Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Weather and emergency personnel assessing damage from Sunday’s severe weather say that preliminary reports indicated more than 200 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed by a storm system that produced at least seven tornadoes in Arkansas.
Arkansas received a grant of almost $6 million to help four community colleges train at least 2,500 Arkansas workers for automotive and advanced-manufacturing jobs.
The Morning news of Northwest Arkansas has this. A report from an independent investigation that cost the city of Springdale $10,000 but was never released to the public has been opened to the bright light of scrutiny. Sid Rieff, former Springdale police chief, authorized the release of the report on allegations against him made in an anonymous e-mail. The mayor says that, except for some inappropriate emails and a few minor indiscretions, Reif is vindicated.
Authorities said Monday that special treatment was given to Fort Smith City Administrator Bill Harding when an officer gave him a ride after the officer suspected Harding of drinking Sunday morning.
Fort Smith City Administrator Bill Harding, who faces two misdemeanor charges - including driving while intoxicated first offense - following a traffic stop Sunday morning, said he has a long-term alcohol abuse problem. “I'll be honest .I've had a problem for many years,” Harding told the Southwest Times Record.
A Van Buren food service and an executive of the company pleaded guilty to federal charges related to employing an undocumented alien. White Dairy Ice Cream and its vice president, Juanita Sue Salyers, were indicted by a federal grand jury in June.
A statue of St. Francis of Assisi, which has been a fixture at St. Francis Catholic Church in Forrest City for almost 30 years, has been vandalized. Police estimate the loss at $8,000.
Between Nov. 7 and Sunday, Monticello police received six reports of stolen vehicles, nearly half the number stolen during the entire year in 2004, according to police reports and the Arkansas Crime Information Center. The Pine Bluff Commercial reports that most of the vehicles, all of which have been recovered, were found abandoned.
Less than 12 hours after defiantly saying he and his staff would return for a 13th season on South Main, Ken Hatfield resigned as Rice football coach Tuesday night. Tuesday morning, Hatfield conducted a news conference in the Owl Club at Rice Stadium and gave every indication he would return for his 28th season overall as a head coach despite leading the Owls to a 1-10 finish in their first season in Conference USA.
Beverly Sale Bubbles
11/28/05 SeniorCare Investor)
By Steve Monroe
Even though Thanksgiving is over, there may still be some turkeys roasting in Arkansas. With the "new" deal for Beverly Enterprises, at just $12.50 per share, the Beverly Yahoo message board continues to have some chatters believing that a bidder will top the current price. Although anything is possible, the odds are less than 10% of anyone, including the most likely candidate, Formation Capital, entering the fray. So our guess is that the deal will move forward in its current form, but that doesn't mean there won't be some surprises.
A case in point is a recent article we came across, from the Southwest Times Record, that quoted the CEO of "new" buyer Fillmore Strategic Investors as saying that "politics in Arkansas is a challenge...Can we operate the company effectively with politicians parked on our doorstep?" Incredibly, he was further quoted in the article as saying, "Will Arkansas allow a long-term health care company to operate in the state without undue harassment?" While he certainly is not trying to make friends in the state, he more obviously is setting the stage for reasons to move the headquarters, something that "previous" buyer North American Senior Care (NASC) wouldn't admit, but that former bidder Formation was very up front about.
Just as incredibly, Beverly CEO Bill Floyd was quoted in the same article as stating that when the new deal was announced the topic of where the company would be headquartered never came up with the buyer. Come again? That was supposedly the main virtue of selling the company to NASC, keeping the company intact and in Arkansas, which was why all the politicians in Arkansas, but one, rallied around NASC and not Formation, which was rather clear about its intent. Does anyone really believe that when Beverly's board skewered shareholders with the lower bid they did not ask for a consolation prize of a commitment to keep the company in Fort Smith? Does anyone really believe it ever made economic sense to leverage up the company without some asset sales and a potential breakup of the company? So, how will those local politicians respond, the ones that have been greased with political contributions over the years, when they figure out that big Beverly may finally be lost? By Christmas, there just may be some chestnuts roasting.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Duke bites the dust
There is nothing clever or elevating about promoting the financial advancement of a favored few at the expense of most working people It may be an easy path to economic gain, but you simply can't make it into a distinguished school of thought. If it were possible, that would make Al Capone a mental giant.
I wisely concluded,
..Conservatives do not possess an organized governing philosophy, they do have a scheme, and it is a very successful formula for winning elections. Sadly, all that matters to this bunch is the victory party and the payoffs.
Who could have imagined that I would be so swiftly vindicated? Thank you Duke Cunningham. You are excessively greedy, a disgrace to your office, an embarrassment to your district, and a prime example of Republican conservative values in action. Here is the gist of it from the San Francisco Chronicle.
San Diego -- A tearful and trembling Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-San Diego, resigned Monday after pleading guilty to receiving $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors and evading more than $1 million in taxes.
yep,Cunningham is ever the fiscal conservative.
Cunningham admitted a pattern of bribery going back to 2000, with contractors supplying him with Persian carpets, silver candelabras, a Rolls Royce, a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode, travel and hotel expenses, use of a yacht and a lavish graduation party for his daughter.
In return, Cunningham used his high-ranking position in Congress -- he served on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Intelligence Committee -- to "influence the appropriations of funds and the execution of government contracts."
He could do 10 years. I predict not one day in prison.
The always-entertaining Mother Jones had this about our favorite GOP former congressman, Duke Cunningham.
The Billy Carter Award for Most Amusing Political Relative
Randall Todd Cunningham: The son of Duke "Death Penalty for Drug Kingpins" Cunningham (R-Calif.) was convicted for possession of 400 pounds of marijuana. In court, the congressman cried and pleaded for mercy, explaining that his son "has a good heart. He works hard. He's expressed to me he wants to go back to school." While out on bail, the hardworking son tested positive for cocaine use three times; when an officer tried to apprehend him following the third positive test, Randy hurled himself out a window and broke his leg. Still, the congressman -- who has denounced Clinton's "soft-on-crime liberal judges" and railed against "reduced ma...mandatory-minimum sentences for drug trafficking" -- won for his son the mercy denied so many others. Randy got 30 months -- half the federal "mandatory" minimum sentence.
I presume that, when he faces sentencing in a few short weeks, Cunningham will demand a harsh judge to impose the maximum sentence upon himself.
Final thought. Who else is on the take? It seems a reasonable question considering the scope of this little mess.
Little Rock attorney Les Ablondi sets the proper example for potential guests on Pat Classic. Not only was Les articulate and well prepared, which always gets extra points, but he came with an appropriate gift. Of course, the recording is in the FREE "on demand" archives at WAI Radio.com. The offering is in Pat's liquor cabinet.
Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Ralph O. Jones Chapel. Burial will be in Odessa Cemetery, Odessa, Mo. No visitation. Memorial contributions may be made to Trinity United Methodist Church, 1101 N. Mississippi St., Little Rock, Ark. 72207 and/or to St. Jude's Children Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn. 38105.
I only learned of this today and I must say that Lowell was a fine gentlemen and one of the very damn few people in radio worth knowing.
The parade of those against Governor Huckabee’s highway bond proposal has grown to include Democrat gubernatorial candidate Bill Halter and Republican for Lieutenant Governor Jim Holt.
Eric Nance has been put to death for the 1993 murder of Julie Heath. He was administered a lethal injection after a last minute appeal was heard by U. S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Nance ordered for a last meal two bacon cheeseburgers, French fries, two pints of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and two Cokes.
Portions of an independent investigation of former Springdale Police Chief Sid Rieff will be made available to a detective suing the city. Benton County Circuit Judge Xollie Duncan ruled on Monday that the report and files are open for discovery purposes in the civil lawsuit brought by Det. Ed Motsinger, who wants to see them.
The chief executive of a company that entered an eleventh-hour bid to buy Beverly Enterprises Inc. said Monday that he’s unsure the nursing home company can operate in Arkansas after it is sold.
The Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce has a new working group which is charged to improve the city’s image.
Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles said he hasn’t told his football coach, Houston Nutt, that he has to hire an offensive coordinator.
Ground will be broken for the new Arkansas Travelers baseball field Wednesday morning and Warren Stephens will announce the name of the new ballpark.
The state Capitol’s annual Christmas lighting ceremony will take place Saturday afternoon, beginning festivities that will continue through Dec. 28.
Monday, November 28, 2005
WAI RADIO.COM ARCHIVE UPDATE
Betsey Wright gave an outstanding and impactful interview on the Eric Nance execution. This is hard hitting. One of the best.
Bill Vickery and Pat Lynch sort out the highway bond issue which will be on the ballot December 13. Bill arrives at the studio a few minutes late, so Pat raps about the Kennedy assassination for about 5 minutes. When Vickery shows up, things get hot.
Other outstanding programs feature Steve "Wildman" Wilson of Arkansas Game and Fish, Ron Ward on the Janie Ward murder, Mark the Magician with an Oaklawn outlook, and State Senator Jim Argue in favor of the highway bonds. Also, check out David Kaczynski, the brother of the unabomber.
There is a lot more and you can hear it all in the FREE "on demand" archives at WAI Radio.com.
Monday Morning Highlights
Thousands of Arkansans are without electricity and communities statewide are cleaning up after a major line of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes passed through. One motorist died on I-40 and there were other injuries and significant property damage.
Eric Nance will be executed at Cummins Prison tonight. Nance was convicted in Hot Spring County and sentenced to death in the 1993 murder of a 18-year-old Julie Heath. The teenager disappeared Oct. 11, 1993, and her car was found along U.S. 270. Her throat had been slashed with a box cutter.
Roby Brock reports in today’s Morning News of Northwest Arkansas how General Motors Corp. announcement that it will eliminate 30,000 jobs and close as many as 12 North American plants by 2008 could have a devastating impact on Arkansas' business climate. Several Arkansas companies do significant business with GM, ranging from trucking companies to manufacturing concerns, not to mention auto dealerships affiliated with the General Motors name.
Sate lawmakers are questioning an arrangement that has both an “outgoing director” and an “interim director” at the helm of the state Department of Emergency Management.
With a 14-foot drop in the level of Cedar Lake this year, the Perryville Water Department is down to its last 6 feet of accessible water and studying stopgap solutions to maintain service for its roughly 10,000 customers, Mayor James McElroy said before Sunday night’s storms.
Forth Smith City Administrator Bill Harding was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated Sunday morning after he hit a parked car twice, then left the scene of the accident.
Beginning today, Pine Bluff residents in three areas will see the return of police officers on bicycles, part of a strategy to reduce crime in the city.
Rapid growth in northwest Arkansas has prompted preservationists to buy land around Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, and now more than 700 added acres of the Civil War site have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The park is the site of the Battle of Prairie Grove, where the Confederate Army fought the Union Army on Dec. 7, 1862, leaving 2,700 dead that day.
Arkansas State football fans can start making plans to spend part of the Christmas season in Cajun country. The Indians are going bowling. ASU did its part to earn a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship and the league’s New Orleans Bowl berth by beating North Texas 31-24. The game will be Dec. 20 in Lafayette.
Arkansas Razorback head coach Houston Nutt and Athletic Director Frank Broyles continue to evaluate “the program” “from A to Z.”
Sunday, November 27, 2005
It was a great holiday weekend for Lyncho and the lovely Marie. You will hear all about it here.
As the execution of Eric Nance is set for Monday night, I have scheduled one of Arkansas’ most profound death penalty opponents, Betsey Wright. She will be interviewed from her Northwest Arkansas home at 10. Pat is also keeping a close eye on the cleanup from last night’s storms and the upcoming bond elections. Pat Classic streams “live" 9 to 1 at WAI Radio.com.
THE ARCHIVES will be brought up to date Monday and that should include a dynamic interview with Arkansas Truckers Association spokesman Bill Vickery.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Hackers, be not proud
The premise is that the Central Intelligence Agency has caught the recipient browsing pornographic web sites. You are supposed to open this zip file and complete a questionnaire?
And nobody think this might be bogus?
Of course, many people did catch on right away, but too many supposedly bright people put on their Goofy ears and opened the file which released the bug.
People, the CIA is in Langley, Virginia, not Washington. They do not generally monitor porn or Americans. If they want to talk, they will send somebody over.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Arkansas' Wednesday Morning
The Stephens Center is open on the campus of UALR and beer is being sold!
A circuit judge upheld Arkansas' payday lending law Tuesday. Opponents who challenged the six-year-old statute said they would appeal Pulaski County Circuit Judge Barry Sims' ruling that the Check Cashers Act of 1999 is constitutional.
The Bentonville City Council approved creating a tax increment financing district in the city's downtown area, covering 2.8 square miles. TIF’s are a form of corporate welfare that divert tax money for schools and libraries to subsidize real estate developers.
Frank Broyles is getting married again. The athletic director of the University of Arkansas confirmed that he and Guendaline “Gen” Whitehead of Little Rock will be getting hitched soon.
The Widener City Council will cease all payments "to or on behalf of" the city's police department without council approval, and the council may even stop meeting until someone can be found willing to take the job of city attorney. There was also an ongoing complaint about whether tickets written by Police Chief David Hydrick on U.S. Highway 70 were valid, and whether he had authority to write tickets on the highway.
An Arkansas government employees union has voted to oppose bond issues benefiting interstate highway repairs and higher education on the Dec. 13 ballot
On Thanksgiving Day, Forrest City basketball fans can start rumblin' when the ninth annual Forrest City Grocery Rumble on the Ridge basketball tournament opens at Mustang Arena.
Saturday's NCAA Division II football playoff game at Estes Stadium has UCA playing North Alabama. A sellout is expected. Kickoff is at 1 and these rivals played to double-overtime in October.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Tuesday Morning Arkansas Update
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. charged the wrong price to shoppers in California and the Midwest at a rate that exceeds those set by federal guidelines, according to two union-commissioned university studies released Monday. Attorneys general in Illinois and California said the reports raised serious concerns.
The Arkansas attorney general's office on Monday set the formal wording for a proposal to let charitable organizations conduct bingo games and raffles that are currently prohibited under the state constitution.
Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines rejected a $1 million proposal from eight mayors to add 160 beds to the county jail and stave off plans to shrink the inmate population, saying the county does not have the cash to maintain more than 800 beds.
The Pine Bluff City Council approved the payment of $103,044 in delinquent 911 bills for the months of September and October, averting layoffs at the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association.
The Pine Bluff Commercial has a feature on hurricane victims rush to beat a December 1 FEMA ultimatum to move out of motels. FEMA has extended the deadline in Louisiana and Mississippi to December 15, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour says he will seek further extensions there.
After almost two months without a homicide, Pine Bluff police are investigating the deaths of two elderly women in separate incidents over a six-hour period Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
A temporary ice rink being installed in downtown Hot Springs is on schedule to open Friday.
Monday, November 21, 2005
This is a sad day for the Arkansas legislature. Think about this. How long has Fillmore been working to pull this multi-billion dollar deal off? A year, six months, three months? It wouldn't surprise me if this morning's twist wasn't in the deal from jump street.
It's like they have been preparing for a wedding for several months and were selling us on the groom. How reliable he is, how experienced he is and all that. Then at the very last second, the groom gets swapped -- no due diligence, no vetting, no nothing -- just a "hey we're marrying someone else, don't ask questions.. And, oh yeah, by the way, it cost you shareholders fifty million bucks."
Did the same company that pulled Schron's deal together for Mariner, not discuss that with Grunstein? Did Schron not discuss this with Grunstein?
So all these idiot legislators that said, "but Grunstein promises he'll keep the jobs in fort Smith" now look like complete morons. Yeah, right rocket scientist, the man hasn't been intending on buying it for six months now. But you didn't want even a basic hearing to look into it -- so where on you now?
But I don't think these legislators are even smart enough to be embarrassed. My email of this morning was my way of saying: Dear Ark. Legislator - See what happens when you lie down with dogs; you get up with your ass covered with fleas.
Didn't Beverly announce about a month ago that they sold all real estate to SBEV or some other company that was led by Grunstein????
I'll close by repeating my original prediction: "It makes no difference who ends up with Beverly. The buyer will dismantle the corporation because this is a classic example of a company whose parts are worth more than the whole."
Beverly's NEW Buyers?
Blogster and investment publisher Steve Monroe asks the same questions I would ask about the Beverly transaction if I were that smart. Monroe is editor of the Senior Care Investor. His commentary on the sale is nothing short of BLISTERING, and I am not sure that he's exactly one of the "good guys.'
The “new” buyer, Fillmore Strategic Investors, is apparently not all that new, since we have heard in the market that they were in the original NASC deal with a $100 million equity commitment, and they just happened to be investors in the Mariner Health Care deal as well. They are also taking over NASC’s $1.875 billion debt commitment. Which leads us to wonder, is it really a new buyer? When did the lenders agree to the switch, and is there basically no difference? While NASC is “no longer a party to the merger agreement,” why didn’t Beverly keep NASC’s $10 million deposit as a penalty for not fulfilling its obligation to complete the deal at $13.00 per share? Beverly hasn’t said anything one way or the other, but it would go to the new buyer anyway, with the shareholders, once again, left holding the bag.
Monday Morning Arkansas Snapshot
Arkansas state government spent $12.86 million for hurricane assistance and relief, most of it distributed in direct grants and aid to the thousands of evacuees of hurricanes Katrina and Rita who fled to the state, a state Department of Finance and Administration official told the Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday.
The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports that out-of-state students make up most of the increase in freshman enrollment at the University of Arkansas, many of them enticed by tuition discounts. University of Arkansas officials hope their recruiting success outside the state will yield the same results in Arkansas, where the Fayetteville campus no longer has the most in-state students in its freshman class. UCA surpassed the flagship school for in-state freshman enrollment in 2003.
A special prosecutor has been appointed by a Jefferson County circuit judge to direct an Arkansas State Police investigation into possible criminal activity in one or more county government departments, according to a weekend report in the Pine Bluff Commercial. Sources close to the investigation indicated the probe will address the alleged theft of tools and other equipment, including one or more trailers, from the county’s road department and landfill operations by “current and former (county) employees.”
An appeals hearing for former Pine Bluff alderman Jack Foster focused on how far federal prosecutors can go in charging someone with a federal crime based on tenuous connections to “interstate commerce.” In September 2004, Foster was convicted by a federal jury in Pine Bluff of aiding and abetting attempted extortion.
Stephens Media Group Washington Bureau reports that executives at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., are watching legislation in Congress that could change the way the retailer displays, sells and distributes cold medication. At issue is a key ingredient in some over-the-counter cold remedies that is also used to make methamphetamine, an addictive and illegal drug.
Linda Caillouette of the Democrat-Gazette “paper Trails” has some good news today. Rep. Vic Snyder, 58, and his wife, Rev. Betsy Singleton, 44, are expecting a baby.
Professional golfer John Daly is joining the legions of Paris Hilton, Ozzy Osbourne and Donald Trump in the world of reality TV. Daly will star in "The Daly Planet," a 13-part series for The Golf Channel beginning Jan. 18. The weekly Wednesday night episodes will follow Daly's daily life on and off the golf course.
A 12-year-old Rogers boy is under arrest in connection to a threat penned on a sign in a bathroom at Lingle Middle School earlier this month.
The Manila School Board discussed appointing an exploratory committee Thursday night to look at implementing a football program and starting girls' sports programs.
Friday, November 18, 2005
ABC Investigates Ward Murder
By SUDEEP REDDY / The Dallas Morning News
This is a major crack in the wall.
Now that Southwest can fly direct from Dallas Love to KC and St. Louis, American will take action to move flights to Love. The question for Arkansas is; will Southwest divert flights previously set to land at Little Rock National?
This may be the beginning of the end for Wright. Bad news for DFW.
Probably good news for the traveling public.
Darcy Pattison visited today. She is a local author of children's books, including the saga of Oliver K. Woodman. Now, I have no idea if Oliver is any relation to Dave Woodman, but the books are richly illustrated, beautiful to see, and fun to read. Darned! Kids get all the good stuff. The interview is in the free WAI Radio.com "on demand" archives. She has lots of insights on kid's books and writing in general. Darcy has an excellent website which might even be of interest to aspiring authors.
She was also promoting a local conference for the Arkansas Reading Association. Check that out too.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
“I learned to meditate and to allow my spirit to leave my body and fly around outside,” he said. “I know it was psychological, but I felt like it was real. And it helped me to survive.”
One must never question the wondrous working of the Holy Spirit, so I will not doubt the sincerity of Harmon's new soft side. God's mercy knows no limits.
I will, however, wonder aloud about the Benton Courier's sheepish puff piece on the convicted felon's return to public life. Come on guys! The 61 year old Harmon is just back from 8 years as a guest of the federal prison in Springfield, Mo.
Dan Harmon was Saline County Prosecutor, head of the 6th Judicial District Drug Task Force and a known convicted drug dealer. Harmon has been associated with every unsavory hoodlum in Sodom County's "Dixie Mafia." He corrupted his office, a public trust.
Here's the deal. As my old pal Justice Jim Johnson used to say, "We would all be happy when the Madame of the local whorehouse showed up in church, but we don't want her leading the choir her second week there."
Harmon is working again, not as a lawyer but for Central Arkansas Developers, which is owned by the Spears and Jones law firm in Benton. Good for him.
Harmon's weepy nonsense is a bit much. The only thing that might be more repugnant is the public's forgetfulness.
Since his release from prison, he's attended Sunday School and/or church services every week.
“The first time I went to Holland Chapel (Baptist Church) with (state Rep.) Dwight Fite to his Sunday School class, it was just like a high school reunion,” Harmon said. “There were so many of my friends I went to school with.”
Reflecting on the direction his life took, Harmon stated again that he harbors no ill feelings toward anyone.
“I'm not angry,” he said. “I forgive everybody and I hope they forgive me.”
Mr. Harmon should be doing good works to demonstrate his repentance.
Faulkner County Foxes Gaurd Henhouses
Today's Log Cabin Democrat has the story of a shameful meeting at which county officials just passed the buck around one more time. It makes Little Rock city government look honest.
Sadly, it also appears that the local newspaper is underplaying the seriousness of the offenses committed by a number of individuals in the Sheriff’s Department. The Saturday Democrat Gazette (for which a subscription is required for the online edition) did a complete story and the scope of the allegations is substantial.
But nobody was suspended. No disciplinary actions have been begun. The prosecutor’s office seemed paralyzed, although if Sheriff Montgomery had appeared in a Speedo H. G. Foster could have probably done something.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Last Thursday, a Sherwood officer stopped a vehicle driven by Kelley and carrying a 12-year-old male passenger, police said. That passenger provided information to investigators that led officers to obtain a search warrant for Kelley’s Arkansas residence.
A search of the residence conducted Friday resulted in the seizure of computers, cameras, compact discs and DVDs that contained photos of juvenile males unclothed in different poses, police said. The evidence seized from Kelley's residence will be turned over to FBI for further analysis.
Numerous charges have been placed against this fine citizen, including "obstructing government operations." He is in the Pulaski County Jail on $250,000 bail. Dallas cops have been looking for Mr. Kelly since 2003.
If you build it...
Those of us down here in the urban ghettos of Central Arkansas certainly admire the pioneer spirit of our neighbors up there, and it's nice to see somebody else figure out everything that goes into such a big project.
There is also an arena under consideration. Northwest Arkansas has a somewhat younger population which, to some extent, has lived in larger cities. It makes for an interesting mix.
Faulkner County Follies
A few years ago, Arkansas Attorney General Steve Clark was run out of office, criminally prosecuted, subjected to a fine, and deprived of his law license because of similar allegations.
Fortunately, there is at least one public official in Faulkner County who has not stuck their head completely up the unspeakable orifice. The Log Cabin Democrat reports:
Justice of the Peace Catherin Blankenship said she expects the Quorum Court will address the issues brought forth by the audit.An ugly thing, indeed. Ms. Blankenship does have a gift for understatement.
"I don't see where we have a choice," she said. "If you look at that report, it says several times the Quorum Court needs to take action."
Blankenship said it came as no surprise to her that money was still owed to the county.
"The numbers didn't add up," she said. "I take time to keep up with the budget. I hate to say I don't take anybody's word for it, but you have to check the facts."
She added, "This is an ugly thing to have to deal with in county government, but we have to do it and see it through. It's not a pleasant thing, but it's a necessary thing."
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Pat Classic for Wednesday will feature Senator Mark Pryor's weekly press briefing. That is set for 10:30.
There have been developments in the Janie Ward case. Mike Masterson reported last week that the Ward family was set to meet with an investigative team from ABC TV. In fact, that happened and Ron Ward will be on the phone at 10 to give the latest update.
Pat Classic streams "live" from 9 to 1 on WAI Radio.com.
State Senator Jim Argue has a few things to say about the highway bond initiative, which will be on the ballot December 13. Last week, it was reported that he had some concerns. He has Speaker Stoval met with Governor Huckabee Monday and argue is on board. When our archives are working properly, you need to hear this hour. The case for this proposal is compelling, but there is some opposition. Lieutenant Governor candidate Drew Pritt is a caller into the program and asks about the advisability of a proposal that takes away the vote of the people. Argue gives a good answer. WAI Radio.com is linked in the left hand column and I will be giving you full coverage of the campaign from both sides. Additionally, I will have information about the bonds for higher ed, which is entirely another matter.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Sandra Wilson of the Arkansas Homeless Coalition came by the studios today and we discussed the 3,000 people in Little Rock who are without housing. It is a daunting problem and they need understanding, as far as I can tell, first and foremost. Simple things like gloves, ats, and socks help out too. The Coalition office is at 500 Maple in North Little Rock. The interview is in the archives, linked in the left hand column. Homeless folks often work, do not want to be homeless, may consist of entire families including children, and are likely to be veterns of military service. Just a few factoids to whet your appetite. The homeless advocates are doing God's work and they need our help.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Free Steve Clark!!!
There is a major story about corruption in Faulkner County. The sheriff, Marty Montgomery, was investigated earlier this year by a special prosecutor and no charges were filed. In light of today's story, that fact is nothing short of astounding. You need to be a subscriber, but here's the link.
Once upon a time in modern Arkansas, Attorney General Steve Clark was run out of office and criminality prosecuted for a similar offense.
The Faulkner County sheriff's office made unauthorized disbursements of $23,006 to pay for personal charges on Faulkner County credit cards and for college tuition and unearned leave compensation in 2003 and 2004, a state auditor told lawmakers on Friday.
So far, $7,682 has been reimbursed to the county by Sheriff Marty Montgomery, a relative of Montgomery's and one other county employee.
The Democrat-Gazette further reports that an additional $15,000 remains unpaid by Montgomeryry and fellow county employees. Yet, amazingly, special prosecutor Stephen Tabor of Fort Smith says he found no evidence of a crime. In most businesses, such widespread financial misdoing would be taken as evidence of at least the possibility of a criminal conspiracy to defraud. Look up "do-nothing" in Webster's and you will find a picture of Stephen Tabor.
Faulkner County taxpayers have paid over $13,000 in questionable "jail food" expenses at Sam's, according to state auditors.
I am wondering how much better things might be for residents of Faulkner County if the regular prosecutor, H. G. Foster, spent less time prosecuting idiot radio personalities and more time looking into real crimes.
Brummett has won yet another award, for which I commend him. John is consistently among the top columnists in the state and I readily confess that my weekly offerings in the Democrat-Gazette often pale alongside his fine workmanship. Two observations.. Brummett does it as a full time job and he has a lot more experience. Therefore, I believe you will be well rewarded by checking out my Monday piece on the Voices page of the Democrat-Gazette. Bradley Gitz baited his hook and I bit.
John Brummett has an especially useful essay in the Stephens Media Group papers concerning the Arkansas Truckers Association opposition to the proposed highway bond issue. This one has some necessary historical perspective.
To give the already powerfully insulated Highway Commission authority to maintain a $575 million line of credit ad infinitum for projects wholly left to the future discretion of the commission - which is what Gov. Mike Huckabee proposes for a special election Dec. 13 - has the big truck lobby flailing for the air brakes.
Then comes a brief history of how the Highway Commission came to be constitutionally independent. "Tis a good civics lesson. I think his point is that the truckers have taken the right position for the wrong reasons. See what you think.
The Thursday column handles the more pressing business of how to properly understand happenings in Hogland USA. I fear John knows his subject well.
Yes, I am an avid reader of John Brummett. I admire his work, even if he blatantly stole "good Pat, bad Pat" from my radio spiel.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Deer hunting season begins this weekend and Steve "Wildman" Wilson has all the scoop on what will be happening in the woods. He is the public affairs officer of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. More good news is that duck season begins one week later on November 19. The WAI Radio.com archives are linked in the left hand column and the downloads are free!
There is a great interview with David Sanders of the Stephens Media Group in the files from earlier this week. Little Rock Director Stacy Hurst has all you need to know about the future of War Memorial Park. She also has some plain talk about Jimerson Creek.
An Amtrak Scenario
Let me be careful here not to take on the paranoid "black helicopter" mentality of so many dimwitted rail fans. Yes, I would like to see more passenger trains and better transportation choices, but I am not interested in giving a blank check to a corporation that badly needs reform. The fact is that I believe the Bush administration is paralyzed with fear and will begin taking many desperate measures to make their "mark" before the danger of a Democratic takeover a year from now. This administration has a dislike of anything that is beneficial to "real people>" that is demonstrated in the recent round of proposed budget cuts, which have been quietly withdrawn. These are soulless noecons. More on than later, but on with the business of transportation.
Federal law requires that, before a passenger route can be discontinued, six months notice must be given. The interim President, or David Gunn's replacement, will have marching orders to put out "train off" orders ASAP. These need to be completed BEFORE the November 2006 elections. Congressional approval is not required to kill an entire route, and that is a real danger in the west. The Texas Eagle, which serves Arkansas, is a top candidate for discontinuance. Look for notices to go out on ALL of the 20 or so long distance trains.
David Gunn was fired because he would not go along with the Bush plan to gut Amtrak. Period.
There are some things you should know.
It will be argued that long distance passenger trains require more per passenger subsidy. The truth is that nobody knows, but it is very possible for a skilled accountant to make things come out any way the bosses say. It is very doubtful that getting rid of these trains will do much towards reducing the total avoidable costs. The problem out here is not too little revenue but too little equipment. These routes across the country do not have enough available inventory
West of Philadelphia, Amtrak is mostly a rural transportation service. Nobody rides from Little Rock to Dallas. People fly Southwest. Folks do, however, tide Amtrak to underserved communities like Texarkana or Springfield, Ill.
Finally the Sunset is a favorite anti-Amtrak target for discontinuance. It is very easy to dream up bad numbers on this train because it only operates three days a week between Log Angeles and Orlando. There is a steady overhead cost and an acute lack of passenger seat inventory. This route should be split up into two or more segments and served daily. In some areas, such as Houston and San Antonio, service should be even more frequent.
Amtrak long distance service needs to change. It currently runs on the traditional routes of the streamliners of the 50's and 60's, while travel patterns have changed.
The need for reform is not in question. Letting Transportation Secretary Mineta prescribe the cure for Amtrak is like going to Dr. Kevorkian for a tummy ache.
Railway Age has two great items. One is on the GAO report about Amtrak. The other story is an interview with David Gunn. Very revealing.
American, Southwest square off over Wright in D.C.
12:00 AM CST on Friday, November 11, 2005
By TODD J. GILLMAN / The Dallas Morning News
Apparently, C-SPAN did not have the "live" coverage I had hoped for Thursday morning. The linked story from the Dallas Morning News.
I could be wrong, but it seems high time to reward Southwest for doing an outstanding job. If Little Rock looses service, I may be changing my tune. I don't expect that to happen, however.
Thanks for the discussion. The comments section is always open for readers to post an opinion.
UPDATE - It is noted in the DMN story that Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor hinted his position by posing a questions which suggested a 5 year phase out of Wright requirements.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Deer hunting season starts at dawn Saturday so I have set Steve "Wildman" Wilson for a visit on noon Thursday. WAI Radio.com is linked in the left hand column and, if you can not call in, email a question for Steve to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blanche Lincoln's weekly press briefing is at 10:30 Thursday morning.
The Senate hearings on the Wright Amendment begin Thursday at 9 CDT and I will have a few highlights - especially if there is testimony from the Chairman of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher.
Gunn Fired at Amtrak
Amtrak has been seriously mismanaged for a number of years and most of that was previous to Gunn’s arrival two years ago. He would not willingly submit to a purely political scheme to permanently kill any opportunity the American people out west of Philly might get for real transportation alternatives. Bush knows that his hold on federal power may be ending as soon as mid-term elections and you should be braced for more desperate and wild power grabs throughout the government calculated to pamper the wealthy and bash the little guy.
Long distance trans serving places like Arkansas are public enemy number one in the new regime. Conservative windbags will be full of the typical lies and so-called friends of Amtrak will be armed with plenty of misinformation. My advice for reading stories and editorials dealing with Amtrak is to be skeptical.
And, yes, Amtrak does matter. Remember 9/11.
Is Amtrak a mess? Yep. Ever heard of Delta Airlines? How about Northwest? There are many bad carriers. There is only one national passenger railroad and we need the service it offers just as much as the airlines.
Signs of the End Times
The lead story in today's Morning News of Northwest Arkansas concerns a falling out between our senior pastor and the truckers. Naturally, the Huckster is defensive and pouty. He certainly has a unique view of how the game is played and the truckers aren't playing fair.
Truckers argue that, if passed, the bond measure gives the Highway Commission permanent spending authority without having to ask the people. While the highway Department enjoys constitutional independence, this is quite a change.
They also argue that half the proceeds go to interest payments. Anybody who has ever been scalpted by one of those out-of-state credit card companies cam appreciate that.
While it breaks my"tax and spend" heart to say so, this one needs to go down, and hard.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
By Matthew V. Roberson
Sun staff writer
Today's Jonesboro Sun carries a story (linked by the above headline) about the ASU Athletic department which demonstrates not only why they are such incredible losers, but, additionally, why ASU should not be allowed to have an athletic program at all. Remember, this is "cook the books" university. No dishonest accounting stunt is off-limits when it comes to rationalizing the expenses of this third-rate embarrassing program.
Today takes the ever-lovin' cake.
The Jonesboro Sun filed a report about Jerry Nichols, the basketball player who refused to wear the Adidas shoes, as required by the school's contract. One of the sports department's intellectual giants decided to mix it up with the folks who buy ink b the barrel. It was not a pretty picture.
ASU Senior Associate Director of Athletics Doug Abel said The Jonesboro Sun inaccurately reported last week the school previously had a contract with Nike apparel prior to ASU signing a deal with Adidas in February. In an e-mail titled “Misinformation” to The Sun, Abel wrote:
“I write to identify an item of misinformation in your column in The Jonesboro Sun this morning. It was published incorrectly that Arkansas State University is ‘… a school that had previously been under contract with the Nike brand.’ ASU signed no previous contract with NIKE.
“As purported in the second sentence of your column, it is about time somebody sets the record straight.”
Well, The Sun, to its; eternal credit DID set the record of a decade old agreement with NIKE in which the school received tens of thousands of dollars in benefits from a verbal agreement with the shoe manufacturer.
In case you ahve forgotten, the other Nutt brother, Dickey, is head basketball coach at ASU.
ASU needs much closer legislative oversight and somebody needs to beak up this little funhouse.
Monday, November 07, 2005
On Tuesday’s Pat Classic, Stephens Media Group political columnist David Sanders stops in at 10. There are lots of polls out and many developments to chew over.
Deer hunting starts Saturday morning, and Steve WILDMAN Wilson from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is set up for Thursday at noon. You can call in with questions or send an email to email@example.com.
Little Rock City Director Stacy Hurst brought the nine proposals from consultants on War Memorial Park over this morning. They were most impressive pieces of paper. Now, her committee can review the qualifications to see who might get to oversee the transformation of or most visible public park.
Yes, that would imply that other uses might be found for what is now a 90 acre golf course. There are some people who are going to be very put out if the golf course is eliminated. The first step would be a study and then soccer fields or whatever other uses might be employed. This is going to be controversial and expensive. Hurst says the private sector will need to ante up. Does this mean the City will be selling naming rights?
"Welcome to this afternoon's Razorback game as the Hogs take on the Northern Louisiana Assisted Living Home for the Hopelessly Bewildered "live" from Dillard's War Memorial Stadium."
Just a thought.
The Jimerson Creek issue came up. Hurst considers the previous vote of the people to be "sacred" and she will not vote to overturn it in favor of building that four-lane road from I-430 to Riverdale.
Hurst also expressed support for a mayor-council form of government and says she will make up her mind about running for mayor when Jim Daily gets off his high horse and announces his intentions. (Actually, she put it a bit more tactfully.)
The entire hour is in the FREE "on demand' archives at WAI Radio.com, which is linked at the left.
By Audrey Hudson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
November 7, 2005
The Bayou State is the land of voodoo and, up until last year, Anne Rice. Louisiana corruption is legendary, but - and this is a big but - the Washington Times (linked above) is a little too early kicking in the predictable campaign to finish off our neighbors to the south.
Get this vhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifery clear. The Republican master plan on Katrina relief is to assure that New Orleans is permanently reduced in population. This shifts the congressional balance and gives the Greed Old Party TWO United States Senate seats.
All of this may happen by natural causes. If that is the case, so be it. Otherwise, some cooler heads ought to prevail. The Big Easy is a national treasure and has been completely decimated by natural disaster. Let's occasionally give the locals the benefit of the doubt.
in the alternative, save the heavy artillery for when the big stealing sets in.
THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS come from the New Orleans Times Picayune. Gov. Blanco addressed the legislature. This is bound to disappoint the Moonies of the Washington Times but her approach is very intelligent - even fiscally conservative.
Her remarks clearly indicated that she expects to encounter opposition to her plans.
"I am cutting some of your favorite programs. Some of you will consider these cuts way too painful, and you will try to avoid them," Blanco said. "Let me warn you: This is just the beginning."
The governor framed her approach to the budget as a businesslike strategy, in which the state would balance its dramatically reduced income with a combination of cuts in expenses, pulling money from the rainy-day fund and borrowing.
"Some of you will refuse to be satisfied," Blanco said. But she warned that "life has changed for us all."
She said more cuts are on the horizon, because her administration would receive a bill from the federal government for $3.7 billion, the state's share of the federal recovery aid money.
"I will work to reduce it, but . . . I know it won't all go away," Blanco said.
Blanco advocated the creation of a statewide building code and a change in the state's oversight of levee systems.
"We need a strong, coordinated plan to show Washington that southeast Louisiana needs Category 5 levees," she said, drawing one of the strongest rounds of applause of the evening. She also called for stronger levees in southwest Louisiana.
Blanco wants legislators and all elected officials to disclose whatever income they earn in the recovery effort.
"We must assure our people and the nation that this recovery is being conducted above-board," she said, drawing a delayed and less-enthusiastic applause. The Legislature during her administration so far has resisted her attempts to place more accountability on lawmakers.
Mere good words? Maybe, but they do deserve to be heard by those who have a plan to destroy a region for political gain.
Friday, November 04, 2005
The hour with David Kaczynski was a spine-tingler. I guess you have heard the story of his brother, Ted, the unabomber. David is the guy who ultimately turned him in. This is such a chilling and dramatic tale. It is a statement about the politically driven push to have mentally ill people put to death. David is Executive Director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty. He gives an outstanding account of his life with one of the most wanted criminals of the last century. Download this hour free from the WAI Radio.com archives.
Dwayne Graham visited Thursday morning and we talked about the Pulaski County jail. He has come fairly close to criticizing Sheriff Randy Johnson. Graham is obviously big with the bail bonds industry and wants to see more folks arrested and more bail bonds written. There's nothing wrong with that. He sees it as a revenue stream for the County. OK, maybe. Graham says some of the right stuff and he should make it an interesting race. The hour is in the WAI Radio "on demand" archives, which is linked on the left column.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
UPDATED WEEKEND NEWS: River Trail to be Opened for Cars?
Friends of Jimerson Creek Trail (from Jimerson Creek to I-430) We just received this distressing message regarding a move (parties unknown to me) to open the trail along Rebsamen Rd. and the river across Jimerson Creek to I-430 to vehicular traffic. The message was forwarded from Janet Nye and appears to be from Ken Gould at UALR.
for nonvehicular use only. ?Specify that any bridge built across Jimerson Creek be for non-vehicular use only. At the time of the dedication of the Jimerson Creek Bridge in 1997, the Democrat/Gazette reported that, ?Little Rock voters held a referendum in 1992 that scrapped the road extension project for good.? Please attend Thursday?s BACA meeting to show your support for the Trail & to discuss how we (that?s you) can help save this jewel that is beyond value to our community & insure that the citizens of Little Rock are not disenfranchisedby the desires of the few who would act in opposition to the expressed will of the people.
UPDATE: Alltell & Dillards plan to open up a four lane highway from rodney parham under the 430 bridge over jimerson creek and down rebsamen park road to vehicular traffic. Dillards and Alltell have hired lobbyist and a PR firm to look at the feasibility of doing this. It is my understanding the goal is to assist their employees with the commute from west little rock by relieving the traffic on cantrell road.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Thursday morning's Pat Classic will be a program for the ages. Dwayne Graham is a candidate for Pulaski County Sheriff and he will be a guest at 11. What will he do about the jail situation? That will be right after the weekly Blanche Lincoln press conference. That starts around 10:30. Pat is also keeping a close eye on the Beverly Enterprises sale story. Be logged on to WAI Radio.com, which is linked in the left hand column.
The brother of the unabomber, David Kaczynski will be on the Friday show speaking against the death penalty.
Added to the archives today is the David Pryor press conference halfway into the second hour of the Wednesday morning show. After 11, President Clinton speaks at the funeral of Rosa Parks and there is an amazing slice of traditional African-American rapping and praying. Afternoon, I have a sort interview with Nancy Allison of Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents on the Beverly sale.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
If you missed this morning's Jim Lynch interview, its in the FREE WAI Radio "on demand" archives.
Jim laid it our loud and clear on the revenue task force, which has been meeting at Little Rock City Hall. Directors Keck and Hinton were supposed to lead the discussion, but Hinton became ill. Keck, left in charge by circumstances, was not legally obligated to notify the press of any meetings because there were not two elected officials present. There were, however, about eight highly placed individuals who discussed ways to raise money for the many projects of the city. Those items include a $25 million slush fund for a new city-formed corporation to use for luring some big business to the city. It is for "economic development."
Lynch gives the most matter of fact commentary yet on the sorry condition of accountability in city government and,l if you listen to the very end, gives a vivid explanation of why this form of government does not work.
I promise, this is time well spent.
12:00 AM CST on Tuesday, November 1, 2005
By BRENDAN M. CASE / The Dallas Morning News
The headline says it all..Click and read for yourself.
URGENT FOR NORTH LITTLE ROCK - UPDATED
Democratic Party candidates in the runoff are Democrat Sharon Dobbins, wife of former Rep. Dwayne Dobbins, and Teresa Burl, also a Democrat and president of the North Little Rock School District Board.
NOTE WELL: Dwayne Dobbins resigned his seat in the legislature as part of a plea bargain resulting from charges involving sexual misconduct with a teenaged girl.
UPDATE: Voters have rewarded Dobbins for standing in front of the courthouse and declaring his innocence by electing his wife. This proves that people get the government they deserve.
FURTHER UPDATE. According to a story in the Democrat-Gazette, Sharon Dobbins’ runoff victory in a special Democratic primary election for a state House of Representatives seat is in jeopardy because she is a federal employee, an elections official and a spokesman for her employer said Wednesday. This is an apparant violation of the federal Hatch Act.
The Daily Snivel
Congressional candidate Mickey “Stubby” Stumbaugh of Cabot was suspended seven times for a total of 33 days without pay during his 15-year stint at the Little Rock Police Department, department records show.
Stumbaugh was suspended for offenses that included making “inappropriate comments” during a telephone call to a radio station while he was on duty and responding to a call for police assistance, to being intoxicated in public when he was working off duty as a security officer, according to documents in Stumbaugh’s personnel file.
And the coveted Snivel of the Day goes to (drum roll please) ...
Clint Reed of Little Rock, executive director of the state Republican Party, said it’s a shame that “the politics of personal destruction has started in this race.”
By FRED PETRUCELLI
Special to the Log Cabin
This is a timely article in view of the recent disasters. Books have been written about the flood of 1927 The demographic makeup of a region was changed, as was the politics. Here is the Conway experience, but you will do well to note the enormous scope of this historic flood. All of the damage in New Orleans is not in material things. The culture has been destroyed and the legislative makeup altered forever.
Just a note, the levees in St. Bernard Parish near New Orleans were blown up during this same flood. That event has had a lasting impact as well. These things hang on for generations.