Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wednesday, and it is early.

Early voting is underway for the June 13 primary election runoff, but in much of Arkansas it was being done on paper ballots rather than electronic devices because the company supplying most of the state with voting equipment will not have touch-screen voting machines ready until later this week.

After failing to meet the legal requirement to get the Green Party recognized as an official political party in Arkansas, former state representative and Green Party gubernatorial candidate, Jim Lendall, promised to sue the State for making so difficult to get on the ballot it is unconstitutional.

The state Board of Corrections has invoked the Emergency Powers Act, making up to 665 prison inmates eligible for early parole hearings. State prison units hous 12,835 inmates, 532 more than capacity. Over 500 state inmates are being held in county jails.

A flu pandemic could kill more than 3,500 Arkansans and affect 500,000 more, according to national Centers for Disease Control statistics. Those numbers could be substantially lower if Arkansas works quickly to prevent the virus from spreading, officials of the state Department of Health and Human Services told members of the House and Senate Interim Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor.

Police are investigating counterfeit charges against an unidentified suspect after $120 in counterfeit currency was passed at a Wal Mart Supercenter in Forrest City over the weekend.

North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays has ordered lights, desktop computers and printers in all city offices to be turned off each night and for thermostats to be set to “at least 80” degrees when the last employee leaves the building. Rates charged by the municipal power company are expected to increase drastically next year.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has bought around 40 acres in Pea Ridge, but a company spokeswoman was noncommittal about what the Bentonville-based retailer plans for the site.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tuesday feels like Monday

Early voting in the June 13 primary election is set by state law to begin today, even though most counties do not have ballots ready.

Paul Barton, Democrat-Gazette Washington correspondent, reports that labor unions, health professionals, agribusiness interests and utilities ranked among the leading sources of political action committee contributions to the Arkansas congressional delegation for the 2006 election. Rep. Mike Ross, a Democrat, leads the delegation with $369,171 in PAC contributions, according to an analysis of FEC records by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group on campaign finance issues. Congressman Vic Snyder is in last place with $16,000.

An unnamed Alexander Human Development Center employee has been fired and two others given written warnings after an internal investigation into the death of Leroy Johnson, a developmentally disabled resident at the facility last month. Autopsy results are pending and a State Police investigation is continuing.

More than two years after the U.S. Department of Justice cited the Conway Human Development Center for “grossly deficient” health-care and other problems, state and federal officials are still negotiating a settlement, despite earlier hopes of reaching a quick resolution.

Lawyers for Kevin Jones have filed a motion for a gag order in Jones’ pending trial for the December murder of Russellville beauty queen and Arkansas Tech student, Nona Dirksmeyer. Attorneys cite recent media coverage and statements from police and prosecutors.

Hugh B. Patterson J., publisher of the Arkansas Gazette from 1948 to 1986,, is dead at 91. The Gazette won a Pulitzer Prize for community service and Harry Ashmore won a Pulitzer for his editorials in 1957.

The principal of Mills High School confiscated copies of the student newspaper’s senior issue Friday, saying that front page stories and photographs on gangs and drugs could pose a threat to featured students. “Druggies and gang members lurk the halls of Mills, making evidence of gangs and drugs... not hard to find,” a photo caption on the front page of the Galaxy reads.

Robert Travis, the principal of Atkins High School, was arrested last week on charges of DWI and driving left of center, both misdemeanors. The Pope County Sheriff's office says Travis was released on $850 bond.

Two are dead and two hospitalized following a Sunday mishap in the Arkansas River near Little Rock. It is believed that two men went to sleep in the cabin of a boat and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Two women were found still breathing when rescuers found the boat Sunday afternoon.

The multimillion dollar expansion at Tyson Foods’ corporate campus in Springdale will not be scaled back under the company’s plan to cut expenses by $110 million.

Monday, May 29, 2006

New Railroad Station

Amtrak will never have anything like this. These are shots of tne new Central Station in Berlin. The cost is around $1 billion - not too far off the entire Amtrak system budget for any fiscal year.

The point is obvious. Germany has a modern and balanced transportation system. We have a transportation system that favors a few large corporations and the public be damned.

Here are some highlights from Spiegel Magazine.

* Grooves in the floor help blind passengers find their way to the platforms. For further assistance, raised numbers and Braille have been integrated into metal signs on the hand rails.

* Travelers will be spared some of the noise and bustle associated with train stations, since the approaching high-speed ICE and regional trains slide up to the platform with not much more than whisper. The tracks are embedded in concrete rather than the more commonplace gravel, reducing noise to a minimum.

* Engineers have also come up with nifty precautions against unforeseen accidents. If a train derailment, it will automatically slot into an extra track. Compact walls of concrete are in place to prevent the bulky carriages tipping onto adjacent tracks.

* A suspension system in the body of the platforms radically reduces vibration as the trains -- each weighing several hundred tons -- roll in. Thanks to this technology, the buildings close by at Potsdamer Platz and the government quarter won't shudder every minute as the locomotives trundle through.

But of all the fancy innovations, the fanciest may be the loudspeaker system. It's almost impossible to make sense of the garbled, barely audible announcements in most of Germany's train stations. But in Berlin's Central Station, sound engineers have created speaker system that make the computer-automated announcements crystal clear and understandable.

Now that I have this almost out of my system, photos of the UP 844 coming soon!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Typical Sunday at the Dog Park

Two men are dead and two women were taken to local hospitals after they were found aboard a boat in the Arkansas River near Murray Park. It is believed that a generator was left on overnight in the cabin and the deaths are the result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Rescue teams arrived a little before 4:00 PM. The photos were taken by me shortly after the fire department and MEMS showed up.

UPDATE: KATV Channel 7 files a report with more details.

The two males inside 57-year-old David Tedford and 45-year-old Richmond Rice were found dead. 30-year-old Veronica Harmon and 45-year-old Tammy Lawrence were unconscious.

Bishop Maze Goes to Washington

This story, reported in the Episcopal News Service, has not gotten much notice around these parts. (Photo by John Johnson, Episcopal News Service) Bishop Maze is opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment opposing same-sex marriage and exercised his God-given right to petition lawmakers with his views.

[Episcopal News Service] Bishop Larry Maze of Arkansas and retired New Jersey Bishop Joe Morris Doss, now living in Louisiana, joined a diverse spectrum of clergy and religious leaders on Capitol Hill May 22 to speak against passage of the so-called "Federal Marriage Amendment" (FMA).

The bishops are part of "Clergy for Fairness," a coalition of religious leaders working to oppose passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage. The Senate is scheduled to debate the measure during the week of June 5.

Here is the amendment.

"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

Although I disagree with Bishop Maze's general theological approach to the subject, I also believe that this is a bad amendment. In fact, I believe that every person who opposes same-sex marriage must also be against it. Let me explain.

The key word is "require." The amendment defines marriage and prohibits courts from expanding the definition of "marriage." So far, so good. The first problem lies in the expansion of "civil unions," a legal equivalent to "gay marriage."

There is another disturbing question. What exactly is meant by "legal incidents?" Is this a crude attempt to do away with "civil unions?" (Not a bad idea in theory).This language forces courts to define the elements of a fundamental legal contract which contains much complexity effecting property and children.

You can get a headache thinking about this stuff, but let me warn all concerned that, if enacted. this amendment will be interpreted by courts. The language is clear. Courts may not require the "legal incidents" (privileges?) of marriage be accorded to gay folks, but they certainly may allow it. That gives legislatures authority to give full "civil union" status at will and, perhaps, even abolish the (so-called) anachronistic form of "marriage."

The "full faith and credit" clause of the federal constitution requires one state to accept the acts of another. The result should be obvious. The FMA mandates nationwide "civul unions." Judges would be obligated to enforce "civil unions" not on the basis of any legal notion of marriage, but on the "full faith and credit" concept.

My conservative friends, with whom I generally agree on the matter of "gay marriage" do not seem willing to admit that the train has left the station. When your own people can not make a case for why the institution of marriage should be favored in secular law (as it most certainly should), you are in deep trouble. I wish it were not so.

If one is against "gay marriage," why would you be in favor of a legal status that is in every way equal, except in name? In the law, it is called a "distinction without a difference."

The Federal Marriage Amendment is an enormous waste of time.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Dirksmeyer Developments

The Russellville Courier notes the latest development in the December murder of an Arkansas Tech student and local beauty queen.

For various reasons explained in a six-page document filed in the Pope County Circuit Clerk's office recently, the attorneys of Kevin Jones -- accused in March of murdering his girlfriend Nona Dirksmeyer -- have requested a gag order be placed on any official connected with the case, or otherwise have the case dismissed altogether.

This is some interesting lawyering on the part of Jones' attorneys, Kenneth Johnson and Michael Robbins. It is a fact that the media interest has been international in scope. A beautiful young woman was murdered in a most viscous and deliberate fashion during what is generally observed as the "holiday season." The circumstances beg comment.

The Courier quotes the "motion to curtail abuse of due process, or, in the alternative, for gag order," which was filed May 18.

"Since the beginning of the case, the local newspaper, the Russellville Courier, has published in excess of 30 articles concerning this matter and continues to publish articles on a regular basis. A number of recent articles have included a number of unfair, untrue, and prejudicial comments from lead detective Mark Frost of the Russellville Police Department," the motion stated, referring to Courier articles published on May 14 and May 16 titled "Insight into a murder case" and "Murder investigation: Detective defines his role."

In both articles, Frost consented to discuss details with The Courier about how the murder investigation was handled, and not about any unreleased evidence in the case.

My take?

You can't unring the bell and the publicity, for better or worse, is already out there. This case will be closely watched and discussed for many years.Jones' lawyers are building a record alleging prosecutorial abuse and prejudicial coverage for a possible appeal in the event of a conviction.

If I understand correctly, and I could be wrong, a successful change of venue motion would get the trial moved to Clarksville. So what?

The Courier has probably already gotten all the mileage it can expect from the DA and cops, so that gag order will be mostly moot.

It seems to me that investigators and prosecutors have displayed enormous professionalism and restraint.

Mr. Jones is entitled to the presumption of innocence and the assistance of counsel. It looks like the system is working.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Fest!

Election officials in Lonoke and Phillips counties were still counting primary ballots Thursday, and the secretary of state's office said some counties might not be ready next week for early voting for the June 13 runoffs.

The Public Service Commission has not made a final determination, but has informed lawmakers meeting at a rural development conference in Eureka Springs that the review of records so far has not found a compelling reason to deny a rate increase request by Entergy Arkansas.

Stephens Media Group reports that Arkansas' senators voted in favor of sweeping immigration legislation, saying they supported tougher stance on border security while integrating undocumented immigrants who are already in the United States.

The Saline County Quorum Court decided Thursday night to appeal a federal court jury’s verdict that awarded overtime pay to sheriff’s deputies and a clerical worker.

Rural schools -- mainly high poverty, predominantly black schools in eastern Arkansas -- have rapidly closed over the past two years as a result of state-mandated mergers, according to a study released by the Rural School and Community Trust found. It concludes that 47 schools, about a third of those required to annex or consolidate, have been closed since the Legislature approved Act 60 of the 2004 special session on education requiring school districts with fewer than 350 students to merge administrations with another district.

Paul Barton, the Democrat-Gazette’s Washington correspondent, reports this morning Rep. Mike Ross told community leaders from across the region that if the United States makes a major effort to use biofuels in cars, the Mississippi Delta region could reap an economic bonanza.

Arkansas’ Sen. Mark Pryor used Thursday’s joint hearing of the committees that oversee government operations and veterans’ affairs to push for passage of the Identity Theft Protection Act, a bill that contains a “security freeze” measure written by Pryor.

Two Pulaski County men have been arrested in connection with a Thursday morning homicide at the Happy Pines Mobile Home Park.

Ouachita County Sheriff Paul Lucas considers three people who reportedly witnessed a fatal hot tub accident early Sunday suspects in the death of David Herman Dawson of Stephens.

Richard Bond, Tyson Foods's new chief executive says he has asked company managers to identify $110 million in spending cuts that he hopes will return the company to profitability.

Regions Financial Corp. is paying about $9.8 billion in stock to acquire Birmingham, Alabama rival AmSouth Bancorporation in a deal announced Thursday that would create one of the nation’s biggest bank holding companies.

A holiday light festival may be in the works for the citizens of Faulkner County and beyond if the Conway Advertising and Promotions Commission chooses to grant a $30,000 funding request for a drive-thru light display at the Conway Sanitation Department landfill.

Today’s Paper Trails reports that Little Rock Animal Services Director Tracy Roark has issued citations and filed charges against Robb Watkins of 2210 Beckenham Cove, which allege cruelty, abandonment and trapping of the neighborhood cats without the approval of Little Rock Animal Services. Roark adds that he doesn’t believe Watkins killed any of the cats but captured them in a humane trap and removed them from the neighborhood.

Union Pacific Railroad’s steam locomotive 844 will be traveling between North Little Rock and Van Buren today with scheduled stops in Conway and Russellville.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The WAI Radio Home Page

Some of you have asked about the radio station home page.

I am in no position to discuss this matter, but I do have a new link which will take you to all the features our many friends have come to enjoy.

Yes, we have added a little DASH to WAI! About time, don't you agree?

You may launch the stream from this home page, or All LIVE365 stations are available on TiVo. If you use, iTunes, there is probably an icon to launch the WAI stream on your desktop and in the iTunes player.

Also, remember that my program begins on many local radio stations Tuesday morning. You might want to have a word with your local station about the Pat Lynch Show on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.

Here are the stations.

WAI Little Rock
KNBY 1280 AM Newport
KSMD 99.1 FM Searcy
KWCK 1300 AM Searcy
KAPZ 710 AM Bald Knob
KAWW 1370 AM Heber Springs

Taylor's Thursday!

A federal jury has awarded more than $250,000 to 29 current and former Saline County sheriff’s deputies and a clerical worker who were wrongly denied overtime pay, in violation of federal law, over the past six years.

Revealing a pattern of apparent self-dealing and public corruption, two former West Helena aldermen, the former Helena-West Helena School Board president, a former School Board member and a local painter were among eight people indicted last week by a Phillips County grand jury, according to arrest-warrant information released Wednesday by the Phillips County circuit clerk.

Paul Barton of the Democrat-Gazette’s Washington Bureau reports that one of the Capitol’s so-called super lobbyists, William Oldaker, remains in charge of Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s special fundraising committee, despite the senator’s promise months ago to replace him with an Arkansan. Lincoln said through a spokesman Wednesday that she just hadn’t gotten around to it.

The Federal Highway Administration has approved the 103-mile route for a significant portion of Interstate 69 through south Arkansas, the state Highway and Transportation Department announced Wednesday. Estimated cost is $784 million.

Pulaski County election officials worked all day Wednesday and into the evening tallying votes after programming errors that surfaced on election night left votes from almost two dozen precincts uncounted, election officials said.

Tuesday’s voter turnout, about 20 percent, was the second-lowest for an Arkansas primary election since at least 1972, as predictions by some that local elections would make up for the lack of contested gubernatorial primaries didn’t pan out.

Arkansas fourth and eighth graders scored near the country’s average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams in science last year, but did no better statistically than in 2000.

The Southwest Times Record reports that the vote cast by the Fort Smith School Board to uphold a student suspension Monday night wasn’t legal, according to a statute cited by a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office and a media law professor. The board voted 4-3 in a closed session to uphold the 10-day suspension of a boy who cursed at a coach during football practice at Northside High School. The law requires the vote be done in public

A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the case of an Alma man accused of shaking his son violently until the child sustained serious brain damage. The declaration came after a bailiff gave deliberating jurors a pair of handcuffs not admitted into evidence in the trial of Anthony Lee Hanson, who is charged with first-degree domestic battery in Crawford County Circuit Court. It is alleged that Hanson was wearing handcuffs when he showed a state investigator how he shook the child.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Day After

Problems with new voting equipment have delayed tabulation of votes in at least one Arkansas county. According to KATV Channel 7, Phillips County election officials put a note on the courthouse door in Helena-West Helena yesterday evening saying they would be unable to count ballots until tomorrow. Election Systems and Software plans to reprogram a computer chip and deliver it to Helena today.

Dustin McDaniel seems headed to a runoff with Paul Suskie in the Democratic primary for Attorney General. McDaniel has 38% and Suskie 32% in latest returns.

With around 90% or precincts checking in, it appears that Democratic Lieutenant Governor front-runner Bill Halter will be in a runoff with Tim Woodridge.

Just under 90% of the votes are tallied in the Republican Lieutenant Governor Primary and it appears that Jim Holt will win the party nomination without a runoff. He apparently beat Chuck Banks and Doug Matayo.

Paul Danielson and Don Corbin have won their races for Arkansas Supreme Court.

Martha Shoffner and Mac Campbell appears to be headed for a runoff in the Democratic Primary for State Treasurer.

In the Second Congressional District, Andy Mayberry defeated Tom Formicola in the Republican primary with 77% or the vote.

Rep. Bill Pritchard of Elkins was leading former state House member and U.S. Senate candidate Jim Bob Duggar in the Republican primary for the state Senate District 35 seat. The winner will face Democrat Lynn Carver of Springdale in the November general election.

Fort Smith voters passed measures to extend local sales taxes for wastewater and public safety improvements, however, proposals for a new city hall and sports complex were soundly defeated.

A 10-month old is dead and the child's North Little Rock home daycare is forced to close its doors indefinitely. Police arrived just after 11:30 Tuesday morning and discovered that the child was not breathing. The daycare, which had nine children at the time, was apparently not properly licensed.

Arkansas' standards for measuring student proficiency in reading and math have dramatically improved in recent years, a state-by-state report card that an education group released Tuesday showed. The Hoover Institution's report card gives Arkansas a B-minus for the strength of its standards, a 10.8 percent change from the state's ranking a year ago.

The hearing originally set for Tuesday on the Paron school will be held in June in order to give the parties time to prepare.

The Phillips County sheriff told the Democrat-Gazette Tuesday that he was following a judge’s orders by refusing to say who he had arrested so far on warrants arising from a grand jury investigation. A grand jury returned 35 indictments Friday.

As high gasoline prices continue to plague consumers, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., was among senators on Tuesday calling for stronger federal laws to guard against price gouging in the oil and gas industry.

A pair of environmental groups trying to stop the construction of a shopping center in North Little Rock wetlands have asked a judge to reconsider the dismissal of their lawsuit. The Arkansas Nature Alliance and the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas filed the motion to reconsider Tuesday. U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr. ruled May 9 the groups did not have standing in the case. The $130 million shopping cente, part of a taxpayer subsidized TIF district, would be anchored by Arkansas’ first Bass Pro Shops store.

Opponents of expanding electronic gambling at Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis and Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs said Tuesday they would appeal circuit court rulings favorable to the tracks to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

A Fort Smith charter bus company filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Alma School District over what the company claims is unfair and illegal competition in the transportation business. The suit alleges that the school district has used motor coaches on trips not related to school to transport passengers within Arkansas and between Arkansas and other states, in exchange for compensation. The company claims the school district is trying to treat the motor coaches as school buses in order to take advantage of the special treatment given to school buses, such as “tax-free or reduced-tax fuel,” even though the vehicles do not meet the legal specifications of school buses.

Several Jonesboro citizens have enlisted a Christian Legal Service attorney to appeal a private club permit for Sheffield's Restaurant. Meanwhile, two more Jonesboro restaurants have applied for liquor licenses and an appeal of Outback’s Jonesboro permit is pending in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Authorities were investigating the death of a Stephens man who died over the weekend after reportedly hitting his head while getting out of a hot tub.

Voters in Springdale will have the opportunity on July 11 to decide whether to add $50 million to the city's bond program to build a baseball stadium.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tuesday heads-up

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sued Gov. Mike Huckabee on Monday to force him to comply with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act by releasing the resignation letter of former Board of Parole Vice Chairman Lary Zeno and the results of an investigation into his conduct.

Voters statewide will select party nominees in the Republican and Democrat primaries. There are also many local elections and issues to be decided.

Fort Smith voters will decide if the 1 percent Lake Fort Smith expansion sales tax — which is expected to be retired in late 2007 or early 2008 — should be extended until 2016 to finance a new city hall, sports complex, sanitary sewer wet-weather improvements and a new public radio safety system.

The Stephens family has reorganized its business empire, with Warren A. Stephens acquiring complete ownership of investment bank Stephens Inc. Two separate entities will be formed: one owned by Warren Stephens and one owned by his cousins, Witt Stephens Jr. and Elizabeth Stephens Campbell, who are siblings. Each new company will pursue investment opportunities for the respective families.

The Stephens Media Group Washington Bureau reports today on an 11th-hour push to win approval for a controversial bank insurance application. Officials at Wal-Mart are refuting critics and trying to comfort regulators charged with making the decision. Wal-Mart claims it will not open its own branch banks in its stores, undermine community banks or sidestep the nation's banking laws, according to a May 5 letter to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation made public Monday.

Wal-Mart expects to soon get approval from federal regulators to enter banking, but its victory will come at a high cost, a top executive told a bankers conference Monday." It has been a lot more effort than we ever thought," said Jane Thompson, head of financial services for the world's largest retailer. Thompson threatened, "we can't back out now."

A man arrested in the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba was released on Tuesday, a Dutch court official said. Holloway’s mother has been speaking in Arkansas on travel safety this week.

At least two of eight people indicted by a Phillips County grand jury Friday had been arrested by Monday afternoon, with more arrests expected today, Phillips County Sheriff Ronnie White said. White wouldn’t identify any of them until all eight had been arrested. The charges are contained in 35 sealed indictments arising from a grand jury investigation of actions last year by members of the West Helena City Council and the Helena-West Helena School Board.

State health officials have targeted Jan. 1 for the start of a program aimed at providing health benefits to some uninsured Arkansans. Up to 15,000 of Arkansas' 420,000 uninsured adults will be enrolled in the first phase of the new Arkansas Safety Net Benefits Program, legislators learned at a committee meeting Monday.

A federal magistrate from El Dorado has been nominated for a seat on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. President Bush nominated U.S. Magistrate Judge Bobby E. Shepherd, who has worked for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas for nearly 13 years, to replace another Arkansan, Circuit Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold.

A new law in Russellville would ban entirely any additional pit bulls in the city limits. It will allow current pit bull to register their animals with Animal Control within 30 days of its passage. An amendment to the ordinance states future pit bull breeds are banned entirely and may not be owned or kept within the city.

Monday, May 22, 2006

It's Monday, and there's nothing anybody can do about it.

Arkansas’ unemployment rate in April matched its highest level since January 2005, rising to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Gov. Mike Huckabee says that he would seek advice from a panel of economic advisers on the best way to return some of the state's $322.3 million surplus back to taxpayers. Huckabee said he'd like to see the Legislature approve tax rebates sometime this year in a special session.

State Republicans raised ethics questions Thursday about Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Tim Wooldridge’s campaign ad proclaiming Wooldridge the best candidate to “partner” with Attorney General Mike Beebe, a Democrat running for governor. Clint Reed, executive director of the Republican Party of Arkansas, asked the Arkansas Ethics Commission for an advisory opinion on whether Wooldridge’s campaign ad is an in-kind contribution to Beebe’s gubernatorial campaign.

Pulaski County will investigate allegations that the company supplying voting equipment to 72 Arkansas counties knew about visual problems the touch-screen voting machines pose to tall voters but didn’t tell local election officials before early voting began last week. The problem occurs when a tall voter looks down at the automated-teller-like voting machine, and an optical illusion causes the voter to inadvertently choose the candidate directly above the intended choice.

A hearing on a lawsuit seeking to save Paron High School is scheduled for Tuesday in the Little Rock courtroom of Pulaski County Circuit Judge James Moody, but it could be postponed for a couple of weeks.

A federal jury is to begin deliberating today on whether Saline County violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay hundreds of hours of overtime to 33 sheriff’s deputies and four clerical workers over several years.

The Pine Bluff Commercial reports Norman Hill has tendered his resignation as superintendent of the Monticello School District. According to the Commercial, this followed a disagreement over compensation for basketball coaches.

The Dollarway School Board voted unanimously to propose annexation or consolidation with the fiscally-distressed Altheimer district.

Bentonville is the latest Northwest Arkansas city targeted for a sports venue, with developers showing off plans Friday for a 9,000-seat arena hosting hockey, basketball and big name concerts. A group of 13 investors known as Arkansas Sports and Entertainment Park wants to build the 232,000-square-foot sports and entertainment arena off Arkansas 12. Plans for the $40 million privately financed arena include skyboxes and an executive level, where organizers expect alcohol to be served.

A Huntsville High School honor student was killed Friday afternoon on her way to graduation after she drove into the path of an oncoming truck, state police said. Nola Jane Jarrett was killed in a two vehicle accident on Arkansas 12 near the Benton and Madison county line.

A 27-year-old janitor, Dustin Long of Bella Vista, is being held in the Washington County Jail in connection with raping a 6-year-old girl at Fayetteville daycare center. A 6-year-old girl told police Friday she had been sexually assaulted by the janitor,

A Vilonia woman was arrested Friday on suspicion of misdemeanor child endangerment after police said she left her 4-month-old son unattended in a hot, unlocked car outside a local discount store. Brittany Huett told police she had left the baby in the car while she went inside the store, where she worked, to pick up her check.

A 13-year-old boy died of unknown causes at a home in Benton on Saturday morning, police said. Chad Allen Plummer was found lying on the kitchen floor of the home shortly before 9 a.m.

An unnamed family of seven lost its Little Rock home early Sunday when someone threw a Molotov cocktail on the front porch.

Police arrested a Gravette High School student after finding a device containing flammable liquids in his locker.

A Fort Smith massage therapist pleaded not guilty to improperly touching a client during a massage. Manford Lee Barnard Jr. pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of harassment. According to a police report, a woman contacted Fort Smith police on March 8 and reported that Barnard touched her improperly on Dec. 29. The woman said she was receiving a massage from Barnard when he touched her breasts, then started to put his hand inside her panties. The woman told police she grabbed Barnard’s wrist and stopped him, and he told her he was just trying to give her a “complimentary orgasm.”

The Hercules, California City Council is to vote Tuesday on whether to begin eminent domain proceedings to forcibly take 17.27 acres from Wal-Mart, which wants to put a big-box store near an upscale new residential neighborhood

Dillard’s posted record earnings per share in its first quarter report, along with a 61 percent increase in net income.

John Tyson, the grandson of the founder of Springdale-based Tyson Foods, stepped down Friday as chief executive of the world’s largest meat company. Tyson will remain as the company’s chairman. Tyson Foods President Richard Bond was named by the board of directors as the new chief executive.

The retirement of Monsignor John O’Donnell in Fort Smith has led to a domino effect in the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. All over Arkansas, priests have been reassigned to fill vacancies. The diocese itself is awaiting new leadership. The Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain, former bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, was reassigned by Pope Benedict XVI in the Diocese of Joliet, Ill. Sartain will begin work there June 27.

After more than four decades in education, Cheryl will retire as elementary principal at Valley View on June 30, ending her 42-year career as an educator.

Judicial Free Speech

This is not a political endorsement. I don’t do that kind of thing, and it would only be the kiss of death anyway. You are free to make up your own minds on the judicial races, but I want to weigh in on the matter of free speech.

Since when do judicial candidates not have the same free speech rights and Klansmen, religious wackos, radio talk show hosts and columnists. Wendell Griffin is right. Voters deserve to have some sense of what potential justices actually believe.

One candidate has an anonymous shadow campaign operating automatic telephone messages concerning his previous rulings and opinions on one particular matter. The candidate denies any knowledge of that group. Griffin has previously spoken about racial practices at the University of Arkansas and the handling of Hurricane Katrina.

The legislature never came close to impeaching Steve Clark, Bill McCuen, Nick Wilson, or Jim Guy Tucker and Griffin is not going to be impeached for what seems clearly protect commentary according to the latest federal court rulings.

In another race, Roger Harrod of Maumelle makes no secret of his desire to dismantle public education and there are no shrill voices of denunciation directed his way.

Let the free speech roll down like water and let justice fill the land. I’m Pat Lynch with news and comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.
(Broadcast May 19, 2006)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

On Monday’s Pat Classic, beginning at 9 AM Central Time, our assistant Theologian-in-residence, Bill Elkins, will chat with Pat about the Da Vinci Code. Pat will be commenting on last night’s Sopranos and he might even have a few spare moments for some pre-election commentary.

Lyncho might even read his own column. Remember, Monday is Pat Lynch day in the Democrat-Gazette. His column is on the Voices page in the Arkansas section.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday morning

This morning’s Democrat-Gazette reports that estimates of what Entergy Arkansas’ customers will owe in “system agreement” payments have nearly doubled since last year.

Arkansas' budget surplus will be $34 million more than the record amount state fiscal officers forecasted just two weeks, Richard Wilson, the Legislature's chief economist said Thursday. Wilson said the bureau now projects a surplus of $366 million.

The state Division of Legislative Audit has begun an inquiry into the use of public funds provided to the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus by several state agencies. Several state agencies, including the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, have given money to the Caucus. State Represnetative Booker T. Clemmens of Pine Bluff asked for an audit three months ago, but was told at the time that the Caucus received no public money. He has since produced Caucus records.

The Stephens Media Group reports school districts on the verge of closure could be divided among larger neighboring school districts to reduce student travel time under a plan that a veteran lawmaker proposed Thursday. Rep. Jodie Mahony, D-El Dorado, circulated copies of the proposal at a legislative hearing. The issue of distance and travel times was raised last week when the state board endorsed the Bryant School District's move to close Paron High School.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked a federal district court to dismiss the latest effort by Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe to intervene in Oklahoma's poultry pollution suit. "Our lawsuit is against the poultry companies," Edmondson said. "We did not sue Arkansas. We did not sue one single farmer. My only interests in this case are the health of Oklahoma's people and the quality of Oklahoma's water."

The State Health Department reports 10 cases of mumps. Two of the cases are in White County and there is one case each in Little River, Clark, Pulaski, Drew and Lonoke counties. None of the mumps patients have had any contact with any of those affected by the illness from Iowa and other locations affected by the recent mumps outbreak in the Midwest.

Rainfall during late March, April and early May has loosened the grip of drought on Arkansas, and further improvement was forecast Thursday by the National Weather Service.

Springdale residents may get the chance in July to decide whether to extend a city sales tax to build a baseball stadium. City Council members are expected to review an ordinance Tuesday calling for a special election July 11, extending the road bond sales tax to pay for a minor league baseball stadium.

Researchers will scale back their hunt for the ivory-billed woodpecker after a six-month search failed to yield hard evidence that the bird still lives in Arkansas’ Big Woods. They no longer believe a pair of the birds, long thought to be extinct, are in the Bayou DeView area of the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. The search will continue in other parts of the south.

A federal appeals court has denied a request to reconsider the decision by a three-judge panel upholding former Pine Bluff alderman Jack Foster’s 2004 conviction for attempted extortion.

The Pine Bluff Commercial reports that Shirley Cunningham is not certified as a district superintendent and the Altheimer School Board — because it represents a fiscally-distressed district — may have breached state regulations when it suspended Superintendent Dr. William Thomas and appointed Cunningham interim superintendent. All of this means that the district may be taken over by the state immediately and a negotiated merger with Dollarway may fall through.

A federal jury has rejected a Mena woman’s claim that she was sexually harassed in the workplace and fired for reporting the harassment. Charity Lewis has claimed that, while she was the only female employee in her department at Street and Performance of Mena, male employees displayed photographs of nude and semi-nude women. The company successfully argued that Lewis failed to prove that any of the women were naked.

The 121st annual Old Folks Singing will take place Sunday at Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Tull. In keeping with tradition, the event is scheduled for the Sunday after Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday notes

The Arkansas Supreme Court says Democrat candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Bill Halter, meets the constitutional residency requirements and stays on the primary election ballot.

The Stephens Media Group reports that Gov. Mike Huckabee's office will not say whether one of his appointees to the state Parole Board was pressured to resign amid an investigation into a misconduct allegation. Lary Zeno of Bryant resigned Tuesday, after a report on an internal investigation was forwarded to the governor.

A federal judge has delayed his decision about whether investigators can collect water and soil samples at 14 Oklahoma farms. U. S. District Court Magistrate Sam Joyner of Tulsa took the issue under advisement, leaving open the question of whether Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson can collect the samples as part of his lawsuit against eight poultry companies with operations in Arkansas. Edmondson declined comment.

Today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports on Skip Rutherford’s role as an advisor for the Bush Presidential Library, which is still in the site selection stage. Rutherford heads the Clinton Library Foundation and will become Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service.

The U. S. Department of Education has rejected Arkansas’ plan to change the system for measuring students progress on the Benchmark and End-of-Course exams.

Education consultants have told a legislative committee that other states have more flexible standards on teaching the “core curriculum” in high schools. Arkansas requires all 38 classes be taught every year. Bryant school district recently closed the small Paron school because all courses were not being taught there.

The owner of a Little Rock printing company has filed a complaint with the Arkansas Ethics Commission against former Lieutenant Governor candidate Drew Pritt charging Pritt has not listed $2700 supposedly owed to Ad Craft as an outstanding debt on any of his finance reports. Pritt told the Democrat-Gazette that he disagrees with the claim and has attempted to reach a settlement.

FOX 16 reports the family of Raymond Hoggins,who fell from a bridge in Bryant, says the story police are telling doesn't add up and now they want answers. They believe their loved one was pulled over on I-30 because of his skin color and from there things went horribly wrong, resulting in injuries that have left him brain dead.

Acxiom Corp. reported fourth-quarter earnings of 26 cents per share or $44.6 million, edging out Wall Street's expectations by a penny.

A study from Pennsylvania State University finds that, during the 1990’s, dependence on the food stamp program nationwide increased by 8 percent, while in counties with Wal-Mart stores the increase was almost twice as large at 15.3 percent, according to the study. Although Wal-Mart employs many people living in its communities, for most, the hours worked and the wages paid do not help these families transition out of poverty, the study said.

Some city leaders in Conway are toasting a big victory for the downtown district. Wednesday the Alcohol Beverage Control Board granted a private club license to Michealangelo's.

Faulkner County officials now expect the new county jail to officially open for prisoners sometime in mid-August. It seems that the skylights have stopped leaking and the floors can be put in.

a community planning firm from Florida, recommended Wednesday five goals to make Fayetteville a more compact, walkable town. Fayetteville is expected to need another 16,000 acres if the current development patterns on the edge of Fayetteville continue.

Bentonville officials are thinking about adding a permanent ice skating rink. The size and cost of a rink that could be used as a splash park in the summer haven't been determined.

Judicial races

There will be no political endorsements here, but you really should read the editorial on the non-partisan judicial races The Leader of north Pulaski County. I have always liked Wendell Griffin and he is plainly on target about his right to as much free speech as anybody else.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Climate change gets noticed in Arkansas

Here is a bit of sobering news for the President. The Arkansas Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation have conducted a survey of Arkansas sportsmen and the results are not encouraging.

Three-quarters - 77 % to be exact - believe that global warming is for real, and many believe they have seen evidence of it. Considering the duck seasons for the past decade, that should not come as any huge surprise. President Bush, and his Vice President Dick Cheney – another avid outdoorsman, certainly give every appearance of being the full time employees of the industries that are messing things up.

When your basic gun toting guy next-door notices, you are in huge trouble. One of the major commercial weather forecasting firms predicts several huge hurricanes this season. China is facing a major storm. The northeast is flooding and there is a drought in England. The weather definitely seems to have lost its’ way but I would not be too concerned if I were the president.

The only thing on earth more disorganized that the weather is the Democratic Party. I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.
(Broadcast May 16, 2006)

Wednesday daybreak

Paul Barton reports in today’s Democrat-Gazette that Gov. Mike Huckabee has told reporters in Washington, D. C. that he believes he knows what’s behind the anti-immigration feelings of some Americans. “If I were to say some of it is driven by just sheer racism, I think I would be telling you the truth,” Huckabee said as he shared sandwiches and salad with close to 20 national and regional political reporters.

Governor Mike Huckabee has refused to release either the letter of resignation or the final report of an investigation into allegations of “professional misconduct” by former Parole Board member Larry Zeno.

Arkansas’ Sen. Blanche Lincoln joined two other Democratic senators Tuesday to promote an Internet petition calling for disaster-relief money for farmers hit by drought or higher fuel costs.

Workers at a Kansas Tyson Foods meatpacking plant have sued the company, alleging it violated federal and state labor laws by not paying them for time spent putting on and taking off protective equipment and walking to and from their work stations. The lawsuit lists 262 current and former workers as plaintiffs. Most of the plaintiffs are Hispanic immigrants.

The Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, will become the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Joliet, Ill., a diocese six times larger than the Little Rock diocese and one troubled by sex abuse scandals.

Paron High School may not be closed after all, a development that Bryant School Board members believe could cause the school district to be placed on probation for a third straight year. Dr. Richard Abernathy, Bryant superintendent says that, if the school remained open, the district could be placed on probation for violations such as not providing all 38 state-mandated courses and for not having enough certified teachers at Paron.

The Little Rock Nine will be honored tonight in Topeka, Kan., as part of the 52nd anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, which declared racially segregated schools to be unconstitutional.

Replacing the main passenger terminal at Little Rock National Airport, Adams Field, will be no more expensive than renovating it, will require less time to build and will eliminate the hassle factor for airline passengers who would have to negotiate the construction in the existing terminal, according to a team of consultants. Total cost is set at around $185 million.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Waldron Mayor and Scott County judge candidate Troy Anderson on complaints of abuse of public trust and patronizing a prostitute. Over a span of several years, the 72 year old Anderson allegedly offered a woman who had a delinquent water bill money for sex, ultimately met with her while she was wearing a hidden transmitter. Another woman reportedly told State Police investigators that she has been having sex with Anderson in exchange for money and water service over the past eight years.

A Sebastian County judge has granted a motion by prosecutors for the destruction of an adult female pit bull dog and her six puppies. The adult dog has attacked and bitten at least three people, and it was trained to be aggressive,

The Pine Bluff City Council has voted unanimously to set a new effective date for an ordinance restricting ownership of pit bull dog breed dogs in the city limits. The new date will be June 16.

The Democrat-Gazette reports that ashtrays, tainted by their cigarette association, will be banished when the statewide anti-smoking law takes effect July 1. The new law, Act 8 of 2006, calls for the removal of all ashtrays from areas where smoking is prohibited — virtually all workplaces.

More Paron problems

The Benton Courier has an outstanding report which gives some background on efforts to keep the Paron high school open. Keeping Paron open could result in Bryant schools being kept on probation for a third straight year.

The Bryant School District has been placed on probation for the past two years because Paron was unable to provide enough classes to meet the 38-course curriculum required by the state. Classes such as chemistry and certain algebra and geometry classes are currently not being taught at Paron.


(Superintendent, Dr. Richard) Abernathy said the district's problems would be compounded because the Paron teachers have already been assigned and students have already been given choices to attend Bryant or a number of other school districts. Abernathy said a few have exercised that right to choice.

And here's a shot across the bow.

(Board member Jim) Davis said board members have spoken with many residents of Paron on a number of occasions, and he believes many of the residents understood the problems encountered by the Bryant district. But Davis said a small group - led by one person he declined to name - has been keeping the conflict alive.

Little Rock businessman Ron Crawford, whose grandchild attends Paron High School, is named as a plaintiff in the suit. Crawford has been a spokesman for the Rural Education Preservation Alliance, formerly known as the Paron Education Preservation Alliance.

From our canine correspondent

Ten Peeves that Dogs Have About Humans
1. Blaming your farts on me... not funny... not funny at all !!!
2. Yelling at me for barking.. I'M A FRIGGIN' DOG, YOU IDIOT!
3. Taking me for a walk, then not letting me check stuff out. Exactly whose walk is this anyway?
4. Any trick that involves balancing food on my nose... stop it!
5. Any haircut that involves bows or ribbons. Now you know why we chew your stuff up when you're not home.
6. The slight of hand, fake fetch throw. You fooled a dog! Whoooo Hoooooooo what a proud moment for the top of the food chain.
7. Taking me to the vet for "the big snip", then acting surprised when I freak out every time we go back!
8. Getting upset when I sniff the crotches of your guests. Sorry, but I haven't quite mastered that handshake thing yet.
9. Dog sweaters. Hello ??? Haven't you noticed the fur?
10. How you act disgusted when I lick myself. Look, we both know the truth, you're just jealous.
Now lay off me on some of these thing's, we both know who’s boss here!!! You don't see me picking up your poop, do you ???

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Finally, a fair tax

Our APRN business reporter Roby Brock is all over the Fayetteville Shale story. He says that this new source of natural gas could put $5 billion dollars into the state economy over the next three years. That sounds huge to me.

Here is something lawmakers need to start thinking about and taking positions on. Arkansas needs to increase its’ severance tax. That is a charge to companies that remove the non-renewable resources of the people of Arkansas. This has been an issue for many decades and folks around here have lost considerable money to timber and gas interests.

The time has come for gubernatorial and legislative candidates to clearly say where they are on getting our severance tax up, at least, to regional norms. When your home uses gas produced in Texas, which happens a lot, you pay handsomely to build classrooms there. Why should we not assess the same charge? It is a question of equity.

Big companies have lobbyists, but we voters and taxpayer should have a say too. I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.

(Broadcasr May 16,, 2006)

Tune in Tuesday

The Jonesboro City Council is expected to officially take a sales tax election off the June 13 ballot on tonight. Aldermen agreed last month to schedule the election to allow voters to consider a one percent sales tax to pay for construction of a convention center and a fire station. John Q. Hammons pulled out of his proposal in April.

Democratic lieutenant governor's candidate Bill Halter refunded over $669,000 in April to contributors to his abandoned governor's campaign, according to campaign finance records filed Monday. The refunds began about three weeks after Halter dropped out of the governor's race on March 9, and about three weeks before primary opponent Mike Hathorn filed an ethics complaint against Halter alleging campaign finance irregularities.

A motion for the destruction of an adult female pit bull dog and her six puppies is being taken up in Sebastian County Circuit Court. The dog bit Sharon Sicard on the left leg on April 8. Doctors packed the open wound with gauze and referred Sicard to a plastic surgeon. Sicard is at least the third person the dog has attacked and bitten, and the dog’s owners have told Sebastian County Humane Society personnel that they trained the dog to be aggressive.

A former treasurer of the East End School District in Perry County, who also is the wife of the county sheriff, pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $40,000 from the district. In exchange for a guilty plea, Peggy Reeder of Houston received five years’ probation and a $500 fine. She also paid restitution.

A Sherwood man died last year after his arrest on a drunken driving charge because medical staff at the Pulaski County Jail failed to give him his seizure medication, his widow alleges in a federal lawsuit. William Longwill, died May 14, 2005 after having a seizure in the jail’s shower room. The previous day, in sentencing Longwill to a weekend in jail, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox told the sheriff’s office that Longwill had a seizure disorder and was to be carefully observed. The lawsuit says that he was not given his medication while incarcerated.

Forbes magazine has listed its’ top cities for business. Top honor goes to Albuquerque, N.M. Behind Albuquerque come Raleigh; Houston; Boise, Idaho; Knoxville; Phoenix; Nashville; Durham, N.C.; Fayetteville, Ark.; and Indianapolis.

Survey results by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation show that a majority of Arkansas sportsmen believe that global warming is a reality that demands counter-measures. More than three-quarters of Arkansas hunters and anglers (77 %) agree that global warming is occurring, and most said they have observed changes in climate conditions where they live, such as warmer, shorter winters, hotter summers and unusual drought. Nearly two-thirds (65 %) said they believe these changes are related to global warming.

Recent rains have so improved the level at Brewer Lake that Conway residents no longer are under a mandatory reduction of water usage

Kevin Tubberville of the Jonesboro Sun reports that the new Continental Baseball League has targeted 42 cities in eight states as possible sites, and one of them is Jonesboro.

Work has begun on a $1 million garden on the east side of the Statehouse Convention Center, a memorial to H.U. Lee, the Korean taekwondo master who located in Little Rock and brings thousands and thousands of taekwondo practitioners to LR for a convention each year.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sunrise Monday

Advocates for the elderly predict that today will bring a surge of people out to beat the deadline to sign up for drug coverage. Medicare officials say they are confident their employees and computer system will be able to handle the load.

State auditors released a report on administrative costs of running Arkansas’ 250 school districts for the 2004-05 fiscal year, detailing the outlay for administrative staff and leading some lawmakers to say the state should have more control over the districts. Some of the information suggests that districts may be breaking state laws concerning reporting benefits as taxable income and underreporting superintendent’s salaries. The Bentonville District reportedly has not notified the state of $233 thousand paid to superintendent Gary Compton to purchase a retirement annuity.

Roby Brock reports in the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas that Natural gas development in the Fayetteville Shale could potentially generate $5.5 billion for Arkansas' economy through 2008, along with nearly 10,000 jobs and $358 million in state and local tax revenue, a highly anticipated University of Arkansas study released Wednesday projected. The six-month study was funded by Southwestern Energy.

Patrons of tiny Paron High School filed a lawsuit Friday in Pulaski County Circuit Court in an effort to keep the school from closing. The group of 14 Paron supporters claimed closure of the 75-student school and subsequent busing of Paron students to Bryant would violate the students' constitutional right to an equal educational opportunity.

The Arkansas Supreme Court will expedite consideration of an appeal of a circuit judge’s ruling that the name of Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Bill Halter of North Little Rock can remain on the May 23 primary election ballot.

Former Pine Bluff alderman Billy Freeman Sr. was released from a federal prison Friday and was immediately set free after a Jefferson County circuit court judge prohibited the state Department of Correction from taking custody of him. reeman began serving a 13-month federal prison sentence on June 6, 2005, after pleading guilty to attempted extortion on May 5, 2005. He received credit for more than a month of “good time” and will be placed on supervised federal probation for three years.

Prosecutors charged convicted killer Ronald James Ward with first-degree murder, saying he raped and stabbed 25-year-old Kristin Laurite to death as she exercised her dogs at a rest stop in Morrilton on an August afternoon six years ago.

Barling police violated an Ozark woman’s rights when they searched her purse without obtaining her consent. Circuit Judge Michael Fitzhugh granted a motion to suppress evidence that Barling police seized when they searched the purse of Danielle Elise Ingram following a traffic stop on Arkansas 59.

A Harding University professor has received a grant to study the effect of caffeine on children. Ken Turley, associate professor of kinesiology and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the Searcy liberal arts college, received $18 thousand from the Arkansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence at UAMS.

According to the Democrat-Gazette, some Asian immigrant farmers who moved to Arkansas and bordering states with dreams of turning birds into dollars are filing for bankruptcy protection. Fayetteville lawyer Mark Henry is handling eight personal or business bankruptcy involving Hmong poultry farmers, part of a tribal Southeast Asian group who fled to the United States as refugees in the Vietnam War era. Henry is also handling six fraud claims that allege the Hmong farmers paid inflated prices for their properties, causing financial struggles.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Pat & Grant's excellent road trip

Grant Merrill and I visited some of the stations which will be running the Pat Lynch show from 9 to 11. It starts in the next few days on several stations, and more will be added soon. Above is a photo of me being interviewed by Ron Fell for the Cable channel in Searcy, and there is also a shot of me outside a historic (and now unused) broadcast structure in Newport. A famous Arkansan once worked in that building. Stay tuned for details and listen for me to start showing up around the state.

Help is on the way, Roy!

One of my most intellectual readers here, and listeners on WAI, has is in dire anxiety because, in his opinion, too much time is spent discussing American Idol. Obviously, I should be more completely immersed in the war, bird flu, the state surplus, school standards, and every political race in every one of our 75 counties.

My buddy, bigdaddio, has offered up some help for Roy.

top ten things roy can do while pat and carole talk american idol:

10) sprinkle some st john's wort on his corn flakes!
9) put a huge cigar in his mouth, because sometimes a cigar may be just a cigar!
8) write an essay on "the maddona complex and it's role in decisions roy has made in his life"
7) ponder what freud meant by that scraggly little beard!
6) was jung right or wrong? discuss it among himself!
5) stare into the mirror and try to win an argument!
4) answer the heretofore unanswered question: cat lovers vs dog lovers and what does it mean to roy?
3) take a pleasant stroll and lecture any squirrerls he may encounter!
2) try to find a nice long article in the arkansas democrat gazette that really pisses him off and then write a letter to the editor!

and the #1 thing roy can do while pat and carole talk american idol: ask himself over and over, "roy, how does that make you feel?"!

UPDATE: A few items down, in the "Comments" section, I discovered Roy's response. It's pretty funny.

Top 10 Comments Pat Lynch And Big Daddio Least Like To Hear

10. I've smoked fatter joints than that.
9. Ahh, it's cute.
8. Who circumcised you?
7. Wow, and your feet are so big.
6. This explains your car.
5. I didn't know they came that small.
4. Do you take steroids?
3. It's a good thing you have so many other talents.
2. So this is why you're supposed to judge people on personality.
And the numero uno least liked comment:
1. Your big gun is more like a BB gun.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hammons Hardball

I sure don’t want to mess things up for Jonesboro, but what is going on with John Q. Hammons. The Springfield, Missouri multi-multi-millionaire has gotten stinking rich building and running some really nice hotels. I have stayed at several and they are first class.

If Jonesboro were looking for a private sector partner for its’ long dreamed about convention center, it would be hard to imagine a better friend than Hammons. That is why the latest developments are so troubling and just plain mystifying.

Hammons promised to build a hotel and kick in part on the convention center if the city would finance part. That may or may not be a good idea. It is a purely philosophical judgment and I am more than willing to leave the outcome with the good people of Jonesboro. The problem is that Hammons abruptly killed the deal after he caught wind of a couple of local city council members doing their jobs and sticking up for the taxpayers.

Understand, the council unanimously put the new tax measure on a fast track for a June election. Hammons not only wants cooperation, but, apparently, complete submission to his will. Now, he says he might be ready to get on board again if the city gets its’ act together. It is hard to imagine exactly what more might be needed.

Hammons ought to be grateful for the opportunity to have a slam-dunk opportunity to make some good loot in a town that needs his services. I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.
(Broadcast May 12, 2006)

UPDATE: The Jonesboro Sun reports that the property previously purchased by John Q. Hammons for a Courtyard by Marriott hotel and Convention Center was listed for sale Wednesday afternoon by John White Real Estate.

The left scores!

I guess this proves that ordinary people are a lot smarter than the "leadership" of the Democratic Party. This guy has promoted a book which is a best seller before the publication date, and did it without me! The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Several bloggers have cranked out books, but a first-time San Francisco publisher, with assistance from liberal bloggers, helped push one from obscurity to the No. 1 spot on Amazon's best-seller charts in a day -- even before advance copies were printed.

Written by lawyer-turned-blogger Glenn Greenwald, the rise of "How Would a Patriot Act: Defending America from a President Run Amok" is a San Francisco-forged tale of new media leading the old, in which a video created to accompany the book was out before the bound copies, and the video's circulation turned out to be more valuable than kudos from book critics.

Finally, Friday!

Even though the state has a current budget surplus approaching $200 million, and the ultimate cost to taxpayers in interest on the bonds will be around $125 million, the University of Arkansas board of trustees have unanimously approved a plan allowing the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to borrow up to $40 million to pay for part of a $65 million cancer center.

A legislative panel has authorized state auditors to assist in state police investigations into government operations in Jefferson County and the city of Waldron. State police and Special Prosecutor Lona McCastlain of Lonoke are looking into possible misappropriation of county materials, equipment and labor in Jefferson County. In Waldron, state police and Prosecutor Tom Tatum are looking into allegations that the mayor manipulated certain water customer accounts.

Fayetteville Shale Gas Play activities could bring as many as 484 jobs to Faulkner County by 2008, according to a study by the Sam M. Walton College of Business Center for Business and Economic Research.

Property previously purchased by John Q. Hammons for a Courtyard by Marriott hotel and Convention Center in Jonesboro was listed for sale Wednesday afternoon. Hammons reportedly has said he is willing to go back to the drawing board if the city is ready. A June election on a proposed sales tax to fund the project is on the May 16 City Council agenda.

In a speech to the Jonesboro Kiwanis Club, Rex Nelson, federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, expressed optimism about the future of the Delta. The prospect of Crittenden County becoming an automotive manufacturing hub, the possibility of natural gas production from Van Buren County to Helena, and the growth of biodiesel and ethanol production are developments which, according to Nelson, could not have been foreseen five years ago.

Gov. Mike Huckabee on Thursday set a July 5 execution date for Don William Davis, sentenced to death in the 1990 murder of a Rogers woman. Davis was convicted of capital murder in Benton County Circuit Court in the slaying of Jane Daniel.

There is an investigation into possible “professional misconduct” regarding an Arkansas Board of Parole member. Chairman Leroy Brownlee says complaints about board member Lary Zeno surfaced about a week ago. According to Brownlee, “It had to do with a professional working relationship.”

The Log Cabin Democrat reports 20 inmates at the Faulkner County Detention Center were put on administrative lock down (which means a loss of privileges) Wednesday after they wouldn't comply with new rules set by Capt. Jeff Johnston. The new rules address the cleanliness of the cells where the inmates live.

After an eight-year investigation in the rape of a Russellville woman, DNA experts at the State Crime Lab say they have their match. Grady Wayne Lewallen of Dardanelle is being held at the Pope County Detention Center for a rape that occurred Oct. 20, 1998, on Highway 7. Prosecutors filed charges against a “John Doe” in 2004. Lewallen gave a mandatory DNA sample after being convicted of residential burglary in the same year.

Fort Smith police are investigating several possible homicides from the 1970s based on information received last month about a potential suspect The Southwest Times Record reports that the Fort Smith Police Department received information in April that someone incarcerated at the Nevada State Penitentiary might have committed at least three homicides in Fort Smith between 1975 and 1977. Investigators traveled to Nevada and interviewed the prisoner, who has cooperated with them.

Pulaski County Jail is still in trouble

The Leader, in north Pulaski County, hits on something that has been running in the background for a few years now. The Pulaski County jail is about to be in the news again.

Pulaski County Sheriff Randy Johnson wants to reopen the county's 250-bed work-release program, then phase in over a number of years new construction for an additional 808 jail beds at a cost of $34.2 million in construction and $15 million in annual operating costs, according to information he supplied to the county's Public Safety Task Force.

At a task force meeting last week, members concluded that only a dedicated sales tax of one-eighth or one-quarter cents per dollar could pay for such an ambitious expansion.

But first, North Little Rock needs to get done with thapennyey sales tax to build a baseball stadium.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Christina Villareal oversees the TeachArkansas program which is under the umbrella of ADE/Teacher Quality Unit. She comes by at 9 Friday to talk about a big event Saturday. The Arkansas Department of Education will hold a job fair designed specifically for Arkansas teachers and administrators already licensed to work in Arkansas schools. The ADE 2006 Educators Career Fair will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at the Little Rock Holiday Inn Airport.

Bill Halter, Lieutenant Governor candiate, will be on at 10.

Pat Classic will stream "live" weekdays 9 to 1 at WAI

Next week will be darned near historic and guests include Senator Blanche Lincoln, Congressman Marion Berry, Bill Valentine, Steve Stephens, and John Mark Huckabee.

Max and the gang at Arkansas Times posted this photo a day or so ago. It concerns the new "grand hall" at the Governor's Mansion.

I think this is really offensive. This ostentatious display makes Arkansas look like a banana republic. Am I nuts?

OK, I AM nuts, but you know what I mean.

My pal, bigdaddio, has had too much spare time lately, so here we go again!

the top ten bets john daly might make:

10) i bet i can balance this pizza box ON my gut until the last slice is IN my gut!
9) i bet jesper parnevik knows that's a stupid lookin' hat!
8) i bet mike huckabee is hungry!
7) i bet houston doesn't invite me over to inspire the team on the importance of training!
6) i bet my wife is out of prison before david bazzel is married again!
5) i bet katie holmes could use some zoloft!
4) i bet randy rainwater can't hit that high note when he sings the national anthem!
3) i bet tiger woods looks at that little blonde swedish supermodel he married and makes a mental note to start hiding cash!
2) i bet hundred dollar bills hanging out of my pockets makes me

one handsome bastard in a strip joint!

and the #1 bet john daly might make: "i bet i'll have another beer!"

Another reason not to drain Dark Hollow

This came under the door today and is an insightful look into what will happen once the Bass Pro Shop is built in Dark Hollow. Did I meniton that the children of the North Little Rock Public Schools will pay for this because of TIF district? Ah, well. Here is something to consider.


As a member of the Sierra Club and Ozark Society, I have to object to the construction ok given to build Bass Pro Shop in Dark Hollow.

Now before you write me off as a Tree Huggin' Wacko, I also have a Degree in Civil Engineering and deal with handling construction and water run off in my job every day.

The temporary approval for construction of the Bass Pro Shop and other stores in the Dark Hollow section of North Little Rock is going to have future consequences, and you've heard it here first.

The intersection of I-40 and I-30, better known as Dark Hollow has been there for almost 40 years now. If one looks at the lay out, 40 hugs the bottom of Park Hill and 30 is against an established neighborhood.

Why, because Dark Hollow is a SWAMP, a WET LAND.

Note that there are no homes, no buildings and no roads in this area.

We are about to commit the same mistake that was done in Louisiana, by building in a Vital Wet Land for this part of North Little Rock.

D rk Hollow takes all the water from this part of North Little Rock and slows it down so it can drain off to the river without flash flooding the areas to the south of Dark Hollow: Rose City, East Broadway, etc.

This wet land by the way is drained by a wooden, not concrete, a wooden box culvert running through the neighborhood south of dark Hollow and east of I-30.

You pave a large portion of this area and run off becomes 3 times quicker than what it is now.

With out Major improvements to the entire drainage system from Dark Hollow to the River, flooding will take place. Who knows what condition the wooden box is in, as it has been there for nearly a Century. Can it Handle this load? Who knows.

I hope the Engineering people are shooting straight with the data and have checked all the angles in their proposal. From what I've seen, more infrastructure will be needed than just around the shopping area. That's your nickel, North Little Rock!

This is all about Exposure. Bass Pro could have located years ago in a much better location, building wise, with minimal impact to the drainage system.

But NO, we've just GOT to be here at 40 and 30 so we can boast where we sit!

And don't get me started about access to this place. AHTD has already said there will be no additions or changes to the interstates in Dark Hollow, that means cars will have to use North Hills and 15th Street to access this area.

Are the local residents ready for that traffic? (p.s. I don't live in the area)

This thing smells all the way around: Building in a Wet Land and bad access. All to put a fancy address on your Catalog!

Let's hope that the appeal judge has better sense.

Fried Chicken Every Sunday

If Tyson Foods were doing anything wrong, I would be the first person to crawl up one side and down the other on that very thick corporate hide.

You may or may not know that I am somewhat overly interested in the avian flu virus, which has killed millions of birds all over the world, and about two hundred people. I am concerned, so it must be noted that the flu strain has not mutated and is not now spreading easily among human beings. ABC ran a move about what might happen the other night and I saw about 2 minutes. It was horrifying.

OK, I’m a bit obsessed.

Two things about the chicken industry must be said, and I have no particular liking for these guys. If chicken is fully cooked, you can’t get bird flu. Doesn’t everybody already know to thoroughly cook poultry? It’s pretty yucky if you don’t.

The other thing that ought to be obvious is that Tyson recognizes that how it handles this situation will have a big bearing on its’ future as a part of the American food marketplace. Tyson is doing even more testing of its’ birds and I am absolutely confident that they are being responsible. This is actually one of those situations where the free market will work.

Go buy chicken. It’s good for you and it’s cheap. I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.
(Broadcast Wednesday May 10, 2006)

Sun up on Thursday

Today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that prison investigators have administered lie-detector tests to the staff at the lockup in Calico Rock to determine who gave photographs and other documents to the newspaper for a story about how an unofficial inmate transfer policy may have contributed to race riots at the prison this spring. An April 23 story in the Democrat-Gazette revealed an unofficial transfer practice that sent troublesome black inmates to the remote Ozarks prison that then had an all-white staff.

Arkansas Business reports Hotelier John Q. Hammons says that, while he has shelved the idea of partnering with the city of Jonesboro to build a $45 million hotel and convention center, he'd be willing to go back to the drawing board if the city is ready. The city had planned to ask voters to approve a 1 percent sales tax on June 13 to build a convention center. Hammons said that if the tax passes, he would build the hotel. The election is on the May 16 City Council agenda.

Five days before the deadline to sign up for its new drug benefit, Medicare released numbers showing that about 6 million elderly and disabled people, including about 80,000 in Arkansas, lack coverage and face potential penalties unless they enroll.

Today’s Democrat-Gazette reports that Benton and Washington counties have seen double-digit percentage growth in house prices in recent years, but that may come to an end. Not only might the appreciation slow down, but there is a risk of a decline in prices in Northwest Arkansas in the next year or two, said Augustine “Gus” Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody’s

A circuit judge says that the name of Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Bill Halter of North Little Rock can remain on the May 23 primary election ballot.

Cable television provider Comcast Corp. has fired the latest shot in Arkansas’ telecom convergence wars, announcing the rollout next month of telephone service in metro Little Rock.

Whirlpool Corp. will close its Maytag dryer factory in Searcy by the end of the year, cutting 700 jobs.

Opponents of a $130 million shopping center and Bass Pro Shop planned for a North Little Rock wetland, and part of a taxpayer subsidized TIF district which siphons urgently needed tax dollars away from the North Little Rock School District, said Wednesday that they are considering appealing a judge’s decision barring them from suing to stop the project.

Relatives found the 28-year-old mother dead inside her Little Rock apartment Wednesday evening, marking the city’s 26th homicide of the year.

Owners and 40 patrons of a Pocola, Oklahoma adult-oriented store, Adult World, could face numerous criminal charges once investigators complete the paperwork and an extensive inventory of the items found. “We’re going to be here for a flippin’ month,” Pocola police chief Eric Helms said late Tuesday. “We are seizing explicit material all over the place.”

Patrick Antoon Sr., a Magnolia physician convicted in a scam that billed Medicare for power wheelchairs that patients did not need, was sentenced Wednesday 1 to 4/2 years in federal prison.

Two Lakeside High School students were charged with insult or abuse to a teacher after being accused of putting a laxative in tea that two teachers drank. Harry Lee Keek and Bradley William Parham, both 18, were cited with a misdemeanor count, police said Monday. The two face a hearing next Tuesday in Hot Springs District Court; two others also could be charged

The Palestine City Council unanimously voted to pay themselves $50 individually for each meeting that is held whether the councilmember attends or not.

Under terms of a law signed Wednesday, tattooing will become legal in Oklahoma on November 1.

The 17th annual Yell Fest, at Veterans Riverfront Park located on Front Street in Dardanelle, kicks off Thursday night and runs through Saturday.

Picklefest returns to Adkins this weekend. Along with the mainstays of pickle juice drinking and eating contests, this year's festival will offer many traditional and new attractions. One of the top new attractions this year is the exhibit of Scott Romine's "General Lee" car from the "Dukes of Hazard" television series.

Chuckwagon racers from across the country will compete for prizes in a variety of classes and wagon styles during the annual Chuck Wagon Race and Ranch Rodeo in Mayflower today through Sunday.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


For the first time, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) will hold a job fair designed specifically for Arkansas teachers and administrators already licensed to work in Arkansas schools. The ADE 2006 Educators Career Fair will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at the Little Rock Holiday Inn Airport.

“We are excited about this event geared for teachers and administrators who would like to increase their areas of expertise,” said Christina Villareal, ADE teacher recruitment program advisor. “We will have representatives from Arkansas schools of education on hand with information for teachers who want to add subject areas or grade levels to their teaching licenses. For example, an elementary teacher can become certified to teach middle school students, thus enhancing his or her own marketability. Or teachers could add licensure to teach special education. That would be great, because we have a huge need for special education teachers in Arkansas.”

In addition, educators with expired licenses are encouraged to come to the fair to start the process of renewing them. “We hope to attract that teacher who may have decided to stay home to raise her children but who is now ready to get back into the classroom,” Villareal said.

School districts with immediate openings will also be prepared to hire qualified professionals at the fair, Villareal said, so attendees interested in looking at new opportunities should bring updated resumes.

An EMERGENCY meeting of the official WAI American Idol Viewing Team has been set for Thursday morning at 10. Shockwaves shook the nation as a shattered Chris was sent packing. Is this a sign of the end times? Which Idol will be "left behind" next? Laurie, David, Carole and Pat will seek to sooth and reassure on WAI

Senator Lincoln's weekly press briefing is on at 10:30.

Bill Halter is on Friday and we will get you all caught up on this weekend's Education Career Fair.

Next week is huge! Guests include: Senator Lincoln, Congressman Marion Berry, Bill Valentine, Steve Stephens, and John Mark Huckabee.

Wet Wednesday

Seth Blomeley reports in today’s Democrat-Gazette that Gov. Mike Huckabee says that he’s seriously considering a tax rebate for Arkansans and is urging people to lobby their legislators to support the idea. Most legislative leaders weren’t keen on Huckabee’s idea. They cited lingering needs for public schools, the likelihood of continued rising Medicaid costs and the possibility of another economic downturn that could lead to revenue shortfalls and budget cuts.

Developers will be able to go ahead on a planned $130 million shopping center development in North Little Rock, which includes a Bass Pro Shop. Federal Judge George Howard issued a ruling finding that a group of conservationists had no standing to halt the project with a lawsuit.

Among the emails to and from former FEMA director Michael Brown released yesterday, is an exchange with former Arkansas Senator turned lobbyist Tim Hutchinson early on the morning Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, seeking a face-to-face meeting between brown and one of his clients, Blu-Med Response Systems.

Arkansas Business reports that Tyson Foods of Springdale s has increased its weekly tests for avian flu since last year. The meat processor now conducts 15,000 tests per week for the avian influenza, five times more often than it did last year.

The Rogers City Council voted down an ordinance banning chickens and fowl in much of the city. Instead, council members agreed to consider an ordinance regulating the keeping of poultry and fowl in residential areas.

Work should begin early this summer on part of the southern traffic corridor after the Springdale City Council approved a $2.1 million bid for construction. Work on the central traffic corridor should also begin this summer.

Shirley Comp, A 23-year-old Jacksonville mother is in the Pulaski County Jail with bail set at $250,000, on a capital murder charge stemming from the January death of one of her twin 3-month-old sons. Comp is also charged with second-degree battery regarding injuries to the other child.

A judge set bond at $500,000 for Dallas Flakes, who is accused of forcing his way into a Morrilton woman’s home over the weekend and stabbing her more than 20 times. The unnamed 50-year-old woman suffered neck, arm and upper body wounds, but none was life threatening,

A Salvadoran man living in Malvern as a woman, remains in the Sheridan Detention Center, charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy. Hector Alfons Sapeda, who was also known as Ariel Sapeda, is charged with felony rape and accused of forcing a 16-year-old boy to have sex with him.
A Warren youth minister has been charged with stalking a child over the Internet and attempted first-degree sexual assault of a minor. Police received information last week that Joseph G. Stephens, a youth minister at First United Methodist Church at Warren, may have been using the Internet to solicit sex with a Warren girl.

The head of the Arkansas Activities Association says high school football schedules for next season are being compiled as planned despite a lawsuit challenging the state's new "multiplier" for private schools.

A 100-year old black Baptist church in eastern Arkansas, the boyhood home of the state's most famous country music star and one of the nation's oldest minor league ballparks are now to Arkansas' "most endangered historic places" list. The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas released its annual list to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the state's historic heritage.

Big Creek Golf & Country Club of Mountain Home once again has earned a five-star rating from Golf Digest for the magazine's list of the best public courses in the country.

Pine Bluff’s Union Station is 100 years old today. The historic structure is now a museum.

Pine Bluff's new dog law

City government in Pine Bluff has now dealt with the thorny issue of pit bulls. I am by no means an expert on canine psychology, but I would like to weigh in.

The new ordinance requires the dogs be kept in cages and only allowed on a leash with the care of somebody at least 21 years of age. Owners are required to have one hundred thousand dollars of liability insurance. Local police report a lot of problems and you have to figure they know the skinny. Dope dealers seem to love having these animals around and you may logically presume that the point is intimidation.

Pine Bluff already has a vicious dog law and I have a problem figuring out why that is not enough, but I could be wrong. I do know this much, based on numerous visits to the local dog park, pit bulls can behave. To be sure, they need to be fixed, but that would hold for any large dog, and there are plenty of breeds that are muscular and can turn dangerous at any moment. I think the biggest predictor of pit bull behavior is how the owner behaves. If the animal spends all his time with some druggie, you can easily predict the outcome.

We own a beagle mix, probably one of the most personable and gentle dogs you could find and we would never leave our pet unsupervised with strangers and especially children. Common sense, please…I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.
(Broadcast Tuesday May 9, 2006)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Huckabee twists arms

It may not be the biggest news, but the Democrat-Gazette’s Seth Blomeley certainly came across with the most interesting item. Did you see about how the Governor lobbied for passage of the anti-smoking law? This showed an intensity we may not have previously recognized and surely demonstrates his seriousness about running for President.

Alas, the Governor will not be able to do anything about his frequent spells of pouting with the press and his inexplicable mercy to convicted killers. But, that can wait for another time.

The Governor was on the phone and all over email to get the needed votes and to hush up discussion. Mike Huckabee realized that if you can cut off debate, there will be no opposition. He has a long memory, instructing that the pledge of support from one West Memphis lawmaker be taken in blood.

Huckabee has the backing of the religious right, which makes him a serious contender. He still has the same problem Bill Clinton went through. Coming from a small state just does not give a governor enough political experience to handle the D. C. hardballers.

One more thing. You have to wonder what Arkansas schools might be like if our Governor had this kind of single minded dedication to fixing public schools. After all, that was what the last special session was supposed to be all about. It looks like the Governor’s heart was someplace else. I hope Supreme Court justices don’t read the paper. I’m Pat Lynch with News and Comment on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network.
(Broadcast Monday May 8, 2006)

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