Sonny Simpson in perspective

The passing of former Little Rock Chief of Police Sonny Simpson brings up a host of old names and ancient grudges. It is always inappropriate to voice harsh opinions of an individual prior to his burial and that rule will not be violated here.

My experience with the Chief was, unfortunately, not altogether positive. I particularly recall incidents involving the police shooting of a man outside a junk yard in the east part of town and the needless harassment of passengers who were dropped inside the Little Rock airport after the flight encountered mechanical difficulties. There were plenty of questionable occurrences during the Simpson years. One fateful morning, I got on the radio with my pal, Mayor Tom Prince, and coaxed Prince into calling for Simpson’s resignation. It was a notable error of judgment and probably resulted in Simpson hanging around for a few extra years past his intended retirement.

But I hinted that this commentary would be more positive and that is my intention. Simpson needs to be placed in a larger context. Compare Sonny to Gayle Weeks and there is no doubt that Chief Simpson deserves an even-handed treatment by professional rememberers. Simpson was a bit too close to George Wimberly, whose reputation is beyond redemption. Sonny Simpson was a force for racial equality and a more professional police department. That would only be achieved with the arrival of Lou Caudell, an outsider from Dallas, Texas to take the department’s helm.

In the longer view of history, Sonny Simpson deserves a passing grade.

7th Annual Christmas Caravan for the Homeless Set for Clinton Library

Sandra Wilson sent this over and it is my pleasure to post it in full. Marie (who has a personal devotion to the homeless population) and I expect to take part.

Little Rock – The 7th Annual Christmas Caravan will take place on December 22nd with Santa and the Caravan of gifts arriving at 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Clinton Presidential Library.

The Christmas Caravan is an annual outreach event that provides basic necessities to homeless adults, as well as gifts of toys and other items for homeless and near-homeless children. The mission of the Caravan is to provide an opportunity for those without homes or resources to participate in the true joy and sharing in this celebration of the Christmas season, and to provide an opportunity for a diverse mix of volunteers to come together in a festive holiday atmosphere to share with the less fortunate in our community.

The Caravan is made up of volunteers who will gather bringing automobiles loaded with coats, clothing, shoes, sleeping bags, blankets and other donations for area homeless, as well as gifts of toys for homeless and low income children who attend the event. Led by Santa Claus, the Caravan will travel parade-style from Heifer International to the Clinton Presidential Library parking lot. The participants are encouraged to decorate their vehicles and wear Christmas-themed clothing to create a festive atmosphere.   Churches and groups will provide breakfast food and drinks to our guests as they arrive.  The River Rail Trolley will provide Free Rides to and from the event from 8 a.m. until noon.  Participants can get on the trolley from any of the stops in the downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock area.

When the Caravan arrives at the Clinton site at 8:30 a.m., gifts will be distributed directly from the vehicles to those who have gathered to participate. Church youth groups will provide Christmas carolling during the event and Santa will have a special place to talk with the children and hand out gifts and goodies.

This will be the 7th year that the Christmas Caravan has taken the celebration of Christmas to the streets. The event has grown in participants, volunteers, and donations every year.  We are blessed with volunteers from youth groups, churches, schools, social organizations, and social services agencies, as well as individuals and multi-generation families. We are thankful for all of our volunteers and donors.

To learn more about supporting or participating in the Caravan, visit our website or contact event organizer Sandra R. Wilson at 501-580-6185 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Duck Soup: LR hotel to be sold and “rebranded”

As a guy who has been around the block more than once, being branded the first time is fairly unpleasant. Being “rebranded” is the pits. We might as well face the sad fact that this is going to happen and any “rebranding,” is a downward movement.

Yes, somebody will be doing plenty of work making the place appear a little less opulent. The amenities will be somewhat less attractive and convenient. I could be wrong, but you know that is unlikely. The Peabody will be sorely missed, but the economy catches up with all o fus eventually.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way out of the outrageous deal that has been grandfathered in to give the hotel operator exclusive rights to serve food in the Statehouse Convention Center. Where are all the patriots when it really counts? Why should not the kitchen facilities paid for by every Little Rock taxpayer be available to all local operators? Free market economics is only allowed when the most powerful have already eaten to the full and all we have left are crumbs.

Maybe the Peabody was too upscale for Little Rock. Lord knows, it must have been like a walk over the blazing coals to find sufficiently educated employes to serve an affluent clientele. What to do now?

I could humorously propose various methods of dispatching the famous ducks and, perhaps, using them in some superb Cajun dish, but you know how the animal rights people react – zero sense of humor. So, I will make no reference to a Farewell Peabody duck shoot-off. No modest proposal for a duck gumbo competition. Let them parade off to a limo and back to wherever ducks go in retirement. I wish I could join them.