Monday, July 31, 2006

Death of Paul Eells confirmed

Arkansas Times blog has ongoing coverage.

I am heartsick.

The Channel 7 10:00 News

At about 10:05 this evening, I received information of an event which, if true, is a loss beyond comprehension, and I have felt like a fist landed in my chest ever since. It is confirmed that there has been an automobile accident with fatality in Pope County. Many message boards have been full of the rumors.

It is a testament to the professionalism of the anchors and other broadcasters involved in the 10 o'clock newscast to have carried it off with such composure and dignity, under the most difficult circumstances. You have earned the deepest respect of the many viewers who, like me, watched and waited in blinding sorrow.

Wichita Wranglers to Springdale

I must have been sleep walking this morning early. The Democrat-Gazette has one of the most important stories of the day. Springdale lands the Wichita baseball team for its' new $50 ball park.

The Wichita Wranglers are moving to Springdale and will begin playing locally in 2008, a former team staff member said Sunday.

The Wranglers held a staff meeting and conference call Saturday with team President Jon Dandes, said Randall Kamm, who resigned as the team’s media relations director immediately after the meeting.

The folks at Arkansas Times blog had this observation and food for thought:

But if the owners of the Wranglers will break their contract with Wichita, citing "maintenance default and other minor breach," according to the Democrat-Gazette, they will find it convenient someday in the future to stiff Springdale on similar trumped-up "breaches" in order to move to a still more lucrative city.

Traffic in Branson? Nah

The Chicago Tribune is on a story concerning the biggest downside to any trip to Branson, other than dealing with the appalling public vandalism which passes for architecture. How about an elevated train to handle Bobby Vinton's adoring throngs?

They creep along the three-lane strip with the vigor of a funeral procession, gawking out their car windows at the street-side wonders--new or forgotten--that make this Ozark town noted for B-grade entertainment a world-class player in traffic congestion. When you come to Branson, make sure the tank is full and patience is abundant because it can take an hour to make the 7-mile trek from the store boasting "16,000 Square Feet of Crafts and Gifts" to the end of the road, a little way past the fake Titanic.

Traffic is getting worse here, which is why folks in the rustic, isolated heart of the Missouri Ozarks are exploring the construction of the big-city potion to ease traffic: an elevated train.

Been to the Palace Club lately?

Central Arkansas' young scholars keep all sorts of odd hours
discussing international affairs and quantum physics. One of the favorite places for sedate discourse on matters of intellectual weight is the Palace Club. Just for a little background, check out what ESPN has to say on this pillar of local culture.

The club where McFadden was found was shut down in December of 2004 when a judge ordered it closed. Two people were killed there in 2004, and police responded to over 30 crimes or other incidents at the club that year.

It was allowed to open again the following January after the owner promised to increase security and provide additional parking.

Of course, we can be comforted by the certain knowledge that never, NEVER at any time, did McFadded set foot inside such an establishment.

Monday moving on up

Arkansas’ football team has suffered a major loss a month before the season starts. Darren McFadden, the Razorbacks’ All-SEC tailback, is doubtful for the Sept. 2 opener against Southern California and might miss more of the season after undergoing toe surgery Saturday for an injury resulting from a fight outside a Little Rock nightclub.

Cynthia Howell reports in the Democrat-Gazette that the federal government has approved relaxing the formula that determines which public schools end up on the improvement list, making it possible that fewer schools will be penalized this year for their students’ low achievement on state tests. Now, with the revised plan, only 40 percent of elementary math students must score at grade level to keep the school in good standing.

An attorney for former Pine Bluff police chief Daniel Moses claims in a court filing the city of Pine Bluff has violated terms of an agreement to settle Moses’ lawsuit that was worked out in June. Moses, who has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, claims that he was denied chemotherapy last Wednesday because the City coverage for the claim.

A district court probation officer has filed a lawsuit seeking more pay for 16 months she says she was underpaid. Donya Garrett, the ex-wife of White County Sheriff Pat Garrett, says in the federal lawsuit that she received less pay than her male counterpart, Wayne Cook, although they had similar qualifications and experience. She said she was getting paid as a court clerk.

The Arkansas Racing Commission expects to approve electronic-gambling regulations when it meets Tuesday in Little Rock, bringing another wagering option a step closer to reality at the state’s two parimutuel racetracks.

First lady Janet Huckabee says she’s taken a job with the American National Red Cross to help prepare the state to respond to potential disasters. The wife of Gov. Mike Huckabee, will primarily serve as a liaison with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, the state’s primary disaster response agency.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports Wichita billionaire Phil Ruffin says his city will exercise its option to purchase the Wranglers baseball team and then sell it to a local ownership group, keeping the minor league team from moving to Springdale.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports the terms of a memorandum of understanding between the city of Springdale and the baseball team expected to come to Springdale are nearly complete. Perry Webb, the president of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce who is spearheading the drive to get a stadium built in Springdale and attract a professional baseball team, said Friday the announcement could come at “any minute.”

A number of Arkansas cities are overriding a state law requiring them to install streetlights that limit the light they cast into the night sky, and Little Rock is soon expected to talk about joining them.

A Memphis woman is in stable condition at a Hot Springs hospital after she was thrown from a small roller coaster at a Hot Springs amusement park Saturday afternoon, police said. Felicia Robinson reportedly fell about 15 feet from the Magic Springs & Crystal Falls ride called Twist and Shout/

Michelle Crain, Benton County’s former planning director is not speaking publicly about her arrest. Deputies arrested Crain on a felony charge of theft of property and a misdemeanor charge of falsifying business records. The charges are connected to two “questionable” transactions within the Planning Department involving $595.

A Garfield man is facing federal charges that he touted strong religious beliefs and a close relationship with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton to dupe investors - including 11 ministries - out of $470,000. Michael Kent Zedlitzwas indicted in U.S. District Court on one count of securities fraud, one count of use of manipulative and deceptive devices, one count of wire fraud and four counts of mail fraud.

Two employees of Big Time Rental in Forrest City are suspects in the theft of more than $37,000 in cash and merchandise. Warrants have been issued for the arrest of Aaron T. Jordan of Wynne, and Roy Lee Hamilton Jr. of Forrest City.

Two Jefferson County residents who failed to report for jury duty last Monday faced an angry circuit court judge Friday and were fined for their failure to appear. Judge Rob Wyatt fined the two $50 each.

About 3,200 game-show hopefuls converged Saturday on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas, vying for a spot on NBC’s Deal or No Deal, which could make one of them a millionaire.

Brent Bailey, a Hollywood director and Conway native who has been involved in several big productions, used Conway's Simon Park Friday as a set in his newest music video. Caliber, a local classic rock band, is featured. Bailey is directing the video for their song, "Reptilian Lounge Club."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Michael Blakley, Director of the Little Rock Zoo, is on with the latest develoopments in the animal kingdom Monday morning at 9.

In the second hour, I have a lot (maybe too much) to say about young Mr. McFadden and the Wally Hall column. Be afraid, be very afraid!

Urban deer hunting? I am SO ready! Steve "Wildman" Wilson from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be on the program Tuesday at 9. He is a treasure trove of good information.

Your calls into the program are encouraged.
(501) 433 0924, or
1 877 433 0924 (it is free from everywhere and will work if you get a busy signal in the 501 area code)

More McFadden Merriment

My pal, Bigdaddio, is a man on fire! ten darren mcfadden jokes:

10) q) what do darren mcfadden and barbaro have in common? a) might as well freeze some sperm and shoot 'em both.

9) q) why did darren mcfadden kick the parking lot pavement with his bare foot? a) was protecting his hands for that high powered passing game from springdale!

8) q) what was darren mcfadden doing in a liquor store parking lot at 4am? a) pissing off razorback fans statewide!

7) q) how many hogs does it take to replace darren mcfadden? a) just one more hog in a liquor store parking lot at 4am should be plenty!

6) q) why was darren mcfadden so adamant about keeping that car from being stolen in the liquor store parking lot at 4am? a) because mitch mustain was passed out in the back seat!

5) q) what do darren mcfadden and chuck norris have in common? a) apparently not much!

4) q) what do darren mcfadden and gary coleman have in common? a) neither of them will suit up against southern cal in 2006!

3) q) what do darren mcfadden and nancy kerrigan have in common? a) whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!?!!!!

2) apparently god is a huge fan of the passing game!!

and the #1 darren mcfadden joke: "gas to get to the liquor store parking lot at 4am, about $15! jock sniffing hangers on egging you on, a dime a dozen! a lick of common sense, priceless!!!!"

A good laugh from Hogland USA

Our friend Bibdaddio is hard at is the latestest outburst....

...if darren macfadden hadn't broken his toe, we could have won the national championship this year. are ten more "ifs":

10) if cedric cobbs hadn't discovered marijuana!
9) if the officials weren't out to screw arkansas!
8) if houston nutt would only listen to the 40,000 offensive coordinators in the stands!
7) if stoerner hadn't put that ball on the ground!
6) if vanderbilt only knew they can't beat arkansas!
5) if matt jones could throw it to himself!
4) if we only had to play the citadel on paper instead of on the field!
3) if tony bua could pull up at the sideline!
2) if peyton hillis hadn't switched to linebacker!

and the #1 "if": "if only rick schaeffer was lord master of the universe!"

Saturday, July 29, 2006

TWO elections in September?

Central Arkansas Transit Director Keith Jones and Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines claim to have spent Saturday morning golfing and retired to a certain Riverdale sports bar for burgers afterward. I was glad to see Villines because there is one little item that has been eating me, and maybe you as well.

In September, there will be two separate elections in Pulaski County. On September 12, voters will decide on a quartet-cent tax for jail operations. On the 19th., the school election will take place. Why not have them together? Is that not better and cheaper? Turnout for school elections is typically miserable and there are no contested races in many precincts.

Here, according to Judge Villines, is the straight dope.

The State law requires that special elections take place on the second Tuesday of the month. A different law sets the school election for the third Tuesday in September. The jail tax may not be held at any other time except on a second Tuesday.

Now, somebody is bound to ask, Why not have the jail vote in November? Go ahead. Make my day.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Weekend listening

Make your drive more enjoyable and informative by downloading one of the two interviews available on the homepage. Max Brantley's epic interview is still up. He was on a nationally syndicated show today, but the thoughtless host only allocated 10 minutes. You will get 40 minutes of local and national analysis on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network broadcast.

Dr. Ben Mays is still asking hard questions about the high cost of high school athletics. He puts the yearly statewide total at more than $200 million. It is an outstanding program, so burn it on your iPod or CD.

My Democrat-Gazette columns

I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but, until today, I had no idea that my weekly newspaper columns were available free online. Doggone it! How could I be such a blockhead? You can graze every syllable I have written for the Voices page since February by heading over to the site.

Remember that I have a new column coming out Monday morning and it is not posted there yet. Get out there and BUY a newspaper first thing Monday. I thank you for reading my work.

Franken Friday

Over the opposition of one member, the state Board of Health approved the regulations that guide the state’s new workplace smoking ban. The regulations establish a civil fine of up to $1,000 to go along with the $100 to $500 criminal fine written into the law. The regulations also require some businesses that claim to be exempt from the law to certify that exemption with the state Department of Health and Human Services.

A top official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says he is impressed with the way Arkansas officials are preparing for a potential flu pandemic. Dr. John O. Agwunobi, the department's assistant secretary of health, praised the state's preparedness plan during a meeting of the Arkansas Board of Health, saying "very few (states) have come as far as Arkansas" in developing their plans.

A group opposing the sale of alcoholic beverages in Faulkner County has asked a Pulaski County circuit judge to overturn the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board’s decision to grant a new downtown Italian restaurant in Conway permission to sell alcoholic beverages.

Springdale’s Chamber of Commerce and its Minnesota baseball consulting firm refused Thursday to release documents generated during negotiations with a minor league team for the use of a proposed city-owned stadium, against the recommendations of the city attorney. The Democrat-Gazette has requested those documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The recently discovered Fayetteville Shale natural gas deposits, thought to be an economic boon to the state, are causing headaches for property tax officials. Poor record keeping of mineral-rights transactions, inconsistent tax assessments and questions over how to divvy up lease payments for natural gas deposits on state land likely mean the state Legislature will need to get involved next year.

As a state task force nears its deadline to offer recommendations on how to curb homelessness in Arkansas, State Rep. Wilhelmina Lewellen of Little Rock, the leader of the panel, says that it likely needs another year to flesh out a comprehensive plan.

The family of Kimberley Nicole Benck, one of two Siloam Springs teenagers killed on a roadside after stopping to help with a flat tire, filed suit Thursday in Benton County Circuit Court against the driver who admitted running the girl down. The suit claims David Orman failed to maintain proper control of his vehicle and seeks unspecified damages. Orman has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor negligent homicide.

FOX 16 reports two Pulaski County pre-teen sisters survived a horrifying night, after being chased through a truck-stop by a 48-year-old man, believed to be their uncle. The ten and twelve year old girls reportedly escaped from the man's eighteen wheeler, and started running, the youngest only in her underwear. Milton Wofford is charged with criminal attempt to commit rape and second-degree sexual assault.

Benjamin Carl Johnson is in the Springdale city jail in connection with felony rape charges. Johnson allegedly admitted having sex with a seven-year-old girl the past three to four months.

After preliminary DNA-testing results in the New Year’s Eve rape and attempted murder of an 87 year-old Pope County woman came back from the State Crime Lab, Louie Carabajal’s attorney is now trying to get his client out of jail. Carabajal has been held in lieu of a $300,000 bond since sheriff's investigation linked him to the New incident in March.

Robert Charles Brown, a convicted murderer in Colorado has told authorities he is responsible for up to 48 slayings, including one in Arkansas about 15 years ago, but an Arkansas State Police spokesman said the information provided by the man is “less than specific.” Browne claims he strangled a woman in November 1991 and dumped her body in the St. Francis River.

Two state Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers have been suspended with pay pending an investigation into allegations of hunting violations. The agency would not disclose the names of the officers or give details about the allegations against them.

Northwest Arkansas officials, business executives and the public got their first glimpse inside the new $33 million John Q. Hammons Center at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers during a grand opening reception Thursday.

Opinion in Vilonia is divided over reopening Logan Young’s mud racetrack, which was shut down in 2004 because it was not licensed by the state. Logan has applied for a “motor vehicle racing facility” permit. Contestants take turns driving their four-wheel-drive trucks and sport utility vehicles at night along a 160-foot mud-and-water track. They are judged on time and distance. Neighbors object to the noise, trash, and polluted runoff.

Helena will be the site of a new music festival based on one-man bands and cigar-box musicians who make their own instruments. The Mother’s Best Music Fest, named after a 1940s radio show in the historic city, will be Aug. 19 from noon into the evening. The Delta Cultural Center, an agency of the Arkansas Department of Heritage, and the Sonny Boy Blues Society are coordinating the event.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

FINALLY, Thursday!

School districts across Arkansas are shredding thousands of pages of mathematics testing data from the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the Iowa Test of Educational Development after an error produced inaccurate final scores. More than two-thirds of the more than 300,00 students who took the tests in grades 3 through 9 are affected.

The Arkansas Department of Education says allegations accusing the agency of due process and equal-protection violations are “completely without merit” in seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit filed last month by parents and students in the Elaine School District who want to halt a merger with Marvell schools.

Monday is the deadline to file a letter of intent to start a new Charter School to open in the 2007 school year. The letter is non-binding but must be filed with the State Department of Education. The Arkansas Charter School Resource Center at the U. of A. can help interested parties draft the application.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has asked for $316 million more in state funding over the next two fiscal years, part of a budget request that would see the agency’s spending grow to $5.58 billion in fiscal 2009. The bulk of the agency’s request would be for Medicaid, a program of health-care assistance that serves about 750,000 people in the state.

Noel Oman reports in today’s Democrat-Gazette that tougher driving restrictions may be in the works for teen drivers. While many states have noted decreased deaths of young people after imposing graduated license requirements, Arkansas has seen just the opposite occur. In 2004, 101 teen drivers died in traffic crashes, the highest total recorded since the state’s graduated driver’s license law was passed in 2001, when 99 teen traffic deaths were recorded.

Acxiom Corp., fighting a hostile investor trying to place three new directors on its board, almost tripled its earnings in the quarter that ended June 30, the Little Rock data management firm said Wednesday.

An Atlanta-based real estate investment firm on Wednesday announced a proposal to build ethanol and biodiesel plants on a severely contaminated chemical plant site in Helena-West Helena. MLH Investments has submitted a plan with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to buy for $1 million a 48-acre site previously occupied by the Cedar Chemical Co., which went bankrupt in 2002.

19-year-old Thomas Felton of Lonoke County man has been arrested after a four-year-old boy told his parents that the man sexually assaulted him, while he was being baby-sat by the man's mother. Felton, whose mother was babysitting the child at the time of the alleged incident, faces a charge of second degree sexual assault.

Local and federal officials are investigating the robbery of Citizens State Bank in Bald Knob. Three black males reportedly stole an undetermined amount of cash, left through the back door, and were seen escaping on foot down Hickory St.

Springdale police arrested Charles Hammons after Hammons led four area police agencies on a high-speed chase through two counties Tuesday morning.

A bankruptcy judge spared Tommy Robinson from a criminal contempt finding but issued an injunction prohibiting the former congressman from “interfering in any way” with the distribution of his seized property. Meanwhile, Robinson said he would begin serving a five-day sentence next Sunday for a scuffle at a local restaurant.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officials were not prepared Wednesday to say whether a two-day count of Little Rock’s deer population will lead them to recommend its reduction, but workers said they saw signs of overpopulation in at least one area.

An unofficial report from the U. S. Census Bureau shows that the town of Pottsville has doubled in the past 5 years. Population is now expected to be about 2,500. Increased state turnback money will pay for the special census in about four months, according to the Russellville Courier.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wicked Wednesday

Despite decreasing staff vacancies, the state’s Children and Family Services Division shows little improvement in its performance in 2005 and 2006, according to a report released. by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a Little Rock nonprofit. Staffing levels of caseworkers continue below that measured in 2002.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports the swirl of legal moves surrounding Paron high school makes it likely the doors will be open when the new school year begins next month. The state Supreme Court likely will decide whether to overturn a judge's ruling barring the closing of Paron High School without a hearing, but justices are under no obligation to rule before the beginning of the school year, court clerk Leslie Steen said Tuesday.

Seth Blomeley in today’s Democrat-Gazette reports campaign officials for Republican gubernatorial nominee Asa Hutchinson posted a statement on Hutchinson’s Web site Tuesday accusing the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Mike Beebe, of having a “gay problem,” spinning a “web of deceit,” and having “clearly lied” about his stance on gay adoption.

Two Jefferson County Election Commission officials have hand delivered copies of a letter to Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Dalrymple’s office detailing alleged election violations. The prosecutor told the Pine Bluff Commercial last Friday that he had not received a previous complaint sent in June.

Pine Bluff’s new finance director, Eric Tucker, said Monday that when a department runs out of money he will shut it down. “I will shut it down if there is no money in the budget,” Tucker told the Pine Bluff City Council’s Ways and Means Committee. The strain has been felt after the city settled a discrimination lawsuit against a former police chief.

The Bentonville City Council has approved establishing impact fees for library, parks and police. The council also supported increasing existing fire and water impact fees. Impact fees are a one-time charge placed on developers to pay for growth-related infrastructure, such as new water lines and fire stations.

Jonesboro city engineers and private firms are meeting in Jonesboro this week planning solutions to 11 chronic drainage problems. Preliminary estimates will be submitted to the city council today. Formal contracts are expected to be approved by August 1. A heavy storm earlier this month caused the flooding projects to be put on a fast track.

A white Geo Metro managed to elude officers from four Northwest Arkansas law enforcement agencies in a 20 minute high-speed chase Tuesday. Often reaching speeds of 110 miles an hour, the pursuit ended when a Springdale police care was wrecked on a dirt road in Benton County. Authorities are looking for Charles Hammons of Springdale, who has an outstanding warrant for failure to pay traffic summons.

The 61-year-old man who became ill hours after being arrested by two Russellville police officers and who later died suffered a “broken neck with spinal-cord injury” and fractured ribs, a prosecutor said Tuesday, citing preliminary findings by the state medical examiner’s office. Two Russellville officers are on administrative leave as the investigation of Bobby Joe Rylee’s death continues.

Murphy Oil Corp. reported second-quarter net income Tuesday that was down 38 percent from the corresponding period a year ago, but the results exceeded analysts’ expectations and the company’s own predictions three months ago.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tuesday dawning

Those FEMA trailers stored at the Hope airport may be hazardous to your health. Air quality tests of 44 FEMA trailers conducted by the Sierra Club since April have found formaldehyde concentrations as high as 0.34 parts per million – a level nearly equal to what a professional embalmer would be exposed to on the job, according to one study of the chemical’s workplace effects.

Providing psychiatric care to Arkansas’ 13,000 prison inmates will no longer be a state job after the Board of Corrections decided Monday to hire a private medical contractor to staff the 5 budgeted positions. The unanimous vote authorizes an expansion of the department’s $43 million contract with Correctional Medical Services Inc. by $1,385,000.

Fox 16 reports Arkansas Police are involved in a multi-state search for an Indiana man police believe attacked four people, killing three of them. He was reportedly last seen in Jonesboro. The sighting of the suspect took place last week. He’s identified as Nicolas Harbison. Indiana State Police say Harbison is traveling with his girlfriend.

Atkins school district travel reimbursements were inappropriate, according to a state audit, which was completed by the Arkansas Legislative Joint Auditing Committee It looked at travel reimbursements to Rebecca Sheets, elementary school principal, and Al Davidson, former superintendent. Sheets was recently rehired as elementary principal.

Two former Magazine school district teachers’ aides are awaiting trial on charges that they had sex last March with two minor high school students. Misty Dawn Siddons of Booneville and Angela Dawn Ryan of Magazine appeared Monday in Logan County Circuit Court where they entered pleas of not guilty to first degree sexual assault. They are accused of having illegal relationships with 17 year old male students.

Arkansas Medicaid officials said Monday they hope that by early 2007 low-income people without prescription drug coverage can benefit from drug discounts through a new state program. By next month, the state will start a public relations campaign to make people aware of the Arkansas RX program. The more people who sign up, the greater the likelihood of larger discounts.

Poultry companies named in a lawsuit alleging that arsenic in chicken litter causes cancer have asked a judge to bar all references to a monolithic "poultry industry" during an upcoming trial. That motion, along with several others, was filed in advance of an August 3 hearing in the case.

A group of plaintiffs argued in Texarkana federal court Monday that Google has not exercised reasonable care to prevent “click fraud” and has misrepresented efforts to stop swindlers from repeatedly clicking Web site links to drive up advertising costs. Google has proposed a $90 million settlement offer. A Texarkana company - Lane’s Gifts and Collectibles - filed the lawsuit, which Miller County Circuit Judge Joe Griffin certified as a class action.

A public bus route through western Washington County will begin Aug. 1 on a trial basis, Ozark Regional Transit officials announced Monday. A one-month pilot program will schedule a free route between Lincoln and Fayetteville, with stops in Prairie Grove and Farmington, along the U.S. 62 corridor.

The latest extreme water sport known as kite tubing is now illegal on lakes Hamilton and Catherine. The ordinance prohibits the use of “airborne towables,” defined as towable recreational devices solely designed to go airborne with a rider on the device while being towed by a boat.

NBA veteran Corless Williamson is in the final year of his multi-million dollar contract with Sacramento, and is reportedly spending the summer with Irwin Partners in Little Rock sharpening up his real estate investing skills.

KARK Channel 4 reports thousands of downloads for the application form contestants will need for the Saturday auditions for “Deal or No Deal.” The wait for a 30 second filmed audition may be as long as 10 hours at the Farris Center on the UCA Campus in Conway.

Monday, July 24, 2006

In Arkansas town, a US crackdown finds resistance

Raid on immigrants violates sense of community
In Arkansas town, a US crackdown finds resistance

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times | July 24, 2006

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. -- The immigration agents arrived at the Petit Jean Poultry plant just before the 7:30 breakfast break, armed and dressed in khaki uniforms. They went to the room where more than 100 Mexican workers in tan smocks were cutting up chicken, then they shouted in Spanish for everyone to freeze.
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Some workers started crying. A few made quick cellphone calls, alerting relatives to care for children who would soon be left behind. The plant manager watched as 119 workers -- half his day shift -- were bound with plastic handcuffs and taken to a detention center, from which most would be deported to Mexico.

The story is in today's Los Angeles Times. Read it all and weep.

First of the week!

Gov. Mike Huckabee says that he’ll review the law on filling the lieutenant governor’s office vacancy created by the death of Win Rockefeller but is in no rush to do it. “There’s no urgency that I can see about a special election,” the governor said.

The Episcopal bishop of Arkansas, the Right Reverend Larry Maze, has given the green light to congregations that want to explore offering blessing ceremonies for gay couples and has notified clergymen in the diocese that some congregations are ready to do that.

Central Business Improvement District commissioners on Thursday unanimously voted to recommend the Fort Smith Board of Directors support the United Keetoowah Band’s effort to build a casino and hotel along the Arkansas River.

Arkansas Times blog reports that Representative John Boozman will announce today that Fort Smith is one of two finalists for the United States Marshall Service museum.

Arkansas' unemployment rate fell slightly in June, but remained above the national rate, the state reported Friday. Arkansas' jobless rate stood at 5.2 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. The national unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in June, unchanged from May.

A hearing is set this week on a $90 million class-action settlement between Internet leader Google Inc. and advertisers who say they were victims of “click fraud.” Miller County Circuit Judge Joe Griffin has given preliminary approval to the settlement in the case against the search engine company, but at least 51 objections have been lodged

A medical malpractice trial in Fort Smith was disrupted last week when an audience member experienced a medical emergency and the defendant, along with an expert witness for the plaintiff, rushed to her aid. Both sides agreed that the jury had been tainted.

Kimberly Mitchell of Jonesboro stands accused of killing her 3-year-old son and her sister, who were passengers in a car she was driving. Mitchell faces manslaughter charges in Craighead County Circuit Court. Witnesses report that she was driving recklessly and at a high rate of speed. The child was not restrained in a safety seat.

A Paragould woman has been charged with five felonies in the death of a Greene County official and the injury of four people in a traffic accident in the spring. Prosecutors filed one count of manslaughter and four counts of second-degree battery against 48 year old Judy Cozart, who was driving a sports utility vehicle on Highway 49 when police say the vehicle crossed the center line and hit an oncoming vehicle.

Because he did not have “the benefit of constructive, forthright guidance and positive supervision by his parents,” U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr. gave reputed gang leader and drug dealer Bobby Banks, who will turn 31 in September, a 55-year prison sentence on Friday, instead of life.There is no parole in the federal system.

Former Republican Congressman Tommy Robinson says that he and his son had decided not to appeal the five-day jail sentences imposed on them a day earlier because they didn’t want to “overload an already overloaded” court system.

In Saturday’s Pine Bluff Commercial it was reported that Jefferson County Election Commission Chairman Trey Ashcraft says there have not been any developments regarding the commission’s request that the prosecutor’s office look into allegations that four convicted felons voted in the June 13 Democratic Primary runoff. Prosecuting Attorney Steve Dalrymple says he has not received any complaints from the commission.

State wildlife officials will be working late nights counting deer in the capitol city. The Game and Fish Commission findings will guide the city government in deciding whether to schedule a hunt to thin the herd.

Forrest City officials are dealing with the growing problem of trespassing in the Beach Grove area of the city. At a special city council meeting last week, it was reported that many people are taking short-cuts across people’s yards while walking to the nearby Wal Mart.

Grant and Megan

...had the big reception over the weekend at Tech in Russelltucky. It was HUGE!. Pleasure to meet his folks and the legendary Johnny Story of River Valley Radio fame.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yearning to breathe free?

You may be wondering how that new anti-smoking law is going over at the Town Pump. Well, let's just say Jack has some ideas of his own.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday free-for-all

The statewide smoking ban begins today. There will be no cigarettes in most public places, although there are exceptions for places that do no serve persons under 21, small hotels, and some small businesses.

A $319 million project to pump water out of the White River to irrigate farmland in eastern Arkansas was halted by federal judge Bill Wilson. He ordered a more thorough assessment of the project’s effect on the ivory-billed woodpecker.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality filed suit Thursday against three former owners of a chemical plant site in Helena-West Helena, saying they should reimburse the state for what it’s spent on site cleanup and cover all remaining costs.

Although the deadline for consultants to report on how much money the state must spend to provide an “adequate” public school education is September 1, consultants have tentatively suggested that the increase for the next school year might be around $341 million.

Lawmakers expressed fear that the state's school funding formula rewards districts for hiring the least-experienced, least-qualified teachers. They note that spending less money on teacher pay leaves more money for other purposes.

The state has petitioned the Arkansas Supreme Court to throw out a circuit judge's order that temporarily prevents the state from approving the closure of tiny Paron High School, the state education commissioner said Thursday.

Rep. Mike Ross and three state legislators are headed to Minnesota this weekend to explore how Arkansas can increase its use of fuels made from soybeans and other farm products. State Sen. Jimmy Jeffress of Crossett and Representatives. Allen Maxwell of Monticello and Scott Sullivan of DeQueen, will accompany Ross.

A bill that would allow for channels of the McClellan-Kerr waterway to be dredged to 12 feet or deeper has won Senate approval. The Water Resources Development Act contained the go-ahead for a handful of Arkansas water projects among dozens around the country.

Former Republican Congressman Tommy Robinson and his son, Greg Robinson, are free on $1,300 bond while they appeal a five-day jail sentence and $600 in fines handed down after both pleaded no contest to charges arising from an assault at a Brinkley restaurant last week.

A man subdued by Russellville police during a weekend arrest died Thursday at a Little Rock hospital, and the police chief requested an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports Benton County needs to expand its 6-year-old jail, but adding a minimum of 250 beds will cost more than the building's original $12 million. The 482-bed jail isn't keeping up with the county's booming population.

Little Rock police are investigating a suspicious death which may become homicide number 38.

Two Tyson Foods plants in the Russellville area will be closing this year, eliminating about 50 jobs in the Arkansas River Valley, said Gary Mickelson, a Tyson spokesman.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

About WPR

Today is Mr. Rockefeller’s Day. He will be buried in a private ceremony and memorialized in a massive service at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church. As an Irishman, I have a keen appreciation for well-done funerals and I must say that I have absolutely no taste whatsoever for this new trend toward having a memorial service after the burial. Nonetheless, it is a matter of personal taste.

I went looking through my archives to see if there was anything bad I could say about Win Paul. He would have expected no less. The one and only thing I can find of a negative nature about the late Lieutenant Governor is that he once defended that miserable insect Karl Rove.

God, in his infinite wisdom, has spared us from much of the knowledge of Mr. Rockefeller as a serious politician. It is a mercy as much for him as us. He leaves us with an unblemished reputation and, in the words of the prayer book, in favor with God and man. If there is a single legacy, it is the memory of his very generous spirit. Thank you, Mr. Rockefeller.

Broadcast July 20, 2006

Rockefeller's Thursday

Lieutenant Governor Win Paul Rockefeller will be buried today and a memorial service will be conducted at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church and telecast statewide on several outlets.

The Arkansas Times blog examines the latest report on campaign contributions to Governor Huckabee’s presidential exploratory committee. Donations include $10,000 from the Cella family, which owns Okalawn Park.

Seth Blumley reports in the Democrat-Gazette that Bill Carter, a former Arkansan and former lawyer for the Rolling Stones, says he never heard Keith Richards say anything bad about Arkansas. Governor Huckabee’s office has prepared a pardon request for a reckless driving conviction Richards got in Fordyce back in1975.

Arkansas home sales declined from a year earlier for the sixth-straight month in June as the housing inventory and mortgage rates crept up, the Arkansas Realtors Association said Wednesday.

A new state law that would have required Wal-Mart to spend more on employee health care in Maryland is invalid under federal law, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The recently completed Faulkner County jail is expected to begin accepting prisoners August 7. The original target date was January1.

The Washington County Election Commission certified the Springdale special election Wednesday, with all three propositions passing. The closest vote, on building a $50 million baseball stadium, passed by 15 votes,

The Arkansas State Police has been asked to investigate a weekend altercation that left a 61-year-old man critically injured and two Russellville police officers who arrested him less seriously hurt.

The Dollarway school district, which merged with Altheimer last week, will ask patrons for a millage increase in September.

If Jonesboro city government doesn't get started constructing additional fire stations soon, property insurance rates will go up, members of the City Council's Public Safety Committee have been informed.

The Benton Courier reports several Bauxite residents who attended a community meeting Monday night awakened Tuesday to find metal screws strewn in their driveways. The residents who filed reports with the police were outspoken Monday night about several Bauxite city officials, including Mayor Eddie Jones and Alderman Jeff Cole. There have been questions about whether Cole can serve on the City Council since he does not currently live in Bauxite.

Arkansas AM today with Grant Merrill

Grant welcoms both major gubernatorial candidates to the program this morning. It is Mike Beebe at 7:45 and Asa Hutchinson at 8:45. If you miss either one, the audio will be posted on the Arkansas AM home page.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More on Beebe

Today, I would like to follow up on my column in Monday’s Democrat-Gazette. Besides terrorizing Asa Hutchinson and his new playmate, Rudy Guiliani, there is the matter of Attorney General Mike Beebe.

The news is that his fundraising has recently topped $4 million. This is probably a record for a statewide race in Arkansas. The folks at the Beebe campaign must be congratulating themselves on the invulnerable position of the candidate. My Monday column was meant to be a little “reality check.”

Let me grab the radio sledgehammer and pound home my point. A guy who cannot even tap dance his way around the gay foster parent issue is something of an inept candidate. Mike Beebe is untested and he could lose this election. Asa Hutchinson may be an unattractive candidate, but he has Jim Holt’s coattails.

Money can buy an election, if people like the candidate and if he seems credible. Beebe has not yet given anybody a reason to vote for him. November is a very long way off.

Broadcast July 19, 2006

The passing of WPR

Generally speaking, nothing improves a man’s reputation like dying. In the case of Mr. Rockefeller, his reputation was well deserved and rather remarkable. Lots of rich folks grudgingly give away their dollars to a few favored charities. Win Paul had favorites, to be sure, but his generosity was widely distributed.

He seems to have been a cheerful giver, although I can not verify that with absolute certainty. There is, however, quite a bit of evidence. So many people talk about how Rockefeller was with the boy scouts or kids almost anywhere. He gave of himself as well as the other stuff. It’s a lot easier to write a check than to give up some personal time for strangers.

Once upon a time, Win Paul Rockefeller was a regular caller to my show. One of my favorite calls was the day I was going down the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans. Win was not pleased to be included on that list and was very clear that they had no idea how much he might be worth. You could say that we are poorer now that he is gone, but I think a better way to look at it is that we are richer because he was here.

Broadcast July 18, 2006

Max Brantley, editor of Arkansas Times, is set for Thursday morning at 10. We will certainly get all over the political scene, but he was a neighbor of the late Lieutenant Governor, Win Paul Rockefeller, and there will surely be several funny stories to add to this memorable and solemn day.

Wednesday dawning

The body of Win Paul Rockefeller will lie in state today in the Rotunda of the state capitol. The Arkansas House of Representatives and the Arkansas Senate will meet in joint session at 5 o’clock this evening in the House chamber for a memorial service honoring the late Lieutenant Governor Win Rockefeller.

The Democrat-Gazette reports that Ted Suhl, chief executive of the Lord’s Ranch in Warm Springs, answered legislator’s questions about discipline methods used at his facility, an airplane provided to Gov. Mike Huckabee for a trip to a Republican Party event in North Carolina, and why Suhl’s business has received about $8.5 million in state Medicaid funds in fiscal 2006 - an increase from 2000 when its contract with the state was about $140,000 for behavioral health services.

Both Arkansas senators voted for a bill to expand stem cell research. The measure fell four votes short of the number needed to override a promised presidential veto.

The Pine Bluff Commercial reports that two aldermen turned in 820 additional signatures to make up 246 signatures City Clerk Loretta Whitfield said they were short in a petition drive. The petition drive is aimed at placing an ordinance on the ballot in November 2008 where voters would decide about giving Mayor Carl Redus Jr. authority to hire and fire the police and fire chief.

Former congressman Tommy Robinson of Brinkley is scheduled to appear for a plea and arraignment hearing Thursday on charges of second-degree assault and disorderly conduct. Robinson and a son, Greg, face charges stemming from an altercation at a Brinkley restaurant.

A Little Rock man received the maximum prison time Tuesday for his sex crimes - life plus 36 years - by Pulaski County jurors who heard taped phone conversations of the James Al White trying to keep one of his teenage victims from testifying. Jurrors took 14 minutes to reach a guilty verdict.

A recent report from a London property owner led local narcotics agents to find more than 300 marijuana plants, some of which had grown to be about 9 feet tall. 233 plants were found in one area near Augsburg Road off of Highway 333 north of London, while 74 plants were found on an adjacent property.

The Arkansas Board of Parole will recommend clemency for a murderer from Ashley County. Bobby Joe Mitchell is serving a life sentence and was convicted of murder in 1969. According to the Ashley County Ledger, Mitchell shot C. Laney Price, a night attendant at a Crossett gas station with a stolen.22 rifle during the course of a robbery.

AT&T Inc. won approval Tuesday night to offer its new TV service in Little Rock, a move that could get the city sued and has the city’s cable provider demanding a new contract.

Jimmy Moses, the head of a task force to study options for the Little Rock National Airport, has suggested that a new airport be constructed in the capitol city at a cost of around $254 million.

Keith Richards, famed lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones, is seeking a pardon from Gov. Mike Huckabee for a 1975 reckless driving conviction in Fordyce. Who prepared Richards’ application? According to the Democrat-Gazette, the form says “Governor Mike Huckabee - Chief Counsel Milton Fine.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Too early Tuesday

Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller’s body will lie in state in a closed casket for public viewing on the second floor of the state Capitol in Little Rock from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday. There will be a public funeral service at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church on Thursday afternoon at 1.

A heat wave that has gripped most of Arkansas for nearly a week has killed at least one person, the state Health and Human Services Department said Monday. Arkansas had 11 heat related deaths last year.

Robert Terrill Wallace of Searcy, who was arrested early Sunday in Forrest City for disorderly conduct, is now facing additional charges after allegedly attacking a jailer and several police officers with a broomstick inside the St. Francis County Jail hours after his initial arrest. One officer suffered injuries to his wrist and hand and another a broken facial bone.

Randy Reed is in the unusual position of choosing his own successor. The Fort Smith Board of Directors hired the city’s police chief as the new city administrator on June 23, leaving a void in the Police Department that is the city administrator’s responsibility to fill.

The city of Little Rock is considering charging developers what is frequently called an “impact fee” fee to help build and improve roads to accommodate development. This is already done in Conway and many places in northwest Arkansas.

Cabot Aldermen voted to pay $276,546 for a special census, which would bring in an additional estimated $305,000 in state turn-back funds each year for the Lonoke County town.

Central Arkansas Water’s plan to protect Lake Maumelle is getting low marks from residents of Perry County, as expressed at a meeting in Perryville last night. Most of the arguments against the plan came from Perry County landowners who chafed at the prospect of giving up control of their property for no benefit. The utility serves some 388,000 central Arkansans, but none in Perry County.

A six-story condominium project will be built near Fayetteville’s entertainment district. Developer Greg House says that he plans to build a luxury 70-unit condo project called St. Charles Plaza.

Harriet Hentges, a retired nun who formerly was with the U.S. Institute of Peace, will serve in the new position of senior director of stakeholder engagement with Wal mart. Hentges, 65, will help develop the company’s policies on the environment, health care and energy use.

There is still no announcement on a minor league baseball team to occupy the new stadium approved by voters last week. Benton and Washington County officials are expected to certify the election by Wednesday. City officials in Wichita, Kansas are considering improvements to the ball park there in a move to keep the Wranglers in Wichita.

A bid has been awarded to an Iowa company for widening Arkansas Highway 1 north or Mariana. The price tag of the 2-mile project is $18 million.

Monday, July 17, 2006

a note about my home page...

It would be a good idea to bookmark my home page and check it out for some of my best interviews. If you missed Congressman Berry, or Gene Lyons or Stubby Stumbaugh, you can download the hours and enjoy all the fun and excitment. It;s

There are also frequent notes about upcoming guests and other cool Lyncho stuff.

Rev. Philip Jones, of St. Andrew's Anglican Church, is just back from Rwanda. This proves that there is no accounting for how some folks will spend summer vacation.

But seriously folks, he has some great stories about this tiny African nation that will make you feel good about your life! Check that out at 10 Tuesday morning.

The murder of Janie Ward has gone unsolved since 1989. Her parents have cre;ated a Yahoo discussion group and they need your help.

Justice for Janie
First Arkansas Bank and Trust
P.O. Box 398
Marshall, AR.

Monday mourning

Arkansans are mourning he death of Lieutenant Governor Win Paul Rockefeller who passed away Sunday morning at UAMS after a year long battle with a rare blood disease.

The Democrat-Gazette reports on a state audit showing substantial payments by several school districts for superintendent’s annuities and insurance beyond what employees receive. This has brought about some discussion of bringing back a proposal to make all local superintendents state employees.

Among Democratic senators, only Ben Nelson of Nebraska has supported President Bush more often than Mark Pryor, a new tally shows. The ranking is from VoteTracker, a congressional vote-tabulation service. Pryor votes with Bush 73.1 percent of the time. Blanche Lincoln, sides with Bush 66.2 percent of the time

Attorneys for Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee formally declared their intent Friday to challenge a Pulaski County Circuit judge’s order that the governor must make public the resignation letter of Lary Zeno and a related investigation into the former Parole Board vice chairman’s official conduct.

Former Republican Congressman Tommy Robinson and his son, Greg Robinson, surrendered to Brinkley police Friday afternoon on charges arising from a confrontation at a local restaurant with a creditor involved in the elder Robinson’s personal bankruptcy case.

The discovery of a body in a creek Saturday morning has pushed Little Rock’s homicide total for 2006 to 38.

The Pine Bluff Commercial reports that construction on the Jefferson County jail is on schedule and it is expected to be open for prisoners by the first of the year.

St. Francis County officials are still wrestling with problems from the latest elections. Arnell Willis will receive a refund of more than $1800 of th3 $3,000 he paid for a recount of the primary results in Senate District 16 race. Judy Armstrong, election coordinator, reports 173 missing ballots from the June runoff. Lawsuits have been filed contesting the May 23rd. primary and the June 13 runoff.

After the certification of last week’s bond election in Springdale, an announcement is expected this week naming the current Wichita Wranglers as the new AA baseball team in Northwest Arkansas.

Hector’ school district is considering whether raising the millage. According to a report in the Russellville Courier, school board vice-President Terry Epperson told patrons that the only way to avoid consolidation is to build a new gymnasium.

People who want to take an active role in their city government can begin Thursday when filing for municipal elected positions. The filing period ends at noon Aug. 9.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller
Sept. 7, 1948 - July 7th, 2006

O GOD, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered; Make us, we beseech thee, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and right-eousness, all our days: that, when we shall have served thee in our generation, we may be gathered unto our fathers, having the testimony of a good conscience; in the communion of the Catholic Church; in the confidence of a certain faith; in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope; in favour with thee our God, and in perfect charity with the world. All which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

1928 Book of Common Prayer

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Stubby Stumbaugh interview is now posted on my homepage, He takes off on Marion Berry and it is a hoot! Farm policy, drugs, immigration and Stubby are topics. He is never at a loss for words.

Latest on the Janie Ward case

An representing the family of Janie Ward, the girl from Marshall, Arkansas who died under suspicious circumstances in 1989, has called upon special prosecutor Tim Williamson to withdraw from the case. Citing 17 months with no results, Jerry Sallings of the Wright Lindsey and Jennings Law Firm has requested that Williamson also make the $10,000 he received from the governor’s emergency fund at the time of his appointment in December 20004 available to cover the costs of the family’s ongoing investigation. Stallings emphasized that these funds would not be used for legal fees. Stallings forwarded a copy of his letter to Governor Huckabee, who originally appointed Williamson.

Sure 'nuff, Friday

Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale says it will cut 420 jobs and leave 430 more positions unfilled to save $200 million in expenses The meat processor said the positions it will cut by year's end are mostly management and management support jobs. They include 140 jobs in northwest Arkansas.

State regulators grilled Entergy Arkansas Inc.’s top official Thursday, questioning his reliance on attorneys that serve potentially conflicting interests in the “system agreement” dispute. The hearing before the Arkansas Public Service Commission also revealed that a new agreement would best serve Arkansas ratepayers by requiring each of the system’s five utilities to stand on its own. Entergy Arkansas could avoid situations like the one that has shifted more than $3 billion in costs from Mississippi’s Grand Gulf nuclear power plant to Arkansas ratepayers.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports farmers and poultry companies have some support from an unlikely source in a federal pollution lawsuit against area poultry companies. The chairman and past chairman of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission have denounced Oklahoma's suit against the poultry companies in the Illinois River watershed.

Linda Caillouet reports in today’s Paper Trails that Governor Huckabee has a new administrative assistant. Gaye White, widow of the late former governor Frank White has joined the Huckabee team.

Independent candidate for Governor, Rod Bryan, has closed his record store. He will be working full-time at Boulevard Bread Company in the Heights neighborhood of Little Rock, making sandwiches, running the register, and pouring coffee. He also delivers food orders on his bicycle.

The Democrat-Gazette’s Washington correspondent Paul Barton reports the Senate’s “Gang of 14” met Thursday to talk about William J. Haynes II, President Bush’s nominee to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Haynes authored a memo that suggested it would be legal to subject some al-Qaida prisoners to “cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.” Pryor says he thinks Haynes’ nomination will be thwarted without the filibuster that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has suggested.

The Bryant School Board has authorized its attorney to petition the state Board of Education to de-annex the former Paron School District and take over its operation. Superintendent Richard Abernathy, who recommended the de-annexation, said he was concerned that Paron High School’s continued failure to meet standards would prompt the Board of Education to censure his 6,850-student district. Paron High will have fewer than 60 students this school year.

The Jonesboro Sun reports that three rounds of heavy rain made rivers of some of local streets and threatened some homes Wednesday. Many of the problems are believed to be caused by concrete ditches built four years ago by the street department without consulting with city engineers.

David Orman is charged in connection with an accident that killed two teenagers who had stopped to help a stranded motorist on U.S. 412 in Benton County. Troopers do not believe Orman was speeding. He is charged with two misdemeanors, each punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Orman has had no tickets or accidents and has voluntarily surrendered his driver’s license.

Little Rock homicide detectives are resting up after a busy Thursday, which was two murders. That raised the total for this year to 37.

An off-duty Craighead County deputy sheriff surprised a sword-wielding burglar at a home she owns that was being renovated. Deputy Sheriff Donna Cromwell was not injured in the incident.

More than 25 percent of positions in the Crawford County Detention Center will be vacant today. The vacancies are forcing some employees to work six-day weeks and leaving few supervising a shift, according to Sheriff’s Office administration.

As the search continues for two work-release inmates who escaped in state vans, prison officials say they have no plans to stop allowing inmates behind the wheel - a practice banned in many neighboring states. That would be too expensive, said Dina Tyler, prison spokesman.

Win Paul

There is an item on the editorial page of the Democrat-Gazette which is so powerfully well stated, I just had to include it here. It is, perhaps, a bit ecumenical for some tastes, but orthodox Christians know how to properly address this one.

Pray with us

Dear Lord, Please help and heal, save and restore to full vigor, your servant-and our servant-Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, who now lies gravely ill after waging so gallant a struggle for his health most of this past year. This man has been such a good steward of his talents-material, civil and personal. Please send a healing wind in thy name and lift up him and all who are bowed low. And give us all the strength to bear whatever may come, for thy will be done. Amen.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Another Thursday

With Gov. Mike Huckabee and Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Argue out of state and Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller ailing, House Speaker Bill Stovall is the state’s acting governor. Rockefeller notified officials over the weekend that he was unable to fulfill the duties of his office because of illness.

Today’s Los Angeles Times reports Bentonville seemed like an Emerald City of sorts Wednesday as hometown giant Wal-Mart put on display its latest efforts to go green. The company hosted former Vice President Al Gore's talk on global warming, welcomed an environmental group's plan to locate an office in the corporate neighborhood and talked about the progress it was making to improve the global effects of its worldwide operations.

A state law allowing police to pull over motorists who don’t wear seat belts would save dozens of lives a year, prevent almost 500 serious injuries and save $93 million in associated costs, a federal highway safety official told the Arkansas Highway Commission on Wednesday. Commissioners will consider making seat belt use a “primary” violation, for which motorists can be pulled over by police.

The Arkansas Highway Commission has authorized the state to enter into an agreement with federal transportation officials on a $211 million toll road around Bella Vista.

Arkansas Congressman Vic Snyder on Wednesday accused administration lawyers of using scare tactics to persuade Congress to approve the Pentagon’s military tribunals for prosecuting suspected foreign terrorists. Snyder’s comments came during congressional hearings spurred by the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that the Defense Department lacked the authority to create special commissions to try terrorism suspects.

In a contempt motion filed Wednesday in bankruptcy court, a creditor involved in former U.S. Rep. Tommy Robinson’s Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy case accuses Robinson of using two sons as “henchmen” to attack him at a Brinkley restaurant Tuesday night. Local authorities are investigating the incident.

A judge has decided that the sister of Leroy Johnson, a developmentally disabled man who died after fighting with employees at a state institution in April, has a right to documents about his death. The records will not, however, be available to the public.

Lance Brauman stepped down as an assistant track coach at the University of Arkansas on Wednesday after he was convicted of five of the eight counts stemming from his tenure at Barton County Community College from 1997-2002, The college is in Great Bend, Kan. The mail fraud charges involved Brauman sending false academic credentials to Arkansas on behalf of former sprinter Tyson Gay.

Nearly 69 percent of Van Buren voters said “yes” to an extension of the half-cent sales tax to fund the construction of a new, 16,000-square-foot library in Tuesday’s special election.

The state plans to seek the death penalty in the trial of Stephen McCoy accused of killing his wife in the drive-thru of a Conway fast food restaurant in April, according to Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney H.G. Foster.

A Crittenden County justice of the peace, Jack Moten, was arrested at his West Memphis home and accused of secretly videotaping a girl inside his home. Moten is also wanted in Shelby County, Tenn., on charges of identification theft and fraud, and has been considered a fugitive in that state for more than a year.

A horrible case of animal abuse was discovered in White County. One is dog dead and 21 others mostly pit bulls were left outside on chains with no food or water. Officials are also investigating evidence of possible organized dog fights on the property.

Janice Linderman of London is suing the other members of the Pope County Prince Cemetery board of directors to stop replacing natural stone markers with concrete patio paving blocks. Lindeman is is also seeking to stop moving the decades old graves of two infants.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports that a pair of adult bald eagles have built what is believed to be the first-ever nest at Beaver Lake. The proud parents have apparently raised one young eagle that has already learned to fly and is now learning to fish.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Get ready for one of our weekly favorites Thursday morning sometime after 10:30. It's the weekly press briefing from Senator Blanche Lincoln. It rocks.

Friday morning, Republican congressional candidate (and Mayor or Cabot) Stubby Stumbaugh will drop by.

If you are looking for the home page, you can't find it because I messed it up. I am sure one of our web geniuses will fix it up. I guess it's yet another case of "PAT MADE A MISTAKE!"

UPDATE! has been restored! Thanks to Daniel at the Computer Works in Conway!!!!!

Wednesday wobble

Cynthia Howell reports in today’s Democrat-Gazette that Arkansas’ education leaders released the mother lode of standardized test results on Tuesday, nearly all of which showed either gains over last year’s results or scores close to or above national averages. This comes just days after federal officials demanded that the state prove that the Benchmark Exams sufficiently test higher thinking skills.

Coach Ron Crawford told Pat Lynch, in an Arkansas Priority Radio Network interview, that he expects patrons of the Altheimer school district to file a federal lawsuit to halt the merger with Dollarway which was recently approved by the State Board of Education. Crawford leads a parents group fighting to maintain the Paron schools.

By an unofficial margin of 17 ballots, Springdale voters narrowly approved a 1 percent sales-tax extension Tuesday to pay for a $50 million baseball stadium project in southwest Springdale. It has been widely reported that the Wichita Wranglers will move to Northwest Arkansas if the measure gains approval.

Voters approved three tax proposals Tuesday to help fund the Bryant Fire Department, to build a community center and to assist with upkeep of city parks.

An intruder shot a Pulaski County Reserve Deputy, James Kevin Willoughby, as he answered the door of his Atkins residence. The victim told police that he did not recognize the shooter form his work in Pulaski County. Police have a suspect in custody. Willoughby is being treated in a Russellville hospital.

Billy James "Harley" Smith of Lafe has been arrested by authorities in a double killing in Paragould over the weekend -- slayings allegedly sparked by a dispute over a man's ring.

The Conway City Council has added six officers and four dispatchers to the Police Department after being warned the city must be diligent due to increased crime problems in nearby Little Rock. “With the trouble that’s gone on down the road, we can’t get behind,” cautioned Mayor Tab Townsell, in reference to the 35 homicides in Little Rock this year.

Little Rock businessman Melvyn Bell died of cancer Saturday at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock at the age of 68. Bell, a Fort Smith native, formed the now defunct Environmental Systems Co., or ENSCO, a hazardous waste incineration company, in the 1970s. He created numerous businesses including Magic Springs amusement park and the former Shrimp Oysters and Beer restaurant in the capitol city.

AT&T must wait at least another week to get permission to launch its TV service in Little Rock after the city’s Board of Directors rejected fast-track approval Tuesday night. The cable industry argues the proposed deal between Little Rock and AT&T would give the phone company an unfair edge as it tries to compete for cable customers.

Dale Hampton of Fort Smith has been named National Cluck-Off champion for the eighth consecutive year at Wayne Chicken Days in Wayne, Nebraska. For his act this year, Hampton scratched, pecked and clucked before laying a spring-loaded egg the size of a small watermelon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tuesday Tizzy

The Arkansas Times blog reports that Lieutenant Governor Win Paul Rockefeller is hospitalized at UAMS. He is reportedly battling pneumonia and his condition is described to Times sources as “grave.”

The Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services expects to obtain enough anti-virals by March 2007 to be able to treat 600,000 of the state’s 2.7 million residents in case there is a pandemic flu, the state’s deputy health officer told lawmakers Monday.

While campaigning for President in Iowa, Gov. Mike Huckabee said Monday that if he were Iowa’s governor he likely would have signed into law a measure putting new restrictions on the ability of local governments to seize property for economic development.

Springdale voters today will consider building a 6,000-seat stadium that would provide a venue for Springdale to bring professional baseball back to Northwest Arkansas.

The Forrest City Times-Herald reports on a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of a run-off election in the Senate District 16 race between Jack Crumbly and Arnell Willis. The lawsuit also seeks to oust Jack Crumbly, who was declared the winner in the race for Senate District 16, and ask for a special election and other relief.

The sister of a developmentally disabled man who died after a fight with employees at a state institution in April has sued the Department of Health and Human Services because the agency did not release records about the death that she believes to be public.

Two Eureka Springs police officers are accused in a federal lawsuit of using excessive force against a man who cursed them during an altercation following a traffic stop. Kevin Ray Pruitt, according to the suit, started cursing the officers after receiving a ticket for a minor traffic violation last July. Pruitt maintains cursing a police officer is a protected form of free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The state Board of Education on Monday approved the immediate annexation of the Altheimer school system into the neighboring Dollarway School District, though both districts are on the state’s financially troubled list.

The Academics Plus charter school in Maumelle has enough students enrolled for the new school year and will be financially solvent, according to the State Department of Education. More than 330 enrolled for classes.

There was a public hearing on the issue of impact fees in Rogers by local developers, Mayor Steve Womack and Raymond Burns, the CEO and president of the Rogers Chamber of Commerce. James Duncan, president of Duncan Associates, the Texas firm that prepared a study of impact fees for the city that includes suggested fees for Rogers, says impact fees are an equitable way to allow developers to help pay for infrastructure needed because of the growth.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A rainy day?

I have lots to say about the so-called state surplus, which may eventually exceed $700 million by the time the legislature meets next year. The governor has called for rebates to taxpayers and I am not enthusiastic. Let’s leave that for another day.

Another bad idea is what professional managers call the “rainy day fund.” That is a bit different from your savings account because you cannot just tell the boss to give you a wad of cash for your savings. Folks like us need to be prudent and hang on to every dime. Government has the power to tax and having a big old pile of hot steaming loot lying around is just too much temptation for the ordinary politician. It is nothing more than human nature. If there is easy money available, people spend it.

Arkansas already has a Revenue Stabilization Act and that requires spending to be put in categories, and, if money is short, the lower priorities do not get funded. That used to happen regularly. A small cash reserve is probably a good idea for such things as earthquakes, and the sudden influx of hurricane refugees. Otherwise, it is just another bunch of pork barrel self-indulgence and we’re all against that.
(Network Broadcast July 7, 2006)

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Republican sheriff nominee Dwayne Graham is just back from visiting with Joe Arpio, who is famous for his Phoenix tent jail.

Mr. Berry pays a visit

Congressman Marion Berry stopped by the other day. He's probably the most immediately likable member of the Arkansas congressional delegation. He says that the recent newspaper story about ownership of his farming company selectively presented the facts and that the USDA thinks he is clean. That is what I took his statement to be, anyway.

He is for enforcement of immigration laws, even if it means building a seven hundred mile fence. Representative Berry is still hacked off over the Medicare "Section D" drug program and he says it hurts older folks and local drug stores. He is a pharmacist as well as gentleman farmer, you know.

He took a shot at Asa Hutchinson for not asking for more resources when he worked for homeland security. Berry says the administration fights putting enough resources into the Iraq was to protect tax cuts for the wealthy, and he is still in favor of drastically cutting the estate tax. He thinks Democrats can take back the House.

The most remarkable part of the interview is Berry's devout belief that farm products can be used as additives to fuel. He has an absolutely utopian vision and I have to think he knows something about it. I can't see cars running on anything but gas. Must be a generational thing.
(Network Broadcast July 6, 2006)

Some LIGHT politics

This is a strange political season. For the first time in almost three decades the governor’s office is open and the contest between Asa and Beebe is about as interesting as watching the grass grow. Not that I would stoop to covering politics like a horse race, but one might expect a bit of occasional entertainment.

No, this year, the excitement is strictly in the Lieutenant Governor’s race where plucky religious conservative Jim Holt is facing rich outsider Bill Halter. Democrat Halter should take no consolation over the latest campaign contribution reports. In the Republican primary, which Holt easily won, the defeated Chuck Banks raised around 275 grand. Holt’s total is close to $69 thousand. Doug Matayo also took in about as much as Holt.

This should tell Halter that he can’t simply write a check and take over a constitutional office. The situation for Mr. Holt is not entirely positive. He is now in the unenviable position of presumed leader. He is the de-facto incumbent. Halter is the underdog, as it should be. Even for a popular guy who seems to say the right things, the people of Arkansas just don’t give away state offices.
(Network broadcast July 5, 2006)

Too early Monday morning

Lieutenant Governor Win Paul Rockefeller is back in Arkansas after a second bone marrow transplant reportedly failed to achieve the desired result. He will continue further treatments at UAMS.

The federal government says Arkansas’ Benchmark and End-of-Course exams appear to be too easy. The notice directs Arkansas’ education leaders to produce “evidence that the assessments measure higher-order thinking skills and student understanding of challenging content.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has put Sebastian County on notice that conditions at the county jail violate the constitutional rights of inmates confined there. A 23-page report on the findings of a 2005 investigation said the jail fails “to provide for inmates’ serious medical needs, serious mental health needs, right to protection from physical harm and right to be confined in sanitary and safe environmental conditions.”

Firefighters dousing a burning car dumped just inside the gate of Little Rock’s Oakland Cemetery discovered a charred body in the trunk early Saturday morning. Investigators had yet to identify the victim of the capital city’s 35th homicide this year. They had no suspects or motive in the killing.

Pagagould police continue to investigate the Sunday shooting spree that left two dead and one wounded. A suspect is in custody.

Rebecca Montgonery, of Johnson County, suspected of fatally drugging her 2-year-old daughter is scheduled to be arraigned this week on a felony charge of manslaughter. Prosecutors believe the woman administered several different drugs to make the child quit crying and go to sleep.

Dennis Bailey, who was fined $1.3 million by a state agency last week and ordered to shut down his 14 stores, is still in business, and apparently illegally collecting on loans.

The oldest active case in Benton County Circuit Court is over after laying dormant nearly 15 years. The city of Bentonville must pay $242,000 to a man who owned property at the corner of Arkansas 102 and S.W. "A" Street but couldn't get the city to restore electric service after a 1987 fire, a jury decided Friday.

An accreditation team arrives in town Monday to inspect the Little Rock Zoo, part of a standard review that assesses the zoo’s physical and financial health.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Grant Merrill has all the news headlines, sports scores, weather, and other useful stuff every weekday morning 6 to 9. You can log on at, and in central Arkansas you can tune to AM 1380 KDXE.

At 9, Pat Classic has Republican candidate for Sheriff of Pulaski County, Dwayne Graham. Yep, that is the famous TV guy and he is on with Lyncho.

You can catch my show on the Arkansas Priority Radio Network and the stations are listed on the right hand column. Stick around because there are more to come.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday top stuff

Stephens Media Group reports that a legislative panel completed its review of rules governing a statewide ban on smoking in the workplace, but not before criticizing some restrictions in the proposed guidelines. The anti-smoking law, approved in a April special session, takes effect July 21. It prohibits smoking in most public places, including restaurants.

Entergy Arkansas’ top official, Hugh McDonald, says there are no guarantees that customers won’t foot part of the bill for a “Grand Gulf II” or other out-of-state plant projects under its “system agreement” with other Entergy utilities.

Governor Mike Huckabee will take his presidential campaign back to Iowa over the weekend and through Monday.

Gov. Mike Huckabee says that a new book he's writing -- due in bookstores next year -- may help him gauge how much support he has for a possible 2008 presidential bid. Huckabee said the book would be a broad prospective on policy and its effects on people.

The state Republican Party raised more than $70,000 last night during a fundraiser in Little Rock with Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

An Oklahoma doctor once fined by the State Medical Board over allegations dealing with prescribing pain medication was arrested Thursday in a confrontation with a state trooper after the physician showed up at the board's office with a crowd of supporters. Arkansas State Police arrested Robert Kale and charged the Muldrow, Okla., doctor with disorderly conduct. Kale reportedly admits calling the arresting officer “an idiot.”

The Democrat-Gazette reports that the Arkansas Racing Commission failed to ratify regulations for “electronic games of skill” at racetracks in Hot Springs and West Memphis. Commission Manager Shelby McCook said commissioners wanted to make some changes to the section pertaining to “powers and oversight.” However, he said they were “real close” on finalizing the 138-page draft.

Mayor Ray Baker rallied hundreds of people gathered near the site of a proposed downtown riverfront casino Thursday evening to join him in fighting the planned $131 million project.

Former Pine Bluff Alderman Jack Foster will serve his threeyear sentence on one count of aiding and abetting an attempted extortion at the Federal Detention Center in Houston.

FOX 16 reports more than 50 dogs were euthanized after authorities busted an edlerly animal horder. Animal abuse investigators found more than 50 dogs living in horrible conditions after the owner was taken to the hospital. Eleven of those dogs are recovering at the Pulaski County Humane Society. The exact location of the incident has not been reported because the investigation is ongoing. The suspect will receive a mental evaluation.

A College Station man will be 110 years old before becoming eligible for parole after receiving his third child molestation conviction Thursday. Kenneth Ray Pitts must 1 serve 62 /2 years of his 75-year sentence before he is eligible for parole. He was convicted of second-degree sexual assault and sexual indecency with a child. Jurors took about 12 minutes to determine his guilt and deliberated on his sentence for 26.

Two women who formerly were inmates of the Franklin County Detention Center have filed a federal lawsuit alleging they were subjected to numerous sexual offenses at the jail, including being raped by a jailer. All levels of jail officials, including the sheriff, were involved in inappropriate and illegal activity, they allege.

A judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against the manufacturer and seller of a school bus involved in a 2003 fatal crash in Siloam Springs, saying Arkansas determined years ago that seat belts weren't required on large school buses.

The Jonesboro Sun reports that Marmaduke School District has raised over $60,000 to help students since the April tornadoes. Now school officials have issued each student whose home was damaged a $100 Wal Mart gift card and A $400 card for each student whose home was destroyed.

The Divinity project will go forward following a 5-3 vote of approval Thursday night by the Fayetteville City Council. The Divinity Hotel & Condos is a mixed-use building on Dickson Street, between Church and Block avenues.

After years of planning, construction and budgeting, Forrest City residents can now look forward to using the multi-purpose facility located at the Forrest City Municipal Sports Complex. The Grand Opening is expected to happen Monday.

Jason Willett, chair of the state Democratic Party, gave an outstanidng interview. He has lots to say about state and local poltics and I will have the interview linked on by the end of Friday.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thursday Sunrise Stuff

The Governor and Mrs. Huckabee have purhchased a 4600 square foot home in North Little Rock’s Shady Valley neighborhood for $525,000. The Arkansas Times blog reports that the home has two kitchens, 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 half-baths, a deck and a swimming pool.

State lawmakers will have an estimated $721 million in surplus funds to spend when they meet in the 2007 legislative session, according to the latest state report.

The governor says he it would be “inexcusable” not to refund part of the state budget surplus to taxpayers. Huckabee said he supports retaining a portion of the surplus for a "rainy day fund" to be used for essential state services in the event of an economic downturn.

Republican attorney general's candidate Gunner DeLay says that as the state's chief legal officer he would sue employers who hire illegal immigrants to recoup the cost of any Medicaid benefits granted to the workers.

Federal and state officials have entered the investigation of the stabbing death of Mountain Home urologist, Dr. David Milstein. Over the holiday weekend, search warrants were served on a home and automobile at an undisclosed location. Milstein’s widow is Lois Parks of Little Rock. The murder of her first husband, Jerry Parks, in 1993, is still unsolved and was the topic of many Whitewater related conspiracy theories.

Pine Bluff Police say a suspected rapist is on the run. Fox 16 reports that investigators are looking for Calvin Young, the man they say attacked and raped his estranged wife in front of her young child. The suspect may be armed with an assault rifle and should be considered very dangerous.

A 19-yearold Hot Springs man, Michael David Crump, is dead from injuries suffered after he apparently fell off a vehicle. According to reports, he was on top of a car, but suffered what looked like severe road abrasions and other injuries. An autopsy is planned.

A Springdale doctor, Dr. Stephen Van Ore, is facing charges of terroristic threatening after he tried to pull a gun on his employer, a police report says. No one was injured in the incident at the Springdale Metro Clinic.

A fireworks display technician was severely injured during Monday's fireworks display at Centennial Valley Country Club. The individual worked for Arkansas Pyrotechnics.

The Arkansas Bank Department has sued an industrial development company that represents 11 central Arkansas counties, seeking to close the business because its financial condition was found unreliable in an audit. The Arkansas Valley Regional Industrial Development Co. claimed it had assets of more than $32 million in 2004, but the Bank Department says Arkansas Valley’s “affairs are in an unsafe and unsound condition and its assets are impaired.”

The future of a hotel and condominium development proposed along Dickson Street rests in the hands of the Fayetteville City Council. The project was denied by the city Planning Commission, and the developers have appealed that decision to the council. The council will hear that appeal today.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Congressman Marion Berry was just full of rye commentary on all sorts of things. He talked about Medicare, the estate tax, Iraq, North Korea, using corn for fuel, bird flu, and the value of his farm. There is a lot more! The entire interview is posted on my and is worth your time.

And that item I am holding is MY original Rollie stick, direct from Rollie Remmel, who was buried today. He was a great guy.

The Pat Lynch Show returns to Little Rock terrestrial radio on KDXE AM 1380 this morning 9 to 11, on the Arkansas Radio Network. Tune in and give me a call or send an email.

Local calls: (501) 433 0924
Long distance toll-free 1 877 433 0924

Congressman Marion Berry is set for 10 this morning and, and tomorrow get ready for Democratic party chair Jason Willett.

Travs manager Bill Valentine is on Friday's show.

Dwayne Graham is set for Monday, and he is just back from that tent jail in Arizona.

Wild and Wonderful Wednesday!

A federal review of flood plain development in Jonesboro will begin almost two weeks earlier than expected, according to a report in the Jonesboro Sun. FEMA decided to conduct the review after receiving several complaints, but have not said specifically what those complaints were about, other than to say they involved projects in the city.

There is still no arrest in the murder investigation from last Saturday at McCain Mall. North Little Rock Police say they’re still searching for the gunman who shot three people in the mall parking lot.

Pope County Judge John Patterson has upheld attorney demands to keep most of the people involved in the Nona Dirksmeyer murder case quiet. The gag order will be lifted when a Pope County jury returns a verdict deciding Jones' guilt or innocence.

A man who has been held in the Pope County jail for nearly two months awaiting a jury trial for his rape charge decided to post bond, but still may not be released. Kevin Wade of Dardanelle will be picked up by Fort Leonard Wood military police for being a deserter of the U.S. Army.

Christopher Keith Forbis, An HIV-positive man arrested for allegedly spitting on a hospice worker died Saturday evening in the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center while alone in a cell. He also pleaded no contest in April 1997 with having sex with a woman without telling her he was HIV-positive and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with 91/2 years suspended.

Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Jim Holt received and spent around $69,000 in his campaign for the party nomination. Campaign finance reports show unsuccessful rivals Chuck Banks receiving contributions of around $273,000 and State Representative Doug Matayo bringing in about $69,000.

Doctors say that Terry Wallis, an Arkansas man who was barely conscious for almost 20 years, regained speech and movement because his brain spontaneously rewired itself.

Arkansas labor leaders say the United Steelworkers strike at National Wire Fabric in Star City, now nearly a year old and with no end in sight, appears to be the longest such job action in state history.

A wildfire in the Ouachita National Forest had burned more than 3,200 acres by Tuesday, officials said. About 40 firefighters were monitoring the fire, which lightning ignited June 26 in a remote area of the forest about 15 miles northwest of Glenwood on Sulphur Mountain.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it is a banning kite tubing, a new extreme water sport, on its lakes in Arkansas and Missouri.

Linda Caillouet reports in today’s Democrat-Gazette that the father of Miss Arkansas LaQuinta Bennett denies his family used air horns to show support during the recent competition in Hot Springs. At one point, emcee Jason Harper asked those using the horns to stop, but Paper Trails’ sources said Bennett’s fans, including relatives, ignored the request.

A memorial service for philanthropist and conservationist Rollie Remmel is set for 3 this afternoon at First United Methoidst Church in Little Rock.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Why, it's the Fourth, Mr. Jefferson!

It is a strange coincidence that the two last signers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson each died on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was the principal author and was invited to national commemoration, and his letter of response provides us with his last writing, and his final thought on the event we celebrate this holiday. Here is what Jefferson said:

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be (in some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spured, ready to ride them legitamately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others.

For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

Thomas Jefferson on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

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