Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Don't you just hate it when Drew Pritt is right?

I sure do. For one thing, it means that I have to publish another press release. Pritt pumps those out harder and faster than a Mitch Mustain Hail Mary! This time Pritt is against the college bond issue and, darn it, I know damn good and well he got the idea from my program.

The interview that started all the trouble is posted on lyncho.com and the guests are Glen Hooks and David Carruth. There is a letter down the blog a bit on this same subject, so Pritt is not the only one raising questions.

To me, there is a fundamental issue as to whether we take all spending decisions away from our elected officials. I thought it was OK on the highway bond issue, but that may be the exception.

Here is Prrit's latest press release.

Contact Drew@DrewPritt.com

Drew Pritt, an activist who ran as a Democrat for Lt. Governor, has announced he has organized a grassroots effort to defeat the proposed Referred Question # 1, popularly called the Higher Education Bond. While Pritt says he knowingly is facing an uphill battle, he does note the voters defeated the Bond Proposal once before, and if they know the facts this time around they may defeat it once more.

"The Higher Education Bond is written with the best of intentions but the fact is that a good portion of the money generated by this bond is used to pay existing debt. The State of Arkansas is basically writing one hot check to cover another hot check. If the State of Arkansas was a person they would be told what they are doing is illegal," said Pritt.

The Higher Education bond question that is on the upcomming ballot is exactly like the road bond and other bonds issued before with no overseeing by the public. Its like a hybrid of an unfunded mandate. The only cap is a $250 million one along with a restriction that bonds cannot be issued if the total payments in one year reach $24 million including principal and interest. The State Legislature has no say in whether the
bonds are issued, only the Governor. In my opinion we would be turning control of our tax dollars over to the bureaucrats who we don't elect and who don't have to answer to the voters, only the Governor, if they do choose to answer to someone.

Pritt says one effort to test the strength of his anti-bond statement is an effort to defeat a proposed resolution of support for the Higher Education Bond in the UALR Student Government Association in tomorrow's session. Pritt, who is a Junior at UALR, serves as a Senator Member at Large.

"Once again the people of Arkansas will be losing their vote and their say in the process," said Pritt. "We will not be able to hold the bond holders accountable. The voters defeated this along with the Road Bond in December. Though this is a grassroots effort, I am hopeful that democracy can be maintained, and the voters of Arkansas do not mistakenly vote their rights away this coming Tuesday."

Pritt says he has started to feel a groundswell in this effort, which largely has been via internet, face to face, and telephone communications.

"Everyone is focused on the Governor's race and the personalities," said Pritt. "However, the track record has been good lately. We voted this measure, the Road Bond, and here in Little Rock the proposed Jail Bond down at the ballot box. I would love to cap off 2006 with a shut out of 4-4. But we'll just have to wait and see."

Pritt says he realizes the polls have largely driven this issue. However, Pritt says he is hopeful that voters will take the time to compare the issue with the reasoning to vote it down.

Also, Pritt is using a website at http://www.ArkansasVoteNo.com/ to rally opposition against the Higher Education Bond.

Pritt says there will also be a press conference and potential rally at the State Capitol on Monday, the day before the election, to encourage Arkansans to Vote No on Referred Question # 1, the Higher Education Bond.


Spooky summary

An electrical fire at Arkansas Nuclear One near Russellville forced one of two back up cooling systems for its Unit Two reactor off-line Monday, prompting a precautionary alert for emergency officials in five surrounding counties. The blaze occurred in an auxiliary building with no potential for a radioactive release. The fire began at 12:38 p.m. and was extinguished 10 minutes later without injury.

Appeals Court Judge Wendell Griffen has asked the Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission to end a case accusing him of violating rules restricting judges’ public political speech.

The state could be open to future lawsuits over housing the mentally ill unless it provides treatment in outlying areas to ease overcrowding at the State Hospital, officials told lawmakers Monday. Members of the House and Senate Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor discussed the issue in light of a recent lawsuit involving a mentally ill Bella Vista man who died while in the Benton County Jail.

Gov. Mike Huckabee on Monday announced the creation of an exchange program that will allow some Arkansas teachers to spend a year teaching in Taiwan.

Wal-Mart says that it intends to broaden its appeal to all customers by tailoring its advertising to individual stores and communities.

A Virginia-based government services contractor has signed a contract worth up to $164 million with the U.S. State Department and will open a passport-processing facility in Hot Springs that should ultimately create about 150 jobs.

A Little Rock woman who killed a grandmother in a car crash last year was acquitted on mental health grounds Monday after state psychiatrists found that she was incapacitated by schizoaffective disorder at the time of the collision. Carmelita Delores King had been charged with leaving the scene of an accident with death, a felony, and misdemeanor negligent homicide.

Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tabor plans to file charges of attempted capital murder today in Sebastian County Circuit Court against two men arrested Sunday in the shooting of a University of Arkansas at Fort Smith student. One of the suspects is 16 but will be charged as an adult. Terrist Parramore, a freshman guard on the UAFS basketball team, is listed in critical condition Monday at Sparks Regional Medical Center.

Prosecutor Robin Green asked a judge Monday to recuse from hearing two of Benton County's highest profile cases, which she's tried unsuccessfully to expedite. Senior Circuit Judge Tom Keith declined to recuse from both a felony drug and theft case against County Coroner Kimberly Scott and a misdemeanor negligent homicide case against former Arkansas State Trooper Larry Norman.

A man was found dead from a gunshot wound on the porch of an east Little Rock home Monday evening. This is the capitol city’s 51st. homicide of the year.

Authorities in south Arkansas are investigating the slaying of an elderly couple whose bodies were found in woods outside of Nashville. The bodies were found Monday night, police said. The victims have not yet been identified.

The third suspect in Friday’s robbery of the Merchants and Planters Bank in McCrory surrendered to Forrest City police Monday, after hiding in a wooded area of St. Francis County and eluding arrest over the weekend, authorities said. Jeremy McEwen of Forrest City walked into the police station shortly after noon and admitted to his role in the robbery

A man has been arrested for trying to use a hundred-dollar bill with no president's face and only the name of former President Clinton. The man, who has not been identified, was arrested Friday after trying to use the bill to buy cigarettes at a Batesville gas station.

In an unusual twist to a weekend robbery, police had to rescue their K-9 unit dog from the armed robbery suspect the dog was chasing. "The man attacked the dog and attempted to strangle him," Capt. Cliff Freeman of the Southaven Police Department said Monday. "He had to be pulled off the dog." Lewis Elliott was charged with armed robbery and taken to the DeSoto County Jail, where he was being held under bonds totaling $79,800.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Good fences make nervous neighbors

President Bush has signed the bill for a fence between the United States and Mexico into law. It seems odd to me because, when I was a youngster, we were passing laws to build space rockets to explore what lies beyond. Now, we are trying to block others from getting inside, as if a 700-mile obstruction would do any good on a 2,000-mile border.

One little fact that seems to be missing from all the coverage of this momentous signing is the cost of such an extravagant project. If you have ever put up a fence, you know it is not cheap, and this one will have two layers, so that is actually 1,500 miles of fencing.

Let me give you some perspective.

Estimates of the number of undocumented residents is somewhere between 12 and 20 million. The population of Arkansas is about 2.5 million, so the total number of illegals already here would fill up Arkansas six to ten times over. Got it? This is big. I suspect it is beyond control and more creative thinking is in order.

Given the War in Iraq and the so-called wars on such nouns as terror and drugs, the country does not even have the muscle to deal forcibly, if there were the political will. Enter this fence alongside of Iraq and Katrina for Bush administration fiascos.

(Broadcast October 27, 2006)

Down Memory Lane with Nick Wilson

I am doing some research on the criminal activity of former state senate powerhouse Nick Wilson. The Pocahontas flash got himself convicted of federal corruption charges for engineering legislation that would provide legal help for kids in foster care. It seemed like such a laudable objective, but Nick and some of his legislative cohorts intended it for nothing other than to pay themselves.

I was wondering what I was reporting and writing at the time, so I set forth in my own archives. Between the misspellings and pontificating, it is not a pretty picture. I am not finished, but I plan to report when the work is done. I am able to say that, at the time, Wayne Dumond was one of the top stories. He was still in state prison for a rape it seemed unlikely that he committed. Mike Huckabee was twisting arms and even met privately with the state parole board. It was an unseemly mess. That story dominated my news along with a bunch of lesser items that, in retrospect, seem mighty pidly.

I am looking closely to see if I had anything to note on Mike Beebe, but I will say that it appears the reason Wilson got away with it was that nobody was looking.

(Broadcast October 30, 2006)

Monday summary at sunrise

Rogers Mayor Steve Womack says that he can’t prove earlier claims that “the clear majority” of his city’s drug and gang problems are caused by illegal aliens, but that won’t keep him from seeking laws penalizing those who employ or rent to illegal aliens in Rogers.

Garland County voters are casting early ballots on paper rather than on new touchscreen voting machines because public and private election officials haven’t been able to program the machines properly.

Voters in Dumas, home to the highest local sales tax rate in the state, have a chance come Election Day to lower the levy, provided they agree to extend the deadline for paying off a pair of public-works bond issues.

The new $9 million Bentonville public library opens today.

Sixteen highway projects worth an estimated $94 million won’t be awarded contracts next month because Congress hasn’t passed a bill that would provide federal money for those and other highway projects around the nation.

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to prevent Russellville from discharging its sewage directly into the Arkansas River just across the waterway from Dardanelle.

The transgressions of a few work-release inmates will cost their fellow prisoners $2 more per day to continue to participate in the program, according to state prison officials.

Shots fired at a Halloween party sent partygoers running scared through the halls of a Fort Smith Ramada Inn and left a University of Arkansas at Fort Smith basketball player critically injured. Police found Terrist Parramore lying on the ballroom floor with multiple gunshots to the head and chest. Two suspects, one a 16 year-old, are in custody.

Philip Verser of Ashdown is being held at the Pope County Detention Center on $200,000 bond after Russellville police alleged he beat an 18-month-old child. Verser told police the child had fallen from a 32-inch dresser onto a wooden floor. A pediatrician told officers the fall would not have been consistent with the child’s injuries.

After being held at the Pope County Detention Center on $200,000 bond for nearly two years awaiting a jury trial, a Russellville man is free after being acquitted of his three felony charges. Wesley Corley was charged in November 2004 with residential burglary, aggravated assault and possessing cocaine after an alleged violent altercation between him and his ex-wife. He was also charged with third-degree battery and violating an order of protection, both misdemeanors, for which he was convicted and sentenced to one year.

A Garland County Circuit Court jury has acquitted a Royal man of first-degree murder, after a two-day trial. Robert Milton Allen was accused of killing his next-door neighbor, William “Rocky” Foster, on Oct. 20, 2005. The defendant initially said he had shot Foster in self-defense, only to testify Thursday that his son, Zack Allen, then 15, was the shooter. The jury deliberated for a little more than an hour Friday morning before returning an innocent verdict. Prosecutors say they have no plans to charge Zack Allen with the crime.

A former Guy-Perkins substitute, Stacy Renee Massey, was arrested on Thursday, Aug. 24 by Clinton and Conway policemen for suspicion of two counts of first-degree sexual assault on a 16-year-old male. The incident, alleged ot have occurred November 5, 2005,occured in a Clinton Super 8 was reported to police on August 11.

Little Rock ranks 23nd on a list of the nation’s most dangerous cities, to be released today, moving up two places from No. 25 a year earlier. Morgan Quitno Press, a research and publishing firm in Lawrence, Kan compiled the rankings, based on statistics from 2005.

A horse is fighting for its life after it was shot in a North Little Rock pasture. In the past nine months, three other horses have been shot in the same pasture, all of them fatally.

New guidelines developed by the state Department of Higher Education will make it easier for college students to transfer course credits from one Arkansas school to another.

Customer growth partly driven by its My Circle calling plan helped Alltel Corp. post an 11 percent increase in its third-quarter earnings

An owner of the former American Greetings facility in McCrory confirms that a California-based company will open an operation at the site The 780,000-square-foot facility, originally a distribution center for American Greetings Corp.’s Osceola plant, closed in 2003, taking away about 300 jobs from the community of about 1,900.

This year’s seating chart at Little Rock’s Farmers Market - one that separated the vendors of homegrown-only produce from those who import food - was deemed a success and will remain in place next year.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

College bond issue

Remember the big fight over highway bonds last year? Arkansas voters rejected a proposal that would give the Highway Commission perpetual permission to raise money by way of revenue bonds. I supported it because we know that highways need repairs frequently and are subject to heavy damage from truckers.

It turns out that higher ed has had a similar authority since the 1990's and the college bond issue seeks to continue that on to eternity. This started to bubble up during my conversation with Glen Hooks from the Sierra Club and David Carruth, President of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation. You can hear that interview on lyncho.com. It has a load of good information on political and environmental subjects.

Carruth sent out a letter last night on state finances and he has given me permission to share it with you.

To all:

As most of you are aware one of the problems that is arising with the Grand Prairie, Bayou Meto and Beouf-Tensas irrigation projects is the amount of state money needed and the Ark. Natural Resources Commission's authority to issue general obligation bonds to pay for them. As we have been finding out, in 1998 the voters passed a measure allow the ARNC to issue up to $300 million of general obligation bonds to pay for various water projects in the state including irrigation projects. No more than $60 million can be issued in a biennium without legislative approval. It was sold as a measure to provide money for drinking water and sewer projects for Arkansas' cities and town. However, the vast majority of this authorization has been used on these three irrigation projects with Grand Prairie soaking up some $32 million alone. Much of this $32 million has been paid over to the Grand Prairie project as grants meaning the Arkansas taxpayer will have to pay that money back in full. The remaining $17.2 million is in the form of a loan--a loan the irrigation district has no ability to pay back-- with no payments due until 2043. In the interim, the Arkansas taxpayer will foot the bill for interest to the bondholders.

The Higher Education bond question that is on the upcomming ballot is exactly like the ARNC bond. Actually, in some respects it is worse because the only cap is a $250 million one along with a restriction that bonds cannot be issued if the total payments in one year reach $24 million including principal and interest. The legislature has no say in whether the bonds are issued, only the governor. In my opinion we would be turning control of our tax dollars over to the bureaucrats who we don't elect and who don't have to answer to the voters, only the governor.

The track record of the ANRC with Grand Prairie is an excellant arguement why this power should not be given to the bureaucrats.

I understand the bonds would be used for infrastructure improvments to our colleges and universities. That is not my objection. My objection is that we, the people would not be able to hold the bond issuers, i.e. ADFA accountable. Said another way, I frequently see Senator Jim Luker and Rep. David Dunn in my town asking the voters how they think they (the elected officials) are doing. I have yet to have a state agency, board, commission or bureaucrat do that. The Game and Fish Commission as well as ADEQ have come close but only seek public input or comment to proposed action.

As laudable as its purposes may be, I am voting against the Higher Ed issue for these reasons. With more accountability it would be acceptable. I think the Democrat Gazette has endorsed the measure but I don't think they understand how it can abused.

David Carruth

Friday, October 27, 2006

There are new things happening in Eureka Springs concerning the local proposal to lessen the priority of marijuana enforcement. Ryan Denham is on at 10 Monday morning.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson returns to the Pat Lynch Show Tuesday (Halloween!) at 9.

Democratic Party Chairman Jason Willett will be around Thursday at 9.

The Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Bill Halter, is all set for Friday at 10.

You can call and interview the guests, or email the show. Pat Classic is on the Super Talk Arkansas Network and we expect to welcome a new affiliate next week.

For your listening pleasure

OK, that may be laying it on a bit thick. You will enjoy the audio files now available for free download on my home page, lyncho.com.

Glen Hooks, from the Sierra Club, and Dave Carruth, President of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, are featured in one segment (39 min.) dealing with all sorts of political and environmental issues. The Sierra Club has made its' legislative endorsements and is working on a bill for protecting the water supply. That measure will be introduced in the next session. Carruth has a lot to say about Grand Prairie. Check it out.

Lieutenant Governor candidate Jim Holt spent an hour with me, so give that a shot too.

The quality of the Jim Lendall hour is not great (Sorry! Our fault!) but you will still find it useful.

Drenched Friday morning summary

Rogers Mayor Steve Womack is reviewing an ordinance that would declare illegal aliens a public nuisance and impose fines on those employing or renting to illegal residents.

The state police director told lawmakers Thursday that he wants 100 more state troopers. Some legislators wanted to know if that would be enough to enable the state police to start enforcing federal laws against illegal immigration. Col. Steve Dozier told them it might, if that’s what the next governor wants.

Seth Blomeley reports in the Democrat-Gazette that State Auditor Jim Wood has a new state car since he wrecked his previous one while on personal business in Charlotte, N. C, The mishap with the state-issued 2002 Lincoln Continental midsize luxury car happened Oct. 13. Wood said his office traded the wrecked car in for a 2007 Lincoln Continental that cost $38,300. The trade-in amount of $8,500 was applied toward the new car, he said.

State environmental regulators have proposed $38,900 in civil penalties against a Marion County land development company accused of violations at three residential developments. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality said Homeport Land Co. failed to obtain required storm-water construction permits for two developments in Marion County and one in Baxter County.

Poultry companies with operations in Arkansas have lashed out at Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, saying his latest political advertisement contains “grossly irresponsible” and “blatantly untrue” information. The companies’ leaders claimed, during a news conference in Tulsa, that the television ad wrongly criticizes the companies for damaging Oklahoma rivers.

Gov. Mike Huckabee’s chief counsel, O. Milton Fine, has left the governor’s office for a job at the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Fine’s salary is $89,350 a year. As chief counsel he was making $95,851. Fine had worked for the governor since 2002.

Two of the four candidates for Little Rock mayor on Thursday said they would like to see smoking banned in all city restaurants and bars, tightening a state law that went into effect this summer. Bill Walker and Jessie Mason made those comments at a UALR candidate forum.

Crittenden County has agreed to pay more than a quarter-million dollars to current and former employees who sued over unpaid overtime and regular pay. Employees claimed to have been shorted for two weeks pay in 2004.

FOX 16 reports a Cabot business, Tecboys.com, has generated over 50 complaints to local police form 18 states as angry consumers claim to have spent thousands of dollars for scooters that were never delivered.

Nathan Lee Martin, of Atkins is serving 30 days in the Pope County jail after District Judge Don Bourne convicted him of giving whiskey to an 8-year-old child. Hospital officials reported the youngster’s blood alcohol level was .06 percent.

Sebastian County Circuit Court Judge Norman Wilkinson ruled Wednesday that Deanna Bobo, a former Greenwood teacher, can remain free on bond while she appeals her conviction on two counts of first-degree sexual assault.

Schools in the southwest Arkansas town of Blevins remained locked down for a third day Thursday while federal, state and local authorities continued their search for a man linked to a multistate drug ring.

A tugboat that survived Pearl Harbor will soon be on its way to North Little Rock to join the city’s maritime museum, having passed through a brief financial skirmish Thursday After hearing some public dissent, the North Little Rock City Council approved 7-0 in a special meeting to spend $395,000 to transport the USS Hoga from California to the city’s downtown riverfront area.

Shelby County's Homeland Security office in Memphis had its own security breach this month when four electronic listening devices were found hidden in the ceiling of its Memphis headquarters. Officials became suspicious and had the FBI sweep the office for bugs after a local television station said it possessed "damaging and embarrassing" audiotapes that were secretly recorded and given to the station.

Mississippi consumers gained access to some $4 prescription drugs Thursday with the announcement that it is now among the 27 states where the nation's largest retailer has its generic drug program.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday soaked summary

Chris Morris, the Republican nominee for state treasurer, is no longer working for Gov. Mike Huckabee after an investigation into use of Morris’ state computer.

A University of Arkansas poll shows that Arkansans overwhelmingly disapprove of homosexuals serving as foster parents. Two-thirds of respondents say they disapprove. But when those same people were asked if they approved or disapproved “of a law that would prevent gays and lesbians from serving as foster parents,” only 46 percent approved. Forty-eight percent disapproved.

The chancellor of the University of Arkansas' flagship campus got down on his knees Wednesday and begged state legislators to fully fund his budget request and those of the other state colleges and universities. The UA-Fayetteville campus would be $36 million short of its funding needs even under state higher education funding formula, and state higher education institutions will still need more money for capital improvements if voters approve a $250 million bond issue on the Nov. 7 general election ballot, UA Chancellor John White said.

North Little Rock has the title to the historic tugboat USS Hoga, and for $395,000 it can have it delivered. The expenditure, if approved, comes at a time when Mayor Pat Hays has been warning of high costs and spending cutbacks. The city faces having to spend an extra $40 million annually to buy electricity for its city-owned utility over the next three years.

Jonesboro Westside Superintendent James Best says that there is only one new confirmed case of staph at the school, and the better news is that of the four students suspected of having staph Tuesday - all four of those cases tested negative for the illness.

Police are hopeful that DNA evidence discovered inside the apartment where10 year-old Emiti Freddy lived will lead them to her killer. Police say the girl was strangled and had been sexually assaulted.

A Rogers detective shot Friday while serving a warrant was also injured in 2000 at the same address when he responded to a domestic disturbance involving the same family. In Friday's incident, Detective Brian Culpepper was shot in the leg after a struggle between a man and a Benton County deputy when the deputy's firearm went off.

Arkansas free safety Michael Grant has turned himself into authorities in Washington County for allegedly failing to take care of a traffic ticket. Grant was booked Monday night and released on a bond of $1,280.

A vicious dog ordinance Fort Smith directors are considering would not target a specific dog breed. Interim Police Chief Jeff Barrows said the ordinance simply would address dog behavior and the responsibility, or irresponsibility, of its owner

Conway may be getting an addition to the family soon - a sister city. Sherman Banks, president of Sister Cities International, gave a presentation at Tuesday's Conway City Council meeting about a program that would "partner" Conway with an international city.

Because of an error in programming voting machines, Stuttgart will need a special election to decide the fate of a local tax to fund Advertising and Promotion.

Crittenden County will not make its June goal of meeting federal Environmental Protection Agency air-quality standards because of high ozone readings in Marion last summer. But the county probably will maintain its economic development zone designation, which allows it to recruit major manufacturing plants, according to Jeff Robinson, acting section chief for the EPA’s air-permit section in Dallas.

In its first quarterly report after the end of its proxy fight with ValueAct Capital Partners in August, Acxiom Corp. beat the average per-share earnings expectations of analysts, even as revenue came up short of projections.

A Mississippi Pharmacy Board employee suspected of being a whistleblower in a probe of possible misspending has been suspended and told she'll be fired. Penny Woodberry, an enforcement agent for the board, was given a 10-day suspension and "pending termination" notice. Second District U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson said he is pushing for a state and federal investigation into the issue.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Slacker Wednesday Summary

(I knew I forgot something!)

October 25, 2006

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports police have identified Emiti Freddy as the 10-year-old girl who was strangled to death and sexually assaulted Saturday at her residence in Springdale. Freedy’s legal guardian, Abon Tili, who admits being drunk and unconscious Saturday morning at the time of the attack, is charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor. Police are also questioning an alleged “witness.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Beebe’s step daughter`s husband has taken his own life at a Searcy hotel. Police found the body of 39 year old Anthony Taylor in a room inside The Hampton Inn on Race Street Tuesday morning. KARK Channel 4 reports that He died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officers say they discovered the body while attempting to serve Taylor with a warrant for domestic battery against his wife Tammy.

Arkansas’ colleges and universities spent $5.9 million on advertising in the fiscal year that ended June 30, lawmakers learned Tuesday. College leaders defended it as a good investment as they also move for a boost in funding for higher education next legislative session.

FBI officials announced Tuesday the creation of a statewide hotline to report suspected acts of corruption by public officials. Anyone can report it to the Little Rock FBI office at (501) 221-8200. The Little Rock office also is devoting additional manpower to corruption investigations.

State Sen. Mary Anne Salmon said Monday that she’s still getting calls from constituents and reading newspaper stories about price gouging by tow-truck operators, although she thought the 2005 Legislature passed a law to fix that The 2005 Legislature handed a state board the responsibility of investigating complaints about the towing and storage prices charged to motorists to free their cars from impound lots and the authority to fine tow-truck operators charging excessive prices.

Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Julie Bowman on Tuesday signed a rule giving freestanding magnetic resonance imaging and sleep apnea clinics inclusion under the state’s “any willing provider” law.

John Atwood of Little Rock, the former vice president of finance for the Pine Bluff-based USA Drug chain is facing 10 years in prison after admitting that he stole $550,000 from the company.

An attorney representing Saline County in a federal labor lawsuit has recommended that the county accept a recent verdict on overtime pay for sheriff’s office employees. A U.S. District Court jury in Little Rock found in favor of 37 current and former sheriff’s deputies and clerks and rendered a $257,284 verdict against the county May 24. There are also more than $300,000 in attorney fees assessed against the county.

The Lincoln mayor asked a Lincoln police officer to give a suspected drunken driver "a break," during a DWI stop in May, according to a Lincoln Police Department report. Sandra S. Blackford, a Lincoln resident, was stopped for crossing the center line and driving while intoxicated at approximately 1:47 a.m. on May 20. Mayor Henry Buchanan was a passenger in her car.

The Mansfield School Board accepted the superintendent’s recommendation Monday to fire Sally Bryan, a longtime school bus driver, for allegedly failing to report sexual abuse allegations involving a male student who rode her bus. Bryan claims the district withheld information from her that a convicted sex offender was riding her bus.

A 16-year-old student is under arrest for allegedly writing two letters that threatened five Cedarville High School students, Ron Brown, Crawford County’s chief deputy, said. The student, whom Brown would not identify as either a male or female, was arrested after a classmate found a threatening letter in his locker on Monday.

The idea of rebuilding the dome atop Little Rock City Hall has been canned.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Plenty is happening on the Pat Lynch Show. Green Party candidate for Governor Jim Lendall will be on the Wednesday morning program at 10.

Glen Hooks from the Sierra Club is set for Friday morning with his group's thoughts on the election.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson is on Halloween morning. Tune in Oct. 31 at 9 for some Republican trick or treat.

Bill Halter is on Friday November 3, to round out the season.

If you missed the Jim Holt interview, it is posted on my home page, lyncho.com.

HHEADS UP! Lynch sightings on TV!

Tonight on KARK Channel 4 News! It's all about the mid-term elections and the President's Talk Show Host Summit at the White House.

UPDATE: I am not a DJ. I am a human being.

I'm sure the other individual is staying home by his own choice. (Yeah, right. Cinderella didn't want to go to the Ball either.)

Not a very long piece, but I do appreciate the interview. Hope there is more later tonight.

Tuesday dawn summary

The proposed expansion of the state’s only medical school into Northwest Arkansas will cost about $11 million annually, Dr. I. Dodd Wilson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said Monday. UAMS plans to push a measure when the Legislature meets in January that would establish a satellite campus in Northwest Arkansas. That would allow UAMS to train about 250 to 295 more students and residents annually.

Wal-Mart says it will scale back its rate of expansion in the United States while ramping up its growth in foreign markets.

Arkansas Best says that its double-digit decrease in third-quarter net income reflected efforts to continue expanding into the next-day and same-day delivery market.

Workers plan to start excavating tons of gasoline-soaked soil from a storage and pipeline facility in Rogers by the end of the month. According to the cleanup plan, 70,560 gallons of gasoline actually spilled onto the ground at the site on Oct. 3 when a storage tank overflowed. The amount spilled was first reported as 1,000 gallons.

High-speed Internet service for many areas of Benton appears to be on the way. Representatives of AT&T Arkansas report that the company is planning a significant build-up in its digital subscriber line (DSL) presence in the city by mid-2007.

Three Jonesboro aldermen have called a special Jonesboro City Council meeting for 4 p.m. today to consider a 5-year capital improvement projects list. The projects would cost an estimated $64 million, while officials believe that less than $50 million will be available in the city's Capital Improvement Fund over the next five years.

The death of a 10-year-old Marshallese girl has been ruled a homicide by strangulation, and there was also evidence she was sexually assaulted, according to a preliminary autopsy report. Police received a 911 call Saturday morning a 10-year-old child who was having respiratory problems at her home. Springdale fire emergency personnel performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the child, but they couldn't revive her.

An Arkansas State Police investigation into a letter containing a white powder that was sent to the state Capitol has led to the arrest of a 29-year-old state prison inmate on felony charges. Leroy Selsor, an inmate at the East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys, is charged with use of a hoax device and impairing operations of a vital public facility, both class D felonies punishable by up to six years in prison.

The Saline County Quorum Court will meet in a special session tonight in Benton to decide whether to appeal a $257,284 jury verdict against the county, as well as a related $328,925 award for attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Kendall Owens of the Forrest City Times Herald reports a man was arrested for residential burglary early Saturday after getting stuck in a window of the home. When officers arrived at the apartment they found a nude individual stuck between the air conditioning unit and the window frame. Dennis Reed told police he was forced at gunpoint to break into the apartment by a subject he only knew by his first name.

Monday, October 23, 2006

About today's column

An interested reader sent me a lengthy response to my column in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. It is posted over at NWAnews.com. Part of my argument is that Mike Beebe turned to mush on the school standards. My reader takes a different approach and started by transcribing the Beebe opening statement that got me in such a tizzy.

Beebe Opening Statement: "Thank you, Bob. Thank all of you for being here and thank the U of A Clinton School for actually hosting this debate.

First thing I want to do is thank my wife Ginger who’s been on the campaign trail and has actually been going places that I haven’t been, and the response has been for me not to come back, just send Ginger.

I’d also like to compliment Mr. Hutchinson on his public service. Public service is not easy. People sacrifice. They give up certain things when they engage in public service. It’s appropriate I think to be here at the Clinton school because education is a foremost topic of what state government is all about. It’s a foremost topic of what we are as Arkansans.

So let me get right to it. There’s been a lot said about education. Let me be clear. Let the listening audience hear it. Let everyone know. From this point forward, I don’t want any more consolidation. I’ve said it over and over. We’re not going to have any more consolidation. We’ve had enough consolidation, but what we will do is have those standards. We’re not going to retreat from the standards. We’re not gonna back up from the standards. We’re not going to lessen education in Arkansas. We’re actually going to help rural schools meet those standards. That’s why I proposed the Traveling Teacher program so that we can actually share to get those teachers in different places. We already do it now with speech pathologists. There’s no reason why we can’t."

Yeah, right. Sorry, Mike, I ain't buying it. Nobody WANTS consolidation, but very small districts will have problems meeting the standards which assure that taxpayers are getting value for the education dollar. My reader also points out the "political reality" that the 350 minimum will not be revised and I agree. The legislature will not touch it. There is political pressure not to mess with that number, and the same pressure can also be used to relax the standards.

The reason school standards matter so much is, for once in my 23 years in Arkansas, we are making REAL progress. Let's not throw that away! My reader crawled all over me for not giving the AG his props too.

But while you criticize Beebe for not falling on the sword for a higher district minimum size, where's your praise for a guy who has stood tall on standards? The legislature may indeed be able to deploy cost-efficient ways to better deliver educational opportunity to rural Arkansas, but if not, if a district fails in delivering the appropriate educational opportunity to its students, whether it's simply too small to use limited resources efficiently, or whether it's just poorly led by its administrators, Beebe is defending the very standards and accountability laws that would lead to further consolidation - not based on miminim size, but based on adherence to standards. I expect numerous efforts to dilute our standards next session. Beebe is on record in opposing any dilution. With Asa as governor, they'd be administration bills.

OK. Beebe is posturing. That is the best read I can put on his opening statement. My reader is very astute. There will be many attempts to cut into the standards and those should be resisted. Mr. Beebe's own words seem to argue against the proposition that he would allow the standards to naturally cause some very small districts to be consolidated. I think I recall that Asa called him on just that point, and I am certain that Beebe insisted that he did not want any more consolidation.

To me, this is a discouraging state of affairs and i wish it were not so.

Get your fresh hot audio!

This morning's epic romp with State Senator and Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor Jim Holt is now available on my home page, lyncho.com.

Roby Borck's interview about his latest political survey results is also being posted. The downloads are free, so enjoy.

Monday summary at sunrise

October 23, 2006

Early voting is set to begin statewide today for the November 7 General Election.

The Pine Bluff Commercial reports that an affidavit for a search warrant to collect DNA from Kenneth Osburn’s pets says the 46-year-old trucker admitted he caused Casey Crowder’s death and took her to the location where her body was found six days later. Osburn’s court-appointed attorney, Bing Colvin, of Monticello, maintains the alleged confession came after 23 hours of “Taliban-type interrogation” despite repeated requests for an attorney.

Arkansas’ manufacturing industry took a major hit in September, losing 1,000 jobs and reaching its lowest level in employment in more than 16 years. Arkansas’ unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 5.2 percent last month. The number of manufacturing jobs in Arkansas fell to 196,000 in September, well below the 216,000 jobs in January 1990.

The Arkansas Ethics Commission is considering asking the General Assembly to double the minimum and maximum fines that the commission may impose for violations of state ethics laws and rules.

A Little Rock legal assistant has filed one of the first in an anticipated wave of class action lawsuits involving Bluetooth technology and cell phones in federal district court for Eastern Arkansasas. The litigation targets providers, such as Motorola, who are accused of marketing and distributing headsets with Bluetooth technology without warning customers of the devices’ potential for causing gradual noise-induced hearing loss.

A judge has delayed a Lonoke County corruption trial after a defense attorney asked for more time to go through the hefty case file prepared by the prosecution. The trial for Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell; his wife, and two bail bondsmen had been set for November 8. The trial is now set for February 19. Last month, Cole rejected a defense request to delay the trial because of deer season.

Residents in Gurdon are back home after a train carrying harmful chemicals derailed Sunday, forcing them to evacuate. The accident happened near Main Street. The 84 car Union Pacific train was on its way from Houston to Little Rock- when 6 cars derailed, causing the evacuation and several churches to close.

Districts in Beebe, Osceola, Texarkana and Vilonia hope to open conversion charter schools in the 2007-08 school year. The districts have filed letters-of-intent with the Arkansas Department of Education. The letters are the first step the districts must take to form a charter school, which needs to be approved by the state.

With an eye toward its own version of Beale Street, the city of Little Rock again plans to lead a push in the state Legislature to let beer and liquor drinkers roam selected city streets.

The Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct reprimanded a deputy prosecuting attorney, Baxter Sharp III from Monroe County, and fined him $50 for altering a decree signed by a circuit judge setting the amount of attorney’s fees owed him for providing representation in a child-support matter. Sharp is alleged to have changed the amount of fees due him from $70 to $700.

The Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct has reprimanded a Little Rock attorney for being intoxicated during hearings in a death penalty case. The committee said Craig Lambert was “impaired” because of alcohol and substance abuse.

A Rogers police detective was shot and wounded Friday afternoon as he and other officers were serving a search warrant at an east Rogers home. Detective Brian Culpepper, an eight-year veteran of the Police Department, was shot in the leg as drug task force members were serving a search warrant.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Quick! Somebody better sedate Mark Pryor

Stop the presses! Now, this is some steaming hot political news, and I can not make this kind of stuff up on my own.

The following press release has come to my attention.

Drew Pritt, Democrat, who became the first openly gay person to seek
statewide office in Arkansas when ran for Lt. Governor earlier this year,
says he is ready to return to the stump in a bid for the U.S. Senate.

"Mark Pryor is someone I have supported in the past, but I cannot support
his votes or his decisions of who to support as of late," said Pritt.
"This is a fundamental contest between a true blue Democrat such as myself
and someone who does not vote as a Democrat but runs with the party label
to get elected."

He is a strong supporter of a woman's right to choose. He also is firmly
against the War in Iraq and supports turning over the handling of Iraq to
either the U.N. or preferably the Arab League. Pritt also is a strong
supporter of the State of Israel and says if elected Senator he will
always vote for the best interests of the State of Israel.

He also says he supports retired General Wesley K. Clark unequivocally for
President in 2008. Pritt was a member of Clark's Campaign Staff in 2004
and is a financial supporter of Clark's PAC, Securing America.

Pritt says Pryor's decisions to vote as he did with the "Gang of 14" the
group of centrist Senators who joined together to avoid a Senate
rule-change over judicial nominees was the beginning of his break with
Pryor. But Pritt says Pryor's support recently to allow torture of
prisoners and also his decision to support Joe Lieberman over the
Democratic nominee Ned Lamont are chief reasons for his decision to break
with Pryor.

He also recognizes the financial challenge this bid will take and thats
why he is starting his challenge early.

"I have sent off the paperwork to the FEC formally setting up a Federal
PAC to raise money for a challenge," said Pritt. "Senator Pryor has a half
a million advantage on me currently but money is not everything."

Pritt says there is no personal animosity between himself and Pryor,
however he feels Arkansas is better served with a U.S. Senator who votes
more on principle like a Dale Bumpers or a J. William Fulbright or even a
David Pryor.

He also says an initial sounding with some Democrats around the state give
him encouragement that his primary challenge to Pryor will be more than a
symbolic or gadfly bid.

"Lets be honest for a minute," said Pritt. "I realize I am challenging the
scion of one of the most popular and successful political families in
Arkansas. I am challenging an incumbent who so far has half a million more
dollars than I have in the bank. But when you strip that away and get down
to the root, does Arkansas want a Senator who compromises with an
administration that spent our nation's surplus, appoints activist judges,
and seeks to destroy the Bill of Rights all in the name of political
partnership and compromise? I think the answer come 2008 will be a
resounding no."

Pritt compares Pryor's support of Lieberman to his own support of Bill

"Anyone who knows me, knows I disagree and dislike Bill Halter," says
Pritt. "But the fact remains, right or wrong, Bill Halter won the
Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor and I will support Bill Halter come
November 7th."

Pritt says he will be doing a few things in the coming weeks but is
focused on helping to elect Democrats up and down the ticket. He is also
advising and campaigning strongly for Bill Walker for Mayor of Little

"Mike Beebe and Bill Walker are two Democrats I proudly stand beside and
will strongly work the next two weeks to elect," said Pritt.

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 Chi Phi Fraternity, the Lions Club, the Arkansas Democratic Party,
Stonewall Democrats, the Arkansas Black Democratic Caucus, the Arkansas
Hispanic Democratic Caucus, the National Cathedral Association, the
National Rifle Association, and Diamond State Rodeo Association.

>From 2005-2006 he was a Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor. Though
largely outspent by all his Democratic primary opponents, Pritt garnered
more earned media than four of his opponents combined. Pritt also broke a
barrier in Arkansas by becoming the first member of the Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual, and Transgender Communities to seek statewide office.

His website from his bid for Lt. Governor is still up at

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday morning summary

Arkansas home sales in major markets dropped more than 22 percent in September compared with September 2005, the Arkansas Realtors Association said Thursday. It was the seventh straight month that home sales have declined in Arkansas compared with last year, according to the association, although the 22 percent drop-off is the biggest one month fall this year.

A sports arena planned for Bentonville got a new name and a new city on Thursday morning. The Northwest Arkansas Sports and Entertainment Arena, a $55 million, 9,000-seat arena, was slated to be in southwest Bentonville near the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and carry that city's name. Street infrastructure concerns forced the move to Rogers' Pleasant Crossing development, said Chris Talley, developer of the arena project, in a news conference at Rogers City Hall.

The Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute said Thursday that it has given Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee an “F” in its eighth biennial fiscal policy report card. The institute cited “his insistence on raising taxes at almost every turn.”

Students in the Watson Chapel School District can wear black wristbands to class, and those who were punished for doing so Oct. 6 should have their disciplinary records cleared of the infraction, Chief U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes ruled Thursday.

The family of a mentally retarded man who died in state care filed a claim against the Department of Health and Human Services alleging that employees failed to protect and save Leroy Johnson.

Wal-Mart is expanding its $4 generic prescription drug program to 14 more states, including Arkansas, saying it would save customers and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

The attorney for former Greenwood junior high teacher Deanna Bobo filed a request with the court that her client be allowed to remain free while she appeals her conviction on two counts of first degree sexual assault. Bobo is to begin serving a 12-year sentence October 31.

Three persons are under arrest in Jonesboro facing counterfeiting charges after police broke up a ring allegedly passing bogus $100 bills. Police think the suspects were using an ink-removing substance to remove the dollar amount on a $5 bill, then somehow replaced the figure with the image of a $100 bill.

A former employee of the Seven Hills Homeless Shelter in Fayetteville was arrested in connection with stealing Social Security checks from shelter residents, according to a police report. Cim Lisa Smith was arrested in connection with six felony counts of first-degree forgery and one count of theft of property.

Sebastian County Judge David Hudson says that painting should begin in the new $4 million, 96 bed, jail expansion within two to three weeks.

Classes at Westside School District near Jonesboro were canceled today because 10 students and an elementary school teacher have been stricken by an apparent staph infection over the past two weeks,

Asian soybean rust has been detected on soybeans in 13 of the state’s counties, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service said Thursday.

The European Commission says that all U.S. long-grain rice imports should be tested to check that they are not unauthorized genetically modified varieties.

Dancing is now allowed on the campus of John Brown University. Ballroom, swing, and salsa dances will be permitted at the school’s first social dance this semister.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday early summary

According to today’s Democrat-Gazette, state utility commissioners want to “fill the regulatory gap” created when the Energy Policy Act of 2005 repealed federal consumer protection laws that had been in place since 1935. The gutting of the Public Utility Holding Companies Act left many responsibilities once the obligation of the federal government up to individual states to enforce. Utilities are resisting regulation.

The main tenets of the federal No Child Left Behind Act will not only be reauthorized by Congress in the next year or two but will be expanded, particularly at the high school level, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon predicted in a speech to educators in Conway.

Former U.S. Sen. David Pryor is at home recovering from heart surgery, a spokeswoman for his son, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said Wednesday. Pryor had quadruple bypass surgery Oct. 11 at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Wal-Mart is taking its annual analysts’ briefing to the analysts this year, hosting the event outside Northwest Arkansas for the first time. Wal-Mart’s stock has dropped more than 10 percent over the past two-and-a-half years. According to an invitation sent to analysts, the New York area event Monday and Tuesday will include performances by The Eagles and Garth Brooks.

ServiceMaster won approval for tax freezes Wednesday, a move that could clear the way for the Fortune 500 company to relocate its headquarters from Illinois to Memphis.

Citing existing pollution and flaws in the applications, state environmental regulators rejected permits that two companies are seeking for new gravel-mining operations along Crooked Creek

A fiery crash on Interstate 40 Wednesday morning forced evacuations at nearby schools and placed the local hospital on lockdown until the fire was contained and police could determine exactly what was burning inside the trucks. One of the truck drivers was killed.

Two women remained hospitalized Wednesday after being run over Tuesday afternoon by an 86-year-old woman who crashed her car into the Food King grocery store, police said.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of former Pine Bluff Alderman Jack Foster, who was convicted of a federal crime and began serving a three-year sentence in June

Green Party nominees said Wednesday that they’ve been dismayed by Arkansas candidates’ concentration on illegal immigration this election season. Jim Lendall, the Green Party nominee in the governor’s race, said politicians who concentrate on immigration are trying to tap “latent racism” in Arkansas. “I think it’s despicable,” Lendall said.

Former two-term Sebastian County assessor and current Election Commissioner Jim Perry said Tuesday he’s filed an ethics violation complaint against Becky Yandell, the incumbent assessor and the Republican candidate for the seat. The matter will not be resolved before the Nov. 7 election. Perry says he has photos of Yandell’s campaign signs in the back of a county vehicle. Perry also alleged that Yandell has forced her employees to campaign for her.

After more than 24 years on Mississippi’s death row, Bobby Glen Wilcher was executed by lethal injection Wednesday evening. Witcher was put to death for a 1982 double homicide.

For the first time in decades, students at Nettleton High School will not find copies of The Chieftain floating around campus. Instead they'll find the school newspaper online. Beginning with the September issue, the paper became Internet-only.

First Presbyterian Church is dressing up for Friday’s concert by the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, which promises to fill the large sanctuary at 717 W. 32nd Ave. with soaring, spiritual masterworks from Russia and Ukraine. Tickets are available, at $15 each, by calling the church at (870) 534-7831.

The Arkansas State Fair had its own running of the bull Wednesday morning when a 1,400-pound Brahman bull escaped from a barn and ran frantically through the fairgrounds. The bull slightly injured “several” people, including a child and a woman who were treated by paramedics, broke a restaurant’s glass door and hit a golf cart, according to a State Fair news release and witnesses.

Conway officials are preparing to take the next bold step toward building a better city. Plans are being made for a dog park.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The joint press conference

Words fail to express my sense of dismay at the two candidates for governor which we were allowed to see last night. Has there ever been a more poorly focused and ill-prepared candidate than Mike Beebe. Thankfully, most of the voters will never see the exercise in tedium, but it is a darned shame that these guys wrangle over stuff that is totally meaningless like whether the state police should enforce immigration laws. Don't they already have enough responsibilities? I bet poor Bill Gwatney is just extremely thankful Mr. Big Brain brought him into the middle of a stupid conversation on "covenant marriage." Hell, neither one of them would be willing to do anything about no-fault divorce, which is the real social problem.

Anyway, I think Asa has "big mo" and public schools are in deep trouble when there is no candidate with a clear commitment to standards. Here is my network commentary for today.

After Friday Night Lights, I headed upstairs while my more studious wife, Marie, pulled up the DVR recording of the gubernatorial debate. Sitting down at my desk, some words came filtering upstairs that sent me running back to the living room.

I had to rewind because it could not have been Democratic nominee and Attorney General Mike Beebe who just said he did not want any more consolidation. This is the same Mike Beebe that was praised in Monday’s column as having made some tough decisions on the school standards, and now he has proved that he is willing to say whatever it takes to get elected. I am skeptical of Asa’s commitment to the public school standards, but he correctly called Beebe’s hand. If you keep the standards as they are, school districts have no other recourse but to consolidate.

This is a very important issue for two reasons. First, if Arkansas ever wants one of those super plants, we must provide the most important ingredient, and that is an educated work force. Secondly, each one of us have paid dearly to improve the school system. It seems a shame to just toss aside all this progress for the sake of political expediency.

I am appalled with both of them.

Wednesday daybreak summary

The heartbroken parents of slain flower girl Katie Flynn burst into tears yesterday when a Long Island jury found the drunken driver who slammed his pickup head-on into their limousine guilty of murder. Former Little Rock resident, 25-year-old Martin Heidgen, could spend up to 25 years to life behind bars for the shocking crime. Heidgen had at least 14 drinks before getting behind the wheel, and his blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal state limit.

Alex Daniels reports in the Democrat-Gazette on Senator Blanche Lincoln’s political activities and travels during this political season. She has been to a dozen states to make a personal pitch for Democratic candidates. And her political-action committee has contributed $178,000 to Senate candidates, the Senatorial Campaign Committee and to state party organizations, according to Federal Election Commission records.

An issue advocacy group that denies affiliation with any political party or candidate received better than 99 percent of its third-quarter funding from Republican Party organizations, according to its report to the Internal Revenue Service. The Coalition for Arkansas' Future reported receiving $540,500 from Republican Party organizations between July 1 and Sept. 30 - 99.7 percent of the total $541,900 the group received during the period, according to the IRS report dated Monday.

Instead of $20 million previously projected over the coming biennium, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission director now expects the commission will get only $2 million to $3 million in the next year or so from natural gas leases in the Fayetteville Shale.

Highway planners from Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri need to consider outside-the-box funding sources, such as public-private partnerships and toll roads, to complete the unfinished gaps in Interstate 49, according to financiers.

Raytheon Aircraft Co. has received a business-jet order of more than $500 million from NetJets, which bodes well for workers at its Little Rock finishing plant.

The Jonesboro Sun reports rainfall Sunday and Monday is affecting the cotton harvest, and it has stopped wheat planting. The state's cotton crop is expected to be very good, possibly the biggest in several years, but it has been an expensive crop and rain delays at harvest are not something that is needed, extension officials say.

Los Angeles-based IVI Communications, which purchased Cabot-based Internet service provider Futura in February, hopes to soon deliver broadband to those users via WiMAX. The new technology can send a broadband signal as far as 30 miles, across distances without broadband from telephone and cable companies. It could bring high-speed Internet to many rural areas.

The 2006 White County Fair broke attendance records with more than 53,000 passing through the gates.

A 30-year-old Little Rock woman was killed Tuesday afternoon when struck by a train she apparently never heard. Little Rock police said Lataya Jones was wearing headphones as she walked down the tracks near 65th Street and University Avenue where a Union Pacific Railroad train struck her from behind. “Witnesses said she never turned around,” said Little Rock police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings.

Failure of a Union Pacific train crew to “remain attentive and alert” led to an October 2005 collision that spilled a vaporous chemical into a residential neighborhood and fueled an explosion fatal to a Texarkana woman, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

After the jail-related sales tax it supported failed at the polls, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce has asked the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to study public-safety needs in Pulaski County.

A 44-year-old man caught inside a Pine Bluff liquor store decided to have “one for the road” before he was arrested for commercial burglary early Friday morning. Police said they watched Clifford Gray pick up a bottle of liquor and take a drink, then grab a pack of cigarettes and smoke one before they could enter the building and take him into custody.

The Daily World reports attorney Dion Wilson has filed a complaint alleging discrimination against the 1st Judicial Drug Task Force stemming from an incident that occurred last Friday in Marvell. According to court documents, the task force confiscated $1.2 million in cash, a 2006 Dodge Charger and a handgun from Phillips County resident Bobby Craft. Wilson claims white arresting officers have no drug related evidence against the black suspect.

It’s official - the Little Rock Zoo’s baby gorilla is a boy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Get your fresh hot audio!

If you've been missing the morning radio show, I have a little "fix" for that Pat Habit. Two new interviews are online at mmy lyncho.com home page and available for immediate free download.

State Rep. Jeremy Hutchinson (nephew of Asa) had a strong reaction to my column in the Democrat-Gazette about school standards and the upcoming session. Term-limited Hutchinson also represents Paron and he has the bases covered for small schools. We had a lively discussion about who might best serve the interests of public education when lawmakers meet under the pressure of a promise to cut teh sales tax on groceries and no Supreme Court supervision on Lake View. (44 min.)

The number of independently run, open-enrollment charter schools in Arkansas will more than double in 2007-08 if all 11 applications submitted to the state Department of Education are approved. Dr. Caroline Proctor, Director of the Arkansas Charter School Resource Center at the University of Arkansas, talked with me and she has lots of good background information. (16:30)

Remember, Pat Classic is on 9 to 11 weekday mornings on the Super Talk Arkansas Network.

Damp Tuesday Summary

The heartbroken father of slain flower girl Katie Flynn exploded in rage yesterday after a deadlocked Long Island jury failed for a fourth day to reach a verdict against the wrong-way drunken driver accused of killing her. Flynn lambasted the jury for so far failing to convict former Little Rock resident Martin Heidgen of murder for plowing head-on into a limo in which 7-year-old Katie was riding. The limo driver also was killed.

A roster of 130 “electronic games of skill” - with names such as Sizzling 7’s, Double Black Tie and White Hot Aces - met with Arkansas Racing Commission approval Monday for installation at the state’s two pari-mutuel racetracks.

Heavy rains that fell across Arkansas on Monday prompted flash flood warnings in some areas, temporarily suspended cotton and soybean harvesting and also drove down attendance figures at the state fair.

The Little Rock School District has asked a federal judge to find the district in substantial compliance with its desegregation obligations and release it from nearly 50 years of court supervision and monitoring. Chris Heller, an attorney for the school district, proposed that the state’s largest district be declared unitary - which means desegregated to the extent practical.

The latest sign of the rift in the Arkansas Senate is reported in the Democrat-Gazette. The chamber’s leaders are at odds about when senators will meet to select committee chairmen and committee assignments and possibly to change Senate rules. President Pro Tempore Jim Argue says the meetings will be Dec. 4-5 in Little Rock. But Sen. Jack Critcher of Batesville, who is to succeed Argue as president pro tempore in 2007-2008, said the organizational meeting will be Nov. 8 in Little Rock, the day after the general election.

Former U.S. Sen. David Pryor could be released from the hospital later this week after undergoing heart surgery, a spokeswoman for his son, Sen. Mark Pryor, said Monday. The elder Pryor had quadruple bypass surgery Wednesday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and remained in the intensive care unit Monday.

Preliminary testing of a 67,000-gallon gasoline spill at a Rogers pipeline facility indicates the fuel has spread outside a containment area and beneath surface soil, state environmental officials said Monday

The FBI has forwarded information from its investigation into Russellville police officers’ fatal encounter with Bobby Joe Rylee last summer to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. That office will determine whether a federal civil-rights violation occurred in the forcible arrest of Rylee on July 15 in a parking lot along Arkansas 7 in Russellville.

Road rage took a decidedly medieval turn Sunday when a Little Rock man was arrested after police said he attempted to settle a traffic dispute with a crossbow. Police said Wayne Allen Dierks Jr of Little Rock fired a crossbow at a motorist who had made an obscene gesture at him. Dierks was charged with committing a terroristic act, possession of an instrument of crime, driving while intoxicated and driving on a suspended driver’s license.

Brandon Sanders was convicted of first-degree murder by a Fayetteville jury and sentenced to 25 years in prison Monday for killing April Love last year.

Uniforms for students in kindergarten through 12th grade will be considered at tonight’s Stuttgart Public School Board of Directors meeting.

Vampire bats have arrived at the zoo. They’ll make their debut at 6 p.m. Friday, when the annual Boo at the Zoo begins.

Nearly two years after its stock collapsed amid an accounting fiasco, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. faces a host of lawsuits, a criminal investigation and declining sales. Meanwhile, efforts are under way in New York and Chicago to ban a key ingredient of its famous doughnuts. In turn, Krispy Kreme has turned to former tobacco executives for help.

John Boozman, sanctimonious blowhard

In a frantic effort to assist incumbent Republican congressman John Boozman distance himself from the ever-sinking national disaster of the GOP, the Stephens Media Group ran a story today which is notable for its' breathtaking unfairness.

In a nutshell, Democrat Woody Anderson has paid himself a modest salary out of his campaign funds. Please note that it is entirely lawful to do this and Anderson has complied with federal laws. Nonetheless, Aaron Sadler took this as an occasion to allow Boozman to climb the Republican pulpit of hypocrisy . Get a load of this.

This is my third go-round and we've never paid ourselves out of campaign funds," Boozman said. "It's unusual to do that, certainly. It's something most people don't do."

Well, of course he doesn't. Mr. Boozman already has a job - his "entitlement" - and we the taxpayers pay him while he campaigns. Perhaps, Mr. Sadler might have asked if Boozman was taking a leave of absence.

It is obviously the position of the Stephens Media Group that only the wealthy and incumbents may seek public office. Anderson owns a tax paying business in the private sector which he must neglect while running to unseat one of America's most insignificant congressmen. In fact, I am wondering how John Boozman would have any idea what is typical in any campaign. If he is so worldly and well traveled, perhaps he can answer a few questions about his state of knowledge on the Mark Foley disgrace.

UPDATE: I note that Max Brantley has been mixing holy water with his coffee. This is a hard concept, but sometimes regular folks might want to serve in public office and this kind of question only serves to intimidate the good folks who are otherwise scared off by the intense scrutiny and general ugliness of politics. This story is nothing but cheap intimidation. John Boozman is the one who should be answering the questions. I know if Boozman were in LR, Arkansas Times would rain down fire and brimstone.

AND FORTUERMORE, Max, thanks for the kind mention on the Arkansas Times Blog about Jeremy Hutchinson's visit to torment me this morning at 9. I need some backup.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Not everybody was delighted with my column in Monday's Democrat-Gazette. State Rep. Jeremy Hutchinson will come by and probably rip my eyeballs out because of my position on rural schools. Well, there is a bit more to it than that. Be listening Tuesday morning at 9 on WAI-Radio.com and the Super Talk Arkansas Network.

Bob Dorough in concert

My friend, Allison Johnson, sent me this, and I know many of you will be interested. Allison is the Development Director for Oxford American and she was on my program with the editor, Mark Smirnoff. It's a great hour and is posted on my home page, lyncho.com. Yeah, we threw in a bit of Bob too.

The Oxford American and the Old State House Museum
proudly present Bob Dorough in concert

Conway, Arkansas - The Oxford American magazine is once again teaming up with the Old State House Museum in Little Rock on October 19th for a concert featuring jazz superstar and Arkansas native Bob Dorough.

Bob is one of the many featured artists in the 2006 Oxford American Southern Music Issue, but is the first artist to be featured with TWO tracks on the accompanying CD.
Opening for Bob will be Rock Creek, a bluegrass band from Conway, Arkansas. Other special guest musicians will also perform.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.oxfordamericanmag.com or by calling (501) 450-5376. Tickets will also be available at the door the day of the show for $25.

Born in Cherry Hill, Arkansas, and raised in Texas, Bob Dorough played clarinet in his high school band and earned a BA in Music from what is now North Texas University. Before that, three years with a Special Services Army Band had given him loads of valuable experience in both playing and arranging.

In 1949, Dorough made a bee-line for New York, where he took classes at Columbia University, immersed himself in the city's rapidly evolving jazz scene and took whatever musical jobs he could land. For two years he toured with Sugar Ray Robinson as the ex-boxer's musical director, and often shared stages with notables like Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, and Count Basie. Later, in Paris, Dorough spent five months as a singing pianist at the Mars Club, where he began his long musical friendship with Blossom Dearie.

His first record (Devil May Care, released on Bethlehem in 1956) caused quite a stir. The buzz has continued for nearly five decades, his recordings having been issued on a variety of labels, both large and small. Along the way, Dorough became the only singer to appear on a Miles Davis record. Among his more illustrious songwriting collaborators over the years have been Fran Landesman and Dave Frishberg. His tunes now appear on albums recorded by dozens of other vocalists, and many have found special favor as instrumentals, too.

Gen-Xers know his voice, if not his name, because they love the Schoolhouse Rock! episodes that entertained them on ABC during the 70s, 80s and 90s. Dorough handled the music for nearly every one of these little classics.
Dorough, a proud inductee into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame, is still writing timeless songs and performing them in clubs
and concert halls on several continents. As throngs of admirers worldwide can testify, he is only now reaching his prime.

Monday soaked summary

The state’s two largest airports plan to ask the Legislature to allow them and other Arkansas airports to tap new sources of state money to help finance capital improvements. In addition to tapping the projected $700 million surplus, airports want to share the existing tax on jet fuel, and creating a new sales tax on aviation fuel, parking, and concessions.

International Paper Co. has entered into an agreement to sell its Pine Bluff pulp and paper mill to an affiliate of New Zealand-based Carter Holt Harvey Ltd. The Pine Bluff mill employs 1,150 and produces coated paper for magazines and a significant portion of the world’s liquidpackaging board for juice and milk cartons. A sale price has yet to be negotiated.

Heifer International expects to scale back plans for its global village in Little Rock after some of the charity’s donors balked at the project’s $64 million price tag.

The number of independently run, open-enrollment charter schools in Arkansas will more than double in 2007-08 if all 11 applications submitted to the state Department of Education are approved.

A New York jury will resume deliberating today whether to convict an Arkansas man of murder. He is accused of driving the wrong way down a Long Island parkway - with his alcohol blood level allegedly three times the legal limit - and slamming head-on into a wedding limousine, killing the chauffeur and a 7-year-old flower girl. Martin Heidgen was charged with murder after prosecutors said he showed a “depraved indifference to human life” by allegedly ignoring drivers on the highway who flashed their headlights and honked their horns trying to alert him he was driving the wrong way in July 2005.

The state medical examiner is investigating the death of a 46-year-old homeless man who had been hospitalized since late July, when he was severely beaten and discovered lying in the front yard of a Little Rock home, bleeding from his nose and mouth. William Wesley died at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences of an infection acquired while staying at the hospital. Jonathan Brown of Little Rock is charged with first-degree battery.

The Legislative Audit Committee will investigate a possible illegal transfer of funds from the Saline County Sheriff's Department's commissary fund into the bank account of the Saline County Deputy Sheriffs Association. The request for assistance in the investigation from Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld cites “the suspicion of theft” within the deputies association and seeks “a formal investigation by the Legislative Audit and the Arkansas State Police” into the deputies association and “the Saline County Sheriff's Office

The former treasurer of the Walnut Ridge School District misappropriated nearly $67,000 through unauthorized payroll disbursements and not depositing fees, according to a state audit.

Assistant Springdale Police Chief Ken Watson is currently suspended without pay from the police force. Watson was suspended for 10 days, according to Kathy O'Kelley, police chief. Watson has appealed to the Civil Service Commission and neither Watson or O’Kelly are discussing the circumstances of the suspension.

A former Arkansas Rehabilitation Services manager improperly gave himself a raise and authorized bonuses to himself and six coworkers, according to a state audit. The former personnel manager for the agency, Kevin Lewis, raised his annual salary by more than $10,400 late last summer. Agency managers caught the raise soon after, and Lewis resigned in October 2005.

After spending the past 42 years of his life in prison for the 1964 rape of a Pope County woman, a former Russellville man is now asking for executive clemency. Early next month, Gov. Mike Huckabee will review the Arkansas Parole Board’s recommendation to allow 82 year-old Phillip Henson, a.k.a. Robert Scheick, to be released early from the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Passengers on Jonesboro Economical Transit System buses should have an added sense of security after the installation of surveillance cameras last week. Each bus has three digital cameras which provide a rear-to-front view of the bus, a view of the door and the wheelchair lift.

State Sen. Tracy Steele says that he’ll resign as executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, effective Nov. 17, to pursue business interests, including launching a monthly publication aimed at blacks.

The Cleveland, Mississippi High School celebrated it’s 100th anniversary last weekend.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Brummett on Woody Anderson

John Brummett, possibly the finest political columnist in Arkansas, took on Democrat Woody Anderson concerning Anderson's attack on Republican John Boozman.

It does not happen often, but Brummett gets it wrong with this one.

I am impressed with Boozman's counterpunching. He said it was shameful for Anderson to try to smear him with this "pervert" - by which surely he meant pedophilia instead of orientation - and that he'd lost any respect he might have had for his opponent. Boozman said he attends the Baptist church in Rogers, but can't be held responsible for every action by every congregant.

Let's say one of the Razorbacks got arrested. Would that player be responsible for his actions? Yes. Would the head coach be responsible? Yes. Would a reserve linebacker who was home minding his own business, and who might once have been on the kickoff return team with the miscreant, be responsible? No.

Here is a better analogy. Let us say that one of the Razorbacks gets arrested and a team captain (an upperclassman) says he never has any contact with the offender. Suppose that turns out to not be exactly so. Should the team captain be held accountable for what he knows. You bet.

Should John Boozman be held accountable for may have known about Mark Foley. I think most folks can figure that one out.

Here's the real problem. John Boozman walks around like hiw own seat in congress is an "entitlement." He has come to take the voters completely for granted.

You can listen to my interview with Woody Anderson on lyncho.com.

John Boozman and Mark Foley served together on Roy Blunt’s Majority Whip Team. Nobody is expecting Boozman to take the rap for Mark Foley, but it seems likely that the Arkansas congressmen joined in the Republican indifference to Foley's tendencies. Remember, charector counts.

What else is John Boozman willing to tolerate in order to keep his "entitlement?"

Damn Commie Methodists

OK, it was just a little satire. Now that I have your attention, check out one of the typically brilliant letters to the editor in today's Democrat-Gazette. This one is really special so read it through. This one is also an audience participation question. I will want readers to take part, so here goes.

In contesting Gov. Mike Huckabee’s proposed tax structure, a couple wrote to suggest “taxation” based upon “To whom much is given, much is required.” Is not their proposition identical to that of Karl Marx, i.e., “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” ?
Further, their proposed plan would seem to be a heavy progressive or graduated income tax. Again, is this not the precise proposal advanced by Marx in his Manifesto of the Communist Party?
My concern is that the couple were careful to point out that they are of the United Methodist persuasion. Is one to draw from this the conclusion that the Methodist Church supports communist or socialist dogma?
I certainly hope that most, if not all, of my many Methodist friends would denounce any such idea. Perhaps your correspondents would care to clarify this matter, perhaps with the assistance of their pastor.
Bella Vista

Now, the trivia question for Bible students and other highly intelligent readers of this increasingly popular blog. Name, if you can, which colorful and controvercial charector of Holy Writ also said something very similar to Mr. Bender's quote “To whom much is given, much is required”?

Extra points for exact citations.

And you Methodists, what kind of socialistas are you people anyway?

Little Rock politics

It looks like my pals, Silas Dogood and Billy Bob Corleone, over at the Little Rock 2006 blog have some new stuff happening. I have been way behind on a lot of things and I plan to follow that site to get properly indoctrinated.

Wasteful spending and arrogance

What a combination! Those two qualities so well exemplify the local swells and Chamber of Commerce types who recently tried to ram $18 million of new taxes down our throats. The story in Friday's Democrat-Gazette (subscription required, sorry) was a hoot.

Supporters of a failed ballot measure that would have increased sales taxes to generate money for the Pulaski County jail raised more than $114,000 for their campaign and spent even more, according to final financial reports filed Thursday.
Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods raised $114,400 and spent $174,156, with the bulk of the money going toward campaign management and advertising before the Sept. 12 election. The campaign paid local marketing agency Cranford Johnson Robinson & Woods $117,629, according to the report filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
Leading up to the election, the organization mailed fliers, sponsored telephone calls and other ads. The group also spent $14,422 on ads that ran in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods is still collecting funds and will file an amended final report at a later date, said Jay Chesshir, the group’s secretary and Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce president.
Taxpayers Against Wasteful Spending, which opposed the quarter-cent sales tax, raised $3,670 and spent $3,621, mostly on advertising such as handbills and radio spots, as well as $1,488 for inserts in the Democrat-Gazette.
The tax increase was rejected by a vote of 12,089 to 16,116 in the third unsuccessful bid to raise money for the jail in the past decade. The tax would have raised more than $18 million a year for operations and maintenance, and would have helped the county reopen jail space that is now closed as well as pay for further construction.

Of course, it is an outrage that the jail tax backers spent something like $60,000 more than they raised. Here is the questions: Why would intelligent business people deliberately opt for deficit spending?

The answer I would like to suggest is that they expected to personally benefit from the "extra" $12 million left laying around every year - after jail operations and repairs were paid.

How can these same people expect to have any credibility proposing to rural lawmakers that they should pick up the tab for Little Rock foolishness?

Case closed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Worse than do nothing Congress

Senator Lincoln is quickly becoming my second favorite Arkansas congressional representative. I remember interviewing her when she was running against Bill Alexander and she has grown into a real presence. Here is her blast at the GOP controlled nest of vipors.

Lincoln: Congress Leaves Behind Unfinished Business

Washington – U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) today said that the 109th Congress will be remembered more for missed opportunities than accomplishments due to the lack of progress on critical issues for America’s working families. As Congress has now moved into a six-week recess, Lincoln noted that several priorities and necessary reforms have been left unaddressed.

"Unfortunately, this Republican leadership chose political gamesmanship over addressing several real priorities important to most Americans," Lincoln said. "When Congress comes back to Washington after the November elections, I hope these same leaders will see it as one last opportunity to get results for the American people."

Lincoln noted the 109th Congress’ lack of progress on several issues critical to America’s working families:


As an example of Congress’ ineffectiveness, Lincoln pointed to the country’s growing health care crisis. The number of uninsured Americans rose to 46.6 million in 2005, an increase of almost seven million people since 2000. In Arkansas, approximately 448,000 people, or 16.4 percent of the state’s population, are uninsured. Yet the Senate dedicated a mere two days of debate to this health care crisis and blocked a Lincoln proposal that would allow self-employed individuals and small businesses to offer insurance to themselves and their workers.


During this Congress, Republican leaders placed a priority on cutting taxes for dividends and capital gains while neglecting the renewal of tax extenders important for working Americans, teachers, and businesses – provisions such as the Research and Development tax credit which is critical for businesses to remain competitive in the global marketplace and the college tuition tax deduction which has been an effective tool for providing more Americans access to college.

Congress has also let lapse the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and the Welfare-to-Work tax credits which provide businesses with tax incentives for hiring individuals from targeted groups, such as veterans and welfare recipients. These tax credits are important tools for placing economically disadvantaged individuals into jobs.

In addition, Congress has failed to extend tax deductions for teachers’ classroom education expenses. More than 23,000 teachers in Arkansas who purchase classroom supplies with money from their own pockets will be without this important deduction this year.

In the months before and after these important tax incentives expired, Lincoln helped lead efforts to renew them, saying that they would provide much-needed immediate relief for middle class Americans. In fact, her vote against the Tax Reconciliation bill in May was the direct result of the Republican leadership’s decision to ignore these incentives in favor of extending capital gains and dividend reduction provisions which were not set to expire until 2009.


Many individuals and organizations across the country are exploring development and refinery of renewable fuels. They only need capital incentives to bring the best of these technologies to market. Since 2003, Lincoln has twice introduced legislation that would encourage long-term investment in alternative energy by extending existing tax credits to 2010. Additionally, Lincoln co-sponsored legislation that would put in place a comprehensive plan for reducing dependence on foreign oil. Lincoln said that the United States has fallen behind other nations with respect to our alternative energy policy and our government must make energy independence a priority.

However, the 109th Congress missed a golden opportunity to establish a true plan for the development of renewable fuels when it enacted a national energy plan. While the bill did include tax credits and other mechanisms to develop renewables, these measures fell woefully short of what is currently achievable and, in some cases, they were reduced in order to allow for more funding of oil and gas exploration.


During her tenure in Congress, Lincoln has consistently supported efforts to raise the minimum wage, yet the Republican-controlled Congress has rejected each attempt. Lincoln said that no American worker should have to live in poverty.


Congress has also fallen short on reforming our nation’s broken immigration system, Lincoln said. While consistently voting to secure the borders, Lincoln has remained an outspoken advocate for the bipartisan compromise reform passed by the Senate earlier this year. Lincoln said that the compromise requires a two-pronged approach that secures our borders first, then establishes a system to identify undocumented workers, penalize them and place them on a path to permanent residency. Republican leaders in the House and Senate failed to agree on a comprehensive plan.


America’s farmers have suffered severe economic losses due to devastating weather conditions and record high energy prices during the past two years. Unlike other industries, farmers are unable to pass on higher input costs to consumers, which means that higher energy costs directly hurt farm income at the local economy.

Last September, Lincoln introduced an agriculture disaster assistance package in the Senate and has continued to work in a bipartisan fashion to push a comprehensive assistance package for over a year. Lincoln said that if Americans want to continue to enjoy an affordable and abundant food supply produced safely at home, Congress and the Administration must provide the support our farm families need to remain competitive in the global marketplace. However, the Bush Administration has repeatedly blocked every attempt to provide adequate disaster aid to farmers.

"The experiences of the last two years were essential for my twin, ten-year-old boys," Lincoln said. "In fact, I am disappointed that the Republican leaders of the 109th Congress are not more like parents who treasure every moment of their child’s growth and development."

"As it is, two years have been lost in the fight to ensure that every American has access to health care. Even while the clock expired on several, important middle income tax cuts, these leaders were unable to muster the will to extend them. And, two more years have passed without addressing the fate of 12 million or more undocumented workers living in this country. Each Congress has two years to make a difference for the American people. The Republican-controlled, 109th Congress largely stood still on numerous critical issues. I shudder to think of my children standing still and losing two years in their growth and development. We simply cannot afford to continue this pattern of failure. We owe it to the American people to bring them real results."

Fair Friday summary

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, violated Pennsylvania labor laws by forcing hourly employees to work through rest periods and after their shifts had ended, a state court jury found Thursday. Jurors in Philadelphia sided with two former Wal-Mart workers who sued on behalf of almost 187,000 current and former employees in Pennsylvania. The workers’ lawyers will seek as much as $162 million in damages in a second phase of the trial that starts today.

Supporters of a failed ballot measure that would have increased sales taxes to generate money for the Pulaski County jail raised more than $114,000 for their campaign and spent even more, according to final financial reports filed Thursday. Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods spent $174,156, with the bulk of the money going toward campaign management and advertising before the Sept. 12 election. Taxpayers Against Wasteful Spending, which successfully opposed the quarter-cent sales tax, raised $3,670 and spent $3,621.

Little Rock National Airport officials are considering creating their own police force after being presented with a proposed contract that would increase police protection at Adams Field to nearly $2 million a year.

The Majestic Hotel Resort Spa will close Oct. 22 after 124 years of business, and the owner said he is in negotiations with several parties, including one that has an “extremely exciting vision,” for the renovation of the hotel

It’s common practice for state lawmakers to become lobbyists when they leave office, but a study released Thursday shows that Arkansas has more legislators spinning through that revolving door than most states. According to the Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas ranks #11 nationally. The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan organization, counted 35 registered lobbyists in 2005 who at one time were members of the Arkansas Legislature.

Bentonville school officials are thinking about building a new high school to accommodate growth in population. Bentonville high now has over 2,900 students.

Russellville police officers say they never gave “severe or unjustified beatings” to a man who died after being taken from jail to a Little Rock hospital. That assertion came in a response to a federal court lawsuit filed by the family of the late Bobby Lee Rylee, 61.

Razorback Pipeline Co. fired two employees after an investigation found they caused a 67,000-gallon gasoline spill on Oct. 3, a company official said Thursday.

A 33-year-old homeless man caught with a Little Rock Zoo sheep in a garbage can earlier this year was ordered into the State Hospital on Thursday after a state psychologist found him to be psychotic. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza committed Grady Allen Carnahan for treatment at the State Hospital until doctors can determine if he will ever be fit to stand trial.

An Arkansas prison work-release van driver on the loose for about a week turned himself in to Missouri authorities early Thursday, telling deputies that he was tired of running. Kenneth Stumbaugh, a convicted thief and forger, drove away Oct. 6 in a work-release van from the Benton Unit instead of picking up fellow inmates at a southwest Little Rock business.

The Arkansas State Fair begins today in Little Rock. In the days leading up to today’s opening, amusement ride inspectors from the Arkansas Department of Labor checked 68 rides to make sure they met safety standards. The State Fair, which officials said drew about 439,000 attendees last year, runs through Oct. 22 at the Fairgrounds on Roos- evelt Road in Little Rock.

The King Biscuit Music Festival will make its debut on Beale Street next spring, almost six months later than planned. No date has been set. John Elkington, Beale Street developer and chief executive of Performa Entertainment Real Estate Inc., said he pushed the festival to spring so that it wouldn't conflict with last week's Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in Helena, Ark. The music festival had been set to begin today.

Evanescence’s second album, Open Door, has debuted at the top of Billboard’s Top 200 chart. With 447,000 albums sold so far, Open Door tops the pop group’s first venture, Fallen. Lead singer Amy Lee is from Little Rock )daughter of legendary broadcaster John Lee).

Three board members and the president of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation joined more than 300 Bradley County residents and guests Wednesday to dedicate the Donald W. Reynolds YMCA of Warren and Bradley County.

The 61st annual Yellville Turkey Trot begins today and local officials expect events to include the unscheduled and unsanctioned dropping of live turkeys from an airplane. Local officials say that these are wild turkeys, and they can fly.

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