Friday, March 16, 2007

Hog Hoops Friday Summary

Waving a copy of an e-mail that he said was proof that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had lied to him and other senators, Sen. Mark Pryor called for Gonzales' resignation in a Senate speech Thursday. Sen. Blanche Lincoln also publicly urged for Gonzales to leave, two days after learning of the e-mail that outlined the Justice Department's plan to skirt the Senate confirmation process and install a new federal prosecutor in Arkansas.

A key congressman is accusing Wal-Mart of “a pattern of deception” regarding potential plans to enter the consumer banking business. Wal-Mart denied the charge. U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor, a Republican from Ohio, based his allegations on the contents of a Wal-Mart memo e-mailed to banks that lease space to operate branches in Wal-Mart stores.

Democrats from Arkansas blasted the Federal Emergency Management Agency Thursday over its response to violent storms that struck the state last month. A different perspectives stemmed mainly from the Bush administration’s decision to deny Arkansas’ request for a federal disaster declaration while accepting Alabama’s.
“FEMA is an incompetent bunch of nincompoops that simply can’t run their agency,” said Rep. Marion Berry.

Gov. Mike Beebe traveled Thursday to Washington on a private plane donated by a Little Rock businessman instead of the state police aircraft, the governor’s office said. Beebe, who was scheduled to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee, flew to Washington on a jet owned by Tom Schueck, the owner of Lexicon, Inc.

Former U.S. Rep. Tommy Robinson and his wife, Carolyn Robinson, plan to buy the assets of The Liquor Store of Brinkley Inc. for $175,000 in cash, according to a motion filed March 8 in their Chapter 7 liquidation cases. Carolyn Robinson owned the assets of the store before a bankruptcy trustee took possession.

A Senate committee Thursday settled on recommending proposed constitutional amendments that would broaden legislative authority on local spending, clean-up of the state constitution's election provisions to keep third parties off the ballot, and guarantee the right to hunt and fish.

Legislation making bouncing checks for $500 or less a misdemeanor won a House committee's endorsement Thursday, though opponents argued the bill would encourage the writing of more bad checks. The House Judiciary Committee advanced House Bill 2340 by Rep. Michael Lamoureux of Russellville, which would amend the current hot check law, which sets a $200 threshold.

The Senate Education Committee turned back an attempt to overhaul the way Arkansas funds higher education, heeding warnings from university officials who said the state’s relatively new method shouldn’t be thrown out yet.

Certain sex offenders would be prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of a public park or youth center under a bill endorsed Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee. The committee also endorsed bills to charge jail inmates for their keep and protect domestic abuse victims from discrimination.

The Senate passed legislation to increase restrictions on teenage drivers Thursday, along with bills that would expand college scholarship programs.

A Senate panel on Thursday approved a measure that would strengthen penalties for moving animals across state lines to engage in animal fighting.

A Dollarway School Board member who lobbied against a recent millage increase said Thursday that he will contact the state attorney general’s office about challenging the millage election because voters were provided erroneous information. After a Dollarway School Board meeting, board secretary Gene Stewart said he would call the attorney general’s office today to discuss options regarding a challenge to Tuesday’s election.

A Bentonville woman arrested Wednesday in the bathtub drowning of her baby daughter admitted to police she drank wine, rum and beer before climbing in the bathtub with the 7-month-old child, and described the death as "all her fault." Melanie Cummings is charged with manslaughter.

Advocates investigating a claim of abuse by a teenager at the Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility say employees failed to help the boy even as his screams could be heard behind a closed door in an office without a surveillance camera, according to a report released to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

A West Memphis police officer who was involved in an accident on a city street that killed a 16-year-old driver has been fired for unrelated reasons, authorities said. Officer James Wright lost his job after photos showing him pointing a gun at the camera began circulating at the Police Department, Chief Bob Paudert said.

The man who shot and killed another man with a shotgun before being killed by a Little Rock police officer late Tuesday was serving out his federal prison sentence at a local halfway house. Kendrick Webb, who killed Eli Sanders III, 25, had been finishing his sentence on a bank robbery conviction at City of Faith in Little Rock.

The much anticipated opening of the new Jefferson County adult jail is one step closer as the first correctional officers that will staff the facility were welcomed aboard Thursday.

A Craighead County woman will serve 48 months in prison after being convicted of two counts of manslaughter in Craighead County Circuit Court. Kimberley Mitchell was convicted of causing the death of her 3-year-old son and her 26-year-old sister following a 1-vehicle accident on May 31. Caleb C. Garner and Victoria Mitchell died as a result of injuries they sustained in what witnesses described as an alcohol related accident.

Entergy Arkansas Inc. customers stand to gain a three month respite from higher electricity bills after the utility asked state regulators Thursday for a 16 percent rate reduction. Customers of Southwestern Electric Power Co. customers can also expect lower bills. Those rates would remain in effect until July, when federally mandated payments and a base rate increase now being examined by the commission are projected to return monthly bills to near their current rate.

Razorbacks face USC in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wa. this afternoon.

Jermain Taylor’s scheduled May 19 fight with Sergio Mora is history, again. But Little Rock’s middleweight world champion is still going to make a title defense May 19, and this time against a fellow title-holder. According to Lou DiBella, Taylor’s promoter, Taylor will meet IBF junior middleweight champion Cory Spinks at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. The fight will be on regular HBO, not pay-per-view.

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