Riff Raff: Observations, non-berries, and stuff that doesn’t make America great again

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 525 views 

It’s been brought to my attention that strawberries are not berries, but bananas and pumpkins are. Anything that can be mixed in a blender with vodka and rum and other fermented miracles should be a berry. Oughta be a law. Somebody explain how I can blame this unberryness on Obama. And when’s that medical marijuana become available?

• Lady called some days ago wanting to send a press release. She wanted our fax number. Told her I don’t have a fax number. She wanted to know why we don’t have a fax number. Because I don’t have a fax machine. Also don’t have a telegraph thingy. Or carrier pigeons. Didn’t say that out loud about the telegraph or the birds, but wanted to. She said she’d just mail it. She wanted me to call her to let her know when we’d get it in the paper. The paper? Thinking about sending her a message through Western Union. They still do that, right? Fax is dead. Stop. Catch up. Stop.

• Those who believe their God is the core of morality will too often place their faith in men and women with no morality at their core.

• In Fort Smith they’ve had two speakers in a lecture series for the U.S. Marshals Museum. The Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series is courtesy of Lisenne Rockefeller, wife of the late Lt. Gov. Rockefeller. The first speaker was Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The second speaker was U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina who became known nationally for his involvement in the numerous Benghazi hearings.

Scalia and Gowdy drew big crowds. Great speakers. Good choices. But am wondering if it’s time for a little diversity with future speakers in the series. Maybe someone not white. Not male. Not conservative. Not likely? Not a surprise.

• Rompers for men. Rompers? Hell. No. I thought we were supposed to be making America great again?

• Population-based bragging rights may soon change. Several decades ago the Fort Smith metro area was supplanted as the state’s second largest metro area by Northwest Arkansas. The city still lays claim to being the state’s second largest city.

But the next Census could threaten that reality. If growth in Fayetteville continues at the same pace for the next three years it could become the state’s second largest city. The 2016 Census estimate shows Fort Smith with 88,133 residents, and Fayetteville with 83,826. The Census estimate shows Fayetteville adding 1,370 residents between 2015 and 2016, with Fort Smith adding 95. The only good news with a slow growth rate in Fort Smith is that not as much recyclable products are being buried in the city’s landfill.

And the 2030 Census, if trends continue, could see Fort Smith drop to the fourth or fifth largest city in Arkansas. This becomes more than just where the city places on a list. It’s about economic development leverage. It’s about political influence.

The most recent Census saw a smaller – and gerrymandered – 3rd Congressional District. The new 3rd District saw roughly half of the Fort Smith metro shift into the 4th Congressional District with Pine Bluff and El Dorado and Crossett and other cities with little in common with the Fort Smith region.

Who knows where folks in the Fort Smith metro may find themselves after 2020. All in the 4th District? Or the region could get partitioned up between the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Congressional districts. Don’t say it couldn’t happen. No one would have predicted the Jackson Pollock splattering that became the 3rd District after the 2010 Census.

• Spent another year attending and reporting from the Wal-Mart shareholders’ meeting in Fayetteville. If you’ve never attended, you should. It’s a Joel Osteen service on steroids, but with real numbers and platitudes that must pass some measure of rational inspection.

As usual, the event had several references to Wal-Mart co-founder Sam Walton. He’s a legend in the world of retail, in case you haven’t heard. But I note he is a co-founder because Helen Walton carried a lot of the load in the early days. She took the early financial risks with him. She was a sounding board for early management hires. Kept the home front on the rails. There is a lot written about her influence.

But for the past few years, there has been very little mention of the retail matriarch at the meeting. Each year they refer back to what Sam would think, and make a big deal of the Sam M. Walton Entrepreneur of the Year award. How about a Helen Walton “I Got Your Back” award for someone who provided vital support for the entrepreneur of the year?

Y’all need to recognize.