Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday summary

Today’s Democrat-Gazette reports that, under a change-of-control clause, Alltel Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Ford stands to get as much as $89 million if he were to leave the Little Rock-based company within three years of the sale. If the top five executives were to depart under such conditions, the price tag could be nearly $250 million.

Sen. Mark Pryor, under intense attack by a right-wing advertising blitz urging his opposition to a bill pending in the Senate, says he would support the necessary and beneficial legislation to give workers authority to form unions without secret ballot elections.

There is more evidence an experimental anti-viral drug might provide life-saving protection against deadly influenza strains, including the bird flu virus spreading worldwide. Scientists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital report that given at the right dose at the right time, the drug peramivir was 100 percent effective at protecting mice against death from a particularly lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu.

The Stephens Media Group papers report that Delta leaders see a proposed $3.7 billion in funding for biofuel plant construction and research as a potential economic windfall for the poverty-stricken region.

Whirlpool’s workers and management in Fort Smith have ratified a new labor agreement despite over 1,400 local Whirlpool employees being laid off in 2006 and another 900 planned for 2007 and 2008. The five-year contract includes a variety of different incentives and severance plans for the soon-to-be laid-off employees.

The president of the Little Rock School Board says that she won’t withdraw from participating in suspension and termination proceedings against Superintendent Roy Brooks, thereby exercising the choice left to her by a federal judge the day before.

Mitchell Johnson apologized for his role in the shooting deaths nine years ago of a teacher and four students at Westside Middle School while continuing to insist - in a videotaped statement made last month - that he never intended to hurt anyone. The deposition was taken April 2 by Jonesboro attorney Bobby McDaniel. The attorney is pursuing a civil action against Johnson, shooter Andrew Golden and the manufacturer of one of the guns used in the schoolyard slayings.

The state Court of Appeals has affirmed a Sebastian County judge's decision to revoke the suspension of a Fort Smith man's suspended sentence after the man's dog bit a woman.

Operating during the day in the heart of a downtown Little Rock office building, thieves stold $6,000 worth of copper wire. 10 floors and 2800 phone lines were effected in the Regions Center.

Fox16 reports three employees of the Lake Hamilton School District have been suspended after they were discovered to have stolen gasoline. The terminations were the result of a sting carried out by the superintendent using a camera watching pumps used by district buses.

The Dollarway School Board has tabled action on the controversial millage increase that district voters approved in a March 13 special election. The bond service that provided guidance to the district for its millage increase campaign says that it would not proceed with the bond sales until all legal action was expired concerning the flawed millage request.

Benton voters turned down the proposed increase of 6.5 mills, preventing the school district from receiving an additional $10 million in state surplus matching funds that had already been approved for the district if the millage had passed. Texarkana school patrons also killed a millage increase.

Crawford County voters overwhelmingly approved the rededication of the 1 percent countywide sales tax.

Polk County voters said yes in a 1,299-788 vote to an additional 1 percent countywide sales tax to fund road and bridge improvements.

Voters in Helena-West Helena, Magnolia and McGehee approved local sales taxes in special elections Tuesday.

An attorney general's opinion says the mayor of Brinkley should not have cast a tie-breaking vote to raise her own salary. This raises questions about the ability of mayors and city councils statewide to pass budgets, the mayor said Wednesday.

Palestine city attorney Steve Routon introduced an ordinance to the Palestine City Council that allows the city to declare a business selling pornography inside the city limits a “nuisance,” giving them legal reason to take them to court. Routon told the council that he was asked to draw up the ordinance by Mayor Becky Dunn, but was unsure if the measure would overstep the city’s authority and expressed doubts if it would hold up in court.

Resurfacing scheduled for Interstate 40 near Russellville and Atkins will require lane closures this week and next, according to Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department officials.

Arkansas will host the 2007 meeting of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. It will gather Dec. 12-16 in Little Rock. 600-700 people are expected to attend.

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