Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Earth to President! Earth to President!

This just chaps my rear end.

This administration keeps saying that there is some sort of global war on terror, for which we should meekly surrender hard won civil liberties, and at the same time is very willing, despite warnings from trusted sources, to hand over important port operations in six cities to a company with Middle East ties.

The VP and his beer drinking pals cover up a hunting accident which was sufficiently serious to send one man to the hospital for several days.

They eavesdrop on ordinary people with not even a hint or probably cause, wasting who knows how much time and money.

Despite a border that is anything but secure, they aim to protect wealthy drug companies by seizing the urgently needed medications brought in from Canada to assist our poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

Finally, somebody wakes up to help the honest people being crushed by the worst and greediest administration in history.

The story is in the LA Times.

Amid mounting criticism of its crackdown on mail-order medications, U.S. Customs has released hundreds of seized packages to consumers since Friday, said Canadian pharmacies and U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday.

'Bout damn time.

Phat Tuesday

Gov. Mike Huckabee said Monday he left meetings with President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld still unclear on how a plan to cut the Army National Guard's troop strength would affect Arkansas.

Among the Governor’s notable appointments, J. J. Vigneault gets another term on the Alcohol Control Board, Former Congressman Tommy Robinson’s wife Carolyn gets reappointed to the parole board, and civil rights attorney John Walker is named to the Martin Luther King Commission.

The FAA and St. Francis County authorities are investigating an accident at the Forrest City airport on Friday that resulted in the death of a pilot who was starting a propeller driven airplane.

Fernando Navarro will serve two consecutive life terms for the beating, stabbing and strangulation of David E. Edwards of Fayetteville on Thanksgiving night 2004.

Classes are suspended at the Palestine-Wheatley Middle school after a fire engulfed the gym yesterday.

Sushi King in Bentonville remains closed at the salmonella count stands at 123 after an outbreak of food poisoning last week.

Women’s basketball teams in the region enter the postseason this week as the Southeastern Conference tournament opens in central Arkansas.

Fitz Hill, executive director of Read-2-Lead is planning the First Delta Classic 4 Literacy next fall. It will be highlighted by a match-up between UAPB and Grambling on October 14.

Though revenue for the new so-called “racino” at Blue Ribbon Downs In Salisaw, Oklahoma is falling short of expectations, officials say attendance is increasing, and they're betting the state's foray into gaming machines at racetracks will be a success.

Officials from the city of Phoenix have met with executives from Southwest Airlines Co. to discuss the low-cost carrier moving its headquarters from Dallas and may soon make a formal offer, according to officials for the city and the airline.

Pulaski County School Consolidation

Ben Mays, the Clinton veterinarian recently named to the State Board of Education, was on yesterday's program to discuss the latest news on school spending for athletics. This interview is essential listening for anybody with the slightest interest in Arkansas' push to improve the public school system.

You may recall the Blue Ribbon Commission said total athletic costs were about $20 million. That was about 5 years ago. Two years ago, the first time anybody attempted a systematic official survey, it came in around $60-something million. The latest news is about $86 million and Mays suspects the true figure (without capital expenses figured in) is closer to $150 million.

Two years ago, the process was new and districts did not know how to make the accounting calculations and it was a mess. This time through, many of the school districts, and some claiming poverty, have simply chosen to cover-up or lie.

This is significant because of the discussions about merging Pulaski County public schools into two districts. The Pulaski County Special School District has been on the "financially distressed" list until recently.

Mays says that PCSSD claims to have spent ZERO for purchased services (fuel, insurance, utilities), and ZERO for supplies and equipment. This district, which is in dire financial condition, claims to spend $1.1 million on sports.

Just so you don't think Mays is some kind of sports-hating nut, he complimented for Cabot district for its' reporting.

All of the Pulaski County districts look bad but Pulaski County looks so bad that it makes one wonder why the State Department of Education is not looking harder at that mess and why that district has not been taken over, as was the case for some smaller schools.

The story in today's Democrat-Gazette mentions that Little Rock is not crazy about taking in portions of PCSSD south of the river. They make a good argument. Over the years, patrons of PCSSD have failed to provide enough money for decent buildings. This is mainly the work of two strongly anti-school parents. Imagine that.

Mays also looked at the Rogers report on athletic spending and it was not a pretty picture, especially for a district which has SUED the state for MORE MONEY. This is another district begging for a state take-over.

You can hear the Mays interview on the WAI Radio.com FREE "on demand" archives. (it's going in soon!)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Thanks to the Benton Courier

I try to catch up on Mike Dougherty's column in the Benton Courier whenever I scan that paper. He is obviously a listener to WAI Radio.com and mentions my recent visit with Bill Valentine in his latest column. Thanks, Mike, and I hope you guys get broadband over there in Saline County soon!

No to Bass Pro

Max and the gang at the Arkansas Times blog pointed this story from the Minneapolis paper out earlier today, and I just about launched into orbit. It is a darned good thing to see somebody finally rise up against the corporate welfare queens of Bass Pro Shop. Why North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays is in love with these guys is totally past my understanding. Bass Pro, which is currently negotiating to take over the Memphis Pyramid, will drive dozens of small profitable employers out of business and bring about a zero net increase in taxes. Why is it a wacky idea to expect a corporation to pay its' own way?

Monday morning already ...

The Arkansas Razorback’s RPI ranking moved up eight spots to 45th Sunday, a day after winning at Tennessee, according to Collegerpi.com.

Abraham Lincoln Hawkins of Mount Vernon marked his 107th birthday Sunday.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has scheduled two public hearings on Wal-Mart's attempt to open an industrial bank. The hearings will be the first time the regulator has held formal public hearings on a bank application.

Property tax revenue mandated by state lawmakers for schools can’t be used for tax increment financing projects under the 2001 legislation creating the districts, a Washington County Circuit judge ruled Friday.

More Arkansas couples chose or converted to covenant marriages in the first 10 months of 2005 than in the three previous years combined, state health records show.

Arkansas public schools spent at least $85.9 million for athletic programs last year, amounting to about $190 per student, according to a report issued by the Arkansas Department of Education.

Al Davidson will be the new superintendent of schools in Mountain View. He previously served 13 years as superintendent at Atkins, where he was suspended with pay last October after questions arose about expense reports for travel to conferences.

The emergency room of Conway Regional Medical Center was shut down for about seven hours, and 22 people were quarantined Sunday after a patient accidentally (and unknowingly) squirted pepper spray from a key chain into the air, authorities said.

The final steps toward leasing the Forrest City hospital campus to Community Health Systems were completed last week during a pre-closing meeting in Nashville between St. Francis County officials and attorneys representing CHS, which agreed to a $7.5 million, 40-year lease in December after Attentus Health Care was unable to complete a lease agreement with the county. The transfer from Baptist Medical System of Memphis will take place at midnight Tuesday.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas says that state environmental officials will consider proposed changes in water quality standards, including one that would allow the damming of Lee Creek in Northeast Arkansas, one of the state’s most pristine waterways.

The Bush administration is requesting more than $2.1 million in its proposed 2007 budget to aid recovery efforts for the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker,

The Game and Fish Commission is considering changes for next year’s deer season. One proposal would increase the statewide deer bag limit from three to four, allowing two bucks and two does with modern guns or muzzle-loaders and up to four does with archery equipment in some deer zones.

Twenty-five more people contacted health officials late last week to say they were sickened in a mid-February salmonella outbreak linked to a Bentonville sushi restaurant.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

While you are dreaming up your own mottos for Little Rock, you might want to graze through the WAI Radio.com FREE "on demand" archives. We should soon add Gunner DeLay, the sole announced Republican candidate for Attorney General. Hear Gunner tip-toe around the Beverly Nursing Home issue. He does come down on the right side of dealing with sexual predators - life in prison. All the AG candidates have been interviewed on Pat Classic, which streams weekdays 9 to 1 at WAI Radio.com

Nicknames for Little Rock

As you may know, the rocket scientists who run things down a LR City Hall have hired, at considerable expense, a "branding consultant" to come up with a new ad slogan. It turns out that many local residents are very creative and have come up with a few of their own. Please feel free to add your own in the "Comments" area. Here is a sampling of what I have received so far.

"Come See the Sight!"
"A Totally NEW Place to Sit"
"Putting the 'Rock' in 'CROCK'!
"Same Location Since 1836"
"What Happens Here, Winds Up on the Internet"
"Rock, Roll, and Rot!!"
"Get Your Rock-Off!"
"Where the Future Meets the Past, and Stays There"
"Bubbatown, USA"
"Put US in Your Pipe and Smoke It"!
"Our Name Says It All"
"Better Than Newark!"
"Clean-Up on Aisle 13"
"The Great American "TOOL-Shed"
"Blow Like a Force-5"
"Home of 'Sinus-Fest'"
"Come Step in It!"
"2005 Any-Port-in-a-Storm Award"
"Mudflap Capitol of the South"
"You Can't Leave Unless You Come Here First!"
"A Tomb With a View"
"The Heart of Dix"
"on Your Way to Somewhere Else!"
"There's Something in the Air! (But You'll Get Used to It!!)
"Culture with a Capital "K".
"Abandon Hope, Ye Who Enter Here"
"Arts, Farts, and Wal-Marts"
"Sun, Fun, and Shinola"

If those didn't do anything for you, another troubled individual has further suggestions.


"Where Excitement Goes to Die"
"You Can Smell it All from Here!"
"Where The Fun Never Starts"
"All F***ed-Up and No Where to GO!"
"A Scheme Come True"
"Gateway to Dogtown"
"La Petit Box of Rocks"
"The City That Forgot to Care"
"Where Many People Go, Once"
"Clueless, and It Shows!"
"Allright, If You're White!"
"Thank God for Pine Bluff"
"Where You're Always Somebody's Brother-in-Law"
"Top Twenty Mean, and Lovin' It!"
"I'm BONED on Little Rock"
"We Got Us a Lybarry!"
"The New South for Old People"
"Ya Want Weed With That?"
"Big City Fun, Small-Town Ennui" "We've-Come-So-Far-from-1957-Really-I-Swear-It's-True-No-Shit"
"You Died and Went to Hell"
"Spend a Month with Us, all in One Day!"
"Free Directions Back to the Freeway!!"
"The Vanguard of the Twentieth Century!!"
"They're Not Homeless; They Work for Us!"
"Are You Kidding?"
"We Spent a Fortune to Look This Cheap"

Think you can do better? Go ahead, make my day.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Italian Couple Returns

Somehow this one got past me in this morning's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. How Griffin Smith failed to put this story on the front page above the fold is beyond me, but a stern memo will be forthcoming. Now on to the HUGE news as reported by Eric Harrison.

The Italian Couple is back. Michael and Yuli Waters are reopening their once-popular eatery of that name today in their original location, 2618 W. 12th St., Little Rock.

The Waters couple - she was the Florence-trained cook who was learning English on the job, he was the half-Italian, half-American front-of-house man - opened the restaurant in 1996. They came here from Italy via California; the story at the time was that they had read somewhere that Arkansas is the Land of Opportunity and took it literally.

Despite its location in a down-at-heel cinderblock building in a neighborhood of questionable safety a couple of blocks east of Woodrow Street, the restaurant stayed popular for a couple of years, but a traumatic robbery turned out to be the last straw, and the Waterses departed for parts unknown. Michael's son briefly tried to operate a catering business using their recipes.

Michael Waters says they've completely remodeled the building but not the menu, which will offer Yuli's Northern Italian cuisine (which uses lots of olive oil and butter, shying away from the heavy tomato sauces of the south). He promises some old favorites and some new dishes, but not the pizza, at least not yet. He has also applied for a liquor license, something the previous establishment lacked.

Hours will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The telephone number is (501) 372-4448.

One of the charming aspects of the Italian Couple was that, with no permit to sell booze, it was fun and cheap to bring your own. Don't go to the ABC Board on my account!

Welcome back Italian Couple!

Who Stole My American Idol?

OK. I am still steamed. Of all the people who deserved to STAY, Patrick Hall is on top of the list. Anyway, Bigdaddio is also a bit upset and has researched the following.

top ten reasons patrick hall of gravette, arkansas was eliminated from american idol:

10) perfect posture equals nerd in the music world!
9) lesbian song choice confusing even to gay cowboys!
8) demonstrated a paucity of vibrato!
7) collagen injected lips of elderly woman in the audience labeled "friend of patrick hall" frightened teenybopper voting pack!
6) 100% of gay vote went to "ace"!
5) background vocals needed some pips!
4) rumors of a high school vocalist from springdale coming in next year stole his momentum!
3) needed less perfect pitch and more ass shakin' like fantasia!
2) jermain taylor camp refused to allow patrick to use the razorback logo!

and the #1 reason patrick hall of gravette, arkansas was eliminated from american idol: "viewing audience expected something more glenn campbellish!"

Friday Fling

Patrick Hall of Gravett has been ousted from American Idol.

The largest-ever domestic hunger study was released today, and it shows that 11 percent of Arkansans (291,500 residents) receive emergency food assistance each year. Half of those are children or the elderly.

Hospitals in Arkansas lost $64 million in 2004 because state Medicaid reimbursement rates haven’t increased in 10 years, officials from a hospital trade group told legislators Thursday

According to the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, farmers in the Illinois River watershed could have the soil in their fields, the water running off them and the poultry litter spread on them tested for pollutants this spring, if a federal judge approves a request filed by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

The Sushi King restaurant in Bentonville has voluntarily closed, and state health officials are investigating 89 cases of possible salmonellas reported to the county in mid-February. One victim needed an appendectomy several have been hospitalized, according to reports in the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas.

Claiming a "political witch hunt," St. Francis County sheriff candidate Shelly Bieber recently disputed a report that purports to show a money shortage from the defunct Widener Police Department during the time he was chief.

An 11-year-old Bentonville boy accused of bringing an explosive device to school has entered a not guilty plea and is set for trial in May. His parents will also fight the school’s expulsion plan.

7 year-old Charity Whittle suffered bruises on her arms and some puncture wounds, along with cuts and scratches on her face after she was attacked by as many as six pit bull dogs while walking to her school bus stop just outside the Rogers city limits. Stacy McCloud, the bus driver, chased the dogs away with the lid of a trashcan. Christy Lane was cited for six counts of possession of a vicious animal, a misdemeanor.

Even though Russellville hosted a recent legislative meeting trying to show it needed increased state school money, the Courier reports today that the local district’s capital outlay fund has more than tripled over a year to more than $600,000 and $500,000 in additional federal money is now on hand.

A merit pay proposal that would give some elementary teachers bonuses of up to $10,000 next year was approved Thursday night by the Little Rock School Board and will now go to a vote of the teachers.

The Walnut Ridge School Board has approved the administrative consolidation of its district and the Black Rock School District, to be effective on July 1, officials with both districts said Wednesday.

Billionaire media mogul Robert F.X. Sillerman was in Memphis Thursday touting his plan to turn Graceland into an international attraction on par with Disneyland and double the 600,000 visitors who annually visit Elvis' former home in Whitehaven. Sillerman paid $114 million for an 85 percent stake in Elvis Presley Enterprise late last year.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Russellville Courier reports on the recent wave of rumors concerning a possible arrest in the murder of Arkansas Tech student Nona Dirksmeyer. According to prosecutor David Gibbons, no elected official or the family member of an elected official is a suspect in this case. There has been no arrest in the Dirksmeyer homicide, nor has there been a confession.

The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metropolitan area was named Wednesday to Milken Institute's 2005 Best Performing Cities Index, a measurement of where the most jobs are being created across the United States. The growing Northwest Arkansas urban area was listed as the eighth best performing region among the nation's 200 largest metropolitan areas.

U.S. Rep. Marion Berry, D-Gillett, says the chances of Congress offering disaster relief to the agriculture community soon are not good. “The political winds are just not blowing our way,” he said at a joint meeting of the Rotary clubs of Pine Bluff and West Pine Bluff.

The Jonesboro Sun reports on Senator Blanche Lincoln’s visit to Northeast Arkansas. Lincoln was very critical of administration cuts in funding to American farmers. Specifically, she criticized the attempts to promote free trade with countries violating guidelines American farmers follow. "We go to foreign countries and say, 'Our farmers will do what is right,' but turn deaf and dumb when those countries do not play by the same rules," she said.

State Senator Jerry Bookout of Jonesboro, a member of the General Assembly for over three decades, is dead of cancer at 72.

Lieutenant governor candidate Drew Pritt said Wednesday he can't afford a $7,500 filing fee and will collect the necessary signatures needed to get on the Democratic primary ballot.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said taking poultry litter and water samples this spring will strengthen his case against Arkansas poultry companies.

An inflation adjustment to Arkansas' public school funding formula for this school year and next would cost $122 million. Lawmakers are preparing for a possible special session to comply with the latest Supreme Court Lake View rulings.

The Democrat-Gazette reports that the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission approved an intricate deal involving six entities that launches a company backed by the Stephens Group to compete with Central Flying Service to refuel, serve and repair the corporate aircraft that fly in and out of Little Rock National Airport, Adams Field. SuperMarine of Little Rock, as the center will be known, initially will invest $10.7 million in the first phase of its operation and employ at least 54 people.

A 37-year-old Jacksonville man accused of raping a teenage girl and sexually abusing her younger brother was sentenced to life plus 40 years in prison Wednesday after jurors watched a 29-minute video of him having sex with the girl. Eugene Ray “Gene” Callaway said the girl was a willing participant in the video encounter, arguing she was at least 18 at the time. The girl, now 20, testified she was 16 or 17 at the time.

A man who videotaped himself in the act of raping a 14 year old boy was sentenced in Sebastian County Circuit Court to 40 years in prison. Mathew Anthony Meyer, 25, was scheduled to stand trial on two counts of rape, but avoided trial and the possibility of a life sentence by pleading guilty to both counts.

The Pine Bluff School District has hired Nabholz Construction of Conway as construction manager of the district’s $28.8 million renovation and restructuring program.

What is being called the "Call of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Celebration" begins today at the Convention Center in Brinkley.

Arkansas Times’ blog notes that George Strait's recent show at Alltel is the No. 5 gross on Billboard's latest list of top grossing music shows. The capacity crowd at Alltel Jan. 21 grossed $995,576.

Moving day for the Mulberry library began early Tuesday with students and library officials pushing carts of books from the city office complex to a new 2,400-square-foot building across Main Street. The volunteer workers, including some Mulberry and Pleasant View students, will continue working on getting the facility ready to open to the public next week.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Further on Dirksmeyer Murder

The Russellville Courier reports on the recent wave of rumors concerning a possible arrest in the murder of Arkansas Tech student Nona Dirksmeyer.

No elected official or the family member of an elected official is a suspect in this case. There has been no arrest in the Dirksmeyer case, nor has there been a confession," said David Gibbons, 5th Judicial District prosecuting attorney.

Wednesday Wonders

The United States Supreme Court has refused to intervene in a lawsuit by Oklahoma against poultry interests in Arkansas for discharges into the Illinois River. Attorney General Mike Beebe told listeners to Pat Classic that his office is still considering its’ options and he also said that properly treated chicken manure is not a “hazardous toxic material.”

Federal Judge Leon Holmes has refused to immediately reinstate former Pine Bluff police chief Daniel Moses, who is suing for reinstatement under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act. A trial is set for June 26.

Bentonville school officials evacuated a section of Old High Middle School on Tuesday after a sixth-grader brought an "explosive device" and showed it to other students. Police and fire departments were called in addition to the local bomb squad. The student was taken to the juvenile detention center and will be recommended for expulsion for the remainder of this school year.

Northeast Arkansans For Animals Director Wannda Turner is featured in the HBO film "Dealing Dogs," a documentary on the inhumane and illegal treatment of dogs. Turner and NAFA volunteers are featured bathing and preparing for adoption dogs that were confiscated from the Martin Creek Kennel in Sharp County.

A plan by the Palestine-Wheatley School District to consolidate all schools onto one campus in Palestine will be the topic of discussion Thursday evening at a public hearing. in Wheatley.

The Pine Bluff Commercial has word of an ambulance war. Monticello Ambulance Service, that city’s long-time ambulance service provider, is asking for an exclusive service contract while another ambulance service, Southeast Arkansas Medical Services, asked the city to “leave well enough alone” and allow both companies to operate in the city.

Max and the gang at the Arkansas Times blog report that Governor Mike Huckabee’s number for the Little Rock marathon has been assigned. It is “2008.”

The Missouri Legislature has passed a bill to ban protesting at funerals, echoing a similar measure by lawmakers in Kansas and probably inviting a court challenge. The measure, aimed at a Kansas church group that pickets funerals with anti-gay signs and expletive-laden chants, would make it a crime to conduct such protests. That church has conducted protests in Arkansas.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe disclosed this morning on Pat Classic that the United States Supreme Court has ruled against his petition to stop a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General of Oklahoma against some Arkansas poultry producers. Beebe said that he was unsure of what might happen next but that he did not think his office would be involved any further.

Here is something for environmentalists to take note of. He may be siding with federal legislation which would direct that chicken manure is not a hazardous toxic material Beebe pointed to measures passed by the Arkansas legislature to control additives in chicken feed. This probably requires some follow up.

Beebe also commented on ethics, the state budget surplus, and several social "hot button" issues.

BEVERLY NURSING HOME UPDATE. Beebe also said that there was not much positive sentiment for changing the state's tort reform laws to give special breaks to nursing homes.

You can hear it all in the FREE "on demand" archives at WAI Radio.com

Tuesday Travail

Washington County will see the first death penalty case in the county today since 1981. Fernando Navarro of Springdale is accused of slaying David E. Edwards of Fayetteville. Jury selection begins this morning in Circuit Judge William Storey's court.

FecEx is expanding its’ Harrison operations and expects to add 500 jobs there.

Jefferson County and the City of Pine Bluff have settled a long-standing jail dispute in which the city will resume making payments on its’ 24 beds in the county lockup.

Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee authorities will conduct public hearings this week concerning possible construction of a new Mississippi River Bridge. The $500 million span would be located somewhere between the Shelby-Tipton county line and Mississippi 304 in DeSoto County.

Advanced Auto Parts is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot one of their night managers. Little Rock police say it is the 10th. Homicide of 2006.

Arkansas Business reports that a 3,000-SF condo on the 14th floor of the First Security Center in downtown Little Rock tipped the scales at $1.3 million. Robert Hixson Jr. bought the urban residence from real estate developers Joseph and Brenda Blankenship.

Golden Parachutes

Since the higher-ups in Beverly Nursing homes have taken care of themselves with severance packages totaling $200 million, I have lately been questioning my life choices. This morning, The Dallas Morning News runs with a great story about the former president of Radio Shack. I remember from my childhood when a catalogue from the Shack would show up with the famous "Flyer Side Chat" direct from the president and founder - whoever that was. Things have changed a lot, but you need to check out this story.

There is actually a neat surprise about the NEW boss at RS. She, like me, has no undergraduate degree. However, the University of North Carolina has a Masters Degree program which routinely admits individuals based on work background and leadership. It's obviously a very cool program.

Anyway, former president and undisputed goof-ball, David Edmondson faked his resume to show two degrees from an outfit called Pacific Coast Bible College, which has moved to Oklahoma. I am not making this stuff up. I would have listed Northwestern of Stanford, being instinctively too modest to pretend a Harvard MBA. What an idiot.

OK, I am being judgemental. He is getting $1.5 million to soften the blow and help pay for his upcoming DUI defense.

Monday, February 20, 2006

DEVELOPING: Arrest in Dirksmeyer Murder DENIED, UPDATED

It is reported that Russellville police have made an arrest in the murder of Arkansas Tech student and beauty queen, Nona Dirksmeyer. According to reports, the accused is not the individual believed by many to be the sole suspect. Working to verify now.

UPDATE: Authorities deny that any arrest has been made in the Dirksmeyer murder. Still following.

It is said that a Russellville area radio station broadcast news of this supposed arrest around 5 PM on Monday afternoon. Some accounts include the name of an individual reportedly arrested in the Dirksmeyer homicide. As of this evening, however, law enforcement denies any such arrests.

My column on Beverly

When Max and the gang atthe Arkansas Times blog start saying nice things about you, watch out! My column this morning is about Ron Silva, the new big guy at Beverly Nursing Homes. He is referenced in an earlier post on the blog and my column in the Democrat-Gazette further expands on his abuse of employees and residents.

I am certainly distressed over the fate of all the good people who will be fired or forced to move, if they are lucky. I am more distressed by the old people who will be neglected, hurt by corporate budget cuts, and made even more vulnerable by a bunch of corporate raiders.

Yet Another Drew Pritt Press Release

I can not verify the authenticity of this particular item nor how it came into my possession, but it does have a hauntingly familiar ring to it.

Drew Pritt, Democrat for Lt. Governor, believes the sudden bitter cold snap affecting Arkansas comes from not atmospheric changes but rather the bitter sadness Pat Lynch has in the doomed Bill Halter candidacy.

"I mean Pat is like Tom Harkin on the stage with Howard Dean during the scream or Donald Trump in the early days of the first Ross Perot campaign. I mean like Harkin and Trump, Lynch just has this look of constipated frustration with a candidacy that had so much promise and fell faster than a souflee in a subway," said Pritt.

Pritt says Halter, who has raised almost $2 million from donors enamored by the name Clinton and Clark outside of Arkansas, has yet to povide one basis for his candidacy.

"You know, not everyone can live up to the standards that I, as the WAI Radio Download King have set," said Pritt. "Pat Lynch sets dizzying heights for all of us politicos to climb and unfortunately few have the spirit to soar to his oratorical loftiness." Pritt is awaiting a comment from Lynch, who like Moldoor in the Tolkein series sits atop his lofty perch, casting an all-seeing eye over the
political landscape of Arkansas.

A minion for Lynch shrieked to the press, "Nothing goes on that the immortal eye of Pat Lynch does not see!

President's Day Sunrise

The Forrest City Times Herald reports that local patrolmen wrote more than five times the number of speeding tickets last year as they did in 2004, a move that was suggested by the police chief in a memo to officers last January. An interoffice memo from Chief Clarence McNeary in January 2005, strongly encouraged patrolmen and their supervisors to issue more traffic citations and if they did not, then "I don't need them as officers and they should resign." He also urged officers to average one to two tickets daily. State law forbids ticket quotas.

A Norman, Oklahoma jury took nine hours to sentence Anthony Sanchez to death for the murder of Benton ballet student Julie Buskin in 1996.

The investigation of the murder of Arkansas Tech student and beauty queen, Nona Dirksmeyer, enters its’ third month with prosecutor David Gibbons telling the Russellville Courier that, after a painstaking investigation, he expects to bring first-degree murder charges. Gibbons says he is working toward a conviction in the case.

Former Pine Bluff police chief Daniel Moses will have a hearing in Little Rock federal court on his petition to be returned to his previous position and to halt the search for a new chief.

At the Department of Finance and Administration, the $60 million ASIS computer system is down for a diagnostic check after operators saw an error message suggesting problems in the database.

Crews are working to gather all the debris from the Sunday morning implosion of the old dorm at UAMS.

The number of children from low-income families who are enrolled in state-funded prekindergarten programs jumped 140 percent this year after Arkansas lawmakers pumped in millions of dollars.

Arkansas 85 - 81 over Georiga in overtime is the bigest win in Heath history. Alabama is next.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Drug testing takes an ugly turn

The Los Angeles Times runs a sobering story today about how radical anti-American, freedom-hating, liberty despising, corporations are abusing employees by requiring drug tests for nicotine. That is, you can be fired for using a completely legal substance in your home on the whim of some big boss.

This all started when the so-called conservative blowhards demanded that school kids learn to urinate on command.

The Bush EEOC, of course, approves wholeheartedly.

Corporations not only want to run the government, they want to own employees as actual slaves, faceless functionaries to be used so long as useful and discarded at will.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

At Home Saturday

Ray Lincoln used to say that all the "good" news shows up in the Saturday paper. Saturday is on the edge of the "news cycle," and smart people with bad news try to postpone it for the weekend when folks are distracted.

The Forrest City Times-Herald has an excellent piece today about how the Chief of Police has set up a quota for officers to write tickets of be fired. Of course, he adamantly denies it to the paper, which only makes the story more amusing. The point of it all is that, if you go 10 over the speed limit in Forrest City, you get a ticket. If the Chief of Police blatantly disobeys state law to get you ticketed, nothing happens.

The Russellville Courier is always one of my best sources and today the reporters tell about how a popular but outspoken associate professor at Arkansas Tech is pushed out. Of course, the administration insists that there will be no acts of retaliation for those who might disagree, but I suggest keeping that lip buttoned. At Arkansas Tech, academic freedom is not an abstract concept, it is a cruel joke.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Storm Coverage Update

WAI Radio.com and KARK Channel 4 will be sharing resources to cover what looks like it might become a nasty winter storm. Log on to WAI Radio.com Saturday morning 6 to 10 for the Channel 4 comprehensive storm coverage.

Throughout the weekend, we will have the KARK weather updates on our worldwide “live” stream as appropriate.

Scroll down for additional important road and weather information.

Spend part of the weekend exploring the FREE "on demand" archives at WAI Radio.com. All of the Democratic candidates for AG are now posted. David Sanders from the Stephens Media Group gave a great interview covering Arkansas politics. Get everything you need to know about the upcoming Little Rock Marathon. Steve "Wildman" Wilson from AFGC has good information on everything outdoors - including the Ivory-billed woodpecker. There's a visit with Bill Halter too. The files go on and on all the way back to July.

Something for train nuts

Just click on the headline and enjoy a wonderful high speed rail simulation.

OK, everybody knows that something like this would never work in the United States. Still, it's nice to daydream how things might be if truckers and airlines did not control every major transportation decision.

Winter Storm Advisory

Things are going to get messy, so I know you need to keep up with the latest from the National Weather Service.

KARK Channel 4 has a rockin' home page with 4-Warn "live" dopler radar and loads of information

The highway department has a j-peg map of current road conditions, but why would anybody be going out anyway?

There are other more elaborate interactive resources available from the Arkansas Department of Highways and Transportation. Good luck.

Or, you can read all about road conditions.

Be careful out there!

Frantic Friday

An Artic airmass is expected to cover Arkansas. Moisture behind the front will lead to widespread precipitation. In northern Arkansas, the cold air will likely be deep enough to support snow. In central and southern sections, the cold air will be more shallow, with a layer of warm air aloft. In these areas, snow will fall though the warm layer and melt, but will refreeze as it nears the ground. The result will be freezing rain and sleet, with icing in the forecast.

Members of the Arkansas legislature have begun putting pressure on Pulaski County’s three school districts to end the integration case which will cost the state over $50 million this year.

The state supreme court has unanimously overturned an order by a Phillips County Judge prohibiting newspaper reporting of testimony in open court concerning the judge’s alleged misconduct. Associate Justice Betty Dickey wrote, “The presence of the press in the courtroom serves a watchdog function, and it provides a salutary scrutiny which is a sure deterrent to governmental misconduct,”

Two Springdale city employees were suspended for one week without pay for their roles in city payments of $324,000 for computer equipment that did not work.

Some of the thousands of mobile homes set aside for victims of Hurricane Katrina should be made available to families in Arkansas and Texas, Rep. Mike Ross said Thursday

Craighead County, which is legally “dry,” now has its’ 14th private club permit. Pending an anticipated appeal by local church groups, Outback will be able to sell drinks with dinner.

A Forrest City physician has been charged with terroristic threatening after an incident involving a local funeral director. The complaint was made by Effie Clay of Clay Funeral Home against Dr. James Francis Franks. The alleged incident was Dec. 15.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The internationally respected expert on aging, Dr. David Lipschitz from UAMS, is going to be talking about the Little Rock marathon Friday morning at 10 on Pat Classic.

Mark the Magician has the weekend Oaklawn preview at 10:45.

Next Monday morning, if he can get in through the ice and snow, John Robinson from the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, will be talking about (drum roll, please) severe weather.

Arkansas Travelers Manager Bill Valentine is set for Tuesday at 10.

Attorney General, and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, Mike Beebe will be around Tuesday at 11.

Thursday Early

Greenwood’s preferential compensation package for its’ head football coach has been noticed in the state legislature. Senator Jim Argue, chair of the Senate Education Committee told the Southwest Times Record “I think it’s a fairness issue, and I don’t think there’s anymore justification for enriched benefits for a coach as compared to a math or science teacher.” Lawmakers have begun gathering information on athletic department salaries.

State Senator Shane Broadway, in an interview with Pat Lynch on WAI, says that there will likely be a special session to deal with school funding issues and it will probably be in March.

Jonesboro School District Superintendent Steve Singleton is expressing concern that local government may encourage segregation in schools and in the community, and has shared his comments with local officials. In a letter dated Feb. 9, Singleton told Mayor Doug Formon and Jonesboro City Council members that he is concerned about some zoning issues in the nearby Valley View School District. If low-income properties are approved and developed in the Jonesboro and Nettleton districts, he says, the same should be true for other districts within the city limits. Jonesboro contains portions of four different school districts.

Anthony Sanchez awaits sentencing after being convicted of first degree murder, rape and sodomy by an Oklahoma jury in the 1996 death of Benton ballet student Julie Buskin.

The mother of Kevin Ives, one of the two boys murdered near the railroad tracks in Saline County in 1987, is calling upon prosecutor Robert Herzfeld to question former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell in connection with that case. Campbell was mentioned in connection with the case in the “Obstruction of Justice” video release.

Russellville Prosecutor David Gibbons believes there is substantial evidence in the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer, but he was unwilling to give the Courier reporter information on results of a polygraph test, whether the assailant forced his way into the victim’s apartment, whether there was a murder weapon seized, or tests on the suspects clothing.

Alfred Craft of Monroe, Louisiana will serve five years in prison and pay a $50,000 fine for poisoning a bald eagle and two vultures at a farm he owns in Izard County and then threatening people to keep it from coming to light, a federal judge ruled.

Bass Pro Shop is proposing to spend at least $75 million to redevelop the Pyramid in Memphis and pay $1 million dollars annyally over the life of a 20-year lease. The Missouri retailer also promises not to open a similar store within 100 miles. Shelby County and the City of Memphis still have around $25 million of outstanding debt on the Pyramid.

Patrick Hall of Gravette is on to the next round of American Idol.

The pilot for a Fox television drama series will be shot next month in Memphis. “Southern Comfort” is the story of a suburban mother who is suddenly thrust into running her husband’s criminal activities while he goes to jail.

Casino developers are pushing real estate prices up in Biloxi, Mississippi, where gambling has been allowed inland since Hurricane Katrina. New resorts, condos, and hotels are planned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Thursday will be very busy. Senator Lincoln has a press briefing at 10:30. At 11, David Sanders from the Stephens Media Group is on hand at 11, and he is highly irate over my Monday column on ethics. Sparks will fly.

Republican AG candidate Gunner DeLay has to cancel. He will be on soon.

There is news about the Little Rock Marathon Thursday and Friday morning.

Lonoke connection to "train deaths?"

The following letter appeared in today's Benton Courier. It speaks for itself.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Arrest of Lonoke chief adds questions to Ives-Henry case

As many may remember, a number of years ago there was much publicity about the video “Obstruction of Justice,” which was about the murders of Kevin Ives and Don Henry [in Saline County]. There was an ensuing lawsuit filed by former Pulaski County deputies Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane against the makers of the video. Campbell and Lane claimed defamation by a statement in the video which said that witnesses had implicated them (and others) in the murders and coverup.

Campbell and Lane prevailed at trial, but the verdict was overturned by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which stated in part: “All and all, statements and rumors corroborating the Lane-Campbell scenario, or implicating them as suspects emanate, in varying degrees of detail, from multiple sources.” The court also stated that Campbell and Lane did not satisfy their burden of proving falsity by even the lowest threshold of a preponderance of the evidence.

After the recent arrest of [former Lonoke Police Chief] Jay Campbell on various felony charges in Lonoke County, Garrick Feldman, publisher of a newspaper [that circulates] in Lonoke, contacted Saline County Prosecutor Robert Herzfeld and asked him if he was inclined to re-open [the Ives and Henry] murder case. Hertzfeld was quoted in The Leader as saying: “I would like nothing better than to solve the ‘boys on the tracks' case. Unfortunately, without a major break, such as a confession or murder weapon, I don't see how that would be possible at this point.” He also stated: “Several grand juries have looked into the deaths and have come up empty.”

Mr. Herzfeld's comments rival [former state Medical Examiner] Fahmy Malak's accidental death ruling in obsurdity. I want the public to understand that despite the fact that Jay Campbell's and Kirk Lane's names appear all over the place in the case file of [the Ives and Henry deaths], they have NEVER, EVER been questioned - not by Saline County officials, not by state officials officials and not by federal officials.

If I had been implicated in a murder, as they have, I would have been hauled down, interrogated, polygraphed and probably asked to provide DNA - and rightly so.

Three years ago when Hertzfeld first took office, my husband and I met with him and begged him to look at the case - especially the information involving Jay Campbell. We gave him information on how to contact various witnesses, etc. Mr. Herzfeld chose a date for one month later and put it on his calendar to call us to give us an update. We have never heard back from him and not one witness has been contacted to this day.

Mr. Herzfield should understand: 1. You can't solve a murder if you never investigate; 2. You don't wait for murderers to come jump in your lap. 3. An unsolved murder case should NEVER be closed.

Also, [Herzfeld Chief of Staff] Ken Casady and [former Deputy Prosecutor] Jack McQuary, both of whom are running for Saline County prosecutor, sat in on our meeting with Herzfeld. Can we, as taxpayers, expect the same interest in solving murders from either of them should they be elected, or will they make hot checks their big focus?

Linda Ives, Benton

Wednesday dawning

The sale of Beverly Enterprises to a subsidiary of a California investment company, Filmore Equiry, is now complete. The $2 billion deal includes $220 million in “severance costs.” Filmore has threatened to move the corporate headquarters and 600 jobs out of Fort Smith without special legislation to prevent nursing home residents from suing to recover damages for injuries received in its’ facilities. Arkansas has already passed general tort reform laws.

Legislators have heard that it may not be necessary to call a special session this year to deal with the recent Supreme Court Lake View ruling.

The state will continue paying the shortfall resulting from the new Medicare drug benefit program through March 17. So far, costs are approaching $5 million.

Pine Bluff voters, by a 62% margin, have approved a millage increase for public schools. The measure will allow the district to consolidate its campuses from 15 to 10, and construct an honors academy building at Pine Bluff High School.

Helen Walton has donated $20 million to the College of the Ozarks.

The Van Buren School Board voted unanimously Monday to uphold the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate Steve Jones, a Coleman Junior High teacher and the father of Jacksonville Jaguar Matt Jones, for missing a meeting over a year ago and leaving a meeting early in January. Jones sent an email critical of school administrators to a state lawmaker.

The Villonia school district has included a new $20 million high school in it’s ten year facilities master plan. Officials say that might be addressed in 2009. The district will have about $600,000 in immediate projects.

The trial of Anthony Sanchez in Norman, Oklahoma for the 1996 murder of Benton ballet student Julie Buskin continues with testimony about athletic shoes supposedly worn by the killer. Two jurors have been dismissed from hearing the case and replaced by alternates.

A group of bankers will study funding options for the city to build a minor league ballpark. The Springdale City Council will allow bond underwriters to study a cost for the ballpark and possible public funding. The park is estimated to cost between $25 million and $30 million and could attract a AA minor league baseball team.

Not Matt Jones dad!!!!

Here is the tale of how a teacher gets fired from the Van Buren district. This is more evidence that the State Department of Education will be well within its; rights by taking over every nickel-and-dime rural district in Arkansas. They are all totally corrupt and beyond redemption.

The guy, Steve Jones, according to news reports, is the father of Jacksonville Jaguar Matt Jones. He was a teacher at Coleman Junior High. Unbelievably, Jones appears to have a legitimate gripe.

Real all about it in the Southwest Times Record.

All this Mr. Jones ever did wrong was send a critical e-mail to the state representative charged with representing his district. Here's that story.

Jones was terminated for leaving a meeting that was already over. Another teacher left early and that individual was not terminated. The district tried to rehire Jones. None of this was relevant evidence according to the school administration.

Fortunately for Jones, and bad news for all us taxpayers who always end up paying the price of idiot administrators, he is represented by counsel.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Valentine Day Tradition

At noon today on WAI Radio.com, I will again tell the CHIP THE TALKING BEAR story. Must hear it!!

Valentine/Anniversary update

Voters in Pine Bluff will decide on a school millage today. If the measures pass, the cost to taxpayers will be 25-cents a day for the owner of a house valued at $100,000. Patrons are being asked to vote for an additional 4.5 mills for debt service and to extend 10.2 mills reserved for retiring existing indebtedness by 18 years.

The bake sales paid off for Midland. That school district will stay open thanks to patrons generosity and a recently passed millage. Eudora will be merged with Lakeside.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors will review a proposed $168 million bond package today and discuss setting a May 23 election date for voters to decide on its fate. While the package totals about $168 million, voters will be presented five items on the ballot to be voted on separately.

Kelsey Gadberry, a cheerleading captain and homecoming queen at Little Rock Central High School, had a blood alcohol content of 0.282, more than three times the 0.08 legal limit, and cocaine in her system when she crashed her silver Chevy Tahoe on Feb. 2.

Eddie Sutton may have coached his last game, a 35-year career possibly ending six victories short of 800 because of a traffic accident in which he was injured and cited for driving under the influence.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas has a story based on its’ Freedom of Informaiton request on an internal investigation into the hiring of a clerk in the Rogers Police Department, despite her admission of drug use and stealing on previous jobs, and having failed one pre-employment lie detector test. Sheila Villalpando is accused of stealing $2,000 in cash fines.

Attorney general candidate Robert Herzfeld called Monday for changes to a state tax-increment financing law that was passed in 2005 and sponsored by another candidate for attorney general, Rep. Dustin McDaniel, D-Jonesboro. Tax-increment financing, or TIF, can be used by city or county governments to divert some of the property taxes to real estate developers.

Seeking to defuse a potential “negative attack” against him, lieutenant governor candidate Tim Wooldridge said he regrets introducing a bill 11 years ago to institute public hangings on courthouse lawns and wouldn’t do it again.

The Conway Log Cabin Democrat reports on Monica Strack, possibly the oldest active volunteer in Arkansas. At 101, Ms. Strack can still be found helping people at the Conway Regional Medical Center.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The interview with Dustin McDaniel is now in the FREE "on demand" archives at WAI Radio.com. We cover lots of ground, especially on the Medicare drug benefit and prescription drug assistance for the 400,000 Arkansans with no health coverage. He talks about the check cashing scam and the Lake View decision too.

I did make one screw-up. I had somehow forgotten McDaniel's unfortunate role in passing legislation to allow TIF districts, which steal from public schools. Still, a decent interview. What do you think?

Monday rush

Ron Silva, who heads Filmore Equity in San Francisco and will soon be running Beverly Nursing Homes in Fort Smith, is concerned about the “business climate” in Arkansas and demands special additional “tort reform” for nursing homes or he will pull the corporate headquarters and 800 jobs out of Arkansas.

Ann Coulter, the conservative commentator who recently called for the assassination of a Supreme Court Justice in Little Rock, will be at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville Wednesday evening. College Republicans are among the sponsors.

Today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that there may be a petition drive to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages at restaurants in Arkadelphia.

Brian Ingram of Mena plans to sell some of the money from the D. B. Cooper highjacking of a Northwest Airlines flight in 1971. Ingram was eight years old when he found the currency on a river bank in rural Washington state.

The Mayflower School Board has set a millage increase election for April 11. The elementary school has been adding around 100 students each year.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre is planning a $3.5 million production based on the Designing Women television series for the 2006 – 2007 season, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

James Jeffries remains in a Little Rock hospital after a Friday evening incident in which he ran his vehicle off a capitol city street, clipped a power pole and crashed into a nearby house. Jeffries fled the scene on foot but was returned by an office duty officer and placed in the back seat of a police whch. He subsequently kicked the rear window out of that car and attempted to flee, but restrained him strapping his legs together. Jeffries was placed in a second police car and was shot with a Taser while trying to kick the back window out of that car. It is reported that he tested positive for PCP’s at UAMS.

Dangerous Times

I guess you have heard by now that the Vice-President shot a man in Texas while they were hunting. I guess it's no big thing and we certainly would never impose the rules and laws which might apply to regular people to our blameless Republican masters.

I also note that Ann Coulter, who recently called for the assassination of a United States Supreme Court Justice, is in Fayetteville this week.

I guess it's OK for her to say whatever she wishes about us liberal "non-persons," but I would not go hunting with her.

UPDATE: Of course, the Humane Society is not amused, but there are some interesting details of Dick Cheney's previous hunting practices which should be condemned by all serious spotrsmen. The Chicago Tribune has it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

More trains?

Of course, there is no real chance for a sensible transportation policy in the United States because that is not in keeping with the owners of government. Nonetheless, according to the latest Harris Survey, Americans do know what works and they know what they want.

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Feb. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- As personal travel and freight transportation grows in the future, the American public would like to see an increasing proportion of that traffic going by rail. Commuter and long- distance trains top the list of nine modes of transportation that adults would like to see "have an increasing share of passenger transportation." When it comes to freight, railroads top the list of six modes of transportation that adults would like to see "have an increasing share of all goods and commodities movements in the United States."

Read it all here.

What's good for big business ...

This story in the Los Angeles Times is the strangest and, I think, funniest thing I have seen today.

Maybe it's isn't so funny.

What are things like when business runs absolutely everything? Read it yourself. Laugh or cry. Post a reaction in the "comments" below.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A snowy day

Ken Ziegenbein took some very cool pictures around the Brinkley Union Depot yesterday. The above scene is at the old MoPac station in Monroe, Arkansas.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Beverly Outrage

There is today reported in the Southwest Times-Record a grim and sinister plot to hold every nursing home resident in Arkansas hostage so that 600 people in Fort Smith might be able to keep their jobs.

Here's the deal. The new owners at BEI are concerned about the "business climate" in Arkansas, as if we had not already given the story away to the Stephens interests, the Waltons, the timber people, Entergy, natural gas companies, the chicken lobby and Farm Bureau. For the love of all that is holy and right, what more do they want?

Ron Silva, from Filmore Equity in San Francisco, will soon be running things at Beverly and his tone bears the superioristic authoritarian tone of a real smart-ass. Here is a quote from Mary Crider's story in the Times-Record.

"I'm going to give these ladies and gentlemen food for thought. ... For those interested in learning about the nursing home industry, I plan to offer to open the doors and show them what we do. What we need to do is stop being attacked. And if that can't happen, we'll pick up our toys and move on."

Toys? That says a lot about one man's vision of the business structure which provides essential medical care to the most fragile members of our society, the elderly. To Silva, Beverly is a "toy." Professional staff is a "toy." Residents? They are all like little make-believe soldiers on Silva's imaginary battlefield.

I don't think I am nitpicking here. His approach to a serious matter and undisguised arrogance brings his qualifications for leadership into question.

Silva has called a secret meeting of local government leaders and Chamber of Commerce. The message is that the headquarters will move without "tort reform."

While I hate to get all bogged down with facts, but this is very important.

The Arkansas General Assembly already passed "tort reform" legislation making it harder for injured parties to bring lawsuits. What this California wise guy wants is SPECIAL "tort reform," which would go far beyond what is available to any other business in Arkansas.

His wicked proposal will have the effect of making nursing home residents completely helpless against the large corporation which decides how much food will be served, how many nurses will be hired, and how often sheets will be washed.

70% of the residents in Arkansas' nursing homes are on Medicare of Medicaid, s this is an important issue of public concern. Business already gets every break under the sun here, so it seems more than brutal that a bunch of out-of-state corporate bullies would attempt to negotiate a deal while holding a gun at the head of every older person in this state.

Such tactics are past despicable.

MEMO TO FORT SMITH COMMUNITY LEADERS: When Ron Silva moves into your town, you couldn't ask for a better neighbor.

Greenwood's Fine Public Schools

Most of you who have children can be grateful that they are not captive to such a totally backwards crew as the motley crew that run things in lovely Greenwood. This is the school district that puts such a high premium on football that the head coach gets the full ride for health insurance for himself and his family. That is over $500 per month and the benefit is not available to instructors of mere academic courses. Head coach Rick Jones salary is reported on the district web site at over $77,00 annually.

I suppose we should be grateful that the superintendent, Kay Johnson, is so unashamedly blunt in her derision of any serious learning and her slavish attachment to football.

She was extensively quoted in the Southwest Times-Record .

"It was made to encourage him to stay here,"Johnson told 12 members of the committee who attended Wednesday;s meeting. "Have you all been to a football game? It's a community happening and two years ago it wasn't."

She then asked if any committee members watched the Super Bowl and then she explained that a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl cost $2.5 million.

"Our society places a big emphasis on sports," Johnson said. "We're just a reflection of our community and our society."

That kind of talk must make Greenwood patrons darned proud. Had a gut full yet? Johnson is not bashful about insulting every teacher in her district.

"You teachers have got an influence over your students," Johnson said. "I hate to tell you that when a coach says something to them it means a whole lot more."

At the beginning of this year, teachers were told the district could not afford to replace ink cartridges for computer printers, so teachers would be responsible for that. Oh, and did I mention that the Greenwood schools is able to come up with over $500,000 for Astroturf on the football field? No kidding.

OH, yeah. the district can raise private donations so the ball players have Astroturf, so why not basic classroom supplies? Of course, there is no logical reason.

The Times-Record also reports that the assistant superintendent is Kay Johnson's brother and some teachers feel intimidated by him. Lovely.

Of course, the jock's parents feel as they are being persecuted, as if school is for something other than learning.

"Unfortunately, the communication that everyone has read or heard regarding this issue has been one sided and I think it is time for the silent majority to show their support of our school board making the right decision." states as e-mail sent by Bob Beams.

"Rick Jones is an excellent teacher, even though he does not teach in a traditional school room setting doesn't mean, to those that have been taught by him or know of him, that he is any less of a teacher of our children."

Beams is apparently a member of the booster club. It appears that, with the administration's help, they tried to trick teachers out of attending a special board meeting in which the outrageous policies of the Greenwood district were to be discussed.

If that is what the "silent majority' in Greenwood thinks, then they are obviously not capable of running their own local schools. This may be my Catholic school upbringing showing through, but any of these jokers would have been laughed out of any of administrators of the schools I attended.

AG candidate Dustin McDaniel is set for Pat classic Monday morning at 10. This rounds out the field of Democrats in that race and we have been talking with Gunner DeLay's people.

Steve "Wildman" Wilson from the Game and Fish Commission is on Tuesday morning.

I plan to air out the proposed asbestos legislation early in the week. It's important, so keep up here.

Log on for Pat Classic "live" weekdays 9 to 1, and if you miss a show, it's always available in the FREE "on demand" archives.

Today's interview with Democratic candidate for Governor, Bill Halter, is in the WAI Radio.com archives. Downloads are free and easy to drag over to your mp3 player. Halter proved himself to be a capable politician, but you need to hear it for yourself.

Mark the Magician also has some insight on this weekend's race card at Oaklawn.

The archives also feature AG candidates Paul Suskie and Robert Herzfeld. Voices page editor Meredith Oakley is also in the archives along with Democrat-Gazette cartoonist John Deering. There is a load of great Pat Lynch commentary, including my thoughts on the Greenwood public schools at the open of the 10 AM hour today (Friday).

Our archives are full of wonderful programs going all the way back to last July.

A crisp Friday morning

Kay Johnson, the Greenwood School Superintendent, is quoted in the Southwest Times Record defending the decision to pay dependent health care for the high school football coach, a benefit not available to other faculty members. She asked if any school board members watched the Super Bowl and explained that a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl cost $2.5 million. “Our society places a big emphasis on sports,” Johnson said. “We’re just a reflection of our community and our society.” The district is also spending $600,000 on Astroturf for the football field.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports 49 school districts failed to apply for a federal program last year, and have left an estimated $4 million in money for new telephone and computer connections to go to other states since 1998.

State Treasurer Gus Wingfield will not seek re-election to a second term

The gunshot that killed Benton ballerina Julie Buskin was touch her skin when it was fired according to testimony in the trial of Castillo Sanchez who is accused of the 1996 murder in Oklahoma City.

A police officer posing as a deliveryman for FedEx arrested four people on drug charges Wednesday afternoon after they accepted packages containing marijuana. The snitch was a drug dog at the FedEx hub in Texas.

Keiser Police Chief Jimmy Bohannon Jr. was arrested in Osceola on felony drug and burglary charges

An employee at Adult World at Palestine, who was arrested twice last year, was arrested again Wednesday for violating the same state laws regarding the sale of obscene films. In December, the company that owns Adult World entered a guilty plea and was fined $40,000 in an agreement to protect employees.

A Little Rock mother who stabbed her boyfriend to death about two years ago needs to start setting a good example for her children, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza said Thursday in sentencing her to five years of probation, a $500 fine and anger management classes after a guilty plea to manslaughter. She could have gotten 10 years.

The Jefferson County jail is expected to open on schedule in November with beds to accommodate 304 prisoners.

The U.S. Postal Service facility on Race St. In Jonesboro will soon be named for Hattie W. Caraway, the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate and the first Arkansan to appear on a commemorative stamp.

The Boeing Co. says that it will close its Melbourne operation, which has 103 employees, later this year.

Robert Herzfeld, a candidate for AG, was in the studios for an hour Thursday morning and, if you missed it, the program is already in the FREE "on demand" archives. Herzfeld talked about his term as Saline County Prosecutor, ethics, payday lending, school reform and more. Check it out.

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Halter stops by the WAI studios this morning at 9, so be logged in!

Mark the Magician will have the Oaklawn weekend preview at 10:20.

Throughout the program, Carole Kramer will update the day's happenings. This morning, I have the latest from our special investigative reporter, Bigdaddio. Get ready for the Top Ten Pieces of Advice Tommy Smith gave Carole Kramer.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Is there Hope?

This is the scene at the Hope, Arkansas airport as observed by one of my best and most observant listeners, Doug McDowell of Neighborhood Wine and Spirits in North Little Rock. Pretty amazing, huh? All these mobile homes for people displaced by Katrina.

Spring is coming and tornado season. It would be interesting if ... nah, not possible.

Thursday Capsule

United States Senator Blanche Lincoln calls the newly discovered plan in the Bush budget to privatize Social Security “un-American.”

The Democratic Party of Arkansas questioned whether Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson complied with federal law when he entered into negotiations to work for a lobbying firm before he left his job at the Department of Homeland Security.

Although Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privitt was arrested on misdameanor charges directly related to his duties as mayor, he would not comment on the alleged misuse of state prisoners with which he is charges. Also at the special city council meeting last evening, Chief of Police Jay Campbell, who is facing numerous felony charges, resigned.

Aaron Sadler of the Stephens Media Group reports Former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers has called for public financing of political campaigns as a way to curtail corruption in Washington, D.C.

There will be a Federal Court hearing in Little Rock Friday seeking to stop Pine Bluff from hiring a new police chief to replace Danny Moses, who claims the city discriminated against him when it learned that he had cancer.

Today’s morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports that Rogers police officers didn't use force very often last year but, when they did, Hispanics bore the brunt. A review of 36 use-of-force reports involving 39 civilians filed by officers last year showed 24 of those civilians were Hispanic.

A joint investigation by Clarksville police and the Johnson County Sheriff's Department led to the arrest of three X-Mart Adult Supercenter workers for allegedly promoting obscene material, a Class D felony punishable by a possible six years in the Arkansas Department of Correction sentence and a fine up to $10,000.

Nine Faulkner County gas wells on the Fayetteville Shale Gas play are already flowing, according to the Log Cabin Democrat. Nearby Van Buren County already has a dozen producing gas wells.

From the Dallas Morning News: Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn are quietly urging airline and government leaders in North Texas to come up with a compromise on allowing long-haul flights at Dallas Love Field. The Texas Republicans have delivered a clear and sober warning: Figure out a solution that is acceptable to the region, or Congress might overturn the Wright amendment in a fashion that could be distasteful to almost everyone.

Singer Patrick Hall of Gravette performed on American Idol in the first round last night, and he’s through to the group part of the competition in Hell Week.

From the Pine Bluff Commercial: A Pine Bluff man who apparently tried to run after being involved in an accident was jumped on by a dog, hit a fence, ran head on into a police car and was sprayed with pepper spray, all in the same incident. Franklin Columbus Jr. told officers he was afraid of being extradited to Georgia, where he was wanted on numerous warrants for assault, aggravated assault and domestic battery.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sen. Lincoln Criticizes Bush Plan to Privitize Social Security

In scanning many newspapers online, there is much concern about proposed federal cuts in most cities and states. New York City faces a drastic cut in heath care, Medicaid has already been savaged, and farm programs will suffer. While proposing energy independence, he slashes $100 million from conservation programs. Anti-meth enforcement in Arkansas will stop under terms of this budget. About the only good news I have seen is the $700 million grant to Dallas Area Rapid Transit. The poor and vulnerable, the old, and working people are paying for an endless "war on terror" and tax breaks for the wealthiest few Americans.

There is a new outrage and I do appreciate our Senior Senator, who has taken a much more independent and respectable stance than Senator Proyr has expressed so far. Here is the Senator's release on the latest Bush scheme to fatten up his Wall Street buddies.

Washington - In light of recent reports that President Bush has slipped a plan to privatize Social Security into his Fiscal Year 2007 budget, U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) today issued the following statement:

"At first glance, we knew this budget was bad for the country. We just didn't know how bad.

"I'm appalled that the President would again try to privatize Social Security by inserting a line item into his 2007 budget. It's outrageous that he would include this provision after his privatization schemes were rejected last year by an overwhelming majority of Americans, not to mention by members of his own party. His attempt to slip Social Security privatization into this year's budget is frankly un-American."

God bless Blanche.

Robert Herzfeld, Saline County Prosecutor and Democratic candidate for Attorney General, will be on the Thursday Pat Classic at 11. We will have the weekly Washington update from Senator Blanche Lincoln at 10:30. Carole Kramer has the news and, thanks to investigative reporter Bigdaddio, you will learn the Top Ten Pieces of Advice Randy Rainwater gave Carole Kramer before she took the gig.

Wednesday's Woes

School districts will soon be paying more into the state teacher retirement system. Starting July 1, the rate will increase one full percentage point to 15% of total payroll. That will bring in an additional $20 million each year.

Mayor Thomas Privett has called a special meeting of the Lonoke City Council for late this afternoon to discuss the arrests of himself and the chief of police earlier this week.

Conway’s City Council may consider “impact fees” to pay for expanding sewer service. Conway already uses those fees to pay for some street extensions.

A proposal to charge LeFlore County inmates for their time behind bars potentially will mean thousands of dollars for the new jail trust authority, but not enough to erase an expected $400,000 shortfall, officials say. The charge would be about $36 per day.

President Bush's budget proposal to dramatically cut funding for methamphetamine enforcement and lab clean-up threatens Arkansas' effort to combat the drug. Arkansas relies on federal grants to pay for 19 anti-drug task forces and receives about $3 million annually.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports that a little known Canadian firm = joined the growing list of drillers, independent producers and wildcatters snapping up leases in the Fayetteville Shale, the booming natural gas play that stretches across much of western Arkansas. Storm Cat Energy Corp., based in Vancouver, British Columbia, has entered an agreement with an unnamed "privately held company" to buy oil and gas leases in Van Buren, Searcy and Pope counties.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he won't run for president in 2008 because his time is occupied with Hurricane Katrina recovery.

The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association has named sports columnist Harry King 2005 Arkansas sportswriter of the year. Paul Eells of KATV in Little Rock, the football play-by-play voice of the Arkansas Razorbacks, is the state's sportscaster of the year.

Linda Caillouette has this tid-bit in today’s Democrat-Gazette’s Paper Trails column. Singer, songwriter and pianist Patrick Hall of Gravette recently auditioned in Las Vegas before American Idol’s judges and he is one of 175 hopefuls going to Hollywood. No word yet on whether Hall is one of the final 24, but the Jan. 16 People magazine quotes Abdul as saying one of the strong male contenders is a guy named Patrick.

The Face of Evil

BFI Waste Services, the garbage people, has budgeted $25,000 this year to expand a landfill vehemently opposed by southwest Little Rock residents. So desperate to have its' corporate way is this unprincipled bunch of corporate thugs that they illicitly took over a local neighborhood organization by sending employees to a community meeting for the purpose of taking over the organization by lying about where they live.

The latest appalling tactic is reported in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

This is a shady bunch and you can get the whole disgusting and incredible story in my Feb 2. interview with Jim Lynch (no relation), who is President of the Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods. Check out the FREE "on demand" archives of WAI Radio.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

United States Senator Mark Pryor's weekly press briefing will be at 10:30 Wednesday morning. Of course, WAI will have it "live."

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial cartoonist John Deering will come over at 11, if he can pass through the rioting mobs. Being a cartoonist is no cush job these days. Of course, Kramer keeps us posted on latest happenings. Pat Classic is on WAI Radio.com weekdays 9 to 1.

If you can't listen to the "live" streaming broadcast, remember that every hour is posted in the FREE 'on demand" archives at WAI Radio.com.

Attorney General candiate Paul Suskie visited on Pat Classic during the noon hour today. You can hear the entire hour in the WAI Radio.com FREE "on demand" archives. He talked about ethics, pay day lender laws, and the Lake View case.

Tuesday Turmoil

A series of arrests related to drugs, sex and the abuse of a state inmate program rocked Lonoke, as the police chief Jay Campbell, his wife, the Mayor Thomas Privett and two bail bondsmen were taken into custody. Prosecutor Lona McCastlain expects further charges to be filed in an investigation which has been going on for six months.

Castillo Sanchez has gone on trial in Oklahoma City for the Christmastime 1996 abduction, rape, and murder of Arkansas ballerina Juli Busken. Prosecutors says DNA evidence connects Sanchez to the case.

Clint Reed, the executive director of the state Republican Party on Monday asked Attorney General Mike Beebe to disclose whether he’s made political fundraising calls in his state office with the aid of state resources.

Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe says Oklahoma “mischaracterizes” its dispute with the poultry industry. Beebe is asking the Supreme Court to halt Oklahoma’s federal lawsuit against poultry companies in Arkansas and take its complaints about river pollution to the Arkansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commission.

You may be surprised when you assess personal property at the County Clerk’s office. The state now subscribes to a service called Primemedia, which contains the proper value for automobiles. It should save the state about $300,000 fixing errors.

Gravette's superintendent hopes school can resume Wednesday, two days after fire damaged a junior high school classroom and spread smoke through buildings where 760 children attend classes.

The Bikes, Blues & BBQ festival brought in generally good reviews and an estimated $52.1 million to Fayetteville's economy in September 2005, according to a University of Arkansas study. That is based on an estimated total attendance of 300,000.

The state of Bill and Hillary Clinton's union is apparently strong - at least judging by the mongo diamond that Hillary was sporting on her ring finger yesterday. Sources say the former President quietly gave the iceberg-sized bling - thought to exceed 3 carats - to his wife months ago, in advance of their 30th wedding anniversary on Oct. 11 last year.

As many as 35 head of cattle are still missing from an accident that occurred early Friday morning on Interstate 40 near Palestine. Traffic was tied up for hours after an 18 wheeler crashed into the median area to avoid hitting a van in heavy fog.

Monday, February 06, 2006

LR Radio Giants

Clear Channel has owned what is, on paper anyway, a major cluster of broadcast facilities which include Magic 105 and KSSN. CC also has another 100 kw Class C which was formerly KOLL 95, and the Mix and now plays a black gospel format. Citadel has owned two Class C FM stations, B-98 and Power 92 along with KARN Newsradio and the Arkansas Radio Network. Citadel has been the more successful operation from a revenue standpoint.

Clear Channel is the largest broadcast corporation in America, perhaps on earth.

The "merger" with Disney properties today in a $2.7 Billion deal, makes Citadel the third largest broadcast company.

All this means that Little Rock commercial radio will be even more entertaining, diverse, community oriented. Although it is hard to imagine it, get ready for better talent and more creative formats.

OK, maybe I am having too much fun. I wish them all well.

BREAKING NEWS: Lonoke City Officials Arrested

Fox 16 is breaking a major story concerning arrests of the Lonoke Mayor Tom Privett and Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell and three others on a stack of charges. Fox 16 will have further developments at its' regularly scheduled 9 PM newscast.

The Arkansas Times Blog has further also. Max and the gang have been doing a tremendous job on this one too. Here it a portion.

We've learned that additional arrests include the chief's wife, Kelly Campbell; Little Rock bail bondsman Bobby Cox, and Larry Gene Norwood, also once a bondsman.

Lonoke Prosecutor Lona McCastlain is driving the probe. She had assistance from State Police. The investigation grew out of complaints about misuse of state prisoners housed at the Lonoke jail. But the charges include theft of services (the single misdemeanor count against the mayor); theft of property and theft by receiving (among others against the police chief); manufacturing controlled substances and burglary, among others against the chief's wife; terroristic threatening, among others against bondsman Cox, and a conspiracy count against Norwood. All this according to the State Police.

All the suspects have bonded out of the county jail.

Hell, even my old friend Matilda has gotten in on this story.

Arkansas Business has a report today that tells a lot about the good things happening behind the scenes. The report is so complete and generally flattering that I thought you would want to read it and get a peek at our "trendy suite in a west Little Rock office building."

Very big things are happening and those of you who are addicted to blogs will be able to follow it all on the new WAI Radio Blog, which is also linked to your left.

Bush v. Science

I don''t normally get into this sort of thing here, but today's White House briefing in the Washington Post is pretty darned amazing. Let's start off with the President's abuse and misuse of science. Now, to come completely clean, I did not make too many new friends among serious academics with my recent column on intelligent design, but I would keep the philosophical and theological aspects out of public schools. Get off my case, compared to Bush and his cronies, I am enlightened.

There is also a passage on the matter of government eavesdropping. It is very readable and very much worth your time. The nutshell version is that, since no useful information has come from the illegal listening, it is plainly unconstitutional. Somebody tell our Senators and Congressmen.

Monday developments

Today’s Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports that Legislators expect to learn enough from three upcoming hearings to design sufficient legislation to respond to the state Supreme Court's latest school finance ruling. Members of the House and Senate Education Committees have scheduled three meetings this month - the first meeting is scheduled Tuesday - to hear testimony about the high court's December decision declaring public school funding unconstitutional.

Jerry Dingman, commander of the Special Investigations Unit of the Arkansas State Police, says that state and federal charges will likely be filed as the result of a recently completed investigation of corruption in the Marmaduke School District. Last year, the superintendent unexpectedly retired and the elementary school principal was fired.

The number of Arkansas college and university students who require remedial course work last fall is the lowest in more than a decade, but still more than half of first-time students were placed in the catch-up classes.

Con-Agra is selling its’ plants in Ozark, Huntsville, and Jonesboro as part of a nationwide corporate restructuring which will take the Omaha, Nebraska based company out of the refrigerated meats business. The sale includes the Butterball, Eckrich and Armour brands.

Gov. Mike Huckabee led the nation's governors Friday in protesting federal Department of Defense consideration of forced reductions in the Army and Air National Guard.

Federal wildlife officials say they won't relocate Florida panthers to Arkansas without public support and Arkansas wildlife officials have said the panther wouldn't be welcome.

A former employee of Anderson’s Discount Pharmacy in Fort Smith is accused of bilking more than $400,000 from the company during the last four years. Patsy Ann Norton, the store’s former office manager, was arrested on suspicion of theft by deception.

The Pine Bluff Arsenal and the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program will be conducting an exercise Wednesday to simulate an emergency scenario involving chemical weapons at the arsenal.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mildly Super Bowl

Commercials were he worst ever, but at least the Republicans have squeezed every bit of fun and humor out of American life. I sometimes forget that WE ARE A NATION AT WAR and there are no jokes. Alas, Bigdaddio did not get the memo. Here is his latest irreverent rant.

top ten quotes following the superbowl:

10) peyton manning: "frickin' teenage depression!"
9) matt hasselback: "no, it's my brother that's tapping the hot girl on the view!"
8) the line judge: "holding, seattle! ...what's that, the game has been over for five minutes? never mind!"
7) mike holmgren: "does anybody remember that rogaine ad i did about five years ago? do you see this solar collector still on the crown of my noggin?!"
6) bill cowher: "please step back, i'm gonna really stick my chin out now!"
5) troy palumalu: "does anyone want to french braid?"
4) hines ward: "i won the mvp! who the hell am i?!"
3) shawn alexander: "did we forget to pay somebody off? ...ooooh, for the good old days at alabama!"
2) terry bradshaw: "enjoy it ben! i had hair my second year in the league too!"

and the #1 quote following the superbowl: jerome bettis: "i bought new levis last week, and i got 48's...they felt so dam good i went back and got 50's!"

Energy independence more fantasy than reality

Morning News of Northwest Arkansas
Saturday, Feb 4, 2006
By Wesley Brown

This is one of the most important opinion pieces written this weekend, and high time somebody told the flat-out truth about the president's so-called program for energy independence. Some of you may recall the grief Jimmy Carter got when he tried to tell the truth. Americans do not want a sensible energy policy and the President can not possibly be serious about it. Read what Wesley Brown has to say. Good stuff.

I am so damn proud!

The following appeared on the Voices page of the Democrat-
Gazette. It's not even about my column, which makes me hoot with laughter. This is for real and I know you will enjoy it as much as me. Remmeber, my column is in the Monday D-G on the Voices page in the Arkansas section, AND Voices editor Meredity Oakley is a guest on Monday's show at WAI Radio.com.

Here is the letter. (I'm so pleased I can hardly stand it.)

Pat Lynch crossed line

Pat Lynch should have his column suspended. In his recent e-mailing, he said Mitch Mustain made a tragic decision in choosing the University of Arkansas. Also, he said that Damian Williams had made the right choice in choosing a fine university such as Florida, that a brilliant college career awaited him there and the next step was playing in the NFL.
Well, all I can say is, if Pat likes Florida so well, why doesn’t he pack up and move there? Nobody will miss him in Arkansas.

If Mr. Pike does not like my newsletter or column, maybe HE should move.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Political season is heating up and I sincerely believe that the candidates are as excited as me. Pat Classic is on 9 to 1 at WAI Radio.com and, if you miss any program "live" it goes directly to the FREE 'on demand' archives. We have great interviews going all the way back to July!

Democrat-Gazette Voices page editor Meredith Oakley is on for Monday morning at 10. Paul Suskie, North Little Rock City Attorney who is also running for AG, is on Tuesday at noon. Get ready for Bill Halter Friday at 9, and there will be further additions so keep in touch! My daily newsletter is absolutely free of charge. Just drop me a note: pat@wairadio.com.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Little Rock radio's ORIGINAL Kramer joins Pat Classic beginning Monday. Yes, Carole Kramer seems to have worked just about everywhere else, so you will now be able to hear her melodious tones on WAI Radio.com. Carole will report all the news for Pat, so you need to be logged on. She will also have occasional secret assignments. Kramer is a very cool addition.

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