stint as a member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a presidentially appointed post. So when you’re left muttering to yourself “how in the heck are they able to link this one to Obamacare so everyone here hates it?!” you’ll at least know where the enormous stretch would seemingly come from.

Hubert Tate

For more background, below you will find the accompanying commentary yesterday from KARK’s Hubert Tate.

Stay tuned. Could get real testy if this push becomes a reality.

An Indian tribe, native to Arkansas, has purchased 160 acres of land in Pulaski County, hoping to reclaim a part of its history in the state. The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma is trying to figure out the next step to develop the land, including the possibility of a casino. No decision has been made, but right now the tribe’s main focus is to reclaim its history in the State. The tribe had property in Pulaski County dating back to before the 1800’s, but the United States government forced them to surrender their lands.

“We really love Arkansas and see it as part of our home. Then in 1850s, we were removed from Arkansas and brought out to Indian Territory of Oklahoma,” said business chairman John BerreyQuapaw, Oklahoma is where the majority of the tribe’s 4,500 members are now located.

Property near the Little Rock Port Authority is where Quapaws were for decades before moving northwest, which is the main reason why the tribe purchased 160 acres near Thibault Road in Little Rock recently. Berrey says the focus is now on determining what to do with the land. “We are more concerned right now about our history and reestablishing ourselves to the people and children in Arkansas. We were part of the very beginning of the state and we want to be part of the future state of Arkansas,” he said.

Berrey says the tribe has a strong business arm in Oklahoma, including a portfolio of gas stations, restaurants, hotel, spa, golf course and two casinos, all of which provide more than 2,000 jobs through its enterprises in Oklahoma. So, KARK asked him about the possibility of duplicating the business model in Little Rock. He makes it clear, the group doesn’t have any plans right now to build a casino or anything else in Pulaski County, but he doesn’t rule out the possibility.

“I would never say never. We would love to help the state out in any fiscal situation. We would love to employ a lot of people. We have a great record in doing those type of things. So if the opportunity arises, we would probably take advantage of it , but right now, we are trying to protect it and be a good steward of what we own,” said Berrey, who also does acknowledge there has been mystery surrounding the possibility. “I just think people try to put stuff together that may or may not exist. (The tribe) can game. We don’t know what the opportunities are in Arkansas, but we just want to be part of the state,” reiterating his sentiment that there is no timetable to making a decision.

“Native Americans can have casinos under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. We have two, very beautiful, very nice casinos and are very successful in the casino business. We are very efficient and we have a very nice product and we are a big economic impact on the region,” said Berrey.

Located east of downtown near the Clinton National Airport, the recently-acquired tribal property has important historic and cultural ties to the area. To better understand the tribe’s ambitions and loyalties, Arkansas Business provided a concise and contextual history in a feature around the time of the purchase:

The newly acquired tribal property is on part of a natural levee that extends northwest from the former Thibault Plantation to the Clinton National Airport. This strip of high ground was home to a string of scattered dwellings and farms that date to 1300-1500 A.D.

Graves are part of the cultural equation, too. Local denizens of the era favored burials near and even in their dwellings. The Arkansas Archeological Survey will conduct a detailed survey of the property for the tribe to identify the historical secrets it contains. “It wasn’t a big, compact village,” said Tom Green, Director of the Arkansas Archeological Survey.

Berrey, a University of Arkansas journalism graduate, also noted that in addition to its “tremendous cultural significance,” the property possessed “economic development potential.” Most of the tribe’s property along the east side of Thibault Road is devoted to farming, and more than 20 acres is wooded.

That choice of names pays homage to the tribe’s name (Ugaxpa in the native tongue, meaning downstream people) and is a reference to the tribe’s migration downstream from the Ohio River Valley to what would become Arkansas.

Oh, and as far as that little “presidential appointment” quip I wrote about — well, perhaps these guys do have their Red State Bonafides in order on a very “different front” after all:

The tribe most associated with Arkansas (including the state name) is now associated with a highly successful gaming development: Downstream Casino Resort in OklahomaOn a different business front, the Quapaw Tribal Business Committee recently bought a 51% stake in Detonics Defense Technologies LLC, a high-end handgun maker.

“This is a very exciting venture that if all goes well will position the Quapaw Tribe as a premier minority contractor in the law enforcement and handgun training space for military, state and local law enforcement,” Berrey also noted in The Quapaw Tribal News. “It’s a very exciting mix.”

Fave Fives™: President’s Day Edition!

17 Feb

As friends and loyal TWP readers know all too well, I absolutely love to talk presidential history and politics, so naturally I’m a fan of President’s Day. After reading a few news stories detailing lists for the best & worst in POTUS this morning, I figured I’d add my takes to the mix and give you a quick snapshot of my all-time faves.

Here we go!

Bubba’s still got it.

1. Bill Clinton: His personal story and rise to fame, his ability to connect with people of all stripes, and his record of achievement.

2. John F. Kennedy: His charisma, courage, and ability to inspire a generation.

Theodore Rex

3. Teddy Roosevelt: His ambition, confidence, practical approach, and tenacity — of all our former presidents, I believe his skill set and ability to proudly fight for the American people over partisan politics would be best served to lead us in our current crises. Bully!

4. Abraham Lincoln: Our greatest and most-important president — his background as a “country lawyer” and the wisdom he demonstrated during the Civil War.

LBJ

5. Lyndon Johnson: The Big Daddy from the Pedernales had an uncanny ability to get things done with a “New Deal” Texas swagger. Fascinating man.

Vote Now: Who is the best president as ranked by historians?

In honor of Presidents Day, we take a look at the small group of presidents consistently ranked among the best, and ask your opinion in this online vote.

Source: National Park Service

Historians have been ranking presidents on job performance since the late 1940s, when Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. polled 55 historians in a survey for Life magazine. He followed with a similar poll in 1962. The survey sparked a lot of talk, and criticism, as some experts didn’t find much value in it.  Stanford historian Thomas A. Bailey claimed the Schlesinger polls included a bias toward Democrats, liberals and anyone with a connection to Harvard.

But over the years, various presidential rankings have focused on a small set of presidents who always appear at the top of these surveys of historians. In 2000, a survey from The Wall Street Journal and the Federalist Society ranked Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “great” presidents.

A study of historian rankings from Meena Bose at the United States Military Academy in 2003 showed little variation from different historian surveys.  Bose said after a symposium of experts looked at all the studies, there was a consensus that the actual exercise of rankings had “limited value,” but the exercise was useful because it provoked debates about qualities make a president a great leader.

Also, surveys about presidential greatness taken by the general public showed different results, with a preference to rank more-recent presidents higher. Ronald Reagan, in particular, has polled well in recent surveys. In 1999, Reagan was listed as the fifth-best president ever in a popular poll, but 11th in a poll of historians. In recent years, Reagan was listed as one of the top 10 presidents in four out of five historian surveys.

Living presidents also present a challenge to historians, and tend to be ranked higher by historians as time goes by. But for the purpose of our informal polling, here are the five presidents who historians have ranked among the top five presidents in surveys since 2000.

1. George Washington. The 1st president was the only person the Founding Fathers even considered for the job.

2. Thomas Jefferson. The 3rd President was a driving force behind the Revolution and an intellectual force as the Constitution came to be debated and ratified.

3. Abraham Lincoln. The 16th president served little more than four years in office, but accomplished much.

4. Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Democrat served for 12 years as the only president elected to four terms, in a period that started in the Great Depression and ended with World War II nearly concluded.

5. Theodore Roosevelt. The Republican, a distant cousin of FDR, led considerable reforms at the start of the 20th century and redefined the president’s role.

You can vote here by clicking this link: https://polldaddy.com/poll/7802133/

Redefining “Anti-Racist” [UPDATED]

22 Dec

[ORIGINAL STORY]

Wow.

Yes, it’s Arkansaw, so I get it. But it’s also 2013, folks, so pardon me while I’m still a bit shocked and dismayed by the following display of anti-enlightenment I recently had a chance to take in directly from our friends and neighbors to the north in A Place Called Harrison:


[STORY UPDATE]

From the Harrison Daily Times, November 29, 2013:

A Harrison Police report shows that a witness saw some people vandalizing a billboard on the Bypass early Friday morning and reported it to police. Now it’s under investigation as a criminal matter. The report shows the witness called police about 12:10 a.m. Friday to report seeing several people vandalizing the sign.

The sign, which has drawn much controversy since it went up, is bright yellow with the words “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White” emblazoned on it in black letters. The vandals had painted over part of the last two word and wrote the word “Love” on it.

Assistant Police Chief Paul Woodruff said the witness saw the act in progress and was able to give police the license plate number of a vehicle seen leaving the area Friday morning. He said the incident is an open criminal mischief investigation and no formal report had been finalized by Friday afternoon.

antiwhite_harrison

Hard to consider such an upgrade “vandalism.”

As loyal TWP followers and other newsies will recall, said billboard began causing a stir with local residents and travelers passing through along the busy U.S. 62/65 highway bypass when the sign went up sometime in mid-October, despite drawing the ire and condemnation of several city leaders. Since then, the company that owns the sign has refused to identify who is paying for this absurd public proclamation, only saying it was a “young man” who had agreed to pay $200 per month for a year.

For a growing town where most are eager to turn the page on an ugly history and want to promote commerce, investment, and be a place where young folks might stick around to raise their families, this has to be a very aggravating setback.

Hopefully the voices of “Love” truly do win the day for the citizens there and throughout our beloved, yet very racially-challenged Natural State.

[STORY UPDATE: PART TWO]

“The People’s Lawyer” (Campbell) doesn’t shy away from controversy, does he?

…and now: The Litigation.

A billboard located along Highway 62-65 in Harrison garnered national attention when it first appeared in October, as reported to you here on TWP.  The sign read, “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White,” until late November, when it was altered it to read, “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Love.”  Though sign owner Claude West has refused to say who rented the space for the bargain price of $2,400 per year, suspicions abound that the renter of the sign has ties to the Ku Klux Klan.  Only days before the sign went up, Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights of the KKK, posted on his Facebook page, “Anti-KKK is a Code Word for Anti-White.”

The suspicions that racist motivations were behind the billboard have only grown since this past Wednesday when a local resident, Chad Watkins of Harrison, was arrested and charged with defacing the sign.  Watkins’ friends created a Facebook page and fundraising website to call attention to the matter and raise money for Watkins’ legal defense.  Almost immediately, bigoted and hateful comments began appearing on both sites.

Watkins has retained none other than Matt Campbell of Pinnacle Law Firm in Little Rock to defend him.

“It’s incredible,” says Campbell.  “The majority of the people leaving hateful comments about Mr. Watkins online tout themselves as Christians, yet, only days from Christmas, they are angry because someone changed a hateful message to one of love.  They scream about constitutional rights, but they seem ready to condemn Mr. Watkins before he ever even has a day in court.  The cognitive dissonance is staggering.”

Watkins friends have created an online fundraising campaign to cover Watkins’ legal costs, and Campbell has stated that all money raised beyond actual costs and fees will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center at the close of the case.

“I’m doing it at no charge to him. He already has a fundraiser campaign set up for legal fees.  I told him I’d bill against whatever was raised, and, when the case was over, if there was excess money donated, we’d donate it to the SPLC.”

“Evildoer” graffitist, Chad Watkins

The Facebook page started on behalf of said vandalist, Watkins, includes the following formal description:

Let’s come together and raise money to help Chad Watkins with the legal fees he acquired when he “vandalized” an incredibly racist billboard with the word “LOVE”. If you’re from Harrison, I’m sure you’ve seen that hideous, racist sign on the bypass; It reads “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White”. It attracted lots of protestors, and made our entire town look bad to those passing by. Many of us locals were disgusted with the sign, and shocked that it was even allowed.

Several weeks after the billboard was put up, it was vandilized with the word “love”. We all silently cheered for the brave sole who did this! Surprisingly, we found out that the “vandal” was someone we all know and love- Mr. Chad Watkins. Sadly, he was caught!

Donate Here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/9fHh3/ab/a2To93

(Southern Poverty Law Center ©)

The Pro Ses Are Coming

29 Nov

[Editor’s Note: This entry originally appeared on the The Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service on November 29, 2013.]

Law Libraries & Pro Se Litigants: Accessing the Information to Access Justice

One of the many effects felt downstream during the U.S. economic slump of the past several years has been the tremendous rise in pro se litigation (i.e., citizens who choose to represent themselves in court, generally due to their inability to afford an attorney) in today’s courtrooms. However, even as the need for access to professional legal services increases, officials in both federal and state government find themselves needing to cut existing services to lower budgets. Accordingly, many public law libraries find themselves taking on an ever-increasing role as the de facto “front line” for the growing demand for access to legal information, leading to increased pressure on law librarians and other legal-information professionals who provide reference services and often balance myriad other “new” duties in this transitional period of our profession.

With this new environment comes not only increased patron counts, but also the kind of expectations many of these laypersons have when they come see a “lawyer librarian.” In this role, we have a very important legal boundary when dealing with these patrons – we are not their attorneys, are not practicing law in this role, and cannot steer them into decisions by providing legal advice. It’s not only unethical; it can have negative repercussions should the person not have things go their way and feel they relied on your opinion to make a decision. With so many resources and layperson forms available now, however, and because many people are directed to law libraries by local court staff members without much direction as to what can be offered, many patrons have unrealistic expectations of what the reference librarian can do for them. That said, those in this field are librarians first – while legal boundaries must be respected, there is also a professional obligation for reference librarians of all stripes to treat all patrons equally and fairly and provide them with the tools they need to access and use the information that they seek.

Pro se patrons are a unique group of people from all sorts of different backgrounds, but almost all share a very limited background when it comes to the practice of law. Nonetheless, as persons representing themselves in court, they are required to perform at least some research to have a basic understanding of their legal issue, and they must submit documents that follow a certain basic format to be deemed acceptable in court. These patrons typically ask for assistance in choosing and drafting pleadings and forms, interpreting what something says, and in researching statutory law. Ethical conflicts arise regarding the level of reference service a librarian can give to the patron in this context, often when choosing forms, and particularly in drafting forms to be used in court. Patrons frequently inquire about the legal expertise of the person helping them, and, if that person mentions that they have a law degree, those expectations become even higher. Many library policies are vague on issues such as these, leaving librarians on their own when an insistent patron’s inquiry becomes problematic. The trick for librarians is to perform as experts on finding information, rather than as experts at analyzing all of the information gathered, in order to assist the patron in a meaningful way but also not cross into the unauthorized practice of law.

Fulfilling Ethical Duties While Avoiding Unethical Conflicts

The tools of legal reference are often very confusing to pro se patrons, and it is important that these patrons have someone to assist in the navigation of these tools, because, office water cooler stories aside, helping them remains our duty as librarians. To leave the user floundering about, unable to use available resources would be no less a disservice or wrong action than would giving out bad legal advice. The librarian’s loyalty lies with the patron and their information need. Yet fulfilling this need comes with restrictions that protect both the librarian and the patron who has taken on the task of handling the matter on their own. It is best for law librarians to help the patron as much as possible – providing basic source and term suggestions; instruction on using the tools, guides, referrals, and other pieces of assistance; and avoiding any lawyerly performance that might arguably establish a client-attorney relationship. There are certainly a broad range of approaches to this process, with some librarians acting as a source guide, and others as someone who teaches the self-litigant how to research on their own, but the bottom line is the same: if the line into “lawyerly function” is not crossed and the librarian is working inside the boundaries, they may assist their patrons without needing to fear unauthorized practice of law.

Game-planning for Law Libraries

Many library policies do not specifically address the problem of giving clear guidelines to both staff and pro se patrons about the scope of available reference service, beyond cautioning their librarians to tread carefully. Placing stated policies regarding the scope of available legal reference services in a prominent position where patrons can easily spot and read it as they wait their turn at the desk can be a great way to get everyone, staff and patrons alike, on the same page. In addition to increased awareness of policies, there should be available directories and referral lists of attorneys and local association numbers available to the patrons who need legal advice – what better way to show that librarians are here to help, but we are happy to defer to the “experts” when it comes to the actual practice of law?

Additional Reading

Randy Diamond and Martha Dragich. Professionalism in Librarianship: Shifting the Focus of Malpractice to Good Practice. 49 Library Trends 395 (2001).

Paul D. Healey. Pro Se Users, Reference Liability, and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: Twenty-Five Selected Readings. 94 Law Lib. J. 133 (2002).

Paul D. Healey. Professional Liability Issues for Librarians and Information Professionals (Neil Schuman Press, 2008).

Stephen Parks. A Lawyer/Librarian’s Efforts to Avoid the Unauthorized Practice of Law. Library Student Journal (2013).

Drew A. Swank. The Pro Se Phenomenon. 19 BYU J. Pub. L. 373 (2011).

Arthur J. Lachman. Self-help services: Reducing risk by avoiding the formation of lawyer-client relationships. NLDA Insurance Program Bulletin.

The Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service is a vehicle for identifying and addressing the pressing needs of our society. It examines issues lying at the nexus of policy, public interest, and academia, and raises awareness of topics insufficiently examined in traditional scholarly publications. [UALR Bowen School of Law]

Dreams Didn’t Die in Dallas

22 Nov

jfkcourageDreams didn’t die in Dallas fifty years ago because President Kennedy’s courage continues to inspire so many of us to believe in this nation’s greatness and become better Americans. Today, we pause to remember his legacy and reflect on his visionary leadership. Thank you, sir. Your ideas do indeed live on.

an idea“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” — John F. Kennedy

Law Librarians Changing to Adapting Users

16 Nov

[Editor’s Note: This entry originally appeared on the RIPS Law Librarian Blog on November 11, 2013.]

Teaching? It comes with the territory for today's law librarians.

Teaching? It comes with the territory for today’s law librarians.

Although we have long incorporated elements of teaching into our “toolkit” of skills as reference librarians, there is an increasing trend of academic law librarians having formal teaching duties inside traditional classrooms. In today’s rapidly changing information environment remaining relevant means librarians must understand our role (and ourselves) as library and information professionals. We have roles beyond those of traditional encounters at the Reference Desk. And whether we’re at the Reference Desk or inside a classroom, we must strive to understand the complex behavioral processes that information seekers experience during the search process.

Law librarians serve a variety of roles as legal information professionals, especially in today’s day and age of advanced software and online technologies. Still, in the end, our traditional functions as being the people best equipped to help others access the information our patrons need and providing them with the tools they need to perform efficient research themselves remain paramount to what we do. We must always appreciate the roles we serve within the library and the overall mission that library serves for its users, regardless of all of the new “outside the library walls” duties we have now incorporated into our more traditional daily routines.

Of course, with that comes a new responsibility to not remain static and merely wait for today’s patrons and our new students to seek us out. Instead, we must be able to evolve constantly as technology demands and users and their needs adapt accordingly over time. Today, while we concern ourselves most with how to best serve our primary users and patrons to serve their information-seeking needs, we are now serving a much more diverse group of users and find ourselves having to adapt to their constantly-changing needs.

It’s important to note that even with all of the formal change seen in academic law libraries, many information professionals, even those not in the academic setting, generally acquire some pedagogical teaching skills along the way in their education—or will need to pick up these communication skills in other ways to effectively assist the wide range of patrons headed their way. We know that a lot of what we do in this profession involves “mini-lessons” with our users, and to be successful at that, one must be adaptable to various user learning styles. Each user is unique, and we need to be able to adjust to meet those needs in the best manner possible. Though we may serve unique individual users, we can also become better at what we do by picking up on general trends displayed by users to be better prepared when common needs arise. This is even more important when adding so much online technology in the mix because we find that we’re not just demonstrating the process of how to navigate the library’s resources, but often having to teach basic computer software and online researching skills as well.

For further reading, please see the following:

Beatrice A. Tice, The Academic Law Library in the 21st CenturyStill the Heart of the Law School, 1 UC IRVINE L. REV. 159 (Mar. 2011).

Michael Rogers, Turning Books Into Bits: Libraries Face The Digital Future, MSNBC: The Practical Futurist (Sept. 2005).

Redbird Recovery: Thursday Morning Coming Down

31 Oct

Well, it’s over.

Barney Frank has sung.

Doris Kearns-Goodwin can now die a happy man.

And somewhere, Curt Schilling is still talking as he pretends he somehow deserves some of the glory for this.

Unfortunately, all we have going on here is Thursday Morning Coming Down for yours truly, as I add my name to disappointment roll call today, along with all of you other Cardinals loyalists out there.

There’s no joy to be found in Mudville at the moment.

No solace.

No, sir(s).

Not yet.

Matty C. makes final out at Fenway.

Umm…Wha-Wha-What Happened?

I reckon there’s plenty to discuss regarding things that quickly went downhill for the NL Champs in this noted “Weird Series” fall classic. From multiple quirky plays occurring all over the field, to the total disconnect from the Cardinal Way of sound fundamentals shown throughout regular season/previous playoff rounds compared to the various baseball brain farts that left us scratching our heads multiple times in this series. Those simply could not be the same Redbirds we all had been watching together for the last seven or eight months. Right?

Lacking the spirit in St. Louis? Freese & Jay done seen better days.

Am I incredibly bummed about all of those obvious failings? Of course I am. There were so many blatant miscues here and there it’s no wonder many in Cardinal Nation are e-ranting and e-whining on and on about them in today’s post-mortems. But it was certainly not at all shocking to see this team go down in flames and lose a series when our “Mr. Clutch” ace (Adam Wainwright) loses both of his starts, and especially when an entire half of the starting of line-up is barely making any contact whatsoever. “Big City” AdamsDavid FreeseJon Jay, & Pete Kozma? More like Out, Out, Out, Out! Seemingly e’r other inning; seemingly e’r single at-bat. Our ducks at the top-half of the order were continually hitting with nobody on and were left stranded out there on the bearded pond. It became awfully clear awfully early on that this no-show quartet had little business riding the bench somewhere on a sh!tty team, let alone on one the remaining two that were vying for the crown.

A clutch knock, fellas? Maybe a couple lil’ bloop singles that somehow find a way to fall in and break the funk? Hell, how about just a productive out that advances a runner???

NAH.

(Not even close.)

jbw_ms(seattlegame_2013)

Rest Assured: Serfass & Woodmansee (Baseball Nerds)

Ok, I’ve had a chance to swallow my pride and sleep on it now…and this is still not Happiness! Perhaps taking some time to “write out” my frustrations and slowly start rattling off those silver linings and looking ahead will be therapeutic. Perhaps things are just paining me that much more today because a very good friend, colleague, and fellow baseball nerd assured me several months ago that I had nothing to worry about all season with this team — they were destined for another championship run. Oh, and as if that false sense of security wasn’t cruel enough, it was none other than that ol’ Serfass Phamily Phave, Shane Victorino, that ended up doing us in!

Reeled in and filleted, I tells ya! What emotional battering! 😉

These f*cking guys? #FearTheHygiene

[Bitterly] Moving Forward…

From our Fearless Leader:

“There’s been a lot of talk about [being set up for success], and rightfully so,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday night, moments after a 6-1 Red Sox victory ended the World Series. “You look at the young arms. We’ve got experience behind the plate and in left and right. We’ve got a lot of young players out there. There’s a lot of things to be excited about moving forward.

“It’s really hard to think about at this point, because it’s so rare and special to be on this stage. And you hate to see anything slip away — not that we gave it away, they took it. They played us and they beat us.”

Matheny’s View? A Bright Future

“As we look through the season — and we’ll start doing that tonight, kind of reviewing what we were able to accomplish — we had plenty of adversity,” Matheny said. “[There were] plenty of things we had to overcome. And they did it in a style that represented the organization well, the way they played and didn’t back off one second, of the way they prepared. It was a relentless team, and I think that’s a way to label them. And I’m very proud to be a part of them.”

We’re beyond the “conventional wisdom” stage of what to do next at this point — it’s now an outright necessity for the team’s brilliant GM John Mozeliak to go ahead and tap into that surplus of young pitching talent in order to make a couple of significant upgrades going into 2014. Obviously, the stockpile of fastballin’ young’uns are the StL organizational strength and that highly-touted farm shouldn’t be sold outright for assumed instant glory…but we also find ourselves in a position where the team can afford to ship a couple of those arms for the sort of quick improvement to the regular line-up that puts us over the top come next October. It’s a rare luxury for a contending team to have, no doubt, and timing-wise, it’s very promising to see several solid (and very affordable) free agents out there this offseason that could quickly fill a need, too.

Top Priorities: Yunel Escobar at SS in 2014?

What’s Next? Who’s Next?

Among my laundry list of would-be improvements, whether filled via trade or scrap-heap signing, includes making an investment for a long-term SS solution the top priority of our Hot Stove efforts. Methinks Tampa Bay’s Yunel Escobar would be an absolutely perfect fit on this squad right now, so I’m going to go ahead and declare an “all in” on this call.  Beyond acquiring the next Edgar Renteria at SS, I also feel that infield depth is a serious concern moving forward…especially now that we have seemingly repaid our debts to Lucifer for the aformentioned Freese’s amazing 2011 playoff run (who’s soul was clearly being punished with his .170ish/0/0 series output…but thanks for the memories, right?). Behind newly-minted starters Matt Carpenter moving over to the hot corner, and the Flyin’ Hawaiian “Mighty Mouse”, rookie phenom Kolten Wong replacing him at 2B, I’m thinkin’ we rake in a reliable veteran who can play a few spots behind them and help be a clubhouse leader for us, someone like the highly-respected Michael YoungOmar Infante, or even another tenure for Rafael Furcal (if he’s willing to play for peanuts in order to be on a winner and prove he’s healthy again, that is). Just don’t get totally lame and pull another Felipe Lopez or Ty Wigginton on us again for that role, ya hear? I haven’t forgot.

Rosie2012stl

Closing Rosie!

Additionally, pressing team needs include filling a glaring void in CF with a solid option for the time being (1-2 years?), as well as adding another good lefty out of the ‘pen. For the latter, perhaps the hard-throwing former closer Mike Gonzalez could both compliment 1-batter specialist Randy Choate and serve as another reliable gap-filler between Martinez, Siegrist, and my main man Trevor Rosenthal at the back end of games. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing if we might throw a few bucks Roy Halladay’s way, have him play the role of his likely-departing buddy Chris Carpenter, and see if he might surprise some folks with another decent year or two as a fifth starter or converted RP on the cheap.

That’s my $0.02 on the Nows & the Laters following our latest crushing World Series defeat to those damned BoSox from Beantown. If you’re like me and from the Nintendo and Bases Loaded era, I think the proverbial “Agony of Defeat” can be summed up pretty well by the reaction of reliever Seth Maness to Jonny Gomes’ go-ahead HR in Game 5. (By the way, if you’re old school and scoring this at home, let’s just agree that it made just about as much sense to pitch to PAPI as it did to pitch to PASTE in the video game. Get out tha way! Yikes!)

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Hot Stove Heaters: Will we see free agent bidding wars from the usual big market spenders this offseason?

Baseball writer Jayson Martinez over at The Bleacher Report adds his voice to the one of many out there today also touting a very bright future for those Birds on the Bat:

Earlier this season, I chose the St. Louis Cardinals as the “Most Brilliantly Run Franchise in Baseball”. True to form, they had another brilliant season that included their fourth World Series appearance in the past 10 years. While they couldn’t outlast the Red Sox, who beat them in six games, they shouldn’t miss a beat in 2014 as long as they continue to follow the model of success that’s allowed them to post winning seasons in 13 of the last 14 years.

As they’ve shown the baseball world throughout the season and into the playoffs, their young talent is for real, and they should continue to produce more homegrown talent that should put the team in a position so that they don’t have to rely on the free agent and trade markets.

Carlos Beltran: Sliding Away from St. Louis

The Cardinals have the financial resources to make moves in free agency and the farm system that would allow them to do nothing and still be a good team. It’s good to have those options. Some teams have neither.

General manager John Mozeliak had a quiet offseason prior to the 2013 season, opting to use his financial resources to lock up Craig and Adam Wainwright to long-term extensions. With most of his team’s core of talent under club control for several more seasons and several million dollars coming off of the books, he could focus more on adding another impact bat or pitcher to push the team over the top next season.

[. . .]

The question is whether they’ll have to spend that much to put together a championship-caliber roster for 2014. There really isn’t much that needs to be done. They’re great now and they’ll be losing just one key component—Beltran—to this year’s team. Finding an upgrade at shortstop is most likely at the top of the team’s “things to do” list this winter while adding depth to the pitching staff could also be on the agenda.

Prognosticate here with me for a moment, fellow citizens of Cardinal Nation. What’s your Day After diagnosis looking like? What is it now, just 104 days ’til pitchers and catchers can officially report? Today may not be Happiness, but that day, friends, will be Baseball Bliss all over again. 

How ’bout we just turn that bunch of Clydesdales horsies loose already! ¡Viva El Birdos! Dial me up some Mike Shannon on the radio!

Not that we’re doing any counting down or anything here at TWP. 🙂

Teddy? BALLGAME!

24 Sep

So I hear news of a “filibuster” and tune in only to find that smarmy, self-loathing hypocrite, the anti-immigrant Hispanic Canadian-Texan, Sen. Rafael “Ted” Cruz, reading children’s literature aloud to his  Senate colleagues, as he re-re-re-doubles down on his personal mission to somehow thwart a law long since advocated, enacted, and subsequently upheld by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government, respectively. Picture me not impressed.

From C-SPAN:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) while speaking in opposition to #Obamacare, reads Green Eggs & Ham.

I guess we should all be glad he at least happened upon a certified medical professional with the moonlighting Dr. Seuss with his story time session. Hey, at least it wasn’t My Pet Goat. This is clearly what those (highly quotable) Founding Fathers envisioned with that whole democracy thing, right? It’s surreality, folks!

I do not like that Teddy Cruz,
I do not like his version of news.
He’s a vile man who will tell a lie,
And I do not like his hair or tie stupid face.

Hey, I’m no friggin’ poet. 😉

¡Viva Julián!

18 Sep

IMG_2620What a treat for me to be on hand yesterday for 2012 Democratic National Convention Keynote Speaker, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who spoke at UALR today as part of the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series. The remarks this evening were fairly apolitical, at least in the typical partisan sense, and focused around meeting the challenges and seizing the moment resulting from the large demographic shift currently occurring in not only places like Castro’s Texas and throughout the American Southwest, but all throughout our country, including right here in Arkansas where between 2000-2010 the Hispanic population increased by nearly 115%. Having the chance to meet one of my political heroes and a future POTUS (¡Viva 2024!) following his presentation was a true honor.

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From UALR:
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro told a packed audience at UALR that the way Americans approach shifting Hispanic/Latino demographics will have “fundamental consequences” for America’s future role in the world.

Castro was delivering a talk on “The Political Implications of Shifting Demographics in the 21st Century” at UALR’s Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall Tuesday, Sept. 17.

His lecture was supported and presented through the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lectures series, one of the most popular UALR campus events.

The consequences will be felt in particular in states like Arkansas, where there has been a 114 percent growth in Hispanic and Latino communities, Castro said. The shifting demographics affect not only who is voting in America, he said, but also the electoral outcomes as well as the conversation about which issues are important.

“We have a young and growing minority population, and we have an aging, non-Hispanic, white community, both with different life experiences,” he said.

These differing experiences produce people who see issues quite differently, according to Castro, who added that the changing demographics can either be an “asset or an albatross” for the U.S.

Castro added that for the first time, other countries are producing students who can outcompete American students. It is in America’s best economic interest to address the accessibility of education to minority populations, he said.

“If we ensure our young people receive an education, we ensure another century of American prosperity and dominance,” he said.

Higher education plays a unique and compelling role in the shifting demographics of the American 21st-century, according to Castro. Not only are college campuses often among the “most diverse places” in the U.S., they are a great place for people to discover the truth that “even though they look different, people are fundamentally much like we are.”

Earlier in the day, Castro met with UALR students for a master class in which he hit on similar themes.

He spoke about ways to improve higher education accessibility, such as San Antonio’s recent addition of Café College, a one-stop center offering guidance on college admissions, financial aid, and standardized test preparation to students in the San Antonio area.

When asked by one student about his political plans, Castro said he intends to serve out the rest of his term as mayor and then run for the office again in 2015.

A San Antonio native, Castro is the youngest mayor of a top 50 American city. He won reelection last year with more than 80 percent of San Antonio’s vote and delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Underwritten by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the lectures bring nationally known speakers to the Little Rock community, including anthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey and civil rights leader Julian Bond.

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TWP at HRC Children’s Library Dedication

9 Jul