opinion by Maylon Rice
Editor’s note: Maylon Rice has 40 years of experience working as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor at several Arkansas newspapers. He ran, unsuccessfully for the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2012. A native of Warren, Rice lives in Fayetteville.
Opinions, commentary and other essays posted in this space are wholly the view of the author(s). They may not represent the opinion of the owners of The City Wire.
Are we allowing the manipulation of past voting records to be the reason to elect or not elect a future U.S. Senator for our state? Arkansans, especially those watching the U.S. Senate free-for-all between incumbent Senator Mark Pryor and Congressman Tom Cotton, need to ask themselves that one over-riding question before Nov. 4.
How about from now until Election Day,we ask each of these gentlemen as they stump across our state just what they are going to do about making things better – not only in Washington D.C., but also back here at home.
Two very glaring announcements made this week of jobs leaving Northwest Arkansas seem not to be on either of Pryor’s or Cotton’s collective political radars. And that is a shame. A real shame. Superior Industries will idle 500 workers in Rogers and APEX Tool Group in Springdale will lay off another 250 employees. Nary a peep out of the Pryor or Cotton political camps.
To add insult to the injury of the laid off workers, Superior Industries of California, made no bones about moving the 500 jobs it will cut in Rogers to a newly built plant in Northern Mexico. The new plant will be just across the U.S. border where fewer regulations exist and labor is cheap.
The APEX Tool Group decision was also hurtful. Some jobs, but no one is saying how many jobs, might be transferred to an affiliated plant in Springdale, may stay local. But the bulk of the 250 positions will be transferred to plants in South Carolina and Texas. APEX Tool Group is based in Sparks, Md., and is owned by Boston-based Bain Capital.
But again, Messrs. Pryor and Cotton have been too busy focusing on each other’s pitiful past voting records rather than looking at the present, or how to help with the future.
What do we expect?
Well, in Arkansas we expect some sense of loss. Some commiseration with local elected officials and chamber executives to assuage the loss of jobs, possibly higher unemployment rates and seek ways to prevent in the future such harmful announcements.
Yes, we expect a U.S. Senator or even a challenging U.S. Congressman, for a minute – even in the midst of a spirited and costly political race – to have some words of compassion and hopefully some wiser words for the future of the working many in this country. We saw neither this past week.
Even former Roger Mayor and U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, was quietly upset about these recent job losses in the booming Northwest Arkansas corner. Womack, facing only minimal third-party opposition in November, should be the lead spokesman for job protection, less regulation and asking the ever present question of any U.S. company doing business within our borders: What can they, as elected officials do to stop the loss of these jobs to leaving the United States of America?
We are all growing tired of the baseless barrage of TV and print advertisement bashing Pryor or Cotton on their vote for or against a bill that is now either a law or a clump of paper sitting in a recycling bin.
Arkansans, as one of the most fiercely independent group of voters in the old Solid South, need to hear more of what these two guys will do in their political future – not hanging on to their party’s political past. Neither political party, through Pryor or Cotton, this past week had anything to say on the future of about 750 hard-working Arkansans who are going to lose their jobs.
We need to hear more of what they are going to do in the future and less crowing or cowering from the past.