Sunday, April 30, 2006

You saw it here first...

The following was received by e-mail and I have confirmed that it did originate with Drew Pritt. The matter speaks for itself and is submitted without further comment.


Drew Pritt, a Democrat who withdrew earlier this month from the Lt. Govenor's race, had his personal website and email hacked and he suspects it was by someone connected to Bill Halter.

While Pritt is still gathering all the information for a possible lawsuit or ethics complaint, the perpetrators redirected Pritt's website to a fake page saying the account had been suspended. His email password was also changed. Also a fake news release was sent to a few people claiming Pritt was endorsing Mike Hathorn.

"This is ridiculous the level of dirty tricks that these out of state thugs have brought into the political process in our state," said Pritt.

Pritt says he is concerned that a victory by Bill Halter could severely weaken and hurt Mike Beebe's candidacy for Governor.

"We can't attack Asa Hutchinson for being a D.C. insider and a corporate money whore if we have Asa, Jr. on our own ticket running for Lt. Governor," said Pritt. "Its beyond an outrage to have Bill Halter running as an Arkansas Democrat. Now its turned into an insult."

Pritt said he is concerned about new facts that show many of Halter's contributors are financial supporters of George W. Bush and other Republicans.
He said he is also disinclined to believe the other three campaigns sabotaged his personal email and website.

"Why would they? What threat do I pose to their candidacies," asked Pritt. "Lets not forget I spent nine months with these guys travelling the state, listening to their philosphies, and debating their visions with my own. Bill Halter is a Johnny Come Lately trying to buy in and apparently now bully his way to a nomination!"

Pritt says he is also concerned at the compilation of serious questions that keep being raised about Bill Halter. Pritt noted :

1.) Bill Halter claimed he had the support of General Wesley K. Clark, and that was a lie.

2.) Bill Halter said he was running for Governor and accused the Mike Beebe campaign of spying on him. That proved to be a lie.

3.) Bill Halter raised a million dollars out of state and quite possibly illegally broke dozens of campaign finance laws when he switched races.

4.) Bill Halter claimed he fought the privatization of Social Security. That was proven to be a lie.

5.) Bill Halter claims to have been a resident of Arkansas even though he sought a Homestead Exemption on a Washington, D.C. home for two years.

6.) Bill Halter claims his lottery proposal is a qucik fix, but it costs twice as much as it produces.

7.) Bill Halter deceptively has a quote and picture of Bill Clinton on his website trying to insinuate he has the former President's quiet endorsement.

8.) Bill Halter will say or do anything to get elected.

"I am sure Bill Halter's spokesperson Bud Jackson will talk about some mistreatment of an animal, talk about a vast conspiracy, and say not true," said Pritt. "What is Not True are the words coming out of Bill Halter's mouth."

Pritt says he is actively urging all his supporters and other voters to cast their votes for any Democrat but Bill Halter.

"Bill Halter has not earned our vote in Arkansas," said Pritt. "Voters need to turn out for Early Voting and on May 23rd to tell this outsider who has lived in Washington, D.C. and California that Arkansas is not for sale!"

You may have heard of City Year Little Rock. We have a closer look Monday at 11. Peter Pikus is the Executive Director of City Year Little Rock, a capacity he has enjoyed since March 2005. In the role of Executive Director, Peter is responsible for the strategic direction, financial health, and programmatic impact of City Year Little Rock. Lizeth Sanchez is an alumna of City Year - serving in the Chicago program in 2002 - 2003 and as part of the Little Rock Start-Up Team in 2003 -2004. She has served as a Program Manager in Little Rock since the Fall of 2004. In addition to leading the team of corps members serving at 7th Street Elementary in North Little Rock, Lizeth is in charge of City Year's Young Heroes program, a leadership development, service learning program for middle school students.

We will be drying out Monday morning and Pat Classic streams "live" weekdays 9 to 1 on WAI If you can't listen in the morning, check out the archvies, which are linked from the WAI home page.

Furthermore, my column is on the Voices page of today's Democrat-Gazette. I am dealing with Jim Holt and his views on those nice people who have come here to do hard work. You will appreciate my "take."

The NFL Draft

Since Arkansas has just completed the best recruiting season in human history, and an SEC Division Championship and a BCS bowl lie ahead of us on January 1, 2008 (Yes, I am giving the freshmen a year for growth), let's check the NFL Draft anyway.

On second thought, let's not. Arkansas put ONE player in. ONE.

Tavaris Jackson, former Razorback and Alabama State QB, went in the second round.

Can you imagine a Jackson - Matt Jones connection? But our brilliant staff could not see it.

I am waiting for the turnaround. Waiting patiently.

Suskie campaign gets regional coverage

Down south, there is some notice of Arkansas politics. Much to the credit of Paul
Suskie, the unfavorable FERC rulings are getting covered els This from of Baton Rouge.

Louisiana’s high electric bills have become an issue in the Arkansas attorney general’s race.

Television ads by Democratic Party candidate Paul Suskie begin Monday and call for fighting a recent regulatory ruling that ordered Entergy Corp. to roughly equalize its production costs. Entergy’s Louisiana plants make electricity far more expensively than those in Arkansas.

The impact of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order means a $2 billion to $6 billion reduction in consumer bills in Louisiana here offset by a like increase in Arkansas.

“It is unfair that a political decision in Louisiana means Arkansans have to pay 20 percent more on their monthly utility bills,” Suskie said Friday.

The other three candidates in the May 23 election say they support Suskie’s position and likewise have plans to derail executing the FERC decision.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Looking for a car pool buddy?

Mandy Hanes was a guest today at noon. She has a great new service, and it was born out of necessity. The price of gas may have you thinking about sharing a ride to work. Mandy's web site, Little Rock Car Pools. will help you hook up with somebody to share the cost of gas. It's free and a very cool public service.

I have added this web page to my links section in the left hand column.

Freakin' Friday

A not guilty-plea was entered Wednesday for a Fort Smith woman suspected of beating a Van Buren nursing home patient. According to a police report, on March 17, 2003, two employees of Beverly Heathcare of Van Buren reported that they had seen Angela Phone Chaleunsack strike a 58-year-old patient several times. The man is developmentally disabled.

Two investigations are ongoing into the death of a developmentally disabled man who lived at the Alexander Human Development Center in Saline County. The death Monday of Leroy Johnson is being investigated by the State Police and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Ronnie Brewer put his name in the NBA draft but left the door cracked for a possible return to Arkansas by not hiring an agent, and after coach Stan Heath said, "Ronnie will always bleed Razorback red,"

A Springdale rally next week in support of immigration reform could attract from 10,000 or 13,000 participants. Nationally, Tyson Foods will close nine of its plants, in part because many workers will be at the rally, company officials have said.

Arkansas health officials have confirmed one case of mumps in White County and suspect another in Clark County, but emphasize that they are likely flukes.

Lieutenant governor candidate Mike Hathorn of Huntsville has filed 13 ethics complaints alleging 154 violations by candidate Bill Halter of North Little Rock. Halter calls it a “publicity stunt.”

Arkansas Times has been removed from the governor’s office list of news organizations to receive releases, schedules, and other information available to the media. In today’s Paper Trails in the Democrat-Gazette, Editor Max Brantley called it “punishment” for editorial positions he has taken.

Business owners who allow smoking in their establishments could be fined up to $1,000 along with any customers or workers caught smoking under draft regulations approved Thursday by the state Board of Health.

A group of bar owners sued the city of Fayetteville Thursday saying the local smoking ordinance is unconstitutional. The group is asking a judge to issue an injunction to stop the city from enforcing the two-year-old smoking ban until their complaints can be heard.

A Bentonville man convicted of killing his sister with a car while driving drunk in 1992, and who has two drunken-driving convictions since 2002, has been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Charles E. Perry, was taken into custody when he failed a sobriety test after being stopped because his vehicle did not have working tail lights. Perry spent time in prison after being convicted of negligent homicide, leaving the scene of a fatality accident and driving while intoxicated in connection with the July 1992 death of his sister.

A Lavaca man who allegedly twisted his 2-year-old son’s arm until it broke pleaded not guilty Wednesday to second-degree battery. Ellis Floyd Dulinsky was arraigned in Sebastian County Circuit Court. According to the Southwest Times Record, Dulinsky told police he found his son, Wayne, playing with a vacuum cleaner and pulled the boy’s arm away, then twisted it behind the boy’s back. Dulinsky did not tell the boy’s mother about the incident and did not take him to a doctor until three days later, at which time a spiral fracture was discovered.

A Fort Smith man who was caught carrying two pounds of cocaine was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison. Warner Mays III pleaded guilty in Sebastian County Circuit Court to possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A big-screen television was the motivation behind Little Rock’s 25th homicide of the year, according to police documents supporting the arrest of a 27-year-old Little Rock man Wednesday night on a first-degree murder warrant.

Personnel at the Pine Bluff Convention Center are again accepting bids to replace the arena roof, after they were informed that the company first chosen for the job did not have a license.

Former Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon is free from federal prison and building what is described as a “storm water management” business. Harmon will be on probation for the next three years. Harmon had been convicted of racketeering, extortion and numerous drug charges.

Russellville's Animal Control department picked up 65 pit bull terriers last year, Director Mike Vernon told the city council during its regular meeting last week. The department has already picked up 25 this year, and Vernon suggested an amendment to the city's vicious animals ordinance to keep any more pit bulls from being brought into the city limits.

Fort Smith Southside High School’s Science Bowl team is competing at the National Science Bowl in Washington that runs today through Monday. Southside will join 64 teams representing high schools in 42 states.

Temple Beth El in Helena-West Helena, the oldest synagogue in Arkansas, will hold its last worship service tonight before a private deconsecration service Saturday that symbolizes their disbanding and turning over the house of worship for secular use.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Max has been very naughty

As you have probably heard by now, the office of Governor Mike Huckabee has cut off Arkansas Times from its' list of working press to receive releases, schedules, and notices of interview availabilities. It may seem like a small thing, and seems indicative of the Governor's frequent pouty responses to legitimate criticism.

This has gotten a lot of discussion on the Arkansas Times blog.

This decision is more dangerous than may be immediately apparent, and let me explain.

There is a disturbing tendency among Soviet tyrants, Red Chinese dictators, European socialist elites, and other enemies of freedom to license and, thereby, control the free flow of information. By making an arbitrary and unnecessary judgment that a certain publication does not fit into some obviously elastic definition of "news organization," government attempts to exclude those with opinions which are inconvenient to the ruling party.

Journalism is, rightly, not a profession in the sense that medicine, law and accounting are practiced. We do not require specific academic credentials, we do not test our own members, nor are journalists subject to peer review. Any of this would be entirely subjective and the result would be nothing but a non-stop dog fight.

The freelance journalist, a category into which I fall, should have as much right to official timely information as the corporate giants.

It is a dangerous practice, and entirely against the notion of press freedom or free speech, for government to decide who shall get information. In other parts of the world, this technique is routinely used to silence press opposition. That means that the public only ever hears a certain "safe" and narrow perspective.

The founders,in their vast wisdom, left policing the press to the sovereign people and not the temporary office holders.

Thursday Morning Summation

Dillard's, the Little Rock retailer, says that it will build a 90,000-SF store at the Red Cliffs Mall in St. George, Utah. The department store, more than twice the size of the retailer's usual stores, is set to open in September. The store will feature a new home section and an expanded shoe area. Dillard's said the larger size will allow it to present an expanded selection of more upscale and contemporary fashions.

NY Times reports that Stephens family of Little Rock will be in the partnership led by Dean Singleton that will buy the San Jose Mercury and several other former Knight-Ridder newspapers that were unwanted by McClatchy in its purchase of K-R. Stephens' participation, says the Times, helps Singleton contend with potential anti-trust concerns for his growing ownership of newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Arkansas’ Sen. Blanche Lincoln pressed Wednesday to extend tax credits to companies that produce energy from crops and from farm byproducts — a bid to spur investment in alternative fuels.

University of Arkansas researchers will likely study water and sewer impact fees for Springdale. The Springdale Water and Sewer Commission sent a proposal back to the school's Center for Business and Economic Research so researchers can increase the scope of their study. Cities use impact fees to pay for costs related to growth in a region.

The Southwest Times Record reports that Fort Smith voters are being asked in the May 23 election to extend the 1 percent Lake Fort Smith wastewater treatment sales tax — which is expected to be retired in 2008 — until 2016 to fund a $170 million bond project. The revenue would finance a new city hall, sports complex, sanitary sewer wet weather improvements and a new public radio safety system.

The state Legislature isn't ready to pass a school voucher program, one of Arkansas' most widely known home schoolers said Wednesday. Former state Rep. Jim Bob Duggar of Springdale, a candidate for the state Senate, said he instead would favor a property tax credit on the residence of a family that chooses to school children at home or send them to private school.

The local NAACP is raising questions about the hiring of a principal for Conway’s new intermediate school. School board members said at this week’s meeting that they would respond to those questions when they were submitted in writing.

Thousands of people will take to the streets of Arkansas next week, with some skipping work and freezing purchases, to rally for a federal path to legalization for the nation’s 11 million illegal aliens. B

According to the Democrat-Gazette, the Little Rock homicide count for 2006 now stands at 25.

Thurman C. Russell offered him a boat if he would kill two people, a witness testified Wednesday at Russell’s murder-for-hire trial in Baxter County Circuit Court.

Central Arkansas Transit reports that it added about 500 additional daily riders this month since gas prices have increased.

The vast majority of rice in Northeast Arkansas has been planted and soon cotton and soybean planting will get under way in earnest, agricultural officials have told the Jonesboro Sun.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Thursday morning at 10:30, Senator Blanche Lincoln will have her weekly press briefing. I am expecting to hear from Lieutenant Governor candidate Mike Hathorn, who plans to file an ethics complaint against Bill Halter. Of course, I have a call out to the Halter campaign and I am very ready to hear what he has to say.

Carole and I will be mourning the loss of Kelli Pickler from American Idol and Carole keeps us up on the news. Of course, I have plenty of items that require my fine touch.

Pat Classic is on WAI weekdays 9 to 1. Log on and listen!

Don't forget the WAI archives, which are full of fine interviews and commentary.

Tanya Smith is the President of Turpentine Creek, a refuge for big cats. It's located right outside Eureka Springs and has its' own bed and breakfast and RV spaces available. Tanya has a great story and you will find it in the WAI archives. The crux of it is that she saves wild animals from the imbeciles who think they can make them into house pets. She and her husband Scott do very challenging work Check it out and visit the web site for Turpentine Creek.

Working Hard on Wednesday

Arkansas’ Mark Pryor and four other Senate Democrats called Tuesday for a “gas tax holiday” that would eliminate federal fees at the pump for two months.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. held its final public hearing Tuesday before deciding if Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, should be allowed to operate own industrial bank.

The Pulaski County Election Commission is making contingency plans if the manufacturer of new touch screen voting machines does not have needed software here in time for testing before May 8 early voting begins. Several Arkansas counties are experiencing similar problems.

Former state Rep. Mike Hathorn of Huntsville is accusing Bill Halter, an opponent in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, of violating state election laws by moving political contributions among several campaign accounts. In a letter to Halter, Hathorn cited 18 different alleged abuses of campaign finance laws.

More than 448,000 Arkansans have no health insurance, and they are less likely than insured people to receive health care when needed, according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Arkansas reportedly ranks 44th nationally in the percentage of insured adults.

A federal magistrate has found in favor of Saline County, rejecting arguments made by 37 sheriff ’s office employees in a July 2003 lawsuit that they were denied overtime pay and subjected to retaliation for complaining about it.

Officials in Forrest City have been inspecting the new air terminal, animal control, and multipurpose facilities with an eye to furnishing and completing all three major projects

The Arkansas Post Girl Scout Council will close for business in Pine Bluff at the end of May. The nine employees will be without jobs. The 15 counties the council serves will become part of the Ouachita Girl Scout Council with headquarters at North Little Rock.

Little Rock scored its’ 23rd homicide overnight.

Lawyers for a Fayetteville man accused of trying to join the Palestinian holy war against Israel have asked for another continuance as the sides negotiate a plea bargain. Arwah Jaber faces charges of knowingly attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is considered by the government to be a terrorist organization.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tuesday Downpour

Inmates at the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainee camp in Cuba are being treated fairly by the U.S. government, Gov. Mike Huckabee says after returning from a trip to the camp.

Mike Beebe's campaign defended the Democratic gubernatorial candidate against Republican charges he's wooing liberals for cash Monday as Beebe prepared to be guest of honor at a fundraiser at the home of a Beverly Hills billionaire. According to today’s Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Retired NATO Gen. Wesley Clark is host for the $100-a-person reception and $1,000-per-plate dinner tonight at the home of businessman Ron Burkle, who just last week raised nearly $1 million for New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's re-election campaign.

Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to redraw flood maps across the United States could stop development along the Arkansas River, according to Paul Latture, director of the Little Rock Port Authority in an interview with the Russellville Courier. Jeff Pipkin, director of the Arkansas River Valley Alliance for Economic Development says redrawing may raise elevations in some areas five feet.

Lieutenant governor candidate Jim Holt’s campaign manager said one of Holt’s Republican rivals — former U.S. Attorney Chuck Banks — is wrong in claiming that one of Holt’s proposals would deny emergency medical room services to illegal aliens.

An investment group from Taylor, Michigan has purchased the Union National Plaza Building in downtown Little Rock from the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement system for $3.1 million.

The Fayetteville Planning Commission will debate the future of a proposed 10-story development on Dickson Street during a special meeting next week. Opponents say the building will diminish Dickson Street's charm, and those who supported the project label it a sign of progress.

After a seven-year silence, the century-old clock tower atop Logan County’s Paris courthouse will chime again soon, County Judge Edgar Holt said. The Southwest Times Reocrd reports that restoration of the clock tower is part of a $3 million-plus historic renovation project that began about four years ago and will likely go on another four years.

Jay Greelen reports in today’s Democrat-Gazette that, except for the obvious places like nightclubs and the corner at the back of most Baptist churches where the deacons hide to smoke, bowling alleys are the last bastion for cigarette smokers.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Here Come Da' Judges

Job Serebrov, me and Ragan Sutterfield judged the debate contest at Little Rock Christian Academy tonight. As you can tell we had a load of fun. LRCA has a "sleeper cell" chapter of the Pat Lynch Fan Club!

Monday Movin' On ...

The deadline to register to vote in the Arkansas Primary Election on May 23 is today.

Starting this week, mobile disaster units will be open in four of the Arkansas counties hit by the recent storms. The centers will be set up by state and federal agencies in Lawrence, Fulton, Randolph, and Greene counties beginning Monday. More than $500,000 has been approved for disaster relief.

A new mental health policy for Arkansas prison inmates, unanimously approved by the Board of Corrections on Friday, will make it less likely that they will be held in sensory-deprived environments like the Varner Supermax Unit. The administrative regulation came about a month after prison officials, acting on the advice of a prison psychiatrist, removed “about eight” inmates from the supermax program at the prison in Lincoln County.

The Arkansas General Assembly has overridden Gov. Mike Huckabee’s veto of a $570,303 appropriation for specialists to improve science education in the elementary schools. Huckabee had urged the lawmakers not to override, saying he supported the program but the funds would be taken from an account that would be better reserved for future college scholarships. He said it would have been better to take the money from surplus state revenues.

Unemployment in Arkansas inched up to 4.8 percent in March, slightly higher than the 4.7 percent rate in February, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

First Bank Corp. pledged $1 million to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith’s College of Business last week.

Julian English of Pine Bluff, who allegedly shot another man at the Tyson processing plant on Jefferson Parkway Wednesday night and was then shot by police, will be held on a $1 million cash only bond, a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge ruled Friday. He is presently being treated at UAMS.

Authorities are investigating at least four white men for their alleged involvement in a cross burning last summer. Christopher Baird of Fouke pleaded guilty in federal district court in Texarkana to one count of conspiracy to interfere with the right to occupy a dwelling free from intimidation and interference based on race and color. The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division is looking into the Aug. 5, 2005, incident.

Little Rock notched its’ 22nd homicide of 2006 over the weekend.

A recently completed study shows the city of Cabot could collect $2.3 million annually in impact fees attached to new construction. If the city council approves the plan as drafted, the new revenue would be earmarked for roads, wastewater, parks and fire protection.

One of the state's most outspoken attorneys has had his law license suspended. The Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct voted 4-3 on Friday to suspend Oscar Stilley's license for six months. The committee said the Fort Smith attorney used "strident" language in a 2002 brief. Stilley said he plans to appeal.

Linda Caillouet reports in today’s Paper Trails in the Democrat-Gazette that somebody in the upper crust Hillcrest neighborhood in Little Rock is taking direct measures on the “cat problem.” Autopsies on two of the cats by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory reveal they were killed with.22-caliber bullets. Another cat was beaten, and a fourth one poisoned. A private investigator has been hired. The shootings apparently occurred within a block of Holy Souls School.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Here's One for LR City Hall

Since Max and the gang at the Arkansas Times blog have taken the weekend off, here is a little item I discovered in The Leader, a fine paper that services North Pulaski County and the surrounding area.

It looks like Cabot city leaders might be considering a sensible solution to the enormous costs of growth which greedy developers always try to put off on the rest of us. Check it out!

A Tribute to Jim Elder

Harry King writes a fantastic memory of my old friend, the late legendary sports broadcaster, Jim Elder in the Stephens Media Group papers today. The press box at Ray Winder Field bears the name of Mr. Elder and Jim Bailey: The Jim Box. I have made the dangerous trek across that cat walk and King well explains that a new ball park does not mean the end of tradition.

Harry treats us to a Elder story that I never heard.

I am sure that, although the old Millard Fillmore Building (as we sued to call it) on I-630 has been completely rearranged since KARN vacated five years ago, somebody probably still finds one of Elders' eyeglasses about once a week.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Soaked Stuff

Gov. Mike Huckabee and other state leaders from across the country will tour the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba today, his office announced late Thursday. The camp houses prisoners the U.S. government suspects have ties to al-Qaida. The U.S. Department of Defense invited the officials in an attempt to help department policy-makers in Cuba become better informed about “the intricacies of state prison systems,” the announcement said.

The Arkansas Legislature returns to the state Capitol today to attempt to override a gubernatorial veto and to officially end a special session on education.

An Arkansas State Police board convened Thursday to investigate the March 7 actions of a trooper who shot and killed a disabled man confused for an armed fugitive.

Ten farmers in Oklahoma will have their farms tested for pollution in Oklahoma's lawsuit against eight poultry companies. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson sued the poultry companies in June over pollution of the Illinois River watershed.

Four state law-enforcement agencies will receive $427,000 from a class-action lawsuit over their purchase of defective police body armor vests, the state attorney general's office said Thursday.

A prison psychologist, an unnamed 54 year old woman from North Little Rock, has been fired after being found having sex with an inmate in her office at the Cummins Unit,. The psychologist had been working at the maximum-security prison in Lincoln County for about a month when prison officials say she had sex with an inmate in her office on Monday evening.

Cynthia Howell reports in the Democrat-Gazette that civil-rights lawyer John Walker urged legislators Thursday to audit how the three Pulaski County school districts spent nearly $1 billion from the state in a 23-year-old school desegregation lawsuit. Members of the Litigation Reports Oversight Subcommittee of the Legislative Council, in turn, pressed Walker to provide a list by next month of what he believes needs to be done to bring the desegregation lawsuit to an end.

A report comparing prices of new textbooks at the state’s universities and a legislator’s criticism of certain textbooks used at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville led lawmakers Thursday to raise the prospect of enacting a law to govern textbook selection. At some colleges, the same text book can cost more than double what is charged at another.

Africanized honeybees, commonly known as killer bees, have been reported in Arkansas and could be in nearly one-fourth of the state's 75 counties by the end of the year, lawmakers heard Thursday.

With less than a month left to sign up for the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, more than 83 percent of those eligible have drug coverage, and Medicare officials announced Thursday that they have met their goal for enrollment.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit Wednesday, making Greers Ferry Lake the first Corps-owned lake in the country to feature powerboat races, said John Gray, executive director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce. The State Parks and Recreaction Commission has put off making a $25,000 grant to organizers of the event tentatively set for April 2007. Opponents, who urged the commission not to give away the grant money, fear the boat races will disturb the area’s environment and tranquility.

Tyson Foods Inc. closed its Pine Bluff poultry processing plant Thursday after an employee shot a co-worker before being shot himself by police officers inside the facility Wednesday night.

A 20 year old Little Rock man, Brandy Alexander, may be the city’s 20th homicide, if authorities conclude that he was killed inside the city limits. Alexander had erroneously been named at a suspect in a Sunday afternoon shooting at a local park.

Steve Jones, A former Van Buren teacher has amended his class-action lawsuit against the School District over uncompensated duties and filed additional claims alleging that he was unfairly dismissed from his position for making critical statements about the school district in violation of his civil rights. Jones is the father of Jacksonville Jaguars player Matt Jones. The district is seeking dismissal of the suit.

According to the Russellville Courier, the Russellville school district will receive an additional $691,200 before the end of the 2005-06 school year and an additional $1.4 million for the 2006-07 school year.

Entergy Corp. announced Thursday that its corporate headquarters, displaced eight months ago by Hurricane Katrina, will reopen in New Orleans next week. In addition, Entergy said it would establish new primary corporate locations in Little Rock and Hammond, La. The Little Rock office will serve as the utility's information technology operations center and the Hammond office will serve at the company's billing center.

An Indianapolis-based company plans on to build in Mississippi County -- just hours after the Quorum Court approved an incentive package. Justices gave the OK to the incentives at a special meeting, and officials with Roll Coater Inc. responded with plans to construct a 220,000-square foot steel-related facility in the Armorel area that will reportedly bring 100 new jobs.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Stormy Thursday Morning


The legislative plan to meet Friday is still “on.” There reportedly has been discussion of alternatives for funding a school science program, but lawmakers are still looking at an attempted veto override of a half-million dollars spending bill from the most recent special session.

A special task force of the Faculty Senate at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville has found that grades are going up steadily and there are instances of “grade inflation” on the northwest Arkansas campus. According to the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas students received the grade of A in almost 45 percent of their classes in 2004, compared to about 35 percent in 1994.

The state Board of Parole is recommending that Gov. Mike Huckabee grant executive clemency to a murderer who the governor came close to setting free nearly two years ago. Dennis L. Lewis was convicted of capital murder in the death of Springdale paDEVELOPING ... wnshop owner J.J. Cobb during a 1974 robbery when Lewis was 17.

An execution date could be set soon for Don Davis, who was convicted in the 1990 execution-style murder of a Rogers woman. Matt DeCample, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear an appeal regarding the Davis case.

A large group of Decatur students protested outside the high school Wednesday to say they don't feel safe without a police officer on the campus. Students say they want the district's superintendent to answer questions about why the district's resource officer was removed. Police Chief Terry Luker says school administrators haven't taken some incidents seriously and are not listening to employees' concerns about safety.

According to today’s Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Rogers Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Ronnie Peacock was "shocked" when he heard his job titles will eventually be separated. Rogers School Board members voted Tuesday to hire a non-coaching athletic director in the district.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday unanimously approved water conservation measures that fall between the existing least- and most-restrictive conservation measures. Steve Parke, utility director, said the new measure targets “elective” uses such as lawn and turf watering, to preserve water during drought conditions.

The Faulkner County Quorum Court is raising questions about delays in opening the new jail. The skylights reportedly leak and there have been problems with a computer system designed to control plumbing to the various cells.

Bella Vista Republican Burton Schindler's proposal for Benton County justices of the peace to collectively endorse County Judge Gary Black's re-election fell flat Wednesday with several of the elected officials whose support Schindler sought. But, according to the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, five justices of the peace who received Schindler's letter say they have misgivings about the collective endorsement of any candidate.

Plans for a tax increment financing district in Rogers may be over. Two of five major street projects in Rogers' tax increment financing plan are funded and with little hope of implementing a successful district that won't be challenged in court, the city is likely to drop the idea and look for other financing for the remaining projects, according to Rogers Mayor Steve Womack.

Springdale Voters will likely decide in July whether to build a minor-league ballpark. Chamber of Commerce officials could have a proposal to the Springdale City Council by May 23 to set a vote for July 11. The chamber also has a footprint plan of a proposed minor-league park in southwest Springdale that might be unveiled at that council meeting.

The 40 percent sewer rate increase proposed for Little Rock residents by next January will, instead, be phased in over five years.

Fourteen Southern Arkansas University fraternity members accused of hazing have settled out of court, according to the plaintiff’s lawyer. The plaintiff, Ty Keith, filed a lawsuit in 2004 that said fraternity members had beat him so badly in an off-campus occurrence that he spent 11 days in a hospital. Proceedings against the remaining defendants will go to trial in late November.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

David Sanders from the Stephens Media Group will have his political radar working Thursday morning at 9.

Leta Anthony is a poltical newcommer and she wants to take over the State House seat currently occupied by Joyce Elliott, who is term limited. Leta is black and progressive. Fine out more Friday at 10.

Next week will bring Chuck Banks in to talk about why he wants to be Lieutenant Governor. The folks from Turpentine Creek will be bringing some of their wild animals over.

Pat Classic is on WAI weekdays 9 to 1.

My friend Doug McDowell, proprietor of Neighborhood Wine and Spirits in North Little Rock, grabbed this photo of the scene in Murray Park after the Easter Sunday evening shooting. There had been a birthday party at the picnic table only minutes before.

Wednesday's Tops

Cynthia Howell’s lead story in the Democrat-Gazette reports that Arkansas’ public schools graduated an estimated 74 percent of students in the Class of 2003, bettering the national average of 70 percent, according to a study released today by researchers at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

The Stephens Media Group reports that Gov. Mike Huckabee defended Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Tuesday against criticism that uninsured employees of the world's largest retailer are putting a drain on Arkansas' Medicaid system.

As he considers a presidential run in 2008, Gov. Mike Huckabee is continuing to build a political committee that pays for his travels and early outreach to potential supporters. Huckabee filed a quarterly report for his Healthy America political action committee on Monday showing $63,900 in new contributions for the three-month period ending March 31. The committee, which is registered in Virginia, reported $129,027 in total cash at the end of the period.

Roby Brock reports that Wal Mart ad execs have fired Smiley, the highly recognizable yellow perfectly round spokesman. Expect more emotions in future promotions.

Skip Rutherford, the new Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas says he will work to raise the profile of the school when he starts work May 8. Rutherford’s annual salary will be $175,000.

The Rogers School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to hire a noncoaching athletic director for the district, whose starting date will be determined by recommendations from the administration.

A Fort Smith man with HIV was arrested after he spit on a hospice worker last week at a local hospital. Christopher Keith Forbis, a level three sex offender, was arrested on the same complaint in 1996 after he had sex with a woman without telling her he had HIV.

38 year old Donald Groning, the son of the Corning police chief, faces a first-degree battery charge in the baseball-bat beating of a 19-year-old Corning man during an Easter evening altercation set off by a racial slur, authorities said. The victim, Craig E. Matthews, was reported in serious condition at Regional Medical Center in Memphis. Police also charged the chief’s ex-wife, with hindering apprehension, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and tampering with physical evidence.

Little Rock has recorded homicide number 20 for 2006.

At the Jonesboro Sun’s latest count 37 mobile homes could be seen in a field on the north side of Marmaduke in a lot across U.S. 49 from Smoot Mobile Home Sales. The field is serving as a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers that are being transported from the Hope Municipal Airport.

The Little Rock Wastewater Utility staff likely will recommend a two-step, 39 percent increase in sewer rates to the Little Rock Sanitary Sewer Committee at its meeting today.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Park Shooting Update

Before I call it a day, there is an update on Easter evening's shooting at Murray Park near the dog enclosure. The Little Rock Police Department has taken some initiative to figure out why my cell call to 9-1-1 was at first directed to Garland County. I give them high marks for looking into something that might be a serious problem in the future. Of course, I will keep you updated.

UPDATED: Pritt Attacks Halter

Yeah. I know we all thought he was done, but Drew Pritt has surfaced with the following press release.

Pritt is a troublemaker. There's nothing wrong with that. The merits of his complaint will be decided elsewhere.

If memory serves me well, the legal concept of "residency" is not exactly cut and dried.

Drew Pritt, Democrat, who withdrew officially from the race for Lt. Governor on April 4th is filing a formal protest with the Arkansas Democratic Party asking that Bill Halter's name be withdrawn from the May 23rd Preferential Primary Ballot.

"Bill Halter can say he has resided in Arkansas but his business & professional activities show that Mr. Halter has been in California and Washington, D.C.," said Pritt. "Pursuant to Rule 21 of the Official Rules of the Arkansas Democratic Party and in the qualifications set down by the Arkansas Secretary of State's office concerning eligibility for office, Iam hereby challenging the right for Bill Halter to seek the Lieutenant Gvernor‚s office because he has not been a resident of the State of Arkansas. I further ask that he be removed from the May 23rd Democratic Preferential Primary Ballot as soon as possible."

Pritt is filing his protest with Chairman Jason Willett and the Arkansas Democratic Party primary this afternoon. "As prescribed by Rule 21, since the ballot was certified on A ril 14th, I am filing this grievance from that official date in the ten day time period,"


A Governor and Lieutenant Governor

[Arkansas Constitution, Article 6, as amended by Amendment 6, §§1 and 5; Amendment 63, §1]

Must be an Arkansas resident for seven (7) years Article 6, §5

According to Websters, the definition of a resident is as follows : One who resides in a particular place permanently or for an extended period.


 There is the case of Valley v. Bogard, 342 Ark. 336, 28 S.W.3d 269 (000), to support this argument. Valley involved a pre-primary eligibility challenge brought by Arnell Wllis, a candidate for State Representative, District 99, in the Democratic primary, against J.F. Valley, another Democratic candidate for the same office. Willis argued that Valley was not eligible for the office because he had not resided in Dstrict 99 for a year prior to the election. The trial court agreed with Willis and entered an order finding that Valley did not meet the residency qualifications.

 Section 7-5-207(b) provides a means for a voter to raise a pre-election attack on a candidate's eligibility to stand for election and for removal of that ineligible candidate's name from the ballot. (See Helton v. Jacobs, 346 Ark. 344, 57 S.W.3d 180 (2001); Tittle v. Woodruff, 322 Ark. 153, 907 S.W.2d 734 (1995); State v. Craighead County Bd. of Election Comm'rs, 300 Ark. 405, 779 S.W.2d 169 (1989).) "That statute created a right in the people to the proper administration of election laws by prohibiting the inclusion of ineligible candidates on the ballot.

 Hunter Bates, a candidate for Lt. Governor in Kentucky in 2003, was removed from the primary ballot because he did not meet residency requirements set forth by the Kentucky Constitution. Though the ballots had been printed, the Judge ruled that new ballots be printed or Bates blotted out.

Oldham Circuit Judge Paul Rosenblum said that even though Bates maintained the right to vote in his native Whitley County and owns poperty there, he lost his residency status because he was out of state too long.

 Robbyn Tumey of Arkansas, in 2002 did raise a similar challenge about the validity and residency of her challenger, Timothy H tchinson III, in a bid for State House. Her case was not heard on the merits, but merely the fact it was not properly filed, according to Judge Tim Fox.


 According to a letter from the Dean at Stanford University, on January 20, 2003, Mr. Halter is listed as a resident of Washington, D.C., not Arkansas.

Mr. William A. Halter
Stanford University, Board of Trustees
Washington, D.C.

 Furthermore, according to Halter‚s official biography with the Social Security Administration, he lists himself as a native, but not a resident of North Little Rock, Arkansas.

 According to various press releases within the last seven years time frame, found on the internet detail Mr. Halter‚s activities at Threshold Pharmaceuticals in Redwood City, California, Stanford University in California, the Social Security Administration in Washington, D.C., Akami
Technologies in Massachusetts.

 Although Mr. Halter may have owned land in Arkansas and registered to vote here, he did not maintain a constant residence. Furthermore, his involvement in business and social means were in other states, not in Arkansas. Therefore, he has not resided in Arkansas the proper amount of time to be a legitimate candidate for Lt. Governor in Arkansas.

 Pritt says he also understands that Halter attempted to claim the Homestead Exemption Act on his taxes when residing in Washington, D.C. Pritt says this is indicative of the fact that Halter saw himself as a resident in D.C., not Arkansas.

UPDATE" The following latest release speaks for itself.

Drew Pritt, Democrat, had the following statement to make concerning the decision of the Arkansas Democratic Party to not hear the complaint filed earlier today.

"I deeply respect Chairman Jason Willett and the long standing policy ofthe Democratic Party to not get involved in a contested primary. However, I verbalized in my complaint the concerns that I and many Arkansans believe about the legitimacy of Bill Halter's candidacy. I believe those
facts do stand as accurate and I will respect the Chairman and the Party's Legal Counsel at what they interpreted to be the window of opportunity to file this complaint. But it doesn't change the fact that there are serious questions that continue to go unanswered about Bill Halter and his candidacy for Lt. Governor of Arkansas."

Tuesday toppings

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports that State health officials have not had any confirmed cases of mumps in Arkansas, but a recent airline flight into Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport did have an infected traveler from Iowa. Ann Wright says that anyone who was on American Airlines flight 3617 from Dallas-Fort Worth to the regional airport in Highfill or on American Airlines flight 5399 from the regional airport to St. Louis on April 2 who has not been contacted by health officials should call the department.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is protesting the Shrine Circus which will play at the State Fairgrounds April 21 and 22. PETA, in urging the State Fair not to host future circuses, also raises questions about how much of the profit from the shows reaches Shrine Hospitals for children and how much pays for administrative costs of the fraternal organization.

Today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports a Toyota Motor Corp. executive confirms that the Japanese automaker is studying plans to build its eighth assembly plant in North America but would not say where the company is looking. Daniel Sieger, spokesman for Toyota’s North American operations, said it is considering sites in a number of states, although he declined to say how many or which states are under consideration. Sunday’s New York Times included Arkansas among the states under consideration.

Time magazine includes U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor among five Senate "up-and-comers' it names in its Apr. 24 issue. The others are Sens. Hillary Clinton, Lindsey Graham, Barack Obama, and John Sununu.

St. Francis County Judge Carl Cisco signed an order Monday morning placing a burn ban into effect. According to Cisco, the move comes after increasing reports of grass fires across the county, including one last week that extended across portions of Crowley's Ridge.

More mobile homes continued to leave the Hope municipal air port. FEMA is sending some to Marmaduke and others to New Jersey for storage.

About 5,700 residential and commercial customers of Entergy Arkansas Inc. lost power for 30 minutes Monday evening after a voltage support device failed at the company’s Boyle Park substation in Little Rock. Some 400 students and staff were without power at Eastside Elementary School in Greenbrier earlier Monday morning.

A proposed temporary sales tax to fund construction of a convention center will return to the Jonesboro City Council agenda on Tuesday. Hotel magnate John Q. Hammons offered last July to construct a 9-story, 220-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel on a 14-acre site that he purchased at Race Street and Fair Park Boulevard. Hammons said that the hotel project is contingent upon the city's participation in the development and construction of the 65,000-square-foot convention center that would adjoin to the hotel.

City officials are trying to salvage a computer system that cost Springdale $324,000 and doesn't work. Fort Smith's computer system staff visited Springdale last week to help with the system, Mayor Jerre Van Hoose said. Fort Smith has used the program for more than five years.

Arkansas ranks eighth nationally in the percent of college applicants who have been denied federal aid for college because of drug convictions, according to a national report released Monday.

Jose Ologio Lopez , a 26-year-old illegal immigrant living in North Little Rock apologized Monday for killing two young brothers in a fiery car crash last year, but said he has no memories of the collision. Lopez, whose blood alcohol level was .013, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of manslaughter and one count each of leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury and driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor. The charges carry a maximum 26 years in prison. Judge Marion Humphrey imposed a 22-year sentence.

Lyle Guthrie of Pocahontas remains in critical condition at a Memphis hospital, recovering from a bullet wound sustained during a Sunday night shootout with police officers at his home, Pocahontas Police Chief Chad Mulligan said. A call to local police reported that Guthrie wanted to kill himself.

Authorities concentrated their search Monday in Pine Bluff for a federal prisoner accused of murder and kidnapping who made an elaborate weekend escape from the Dallas County jail in Fordyce. Joshua Howe used toothpaste, a cigarette lighter, a piece of wire and a hacksaw blade to secure his freedom from a maximum-security cell late Saturday or early Sunday.

The latest disturbance at the Calico Rock state prison may have been a ploy by inmates to be transferred. Previous confrontations, in which three inmates were hurt and one-third of the prisoners transferred, may have been racially motivated.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Some good news for a change

Yes, Bush is still President and Gold is over $600 an ounce, but all is not lost. Thanks to the immense natural catastrophic on the Gulf Coast and the disastrous War in Iraq, the freedom killing liberty destroying War on Drugs is running out of gas. This is cause for celebration.

Of course, not everybody sees things my way. The Russellville Courier quotes the otherwise sensible Sheriff Jay Winters whining about the loss of law enforcement's favorite play toys.

It is a good thing that police have less money for searches and seizures never envisioned by our founders.

I figure this good news won't last long. The criminal justice industry will lobby Congress for more money and they will likely get it - from Medicare, Medicaid, and school lunches. Where else?

It's Monday, so what are ya' gonna' do anyway?

Federal and state income taxes are due today.

Arkansas legislative leaders said Friday that the state House of Representatives and Senate will try next Friday to override Gov. Mike Huckabee’s veto of a $570,303 appropriation for science specialists to help elementary schools improve science education.

A Little Rock man upset with the defeat of a bill aimed at keeping a tiny Saline County high school open by loosening curriculum standards announced Friday that he’s formed a group to advocate for rural education during the 2007 regular legislative session. Ron Crawford, a businessman who also is involved in Amateur Athletic Union basketball and has a grandchild who is a student at the Paron school, said some opponents of House Bill 1014, including Attorney General Mike Beebe, “are conspiring to centralize their power at the expense of our rural communities.”

A grand jury concluded gaps in communication between officers helped kill Erin Hamley, gaps a $30 million radio system was supposed to close. State troopers and County officers were not in communication during the incident.

25 FEMA mobile homes which had been stored at Hope are rolling in to Marmaduke as the cleanup from tornadoes of two weeks ago continues. Those residents planning to rebuild will not need city permits. The mayor is forming the Advisory Committee for Rebuilding Marmaduke. Approximately 25 residents will make up the committee

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville’s policy restricting how often outside individuals or groups can speak on campus is unconstitutional, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

Entergy Arkansas says that state regulators failed to follow the law in expanding an investigation into Entergy’s ratemaking process and renewed its call to allow a 9.9 percent rate increase.

Arkansas is one of at least eight states that has applied to become one of the first states to join traditional leaders Iowa and New Hampshire in voting early in the 2008 Democratic presidential contest.

Northwest Arkansas took a “major” step toward seeing its first Catholic high school when the Diocese of Little Rock paid off its debt on the land earmarked for the project. Officials hope to make a final decision on the project within the next year.

A draft ordinance to strip the Pine Bluff Civil Service Commission of its authority to hire and fire the city’s police and fire chiefs and cede that power, instead, to the mayor is scheduled for a first reading Monday before a divided City Council.

On Saturday, dozens of Katrina Evacuees living in the Natural State, hit the road so they could cast their ballot in the New Orleans Mayoral race.

The multi-purpose center in Forrest City is complete, all that is lacking now is employees and equipment. Mayor Larry Bryant says that May 20 is the projected opening date, but it may have to be moved back.

For the first time since the start of a major mumps outbreak in Iowa, Missouri last week saw a rise in mumps cases and several cases were reported in Southern Illinois. Missouri has three confirmed cases and two are suspected.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

UPDATED: Shooting on Murray Park

It happened about 5:45PM Sunday afternoon. A family was having a picnic just north of the dog park when, according to eyewitnesses, a masked man got out of a truck and shot another man at close range. This was in broad daylight. Must have been 30 witnesses. Marie and I were in the dog park with Molly, who is just fine.

It took a long time for police and medical help to arrive. Also, there were many efforts to call 9-1-1 and it can be tricky on a cell phone. My emergency call was somehow directed at first to Garland County. My next attempt went to North Little Rock, which has VERY professional dispatchers and they relayed my call to Little Rock and even advised the Little Rock dispatcher that my call had additional information. I handed the phone to a witness with a getaway vehicle description.

Condition of the victim is unknown. Police seemed to peruse a suspect vehicle.

More details later.

UPDATE: Obviously, I got my times wrong when I posted yesterday evening. The incident happened shortly before 7 PM. Sgt. Hastings told me this morning that the victim was shot in the leg and chest, which means there were TWO shots. Everybody in the dog park remembers only one, but that just goes to show how unreliable eye-witness testimony can be.

The NLR PD got my first cell call at 6:52. the LRPD reports the first call at 6:54, which sould seem logical since NLR switches my call, and several others, to LRPD.

My first 9-1-1 call was taken by Garland County, My second one by Pulaski County. This would add at least two minutes to the timeline. That means my first call was placed at 6:50. I believe the shooting occured about 1 minute before I made that initial call, 6:49.

Here is the problem. I know that others were also calling 9-1-1 before me, but I called because I was with somebody who had a description of the getaway car. Is it possible that it took FIVE critical minutes for a call to get through to the Little Rock 9-1-1 center?

Also, the pickup truck was pulled over on Rebsemen Park Rd. and not a service station.

Friday, April 14, 2006

UPDATED: Hathorn on Halter

Make of this what you will.

Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor Mike Hathorn made a quick guest appearance on today's program on WAI You should be able to hear it in the FREE "on demand" archives soon.

Hathorn contends that Bill Halter's campaign has been conducting a "negative" campaign in the guise of a telephone poll, which is being conducted by some out of state firm. Hathorn has further charged that the pollsters get into "personal" attacks on his character.

Hathorn told me this morning that the specific questions have to do with his divorce.

Mike Hathorn went on to say that his ex-wife is a supporter of the campaign and has made a contribution.

Hathorn also unleashed a (well deserved attack, in my opinion) attack on Halter's money and carpetbagger status.

And there you have it.

UPDATED: A "usually reliable source" has led me to believe that Hathorn's allegations about the divorce questions is completely made up. That seems reasonable since most of the people I know (and that includes me) have been through a divorce. It would hardly seem like a "hot button:" issue. Does this make Mike Hathorn a liar? You decide, but I have my ideas.

As to Halter's money, you can figure that out for yourself.

Good Friday, Crime and Punishment

Today, in the calendar of the Christian year, we recall the most famous criminal trial in history. An intenerate preacher named Jesus was brought before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate on charges of sedition. This occured after the accused was arrested under cover of darkness and put up before an entirely illegal religious kangaroo court in the dead of night.

All of this was necessary because the defendant had only days before triumphantly entered the city to the cries of adoring fans. If there is one thing any good Pharase just hates, it’s adoring fans. None of the established church people wanted to lose their own cushy gigs, so it was curtains for Jesus. The entire thing was crooked as hell and all about jealousy. In over 2000 years I think we would have to agree how little things have changed.

Pilate was a real man of steel when the public opinion polls suddenly and unexpectedly turned against Jesus. He was perfectly willing to put a completely inoscent man to death if it meant keeping peace and quiet. Pilate had recently been in trouble with his bosses back in Rome over a Jewish insurrection, so peace and quiet had a value.

Remember the mob. Remember what the majority thought was such a great idea. "Crucify him!" I’m Pat Lynchn with news and comment on the Arkansas Priority radio network.

Good Friday Daybreak

A Benton County grand jury has indicted an Arkansas State Police trooper on a misdemeanor count of negligent homicide in the March 7 shooting death of a handicapped man police mistook for an armed fugitive. Trooper Larry Norman could face a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson said Thursday that his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Mike Beebe, is “flat wrong” about a bill to loosen academic standards for some high schools. House Bill 1014, which failed during last week’s special session, was sponsored by Hutchinson’s nephew, Rep. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock and would have exempted the small Paron district from some state standards. Beebe and Governor Huckabee opposed the bill.

A Paron High School janitor accused of threatening the Bryant superintendent over the proposed closing of the high school was free after posting a $4,000 bond Thursday.

The Attorney General’s race is heating up. Democratic candidate Dustin McDaniel accuses Saline County prosecutor Robert Herzfeld of using seized drug money to conduct a statewide survey of voters. In the primary for Lieutenant Governor Mike Hathorn has accused Bill Halter of a personal attack by supposedly attacking his character in a telephone survey.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Services is beginning to prepare for the aftermath of a New Madrid Fault earthquake in the 24 counties on the southern end of that zone.

Jonesboro Economical Transit System will provide free rides during May to help residents become acquainted with the new system, according to Joel Gardner, the system's director. The service will begin operation on May 4.

The owner of Learning Tree Montessori School in Conway was arrested on a warrant for second degree battery. Teresa Ryan is accused of rough treatment of a 2-year-old child, the son of a Conway Police officer. State Police investigated the case.

Jefferson County authorities on Wednesday arrested a man accused of rustling 257 head of cattle. Sterling Weatherspoon of Pine Bluff faces 257 counts of theft.

A Missouri woman faces charges she accidentally hit a 6-year-old Pea Ridge boy with a truck and later threatened to kill him if he kept talking about the incident. An affidavit filed by the Benton County Prosecutor's Office says Misty McCasland struck Don Busby II on April 1 and left the scene of the accident. Busby suffered only minor injuries. A second affidavit said McCasland went to Busby's school on April 5 and threatened to kill him if he continued talking about the accident or if he told someone she threatened him. Busby’s father also reported McCasland came to his house the day after the accident and yelled at him she didn't think she hit the child and told Busby he needed to tell the police she was innocent.

The Bentonville High School Marching Band has been invited to participate in the Fiesta Bowl parade and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona's Fiesta Bowl national band championship. The championship is Dec. 29 and the parade is Dec. 30 in Phoenix. Bentonville is one of 20 bands from 13 states that will perform.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bill Chameides. is one of the top scientists in the world on the climate change issue. He is traveling in northwest Arkansas talking to business people, religious leaders, academics and public events and I have him set up for Friday morning at 9.

Homeless advocate Sandra Wilson is ready to drop over at 10.

Mark the Magician has the final Oaklawn report of this racing season at 11 to get you ready for the Arkansas Derby on Saturday.

Pat Classic is on 9 to 1 at WAI

Raise the Death Tax!

Get ready for another barrage of outright lies about the so-called death tax. This latest batch of wretched stinking rancid untruth is paid for by the usual suspects - wealthy Americans who are always seeking to be further coddled and subsidized by working people.

The truth about the federal inheritance tax is that, unless your estate is worth a cool million or two million for a couple, you don’t pay a dime. What’s more, doing away with the alleged “death tax” is very bad news for charities which depend on bequests from the very wealthy. With no need to reduce net worth, the institutions that help out in time of need will be high and dry.

Doing away with the inheritance tax is just another example of greed gone wild at a time of spiraling federal deficits. The moronic ads will show three vultures perched in a dead tree, superimposed with the heads of Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Hillary Clinton of New York and Harry Reid of Nevada, who the ad says oppose full repeal.

In fact, not only should the estate tax not be abolished, it should be increased. That is my opinion. Sadly, our Senators Lincoln and Pryor are squishy on the subject. Tell them that the rich should not get amnesty from paying a fair share of living in the greatest nation on earth. I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.

Holy Thursday Items

Skip Rutherford will take over as the new Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Rutherford is a former Little Rock school board member, presidential advisor, founder of Political Animals, and Chair of the Clinton Library Foundation.

A new poll shows North Little Rock Democrat Bill Halter and Springdale Republican Jim Holt leading in their respective party’s primaries for lieutenant governor.

Rod Bryan of Little Rock needs every signature he can get by the end of the month in his quest to qualify for the November election ballot as an independent candidate for governor. So when he saw Gov. Mike Huckabee walk by Wednesday, Bryan thought he'd ask. Huckabee did.

The director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving criticized Gov. Mike Huckabee after a four-time DWI offender to whom the governor granted executive clemency two years ago recently pleaded guilty to driving drunk. Eugene Fields, 67, of Fort Smith was arrested April 4 in Barling and charged with DWI and refusing to take a blood alcohol breath test. He pleaded guilty Friday to DWI in Barling District Court. He was fined $300 and ordered to pay $300 in court costs, and the other charge was dismissed.

More than 30 hours into the investigation of the death of Memphis millionaire Logan Young Jr., police were backpedaling in their explanation of how he died. In the hours after Young's body was found Tuesday, police deemed it a homicide investigation. But Wednesday, they changed that description to a "death investigation," a term they use when they haven't determined if it's a homicide or an accident.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports that grand jurors spent 45 minutes behind closed doors with Benton County Circuit Judge David Clinger on Wednesday, then adjourned two hours earlier than usual. The jury sent prosecutors out of the room several times Wednesday. According to state law, no one is allowed in the jury's presence when they are "deliberating or voting." However, a grand jury can switch back and forth between investigation and deliberation at will.

Former State Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate, Jimmie Lou Fisher, who is now the Chair of Dustin McDaniel’s campaign for Attorney General, is in St. Vincent’s Infirmary in Little Rock after apparently suffering a stroke Wednesday morning.

Some fires in east Arkansas have led St. Francis County Judge Carl Cisco is considering putting a burn ban in place in the next few days.

Developing the $211 million Bella Vista Bypass in Northwest Arkansas as a toll road, the first in the state in more than 30 years, won approval from the Arkansas Highway Commission on Wednesday.

Enforcement of a new statewide indoor smoking ban will begin July 1, and the Department of Health and Human Services is working on the rules. Legislation provides for fines from $100 to $500 for violations.

The library board refused to ban two movies from the Springdale Public Library after residents complained of child pornography and homosexuality. According to Stephens Media Group, Michelle Jordan objected to the movie "Songcatcher," directed by Maggie Greenwald. The PG-13 movie about mountain folk music weaves in a lesbian love affair. Robert Bennett asked the board to take out "The Emerald Forest," a movie about a father's search for his son who was kidnapped in the Amazonian jungle. The film includes a scene with nude tribal children. The board has yet to act on the HOB series “Six Feet Under.”

For the first time since taking over the reins of Wal-Mart, President and CEO Lee Scott is taking an entire month's paid vacation. Scott will travel with family and friends during May, while keeping in touch by Blackberry. He will be back in Bentonville for the June 3 shareholders meeting.

Those wanting to hear what Colin Powell has to say tonight at Arkansas State University will have to be on campus because the retired general has barred anyone from recording his speech.

This weekend concludes the Oaklawn racing season with the Arkansas Derby Saturday.

Tiger Woods, the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world, will participate in the first Jackson T. Stephens Charitable Golf Tournament to be played May 29-30 at The Alotian Club of Little Rock. Warren Stephens, founder and president of the club, announced the five-year series of tournaments named in honor of his father.

Home delivery and street sales of The Dallas Morning News in Arkansas have been discontinued because of rising distribution costs, according to Carey Hendrickson, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for Belo Corp., the newspaper’s parent company.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Randy Prather, the state SkillsUSA adviser, is set for a brief phone interview at 9:20. You may not have heard of Skills USA, but there is a big statewide competition in Hot Springs next week. More than 2,300 high school and college students from all over Arkansas will be in Hot Springs Tuesday and Wednesday (April 18-19) to compete in the annual Arkansas SkillsUSA Championships. Students will demonstrate their work skills in everything from advertising design to welding.

Gene Lyons, author and Democrat-Gazette columnist, is on at 11. He always rocks.

Homeless advocate, Sandra Wilson is on Friday’s show at 10.

Pat Classic is on 9 to 1 at WAI


The Old Testament Feast of Unleavened Bread begins at sundown this evening. As is traditional, Paul Greenberg has a few words of wisdom. This year, however, his probing wit is absolutely superb in making a point which so desperately needs to be made. We were all, at least figuratively, once aliens in a strange land.

This is Lou Dobbs reporting from Goshen with breaking news: My sources tell me that a small, neoconservative cabal has given the Israelites orders to leave Egypt tonight now that negotiations over labor conditions have broken down.

Just how great an exodus Moses Amramson and his brother Aaron will be able to produce remains to be seen. It’s not clear if the Israelites could gain admission or find jobs in any other country, while here they’ve been gainfully employed doing the jobs Egyptians won’t do.

Read it all on the Editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. You will need a subscription. Go buy the paper. It won't kill ya'.

Amnesty? Si.

My how the passage of time softens up our positions! I think I recall that, as undersecretary of Homeland Security, Asa Hutchinson was quite the pragmatist on borders and immigration. There is nothing like an election to help one sharpen his thinking on certain crucial issues. And John McCain, the ever-fascinating Senator from Arizona, ain’t he a piece of work? McCain thinks immigrants should be put on a path to citizenship, but they should be punished. I would like to know, exactly for what?

The only answer from the shrill right wing nuts is that worn out line about the meaning of “illegal.” I’ll start taking that seriously when they begin to use the same standard for Bush’s leaks, or his wiretaps. Building some sort of wall creates an image somewhat reminiscent of Khrushchev and East Germany. Who will patrol this wall with much of the National Guard and all of our military attention directed on an ill-conceived war in Iraq? Who will pay for this wall?

I guess the answer is already obvious, so add that to the war and Katrina cleanup. Amnesty is not only humane, and in perfect keeping with our national heritage, it is the practical solution. I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.

Spy Wednesday

Entergy Arkansas Inc. has accused Union Pacific Railroad of rationing Wyoming coal to maximize its own profits at the expense of the utility and ratepayers already faced with soaring electric bills. Entergy suffered “tens of millions of dollars” in damages when coal shipments declined up to 20 percent last year and forced two Entergy power plants near Redfield and Newark to cut back operations, the utility said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Labor and consumer groups say that Wal-Mart’s frequent regulatory violations and failure to provide fair pay make it unfit to operate a bank. The FDIC concluded the second day of hearings on the Bentonville retailers application to operate an industrial bank yesterday.

Arkansans are paying about 40 cents a gallon more for regular gasoline than they were a year ago — including a surge of roughly 33 cents in the past month.

Today’s Democrat-Gazette reports that a Faulkner County Quorum Court committee voted Tuesday night to ask the prosecuting attorney’s office to send letters to Sheriff Marty Montgomery and three other people whom an attorney says owe the county thousands of dollars. A previous report by special prosecutor, Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Tabor of Fort Smith , found widespread credit card abuse in the sheriff office, but did not recommend criminal charges.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis has upheld the September 2004 conviction of former Pine Bluff Alderman Jack Foster on one count of aiding and abetting an attempted extortion.

Fayetteville voters rejected Tuesday a vote to pay for library services through increased property taxes. Voters in Helena-West Helena also overwhelmingly rejected two proposed 1 percent city sales taxes that would have raised nearly $3 million for a variety of municipal needs

A Smackover man accused of engaging in a gun battle with an El Dorado police officer remained at large Tuesday. Marcus Hicks, 30, was charged with attempted capital murder in a warrant issued for his arrest.

A Humphrey woman spent her 71st birthday in jail Monday after a Jefferson County circuit judge said the woman should be held for investigation of murder. Judge Jodi Raines Dennis said prosecutors presented enough evidence at a court hearing to believe Ona Lane could be charged with capital murder in the shooting death of “Tommy” Cox at a house at Humphrey on Saturday night.

The Madison Police Department is warning the public that, during a recent raid on a local residence, marijuana was found which had been treated by toxic chemicals. The chemicals were not identified.

Three 16-passenger buses arrived Monday at Jonesboro City Hall, another step toward the opening of a transit system. Two more will arrive later this week. Jonesboro Economical Transit System is scheduled to begin operation on May 4.

A country music video directed by a Forrest City native was named video of the year during the Country Music Television awards show Monday in Nashville. Chris Hicky directed the video for Keith Urban's "Better Life."

Steve Barnes has been named the 2006 Ernie Deane Award winner. The award recognizes Arkansas journalists whose work best exemplifies the spirit, style and courage of the person for whom the award was named, according to a news release from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Ernie Deane, a 1934 UA graduate, was information officer for Gen. George Patton during World War II.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Perishing Paron

John Brummett today wrote an excellent column concerning the tiny Paron school district and the legislative maneuvering around it which almost brought about a catastrophe. Brummett rightly points out the typically virtuous State Senator Jim Argue and how he saved the day for reasonable folks. Jeremy of the Hutchinson klan and Dwight Fite are the chief villains. You need to read the entire thing as published in the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas.

Now, I come down squarely on the side of Brummett, Argue, grandma, Chevrolet and apple pie. Nonetheless, here is a letter (which was signed) from a Paron patron which is submitted for no other reason than to give a voice to the "other side." While I would not hesitate to call the hand of a lawmaker messing around with the public trust, I have no problem with a parent putting forward an opinion that might help their children.

Dear Pat,

I haven't been able to keep up with your views on the Paron School issue but I feel compelled to tell the story from a Paron parents' point of view and how it will potentially affect her family ...... and maybe sway a member of the media to become an opponent of school consolidation.

I have three kids in Paron. All of them are in danger of being shipped next fall to the new Bryant Middle School and Bryant High School. The Bryant School Board has said that it is for the better that my children be shipped TWO HOURS on a bus just to get to school, by way of a very dangerous stretch of road. (Adults do not have to commute to work for this length of time!) It is for my childrens sake that they sit through eight hours of school and then ride TWO HOURS on the bus to get back home. (I know that some news stations have reported one hour erroniously.) This will greatly increase their chances for asthma, bronchitis, and upper respiratory infections due to FOUR hours a day of diesel exhaust. (There are studies concerning this fact) So, it is also for the good of the children that they must now miss out on any extra-curricular activities because of our proximity to our new schools. I'm sure this will greatly enhance their college resumes when trying to gain acceptance into college. I'm also sure that staying up until 10 pm doing homework will be beneficial as well. Especially since every study done on the face of the earth concerning school children is adamant about children needing a minimum of eight hours of sleep in order to function properly. Hmmm, 10pm to 5am (which is when they will have to get up for that two hour bus ride)... I think that's seven hours, assuming they immediately fall asleep.

BSD has said part of our consolidation is due to Paron School being roughly 250k in debt. According to their own numbers we are only 157k in debt as a school in whole. The high school is operating on a budget that it currently can't afford due to two significant factors: 1. We were forced to lower our millage (to match Bryant) and raise our teachers pay when taken on by Bryant. (Double whammy) We don't want to pay our teachers less, but I find it strange that at one of Bryant's own board meetings they are having to decide whether or not to drop certain teacher performance bonuses due to the fact that they cannot afford the salary pay scale which THEY have set forth. 2. We literally are having to pay a teacher full pay for teaching a math class that is required by the state in order for us to meet the core curriculum. A class that has only ONE child in it. The child is forced to take a higher math class to help keep us open. (We are thankful for this kid!) I would also like to note that for 70 years we operated just fine. Two years with Bryant and we're going under.

I find is strange that, according to Shane Broadway, we are qualified as an isolated school. In fact, Paron also falls under the category of super-isolated school. These are qualifications that were set by the State Board of Education. The strange point is that there is NO funding in the super-isolated school fund. It could easily be funded by the isolated school fund because many isolated schools have been consolidated and there is actually money left over in the account.

Even stranger is the why Bryant, while building a state-of-the-art middle school, has not hired any teachers for that school. Why hire others when you can simply shut down another school and use their teachers instead.

Bryant was given millions in compensation when they took us on. Where has that money gone? They recently received another $500k that will be used for anything but keeping us open, as well as the extra funding per student that was passed by the powers that be in the state.

I shouldn't be quite so negative....they did paint our school so that we would match their schools more. How thoughtful! Of course, we are no longer allowed to bring homemade snacks, cakes, or punches to our class parties or fall festivals. Trust me, I've tasted some of our local fair....this IS a travesty!

It doesn't seem to matter that Paron school outscores Bryant on testing. In fact, we consistently score as one of the top schools in the state. We have smaller, more personalized class rooms, and great parent involvement. Our small basketball program actually makes money for the school. We produce productive citizens who return to this area to raise their own families. We are located in an area that will be booming in ten years. West Little Rock, Hot Springs Village, and Benton/Bryant are all expanding our way. Kill our school and you will kill our property value, school pride, and our sense of community. If someone can explain to me exactly how this benefits our children I would certainly be willing to listen.

I'm not quite sure if I'm making the kind of sense that I want, but I'm pretty hacked off and can guarantee you that my children will not attend Bryant schools. I will homeschool or send them to another district that is closer. This is the consensus of many Paron parents.

Thanks for reading!

Mr. Sam's Bank

Here is what I had to say on APRN about Wal Mart's desire to enter commercial banking.

The FDIC is holding hearings this week on Wal Mart’s application to open a bank for clearing its’ own transactions. It is a money saving measure and would ordinarily be handled by regulators as a routine rubber stamp. Of course, this is different. This is Wal Mart and the Bentonville behemoth is a hardball player.

Without beating a dead horse to death for the one-thousandth time, drive through any small town’s downtown and see what good Wal Mart has done for the local economy. This company’s effect on working people is so terrible that the state department of human services has been intimidated into not even counting how many of the retail giant’s employees are on public assistance.

Wal Mart is a menace to society and I love it just like everybody else. Yeah, the merchandise is made by political prisoners in China, but who cares? Sam’s is my favorite store. Wal Mart has a reputation for squeezing its’ suppliers and abusing its’ employees, even if you do get low prices every day.

Why on earth would we hand over the financial industry to these corporate critters? It will be harder to get a business line of credit, a home loan or any other banking service. With increased federal regulation, life is already harder for small banks. We must presume that Wal Mart’s long-term plan is to take over banking, and the FDIC must stop it. I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.

On Wednesday morning at 9, Bill Vickery PROMISES to come over. He really, really, really means it. HONEST!

Thursday morning at 11, it's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Gene Lyons. Homeless advocate Sandra Wilson is set for Friday morning at 10.

You can catch my "News and Comment" feature every morning on "Arkansas AM" with Grant and Steve along with "Arkansas Biography" by Steve Stephens.

Pat Classic is streaming "live" weekdays 9 to 1 at WAI

Tuesday two-step

An estimated throng of more than 5,000 men, women and children wearing white shirts rallied at Murphy Park in Springdale on Monday afternoon. At the state capitol, numbers were estimated in the 2,000 range as demonstrators rallied against proposed immigration legislation.

According to the Stephens Media Group, Grand jurors clustered alongside U.S. 412 on Monday afternoon and used a life-sized dummy to piece together the scene March 7 when a disabled man was fatally shot by an Arkansas State Police trooper. The Benton County grand jury was in its fourth day of investigating the death of 21-year-old Erin Hamley, whom police mistook for an 18-year-old Michigan prison escapee.

Paul Barton reports in the Business section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that an onslaught of witnesses Monday urged federal officials not to let Wal-Mart Stores Inc. into banking, warning it would do to community banks what it has done to smaller retailers: put them out of business. “Over the years, Wal-Mart, the largest retail company in the world, has become the poster child for unscrupulous corporate behavior,” testified John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

The state Board of Education on Monday scheduled a hearing next month on whether to allow Academics Plus of Maumelle, a financially troubled central Arkansas charter school, to continue operation.

The billionaire majority stockholder in American Railcar Industries Inc. will pay an undisclosed amount to ensure that the roughly 350 employees at the firm’s storm-damaged Marmaduke plant receive pay and benefits. Carl Icahn, perhaps best known as the corporate raider who engineered a hostile takeover of Trans World Airlines in the 1980s, also is the chairman of St. Charles, Mo.-based American Railcar.

Today’s Democrat-Gazette reports on the forced consolidation of the Waldo and Magnolia school districts. Waldo parents are pleased and the Magnolia system, which recently absorbed Walker schools, is concerned about having space for new “under achieving” students. Waldo is 87% black, and nearby Stephens wanted to merge, but is 77% black, and is under a desegregation order.

Gov. Mike Huckabee signed into law Monday a bill that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $6.25 an hour, giving Arkansas’ workers a higher minimum wage than is paid in any surrounding state.

The Arkansas AFL-CIO is supporting a proposed constitutional amendment to create a state lottery and authorize a private corporation to operate casinos in seven Arkansas counties, the union federation’s president said Monday.

Alltel Corp announces the name of its new wireline spinoff, Windstream Communications, and says the publicly traded company will be headquartered at the former Alltel Information Services site in west Little Rock.

A University of Arkansas student had a frightening welcome when he walked into his dorm room last week -- 12 to 15 bats. University police are investigating an apparent "prank" that will likely result in criminal charges.

Police arrested a 27-year-old Little Rock man Sunday after shots were fired outside a fraternity party at the National Guard Armory in Fayetteville. No one was injured. Naim O. Page of Little Rock was arrested in connection with a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a felony. A 9 mm semi-automatic pistol was found in his car, police said.

Fans buying tickets and concessions at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock will help pay a construction overrun for the baseball stadium, the City Council agreed Monday night. The council also accepted a $170,000 rise in the construction cost — increased to $32.69 million — to stabilize parts of the riverfront site’s foundation for construction of the ballpark.

Hundreds of Hurricane Katrina evacuees, including some in Arkansas, boarded buses and traveled to Louisiana on Monday to cast early ballots in New Orleans' storm-delayed election for mayor. The election officially is April 22, but residents scattered around the country by the storm will be able to vote all week at satellite voting centers set up in Lake Charles, Shreveport, New Orleans and seven other cities around the state.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Those illegals

Here is my radio commentary from April 6. You can hear ir weekday mornings on WAI with Grant Merrill and Steve Freeman.

Since everybody else seems to have an opinion on illegal aliens, here comes mine. For the life of me, I cannot see the problem. My outlook is absolutely selfish and you need to know that I do have a dog in this fight – and it’s not Molly.

Once again, Republicans are so stupid it’s amazing. Instead of seeing Mexican workers as an enormous and necessary asset, these pampered, delusional control freaks are trying to turn decent working people into felons. Everybody take a deep breath while I tell you about my angel. Being an overweight, middle aged white guy, I would like to retire some day.

I was born in 1950 and have worked diligently since age 18 to pay Social Security taxes so the greatest generation would have the greatest retirement in world history. I hate to see Gen X carry all of us boomers on their backs, especially when there is a reasonable solution. Legalize these folks, give them legitimate personal Social Security accounts and let them pay taxes so that there will be money for all of us freaks from the 60’s to retire.

Invite them to bring their families. These folks are having kids faster than greedy white folks and we need then. We need young folks in America. I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.

Monday Mayhem

The General Assembly has ended its' weeklong special session after increasing the per-pupil spending on public schools, passing a ban on smoking in most public places, enhancing penalties on child sex offenders, and prohibiting protests at funerals.

A bill aimed at keeping tiny Paron High School open died Friday in the Senate Education Committee after its chairman said the measure would "threaten an absolute meltdown" of compliance with the state Supreme Court in the landmark Lake View school-funding case.

Immigrants and their advocates in New York and 50 other cities, including Little Rock, are set to flood streets around the nation today in a massive show of support for sweeping immigration reform.

U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a possible Republican candidate for president in 2008, planned to campaign for GOP gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson on Monday at three different events in Arkansas.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will hold its first of two public hearings on Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s industrial bank application today and tomorrow in Washington, D. C. Wal-Mart has applied to open an industrial loan company to handle electronic payment processing. The bank would be headquartered in Salt Lake City.

Roby Brock reports in the Stephens Media Group on a statewide trend. Last October, Congress implemented a series of changes to bankruptcy laws that made it more difficult for individuals to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. First quarter statistics show that state bankruptcies fell dramatically from the previous year. Arkansas has seen a 73 percent decline in bankruptcies from the same quarter one year ago

Entergy Arkansas accused utility regulators Friday of violating state law by blocking a 9.9 percent rate increase that would have taken effect April 1, asking them to reconsider.

Union Pacific Railroad is planning to add another 2,500 to 3,000 employees to its nationwide payroll this year, including several in Pine Bluff, according to Mark Davis, company spokesman. Union Pacific has 675 employees in Pine Bluff and an annual payroll of $39.6 million.

Seventeen-year-old LaKeisha Brown died last April because the medical staff and supervisors at Alexander Youth Services Center ignored her pleas for help, a wrongful death lawsuit filed Friday by the girl’s mother claims.

Two men were killed and two injured early Sunday in a gunfight near a building east of Mena where about 500 marijuana plants were being grown. The gunfight appears to have started when four men from Henryetta, Okla., went to the property in an attempt to rob the owner, Bradley Webster, who lives in a house on the property.

Three men arrested and charged last week with the capital murder of a Morrilton man in Pope County late last month are being held in the county jail without the possibility of bond. According to Jeff Chandler, chief deputy prosecutor for the Fifth Judicial District, the state of Arkansas is not required to set a bond amount for those charged in capital murder cases.

Three Monticello men are facing felony charges for reportedly stealing more than 6,600 pounds of copper wire from the old Burlington Industries facility.

The Jonesboro Sun says sunshine and warming temperatures have been just the encouragement needed for area farmers to get out into their fields. The smell of diesel fuel and fresh dirt can be detected across the countryside as Northeast Arkansas farmers plant this year's rice crop, cotton, soybean and other crops.

One of the longest bridges over the nation's mightiest river is expected to reach a milestone this week when workers close the gap in the main deck with four 30-ton concrete panels. The $230 million, four-lane bridge over the Mississippi River, just south of Lake Village and across from Greenville, Miss., is expected to open in 2009.

Today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock will open a kosher catering kitchen which will have the capacity to prepare up to one thousand meals at one sittin

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