Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This is good government?

Once again, the only Senator with a brain or a conscience turns out to be Jim Argue. It figures that he would be the only Senate committee member to stand up for moral principles with a vote in favor of curbing payday lending.

Lawmakers are hell bent on throwing the constitution in the waste heap of history by passing a seat belt law that legalizes racial profiling and every other kind of imaginable police misconduct.

It looks like there will be no increase in the severance tax on natural gas, even though Arkansans pay high prices when they get gas from anyplace else.

Even the minimum wage is not safe from our clownish legislators. Folks who work for tips will be cut back to the previous level and so will daycare workers, companions, newspaper delivery folks and wreath makers. (That was wreath makers and not cheese makers, just in case you had a hard time hearing.)

Another monster lurking around in the legislative murk is the local spending bill.

It is good for all of us that they only get to write their own laws once every two years. Brummett may be right. This may be the best legislative session in years. Maybe ever. Still, I have had just about all the good government I can stand.

(Broadcast February 28, 2007)

Two strikes at the leg

There are a few things happening in the legislature today that require your urgent attention. A Senate committee appears to be under the nefarious influence of greedy payday lenders and is about to kill an important piece of consumer protection.

These evil loan sharks charge three hundred, eight hundred, even twelve hundred percent annual interest rates to unsuspecting customers. It is a scheme. It is morally detestable. This is stealing from the weakest and most vulnerable and some lawmakers are falling for the old soft soap.

Honest lenders, like your local bank or credit union, are bound to the state max of seventeen percent. Some of the South Dakota credit cards are rather high, but nobody touches the payday lenders for outlandish, overdone, avarice. Let your state senator know that payday lending needs to be curbed.

The other item concerns a law which would allow police to pull over a driver on the suspicion that he was not wearing a seat belt. This, in effect, means that police no longer need even the fig leaf of the slightest probable cause to stop anybody anywhere anytime for any reason or no reason. You may believe that this will only touch racial minorities, and they will suffer greatly. Sadly, you may be surprised how much authority is conferred in this bad law.

(Broadcast February 27, 2007)

LRSD gets a break

Federal Judge Bill Wilson has ruled that the Little Rock School District as attained “unitary” status. That means that the district has complied with court rulings and settlement’s terms and will no longer be subject to court oversight.

This is major news. It is somewhat shocking, especially in light of the apparent strong possibility that the district was not being completely straight on statistics about black students’ academic improvements. Nonetheless, justice has been served. It would be much more beneficial for African-American students for school dollars to be spent on program instead of litigations.

This decision could shut down a small industry, but lawyers never seem to lack for work. This may be an opportunity for the state to take a fresh look at spending in Pulaski County’s districts. This was bound to happen one of these days. We should all hope that this begins an era in which the district, now free of the constant burden of court reports, begins to make improvements that might even encourage white parents to put their children back into the public schools. For once, something that takes into account the good of the children. Good for you, Judge Wilson.

(Broadcast February 26, 2007)

That radio show...

Take a double doze of Zanax and send the kids outside to play Thursday morning when Bill Vickery stops in on Pat Classic. Bill is a hired gun for the Truckers Association and has plenty to say about the governor's highway program.

Dr. Ben Mays, my pal on the State Board of Education, has more nutty ideas about local accountability with taxpayer money. Where does this guy get off anyway? Mays is on Friday at 9 and I promise another blockbuster.

Not a sparrow falls on American Idol that our Viewing Team does not catch it.

State Rep. Steve Harrelson has the weekly legislative wrapup every Monday morning at 9.

One more thing on Toyota

Roby Brock from was on this morning and gave what I consider to be a most insightful interview on the Toyota decision to locate in Mississippi. He has a great idea for economic development, but is anybody in the legislature paying attention. The segment (14 min.) is in the "on demand" audio section of my home page,

Wednesday summary

Gov. Mike Beebe has asked President Bush for $1.5 million in federal assistance for storm victims in Desha County, where a tornado wiped out dozens of homes and businesses during the weekend.

The National Weather Serivce is investigating the weekend tornadoes. At least a half-dozen twisters carved paths through seven counties in southeast Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, from Junction City near the Louisiana border to south of Tichnor in Arkansas County. The most crippling was rated an Enhanced Fujita 3 tornado, which twisted for at least 29 miles and unleashed most ofits fury in Dumas and nearby Back Gate.

Air quality concerns in Crittenden County deterred Toyota Motor Corp. from locating a $1.3 billion auto manufacturing plant in Marion, Gov. Mike Beebe said Tuesday. However, Toyota officials gave conflicting statements on whether environmental issues led the automaker to pass over the prime industrial site in eastern Arkansas.

Steadfast in opposition to the president's troop buildup in Iraq, Democrats on Tuesday said the move will unfairly burden National Guard troops in Arkansas. Sen. Mark Pryor questioned whether Arkansas Guard units have enough equipment to train on as members of the 39th Infantry Brigade plan for a possible redeployment to Iraq.

After a night in the Faulkner County jail, former U.S. Rep. Tommy F. Robinson and his attorney, former state Sen. Roy C. “Bill” Lewellen, “purged” themselves of civil contempt, if not criminal. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James G. Mixon Mixon stated from the bench that the two men were in both civil and criminal contempt for violating the terms of a July restraining order, which had been issued after a scuffle that Robinsonand his sons had in a Brinkley barbecue restaurant with their estranged business partner Bill Thompson.

Entergy wants to defer payments of state-ordered refunds from a pair of recent rate increases until its lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad concludes — something that may not happen until mid-2008.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam A. Joyner has issued written opinions and orders preventing poultry company attorneys from deposing Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

Put a couple of toll booths on the missing Sherwood segment of the North Belt Freeway, and construction could begin almost immediately, according to Highway Commissioner Carl Rosenbaum, as reported in the North Pulaski County Leader. Rosenbaum says the final 12.7-mile, $276 million section could pay for itself with tollbooths where it intersects Hwy. 67/167 and also Hwy. 107.

The Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would provide funding for fast-growing school districts without penalizing districts with declining enrollment.

A bill to severely limit the interest rate on “payday loans,” which easily passed the House of Representatives earlier this month, has hit a roadblock in a Senate committee.

A Senate committee Tuesday advanced legislation to provide $20 million in incentives for production and distribution of biodiesel fuel in Arkansas but rejected a companion bill to force stations sell biodiesel.

A bill increasing the maximum penalty for certain violations of Arkansas' obscenity laws has received the endorsement of the House Judiciary Committee. Under House Bill 1569 by Rep. Shirley Walters of Greenwood, a defendant convicted of violating state obscenity laws could be fined up to $250,000 if the defendant derived pecuniary gain from the offense.

A top member of the House of Representatives wants to declare a particular way of spelling the name’s possessive form as the proper way to do it. It would be: “Arkansas’s.” House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Harrelson, D-Texarkana, said he filed House Concurrent Resolution 1016 on behalf of an old family friend who’s made a crusade of the issue.

Prosecutors announced Monday that they would waive the death penalty for three men charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of two teenagers last year at North Little Rock’s McCain Mall.

Classes were disrupted earlier this week at Forrest City Junior High School due to a bomb threat, the third such incident this month. And as with the last round of false calls, the Forrest City Police Department has arrested a student of the school district.

Another group of medically-retired employees of the city of Benton is suing the mayor and the current City Council to regain medical benefits that were included in their contract with the city but eliminated in 2004.

The flurry of flower arrangements and buildup of balloons on Valentine's Day at Bentonville High School never will happen again. Superintendent Gary Compton informed the Bentonville School Board's Policy Committee at a Tuesday meeting that no deliveries to school will be allowed on special occasions.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tuesday daybreak summary

Scott Cain reports, in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, that, barring some NCAA tournament miracle, University of Arkansas basketball coach Stan Heath will be fired.

Toyota did not select Marion for an auto manufacturing plant but rather Tupelo, Miss., Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and the editor of a business and economic development magazine that has accurately predicted past locations for U.S. auto plants said Monday.

The Arkansas State Police will pay $1 million in a settlement agreement to the estate of Joseph Erin Hamley who was shot and killed by a state trooper last year in a case of mistaken identity. The State Police admitted no wrongdoing, and the Hamley family agreed the settlement would satisfy all claims against the state.

Legislation that would authorize police to pull over drivers and ticket them for not wearing seat belts received a Senate committee's endorsement Monday.

he House on Monday approved two funding bills that would increase public school funding in Arkansas by about $214 per student by 2008-09.

Gov. Mike Beebe hailed an overwhelming endorsement from school superintendents as a sign that the long-running Lake View funding case may soon end. Beebe said he was encouraged by school administrators' support of his funding proposals for the next two years and that he hoped court-appointed special masters also would embrace the plan.

North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school district officials have congratulated the Little Rock School District for its release last week from federal court supervision of desegregation efforts, but said they don’t necessarily see it as accelerating the pace for the release of their own districts from that supervision.

A coalition that campaigned last year for a statewide minimum wage increase opposes a proposal to reduce the minimum hourly wage Arkansas employers must pay to workers who receive tips. Senate Bill 361 by Sen. Barbara Horn of Foreman would turn back progress the state made in October when a law took effect to increase the state minimum wage from the federal level of $5.15 an hour to $6.25 an hour.

Under a bill endorsed by a legislative committee Monday, governing boards for cities with at least 500 people would be given the option of granting 3 percent cost-of-living increases each year in the pensions of mayors, city clerks or clerk-treasurers who retire in local retirement plans.

Sen. Sue Madison filed a bill Monday asking for $15 million to close and replace the Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility, a lockup that has been plagued by allegations of abuse, civil rights violations, deaths and inadequate buildings for at least a decade.

Leaders of the Arkansas House of Representatives want a new office building for legislators, and are asking for $35 million to pay for it. Most of the 100 members of the House don’t have their own offices in the state Capitol, and some legislative committee rooms are packed during hearings. House leaders say they want a building where each member will be able to meet privately with constituents and lobbyists.

Dumas High School and Reed Elementary are undergoing repairs after Saturday’s tornadoes struck Dumas. Schools are expected to resume Thursday or Friday after the expected return of electric service Wednesday.

Several businesses, including three major industries with almost 500 employees, damaged or destroyed by a Saturday afternoon tornado at Dumas are planning to rebuild, and one store manager is being credited with saving lives. Quick action by Jay Jarrett, manager of The Mad Butcher, saved “several lives” on Saturday, district manager Bruce Broughton told the Pine Bluff Commercial.

Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell and wife, Kelly Harrison Campbell, along with bail bondsman Bobby Junior Cox, will face a number of criminal counts in a wideranging case alleging illegal drugs, illicit sex and abuse of a jail inmate-labor program in a wide ranging corruption trial. Jury selection will begin at 9 a.m. today in Cabot District Court, where the trial is being held to avoid tying up a circuit courtroom for such an extended period.

Arkansas Securities Department Commissioner Michael Johnson has issued a cease-and-desist order to stop the marketing of investment contracts by two Berryvillebased entities, Americans For Lawful Financial Independence & Information (ALFII) and My Icis Inc., after receiving nearly 30 written complaints from investors who have not been able to access their accounts in six months.

More than 92,400 Arkansans who already have filed their federal tax returns missed out on almost $2.8 million because they didn’t request a telephone excise tax refund, the Internal Revenue Service said Monday.

The National Science Foundation awarded more than $550,000 in research grants to the University of Arkansas on Monday.

The Delta Regional Authority released an $18.5 billion plan to improve highways in an eight-state region Monday, emphasizing Interstate 69 through southeast Arkansas as one of its priority projects.

A state inmate claiming in a lawsuit that the meals provided to him in prison do not provide adequate nutrition deserves a court hearing, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Today's show..

Steve Harrelson, State Rep. from Texarkana and author of the Under the Dome blog, brought State Rep. Dan Greenberg over this morning. It was a great hour and we covered all the topics you might expect. There was a very funny and thoughtful exchange on the ERA at the end. The entire thing is posted on

ALSO, John Robinson from the National Weather Service called in from south Arkansas on the tornado damage. He was an outstanding description. The segment is also in the "on demand" section of my home page.

Early Monday morning summar

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter says damage was so severe it appeared “high explosives” destroyed an number of homes in Dumas, where state police resumed a door-to-door search trying to account for everyone after a tornado cut through a portion of town a day earlier.

Gov. Mike Beebe will cut short his first trip to an annual governors conference so he can return to the state to help direct the emergency response to a tornado that struck Dumas on Saturday.

A federal judge has released the Little Rock School District from decades of court monitoring of its desegregation efforts.

House members will hear details on a $121.7 million plan to increase per-student funding for school districts, while the Legislature expects to see the details of Gov. Mike Beebe’s highway plan.

This week, lawmakers in Little Rock are expected to decide the fate of bills such as those aimed at cracking down on payday lenders and allowing law enforcement to pull over drivers for not wearing seat belts.

House leaders have outlined their latest idea for using state funds for local projects and organizations, a plan that would rely on city and county governments and state agencies to dole out grant money to local groups.

Lonoke County’s prosecuting attorney has asked her counterpart in neighboring Arkansas County to handle the review of a 19-month-old investigation into Jefferson County government, and she says he has agreed to do it.

Aaron Arzola-Almeida is under arrest in connection with a hit-and-run accident that killed a young Springdale girl Sunday. Debbie Sorimle was hit by an unidentified driver in front of her house Sunday afternoon a week ago. The girl was laying face down on a skateboard that went into the street and was hit by a black, mid- to late-1990s Honda Accord.

A 17-year-old boy who was caring for his girlfriend’s 18-month-old toddler while the mother was at work will be charged as an adult in the girl’s death this week in rural southeastern Pope County.

Harding University will host a panel discussion and seminar on sexual addiction. Richard Blankenship, a counselor in sexual addiction, will lead both events.

A John Brown University initiative to help build strong marriages in Northwest Arkansas will get $2.7 million in federal help.

Plans for a sports arena in Rogers have been scaled down to reduce the financial risk, but developer Chris Talley maintains the project is still on track to bring professional women's basketball to Rogers. The original proposal for a $55 million arena is now a $38 million facility, and 9,000 seats will now be 7,000 seats.

The mayor of Anderson, Mo., hopes a group of Arkansas investors interested in bringing a NASCAR track to McDonald County will succeed. Bob Corcoran confirmed that investors have been poking around for a potential race track site near his city, which sits about 16 miles north of the Arkansas-Missouri border.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ready for a new week

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame banquet was just amazing. Each of the inductees gave marvelous remarks and the video presentations were just superb. Honest.

I had the uncommon pleasure of spending a few minutes with the former owner of KARN, Ted Snider. He is still thin and genial. My old pal, Bud Whetstone was also present. He is so funny. Bud is Bernard's son and also a fine lawyer. Bud claims to have a notebook of things I have said and written. There were so many others around. It was nice to see so many old friends, including Susie Elder and Arkansas Al, the kiddies pal.

There was a horrible storm at Dumas and I expect we will make connections with John Robinson from the weather service during the Monday showS. My interview with him for Severe Weather Awareness Week is still on Very good hour.

State Rep. Steve Harrelson is back Monday at 9, with State Rep. Dan Greenberg. (Where have we heard THAT name before?) I also have some things going on the Little Rock School District ruling.

Thank you, Jim Elder!

Tonight, my friend the late Jim Elder will be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Jim worked on the last day of his life, which is a great gift if you love what you do. I recall saying goodbye in the newsroom that morning, never knowing that it was really goodbye. Life is like that. Jim died walking his dog and collapsed on the grass, which seems pretty tranquil.

Most folks do not realize that Jim was a veteran of World War II. He was in the battle of the Bulge. Jim loved baseball. Couldn’t you tell? He came close to making it into the majors as an umpire. When Jim worked minor league games across the south, sometimes the schedule took him to Havana.

Jim and Bonner and Longfellow worked at the old KARK Channel 4 back in the day. I had the enormous privilege of working with him 15 years, and we had our falling-outs. Jim could be such an erasable cuss. Jim Elder could admit when he was wrong, and that takes a real man.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame will recreate Jim’s radio office, which was really more like a closet. It was full of notebooks full of statistics and lined wall to wall with Jim’s pictures. When he died, people went to stand in that office. I can’t wait to do that one more time.

(Broadcast February 23, 2007)

Educational spending

There are plenty of interesting developments at the state capitol these days. The payday lending bill is stuck in a Senate committee. That will probably make its’ way into my Monday newspaper column. Dog owners will be held accountable, and it is way past time. Poor folks get some tax relief and education is finally on the front burner.

Arkansas’ school districts continue to show a total disregard for taxpayers with accounting practices that do no property break out the costs of high school athletics. My friend, Dr. Ben Mays of Clinton, who serves on the state board of education, suggests that the cost might reach $200 million annually. It would seem to me that, if everything were Kosher, there would be no big secrets about what schools spend for the luxury of playing ball.

It also strikes me that the accounting may also be as poor in other budget areas. Now that the public school system is a state responsibility, it is not out of order to demand more accountability. Let’s not make a witch hunt of it yet, but just get some answers. The General Assembly is on the right track with tougher laws, but it seems to me that now might be a good time to haul some superintendents in for a few penetrating questions.

(Broadcast February 22, 2007)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Beautiful Friday summary

Attorneys for school districts in the 14-year-old Lake View school-funding case said Thursday that they believe bills pending in the Legislature will resolve most, if not all, of the disputed issues in the Supreme Court case.

One plan to send state dollars to local projects collapsed in the state Senate in favor of a relatively new approach backed by the governor. In the House a brand-new idea emerged to allow local officials to pick projects to be funded.

A House committee endorsed legislation Thursday that could result in raising the speed limit to 65 mph on some highways. The House Public Transportation Committee also nixed a measure that would have required a person convicted of a third DWI offense to have a pink license plate on his or her vehicle.

The House Education Committee on Thursday recommended a bill that would raise the minimum age for students enrolling in kindergarten. Senate Bill 217 by Sen. Gene Jeffress of Louann would require a child to be at least 5 years old by Sept. 1, 2008, to enroll in kindergarten in the fall of 2008.

A bill requiring HIV testing for inmates leaving prison finally gained the approval of a House panel Thursday. Originally, Allen’s bill would have required inmates who test positive for those diseases and refuse treatment to remain behind bars. Allen removed that provision after Correction Department attorneys said it would expose the state to lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A lawsuit over whether teachers should be paid for time spent monitoring students outside the classroom is being tried in Crawford County Circuit Court. Judge Mike Medlock will preside over the case filed by former Coleman Junior High School civics teacher Steve Jones against the Van Buren School District. Jones is the father of former Arkansas Razorback quarterback Matt Jones.

A federal court trial challenging the uniform policies of the Watson Chapel School District that had been scheduled for May will be re-scheduled for later in the year.

Arkansas jurors can no longer ask questions of witnesses under a new rule adopted by the Arkansas Supreme Court. The opinion notes that permitting jurors to question witnesses “may cause delay, prejudice or error.”

The state Game and Fish Commission reviewed a package of proposed hunting regulations Thursday that includes a ban on computer-assisted hunting.

Brittney Sitzes of West Memphis, a high school sophomore, is dead from injuries received when her car collided with a police car speeding to the scene of a robbery Wednesday afternoon,

A 17-year-old boy is under attest in the Tuesday death of a 17-month-old child, according to the Pope County sheriff’s office. Deputies wouldn’t say when the teen was arrested or give his name. The identity of the child and the cause of death also were not released.

A police officer shot and killed a dog that firemen say was trying to attack them as they battled a blaze in a local trailer park early today. Officer Morris McNutt, with the Forrest City Police Department, reported he shot the pit bull at the request of firemen who said the dog repeatedly ran at them as they fought the fire at Southside Trailer Park.

Security at the Panama Canal shipyards is better than security at some border locations in America, and that is troubling to 1st District Rep. Marion Berry. Berry briefly spoke at an Identity Solutions Symposium at the Student Union Auditorium on the Arkansas State University campus Wednesday. The event continues today.

The driver's license will be replaced if the Real ID Act of 2005 becomes effective in 2008 as planned, according to Jeff Vining, vice president of research at the technology company known as Gartner. Vining, who works as a law enforcement and Homeland Security analyst, was a speaker at the Identity Solutions conference Wednesday at the Arkansas State University Student Union.

Estimated at $318 million in 1996, the cost of the Grand Prairie Irrigation Project has increased substantially because of construction cost inflation, lawmakers were told Thursday. The new estimated is about $418 million, said Eric Wailes with the University of Arkansas' Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness.

University of Arkansas Chancellor John White, prompted by what he called “rampant speculation” about Houston Nutt’s future, affirmed his commitment to the football coach.

Pine Bluff Mayor Carl Redus Jr. and a group of Jefferson County leaders met Thursday with Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School for Public Service, to review participation of the school in “a community vision and strategic planning process.”

Former President Clinton, who came to the White House with modest means and left deeply in debt, has collected nearly $40 million in speaking fees over the past six years, according to interviews and financial disclosure statements filed by his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Linda Caillouet reports in the Democrat-Gazette that the Dennis Collins family of Murfreesboro received a well-known wake-up call Monday morning — from Ty Pennington of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Friday Pat Classic

Here's the word on Friday's show. Vance Strange is one of the primary guys behind the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and he will be on at 9:10 to talk about the inductees, including Jim Elder.

Jim Lynch is pushing for some real change in Little Rock city government and he will be in at 9:25.

Shand Broadway, the state senator from Saline County, is going to talk about the Alexander center and schools. Hang on tight. He is set for 10:30.

Mark the Magician will have the Oaklawn update at 19:55.

Monday morning at 9, State Rep. Steve Harrelson will update all the legislative news.

What's gotten into Randy?

The American Idol guys and gals have sung and our OFFICIAL viewing team has met on the radio. Many thanks to Grant Cary from KSMD in Searcy for picking up the slack. He and David Sanders were on today and you can hear it on my personal home page,

Sunny Thursday summary

Facing pressure in half the states including Arkansas, payday lenders promised Wednesday to give customers extra time to pay off loans as they launched a nationwide advertising campaign.

Gov. Mike Beebe, legislators and educators say that they’ve reached a consensus on a major issue before the 86th General Assembly: funding Arkansas public schools.

Gov. Beebe says he’s satisfied with an emerging new plan for using state dollars for local projects, one that allows legislators to push for their pet projects but keeps the purse strings in the executive branch.

Gov. Beebe is considering replacing a state police plane that was frequently used by his predecessor, Mike Huckabee, because the aircraft’s engines require a major overhaul.

Members of a House panel that focuses on children said Wednesday that they are outraged that the state spends, on average, about $70,000 a year per bed at the 143-bed Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility, yet conditions and services continue to be woefully inadequate.

A compromise reached Wednesday would keep public schools measuring students' body mass index. Legislation to eliminate the annual BMI tests that passed the House previously was amended in the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee to make the tests biannual. The change also would exempt high school juniors and seniors from the tests, and parents could opt to keep their children out of the program.

A measure that would authorize broadcasting House and Senate sessions over the Internet won a House committee's endorsement Wednesday.

Two measures that would cut the sales tax on groceries in half and increase the tax on cigarettes to $1 a pack may not make it to the Mississippi Senate floor for a vote this session.

The State Plant Board will authorize for sale any rice seed found to be essentially - but not absolutely - free of traces of certain genetically engineered traits.

A state law that allows total disability benefits to be discontinued after a person turns 65 is unconstitutional, the state Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

A tentative agreement announced Wednesday would fill a void in Northwest Arkansas’ mental-health facilities with an inpatient psychiatric unit run by University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. and Hartford-based Marburger Publishing Co. are subjects of a lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 8 by the Humane Society of the United States. The Humane Society contends that Amazon’s sale animal fighting materials promotes illegal animal fighting and violates the Animal Welfare Act and the Federal Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act. Amazon sells cockfighting magazines The Gamecock by Marburger Publishing and The Feathered Warrior by De Queen-based Dowd Publishing.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola is hosting a training session today to help the city’s boards and commissions bone up on procurement, bidding and financial policies.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is planning a free weekly publication in central Arkansas that could be launched as early as this summer, Paul Smith, the company’s president, said Wednesday.

Comair, a Delta Air Lines carrier, has applied to offer Arkansas’ only nonstop flight to Washington, D.C., which would cut an average of three hours off round-trip travel time. Comair filed the application to get the gate slots at Reagan National Airport.

The owner of Eureka Pizza is offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the suspect responsible for running over a 4-year-old Springdale girl on Sunday. Debbie Sarimle was hit by an unidentified driver in front of her house Sunday afternoon. The girl was hit by a black, mid- to late-1990s Honda Accord. The car was "low-rider" style with chrome wheels. The driver is described as a 24- to 25-year-old Hispanic man with spiked hair and mustache.

The Paron man who fled to Canada to avoid his trial for a double homicide in Benton has appeared before Circuit Judge Gary Arnold in Saline County Circuit Court, where a new trial date was set. Timothy Wallace will be tried June 12-14 for the shooting deaths of his former wife, Brandy Wallace, and her friend, Billy Hassell.

75 year-old Wanda Morgan of Jonesboro is dead as the result of burns she suffered after the cigarette she apparently was smoking in bed ignited an oxygen pump she was using and set off a flash fire.

A Marvell man, Thomas Sealsis under arrest and charged with first degree battery and committing a terroristic act after he apparently got his revenge on a former Marvell man, Brian Boose and who now lives in Georgia. Boose was shot in the back, hip and side with a small caliber handgun. In 2005 Boose was charged with shooting Seals in the same area of the body that Boose was shot Saturday.

Civil-rights leader Julian Bond said racial discrimination persists in the United States, and he called for continued measures to counter the bias during a speech Wednesday at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

No matter what the calendar says, apparently spring is here since a Pine Bluff man has spotted the first Purple Martin of the year.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

40 days and 40 nights

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is a day to do penance. In the old church tradition, today begins a 40 day fast. Now, just in case you decide to count the days from now to Easter, be sure to leave off Sundays. You should include St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, although everybody parties to honor the patron saint of Ireland. Back in the day, when folks really took things seriously, the bishops would actually grant dispensations from Lenten observances for the big day.

This is the season for penance and self-denial. I have not actually decided to give anything up, but I will certainly repent. I am sorry I ever supported making seat belt usage any kind of offense. That has proven to be an open door for racial profiling and every other kind of evil. I am sorry I ever said anything that might be taken the wrong way about Mitch Mustain.

This is not easy because I am usually right. I certainly had George W. Bush nailed all the way back to Florida in 2000, and Jim Dailey never really fooled me. Perhaps after a few days of penance, it will all start to surface.

Humility is a fine virtue and scarcely seen any more. That fasting business sounds pretty darned serious. I’ll have to try that someday.

(Broadcast February 21, 2007)

More talk about toll roads

State Rep. Robbie Wills, Chairman of the House Public Transportation Committee, talked with me this morning about his bill that would allow Regional Mobility Authorities to raise tolls with the vote of the people. This is a complete discussion of his measure and another one (also about RMA's) which ran in Monday's Democrat-Gazette. The segment has been posted in the "on demand" audio section of my home page,

Ash Wednesday Summary

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says that he won’t help the state agency in charge of computers determine whether it was legal for it to destroy hard drives for former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s office. McDaniel said a conflict of interest could result.

A bill was filed Tuesday giving more details about the extra $19 million in funding Gov. Mike Beebe wants for public schools. Also Tuesday, the House Education Committee recommended bills aimed at getting a fuller understanding of how much money Arkansas public schools spend on athletics and allowing, in certain circumstances, students to chew gum and eat candy in class.

A bill requiring student representation on school boards failed to clear the House Education Committee on Tuesday. House Bill 1385 by Rep. Betty Pickett of Conway failed on a voice vote.

The Arkansas Senate has changed a bill that would send state dollars to local projects in an effort to fix what Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said were its flaws. The Senate move, which had the support of the House leaders, represents the Legislature’s latest attempt to find a way to spend millions of dollars on projects in legislative districts without running afoul of a recent state Supreme Court decision.

The Arkansas Senate passed a bill that would extend to six years the period that an inmate sentenced to life in prison without parole must wait before reapplying for executive clemency after being turned down by the governor.

The House Judiciary Committee has rejected legislation prohibiting a long-term care facility from using the term "assisted living" unless it is licensed as an assisted living facility in the state. The sponsor, Rep. Will Bond of Jacksonville described House Bill 1308 as a "truth in advertising" bill.

A bill aimed at eliminating Rogers’ new utility “hookup” and “access” fees advanced in a state Senate committee. Sen. Dave Bisbee, who lives in Rogers, said his hometown’s charges are just cleverly disguised impact fees meant to get around a 2003 law he authored.

Arkansas needs enough specialized child treatment centers so any victim of child abuse is within an hour's drive of one, a legislative task force reported Tuesday.However, the expected cost of $25 million likely would push the centers down the priority list, task force members said.

A bill that won a House committee’s approval would allow a dog owner to be charged with a crime when the dog attacks a person. House Bill 1489 by Rep. Eddie Cooper of Melbourne would create the misdemeanor of “unlawful dog attack.” It would allow a court to require anyone who commits the crime to pay restitution to the victim for medical bills.

The Fort Smith School Board Curriculum Committee voted unanimously Monday to reject a proposed elective Bible course for the district’s high schools.

The Jonesboro City Council has approved an ordinance which will allow the city to collect a tax on alcoholic beverage sales and membership fees at the city’s 17 private clubs, as well as regulate their hours of operation.

Police are looking for a 33-year-old Bentonville man in connection with the theft of more than $24,800 in construction equipment from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art site. Jackson "Scott" Taylor is wanted on undetermined felony charges,

A former Hampton Inn that closed at the end of August is set to reopen today under new management. Janus Hotels and Resorts Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., will operate the 108-room Pine Bluff Market Street Hotel near the Pines Mall shopping center.

The 2007 Arkansas-Kentucky football game is being moved to Sept. 22, a week earlier than originally scheduled, and likely will be nationally televised.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday summary

Financial reporting was found to be so inconsistent among the 252 school districts in 2005-06 that auditors didn’t even bother listing athletic expenditures, according to a recent audit. The audit also contains salaries for each superintendent in the state. The highest was in Russellville where the superintendent received $258,407 in the 2005-06 school year.

Taking up causes he has fought for in previous legislative sessions, Sen. Kim Hendren of Gravette spoke to a Senate committee about bills he has filed to limit cell phone use by drivers and require truck drivers to keep gravel loads covered. The Senate Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs Committee, of which Hendren is a member, took no action on either bill.

Sen. Dave Bisbee, joined by Rep. Keven Anderson, in proposing legislation to kill so-called “impact fees,” by which local communities pay the cost of increased public services and expensive new infrastructure by charging real estate developers.

House leaders say members who have ideas for projects they want the state to fund must judge for themselves whether a recent Supreme Court decision would allow it. The state Supreme Court in December struck down astate appropriation sending $400,000 to the Perry County town of Bigelow for miscellaneous improvements.

A plan to reorganize the Senate’s staff by eliminating the chief of staff’s job and putting the secretary of the state Senate in charge of daily operations and the staff was OK’d Monday by a Senate committee. The so-called Brotherhood faction of the state senate recently fired the long serving chief of staff.

State Rep. Steve Harrelson of Texarkana told Pat Lynch that a proposal is being circulated among Arkansas lawmakers to repeal the minimum wage increase for restaurant employees.

Fort Smith lawmakers hope to get the Legislature to set aside $25 million of the state surplus to go to the state Department of Parks and Tourism to pay for planning or construction of the long-sought federal marshals museum.

Little Rock’s plans to let beer and liquor drinkers roam some city streets first bent, then snapped under pressure from its River Market District. The city will not push for legislation in this session to create an entertainment district in the fashion of Beale Street in Memphis.

The Arkansas Ethics Commission notified former District 22 Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld by letter Friday that the citizens complaint filed against him by Sheriff Phil Mask had been dismissed.

State administrators expect an additional 2,500 children from low-income families to receive state-subsidized child care because of a recent increase in income eligibility levels.

Friday marked a new day for Arkansas and Phillips County as MFA Oil in Lexa opened the first E-85 pump in Arkansas, according to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition Database. E-85 fuel is a high-octane fuel blend, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, is produced domestically and has factors that reduces pollution. The price is currently $1.73 a gallon.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Severe Weather Week

John Robinson from the National Weather Service office in North Little Rock is one of our best and most informative guests. He was on my show this morning and we got into tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, floods and more. How much does it take to knock a moving freight train off the rails? Listen and find out. This is a fine segment. It is posted on

Some days you feel like a Nutt

The Stephens Media Group papers ran an epic conversation with Razorback Coach Houston Dale Nutt over the weekend. It is the verbatim transcript of a 72 minute sit-down and you may rest assured that the darksiders and the sunshine pumpers will selectively quote whichever parts suit them to make a point – or sometimes not make a point. Alex Abrams conducts a fine interview and Nutt is, depending on which side you live on, cooperative or boldly deceptive.

He claims not to be mad about the Kurt Voigt book. I have a recent interview with Voigt, who is the author of Year of the Dog and also prep sports editor for the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, or my personal home page, He has some good background.

Nutt claims not to know if his wife forwarded Teresa Prewett’s appalling email. That seems unlikely. Nutt says his job was in jeopardy going in to the season and claims not to have ever been interested in a move up the career ladder. That is easy for a prospective athletic director to say.

Houston Nutt says he should do a better job recruiting. His story adds some additional pieces to the puzzle and I am waiting for smarter people to put it all together. Frank Broyles says he is retiring. He needs to go. So does Nutt.

(Broadcast February 19, 2007)

Roads for sale

My column, which runs on the Voices page in the Democrat-Gazette every Monday, deals with an ugly version of toll roads being hatched by mega-Wall Street interests and foreign investors. The issue is whether powerful investment consortums should be allowed to take over existing interstate highways and turn them into tollways. Goldman-Sachs is among the elite investment firms heading this huge push, which has a lot of support from the Bush administration.

There is a "draft" proposal floating around the Arkansas legislature, but it does not have a sponsor and has not, so far as I know, been reduced to the form of a bill.

Meanwhile, Rep. Robbie Wills, chair of the House Public Transportation Committee, says he will introduce an amendment to a current law affecting “regional mobility authorities,” also known as RMA’s. Wills wants to build an inflation index into the law, so that repeated votes on tolls would not be required. My friend, Roby Brock has all the details on his BIZBLOG and (Great minds do think alike.)

Wills' bill does not hand our highways over to private investors and is not the proposal I wrote about in my column.

Steve Harrelson and I talked about some of this on my program this morning and it is available online at

Minimum wage under attack

State Rep. Steve Harrelson warned this morning that there would be a legislative move today against the minimum wage enacted in 2006. Specifically, restaurant and hospitality workers would be cut back. Nice going, guys and gals. The entire Harrelson interview will be posted on my home page soon.

UPDATE - Hear it now on

Presidential Monday summary

Under fire after the sudden departure of an offensive coordinator and two star offensive players and allegations of institutional mismanagement, University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles informed university trustees of his intention to retire at the end of this year. No replacement has been named as yet.

With Arkansas' economic development director half-way around the globe, Gov. Mike Beebe told economic leaders that the state would not recruit new industries at the expense of its existing businesses.

A member of the state Board of Health wants to explore the idea of requiring children to be immunized against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. Richard Hughes IV of Little Rock, who represents health consumers on the board, says. “I think for 9- to 12-year-olds, we need to look at requiring this vaccine.”

Attorney General Dustin Mc-Daniel says in a formal opinion that a bill to send state dollars to local projects appears to be constitutional but also to be flawed in a way that would likely sound its “death knell” before the state Supreme Court.

Today is the 43rd day of the 86th General Assembly. Through late Friday, lawmakers had filed 844 bills, at least 226 fewer than were introduced at the same time in any regular legislative session since 1997. The deadline for filing appropriation bills is next Monday, said David Ferguson, interim director of the bureau. March 5 is the deadline for filing non-appropriation bills, Ferguson said.

The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee has endorsed Senate Bill 225 by Sen. Steve Faris which repeals the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Committee.

The House has approved a bill placing restrictions on businesses that issue gift cards. House Bill 1455 by Rep. Will Bond requires all gift cards issued in Arkansas to remain valid for at least two years following the date of purchase.

A four year-old girl was struck and killed Sunday afternoon in front of her Springdale residence in what authorities describe as a hit and run incident. She was reportedly hit by a black mid to late-model 1990s Honda Accord about 3:30 p.m. The car was "low-rider" style with chrome wheels. The driver is described as a 24- to 25-year-old white man with black, spiked hair and a mustache.

Northeast Arkansas authorities are looking for the perpetrator of the especially violent rape at gunpoint of a 21 year-old Jonesboro area woman. The suspect is described as being in his early 30s, with dark hair, a thin build, dark hair and goatee wearing a dark blue toboggan, jeans, tan jacket and a dark-colored shirt. According to the victim report, a man standing in a the middle of a country road got the woman to stop her car by claming to have a sick baby.

The trial of former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell, his wife and a bail bondsman in a wide-ranging case alleging illegal drugs, illicit sex and abuse of a jail inmate-labor program has been pushed back a week and will start Feb. 27.

Forrest City High School students will begin another week in the indoor cold today since 57 of the 106 new units purchased under the state’s Immediate Needs program to update heating and cooling are not working.

The State Plant Board voted unanimously Friday to ban most aerial and ground applications of the herbicide 2,4-D between April 15 and Sept. 15 in 10 east Arkansas counties.

The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport at Highfill announced its 16th non-stop flight, this one to Miami. American Eagle will operate the new route. The daily flight will leave at 6:30 a.m. beginning April 11.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Monday Pat Classic

Of course, I have reaction to the weekend events in Fayetteville, and that will be largely in the 8 AM hour, for those of you who get that. It's steaming online at

State Rep. Steve Harrelson has the legislative briefing at 9.

John Robinson from the National Weather Service Office in North Little Rock visits at 10. There is bound to be some bad weather on the way, and we lay it all out for you.

On Tuesday, our old buddy Mike Hibblen is in the house. Mike has been driving all around the southeast this past couple of weeks and he is full of good stories.

Pat Classic is on 8 to 11 on the Super Talk Arkansas Network. Most of our stations start at 9, but Newport picks the show up at 8. THANKS KNBY!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Stubborn old men

Rumors are flying about the seemingly inevitable departure of University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles. As a fairly constant voice from the dark side, it is difficult to say good riddance.

Has anybody else noted the similarities to the final days of Nolan Richardson? Of course, Richardson had an actual bona fide national championship under his belt and a national reputation for excellence. Broyles has built the athletic sector of the University into something much greater than what one would expect in such a small and poor state.

So, here is Coach Broyles in the final hours and things are spinning out of control. He will take the opportunity to go gracefully, or so we all presume. Nolan should have been so wise. Some of the same people who turned on Richardson have now turned on Frank, although he is pretty much getting exactly what he is due. There is an equity sometimes apparent in the universe. Some call it karma. Broyles has a better hand, but the end is still bitter.

Maybe these guys will meet at the supermarket some day and make peace. I do hope that Coach Richardson gets welcomed back into Bud Walton Arena some day for a triumphant visit. Nolan and Frank are just too darned important and are entitled to their place of honor.

(Broadcast February 16, 2007)

Republican "take" on hate crimes

Here is one from an outfit called "Arkansas Republican Assembly." Now, I ask you, does that sound a little bit religious?

Anyway, the Arkansas Republican Assembly agrees with Pat Lynch and the American Civil Liberties Union (minus the anti-gay hysteria) on why hate crime laws are a bad idea. Just in case you are a little foggy, here is the release.

Press Release

For Immediate Release, February 16,07

Five Reasons to Oppose hate crime bills
Patrick R. Briney, Ph.D.
President, Arkansas Republican Assembly

February 15, 2007

Arkansas state senator Henry Wilkins (D-Pine Bluff) is sponsor of a hate crime bill (SB 264). The title of the bill is, ‘AN ACT TO CREATE THE OFFENSE OF HATE CRIME; TO ESTABLISH PENALTIES FOR A HATE CRIME; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.’

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a hate crime is any crime committed because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation.

Forty-one states have "hate crimes" laws and twenty-two of these laws include sexual orientation. Most of the laws provide enhanced penalties for crimes committed with "hate."

No one likes hate, and discrimination is a terrible thing, so hate crime bills appeal to people as the right thing to do to curb a wrong. But hate crime bills are seriously flawed. Hate crime bills attempt to punish people for the way they think. They divide people into classes, and some are to be treated differently and deemed more worthy of protection.

Here are five reasons to oppose hate crime bills.

1. Hate crime bills punish people for their opinions. Unless you are careful to express only love for all people regardless of your true feelings, you could be punished for your opinions. The fact is, all people have bias, even judges.
§ ‘Hate crime’ laws “add penalties to a criminal sentence if the criminal is also convicted of having a ‘hateful’ intent toward the victim based on the victim's real or perceived group identity. Crime victims who don't fit into certain categories see their assailants face lesser penalties” (Robert Knight and Lindsey Douthit. 'Hate Crime' Laws Threaten Religious Freedom. 12/12/2005.
§ The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sin, so does that make all Christians, who believe the Bible, guilty of a hate crime? Does this mean that Bibles will be banned from society? Does this mean that the government will require censoring Biblical passages that condemn homosexuality? Likewise, homosexual literature is filled with hatred toward the Bible and Christians. Are they guilty of a hate crime? Will the government require their literature to be censored from society? If someone hears you express your dislike for politicians or policemen, are you guilty of a hate crime? Hate crimes punish people for their beliefs and opinions. This means that you are not entitled to express your opinion about others or about what others do. It could get you into trouble with the law. Hate crime bills jeopardize our First amendment protection of freedom of speech.
§ A Canadian provincial court ruled referred to their hate crime law to conclude that passages of the Bible can be construed as hate literature. [Art Moore. February 18, 2003. Bible verses regarded as hate literature.]
§ A Swedish pastor, Ake Green, was arrested June 2004 and sentenced to one month in prison for preaching against homosexuality (violation of hate crime law) in his pulpit at his church in Kalmar in 2003.
§ "Those especially at risk are conservative religious people who may very well find themselves hauled into court unless they keep their mouths shut for being politically incorrect," Laurel Lynn Petolicchio, a constitutional activist, told The Washington Times. ['Hate Speech' Now Called 'Harassment by Communication'. Posted on: 2004-06-28.]
§ Hate crime bills pose a serious threat to the U.S. First Amendment right of freedom of speech. “Infringement on free speech is the most dangerous aspect of hate crime legislation. Hate crime laws criminalize thoughts rather than actions. Civil government cannot successfully ban feelings, thoughts or beliefs – things like hate, jealousy or lust. But it can – and must – prosecute criminal acts which result from those evils. The civil government should not be permitted to regulate a person’s beliefs into approved and disapproved categories. When individuals are prosecuted under hate crime laws, the trial can become a wide-range inquiry into the defendant’s beliefs. In People v. Lampkin (1983, Supreme Court of Illinois), the prosecution presented evidence of racist statements the defendant had uttered six years before the crime was committed.”

2. Hate crime bills create inequality by designating special groups of people who are more worthy of protection. The Constitution already guarantees justice and equal treatment for all. So then, a law that singles out and gives extra protection and special treatment to special groups of people for their religion, sexual orientation, age, race, disability, etc. is unjust. All people should be treated the same. The words, ‘Equal justice under law’ are engraved over the entrance to the Supreme Court and testify to what makes American laws just. It is not fair to apply a harsher sentence of punishment for hitting someone with a rock because of race than when hitting someone with a rock because of a dislike for her ugly face. Splitting someone’s head open with a rock deserves the same punishment regardless of the motive. Should tall people be given preference over short people? But why must one be short or tall to be given extra protection? Those whose heights are in between deserve as much protection as anyone else.
§ "...hate-crime not unite us; they tear us apart into politically correct subgroups and advance an agenda hostile to the values of most Americans." ["How Hate-Crime Laws Harm Religious Freedom and Lead to Same-Sex 'Marriage'," Focus on the Family at:]
§ Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL) argued that hate-crimes laws are not in accord with a society that aspires to “equal justice under law.” He told the House on September 14, 2005: ‘Federalizing hate crime law will not increase tolerance in our society or reduce intergroup conflict. I believe hate crime laws may well have the opposite effect. The men and women who will be administering the hate crime laws (e.g. police, prosecutors) will likely encounter a never-ending series of complaints with respect to their official decisions. When a U.S. Attorney declines to prosecute a certain offense as a hate crime, some will complain that he is favoring the groups to which the accused belongs (e.g. Hispanic males) And when a U.S. Attorney does prosecute an offense as a hate crime, some will complain that the decision was based upon politics and that the government is favoring the groups to which the victim belongs (e.g. Asian Americans).’”
[Stephen M. Lilienthal. October 14, 2005. Can Hate Crimes be Cured? Free Congress Foundation.]

3. Hate crime bills are redundant. All victims should be vindicated, and all criminals should be punished. Should any be excluded from hate protection? The Christian? The atheist? The athlete? The white, male? The college student? The skinny model? All groups of people not listed in the hate crime bill are excluded from equal protection. Should not everyone be entitled to the same protection as anyone else? This being the case, every identifiable group of people should be included in the hate crime bill. But what is accomplished by doing so? All crimes are hate crimes. Do we need another law to tell us that all crimes against others should be punishable because they are wrong? Hate crime bills are redundant and unnecessary. Criminal acts are already illegal and should be applied equally to all criminals.

4. Hate crime bills are ambiguous about what hate is. The Bible clearly indicates that homosexuality is sin. Is this hatred? Is it possible to hate the sin and love the sinner? Is it possible to warn someone you love that they are doing wrong? Such determination will be left up to judges and special interest groups who favor censoring the Bible. Those who hold religious or moral objections to homosexuality may be prosecuted for “’hate.’”

5. “Hate crime laws abuse civil rights. Currently, the homosexual lobby is the most ardent supporter of hate crime legislation. However, civil rights laws are normally based on immutable characteristics – that is characteristics which cannot be changed such as skin color, sex or disability. Religion is the exception; the First Amendment protects our beliefs.” Sexual orientation is not an immutable characteristic and should not be included in hate crime laws.
§ “Demonstrating that any behavioral state is not only biological but genetic is well beyond our present research capacity.” [Jeffrey Satinover, M.D. 1999. Finding a Needle in the Ocean, National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality]
§ A comprehensive review of 135 research studies reported in, “Human Sexual Orientation: The Biological Theories Reappraised,” written by William Byne and Bruce Parsons from Columbia University in 1993; concluded that there is no evidence at present to substantiate that biological factors are the primary basis for sexual orientation.
§ Four months after publishing a report that a gay gene link was possible, the 1994 issue of Science published two articles questioning the supposed links to a gay gene. Genetics researchers from Yale, Columbia and Louisiana State Universities noted that much of the original report, “focused on social and political ramifications of genetic homosexuality rather than discussing scientific evidence.” [Ibid.]

Kurt Voigt on the radio..

His hour with me, recorded earlier this morning, is now available on my personal home page. Voigt wrote Year of the Dog, the book that highlighted that winning Springdale team and its' young players. He has an update and some good background as Arkansas tries to face life without Frank Broyles. (Cue somber music and slow tolling of bells.)

Darksider Friday summary

After an outpouring of public concern over ignored emails to athletes, alleged misrepresentations and the abrupt departure of key players and the offensive coordinator from the Razorback football program, it is widely believed that the 82 year-old Athletic Director at the University of Arkansas, Frank Broyles, will resign at a trustees meeting Saturday morning.

The largest tax cut in Arkansas history, a halving of the state sales tax on groceries, is now law. In signing the bill, Governor Mike Beebe gave credit to legislators for supporting his signature agenda item and to a former colleague in the state Senate who for years kept the issue alive at the Capitol.

A trio of Arkansas lawmakers says they wil lead an effort to overhaul the GI Bill to upgrade benefits for National Guard and Reserve troops. Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Reps. Vic Snyder, and John Boozman introduced legislation that would give reservists up to 10 years to cash in on educational opportunities offered by the GI bill.

Arkansans living at or below the poverty level would be dropped from the state income tax roll under a bill advanced by the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Thursday.

The State Senate approved a measure raising the state's homestead exemption on property taxes by $50, from $300 a year to $350.

Gov. Mike Beebe says that a bill to distribute state dollars for local projects presents “significant legal questions” and “constitutional concerns.” Earlier in the day, the Joint Budget Committee overwhelmingly endorsed House Bill 1427 by Rep. Chris Thyer of Jonesboro. It now goes to the House.

Proposed legislation requiring mandatory testing of inmates for HIV, tuberculosis and syphilis before they leave prison hit another snag when lawmakers shelved the bill after questioning its potential costs, liabilities and procedures.

The House Rules Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would ban legislators from registering as lobbyists in the first year after leaving office.

A measure expanding the definition of voyeurism in state law was recommended by the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 1473 by Rep. Donna Hutchinson is in response to complaints she has had of people using their hand-held cell phones to take pictures up women's skirts or down their blouses.

Gentry High School students may study Matthew, Mark, Luke and John the way they study Shakespeare. Logan Reed, a Gentry resident for 46 years, is scheduled to speak to the Gentry School Board at 7 p.m. Monday about starting an elective Bible curriculum class at the high school.

An attorney for an Arkansas poultry company targeted in a lawsuit over water quality in Oklahoma’s rivers has asked a judge to allow his firm to depose Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, saying he’s been “sued by a ghost.”

The domestic market has rebounded, however exports are still low since Liberty Link Rice 601, a genetically modified rice, was found in Arkansas crops, according to Dr. Charles Wilson with the state’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Little Rock attorney John Walker, representing plaintiff Dr. Ronnie Johnson in a racial and gender discrimination suit against the Watson Chapel School District, rested his case before U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright in federal court here Thursday afternoon.

A triple homicide suspect has waived extradition from Texas and is expected to be back in Lee County sometime Friday.

Terry Wilkinson, owner of Terry's Small Engines in Jonesboro, is facing felony charges of video voyeurism after a female employee reported finding a camera hidden inside the women's restroom.

Canadian authorities the return to Arkansas of double-homicide suspect Timothy Wallace, the Saline County prosecutor announced Thursday, and a spokesman for the Canada Border Service Agency says that Wallace is now back in the United States.

Arts and crafts fair devotees in Northwest Arkansas felt another blow Thursday, when a long-running event ended its course. Its Board of Directors has canceled the spring War Eagle Fair. The end of the fair will mark the first time in 46 years a spring arts and crafts show will not be held, according to a news release from the board.

Former President Clinton plans to attend Ouachita Baptist University inauguration-week activities honoring the university’s 15th president, the Rev. Rex M. Horne Jr., according to a university release.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

If they build it, who will come?

In the drive to locate a super-project in Arkansas, there seems to be both good news and bad news. It would appear that Arkansas is at the top of the list to get a Toyota car plant at Marion . That is the good news. The bad news is that Arkansas’s most enticing quality is that its’ generally under-educated population, which will work for less.

The average manufacturing wage around these parts is $16.45 an hour. That’s just over 34k. It is the lowest in the regions, and probably rock bottom nationally. Governor Beebe speaks very highly of Toyota and we should hope is right. Even a car plant paying average would be a welcome addition to the Delta.

The question at hand is somewhat tricky. How hard do we push? Do we give big incentives for a plant that will probably, in time, move to Korea or some other third world outpost?

Autoworkers in Michigan make twice as much. Some of you just observed the obvious fact that the American automotive sector is dying a slow and sorry death.

It’s time to pull out your crystal ball on that one. I have no more than a powerful gut feeling. Yes, we should encourage Toyota, but let’s not roll out the red carpet. We have already granted a major incentive in the modest cost of living and low wages.

(Broadcast February 15, 2007(

Seismic shift in HOGVILLE USA

I refer you to this astounding report on the Arkansas Times Blog. Frank Broyles is in deep do-do and let us hope that trustees do not stop there when the housecleaning begins. It could begin in hours.

UPDATE: Kurt Voigt, prep editor for the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas and author of Year of the Dog, is on the radio show Friday morning at 9!

Post Chick Day summary

The Democrat-Gazette reports that head football coach Houston Nutt’s wife, Dianna, received a copy of a derogatory email directed at former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain on Dec. 6. Within hours, Dianna Nutt forwarded the email from Little Rock booster Teresa Prewett, along with her observation that it was ”quite funny” to a Springdale business. Prewett wrote an apology to Mustain dated Jan. 8.

A bill to make some children wait another year before starting kindergarten was endorsed Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee despite fears from some that it would delay development of young pupils.

The first of what could be multiple efforts this legislative session to change the state public school curriculum standards was endorsed Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee, despite its chairman saying the bill would backtrack on recent educational improvements. Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Paul Miller of Melbourne would exempt districts from being placed on probation if they fail to teach one of the required 38 courses if all of the students taking that required class moved from the district after the semester started.

The governor would get discretion to separate the old state Health Department from the new Department of Health and Human Services under a bill clearing a Senate committee Wednesday.

The House approved bills Wednesday easing restrictions on using deadly force in self-defense and requiring schools to set policies to punish constitutionally protected free speech.

A bill placing restrictions on naming public buildings after living people was tabled in a House committee Wednesday. With a 15-4 vote, the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee tabled House Bill 1035 by Rep. Dan Greenberg of Little Rock. The action makes it more difficult for Greenberg to bring the bill back before the committee for consideration.

Lee County School District teachers and other employees will return to their classrooms in Marianna today after reaching an agreement with school administrators Wednesday, ending a strike that began Jan. 29.

Watson Chapel Superintendent Danny Knight said in federal court Wednesday that his “personal feelings” are not the basis of his personnel recommendations in the Watson Chapel School District. Dr. Ronnie Johnson, Watson Chapel Junior High School assistant principal since August, filed suit against Knight and the board, charging she was denied administrative promotions at the junior and senior high schools because she is black and a female. Little Rock attorney John Walker represents her.

Opponents of a permit that would allow a planned Sam's Club in Fayetteville to sell alcohol asked the Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday to reverse a circuit judge's decision and allow a full hearing on the issue.

The prison population in Arkansas is likely to grow faster than in the rest of the nation over the next five years and outpace by far any of the state’s neighbors, according to a national study released Wednesday. By 2011, Arkansas will have more than 16,000 inmates - an increase of 2,500 - according to projections compiled by the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Charitable Trust.

A 2-year-old Fayetteville boy and his 3-year-old sister are being treated for severe burns after being held under running hot water and were listed in serious and critical condition Wednesday, and their parents are in custidy in connection with felony first-degree battery, according to police. Johnny L. Harper and Natasha M. Adams also face a felony count of permitting the abuse of a minor.

University of Arkansas officials asked the state's congressional delegation this week to find money for a dozen projects, including cleaning up a closed nuclear reactor in Washington County.

State Democratic Party Chairman Jason Willett will be leaving that position at the end of March.

Management realignment at the world’s largest retailer has been overblown in the media according to Charles Holley, executive vice president for Wal-Mart. He spoke at the Citigroup 2007 Retail Conference and Field Trip in Orlando, Fla.

“It is part of our DNA to move our personnel around. Wedo it every year,” Holley told the group. He said such moves help top management broaden its experience.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors will to put a request by AT&T to provide Internet-based television service in the city on the agenda for its next regular meeting.

Delta Airlines will begin round-trip, nonstop flights between Fort Smith and Atlanta on June 7. Using a 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet, Delta will offer two daily flights from Fort Smith Regional Airport to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, one at 6:30 a.m. and another at 12:30 p.m.

To get ready for the Friday opening, Central Arkansas Transit we will be operating the River Rail streetcars on the new extension to the Clinton Library/Heifer International platform today. New line service ends at 530 each day (when the library closes) There is no charge for riding any streetcars today.

The Clinton Presidential Center will offer free admission Monday in honor of President’s Day and Daisy Gatson Bates Day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Piling on!

So that you will be completely up to date. Wally Hall wrote an uncharacteristically harsh column about Coach Nutt last week. In response, the millionaire head football coach called into a radio program co-hosted by Hall. Then, of course, John Brummett just had to add his sparkling analysis.

My old pal Justice Jim Johnson would say that this situation is just like watching cats fighting. The casual observer can not tell if they are fighting, or making more cats.

Wally played something of a rhetorical trick on everybody with a column that does not explicitly blame Nutt for a litany of alleged shortcomings. Nutt, in retaliation, ambushed Hall on the radio. I know a little about how the game is played, and the Nutt call was scripted at the very top. Whether that is Broyles or Lindsey you decide.

It is clear that the University expects media to be 100% docile and compliant. All of this was too delicious for old Brummett to just pass over. As a lifelong print journalist, part of his job is to make all electronic folks look like fools, which is not difficult. I wonder how all of this would have played out if Arkansas had a loosing season?

(Broadcast February 14, 2007)

Dinner with Chesterton

I guess you heard about my visit with the Little Rock Christian Academy Oxbridge Debating Society and the National Honor Society combined dinner last Saturday night. They call it the Chesterton Dinner, and my old friend, the resident moral theologian, Mark Quay, invited me to speak. Mr. Neff, the new "wizard in charge," was really cool and so were the young folks.

Since this was one of those rare events in which I spoke from a prepared text, I thought I would break down and post it here.
Dr. Quay has been all over me for months to do this speech tonight. You know how Mark is when he wants something. He suggests, he plots, appeals to logic, appeals ot ego, appeals to shame. I only wish he appealed to greed. What, Mark, no handsome honoraria?

It is sincerely a pleasure to be invited by Little Rock Christian Academy for this annual Chesterton Dinner. I am informed that this is the fourth such gathering and that I am the first honored visitor to actually speak on Chesterton. Dr. Quay has also been all over me about that.

Now, how is it that I, Pat Lynch, lowly radio host and ink-stained newspaper columnist should be called upon to extol on the lively and entertaining Mr. Chesterton? Certainly it has nothing to do with my somewhat similar profession, not my upbringing in the Roman church into which Chesterton would eventually migrate.

No. I am, alas, convinced that “Mr. Gifted and Talented,” the wizard of world-view, and noted exponent of better living through chemistry has placed his hand on me because I am, like Chesterton, fat.

Not that there is anything wrong with carrying around a few extra pounds. It may be that Mr. G. K. C.. was endeared to many by his abundant girth. Or, was it his abundant wit and powers of observation? Not everybody would consider our patron an intellectual, but he is definitely a man of prophetic abilities.

Let me, from the onset, place Chesterton on the timeline. He was born in 1874 and died in 1935. Almost a century has passed since his most influential works, Heretics and Orthodoxy, were published. G. K. C. had a way with words and paradox. His style was frequently to turn an idea upside down with clever word play. Sometimes I am left to wonder, is this man for real? You will find yourself asking that same question, so let me assure you that, yes. Gilbert Keith Chesterton is on the level.

He was an illustrator, poet, playwright, essayist, columnist, novelist, writer of mysteries, political observer, social critic, Christian apologist, and ceaseless tormentor of self-assured intellectuals. He wrote and wrote and wrote.

It is also worth noting that he has plenty to displease liberals and conservatives, Protestants and Romans, socialists and capitalists alike. Of course, our Mr. C. was an unapologetic capitalist, only not the monopolistic, anti-competitive, corporate welfare loving leaches with which we have become so well acquainted. Some vintage G. K. C.

"Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists."

"[Capitalism is] that commercial system in which supply immediately answers to demand, and in which everybody seems to be thoroughly dissatisfied and unable to get anything he wants."

"Business, especially big business, is now organized like an army. It is, as some would say, a sort of mild militarism without bloodshed; as I say, a militarism without the military virtues."

There is that great human tendency to pick and chose from a grand literary buffet only those items most appealing to our own taste and prejudices. For example.

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

On government…

"Men are ruled, at this minute by the clock, by liars who refuse them news, and by fools who cannot govern."

He, amazingly observed this about politicians, having never seen or heard of FOX news channel.

"For fear of the newspapers politicians are dull, and at last they are too dull even for the newspapers."

Or this,

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged."

In the early 1920’s Chesterton published what was perhaps his most prophetic and chilling book, Eugenics and other evils. Eugenics is the controlled and selective breeding of the human race. At the time, it was the progressive and intelligent idea. That was before Adolf Hitler cast his rather ugly pal over the entire movement. Chesterton saw clearly and early the enormous danger of permitting an elite priesthood of social scientists decide who is fit to live.

There was another area in which Mr. C. had an uncanny ability to foresee human catastrophe.

"Now a man preaching what he thinks is a platitude is far more intolerant than a man preaching what he admits is a paradox. It was exactly because it seemed self-evident, to Moslems as to Bolshevists, that their simple creed was suited to everybody, that they wished in that particular sweeping fashion to impose it on everybody. It was because Islam was broad that Moslems were narrow. And because it was not a hard religion it was a heavy rule. Because it was without a self-correcting complexity, it allowed of those simple and masculine but mostly rather dangerous appetites that show themselves in a chieftain or a lord. As it had the simplest sort of religion, monotheism, so it had the simplest sort of government, monarchy. There was exactly the same direct spirit in its despotism as in its deism. The Code, the Common Law, the give and take of charters and chivalric vows, did not grow in that golden desert. The great sun was in the sky and the great Saladin was in his tent, and he must be obeyed unless he were assassinated. Those who complain of our creeds as elaborate often forget that the elaborate Western creeds have produced the elaborate Western constitutions; and that they are elaborate because they are emancipated." ("The Fall of Chivalry" The New Jerusalem)

I am appreciative, and almost grudgingly impressed that LRCA has associated the name of such a notable progressive thinker with this most auspicious evening. Chesterton was an admirer of something he called the “distributive state.” When you set out to inform yourselves about this concept, you will find it most entertaining. It can be summarized like this.

Chesterton is flat-out against monopolies. We used to have laws against that in the United States, believe it or not. He thinks we can, if we chose, come up with ingenuous ways to stand up to such forms of economic tyranny, even when the going gets tough.

I mean to tell the offensive pessimist that I am not at the end of my resources; that I can sell a book or even, if the case grows desperate, write a book. I could do a great many things before I came to definitely anti-social action like robbing a bank or (worse still) working in a bank.

Mr. C is no socialist. Keep that in mind. He just wants not only a flat playing field, but an equal opportunity for everybody to play the game. He strongly favors private property, and in the hands of as may citizens as possible. He is against policies that concentrate wealth property and power. I have a hunch that Mr. C. understands the battle is uphill all the way, and that fighting he war against monopolistic influences has a virtue of its’ own.

G. K. C. is sometimes called the apostle of common sense, or the prince of paradox, but he is certainly an outspoken proponent of virtue. It is the core of Chesterton’s belief and it is why you should care about what he has to say. I think that he is especially relevant today because he is from another time. Chesterton is a modern man, for sure. He writes with a personal familiarity that touches every aspect of the human condition. Yes, he even speaks to the postmodern man.

You know him. Very hip. No propositional good and evil stuff for the postmodern man. Forget about object truth. It’s all relationships. The cult of progress has always been knocking around, and we shold not ignore it. Chesterton didn’t ignore it.

"Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision."

Mr. C. got his hands dirty in public debates. In his time, that meant lengthy exchanges in the newspapers. Essays. Letters to the editor. Columns. If you take a dip in his famous work Heretics, you will fine unyielding criticism of contemporaries like Shaw and Kipling. He made an uncompromising defense of a Christian and traditional prospective, and it was not reduced to half-truths in thirty-second sound bites. Though frequently sharp, his exchanges are a fine example of respect and patience.

If you were expecting me to include the usual plea for civility, forget it. The most important part of any discussion today would be to actually have it. To argue forcibly and listen patiently is almost too much to expect from the modern mind that looks for the instant gratification of winning. Believe it or not, things can be learned in arguments, even somewhat contentions arguments.

Chesterton’s other most notable work, standing tall among a grand forest of fine and beautiful literary trees, is a work on the Christian faith, Orthodoxy. G. K. C. defines the orthodox, or basic, Christian beliefs as those percepts included in the Apostles Creed.

"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own."

In the spirit of confession, I must admit that Mr. C. shows far more regard for the authority of the church than I might find comforting. On the other hand, many modern Protestants and evangelicals have so little or no concept of any higher earthly source for moral teaching that I must grant, at least to some extent, Mr. Chesterton his due. Without the ancient fathers and the creeds, the non-negotiable articles of religion, every man becomes a demonination unto himself and a desperate lone ship bound to crash into rocks on the first foggy night.

The other area of discomfort lies at the heart of orthodoxy, which is the search for rightness, which is an open door to egotism, arrogance, exclusivity, and a host of other human evils. Hell is full of right thinking people, just as heaven is full of the forgiven.

Mr. C. was after much more than a theological game of “gotcha.’” Strictly speaking, orthodoxy may not be required to obtain eternal life. I am not speaking as a professional theologian here, but a mere layman already in way over his head. It seems to me, however, that seeking after the traditional historic faith is a sure and safe guide to the Christian life. How else are we to know the good shepherds form the foxes disguised as sheep?

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

It is because Chesterton had his feet set so firmly in both the secular and sacred that he is still found to be relevant wise and trustworthy. He teaches us moral certainty without being narrow minded. Chesterton is very worldly without being conformed to the world.

At six feet and four inches tall and around 300 pounds, one might find him a bit intimidating, but he is an inviting figure. He is the kind of person who enjoys beer and dancing and a good joke. G. K. Chesterton, for his deeply personal, relational, works may be the first postmodern man.

Some parting worlds from Mr. Chesterton? Here goes.

"The ultimate effect of the great science of Fingerprints is this: that whereas a gentleman was expected to put on gloves to dance with a lady, he may now be expected to put on gloves in order to strangle her."

"Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion."

"Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before."

"The whole pleasure of marriage is that it is a perpetual crisis."

Chesterton is an entertaining and always reliable friend.

National Chick Day Summary

The Arkansas Senate has sent to Gov. Mike Beebe the largest tax cut in the state’s history, one of the governor’s top priorities. Senate Bill 185 will reduce the state sales tax on groceries from 6 percent to 3 percent, effective July 1. Local sales taxes would remain. Prepared food, such as that served in restaurants, would continue to be taxed as well as would tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.

Legislative leaders Tuesday threw their support behind Gov. Mike Beebe's tentative plans for a highway program. House Speaker Benny Petrus, D-Stuttgart, and Sen. Jack Critcher, D-Batesville, the Senate president pro tem, also said court-ordered public school facility improvements would take a big chunk out of the state's anticipated $843 million budget surplus.

A leaked company report suggests that a narrowing North American profit margin has Toyota looking to match wages more closely to manufacturing wages in states where the company has manufacturing plants. Arkansas and Tennessee are said to be finalists for Toyota's next North American plant. Among the two, Arkansas has the lowest average manufacturing wage at $16.45, compared to $20.60 in Tennessee, according to Labor Bureau statistics.

Legislators plan to introduce a variety of bills that would affect the way wineries sell their products to Arkansas wholesalers, package stores and consumers. Lawmakers and alcohol-law experts say that in order to bring Arkansas’ law into compliance with the high court decision, either Arkansas wineries must be prohibited from selling directly to consumers or out-of-state wineries must be permitted to do so.

Allow greater competition in textbook sales from off-campus, private sellers or the Legislature will, legislators told University of Arkansas System staff Tuesday.The Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee put off a vote on a pair of bills aimed at promoting competition in textbook sales.

A Rogers man with a lengthy history of driving while intoxicated -- including causing a 1992 accident that killed his sister -- has appealed a judge's decision to send him to jail for one year on his latest drunken-driving arrest. Charles Edward Perry has been arrested for drunken driving at least 10 times since 1999. He was arrested again in April.

Three people are dead and two injured after a man who had recently been served divorce papers allegedly opened fire on the family of his estranged wife at their home south of Palestine. Police arrested Gordon Randall Gwathney in Lardeo, Texas.

The Helena -West Helena Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division is investigating an alleged sexual attack on a 14-year-old ninth grade student at Central High School. The incident reportedly occurred on Monday, Feb. 5. The victim told police at the Helena Regional Medical Center emergency room last week that several male students came behind the 11th grade gym and sexually assaulted her.

Former interim superintendent of the Helena-West Helena School District, Shirley "T.J." Graham was arrested in Memphis. The arrest came weeks after a special called grand jury handed down 20 indictments for her alleged involvement in "questionable" financial activities within the district. She became the eighth person indicted by the grand jury.

A committee of Cabot City Council members Thursday night approved paying $250,000 to open the new county road between Highway 5 and the Wal-Mart Supercenter. The money will come from the $2 million in bond money that taxpayers approved when they extended an existing one-cent sales tax more than a year ago. Wal Mart reportedly refused a county request to help pay for the road.

The Kohler Company may soon begin to hire replacement workers to cross the picket line set up by over 220 striking workers at their Searcy sink factory, according to a union leader. United Autoworkers Union 1000 has been on strike against Kohler for 67 days, carrying signs at both entrances to the plant since Dec. 9. The union president is David Smith.

Members of the levee district charged with maintaining the White River Levee say that they are unsure how they will come up with the roughly $955,000 needed to repair a 38-mile stretch of the levee.

Jefferson Regional Medical Center has delayed elective surgeries in the last few weeks because of a shortage of blood, Lisa Rowland, a spokesman for the hospital, confirms to the Pine Bluff Commercial.

It may be a trend for Russellville police, who are investigating a pair of incidents in which men were seen in public without pants. Citations were issued in one instance. In the second, the alleged perpetrators could not be located.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Meet Chip the Talking Bear! The traditional epic tale will be part of the Wednesday morning show at 9:35. Log on to or tune in to one of the fine STAN stations.

AND the OFFICIAL American Idol Viewing Team is set to go at 10:10.

CHIP UPDATE! The epic story is now posted and ready! Enjoy it at!

The Paine of defeat

State Rep. Steve Harrelson tells me that the Tom Paine observance law may come up again before the General Assembly. Paine is the revolutionary war writer credited with first penning the words, United States of America. His pamphlet “Common Sense” used, as I recall, the phrase, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” He was very influential. Many states have set aside January 29 to remember him, although it is not an official holiday.

That movement hit a snag in the Arkansas legislature last week when Rep. Sid Rosenblaum remembered another little item by Paine titled “Age of Reason.” Well, it turns out that Paine does believe in God, but not in a God that intervenes in the affairs of men. His beliefs are a lot like Jefferson and Washington, who were also deists. It is mildly entertaining to watch the religious zealots come to grips with the truth about our founding fathers.

Thomas Paine got dis’ed by the Arkansas legislature because he is not a good Christian. That is pure nonsense. I do not look to Jefferson, Washington or Paine as religious leaders. Not even George W. Bush or Mike Beebe. They aren’t. I am wondering since when a bunch of politicians are entitled to say which religious beliefs are acceptable. Heck, they can’t figure out that motorcyclists should wear helmets.

(Broadcast February 13, 2007)

Pre-"chick-day" summary

Gov. Mike Beebe told the Arkansas County Judges Association on Monday that he’s working on developing a highway funding plan that would include tapping the state’s surplus.

Two once financially troubled Arkansas districts — the Pulaski County Special School District and the Cross County School District — can now make their own budgeting decisions without first seeking state approval.

A bill to require motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding failed to win support Monday from a state Senate committee.

The Arkansas House of Representatives on Monday passed a $20 million package of alternative fuel production incentives that proponents say will open new markets for Arkansas farmers, reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and help prevent further damage to the environment.

About two dozen community leaders and parents picketed the Arch Ford Education Building on the state Capitol Mall on Monday to call attention to a Lee County teacher strike that began Jan. 29 and has left schools nearly empty of teachers and students.

A new state database allows Arkansans to search and order personalized license plates online. Through the state’s Web site at, anyone interested can propose a combination of letters to see if a certain license plate is available.

The Rogers School District plans to spend $6,101,719 on merit pay over the next five years, an application filed Monday with the U.S. Department of Education shows. That includes $4,101,719 in federal grant money to complement an existing $2 million pledge from the Walton Family Foundation.

Officials of a southeast Arkansas charter school surrendered its charter Monday to the state Board of Education. Declining enrollment and the recent opening of a public alternative school in the area doomed the Arise Charter School in Monticello, director Lorenzo Simmons said.

North Little Rock’s largest electricity consumer can now avoid a recent rate increase and purchase its power elsewhere, practically assuring it will remain in business.

Officials with the Lee County Education Association and the school district are scheduled to meet today (Tuesday) with a mediator in an effort to end the 13-day strike.

Benton County's former planning and development director admitted Monday she stole $595 from her department but, rather than spending time in jail, she'll serve 30 days in a county work program. Michelle Crain pleaded guilty to felony theft of property and misdemeanor falsifying business records.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Wally's world

The biggest news of the weekend was Wally Hall’s column in Friday’s Democrat-Gazette. Wally dunked Arkansas Head Coach Houston Nutt in batter, lightly breaded him, and tossed him in a hot skillet. It is a rare thing to see the privileged elite of Arkansas media snap at the hand that feeds it.

Wally used a rhetorical trick of insinuation in reciting a litany of charges in which he did not directly charge Nutt was the guilty party, and did not claim accuracy of each allegation. Based on the old theory that if you throw enough stuff at the wall some is bound to stick, Wally made his point.

He certainly got Nutt’s attention judging by that call into a radio show co-hosted by Hall. There are some fairly fine hairs to be split here. The definition of “rudeness” is too vague. Did Nutt go behind Malzahm’s back in hiring David Lee? Depends on whom you believe. If you never practice the hurry up offense, you can’t run it. If half the offensive plays must be directed to Darren McFadden, that quite a limitation on the offensive coordinator.

I did note in Mr. Nutt’s call an unnecessary insinuation directed to Mitch Mustain’s mom that tells me all I need to know. There is something very personal and ugly here.

(Broadcast February 12, 2007)

Pat's very busy Tuesday

The show kicks off at 8 on KNBY in Newport and I am closely watching weather and all the news. The full network kicks in at 9.

Betsey Wright has become an advocate for inmates and she raises a darned good health care issue concerning prisoners at 9:10.

That intolerant, Bible pounding, book burning, narrow minded, mean mom, Laurie Taylor Masterson, is on at 9:25. We will discuss the ERA and the 2008 elections. We might even discuss Mike Masterson.

At around 10:35, Sandra Wilson has news on the homeless census.

Wednesday is the FIFTH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY FOR ME AND MARIE!! I will be telling the famous CHIP THE TALKING BEAR STORY at 9:35 AND IT WILL BE ARCHIVED FOR LATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING. (The whining and complaining was just too much.)

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