Thursday, August 31, 2006

New boss at Amtrak

David Gunn has finally been replaced and the long national nightmare has finally ended. The LA has a anointed by the Bushites.

Gunn was forced out by the Bush administration after his failure to follow orders which would have meant the end of long distance passenger train service, which would mean an end of Amtrak service to most places west of Philadelphia, including Arkansas.

Critics claim that Amtrak is bleeding billions, while Dick Cheney's friends steal more in a day than rail subsidies get in a year. Amtrak has deep troubles and needs reform, and America needs sensible transportation policy. So long as the only factions at the table represent airlines and truckers, we are all in deep trouble. Does anybody remember 9/11?

According to the LA Times,

Amtrak is unquestionably a troubled system. Yet not all its problems are of its own making. The abysmal performance of the Coast Starlight, for example, has more to do with Union Pacific than with Amtrak; most of the 22,000 miles of track traveled by Amtrak trains are owned by private rail companies such as Union Pacific, which often fail to maintain them properly or force Amtrak trains to wait while their own freight trains rumble past on shared rails.

Amtrak's opponents are outraged at the taxpayer money spent to maintain a system they say should be self-sufficient, ignoring the fact that all modes of transportation make use of public subsidies, whether for roads or airports. The Bush administration, which in 2005 proposed eliminating federal funding for Amtrak, envisions a scheme in which the states share ownership of the rails on which private companies operate, though there is no evidence that all states would be willing to take on that burden.

Of course, ALL the routes are unprofitable. Assigning and dividing expenses from common elements among routes is difficult and rather subjective. More than one airline has not been operating in the black and nobody thinks anything of it.

I wonder which interstate highway routes are "profitable?"

What America needs is a modern practical rail transportation system. The new man's background with Union Pacific does not bode well for Amtrak.

The trouble with Grant Merrill is...

...that he does too many things well. Here is more proof. According to the release, Grant will team up with David Sanders for football play-by-play broadcasts of Arkansas Baptist games. Now, this could be really kewl!

LITTLE ROCK – TCR Radio and the SuperTalk Arkansas Network will be streaming all of the play-by-play action of Arkansas Baptist Eagle Football this fall. The broadcasts will begin with this week's season home opener against Mayflower on Friday night.

Fans will be able to access the games by logging on to or each Friday night. The broadcasts will begin with the Hootens Arkansas Football Bugman Report at 6:45 PM, and the Countdown to Kickoff Coaches Show at 7:15. All games both home and away will be broadcast. The games will be accessible free of charge to anyone with a computer and basic internet connection.

Stepping up to the play-by-play microphone will be sportscaster Grant Merrill, the host of the network's morning show " Arkansas AM", which airs locally on KDXE 1380 AM, and a number of other stations across Arkansas and Mississippi. "Arkansas Baptist is a great school with a very loyal and supportive fan base. Having been a long time fan of the Eagles, I am honored to be calling the games this fall. We're going to have a lot of fun." Merrill will be joined in the booth this week by statewide newspaper columnist David Sanders, who is also an administrator for the Arkansas Baptist School System. Prior to this year, Merrill served as the voice of the Fort Smith Northside Grizzlies for four years.

The Supertalk Arkansas Network is made up of twenty-one radio stations across Arkansas. The company also operates three broadband radio stations, streaming news/talk, classic rock, and a contemporary Christian format to thousands of listeners each week.

Thursday, at last!

Second District Congressman Vic Snyder, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, calls Secretary of Defense Donald Runsfeld’s attack on war critics a “shameful, shameful speech.” Rumsfeld compared critics of the Bush Iraq policies with those appeasing the Nazis before World War II. In an interview with Pat Lynch on the Super Talk Arkansas Network, Snyder said this is the beginning of an administration strategy for the fall elections.

Despite a daylong meeting Wednesday, lawmakers are still unable to reach agreement on how to adequately fund the state public school system. Act 57 of the 2003 special session sets a September 1 deadline, and it was a previous failure to meet this requirement caused the state Supreme Court to rule state public education unconstitutional in December of last year.

The state’s share of public school construction costs increased from the $265 million reported in June to $277 million Wednesday, largely because of school district officials reworking their building projects to conform to minimum construction standards set by the state.

A Jackson neurologist accused the Mississippi Department of Health Wednesday of underreporting by almost half the number of West Nile virus cases in Mississippi. Dr. Art Leis, a clinical professor of neurology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, told the Senate Public Health Committee the number of West Nile cases over the past year is 31, but the real number should be 60.

The Wichita Wranglers are finished negotiating a lease contract with Springdale, team President Jon Dandes said Wednesday. “To the major points in the lease, we have no intention of even having a conversation about them,” Dandes said. “If the City Council does not want this team, they need to say so. We’ve got other options.” The Springdale City Council agreed to propose major changes Tuesday to a proposed lease, which Mayor Jerre Van Hoose and City Attorney Jeff Harper finalized last week with team officials.

This spring’s primary and runoff elections - the first held since a federal law expanded the use of electronic voting machines - cost Arkansas roughly $600,000 more than elections in recent years, according to estimates released Wednesday. State officials attributed the added expense to the cost of programming the electronic voting machines and printing specialized ballots.

President Bush ventured inside a private west Little Rock gated community yesterday for a luncheon which raised $400,000 for the Republican gubernatorial candidate and $250,000 for the state party.

Efforts to ensure that residents in northeast Arkansas are prepared for the aftermath of an earthquake are continuing with a new program that matches three counties along the New Madrid fault with three counties outside the area. The “sister counties” program, created by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, is designed so counties not directly affected by a catastrophe can offer law enforcement, first responders, a system to back up computer records and other assistance to counties in need.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is participating in a five-year study to determine how a weight-loss program delivered over the Internet stacks up against face-to-face programs delivered in group settings, such as Weight Watchers.

Jessica Palmer, a Benton County coroner's assistant was fired for telling police she suspected her boss was mishandling prescription drugs taken from the homes of dead people, but the woman's job performance was so poor she'd have been fired anyway, a Benton County Grievance Committee voted Wednesday.

Authorities expanded their search Wednesday for a Pine Bluff teenager who went missing in Dumas three days earlier, but bloodhounds, mounted police and an army of volunteers riding all-terrain and four-wheel-drive vehicles were unable to locate Casey Crowder.

CheckUps, a retail-based, non-emergency walk-in medical facility, has reached an agreement with Wal-Mart to open 20 new clinics in the Southeast by the end of 2006. The first of the new clinics will open in the Wal-Mart store located in Forest, Ms., while six are planned for the Jackson area.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Snyder on the radio...

Congressman Vic Snyder was on with me this morning and we had a bit of discussion about Secretary Rumsfeld's speech against the war critics. I have psoted two highlights of Snyder's reaction on my home page,

More to come!!

Relief is on the way!

As the storm clouds of another negative Republican fear-driven political season looms, there is a bit of good news this afternoon.

Arkansas Repertory Theatre presents The Second City’s Truth, Justice or The American Way on its MainStage Sept. 27-Oct. 8.

The marquee touring show by the legendary comedy troupe, The Second City’s Truth, Justice or The American Way features comic takes on everything from current events to relationships, politics and family life. This smart and silly show includes improv based on audience suggestions, scenework and original material performed by the current generation of the comedy world’s best and brightest new talent.

“The Second City has proven to be wildly popular with our audiences. We’re thrilled to welcome them back to Little Rock for their fourth appearance at The Rep,” said Robert Hupp, producing artistic director. “Current events being what they are, The Second City’s new show promises to be very entertaining.”

A “comedy empire” that has launched the careers of numerous well-known comedians, The Second City started in a converted Chinese laundry on Chicago’s north side in 1959. It now has theatres and training centers in Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, Las Vegas and Denver, with additional training centers in New York City and Los Angeles. The organization’s touring troupes have included some of the comedy world’s best and brightest, including Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, John Belushi, John Candy, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Eugene Levy, Gilda Radner, Bonnie Hunt, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows, Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey, to name a few.

Six actors, along with a musical director, present the two-act revue featuring sketch comedy, songs and improv performances, followed by an all-improv finale that changes with every performance.

The troupe offers two improv workshops while in town, Improv for Adults 18 and Older and Youth Improv Techniques for Ages 13-17, both of which are Saturday, Sept. 30, 12–3 p.m. at The Rep. Cost is $60 and class size is limited. For more information and to register, contact Holly Gilbert, arts-in-education administrator, at 378-0445 ext. 215 or

Wednesday Wickedness

President Bush is in Arkansas today for a $500 per-person luncheon fundraiser at the home of former NBA star Joe Klein. Bush’s appearance will be inside an exclusive gated community and will benefit Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson.

Immigration reform will not pass this year without President Bush's personal intervention with congressional leaders, according to Sen. Mark Pryor. "This is not Republicans fighting with Democrats. This is Republicans fighting among themselves," Pryor told a group of Benton County Democrats while attending a "Night with the Senators" along with Sen. Blanche Lincoln at the Whole Hog Cafe in Bentonville on Tuesday night. Third District congressional candidate Woody Anderson also spoke.

Construction of a $150 million shopping center planned in North Little Rock’s Dark Hollow wetlands is expected to start in the next couple of months now that the deadline for opponents of the project to challenge a court decision has passed, the developer said Tuesday.

The Springdale City council has made a set of revisions to the proposed lease with the parent company of the Wichita Wranglers. The city will seek to retain naming rights and split property taxes, if the property should be deemed taxable. The bonds to finance the $50 million stadium must be approved within a week, or the option to buy the land will expire.

Arkansas’ 2006 high school graduates who took the SAT performed above the national average on all three sections of the newly lengthened college-entrance exam, according to scores the College Board released Tuesday.

Poverty in Arkansas has dropped slightly but still remains above the national average, according to U.S. Census Bureau. The report says the state's poverty rate dropped from 16.4 percent in 2003-2004 to 14.5 percent in 2004-2005. The national rate was 12.7 percent.

Despite a push for healthy lifestyles, Arkansas again ranked among the nation’s fattest states and this year even added a few pounds, a new obesity study said.

Arkansas rice farmers filed suit Tuesday in Lonoke County Circuit Court against Stuttgart-based Riceland Foods Inc. and several affiliates of the German conglomerate Bayer AG “for real and potential damages arising from the financial and emotional collapse of their farming operations beginning in 2006.” Trace amounts of an unapproved, genetically engineered rice were discovered in U.S. long-grain rice supplies.

Community leaders in Helena are scrambling to secure more funding for the October blues festival after the Isle of Capri casino cut its’ financial support by more than half. The Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival is set for the first weekend in October.

Searchers are going through dense underbrush and deep gullies of Desha County, looking for a 17-yearold Pine Bluff girl reportedly missing since Sunday morning. Casey Crowder called her mother, Melinda Crowder, by cell phone at 6:08 a.m. Sunday to say her car had run out of gas on U.S. 65 in south Dumas. A short time earlier, the teen reportedly left her boyfriend’s home in Pickens, a few miles southwest of Dumas.

No one was hurt when a woman accidentally drove her pickup through the wall of the new Star City Municipal Swimming Pool building at about 8:25 a.m. Monday and landed in the pool.

The Arkansas Racing Commission made plans Tuesday for a mid-October trip to West Memphis to inspect video poker, blackjack and “Lock ’N Roll” gambling machines to see if they pass muster as “electronic games of skill.” Southland Park greyhound track, submitted a proposal that calls for installing more than 900 of these machines and opening them to public play Nov. 1.

Myriad Entertainment & Resorts Inc has initiated the engineering for the design of its proposed $1.9-billion resort in this Mississippi Delta city. Myriad-Tunica is proposing to develop and build a 540-acre resort in Tunica featuring a fully enclosed, climate-controlled championship golf course, a 1,200-room convention hotel, two 500-room casino hotels, casino, convention center and gardens.

The Sebastian County Election Commission has agreed to rent two voting machines to the Circuit Court for use in a court-ordered Sept. 10 election to determine who will control a Fort Smith Buddhist temple, which has 1200 members.

The Browns, will reunite on an Arkansas stage for the first time in nearly 40 years. The trio consists of Jim Ed Brown and his sisters, Bonnie and Maxine. They have reunited often - at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and on TV specials since the sisters left in 1967 to focus on their families - but never in Arkansas. The group performs Sept. 10 at an Arkansas Hospice fundraiser in Russellville at Arkansas Tech.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tuesday Turmoil

August 29, 2006

Today’s Democrat-Gazette reports that two lawsuits were filed Monday and another is expected to be filed today in the wake of the Aug. 18 announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that trace amounts of an unapproved, genetically engineered rice were discovered in U.S. long-grain rice supplies. The two suits filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas accuse Bayer CropScience of negligence. Attorneys representing 20 rice farmers say they will file suit at noon today in Lonoke County Circuit Court against Bayer and Stuttgart based Riceland Foods Inc.

A proposal to develop the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Jefferson County did not make a whittled-down list of 18 plans still being evaluated by the federal government.

A year after Hurricane Katrina, about 9,300 families who fled the storm remain in Arkansas, and more than half of them are having their rent paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA estimates that the families average 2.3 people, meaning that Arkansas has about 21,500 refugees.

At least one Springdale city council member, Mike Overton, is leading what appears to be a campaign to stop the new baseball stadium even though it was narrowly approved by the voters.

Arkansas schools will rely on teachers or small correction inserts to explain the elimination of the ninth planet until new textbooks can reflect the change in the future.

The state Board of Corrections invoked the Emergency Powers Act on Tuesday, making up to 650 prison inmates eligible for early parole hearings. To help ease overcrowding, the act authorizes the prison board to move parole hearings up 90 days for parole-eligible inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes. The act has been invoked every 90 days since 1998.

The Democrat-Gazette reports an estimated 45 shots were fired as hundreds of young people congregated outside two separate parties in Conway early Sunday, police said Monday. One man was shot in the leg, police said. Lt. Danny Moody, a spokesman for the Conway Police Department, said he knew of no arrests or any suspects in the shootings.

A man accused of calling in a bomb threat to the Fort Smith Regional Airport to keep his wife from leaving him can be released on bond, a federal magistrate judge ruled Monday. Michael Terrell Jackson reportedly was convicted of battery seven years ago, admitted to smoking marijuana regularly and doesn’t have a steady job.

Even as Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain argued for a single, month-long proceeding in the 78-count indictment against popular former Lonoke police chief Jay Campbell, his wife and four others, Circuit Judge John Cole noted repeatedly that such a mega trial would be unwieldy or impossible, signaling that he was predisposed toward conducting two or more trials.

The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, which oversees all parishes in the state, has removed the Rev. Paul Worm as pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fayetteville, citing misconduct in the decision. Worm had served the parish for seven years. In a letter to parishioners dated Aug. 18, Monsignor J. Gaston Hebert, diocesan administrator, said Worm’s actions, which reportedly do not include pedophelia, required immediate removal.

The question of whether St. Francis County Judge-elect Gary Hughes can also hold the position of mayor of Caldwell could lead to a request for an Arkansas Attorney General’s opinion. In June, Hughes, who currently serves as both mayor and quorum court justice, defeated Carl Cisco in a run-off election for the position as county judge. Last month, Hughes was the lone candidate to file for the mayor’s position in Caldwell for the November General Election, in effect granting him another term as mayor of that city.

Both Millsaps College and Tougaloo College have made The Princeton Review's ranking of the best colleges and universities in the U.S., and Millsaps also was included in the rankings of U.S. News & World Report and "The Fiske Guide to Colleges."

Connie Yingling Patterson, of Searcy, has been reunited with her Class of 1929 Pangburn High class ring, which she lost and found twice. 10 year-old Alec Bourgeois retrieved a gold band sticking up from the ground in his Searcy front yard and a friend of his mother’s figured out the owner from the initials “C. Y.” inside the band.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday missives

Publishing a timeline for withdrawing from Iraq isn't a good idea, but military officials should have one in a drawer at the Pentagon, Arkansas' junior senator told the Jonesboro Sun.

A year after 75,000 stunned and weary Hurricane Katrina evacuees showed up at Arkansas' door and received a helping hand, state charities are still helping the needy as state -- and Northwest Arkansas -- officials re-evaluate emergency plans. According to the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, charitable groups still provide assistance to an estimated 30,000 evacuees who remain in the state.

Riverfront communities in Arkansas already flooded with financial burdens are learning they can add the costs associated with levee certification to their lists. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is requiring communities and levee districts to certify that their levees meet current design and construction standards. 15 counties are currently conducting levee mapping studies and more will be added to the FEMA list in coming years.

A Howard County woman is suing Nashville, Ark., its mayor and City Council members, claiming she was fired after she exercised her First Amendment rights by discussing the city’s finances Pam McLaughlin, former city finance director, filed a federal lawsuit in Texarkana.

Fayetteville police say they've arrested six women on prostitution charges and three men for promoting prostitution. Officers said the arrests stemmed from an investigation that focused on so-called escort services.

An official with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps says the anti-illegal immigration group is not limited to work in border states and is helping form a chapter in Arkansas. Greg Thompson, a retired Oklahoma City advertisingexecutive, is the group's national development director, and plans to visit Hot Springs on Tuesday for an organizational meeting. The group is known for its citizen patrols of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Livestock owners are scrambling to find fall and winter feed supplements as scorching temperatures and little rain are drying up most of Arkansas’ hay harvests.

A federal investigation of families of migrant workers employed in Arkansas poultry plants found that nearly all of the school-age children are ineligible for U.S. education assistance. The audit estimates that 3,127 out of Arkansas’ 3,191 migrant children are ineligible and calls on the state to reimburse $877,000 spent on them.

A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration testified Saturday about more than a dozen “red flags” that popped up in the past 30 years alerting Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to potential links between its hormone drugs and breast cancer.

Memphis could be landing another Fortune 500 company as Chicago-based ServiceMaster Co. is considering relocating its corporate headquarters and about 170 executives. The provider of housecleaning, pest control and landscaping services already employs more than 2,000 people in Memphis, but it has maintained its corporate headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove.

After eight years on the Bassmaster tour, Little Rock resident Scott Rook finally won a tournament, and Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a more dramatic finish.

Hot Springs officials used the National Park Service’s 90th anniversary Friday to announce that the federal agency was negotiating with the Museum of Contemporary Art-Hot Springs to reopen the Ozark Bathhouse as a modernart museum.

Seen as a signal of the Gulf Coast's recovery, a redesigned Beau Rivage Resort & Casino is set to open Tuesday in Biloxi, exactly a year after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the coast. Island View Casino Resort, Gulfport's only casino, is preparing to open, unveiling the first of two phases of construction September 18.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Where on earth is Pat Lynch?

Tomorrow, me and Grant Merrill - along with Vance Strange, Ray Daughtery, and Gordon Heiges from SportStar Management - will be heading over to the Embassy Suites Hotel. The LR Touchdown Club is having a real event!

Tomorrow at the Little Rock Touchdown Club
-Embassy Suites Hotel-

Won 3 National Championships as Head Coach at Oklahoma (1974, 75, 85)
Also won 12 conference Championships with the Sooners
Won Super Bowl XXX as Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 1995
Former Razorback Team Captain and assistant coach under Frank Broyles
Elected into College Football Hall of Fame in 2002
First LR Touchdown Meeting of the Year

Membership dues are $40 for returning members and $45 for new members.
Lunch will be $15 for members and $25 for non members. There is a $10 fee for non members and $5 for members if you are not going to eat, but still want to attend the meeting.

Members and non-members welcome. For more information:
or call 663-1836

The Little Rock Touchdown Club
"Where Everyone's Opinion Counts"
Buffet Lunch 11:00-12:00, Program 12:00-1:00
Embassy Suites Hotel

presented by

At the State Democratic Convention - UPDATED

I was on an excellent panel with Warwick Sabin of Arkansas Times blog and John McClure of Air America concerning media coverage of politics. It was a great opportunity to meet and greet.

I spent time with plenty of folks from across the state and I have posted 10 very informative and insightful interviews on my home page, Well worth the time. Each is under 5 minutes.

UPDATE - One of the people I interviewed was Rod Bryan. Yes, the independent candidate for governor did crash the party. I also asked Jason Willett, Chairman of the party, about Bryan's presence. You need to hear both of these interviews.

THEN ... Take a look at Seth Blomeley's excellent report in today's Democrat-Gazette. Apparently, I missed the "big show."

After his speech, Beebe, wearing a coat and tie, hung around to do interviews and shake hands. At that time, Bryan, wearing shorts and sandals, approached Beebe's gathering and told an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter he wanted to renew complaints about Beebe and Hutchinson excluding him from the debates they have arranged.

Bryan said he wanted to know whether he should write a check to the "Republicrat Party" so he could sponsor the debates.

Willett of Jonesboro then took offense.

"You're trying to start trouble, that's what you're doing, Rod," Willett told Bryan, a sandwichshop worker from Little Rock.

"I'm just trying to ask a question," Bryan responded.

"Act like a gentleman," Willett said.

"A gentleman would debate me - like a man, like a man," Bryan taunted. "Are you a man? Are you a man? Are you a man?"

Willett, obviously frustrated, walked away.

This is something I find very very funny.Willett told me he'd throw Bryan out! When I left, everybody was making nice. Sheez, I hate to miss a good fight.

One more thing, Rodsandwichy be a sandwhich shop employee, but he is also a legally certified candidate to appear on the General Election ballot. More than 10,000 registered voters went to the trouble of signing a petition to get Bryan on the ballot. Hiw hour-long interview is on my home page, Listen for yourself and decide whether Rod Bryan deserves our respect. I say he does.

One more thing, it is probably true that Bryan should not have taunted Beebe, but I think that is understandable under the circumstances. Mike Beebee and Asa Hutchinson are running vastly well-financed campaigns using the mondy of special interests and political insiders. Rod Bryan has had to do all the work and take the financial risk himself.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Pritt exits LR race, endorses Walker for Mayor

One less candidate in the race for Mayor of Little Rock. The current field does not even rise to the level of mediocre.

Contact : Drew Pritt at 1.501.454.4093 or

Drew Pritt, Democrat, stood before the Black Caucus of the Democratic Party of Arkansas yesterday to announce he will NOT run for Mayor of Little Rock but will openly support former State Senator Bill Walker.

"One candidate for Mayor, when I spoke with him about the Jail Bond Vote, talked to me about neighborhood prevention programs and youth violence prevention programs, and that was Bill Walker," said Pritt. "One candidate for Mayor will stand up for working people and represent all sections of Little Rock whether its the business owners on Cantrell, or the small business owners on University or Asher, and that was Bill Walker.

One andidate for Mayor takes to heart the immortal words, red, yellow, black, and white they are all precious in God's sight....and that candidate for Mayor is Bill Walker!"

Pritt said he is impressed that Walker is willing to listen and review his plans for a proposed light rail system for the city of Little Rock. He also is impressed about Walker's legislative record in fighting for the working families of Arkansas.

Walker is a former Justice of the Peace, State Representative, and State Senator in Pulaski County. If he wins, he'll be the first African-American Mayor of Little Rock. He currently faces former Prosecuting Attorney Mark Stodola, Barbara Graves, who represents Ward One on the City Directorship, and Jesse Mason, a philanthropist who ran fourth in a previous citywide bid.

Pritt says there will be other opportunities for himself but says he is focused on working to elect the Democratic Ticket this fall.

"I look forward to helping elect Mike Beebe as our state's next Governor and Bill Walker as Little Rock's next Mayor," said Pritt. "The Democratic Party provides the most diverse and the most effective team we have had in a long time in Arkansas. With Mike Beebe as Governor and Bill Walker as Mayor it will be the one-two punch combination we need in Little Rock to knock out the rising crime rates, areas of joblessness, and many other problems facing our great city."

Pritt, a political consultant, broke a barrier in Arkansas by becoming the first member of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities to seek statewide office.

Pritt is an avid sportsman; enjoying hunting and fishing. He also loves baseball, cooking, and reading. He currently resides in Little Rock where he is an active member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. He is a member of the Pulaski County Democratic Committee, the Arkansas Democratic Party, Stonewall Democrats, the Arkansas Black Democratic Caucus, the Arkansas Hispanic Democratic Caucus, the National Cathedral Association, the Lions Club, the National Rifle Association, and Diamond State Rodeo Association.


Friday, August 25, 2006

And the poor get poorer ...

Here is a story from the Dallas Morning News which perfectly frames the a-moral social policies of the Bush administration. In order that Dick Cheney's personal friends can get rich on a useless war on a noun, drastic cuts must be made in domestic programs. This is cruel, but for the Republican "leadership," hardly unusual.

Federal and state spending cuts would slash $240 million from Texas' child support program over the next two years and force as many as 1,800 job cuts, Attorney General Greg Abbott said Friday.

The loss of funding and staff would cause a "dramatic" drop – nearly $2 billion – in child support collections, Abbott said. His office's budget request for 2008-09 appealed for state lawmakers to fill the funding gap.

In other words, the Bush crowd supports traditional marriage and families so long as it does not cost anything. Or is it that the families of the poor are less valuable than those of the insulated suburban and big money backers of Bush?

If you missed my brilliant performance on AETN's "Unconventional Wisdom" with David Sanders and Warwick Sabin, there is a second chance Sunday at 12:30!

A huge week looms large on Pat Classic on the Super Talk Arkansas Network.

Professor Carl Moneyhan from UALR drops in for some Civil War conversation Monday at 9. The well never runs dry on this one!

Wednesday August 30 will be one for the time capsule! Congressman Vic Snyder and Senator Lincoln will both make appearances on Pat Classic.

On Friday, former LR City Board member Paul Kelly and neighborhood activist Jim Lynch will be on talking against the proposed jail tax.

Tune in or log on from 9 to 11 weekdays.

KDXE 1380 AM - Little Rock
KSMD 99.1 FM - Searcy/Batesville,.
KWCK 1300 AM - Searcy
KAPZ 710 AM - Bald Knob
KAWW 1370 AM - Heber Springs/Clinton
KNBY 1280 AM - Newport
WDSK 1410 AM - Cleveland, Ms./Dumas
WRKG 95.3 FM - Greenville, Ms./ Lake Village - Worldwide

Also, the interviews with Rod Bryan and Jim Lendall are still available for download on

Monday is Pat Lynch Day in the Arkansa Democratat-Gazette. This week I have commentary on the gubernatorial "debates." If you have missed any previous columns, go to the archive .

Fried-brain Friday

Federal authorities have arrested 11 employees of the Little Rock Country Club on identity-theft charges, authorities said Thursday. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, with the assistance of U.S. marshals and Social Security investigators, made the arrests. But U. S. Attorney Cummins said, “I would not characterize this as an immigration raid.”

Independent candidate Rod Bryan of Little Rock has expressed frustration with being excluded from three so-called “debates” scheduled by the two major party candidates. "It's a scheme of the Hutchinson and Beebe campaigns to privatize the debate process," Bryan said, describing the two as "corporate candidates." Bryan and Green Party candidate Jim Lendall have been invited to participate in a televised debate that the Arkansas Education Television Network plans to air Oct. 22. Hutchinson and Beebe have conflicts and will not participate, their campaign spokesmen said.

An international scam involving counterfeit Arkansas government checks resurfaced Wednesday. The same check numbers and scheme as were used in a scam a year ago are being used again, and the state auditor’s office advised banks in a dozen states that the checks – totally about $55,000 – were no good.

The state’s largest school district wants to expand its pilot program that awards teachers bonuses based on their students’ test score improvements. The Little Rock District will add three new schools, if a majority of teachers approve.

A Northwest Arkansas resident has died from the summer heat, according to the state Division of Health.

State environmental officials are trying to reassure residents who live near the shuttered Cedar Chemical Co., in the Helena-West Helena Industrial Park, that the site - at the center of a lawsuit alleging decades of contamination - is not a hazard.

Some of the 62 Farm Service Agency offices in Arkansas may close as part of a nationwide overhaul of the federal organization, the head of the state FSA said Thursday.

In a classic case of "it's not over till it's over," the Mississippi Legislature passed, then held up approval, of $173 million in public incentives Thursday for the largest development ever proposed in DeSoto County. The Riverbend Crossing master plan calls for an entertainment district including a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie-themed park, a nationally branded aquarium or museum, hotels, golf courses, lakes and up to 9,500 homes in a residential resort community.

Mississippi’s unemployment rate was 8.3% in July, which was three-tenths of a point higher than June 2006 and nearly a full point above July 2005.

An ongoing drought across the country has resulted in the Mississippi River approaching record low levels, Brig. Gen. Robert Crear told a Greenville, Ms. audience earlier this week. Dry weather has helped hurricane cleanup and flood control projects along the river.

Tammy Estes, who is accused of waving a loaded handgun during a July 30 church service in Newport while ordering her husband - the church pastor - to admit to indiscretions, is competent to stand trial, a circuit judge ruled Thursday.

Maumelle police arrested 19 year old Laroy Powell Thursday evening in the rape of two female joggers at Lake Willastein on Tuesday.

Police have charged Gary Dewayne Cooper in the 2005 rape of an 85-year-old Hot Springs woman. He was in jail on a separate rape charge at the time of his arrest Wednesday.

Prison officials are investigating whether a lieutenant at the Ouachita River Unit at Malvern violated federal law by reportedly maintaining a romantic relationship with a former inmate that may have started while she was still behind bars.

Freedy Pollock, a Van Buren contractor accused of accepting more than $100,000 from a church for work he never performed, has entered a guilty plea and been sentenced to 20 years in prison with 18 suspended. He must pay restitution of $200 a month. Pollock spent the church funds on personal bills and gambled away the rest in an Oklahoma casino.

Some residents in Helena-West Helena are circulating petitions asking local government to end the night curfew for adults and to stop police stopping people from congregating during daylight hours. Police have reportedly broken up several groups discovered sitting in the shade on a hot day.

Brian Snowden found one of the few hot spots on the Arkansas River on Thursday to take the first-day lead in the Bassmaster Legends On a day when more than half the field weighed in one fish or fewer, Snowden, of Reed Springs, Mo., caught five bass weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces, virtually ensuring that he will make the 12-man cut on Saturday.

The New Orleans Saints close out their preseason football training camp at Millsaps College today with top officials uncertain if the team will return to Jackson, Ms. next summer.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday thruway

Paul Barton of the Democrat-Gazette’s Washington Bureau reports that, prominent Democrats are pounding Wal-Mart for its wage and benefit policies and for sending jobs overseas, the Democrats in the Arkansas congressional delegation have come to the company’s defense. They argu that health care and wages are national problems, not those of one company. “Wal-Mart should not be a punching bag for every challenge facing America today,” Sen. Mark Pryor said in a statement.

Most Arkansans favor withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq immediately or according to a definite timetable, results of new poll show. The poll was commissioned by the Arkansas News Bureau-Stephens Media and conducted by Opinion Research Associates Inc. of Little Rock. Opinion Research surveyed 500 registered voters by telephone Aug. 15-19, and the poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

A state law that makes it harder for third parties than for independent candidates to get on the ballot is unconstitutional. Federal Judge George Howard ruled that Jim Lendall and the entire slabe of Green Party candidates must be placed on the November General Election ballot.

AARP Arkansas plans to push an agenda for improved long-term care funding, better security for nursing home residents and payday lending reform in a statewide campaign this fall, the organization announced Wednesday.

AARP Arkansas President Billy Ann Myers and several volunteers showed off the organization's new AARP Voter Express van at a news conference outside the state Capitol. Myers says the group would use the vehicle to take its campaign on the road between now and the Nov. 7 general. election

An Arkansas House of Representatives committee approved a $260,000 contract Wednesday with a Virginia company to upgrade the voting equipment in the House.

Advocates of Riverbend Crossing in DeSoto County, Ms. estimate the proposed 4,500-acre development of housing, entertainment venues, hotels and golf courses near Tunica would create 3,500 jobs within its first three years. Mississippi lawmakers will meet today in special session to consider several incentives for the nearly $3 billion project including $23 million for roads and water and sewer lines, and a partial sales-tax rebate program capped at $150 million.

A pair of technology firms in Starkville, Ms. hope to boost their employment by 300 within the next five years and help make the area a key area for semiconductor production. SemiSouth Laboratories will open a new plant today that produces silicon carbide components that can run electrical and computer systems 10 times faster than traditional semiconductors.

Pine Bluff Mayor Carl Redus says he is “taken aback” by Parks and Recreation Director Angela Parker’s decision to log so many trees at Townsend Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Parker says the mayor asked her not to talk about the contract she signed with Hot Springs-based Jester Land and Timber. The document calls for the company to pay the parks department $16 per ton of pine cut and removed from the two sites.

Fayetteville reported a little more than 3 inches of rainfall in about four or five hours yesterday, according to the National Weather Service in Tulsa, Okla. Battalion Chief Terry Lawson said that two cars, one crossing west and the other going east, attempting to go over a bridge covered with rushing water, were washed away. The drivers got out safely before helplessly watching the stream carry their autos away and turn them upside down.

Jessica Palmer, an employee of the Benton County Coroner fired Monday, is arguing her boss broke the law by terminating her for telling police she suspected the mishandling of prescription drugs gathered from death scenes.

Maumelle police are investigating the Tuesday night rape of two female joggers at Lake Willastein, but authorities say they don’t believe the assaults are the work of a serial rapist.

According to Cleveland, Ms. police, the suspect in the Guaranty Bank & Trust Co. robbery, which occurred on Monday morning, is still at large.

A complaint alleging Elkins police were operating a speed trap proved to be unfounded, according to an investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

A proposal to ban saggy pants in Dallas, Tx. gained steam Wednesday as City Council members discussed how to deal with the popular clothing trend. Several council members voiced support and asked the city attorney's office to research whether such a rule is enforceable.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Jail Tax?

Here is an item that came in my mail this afternoon.


Demand a Better Plan to Right Crime

The Select Committee of Taxpayers Against Wasteful Spending have named Shirley Simpson of North Little Rock and Effie Bowers of Little Rock Co-Chairs of the organization that opposes the quarter-percent sales tax increase for the Pulaski County Detention Center. The Select Committee also decided on campaign strategy to oppose the September 12th vote and called for a press conference on Friday August 25th, at noon in front of the Pulaski County Detention Center. The group will answers questions and lay out alternatives to the tax at the press conference. The group is also accepting contributions in the form of checks made payable to Taxpayers Against Wasteful Spending and mailed to ATTN: Jim Lynch, 2101 S. Main, Little Rock AR 72206. Please call Shirley Simpson at 955-2711 with questions or comments.

My medical phobia

Some of you long time readers and listeners are probably aware that I have a morbid fear of everything connected with medical. I am sure this is a serious defect.

You may wonder why I am such a frady-cat. The Southwest Times Record reports on a lawsuit which the doctors and hospital were too frightened to put in front of a jury. You can read it all and figure out why I am such a big old baby.

In a lawsuit filed in Sebastian County Circuit Court, Ellen and Christopher Williams alleged that Ellen Williams was being prepared for gallbladder surgery at St. Edward Mercy Medical Center on Nov. 20, 2003, when she regained consciousness and found she was temporarily paralyzed.

Williams remained awake for about 45 minutes of surgery, able to feel and hear everything that was happening but unable to let anyone know she was conscious, according to the suit.

The suit, filed in October 2004, named Dr. Charles Little, the anesthesiologist for the surgery, and his employer, Western Arkansas Anesthesiology Associates, as defendants. It later was severed into two cases.

Wednesday Watch

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Jay Moody late Tuesday cleared the way for the Bryant School District to close tiny Paron High, dissolving the temporary restraining order he issued last week.

The average salary paid to public school teachers in the state was higher than the average salaries paid in all surrounding states for the school year that ended in May, according to a report by researchers who work for the Legislature. When those wages are adjusted for differences in the cost of living, the state’s average teacher salary is the highest among 17 Southern or contiguous states, according to the report from the Bureau of Legislative Research.

The number of Arkansas homes in some stage of foreclosure is up nearly 20 percent for the first six months of 2006 over the corresponding period last year, according to RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif. Today’s Democrat-Gazette reports that many of the homes in trouble are in the $200,000 range and up.

A Pulaski County circuit judge on Tuesday dismissed two legal challenges of the District 16 state Senate primary and runoff elections because neither included two “necessary and indispensable parties,” namely the Arkansas secretary of state’s office and the Democratic Party of Arkansas State Committee.

Gov. Haley Barbour's official call for a special session of the Mississippi Legislature set to begin tomorrow seeks state incentives for an economic development project in DeSoto County as well as eliminating barriers for construction of new housing and financial assistance for cash-strapped local governments on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, seeking his fourth term in the November 7th general election brought his campaign to Greenville and discussed hurricane relif efforts. “The insurance companies are still not doing what they should do,” Lott said. “My house was 110 years old and I'm sure there was some water damage, but it was wind-driven water.” Lott is among homeowners suing his insurance company.

Greenville police officer Anthony Ferguson has resigned the force after an alleged shooting incident while he was off duty. An investigation is underway.

Alleging the existence of a “continuing criminal organization or enterprise” with former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell as its mastermind, the Lonoke County prosecutor filed motions Tuesday dismissing old charges against Campbell and five others and filing new charges involving drugs, sex and a state inmate labor program.

Despite recent investigations for financial irregularities, the Faulkner County Sheriff’s department has purchased a surplus helicopter. Sheriff Marty Montgomery claims the 1968 vintage chopper was appraised at $200,000, but the county purchased it for $5,000.

Little Rock has scored its’ 43rd homicide for 2006.

The state’s prison director says that he is considering scrapping the long-standing practice of allowing unsupervised inmates to transport other work-release prisoners after two drivers used state vans to escape last month.

High-speed, straight-line winds that caused damage in Fort Smith on Sunday were produced by a “microburst thunderstorm,” according to a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Tulsa. According to the Southwest Times Record, Steve Piltz, chief meteorologist for the NWS in Tulsa, says the microburst was created by the cool air in the storm front colliding with 100-degree temperatures.

Van Buren and Crawford County are under the gun to certify the 24 miles of levee that extend from the base of Mount Vista to Clear Creek Park before September 15. Officials learned from FEMA Monday they may have to pay for the million-dollar project out of their own pockets.

Council members agreed to the ordinance, which states that no candidate for public office may display more than one political advertisement per street address on property belonging to the city during an election period.

Little Rock will host one of the biggest events in professional bass fishing Thursday-Sunday when the Bassmasters Legends tournament visits the Arkansas River. The field will be made up of 55 of the world’s top anglers, competing for a top prize of $250,000, the richest nonchampionship prize in professional bass fishing.

Hollywood Casino Bay St. Louis, formerly Casino Magic, will open August 31, much sooner than expected.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This week's "Unconventional Wisdom" on AETN pits me (David) against Bill Vickery (Goliath). Or is it the other way around?

David Sanders and Warwick Sabin will have their hands full and you should catch all the fun Friday evening at 6:30 or Sunday at 12:30. Set your DVR NOW!

There are more pics of the shooting on my personal web site.

Tuesday trials

August 22, 2006

Just back from his fifth visit to Iraq, Rep. John Boozman says he didn’t see that country slipping into civil war - at least not yet. Boozman told Democrat-Gazette Washington reporter Paul Barton, “People over there don’t feel like they are in all-out civil war.”

Bryant school officials are waiting for some guidance from the courts on what to do about Paron High school. About two-thirds of the students were turned away for the first day of school Monday because they had transferred to other districts. Relatives are seeking a court order for immediate reinstatement. Bryant lawyers have asked the State Supreme Court to expedite its’ decision on motions already pending in the court which would close the small Saline County school.

Hendrix College in Conway and Lyon College in Batesville both landed among the nationally ranked institutions in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “America’s Best Colleges” issue, which hit the newsstands Monday.

The University of Mississippi earned national recognition Monday when it was ranked the fifth best party school by The Princeton Review's annual survey of U.S. college students. Based on surveys on the amount of pot smoking, beer and liquor drinking and fraternity partying, the top 10 list is a compilation by the New York-based test-prep company, which annually rates colleges. College of the Ozarks ranked third in the “Stoned Cold Sober” category.

Legal officials at Golden Ventures, the Fort Smith-based support services division of the former Beverly Enterprises, have agreed to a $20 million, out-of-court settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department alleged MK Medical, the nursing home operator’s wholly-owned medical equipment subsidiary, cheated Medicare and Medi-Cal, a health care program jointly funded by the state of California and federal government.

Election Systems & Software, the Nebraska that provides voting equipment, ballots and software, will provide additional training and support for county election workers at no cost in response to complaints that ballots and voting equipment arrived late or with errors in the run-up to the May 23 vote. Secretary of State Charlie Daniels says the company will waive roughly $388,000 in invoices and will provide credits for future services to counties that have already made some payments.

Drug manufacturers, lawyers and hundreds of women across the country will be paying close attention to a jury trial that starts today in the Little Rock courtroom of U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson Jr. The case centers on a hormone replacement drug, Prempro. This is the first of about 5,000 product liability cases pending in state and federal courts across the country against the Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Little Rock District Court Judge Vic Fleming named local attorney, and former Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Chuck Banks, a special prosecutor Monday in the contempt-of-court case he’s brought against Pulaski County Sheriff Randy Johnson, but said he won’t let another judge handle the case. Fleming ordered Johnson to appear in court last week to explain why jail officials refused to accept 11 defendants he had ordered jailed for repeat driving offenses.

Jessica Palmer reported to the Benton County coroner’s office as usual Monday morning, but she was sent home immediately. Palmer, a deputy coroner, told investigators last week that she suspected her boss, Benton County Coroner Kimberly Scott, was stealing medications confiscated from deceased hospice patients.

Cleveland, Mississippi authorities are investigating the Monday morning robbery of the Guaranty Bank. Doug Springer, president of the bank, says it all happened about 9:45.

The Cabot City Council voted 6-2 Monday to implement impact fees, forcing developers to help shoulder some of the costs that new growth places on city streets, parks and services. But in an effort to soften the immediate economic blow to developers, the council opted to implement those fees gradually over a four-year period.

A city consultant blamed Entergy for Prescott’s electricity woes Monday night, telling residents that transmission costs on top of what it already pays the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. for power generation is the main reason that bills have doubled or tripled in recent months.

A new bond issue that could pave the way to easier traffic flow is expected to get a stamp of approval Tuesday from the Rogers City Council.

Stuttgart school board members are on the offensive against flip flops and untucked shirttails and have strengthened the school dress code. The board decided against uniforms about a month ago.

Monday, August 21, 2006

And, speaking of surveys ...

Marie and I were wrapped up in the season premiere of "Prison Break" when the phone rang. It was one of those political surveys and Marie knows I enjoy that kind of thing.

It went like this.

Hello, I'm conducting a survey concerning the special election on September 12. Do you intend to vote in that election?


Do you intend to vote "for" or against the measure?


Thank you. End of call.

Is it just me or does this seem strange to anybody else?

The interviewer, a young woman, never once brought up that the election was for the Pulaski County jail.

I need somebody smarter than me to help out right now. Is it a trick to get me to ask? Are they just stupid? Did the girl read the script wrong?


Beebe ahead by 21 points?

Normally, it would be easy to say that the latest public opinion survey conducted by Opinion Research Associates is just a crock. The problem with that is that Earnie and Zoe Oakleaf, who conducted the measurement, are dedicated professions with years of experience and honest as the day is long.

At this hour, (FOX 16 did the story only moments ago) the most complete report on the results are on the Arkansas Times blog. FOX 16 and Stephens Media Group sponsored the survey.

Little Rock's widely respected and reliable Opinion Research Associates (Ernie and Zoe Oakleaf) polled 500 Arkansans on the four potential candidates and got these numbers:

Beebe 52

Hutchinson 31

Bryan 3

Lendall 2

Remainder undecided

So, is it true? Is Beebe that far ahead?


Max Brantley correctly observes that Beebe has started his TV campaign and Asa has not. There is also a matter of trends, which show Beebe headed up.

I think the numbers are somewhat off the mark, but I hasten to add that all surveys are mere snapshots. Radio is very much subject to ratings and I have seen some strange stuff in 36 years. I think the results represent an upward trend for Mike Beebe, but the size of that lead is hard for me to understand.

UPDATE: John Brummett ain't buying it either. His column intoday's Stephens Media Group papers tells why.

Back to School Monday

Classes will begin at public schools across Arkansas today, but not at Paron High School. Bryant district had planned to close Paron until a Pulaski County judge issued an order Friday. Many students had already transferred out of the district and Bryant does not know how many teachers to hire.

In Cabot, 1,200 junior high students will wait one week to begin school in portable classrooms on the high school campus. A fire destroyed the junior high building two weeks ago.

Independent candidate for governor Rod Bryan confronted Republican Asa Hutchinson at a public appearance over the weekend over how much it would cost to be a sponsor of one of the scheduled so-called debates. The gubernatorial campaigns of Democrat Mike Beebe and Republican Asa Hutchinson issued joint statements Friday announcing a debate schedule and the ground rules they will follow. Rod Bryan, an independent candidate for governor, is not included in the joint appearances.

Paul Barton, Washington correspondent for the Democrat-Gazette, reports that Jackson Stephens, head of a Little Rock biotech firm, continues to tower over other Arkansans when it comes to individual political contributions, with $283,100 so far in the 2006 federal election cycle. Most of that is a $250,000 contribution to The Club For Growth, a Section 527 political committee that aggressively supports candidates who want to cut taxes and government spending.

Arkansans have given $5.48 million to federal political candidates, parties, political-action committees and Section 527 committees so far in the 2006 election cycle, ranking it 36th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Cynthia Howell, education reporter for the Democrat-Gazette reports that the Arkansas Department of Education must prove that core academic subjects in the state’s nearly 1,100 schools are taught by “highly qualified” teachers and pay particular attention to schools that serve high numbers of poor students. The U.S. Department of Education notified Arkansas education officials last week that the state’s plan for staffing more than 120,000 classrooms “had a number of serious deficiencies,” including a lack of specific steps to ensure that poor and minority-group children are taught by the best teachers in numbers comparable to other children.

A Pulaski County circuit judge on Friday threw out a lawsuit aimed at prohibiting Arkansas winemakers from shipping their wares to consumers, paving the way for a federal judge to decide if a state ban on direct consumer sales by out-of-state wineries is legal.

Alma police investigating the 1995 abduction of a girl from a Little League ballpark say they want to know more about John Mark Karr, who was arrested in Thailand this week and held as a suspect in the death of JonBenet Ramsey in 1996.

Benton County Coroner Kimberly Scott was arrested Friday night after she told authorities that she had ingested prescription drugs confiscated from the homes of dead hospice patients

A former administrator for the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith says that she was not offended by a phony ad that depicted her as an exotic dancer. Mary Beth Sudduth took the stand on the fourth day of a civil trial in former UAFS instructor Diana Payne’s federal lawsuit against the university.

A judge has set trial dates for two federal lawsuits that claim female inmates were beaten and forced to have sex with guards at the former Hancock County Jail. The suits claim the Bay St. Louis, Mississippi mayor, supervisors and sheriff failed to provide adequate supervision and will be tried in April.

Southland Park Gaming & Racing in West Memphis will make good on a campaign promise late this month with an event to fill more than 250 new positions. Southland will get $40 million in facility improvements that include a 280-seat mega-buffet, a nightclub with regular live entertainment, a 450-seat special events center, gift shop and a 30,000-square-foot electronic gaming area. Southland officials plan a soft opening by Oct. 15 and a grand opening on Nov. 1.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials worked through the weekend to change the locks on thousands of trailers used by people who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina.

Alcorn State University President Clinton Bristow, an avid runner, died Saturday night while jogging on campus. He had been president of the 3,500-student university since 1995. He was credited with improving the physical campus at Alcorn, upping the graduation rate and heavily recruiting non-black students, a goal set forth by a complicated lawsuit settled a few years ago. He was 57.

James T. "Red" Hudson, the founder of Hudson Foods and an owner of Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, died Sunday afternoon. He was 81.

Over the weekend, a lot happened in the race for governor and I will open up with some coverage of that. Asa got the NRA endorsement but he got some heat from an independent candidate. I have a few things to say about the so-called debates.

Political junkies always need a Lyncho "fix" every Monday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. It is on the Voices page in the Arkansas section.

Paron will start classes today, along with most other public school districts in Arkansas, except there won't be any teachers. Get ready for an update.

Also, I am always interested in what it costs to go "back to school." I would be glad to get your kids' supply lists. Of course, no names of parents or students on the air. Send me an email:

There is new audio on my home page. If you missed Rod Bryan or Jim Lendall, surf over to and download the mp3.

Today will be a HUGE day in Newport. I would be tuned to 1280 today for a big surprise.

Our new Mississippi affiliates give the Super Talk Arkansas Network coverage in the Delta region. Tune in!

KDXE 1380 AM – Little Rock
KSMD 99.1 FM - Searcy/Batesville,.
KWCK 1300 AM - Searcy
KAPZ 710 AM - Bald Knob/Augusta
KAWW 1370 AM - Heber Springs/Clinton
KNBY 1280 AM – Newport
WDSK 1410 AM - Cleveland, Ms./Dumas
WRKG 95.3 FM - Greenville, Ms./ Lake Village - Worldwide

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Love them Dixie Chicks!

This item did not get much note, but it got my attention when the Dixie Chicks cancelled much of their latest tour. This lights my candle because it clearly shows the unspeakable power to manipulate an entire industry against the public interest and silence one political viewpoint. The power is enjoyed and unjustifiably exercised by companies such as Clear Channel, which not only dictate radio playlists to hundreds of radio stations nationwide and control the arenas and clubs where music is performed. This is a centralization of power which anti-trust laws sought to stop more than a hundred years ago when railroads tried to take over the country.

The coverage in the Houston Chronicle just about tells the story, except for the typical lapses of logic which are so typical among journalists.

The Chronicle story does factually that the Houston date for the Chicks concert was cancelled before tickets went on sale. Local stations refused to accept advertising buys for the show. Why?

John Brejot, general sales manager at local country station KILT, confirmed that the station refused advertising for the show. KILT's position was that it didn't advertise bands that weren't on its playlist.

You can be sure that the playlist originates with the corporate owners of KILT, CBS Radio. Big corporate radio wants to avoid being broken down into smaller units that might serve listeners and local communities. Since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, big broadcasters have concentrated the ownership of thousands of stations into a few large corporations. The Dixie Chicks have spoken against George W. Bush, and therefore most be silenced.

Jeff Garrison is the "program director" (resident office boy and "yes" man for corporate bosses) and he explains the situation like this:

Garrison cites an Edison Media Research national survey of 12 radio stations across the country, including KILT, which says 19 percent of listeners think radio should avoid the Dixie Chicks altogether. Fifty-one percent took offense at Maines' comment but thought the Chicks still belonged on the radio, 15 percent agreed with Maines, and 15 percent were unsure.

In other words, 67% of the listeners were on the Chicks' side. But as the railroad bosses said over a hundred years ago, "the public be damned."

Do we need further justification for banning the Chicks? Catch this.

That platform can be found elsewhere. Lee Harless, general manager of the popular north Houston dance hall Tumbleweed Texas, says DJs at the venue added an old Chicks hit to its dance mix this summer. The reaction was swift and negative, and the song was yanked before it completed.

"We did try to play them, and we dealt with the wrath," Harless says.

Well, that's a fair hearing. This guy should own a radio station.

He gave a Chicks record ONE play and did not even finish the song. Most small market DJ's get more than four minutes before the manager throws them out the door. I am wondering what that swift reaction was like? Was there a riot? Did Dixie Chick fans know that a song might be played so that they could show support? I know that sounds silly, but corporate broadcasting is justifying a big decision on ONE partial play of a single song in a single venue.

Don't get me wrong. The Dixie Chicks are not my spiritual or political guides, though I do enjoy some of the social commentary. I would like to be able to decide for myself without Bush, Cheney, and some shadowy corporate thugs killing a perfectly good band for political purposes.

This is America, and nobody should have that kind of power.

Friday, August 18, 2006

How about some fresh interviews?

The two highlights of this week are now posted and available for your FREE listening pleasure on Green Party candidate for Governor, Jim Lendall spent an hour with me as did Independent Rod Bryan. Check it out.

Be sure to spread the word about our affiliate radio stations and brace yourselves in Newport. If I were you, I would be tuned to 1280 Monday morning!

Guest ideas? Drop me a line or post them in comments.


Southwest Bell, Yahoo, Inter-galactic, global, ATT - or whatever they call it, has REALLY let me down on DSL for the past day!!!!!

The intermittent service is making me crazy. Nobody expects perfection, but come on guys!

And, no, it's NOT my equipment. It really makes my anxiety sky-rocket.

There. Now I feel so much better.

Fretting Friday

Alex Daniels of the Democrat-Gazette reports that Arkansas’ Sen. Mark Pryor remains steadfast in his support of Lieberman’s independent candidacy. During a Jonesboro event Wednesday, Pryor was asked how he squared his support of Lieberman with his position as a regional vice chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “You're asking me to be consistent,” Pryor answered, smiling and drawing a laugh.

Last week’s rainfall across Arkansas eased the 20-month drought in the state but it’ll take a lot more of that to end the dry spell, according to the National Weather Service. “To improve long-term, we would need steady rain periodically for a series of weeks” for the state to escape the drought, said Chris Buonanno, science and operations officer for the weather service’s Little Rock office.

State health officials have announced the first confirmed human cases of West Nile virus of the season in Arkansas, in Jefferson, Pulaski and Sebastian counties. The Department of Health and Human Services reported four human cases of the virus - two cases in Pulaski County, and one case each in Jefferson and Sebastian counties.

Federal judge George Howard has promised to decide “one day next week, no later than Thursday,” whether the state must recognize the Green Party of Arkansas as a valid political party and place its gubernatorial candidate, Jim Lendall, on the November general-election ballot.

Over Parole Board Secretery Bill Walker’s strenuous objections, including attempts to adjourn the meeting, four commissioners voted to replace him by electing Commissioner John Felts as vice chairman. Chairman Leroy Brownlee entered the hospital over the weekend. With Brownlee ill and the post of vice chairman vacant since Lary Zeno’s resignation from the board in May, Commissioner John Belken said, a vote needed to be taken imme- diately to pick a vice chairman to run the board in Brownlee’s absence. Walker had been acting chairman because, as its secretary, he is the third-ranking member of the board.

A parody ad for a non-existent gentlemen’s club called “Joel’s House of Dolls” was shown to jurors Wednesday on the third day of a federal court trial in a former instructor’s lawsuit against the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Lawyers for the plaintiff, Diana Payne, continued to question witnesses in an effort to show that late Chancellor Joel Stubblefield discriminated against women and retaliated against employees who raised complaints.

A Memphis woman who fell from a roller coaster at a Hot Springs amusement park on July 29 was improperly seated by a park employee, according to an Arkansas Department of Labor investigation report released Thursday. “The patron was extremely large, improperly seated and this allowed for the patron’s center of gravity to move to a position above the restraining bar during the course of the ride. If the patron was too large to sit in the seat properly with the restraint bar in place, access should have been denied,” the report states.

Entergy Nuclear has selected Burns and Roe Enterprises, an international engineering consulting firm, to assist with future decisions regarding new nuclear plant development. Entergy is on track to receive the first early site permit in the nation from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the first quarter of 2007, qualifying the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station near Port Gibson as an acceptable site for a new nuclear unit.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has approved a 60-day duck season with three segments and a single statewide zone Thursday at its monthly meeting in Little Rock. Commission dumped a proposal to divide the state into two duck hunting zones and adopted season dates similar to past years - three segments beginning in mid-November and running to the latest date allowed by federal authorities.

The owners of The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs are putting together a condominium project that would add up to 51 new suites to the historic hotel’s property.

Northwest Arkansas’ growth has the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality preparing to measure the region’s air quality.

Former Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson continues to be listed fourth on the Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart. However, for Saturday night’s game at Pittsburgh the rookie will play with the second team.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Get moving Thursday

Former Wal Mart vice-chairman and convicted felon Tom Coughlin will be allowed considerable outdoor freedom while serving 27 months of home confinement. Coughlin will be permitted to tend his cattle farm on the premises of his new home at Centerton.

Former Pine Bluff police officer, Eugene “Dusty” Jones, avoided prison by pleading guilty to felony third-degree sexual assault which occurred while he was on duty, in a deal with prosecutors. In return for the guilty plea, the state dismissed a kidnapping charge that had been filed against Jones, who will be required to register as a sex offender and was ordered to have no contact with the female victim of the incident.

Saline County Sheriff Phil Mask defended his decision to contract for inmate telephone services with a Texas company, saying at a news conference Wednesday that politics had prompted an attorney general’s opinion questioning the legality of his action. Mask’s contract with Evercom includes a $55,000 “signing bonus” for the sheriff.

Unless a judge orders differently, Bryant school officials are preparing to bus Paron high school students to Bryant High when school starts Monday, the district superintendent said Wednesday. A hearing is scheduled Friday in Pulaski County Circuit Court in a lawsuit filed by Paron residents to keep the tiny school rural Saline County open.

Despite missing seven weeks of classes because of Hurricane Katrina, students in the coastal Pass Christian schools boasted some of the best scores on tests taken in the spring. In Greenville, McBride Elementary did particularly well on reading and math tests for grades 3 and 5 and grade 4 math, scoring among the top schools in Mississippi.

State Senator Tracy Steele of North Little Rock is recovering from surgery to clear a blocked artery. The 43 year-old Steele suffered an apparent heart attack early Tuesday morning and is reported to be in “stable”condition.

Little Rock is among the top 25 U.S. cities to find a job, according to a list compiled by Forbes magazine.

A Malvern steak and seafood restaurant has received a permit to sell alcoholic beverages, over the opposition of a group of Hot Spring County residents. In granting the first privateclub alcohol sales permit to a restaurant in Hot Spring County, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board cited a 2003 state law expanding the definition of a private club to include sit-down restaurants.

Hendrix College in Conway has the largest freshman class in the school’s 130-year history. This year’s freshman class comprises 407 students who represent 27 states and four foreign countries. About 54 percent are female and 46 percent male.

City officials are moving forward with attempts to bring a $1 billion coal-fired power plant to the Sallisaw, Oklahoma area, which could create hundreds of jobs during a 42 month construction process.

9 year-old Haley Simmons was awakened at 2 o’clock Tuesday morning by burning debris falling from the ceiling, and is credited with saving the rest of her sleeping family. Six people escaped the burning house before firefighters from Walnut Ridge and Hoxie arrived. Haley was treated for second-degree burns to her abdomen and arms and has been released from a local hospital. The cause of the blaze has not been determined.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The Super Talk Arkansas Network adds two new affiliates for AM Arkansas and Pat Classic Thursday August 17. Our reach in the Delta region is greatly enhanced by two outstanding Mississippi stations that bring substantial coverage to Arkansas audiences. I am proud to welcome:

WDSK 1410 AM - Cleveland, Ms./Dumas
WRKG 95.3 FM - Greenville, Ms./Lake Village

There is supposedly a new plan to help the homeless folks. Sandra Wilson is very familiar with the issue and has all the latest on Thursday's Pat Classic 9 to 11 on the Super Talk Arkansas Network.

Independent candidate for governor, Rod Bryan, is on Thursday's show at 10.

Congressman Snyder is scheduled for August 30.

Our stations include:
KDXE 1380 AM – Little Rock
KSMD 99.1 FM - Searcy/Batesville,.
KWCK 1300 AM - Searcy
KAPZ 710 AM - Bald Knob/Augusta
KAWW 1370 AM - Heber Springs/Clinton
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If you missed my interview with Green Party candidate, Jim Lendall, it is now posted on There are more audio highlights on the way and more stations to hear Pat Classic on the Super Talk Arkansas Network.

Whazup Wednesday?

Entergy Arkansas has filed an application with the Arkansas Public Service Commission to increase its base rates by 7.5 percent, effective Sept. 14. If approved, it would be the company's first base rate increase in 21 years. Entergy's rates went up 9.9 percent in July after the commission approved an earlier request. The company predicted its base rate increase would result in a 9.3 percent rise for the average electricity bill.

Arkansas college-bound students saw their average score on the state’s most widely used college entrance exam increase by its largest margin in four years, but the state still trails the national average. National ACT scores due out today showed that students who graduated from Arkansas high schools this year earned an average composite score of 20.6, up from 20.3 last year.

The father of a Little Rock Central High School student testified Tuesday in federal court that his 15-year-old daughter, who is diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, was not provided with legally mandated educational and behavior support for her condition, which contributed to her losing a place on the cheerleading squad.

A "judgment and commitment" order, outlining the rules of former Wal Mart vice-president Tom Coughlin's home detention and probation, has been filed in Fort Smith federal court. Coughlin, whose net worth is reported at well over $20 million, will get a substantial break on the cost of home monitoring by paying $5 a day. The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports that expense can be as much as $45 per day.

Sen. Mark Pryor says he had developed a possible compromise in the estate tax debate. Pryor said his plan would increase the exemption to $5 million and set the tax rate at 35 percent. The senator also said he expects to regain a seat on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee next year.

A recent attorney general’s opinion indicates the Saline County sheriff Phil Mask may have violated a state law by signing a contract with Evercom Systems, a Texas company, to provide telephone service to inmates in the county jail. According to the Democrat-Gazette, that the company would pay the sheriff a $55,000 “signing bonus,” including $32,000 to be placed in a “discretionary” fund for his use and $3,000 for the sheriff to attend a function of the National Sheriffs Association. The contract does not indicate how the remaining $20,000 would be used.

North Little Rock recorded its 11th homicide of the year late Monday night when a 24-year-old man was found shot in the parking lot of an apartment complex.

State and local law-enforcement officers will perform “saturation patrols” beginning this weekend through the Labor Day weekend to curb drunken driving.

A Memphis City Schools principal was arrested early Sunday after allegedly fighting with police on Beale Street. Jason Bolden of Kirby Middle School was charged with assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and public intoxication.

Building a stadium for anything other than an affiliated minor-league baseball franchise would require approval from Springdale voters. The city’s bond counsel. Shep Russell, of the Little Rock-based Friday, Eldredge & Clark law firm, sent a memo to City Attorney Jeff Harper on Monday, a week after several Springdale aldermen asked to hear proposals from independent baseball teams.

A Mississippi federal judge decided Tuesday that two men did not talk enough when they sat in a Pascagoula insurance office almost a decade ago to update a homeowner's policy. U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter ruled the homeowner made an "erroneous inference" by assuming his policy covered damage from Hurricane Katrina's storm surge. Senter ruled Nationwide's policy did not cover damage caused by wind-driven water.

Experian, a California-based information company, says that it will open a call center in Van Buren that will bring as many as 400 jobs to the Arkansas River Valley over the next two years.

Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge has received a $400,000 donation from the estate of Judge Edward S. and Kathryn Maddox of Harrisburg.

More than $1 billion in construction, renovation and repair projects are needed on Mississippi’s college campuses. Maintenance of things as routine as fire sprinklers and gas lines, repairs of 35-year-old buildings and construction of wheelchair ramps rate among the highest priorities at most of Mississippi's universities. "After 30 years," said Delta State University President John Hilpert, "things get old." Leaders of the state's eight public colleges are expected to ask the Legislature for $100 million in next year's session for the capital projects. Last year, only $27 million came through.

Citing concerns over recent “high summer heat,” the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation and the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau have rescheduled Al Green’s concert at Riverfest Amphitheater from Saturday until Oct. 27.

Greenwood High on probation!!!!!!!

You will need to do your own keyword search ("Kay Johnson", "Greenwood"") to get all the background, but Greenwood High is on probation for failing to teach a required course in journalism. The Southwest Times Record has the latest chapter in the Greenwood saga.

This is an astounding development and it makes one wonder if superintendent Kay Johnson has consulted with the head football coach about this matter. After all, he is the most important man on campus and of far greater value than any mere instructor of any piddling academic course.

This is the district which decided to pay the head football coach above what ordinary faculty got. After all, he is the most important man on campus.

Fine going Ms. Johnson! Well done!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday tip-toe - UPDATED

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, posted its first profit decline in a decade TODAY as second-quarter earnings fell 26 percent due to the cost of selling its Germany operation. But results were still in line with expectations and the company reiterated its guidance for the year.

The state Board of Education has unanimously put four public school districts as well as 63 of the state’s roughly 1,100 public schools on probation for violating accreditation requirements in the 2005-06 school year. Schools landed on probation for employing unlicensed teachers, not teaching the minimum number of core classes or failing to meet other standards.

The Arkansas Board of Education has directed the financially troubled Haas Hall Academy to submit a 2006-07 budget for the board’s review next month. Martin Schoppmeyer Jr., superintendent of the charter high school in Farmington, assured the Education Board that despite its debts to the Internal Revenue Service and two state agencies, the growing school is in its best financial shape since its establishment two years ago, due in part to grants from a local business and a foundation.

A faulty component in a storage room light fixture sparked the fire that destroyed Cabot Junior High North last week, Cabot Fire Chief Phillip Robinson said Monday. Officials say the start of junior high classes will be delayed at least a week until other arrangements are made for over 1200 students displaced by the fire. A replacement building is expected to cost $15 million and could be ready in 18 months.

A quarterhorse yearling that died last week in the southern part of White County was a victim of West Nile virus, according to test results. The virus can affect humans, causing mild to severe injury or even death.

War Memorial Stadium has nearly finished replacing the failing turf which was installed in 2002 at a cost of $700,000. The manufacturer, warranty and the product itself all failed forcing installation of a new playing surface at the cost of more than $400,000. The stadium lights are also being replaced at a cost of $300,000.

Former coach Barry Switzer, who won national championships at Oklahoma and a Super Bowl with Dallas, will be the speaker at the first meeting this season of the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Aug. 28. This will be the third year for the club, which has grown to 450 members.

Paul Barton, the Democrat-Gazette Washington correspondent, reports Republican Rep. John Boozman and House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio have voted in agreement with each other 94 percent of the time. That’s based on a tabulation by VoteTracker, which examined nearly 1,100 votes cast in the House so far during the 109th Congress. VoteTracker is a service that researches congressional voting patterns.

President Bush will headline a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson on Aug. 30 in Little Rock. Bush is listed as the special guest for a $500 per person luncheon to be held at the home of former Arkansas Razorback and NBA basketball player Joe Kleine,

An inmate died Monday after he stopped breathing while waiting for a court appearance at the Benton County Courthouse. Felemon Perez Ybarbo Jr. was scheduled for a hearing on a failure to appear charge.

The developer behind a proposed casino in downtown Fort Smith says his next step is forging legal agreements that will hold him and a partnering Indian tribe accountable for their promises regarding the project. Bennie Westphal of Fort Smith also said he hopes that winning the endorsement of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce’s directors board last week will give him a boost toward getting other support.

Washington and Benton counties placed in the top 100 counties for fourth quarter wage growth among the nation's 322 largest counties, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Monday.

An appetite for exclusive brands - and the need of Dillard’s Inc. customers to replace furniture lost to last year’s hurricanes - produced a secondquarter net income of $15.7 million, or 20 cents a share, for the Little Rock-based department store chain.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors will consider an ordinance today authorizing the issuance of $86.7 million in sales tax bonds to finance two citizen-approved initiatives.

The New Braunfels, Texas City Council on Monday approved an anti-littering rule that targets "Jell-O shots" on local rivers despite some residents' complaints that the ordinance will be ineffective. The ordinance does not specifically address the small cups of alcoholic gelatin but was crafted to focus on containers of 5 fluid ounces or less.

Dell says that it is recalling 4.1 million notebook computer batteries because they could erupt in flames. It will be the largest safety recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fan mail from my column

My column in today’s Democr-Gazette, "Unfit to be Foster Parents," was an absolute masterpiece. If you missed it, the premise was that gays are not the only folks who might be unfit to be foster parents. You can read it on

Some of the reactions I received were priceless and I felt it greedy and disrespectful to keep such jewels of wit and wisdom to myself. The names have been omitted to protect the imbeciles who wrote such Republican nonsense.

Mr Lynch, addressing you as "Sir" would be unworthy and only dignify a putrid mess of smut, you are a sorry excuse for journalism. Why Ms Oakley puts up with you is a mystery. Your column this morning's ADG was pitiful, a sad disgrace re your pathetic diatribibe re Republicans and the GOP not worthy of comment and further waste of words. How dare you. Shame on you and your arrogance trying to imitate an opinion columnist What a farce and fake you are! xxx xxxx, Harrison.

Our old buddy above copies everybody on earth and he got one response directed to me that I thought you would find enjoyable and typical of the party of George W. Bush.

I think you're correct on the assumption of Lynch. He's a pseudointellectual who has no purpose in life wasting good oxygen. He wastes good radio air time and print space. He is an imbecile and moron who probably married so he wouldn't be typecast as gay which he probably is. Lynch is a Democrat puppet as most who work for the Demozette. These people have screwed up our fine state by running a competitive newspaper out of the state with dollars from outside sources.

The Hussman mushroom has done more to hurt Arkansas than anything since the Civil War.

Thank God there's are a lot of local newspapers who can tell the truth in their editorials that the Demozette isn't capable of reporting. The Demozette is made up of liars who are bought and paid for by the liberal left. Hussman will get his just reward for what he's done for such evil and criminal acts to my state when he dies. Too bad they have screwed up my home state.

Quit reading that crap xxx! It's not true and they, like I said, are bought and paid for by the liberals. If we had the capability of checking their income over the years you would see that what I'm saying is true. All these people are "told" what to say! Hey have no capability of thinking for themselves.

That is just too precious for words. So, all the writers at the paper are told what to say, but xx makes up his own material? Well, the latter part is obvious. It is a shame how the liberals have taken over the Democrat-Gazette. (Don’t anybody tell Greenberg. He must be kept in the dark at all cost!)

My favorite part about arguing with conservatives is that, when they ultimately get beat, they usually call you a homosexual.

OK, here is yet another one from another fine citizen.

Dear Mr. Lynch:

You make me want to puke. I usually support a candidate on their ideas and governmental philosophy. But I probably will not now, if you are an example of the new Democrats. You, sir, are one sick puppy.
xxxx xxxxxx.

P.S. I hereby challenge you to a public debate on the recent article you wrote in the paper. You may name the time and place.

I do give credit for good manners. I answered as follows.

xxxx, they let you come out in public?

I should have left well enough alone, I know.

I'll be happy to meet you in public debate. Do you have the guts or are you just a lot of bull shit and hot empty air?

I can not help toying with hapless fools.

I don’t know about the hot air, but I certainly do not possess your command of language.

LR Touchdown Club Announces Speakers

My pal David Bazzel, President of the Touchdown Club, sent me this note. I always try to do David a good turn.

The Little Rock Touchdown Club and Metropolitan National Bank announced the club’s 2006 line-up of nationally recognized speakers and the state’s finest in athletic football.

The club will kick off the season with its first meeting from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Aug. 28 at Embassy Suites in Little Rock. Members will meet each week throughout the fall season and once a month during the winter and spring months. National and regional speakers from the world of college football will address members each week.
Some of this year’s guest speakers will include:

Barry Switzer, who won national championships at Oklahoma and a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys will kick off the first meeting on August 28 2006.
Ken Hatfield, former star player and head coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks, (tentatively scheduled for September 5, 2006.)
Steve Roberts, ASU Coach, (tentatively scheduled for September 11, 2006.)
Paul Finebaum, Alabama journalist and media personality, (tentatively scheduled for September 18, 2006.)
James Street and Bob McKay, Texas Longhorn All-Americans from 1969 Shootout
Razorback Quarterback Greats spanning 4 decades: Clint Stoerner, Quinn Grovey, Ron Calcagni and Bill Montgomery

Other tentative speakers throughout the season include Danny Ford, Houston Nutt, Pat Dye, Walt Coleman, Jimmy Sexton, Monte Coleman, Otis Kirk and some other Arkansas head coaches from colleges and high schools.

This year the Little Rock Touchdown Club will have an empty chair in honor of legendary Razorback sports broadcaster, Paul Eells. In addition, a Paul Eells Award will be presented at the Club’s annual banquet in December.

Club membership is $40 per year for returning members and $45 per year for new members. Weekly lunches are $15 for returning members and $25 for new members. Members can also pay $10 to attend the meetings without purchasing a lunch. For more information, visit The Little Rock Touchdown Club online.

More Monday Madness

Former Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Tom Coughlin avoided prison Friday after his attorneys told a federal judge he was a heart attack waiting to happen. U.S. District Judge Robert T. Dawson rejected federal prosecutors’ requests for a prison term and sentenced Coughlin to 27 months of home confinement and five years’ probation. Dawson also fined Coughlin $50,000 and ordered him to pay more than $400,000 in restitution.

Wal-Mart heir John Walton’s airplane had been heavily modified and had a loose flight control component when he crashed last summer, according to a government report released Friday. A locking collar intended to keep the flight control components aligned slid out of position because it had not been tightened properly, according to the report from the National Transportation Safety Board. Walton had also removed the fabric skin from the plane, replaced the windshield and removed a cover from the wing area, according to the report.

Supporters of tiny Paron High School will get another day in court to try and keep its doors open. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Jay Moody denied a motion by the Bryant School District to dismiss the latest lawsuit to block the school's closure and scheduled a hearing in the case for Aug. 18, just three days before the start of school.

Cabot schools officials are working to make a final decision on when and where classes will begin for students displaced by a fire which completely destroyed the junior high building Thursday. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

An Arkansas Department of Education report paints a dreary picture of the fiscal health of Arkansas’ first open-enrollment charter high school. The report, which state administrators will present at today’s state Board of Education meeting, says Haas Hall Acadeny, the Farmington-based charter school, “has very serious financial issues.” The 2-year-old college preparatory academy, which starts its school year Tuesday, is $142,774 in the red.

Lawyers for convicted killer Rickey Dale Newman say D-N-A evidence will clear their client, who is sentenced to die for the 2001 killing of a transient woman. The attorneys say in a court filing that the only physical evidence used to convict Newman - hairs found on Newman's gloves - are from someone other than the victim, 46-year-old Marie Cholette of Fort Worth, Texas. Newman was convicted in Van Buren after he admitted killing Cholette in a homeless camp, a confession he later recanted.

A federal judge soon will decide whether a state Department of Correction grooming regulation violated the religious rights of a former inmate. Michael Fegans, who recently completed his sentence in state prison on an aggravated robbery conviction and has been transferred to federal custody to serve an additional 10 years, says he spent an additional seven years locked up in Arkansas because he refused to cut his hair or trim his beard.

A former assistant manager of Rent-A-Center in Fort Smith has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the business claiming a manager exposed himself, wrote inappropriate notes and made other unwelcome advances at work. Biddle quit her job after her request for a transfer was denied.

The West Memphis Evening Times scrambled to relocate its operations after a fire Sunday morning destroyed its news offices and printing press.

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