Saturday, June 30, 2007

Supremes speak on schools

A little background on the Supreme Court ruling on using race for school assignments might be in order today. The case concerns Louisville and Seattle. Both of these cities have voluntary programs which encourage racial diversity. Neither is involved in a desegregation lawsuit.

The court ruled that race many not be the only factor that is used to assign students to a school. Under the circumstances, that is good law and good policy too. We liberals are a bit slow to catch on that the world is much different than 50 years ago when public schools were largely divided on race, and black folks went to inferior schools.

It was thought that white people would never pay to improve schools attended by blacks unless their children went there too. So, we had integration. The high court did not take into account the amazing resourcefulness of parents whose way of life is threatened. The result is a system which is, in many cases, just as segregated as before.

The good news is that society is much different today, and is not headed back. Diversity is good, but it is not an end by itself. Academic success should always be the goal. That should not need saying.

Every child should have an equal shot at the best programs and be able to attend a quality school. The rest will take care of itself.

(Broadcast June 29, 2007)

Small plane crashes into house in Conway

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that a small airplane, on approach to the Conway airport, crashed into a house with two fatalities resulting.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday summary

Former Arkansas State Police Trooper Larry Norman, who admitted he made a mistake when he fatally shot a disabled, defenseless Springdale man last year, was sentenced to 90 days in jail, community service and a probationary period.

A federal jury trial is scheduled for the week of Feb. 25, 2008, in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a Dover woman killed in a July 2006 car accident on Interstate 40. KATV sportscaster Paul Eells, driver of the other vehicle, crossed the median and struck B.J. Burton’s vehicle. Both died at the scene. Eells had been in Fayetteville participating in the Houston Nutt Golf Classic, a tournament for sports figures and the media. He was on his way home to Little Rock when the accident occurred.

The Arkansas Supreme Court will expedite a ruling on whether or not Pulaski County must release former county Comptroller Ron Quillin’s e-mails that were the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request after his arrest this month on theft charges.

Sen. Mark Pryor balked at an immigration reform bill backed by the White House and Democratic leaders in a vote that likely derailed the measure for the rest of this Congress.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down voluntary school integration plans in Seattle and Louisville, Ky., won’t have an immediate effect on the three school districts in Pulaski County.

The family of a woman who died in a fire at the hotel where she lived and worked is entitled to death benefits even though she was off-duty at the time of the fire, the state Supreme Court ruled.

A federal district judge has thrown out a request by attorneys for three Watson Chapel School District students who are challenging the district’s uniform policies, ruling that the district was not given sufficient time to respond.

If Congress approves the new foreign trade law, South Korea would phase out agriculture tariffs that average 52 percent on U.S. commodities - on everything but rice. Currently, the United States can only export 50,000 metric tons of rice to South Korea, a small fraction of the 3 million tons of American rice that head overseas each year.

A Pulaski County jury was too lenient on a North Little Rock man who gunned down his girlfriend’s father and a friend in their bedrooms last year, the trial judge said after proceedings concluded. However, Circuit Judge Willard Proctor Jr. imposed the recommended 25-year sentence,saying he wanted to follow the “conscience of the community.”

A Benton couple is charged burning body of its’ stillborn baby. Police say this happened last year and they still haven't found the body. Benton police say they got a tip on their hotline that a couple had concealed the birth of their baby then disposed of the body. They say Jill Jones gave birth to a still born baby last summer and got the baby's father to help her get rid of the body. Both Jones and Christian Helsham have been charged with concealing a birth, which is a class D felony.

Activist investor Barington Capital Group has released a letter it has sent to Little Rock-based Dillard’s Inc. to request a meeting to discuss changes to increase shareholder value.

The Clinton Presidential Library is ramping up efforts to restore the long dormant Rock Island bridge adjacent to the facility. When complete, the bridge will be the east end of a 14 mile hiking-and-biking loop that will have the Big Dam Bridge at the western end. Estimated costs have grown from 4 to 10 million dollars.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A bad week for kids

There have been two tragic shootings of very young boys in Arkansas this week. West Memphis police mistakenly killed a kid carrying a realistic looking handgun in the dark. It looks like an accident.

In El Dorado, a 9 year old is dead after apparently being shot by a mentally disturbed man. This one bears a lot closer scrutiny because the alleged killer reportedly has a history of tossing bricks at kids and discharging his weapons inside the city.

Jonathan Watts was the butt of childish pranks designed to provoke his often flamboyant responses. It is reported that he has been in a mental institution and authorities should have been well aware of his situation. This is somebody who, if convicted, is probably not going to be held legally accountable. Nonetheless, this episode cries out for justice.

Authorities must have known that something really bad was bound to happen with this unfortunate man. Could he not be arrested, or involuntarily committed? Was it too much trouble, or is it the law? How does such a person legally possess firearms? Isn’t it against the law to fire your gun inside the city limits of El Dorado? How officials handled this man over the past years is a burning issue.

(Broadcast June 28, 2007)

A sad political milestone

I got word from my friend Mark that his mother, Virginia Johnson, died last night.

She is possibly the first woman to seek statewide office in Arkansas. Virginia Johnson was defeated in the runoff for the Democratic party nomination for Governor in 1968 by Marion Crank. Winthrop Rockefeller won the general election.

UPDATE: How could I forget Hattie Caraway?

She was the wife of former Arkansas Supreme Court Justice, and frequent political candidate, Jim Johnson.

The visitation is at Roller-McNutt in Conway Friday evening and the funeral is Saturday. The obituary in tomorrow's Democrat-Gazette will have more detail.

Mark is just about my closest friend. He was the best man at both weddings and the witness at my one and only divorce. I am deeply sorry to hear this news.

DEPART, O Christian soul, out of this world,
In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created thee.
In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed thee.
In the Name of the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth thee.
May thy rest be this day in peace, and thy dwellingplace in the Paradise of God.
(Book of Common Prayer)

Anglican Bishops of Rwanda to boycott Lambeth

This is of interest to those of us who attend St. Andrews Church in Little Rock, part of the Anglican Mission in America. Our bishops are in Rwanda, and they today joined the growing discontent with invitations to American Episcopal bishops who took part in the consecration of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson.

St. Andrews is among the early congregations to seek orthodox oversight from Africa. That happened years before the Robinson matter. The Anglican division is over biblical authority, not homosexuality.

There is another Arkansas connection to the Robinson story. Retired Arkansas bishop Herbert Donovan, Jr. was among the bishop who laid hands on Robinson.

David Virtue files a lengthy report. There is a lot to it, but here is one relevant passage.

Today the House of Bishops of the Province of Rwanda said they would not attend Lambeth because some of their bishops were not invited and because the faith was being undermined by liberal elements in the Anglican Communion.

The Province of Uganda has also said it will not be present if those who consecrated V. Gene Robinson are allowed to attend while some orthodox bishops are not.

Virtue notes the widening Anglican rift.

The Standing Committee of the Evangelical Diocese of Sydney is urging Archbishop Peter Jensen and his five regional bishops (Forsyth, Davies, Tasker, Lee and Stewart) to make a stand to protest to the Lambeth Conference guest list that denies orthodox bishops while including heretical ones, and suggests that a parallel Lambeth be held at the same time in England next year.

Bishop Robinson's divorce and open lifestyle aside, his elevation is outside the norms of the worldwide Anglican communion. We would say that it is an offense against the unity of the church, and that is an understatement.

From the practical standpoint, this is interesting to those, like me, who follow this kind of thing. It doesn't matter much in the AMIA or St. Andrews, which thankfully have left the fight behind years ago and moved on to the kinds of things churches should be busy doing. You know, the Great Commission and that kind of thing.

St. Andrews will officially open it's new church home later this summer. It's a launchpad for mission.

People in the AMIA think of themselves as indigenous missionaries to the main steam American culture. That's a big job.

Fayetteville nursing home sued over assault

Hard to believe as it may be, the long-term care industry does have its' bad actors. Although the accused employee entered a "guilty" plea, Fayetteville Health & Rehabilitation Center says the civil case should go to arbitration.

Sounds like a great idea to me. Let's negotiate the value of human dignity. What is the emotional well-being of an elderly crime victime worth? Brilliant.

Arkansas Business filed the report.

A Washington County woman is suing a Fayetteville nursing home because she said her dad was attacked by an employee while he was a resident there.

Debbie Rutherford has named Northport Health Services of Arkansas LLC, which you might know as Fayetteville Health & Rehabilitation Center, as a defendant.

Rutherford said in her lawsuit that while her father, Isaac Mitchell Rutherford, was a resident at the center in June 2006, he was attacked by employee Dion Ioanis Kalio.

LR Chamber to Make Economic Announcement on Saturday

Arkansas Business reports on a development that has been in the works for a while. Roby Brock and I discussed it this morning. Hete is the latest and newest.

Gov. Mike Beebe and Little Rock officials on Saturday will make an economic development announcement on project billed as "the largest single manufacturing investment for central Arkansas in recent history."

The announcement is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce building. Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola is also scheduled to attend the announcement

Bad week for Dale Nicholson and KATV

Some pain-in-the-rear-end outsider must be poking around in the private and sacrosanct dealings of the official professional state athletic franchise, the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.

What kind of infidel would question the divine appointments of broadcast contracts? The moral theology department at Arkansas Business reports.

UA Says No-bid ARSN Deal Not 'Out of the Ordinary'
By Nate Hinkel
6/22/2007 11:39:54 AM

While news reports on Friday said the University of Arkansas and KATV-TV, Channel 7, have reached an agreement in principal on who will be the next "Voice of the Razorbacks," at least one attorney says the longstanding contract in question might not be in line with state law.

The current agreement between the UA and KATV Television Inc. was secured through a request for proposal by KATV in 1995 but has not been put up for public bid since. By one insider’s estimate, that agreement will pay the athletic department nearly $1.5 million this year.

Here's the good part.

According to state regulations regarding contract extensions, only one extension may be granted and may not exceed the length of the original agreement. The original agreement between the UA and KATV was for four years, meaning the contract should have at least been placed out for bid before the 2002-2003 seasons.

Surely the legislature did not mean for anybody to be able to bid on Arkansas Razorback broadcasts? (just foolin' around.)

Thursday summary

President Bush should nominate a black person to fill the federal judgeship in Arkansas left vacant by the death of U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr., Sen. Mark Pryor says. Not only was Howard the first black federal judge in Arkansas, Pryor said Wednesday, but the Eastern District of Arkansas where Howard was a judge also has a large minority population.

Larry Norman, a retired Arkansas State Police trooper, will be sentenced today after pleading guilty in May to negligent homicide in the March 7, 2006, death of Erin Hamley, a disabled Springdale man whom police mistook for a prison escapee.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into an incident at the Federal Corrections Complex at Forrest City which left one man dead. The medium security facility has been on lock down since the death of Rigoberto Lopez-Alvarado. He was serving 24 months at the facility for illegal re-entry into the United States following deportation. Truman said that Lopez-Alvarado died at Forrest City Medical Center from injuries he suffered in an altercation with another inmate at the facility.

Two notable self-promoters plan to visit West Memphis in the aftermath of the death last weekend of a 12-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a police officer. Al Sharpton will attend the funeral of DeAuntae Farrow tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. Jessie Jackson intends to participate in a march in West Memphis, tentatively planned for a week from Saturday, on July 7.

Nearly a week after an internal memo at Northwest Airlines warned employees several hundred flights were being canceled due to crew scheduling shortages, the airline continues to founder. By Tuesday night, 850 Northwest flights had been canceled in five days. By late afternoon Wednesday, an additional 178 flights were scratched, including five in Memphis, according to The cancellations gummed up travelers' plans and wreaked havoc on travel agents trying to rebook on short notice.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel cautioned a Little Rock School District attorney against settling out of court the desegregation lawsuit that is currently on appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. The district has been released from federal court supervision.

Little Rock School Board President Katherine Mitchell denied that she was ever employed by the city district, and said that if her involvement in a teacher training program in 2005 was a violation of state statutes, she would have expected Superintendent Roy Brooks and Chief Financial Officer Mark Milhollen to call attention to the problem at the time.

A Faulkner County circuit judge contradicted state law in admitting results of a polygraph test into evidence in a divorce case, the state Court of Appeals has ruled. The appeals court overturned Circuit Judge Linda P. Collier's admission of the test results, which the judge used in concluding that the ex-husband in the case had abused a child, and ordered a new hearing on only admissible evidence.

Two Arkansas residents have sued a Maryland-based company, BlueHippo Funding, that they allege tricked them and hundreds of others in the state into buying low-end computers — many never delivered — for more than they were worth.

Gov. Mike Beebe has declared Crawford County a state disaster area because of damage caused by a tornado and 100 mph winds on June 20.

A Maumelle developer is suing Pulaski County and its planning board for rejecting his project near central Arkansas’ primary source of drinking water.John “Jay” DeHaven argues that the Pulaski County Planning Commission arbitrarily denied plans for the first phase of his proposed Canterbury Park development just west of Lake Maumelle.

A Hoxie boy died when a large rock fell from a bluff on the Black River near the Powhatan Courthouse State Park, apparently crushing him. Eugene Bailey Jr. was fishing on the Black River at the base of the bluff with a younger brother when his line broke. As he attempted to climb up the rocky bluff to the top, a large rock became dislodged, causing him to fall. The rock then fell on the youth's chest and abdomen.

Three Department of Correction employees are suspended after mistakenly releasing an inmate from the East Arkansas Unit at least nine months before his sentence expired. The mistake happened on May 25 at the maximum-security prison at Brickeys in Lee County and involved two Corey Johnsons: Corey D. and Corey W. Corey D. was taken back into custody within hours at a family residence.

A Dallas County man on death row for the June 20, 1997, shotgun slayings of two Holly Grove store clerks should have an opportunity to prove in federal court that he is mentally retarded and not subject to the death penalty, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith campus security team has evolved into a police department with certified officers who will be armed with handguns this fall. New uniforms for the officers will arrive soon, along with new badges, body armor, belts, holsters and a Glock Model 22 housing a .40-caliber magazine for each of the certified officers.

Mark and James Forrester of Bigelow are dead, their bodies found in a Roland trailer in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning. Drake Graham, the resident of that trailer, is in the Pulaski County jail charged with two counts of first-degree murder. No motive has been disclosed for the shootings.

Craighead County Circuit Judge Victor Hill set the bond of a Jonesboro man who made alleged threats against an inmate prior to his own court appearance Monday at $1 million on six charges and revoked a prior bond on two separate charges. Kevin Dale Brady was apprehended the previous day by county and city law enforcement on a tip that he brought a gun to court and planned to use it against another prisoner in the courtroom.

A jury recommended that a Rogers man serve a 12-year prison sentence for leaving the scene of a September accident that killed a motorcyclist. Manuel Cuellar pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and driving on a suspended license. He had asked that his sentence be determined by a jury.

A Boone County woman has been sentenced to five years in prison for allowing her daughter to use methamphetamine on her 13th birthday. Stephanie Ann Tennison pleaded guilty to introduction of a controlled substance into the body of another, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Angry downtown merchants who witnessed the June 21 scuffle between a group of skateboarders and a police officer contend the incident resulted from a staged act of youthful rebellion and that the videos posted on YouTube — which have drawn national attention — exclude pertinent portions of what actually happened.

The city of Little Rock will begin enforcing parking tickets with the boot by this fall. It is estimated that the city may lose over $400,000 annually in unpaid parking fines.

The northwest Arkansas town of Centerton is growing so fast, the U.S. Census figures released Thursday are already off by hundreds. Centerton grew 167.16 percent between 2000 and 2006.

Superintendent Mike Mertens said the Greenbrier School District's growth rate rose to 7 percent for the 2006-2007 year, up from 4 percent in 2005-2006. To deal with the growth, several construction projects are in the works.

Vilonia will soon have a natural gas "supercenter", according to Randy Hudgeons of CUDD Energy Services. When at full staff, there will be at least 150 employees with a $9 to 10 million payroll.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Toys that get kids killed

Something terrible happened in West Memphis the other day and we need to talk. Of course, bad things happen all the time, but few worse than when a child dies. In this case a sixth-grade boy was shot by local police.

If you do not know me well, let me tell you that I am not generally one to fall for the typical cop tendency to cover up and stick together. Yes, police do tough jobs under difficult circumstances, but they also have tremendous authority. Police officers have a gun on the hip to back up what they say.

The state police and FBI will investigate what happened, and it is very possible that this was a horrible mistake. Parents need to know that the new trend for toys is realistic looking handguns. In bad light, one of these toys flashes through the darkness, and the outcome is tragedy. Maybe these toys are not a very good idea.

Raising children is hard enough already, and I hate to bring up one more thing. This is rather important. One would hope that manufacturers would stop giving youngsters a toy that puts a target on their backs. The next thing will be a law, and isn’t that the last thing we need?

Throw those damn things in the trash.

(Broadcast June 27, 2007)

Wednesday summary

FOX16 reports several persons attending a community meeting put on by a so-called “parents group” asked that it stop personal attacks on school board president Katherine Mitchell, who is alleged to have failed to properly report $6,000 in personal income.

The state medical examiner has ruled Pope County Detention Center inmate James Jamerson died of “arteriosclerotic heart disease” with an 80 percent narrowing of the left coronary artery. Two inmates filed written grievances after Jamerson’s death claiming guards neglected Jamerson until he became unresponsive. A third inmate, in a letter to The Russellville Courier, claimed Jamerson’s repeated requests for medical attention were denied.

Governor Mike Beebe has named Rick Watkins of Little Rock as the newest commissioner of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He is the owner and president of the Watkins Company, a regional printing and advertising-distribution company.

Arkansas' Democrat senators stuck with their party on key votes to revive a far-reaching immigration bill and move forward legislation to change how labor unions organize. The immigration reform bill once thought dead was resurrected in a 64-35 vote that reopened debate for more amendments to be considered.

Two medical institutions previously supplying athletic trainers to Fort Smith Public Schools have informed the district they can no longer provide the services and will phase them out over the next two years. The two positions, once funded fully by the school, will cost a total of $95,825 based on a 213-day contract.

A new coal-burning power plant in Arkansas would be a bad investment for the state, members of the Sierra Club of Arkansas said at a news conference on the steps of the state Capitol.

Entergy can soon expect to pay 9.6 percent less than a year ago. They will still pay 8.1 percent more than current rates.

South Korean officials cleared four Tyson Foods Inc. plants to export beef into their market, a step toward normalizing beef trade with the United States.

Gov. Mike Beebe says that if he has to take a personal or political trip, he’ll go by car or by commercial flight but won’t use the state police airplane.

The Arkansas Supreme Court granted Pulaski County a temporary stay Tuesday from releasing e-mails sent and received by former comptroller Ron Quillin.

Alvin Jackson, an inmate sentenced to die for killing a corrections officer, held prison staff at bay by brandishing a 10-inch shank before being subdued by rubber pellets. Officers used pellets to subdue Jackson, who was being transferred to another cell.

A middle-aged El Dorado man, with known mental problems and said to fling bricks in retaliation against rock-throwing youngsters, is charged with capital murder in the death of 9-year-old DeMotric Moore, who was shot and killed while retrieving his bike from a schoolyard. “I’ve had it with these kids and the rock throwing,” Jonathan Watts reportedly told arresting police officers.

A Jonesboro local man who toted a gun to Circuit Court was arrested before he could carry out an alleged threat in the courtroom. Kevin Dale Brady was taken into custody after police were alerted that the man had brought a loaded a .38-caliber Derringer handgun to the courtroom located inside the main courthouse complex.

A Conway man is charged with felony second-degree battery after his arrest over the weekend. Bond was set at $20,000 at Faulkner County Circuit Court for Donald Ray Hobbs, who according to police, beat a man with a baseball bat and punched a woman in the mouth.

A retired high school teacher was ordered to be placed on an electronic monitoring system for four months as part of his sentence after pleading to a charge that he sexually assaulted a teenage boy. Larry Kennedy pleaded no contest to fourth-degree sexual assault, a Class A misdemeanor, in Sebastian County District Court. The charge was reduced from second-degree sexual assault, a Class B felony. Kennedy was a math teacher at Southside High School and retired after a 37-year career in 2005.

A Pine Bluff man arrested in Lincoln County is facing 20 felony counts of dog fighting, as well as 40 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and illegally impounding animals. Anthony Lynn Walker, was released from custody after posting a $2,500 bond.

A Craighead County woman who falsely reported she was abducted and raped on Valentine's Day will serve seven days in jail. Victoria L. Simonton recanted her story six weeks after the report, saying it was a lie. She was then charged with filing a false report of a crime.

A Hot Springs police officer is on administrative leave after a videotaped incident involving the arrest of six local skateboarders. The YouTube video reportedly shows the officer on top of one of the youngsters, handcuffing, putting a headlock on another, and threatening pepper spray.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Rainbow connection

The Russellville Courier is one of the best papers in the state, except when reporters who are called as witnesses in hearings for the Kevin Jones trial go on to write stories about the hearings about the Kevin Jones trial.

The Courier has been doing a bang-up job getting ready for the Rainbow Family National Gathering at the Ozark National Forest. Folks are already starting to arrive and set up camps in Newton and Crawford Counties. This is really big. Ten thousand over-the-hill hippies could drop in for this little funfest.

The good folks at the Courier were kind enough to report the arrival of one Melissa Marie Salazar. This lady is both a hippie and a hobo. Cool play on words, huh? She told a local judge she gets around by freight train, a practice I do not condone. The railroad cops are pretty tough customers, if you might be considering chucking it and hopping the next freight out of town.

Salazar is being held in the Pope County jail on the outside chance New Mexico wants to extradite her. She said she was on her way to the Rainbow Nation Gathering and her honeymoon. Who says hippies don’t have family values?

I was a total failure as a flower child, but I welcome the newest visitors anyway.

(Broadcast June 26, 2007)

Wednesday Wake UP

It's been a busy week with Paris out of jail and Inman out ot the Hogs broadcast booth. Pulaski County government is in shambles, but what else is new? George W. Bush is still President of the United States. Who are the winners and losers? Tune to KARK Channel 4 every Wednesday morning between 6:30 and 7. I will be on hand with Bill Viekery. You will howl!

Tune in or log on for my show starting at 8. I have plent of cool stuff, including some folks who have connected tobacco use and poverty. How would that work?

Boozman and me on Amtrak, Part 2

Here, as promised, is the second installment of my somewhat lengthy conversation with Congressman John Boozman. Scroll down for the first part. It is well worth your time.

The interesting, and unfortunate, part of this segment is that he believes the big lie that David Stockman was telling back in 1980. Amtrak trains do not, generally speaking, run anywhere near empty. My next assignment will be to gather some numbers on load factors. I think it is reasonable to say that the only way to increase Amtrak ridership is to create more seats for Amtrak passengers.

Boozman uses the word “efficient” with such ease and so frequently, that I wonder what he means. I am honestly wondering in what way Amtrak should be more efficient. This is not to say that it cannot do better, but how is it to be measured. And what about the Amtrak Review Commission, which I mentioned in the first part of this conversation. What ever happened to that? Republican opponents to Amtrak act as it the rail passenger corporation had not already been politically micromanaged to death. This proposed GAO study is completely useless. There have been all sorts of politically inspired boards and inquires. Amtrak changes top management about as much as the Little Rock School District. Might I be bold enough to sincerely suggest that one thing that might help Amtrak is to leave it alone for a couple of years. Over the past three presidents, Amtrak has been through wild swings in corporate vision.

Please notice how easily Boozman says that schedules could be changed. Now, I happen to be somebody that is not against some well conceived tinkering, but the current timetables are, so far as I know, soaked in the blood of weary negotiators. Amtrak has certainly not imposed timetalves on the “host” freight railroads.

My favorite part of this is how John Boozman seems to think that Amtrak out in Arkansas resembles the high speed, mostly on-time, Acela world of the northeast corridor.

He seems not to understand that supporting Amtrak is not necessarily about getting people out of automobiles. It is about having a choice for intermediate length trips.

Anyway, here is part two..

BOOZMAN: We’re getting ourselves in a situation. I’ve been all over the country looking at this. Many parts of the country, you just can’t build any more roads. There’s just no more (inaudible)

LYNCH: Which is a decent excuse for making some accommodation for passenger rail.

BOOZMAN: I agree. Mr. Oberstar, one of the first things he did, was go to France and look at high-speed rail I was on part of that trip.

LYNCH: But’ we’ve already spent. There won’t be any

BOOZMAN: I think that would be a great thing to look at.

LYNCH: Very easy to say politically ‘cause you know that it’s impossible.

BOOZMAN: I really don’t. I think. I think right now, Pat, it is impossible because we have been blessed. It has been impossible because Americans, wherever they live, and I drive into Washington every morning and I look around, my wife drives me in and lets me out, and I look around and there is one person in the car. It’s just the way it is. We’re a nation that loves their cars. The only thing we’ve found that really keeps people from driving as much is parking. If you don’t have any parking, they’re not gonna’ do it. That seems to be the limiting factor. And that’s really true when you go to Europe where gas is twice as much as here. Now, you can affect people’s behavior and they will go to smaller cars, and they will go go cars that get more miles per gallon, but it’s just hard to get them out of their automobiles. But like I said, don’t misunderstand. I’m not opposed to passenger at all, but what it needs more than anything is somehow for us to figure out how to get more people on there riding.

LYNCH: Well, you can’t put people in seats that don’t exist.

BOOZMAN: Well, I think you’ll find and I’ll be glad to look at the statistics. You know when you start, and I priced it, on several occasions around here, going to different cities, traveling by rail is expensive..

LYNCH: I agree.

BOOZMAN: It’s not a bargain.

LYNCH: That’s correct. How do you put people in seats that do not exist?

BOOZMAN: I’ve never had any trouble as far as getting a seat on a train.

LYNCH: Well, where have you tried to get a seat on a train?

BOOZMAN: From here to New York.

(I had some difficulty hearing the above response)

LYNCH: From Little Rock to New York?

BOOZMAN: No, from Washington.

LYNCH: Of course, they have 30 departures a day. In Little Rock, we have one north, one south.

BOOZMAN: And it’s full?

LYNCH: Well, that’s a tricky question. If someone, for example, reserves a seat from Springfield, Illinois to San Antonio that seat is full to San Antonio, but if that car goes on to Los Angeles, that seat is available at San Antonio, but may be booked by somebody who buys it in El Paso. So, from San Antonio to El Paso that seat may be empty. There are some vagaries in it, but I think you would find the load capacity on Amtrak trains is fairly good. The idea that people don’t ride the train is just wrong. And God knows they do everything they can to make it inconvenient . The trains are out there in a freight railroad gridlock that we both recognize is a near catastrophe. I think ..

BOOZMAN: And again, I’ll be glad to help with the .. but I really think pretty close to them, I really get along fine with the Amtrak people. I talk to them periodically , because I am on the committee, and try to move things along, but I think I’ve got a good relationship, but they have not, in the meetings I’ve had, those. That’s not something they’ve mentioned to me. But, again, I guess what I’m saying, Pat, and I just want you to know, that it is something that really does all work together, and I’m really not a guy that .. I believe very strongly in getting people off the roads and getting them into mass transit. We really are working to do that, but I do think it’s OK to have this efficient system if you can.

You know, you’re right, in the sense that we don’t want to do anything that makes the Amtrak train any less efficient than it is. Just the opposite, so I would not be in favor of anything, as far as that. But I’m just talking about looking at schedules . If the train could run at, instead of 7 o’clock, run it at 6:45 or 5 after. What I’m saying, just things along that line. And then the other thing is look at making sure, if you’ve got somebody with authority to clean the system out, making sure that the commercial traffic, you know the pressures they’ve got, that they’re not unduly causing problems.

But I know we’ve got a lot of people now that, and don’t get me wrong this is not a response to that at all but, I hear all these problems of Amtrak, the shippers, I get a little frustrated because one of the most important things are our rivers. If we can shift more traffic on to our barges. One of the things I've worked really hard on is trying to get the Arkansas River from an 8 foot channel down to 12 feet. 80% of it is 12 foot now, In fact, even more than that now because they’ve worked on it. But in doing that you can load a barge up 40% more and it just sinks a little bit lower in the water. Those are the things that really are important. So, it’s just a matter of trying to get it all done.

I just didn’t want you to misunderstand. I appreciate you. I appreciate your columns. I’m not being critical at all. I just wanted to tell you my side of what we are trying to get done.

I really am, especially with the Arkansas transit system, and I think you’re alluding to this Pat, in the sense that, in Arkansas, with ridership on buses, that transit system, and probably train traffic too, you have a group of people, that’s the only form of transportation they can take. And if that single mom can’t get to work, or the elderly person, if the bus won’t come pick her up, we’re talking about institutionalizing her. And that’s going to cost society a lot more money than a transit authority subsidy.

Tuesday morning summary

The Arkansas State Police has agreed to share with the FBI information from an investigation into the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy Friday by a West Memphis police officer, in case the federal agency decides to conduct a civil rights investigation into the death.

The Arkansas Senate’s leader and his designated successor, who are both Democrats, are hosting a campaign fundraiser Wednesday for Sen. Gilbert Baker of Conway, who is the former chairman of the state Republican Party. It will be held at the Poultry Federation office in Little Rock.

Behind locked doors, without notifying the media and without a quorum, the Helena-West Helena Landfill Commission met and approved some issues dealing with items at the Regional Landfill. Michelle Page of the Daily World reports that doors to the front and side of the municipal building were locked, allowing limited access to the public. Entry was gained to the meeting through the police department.

A new Hino Motors plant scheduled to open in November in West Virginia is not the plant Arkansas has hoped to lure to Marion, an economic development official said Monday.

In its second major energy announcement this year, Tyson Foods Inc. said Monday that it would spend $75 million to help build a synthetic fuels plant to power diesel cars and high-performance military jets.

Petrohawk Energy Corp. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire about 32,500 net acres in the Fayetteville Shale, primarily in Van Buren County.

A Little Rock lawyer was named as a special justice of the state Supreme Court to consider a case challenging the constitutionality of local votes that legalized expanded gambling at Arkansas' two pari-mutuel race tracks. Gov. Mike Beebe named Jim Jackson to replace Justice Robert Brown, who disqualified himself from the case,

Rainbow Family National Gathering attendees have begun to arrive on the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas. The event, which runs from July 1-7, draws thousands of people from all parts of the country and all walks of life. 10,000 may attend this year’s event.

A judge dropped a sexual assault charge against the man accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15 year old girl. Raul Torres of Bella Vista has been in jail since January, after the girl told police they had an ongoing sexual relationship. At the opening of a jury trial, Benton County Senior Circuit Judge Tom Keith declared a mistrial after the girl testified she lied to police and never had sex with the defendant.

Questions about whether Little Rock School Board President Katherine Mitchell improperly received payments from her school district are now under investigation by the Pulaski County sheriff ’s office at the request of Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mary Spencer McGowan is expected to decide today when former comptroller Ron Quillin’s e-mail correspondence should be turned over to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. But the judge might not have the last word on when the messages will be released.

The American Lung Association of Arkansas plans to split from the national organization and become an independent organization called Arkansas Respiratory Health Association, board members said Monday. The change comes as the national association consolidates the management of its chapters, a move Arkansas board members feared would leave the state with little control over Arkansas donations.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Congressman Boozman and me, everything you ever wanted to know about Amtrak

Congressman Boozman called this afternoon. The topic was today's Democrat-Gazette column on his Amtrak proposal. We talked for 33 minutes. He was courteous, so I will expect your discussion to reflect the same spirit.

These are portions of our conversation. You should not read this as a press release. We talked. The language is conversational, so no nitpicking his grammar or mine. I will concede that Congressman Boozman must have used the word “efficient” 200 times.

If you wish to quote, please give proper attribution: "Freelance writer Pat Lynch of Little Rock"

The Congressman and I have a real difference of opinions about Amtrak and the rights it receives on “host” freight railroads, but we started off on a note of agreement. He is very candid. I wonder if the truckers and highway lobby have heard him talk this way.

It’s really become critical for the rails, the highways, and then the rivers – the dams and locks – all of that to work together, And as you know, I mean, we’re at the point, in most parts of the country, you physically can’t build any more roads. The rail is at full capacity.

We discussed his proposal, which would eliminate Amtrak’s preferential access rights to freight lines unless the U.S. Secretary of Transportation first certifies that implementation of those rights would not cause increased highway congestion, fossil fuel usage, air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Boozman explained himself, or he tried to.

I wasn’t doing anything at all trying to hurt Amtrak. Amtrak has a preferential exemption that goes back to the 1970’s, and so as a result of that, no matter what when they’re in the middle of the country, I specifically took out the northeast because they’re much more efficient there and their trains are more efficient, you know their passenger service is more efficient, the whole bit. Took out the northeast corridor so we wouldn’t be dealing with that and just said..what we’re trying to do is to make it such that Amtrak and the commercial service get together and figure out what is the most efficient use of the train track. Not, again, to diminish Amtrak at all.

History buffs know that passenger trains carrying mail, which would have been the case for most Amtrak trains in the 70’s, have received priority treatment for many years, probably to the early 1900’s. Back in the day, railroads were serous abou the United States mail. The bottom line is that it is not a new things for passenger trains to get moved ahead of freight. Amtrak no longer carries mail, so far as I know.

I guess he knows that Amtrak owns the northeast corridor from Washington to Boston.

But it shouldn’t be that, just because I’m Amtrak and I want to run through a certain area, kind of like if you were working on the highway and you wanted to work at the busiest time of the day, you know that sort of thing, Just to look at that, and then again work out a system, the most efficient. We had several of the trucking companies, last year I’m talking about, because of the high price of fuel, they went in through GPS and looked at their routes, and were able really just through rerouting, running the most efficient route they were able to cut fuel costs in the neighborhood of 25%. So these are things that just haven’t been looked at in decades. So that’s what it was all about.

Sorry, sir. I’ll bet the congressman voted “aye” for the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997. It worked well into the current president’s term. For all I know, it may still be in existence. Amtrak is been politicized almost to death. Amtrak has been Congress’ favorite whipping boy since its’ inception in 1972.

Who is pulling Boozman’s chain? I think he is a sincere man who honestly think he is doing the right thing. You would have to be fairly intimate with the issues not to be taken in. There may be some clues in his continued references to “on time delivery.” That phrase must come from somewhere. Help me out.

The thing that is fueling this is a thing called “on time delivery” and the people like Wal Mart, the people who are very very efficient, a few years ago, made it such that when you went into a Target or a Wal Mart or just about anyplace, and you buy a product, that goes from the computer, ya’ know where they mark it up, into a distribution center, and instead of having a warehouse, and Little Rock is full of old warehouses that are sitting there empty, instead of having those warehouses, it’s very efficient, you just get a few of those products. So the new warehouses are the trucks on the road and our trains. And so they’re not only hauling that, they’re hauling toothpaste – you name it, and, like I said, the rail system is becoming a huge part of the “on time delivery.” I used to think of trains like, you got coal and stuff, but that’s really not true anymore. The train has really become very very efficient. So they’re hauling that stuff. They’re hauling a lot of produce. They’re hauling everything, and like I said, that’s another thing that’s added to the problem is that.

Here is a curious quote. Wonder who the “members” are? Perhaps they will be so proud, they will self-identify.

I had several people that were in the northeast corridor, members say to me “you need to increase, you need to do the northeast. And these were people who were very supportive of Amtrak.

Maybe he doesn’t know that Amtrak owns the northeast corridor and there are almost no freight trains on it anyway.

Our bus transit, if you will look at the chart, there was a chart that came out, by one of the environmental groups. They looked at car travel, looked at air travel, looked at train travel and bus travel. And air of off the scale so far as two people flying on a plane. It’s very very much as far as using energy. Bus and car is really very similar. The other thing that does very very well is bus travel. I’ve been a big advocate of trying to get people on buses. But we don’t have a lot of people on buses, but it is so important because the people that are on buses are the elderly. That, if they weren’t riding the a bus, would be in a rest home because they can’t get out and buy their groceries, go to the doctor. And single moms, things like that.

You mentioned things Amtrak needs, besides equipment, I wouldn’t argue with any of those things, but what Amtrak desperately needs are passengers, and to be honest, I just don’t know the answer to that. We desperately need, for our transit authorities in Arkansas more bus ridership, which would help greatly. But people are just very very resistant. Even here in Washington, the Metro’s very popular. They’re just very resistant to riding buses for some reason.

It may be that some of us are larger than pygmies, but that would only be a guess why inter-city buses are not more popular. Yeah, Boozman does drift a bit between Amtrak and local transit.

He got right into today’s column in the Democrat-Gazette. I suggested Amtrak needed more equipment in which to carry more passengers. He was not buying.

They desperately need a couple of things. One of the things that government does so badly is that a lot of our .. right now, Pat, if you look at your broadcasting equipment, if you look at any newspaper business or whatever, I suspect the way the type is set, this and that, you look at any of that stuff in the last 10 or 15 years, there’s been a tremendous amount of change, a tremendous amount of technological improvement. The problem is much of government, much of what we do up here, our agencies and things, they’re still doing it the same way they were doing it at the turn of the century. Somebody was telling me the other day that just until recently our visas were done on Windows 95. We’re just very very far behind, and so what we need to do, we need to look at these things, Again, not in the sense of trying to punish, displace, or whatever, but to make more efficient. We need efficiencies, so, yeah I would be interested in looking and seeing if we needed more whatever – more routes, this and that, if hat would make it more efficient. If they needed more equipment.

Efficiencies? That’s what Amtrak needs. Another round of budget cuts.

I do know the ridership throughout the continental United States is not very great. I would be a guy would be amenable to whatever. I’m a guy really trying to figure out, with “on time delivery” and a good economy, how do we get people, how do we get things were they ought to be. What’s the most efficient? How do we get the coal into the barges, if it can be done that way – as opposed to the other, and maybe the other products on the trains.

I asked about the railroad capacity issue. Today’s column cast that as the major issue facing rail carriers.

I agree with you completely and I am co-sponsor or a bill that gives a pretty massive tax credit to railroads, to trains, to build.

Then we had a little exchange. You figure it our for yourself.

LYNCH: And that is why I believe Amtrak should participate in improvements to the infrastructure…

BOOZMAN: It would be like all of us riding along and the police , with the siren, just all the time running down to pull you over, whether it’s crowded or not crowded. All I’m saying is that if you have the potential, if you have a crowded area, not that Amtrak shouldn’t take precedence, is that somebody look and say “well, let’s kinda’ schedule this here and schedule that there, and we’ll make it run most efficient.

LYNCH: You don’t actually believe, as a practical matter, that Union Pacific or BNSF, and I’m not painting them as corporate criminals, but you don’t actually believe that they actually give Amtrak preferential dispatching?

BOOZMAN: How do you mean?

LYNCH: In other words, that Amtrak would be somehow, could somehow, be moved ahead of freight trains that are already stopped on the main line, dead on their track?

BOOZMAN: Oh, they do for sure. Amtrak has preferential (audio interruption).

LYNCH: But you don’t believe, practically, that that happens?

BOOZMAN: Yeah, for sure I do.

LYNCH: Oh, boy.

BOOZMAN: I surely do.

LYNCH: I find it hard to imagine that you would belive that.I mean, considering that Amtrak trains, the Sunset is frequently as late as 12 to 16 hours into either New Orleans or Los Angeles, I mean they’re certainly not running that kind of on time performance getting preferential dispatching. I mean, Amtrak is stuck in the same gridlock with the freight trains.

BOOZMAN: But they really do, Pat. They really do. They get. I don’t know. Again, this couldn’t happen, but if two of them started out at the same time, then Amtrak would get there first. Because they do get preferential dispatching. And that’s really what all this is about.

LYNCH: Boy, I think that’s an interesting outlook. I think you’ve been sadly deceived, but I guess if that’s what you believe, that’s what you believe.

BOOZMAN: Well, it’s. Can you send me – Ya’ know I’m part of the deal. I’ve explained to you about “on time delivery, “ the fact that – whatever I’ve explained to you – that I’m trying to do something about the infrastructure, the tax credit, this and that, how all this works together – Can you send me a document that says that – are you just telling me what you think or are you telling me something that you based it on?

LYNCH: Well, I guess we just have a difference of opinion.

BOOZMAN: Well, that’s not an opinion.

LYNCH: I mean, well, you’re terribly

BOOZMAN: Pat, do me a favor.

LYNCH: Alright.

BOOZMAN: Now, listen. We had a discussion in the hearing, OK, Back and forth about whatever. You’ll be able to get the, in fact we’ll get it for you and send it to you, the transcript of that thing. Nobody in the course of that, and it was a great discussion about Amtrak, it wasn’t slamming. It was, how do we fix this thing? Mr. Oberstar, who knows more about this than anybody in the world, he’s been here a long long time, he’s a good guy, Democrat from Minnesota , a good guy, nobody took the course of action saying they weren’t getting preferential treatment. They do get preferential treatment.

LYNCH: It could be that the railroad is so crowded that it’s nothing but a moot point and a semantic difference because the preferential treatment makes you 12 hours late instead of 20 hours late.

BOOZMAN: And I’m really not talking about areas like that. Somebody was teling me the other day, and again, this was after I’d done this, somebody told me there are areas of the country where you might not have any of that going on, Pat. But, regardless, even though trains have to stop, Amtrak does get preferential treatment. This is just an effort to look at it, sort it out. I’m not … I guess the other thing … you have no reason to think that I’m somehow undoing, in a nefarious kind of way to get rid of Amtrak. That’s totally ridiculous.

He then went off on his support for local transit buses, with which I completely agree.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

Footnotes on my newspaper column

My column in today’s Democrat-Gazette is about Congressman Boozman’s ill-advised idea that passenger trains cause pollution. It’s on the Voices page in the Arkansas section. Read it.

Even in newspapers, you can’t get around to everything that needs to be said. My comments, generally supporting Amtrak, should not be taken as blinded loyalty. Amtrak spends far too much of its’ time trying to survive and too little running a viable transportation company. Sometimes they could be better managers.

I am not one of these dreamers who expect the return to an age of “luxury rail travel. “ All I would like to see is practical punctual trans as part of a balanced sensible transportation system. Furthermore, I am not necessarily one who backs a European-style system operating at over 200 miles per hour. That would be wonderful, but is politically and economically impossible. We have already wasted trillions in Iraq.

Reliable trains operating somewhere around a modest 80 miles an hour would be great for hauling large passenger loads over modest distances. This is going to take a little thinking outside the box, but America needs better transportation choices.

(Broadcast June 25, 2007)

Congressman Boozman calls ...

I have just completed a marathon (20 minute) conversation with Arkansas Congressman John Boozman concerning Amtrak.

I need to go someplace and decompress.

But first, let me say that he is a nice guy and I think he believes some things which are really a bit misguided, including the "empty train" myth about low ridership.

He believes that Amtrak receives "preferential treatment" from freight railroads in dispatching. This is despite an appalling "on time" record of most long distance trains.

His target is to reverse the so-called "preference," I think. In fairness, I need to review the transcript.

I would like to observe that I can not think of a single railroad which was not constructed with some sort of public-private partnership. This is a contract to haul freight and people, and so far as I am concerned, a deal is a deal. Call me a commie.


Jim Harris on Tuesday's show

Arkansas Business has started a new blog devoted to sports and Jim Harris is the resident wizard. Jim will take off his pointed hat and lay the wand aside at 10:00 for a visit on the Pat Lynch Show. We will get all over the Chuck Barrett story and try to figure out why the Athletic Director search committee has yet to contact me.

Tyson spreads its' (chicken) wings

Arkansas Business reports.

Tyson Foods Inc. announced Monday that it has partnered with a Tulsa company to produce synthetic fuels using fat from its animal processing operations.

Syntroleum Corp. of Tulsa and Tyson will form Dynamic Fuels LLC. The plant location, not yet announced, will begin construction next year and will produce 75 million gallons annually by 2010.

Maybe Marion?

Such a soap opera. After months of disappointment and corporate back and forth, Marion may still be in the mix for a new Hino assembly line. Who other than Roby Brock has the latest on his BizBlog and

Family reunion?

Rainbow Family National Gathering attendees have begun to arrive on the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas. The event, which runs from July 1-7, draws thousands of people from all parts of the country and all walks of life. Some Rainbows describe themselves as hippies, hobos or even gypsies, according to a press release. This year’s National Gathering is expected to have a lower attendance than previous years and may only draw 5,000-10,000 people. The Russellville Courier has it all.

And the Courier also concludes that this big ol' shindig may be attracting the wrong kind.

A New Mexico woman wanted for failure to appear in New Mexico was apprehended Thursday in Arkansas.

Melissa Marie Salazar, 22, appeared before District Judge Don Bourne for a bond/extradition hearing Friday at the Pope County Detention Center. Salazar said she
was in Arkansas for the annual North American Rainbow Gathering, an event scheduled for July 1-7, in Fallsville, a community north of Clarksville.

Salazar told Bourne she jumped trains to get to Arkansas to celebrate her honeymoon.
“I’m a hobo,” she said. “I ride trains. It’s for my honeymoon.”

You gotta' love romantics.

PERM Fake Job Ads defraud Americans to secure green cards fo

This is how it has been for women and blacks, and now see how whites folks get excluded from employment.

These are fine Americans working in a fine American tradition.

North Little Rock museum makes Naval History

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum will be the featured Naval Museum in the August 2007 edition of Naval History, published by the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis, MD, which should be on news stands and in subscriber's mailboxes soon.

Each month Naval History reaches hundreds of thousands of readers, including professional naval historians, other museums, schools, libraries, and regular readers.

Hillary's southern strategy

The Washington Times has deep analysis of the weekend fundraiser, and a quote from Vic Snyder.

"She will be the next president of the United States," Rep. Vic Snyder said, introducing her, adding: "Arkansas is in you, and we know it and we see it every day."

The strategy?

Clinton supporters at the dinner envisioned an electoral map with Mrs. Clinton winning Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee — picking up enough states to win the presidency. They said her years in Arkansas and as first lady make her better prepared than any other candidate.

Hillary Clinton MUST carry one rad state. Write it down.

Monday early summary

U.S. Representative Vic Snyder of Arkansas’ Second District will become the chairman of the House Subcommittee of Oversight and Investigation of the armed forces July 1.

Speaking to about 4,000 supporters at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says the country should set goals for improving health care, education and the environment, and she said President Bush’s administration “will go down in history as probably the most ill-prepared to govern.” It was reportedly the largest political event in Arkansas history.

State police are investigating an incident in which a West Memphis police officer shot and killed a 12-year-old boy late Friday night, mistaking the child’s silver toy gun for a real handgun. The victim, DeAunta Farrow, graduated from the sixth grade at Maddux Elementary School 28 days earlier. Police say Farrow was running with another child and made an “evasive action” when police ordered him to drop the gun.

A 3-year-old girl died of injuries she suffered when she was run over by a car in Waldron. The accident reportedly involved a drunk driver. Police say the driver was backing up when he hit the girl, who was playing in the street. The driver tried to revive the girl, but she was taken to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, where she later died. The names of the child and the driver have not been released.

A Pine Bluff woman is accused of running over and killing a man in a wheelchair, then leaving the scene of the accident. Veronica Fields-Hunter is charged with negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death, both felonies, as well as first offense DWI, a misdemeanor. The body of James Moten, who was confined to a wheelchair, was discovered by police in a roadside ditch.

A leader of a Washington County militia group will serve six years in federal prison for possessing a machine gun. Hollis Wayne Fincher, commander of the Militia of Washington County, was arrested after federal agents raided his home in the Black Oak community south of Fayetteville. The agents found a number of machine guns there and at the nearby militia headquarters.

A Lonoke man is under arrest and charged with killing his wife. Police say 41-year-old Horace Dixon, Junior, walked into the Lonoke Police Department around 4 Saturday morning and said he had shot his wife.

The government gave hospitals around the country a public report card that measures their performance in the treatment of patients suffering from heart attacks or heart failure. Conway Regional Medical Center was among the 35 hospitals ranked below the national average for heart failure death rates. Sparks Regional Medical Center at Fort Smith was among hospitals listed as performing worse than the national average for heart attack mortality.

Industry watchers say 10 Arkansas hospitals are possible sell-off targets after the $6.4 billion merger of two healthcare systems goes through in July. The March deal between Community Health Systems of Franklin, Tenn. and Triad Hospitals Inc. of Plano, Texas, could mean the sale of several debt-prone Arkansas facilities, said Whit Mayo, a health-care analyst with Stephens Inc. in Little Rock.

The chairman of the Board of Corrections proposes sending more prison inmates to perform maintenance and cooking duties at county and city jails, saying demand currently outstrips supply in the popular Act 309 program. Boone County will break ground on a new 103-bed jail in August and has built a barracks just to house program inmates.

Roby Brock of reports Tyson Foods shares went on a wild ride this week as Wall Street speculation suggested the Springdale-based meat giant could be a takeover target. Despite many analysts dispelling the rumors, Tyson shares climbed more than 5 percent on Thursday before retreating on Friday.

For the second time this year, Marion has lost out on a vehicle assembly plant, according to published reports in West Virginia. Hino Motors, which operates a 400,000-square-foot axle plant near Marion, is expected to announce that it will open a medium-duty truck assembly plant in West Virginia, taking hundreds of jobs to a region hit hard by the 2005 closure of another large manufacturing company.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is revamping proposed regulations that would provide uniform rules for drilling companies along the Fayetteville Shale,

The National Federation of Independent Businesses announced Thursday that it has hired as its state director and lobbyist a former state Department of Economic Development worker. Sylvester Smith III of Little Rock previously was the department’s specialist for the small and minority-group businesses, making $92,000 a year.

After three years of serving the sick, the needy and poor, the Greater Texarkana People’s Clinic is closing its doors. The clinic, which saw uninsured and under-insured patients for a small fee, can no longer afford its overhead expenses, which run $40,000 to $50,000 per month.

After 86 years of service, the El Dorado Lions Club will cease operations. Official cite declining membership as the cause.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What every American should know about Iraq

Mark Elrod noted this article on his blog and it is the most important single article you will ever read about our involvement in Iraq. Vitally important information.

Wally Hall's line in the sand

Wally is no fan of Chuck Barrett.

Today's Democrat-Gazette column is online, but you need a subscription. It's worth a read just to get an alternate viewpoint. Go buy a paper. It won't kill ya.

The crux of Wally's argument is that Barrett will be a source of further Razorback divisiveness.

Partly because the state is not unified on Houston Nutt and, on his radio sports talk show, Barrett compared anti-Nutt people to terrorists.

Terrorists are violent people committed to murder, mayhem and war.

Last time I looked, football still came under the heading of sports.

Does Hall blame Frank Broyles? Kinda'.

There is a sinister presence in the shadows.

If it is Matt Shanklin, who is the athletic department marketing guy and has been there only since 1990, then Broyles is making oneof the biggest mistakes of his career as athletic director.

Good Lord, Wally! That's 17 years since 1990. How long does one have to live in the golden land of opportunity before being granted full citizenship rights? I have ONLY been here since 1983.

Since I have had unhappy and hurtful departures from KARN (Barrett's previous network flagship) and Signal Media's Little Rock station, I feel qualified to impartially sort this out.

Based solely on these two afore-mentioned firings, you can easily see that decisions in broadcasting are often made for the flimsiest reason - or no business reason at all.

Wally has a financial relationship with Signal Media, which is the flagship for Drivetime Sports, an excellent program which often concentrates on the Hogs and is as slavishly devoted to the Hog religion as Barrett might ever aspire. "Darksiders" get nowhere with Randy and Rick, and are essentially without a viable forum.

Now the usual disclaimers. Randy Rainwater has never been anything but professional and kind in his dealings with me. I am not angry with anybody working on the air at that station.

I have no gripes whatsoever with anybody, on-air talent or management, at Citadel's KARN.

Nor am I suggesting that Wally Hall is "on the take." I do think his opinion may be influenced by where he is sitting.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Good news for Congressman Snyder

This item does not seem to have gotten much circulation. Since Vic Snyder is just about the best Congressman around, we should always celebrate all positive developments in his political career. The full story is in the Searcy Daily Record, and I may have missed it elsewhere.

U.S. Representative Vic Snyder of Arkansas’ Second District will become the chairman of the House Subcommittee of Oversight and Investigation of the armed forces July 1.

The subcommittee is under the House Armed Forces Committee, on which Snyder has served for 10 years. Snyder has been on the subcommittee since January. After the former chair of the subcommittee, Rep. Marty Meehan of Massachusetts, stepped down, the chair of the Armed Forces Committee asked Snyder to serve as the new chair of the subcommittee, Snyder said.

Good news for decent taxpaying Americans, bad news for Republicans.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Chuck Barrett, Voice of the Hogs

It must be an amazing feeling to be inside Chuck Barrett's skin today. I could not let too much time go by without offering this public note of congratulations.

Chuck has been unfailingly kind and respectful and I am an admirer of his work. He's going to do a great job.

Mike Nail deserves some special thanks for taking over under very trying circumstances. His handling of the broadcasts last year may make it easier for Chuck to take over now without the inevitable comparisons to Mr., Eells. Thanks, Mike.

Chuck, you da' man.

You can slip over to my home page,, and hear why Rex Nelson, a fixture of the Little Rock Touchdown Club, was surprised that Chuck got the gig. Scroll down a bit and listen to legendary Stephens Media sports columnist Harry King predict Chuck will be the Voice.

Lyncho Does Newport!

Time for some thank-you notes to the Newport Rotary Club where I was the after-dinner entertainment for the 74th Annual Banquet. Thanks to the outgoing President, Ms. Sheridan Cole who made Marie and I feel right at home.

Jon Chadwell, Executive Director of the Newport Economic Development Commission, invited us up for the evening and I learned a lot from him over dinner. Chadwell has a wealth of knowledge on industrial recruitment. All the members made us feel so welcome. You could not find a nicer bunch and they are all regular listeners on KNBY 1280, which runs my show 9 to 11.

The Newport Country Club is a classy place. The food was excellent and there was a variety of hot tasty items on the buffet. They got the prime rib just right and the au jus was not salty. The staff was professional. It compares favorably with any similar facility in these parts.

I may as well reveal that Scott Inman beat Chuck Barrett on my Voice of the Hogs poll. Newport is more interested in the Razorbacks than the Indians, and totally disgusted with the NCAA. The one political question concerned Hillary Clinton, who seems to be held in great regard, as is Governor Beebe, who graduated from Newport High.

I have a lot of fun doing this kind of thing. I am so done with the “save the world” stuff, so my spiel is pretty darned funny. When you Rotarians need to do a make up, remember the Newport club. They know how to have a good laugh.

(Broadcast June 22, 2007)

Toyota blinks

Roby Brock at is feeling like the cat that ate the parakeet today. After seeing through the politically driven decision to locate that Toyota plant in Tupelo, Roby has been vindicated by the Wall Street Journal.

It turns out that senior board members back in Japan are concerned that the world’s most successful auto maker is too spread out in North America. It is cheaper to build the cars in Japan and send them here, but Toyota has been gaining political backing by handing out assembly lines in places with cheap labor. The jobs in Tupelo will be significantly below the southern norm and the plant is not being built out for expansion. There is no reason to believe construction will not be delayed, and layoffs are not impossible. Word is that Toyota plans to hire lots of part-time workers with no benefits, kinda’ like Wal Mart.

Let’s not gloat over this. Marion still won’t get the assembly line either. The Beebe administration policy of going after many economic development opportunities in various sections seems to be vindicated as well. Northwest Arkansas gets the air-gun manufacturing jobs and Nestle is expanding in Jonesboro. The education system is working harder in the Delta and better jobs are on the way there too.

(Broadcast June 21, 2007)

Local Bakery introduces wholesome, delicious gluten-free bakery treats!

Patt Hutchins is top flight all the way, so pay attention to this.

No more crumbly, styrofoamy, tasteless breads and baked items for those individuals who must eliminate wheat and other gluten-containing grains from their diets.

Purple Onion Catering and Specialty Bakery, 102 Pine Street Perryville, AR has developed a proprietary gluten-free flour mix and they are baking up some really yummy treats for those people with Celiac Disease or other conditions that prohibit them from enjoying traditional wheat-based baked goods.

With a background in natural foods, The Body Ecology Diet (tm) and whole foods principles, Vanessa Barranco convinced her business partner and baker extraordinaire, Patt Hutchins, to re-work her already famous scone recipe to one that was totally gluten free, but still full of the rich buttery flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture that we have all come to love. And that she did!

With the first delivery scheduled for the Drug Emporium, 9112 Rodney Parham, Little Rock AR 72205 on Tuesday, June 26, 2007, and participation in the Little Rock Farmer's Market on Tuesdays, Vanessa and Patt will be providing a variety of fresh baked scones, muffins, breads and pie crusts, ready to eat and suitable for freezing for later enjoyment.

In the near future, we will be supplying our friends at the Sauce Company, 5705 Kavanaugh, Little Rock, AR with our proprietary flour blend for those who enjoy the delicious aroma of fresh-baked breads in their home.

For additional information concerning our gluten-free bakery products or to place orders contact us at:
501-889-5082 or 501-889-8636

Friday summary

An agreement has been reached in principle by the University of Arkansas and KATV, Channel 7, to name Chuck Barrett play-by-play announcer for Razorbacks football radio broadcasts.

The state Health Department has issued a statewide heat-water conservation advisory as the first day of summer arrives and temperatures soar into the mid and upper 90s.

The death of a 7-year-old boy who fell off a carnival ride in Hope has been ruled an accident. The Arkansas Department of Labor found that Marcial Alvarado-Mendoza stood up and fell out over the back of the Sizzler ride, which was operated by Jelly Saunders Original Razorback Amusements. Carnival manager Ann Saunders was fined $10,000 for several amusement park violations. Problems included worn parts, a broken lap bar, missing bolts and hydraulic leaks. And the ride’s emergency stop button did not work.

The Supreme Court has allowed a lawsuit accusing a Batesville nursing home of being understaffed and failing to provide a safe and clean living environment to proceed as a class action. The unanimous decision allows a woman suing Beverly Enterprises, former owner of Batesville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, to pursue the case on behalf of more than 400 people who lived at the home in 2000 through 2004.

The state Supreme Court has upheld a $3.5 million award to a Sebastian County couple in a medical negligence case. The high court affirmed a Sebastian County jury's March 2006 verdict in favor of Paul and Caroline Montgomery, who claimed in a lawsuit that Dr. Mark McCoy was negligent in treating Paul Montgomery for peripheral vascular disease, eventually resulting in the amputation of Montgomery's right leg.

Students participating in the nation’s first federally funded kindergarten through 12th-grade voucher program did no better academically in their first year of study than their public school peers did, a report released by a University of Arkansas at Fayetteville researcher shows.

Arkansas is among the top 10 states in percentage of per capita income spent on gasoline, making the state's residents especially vulnerable to high prices at the pump, a national report released Thursday showed. The report by the Natural Resources Defense Council was released the same day the U.S. Senate voted to increase fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles

Arkansas Farm Bureau President Stanley Reed reaffirms his organization’s support of the comprehensive immigration bill in the U.S. Senate.

Legislation introduced in the House would give satellite and cable companies the opportunity to offer customers in-state television stations, even if those stations are outside a subscriber's area. Rep. Mike Ross says many of his constituents receive broadcasts from Shreveport, La., stations, though they might prefer Little Rock channels.

Tighter ozone standards proposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency will pose a challenge to two Arkansas regions already struggling to meet current air-quality standards as well as a third, more rural county that hasn’t had issues with air pollution. Pulaski and Crittenden Counties would be joined by rural Newton County, which is not even required to have a ozone monitor.

Expanded drug courts and more parole officers are on the way, thanks to an 18 percent increase in the Department of Community Correction’s current budget, administrators told the Board of Corrections Thursday.

Wildlife managers for the state Game and Fish Commission on have proposed a special hunt to reduce the number of Canada geese in parts of the state.

A House subcommittee this week authorized $5 million for biofuels research at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

A group of Trumann residents are attempting to remove Mayor Sheila Walters. Jay Paul Woods, a member of the Trumann Parks and Recreation Commission, said at least a dozen residents in the Poinsett County town are circulating a petition to remove Walters.

Couples hoping to register their relationship on the Arkansas' first domestic registry will have their chance today beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Eureka Springs.

A North Little Rock man is behind bars for allegedly kidnapping his nine-month-old daughter at gunpoint. Arkansas State Police cancelled a Morgan Nick/Amber Alert after the father surrendered to authorities. Nine-month-old Catina Williams was unharmed and is now back at home with her mother.

Authorities in Sevier County have issued an arrest warrant for an Oklahoma man who is accused of throwing an 8-pound hammer at his ex-girlfriend’s head, putting her in the hospital. Misty Tucker of Mountainburg reported that Brian Joiner of Eagletown, Okla., chased a vehicle she was a passenger in from Oklahoma into Sevier County.

Little Rock would restrict the size of new homes in its historic Hillcrest neighborhood under a measure headed to the city’s Board of Directors.

It has taken five months longer than anticipated, but Welspun Pipes Inc. will announce in about a week that it will spend more than $80 million to build a plant near the Little Rock Port that will employ as many as 250 workers.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

This will be important to many Arkansans and good news for all Little Rock TV stations.

Ross Bill Would Give Arkansans Access to Local Channels

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Mike Ross (AR-04) introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday to give satellite and cable customers across the nation access to their in-state news, sports, and local programming.

Ross' legislation, The Television Freedom Act of 2007, will give satellite and cable companies the ability to provide their customers local channels from their home state allowing them to watch their local news, sports, and programming.

"The time has come to stop delivering 21st Century technologies with 1950's business practices," Ross said. "Americans should not be bound by outdated laws that prevent them from receiving their home state programming. Everyone who wishes to receive their local channels in their home state should have the option to do so, and that is why I am proud to introduce this legislation to ensure that all Arkansans have access to Arkansas programming. Arkansans want to watch the Arkansas Razorbacks and my bill will give those who live on or near the border of another state the ability to watch the Hogs - not the LSU Tigers."

Current law specifies that television broadcast stations be transmitted primarily within their designated market area (DMA), which is assigned by the Nielsen Media Research Company. Because of these laws, many consumers cannot receive the local channels of the state in which they live and work. In addition, 47 percent of designated market areas (DMAs) cross a state line, which means that millions of subscribers are left watching the local channels of their neighboring state.

Ross said The Television Freedom Act of 2007 will bring the DMA system and the Satellite Home Viewer Act into the 21st Century.

"This issue affects countless residents across Arkansas's Fourth Congressional District and it is one of the top concerns I hear about from people all over the state," Ross said. "I strongly believe that all Arkansans should have the ability to watch Arkansas programming and this legislation would get rid of outdated regulations and give them that ability."

Ross holds a seat on the coveted House Energy and Commerce Committee where this legislation will be referred. Ross' bipartisan legislation is being cosponsored by Reps. Barbara Cubin (WY-At Large) and Dan Boren (OK-02).

Coveted? That would be a sin.

Thursday summary

North Little Rock police are investigating the reported kidnapping at gunpoint of a 9 month-old girl from a McCain Blvd residence. Police have named the biological father, Cleveland Williams Jr., as a possible suspect.

A former Little Rock municipal judge who resigned from the bench in 1996 after being sanctioned by state regulators says that he is considering running for a vacant judicial spot next year. Bill Watt agreed in 1996 that the would never again seek or accept judicial office. The deal helped him avoid a public hearing into complaints that he had made an improper campaign contribution, inappropriately used his court staff to investigate truancy cases and forged a signature on a loan document.

A prison inmate who has been recommended for executive clemency has a lengthy history of bad behavior in state custody, including an incident that occurred just two months ago, according to a state prison spokeswoman. Brett Surveyor is serving a 60-year sentence from Jefferson County for aggravated robbery and other offenses.

A woman serving a life sentence for the 1975 murder of a West Memphis man and a man convicted of murder in Pulaski County were among state inmates recommended for executive clemency, the state Parole Board announced Wednesday. The board also recommended clemency for a man convicted of attempted murder in Lincoln County.

A decision by the state Workers' Compensation Commission to deny disability benefits to a Pine Bluff woman was based on a review of the wrong patient's medical record, the state Court of Appeals found Wednesday. The appeals court reversed the commission's decision in the case of Diana Vaughan, who reported pain in her neck, right shoulder and right arm following her shift at a Pine Bluff bakery in Sept. 1997.

State officials have set a July 5 deadline for written comments on proposed amendments to state water quality standards, including the possible damming of Lee Creek in Northwest Arkansas.

Rep. John Boozman on Wednesday withdrew a controversial measure opposed by Amtrak and the passenger rail industry. Instead Boozman said he would request the Government Accountability Office conduct a study on Amtrak's priority access to freight rail within its corridors.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton returns to Arkansas this weekend to headline the state Democratic Party's biggest event of the year. Clinton, a former Arkansas first lady and currently a top candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, will the keynote speaker for Saturday's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.

A petition seeking a public vote on a proposed domestic partner registry in the city of Eureka Springs has been rejected for not meeting legal requirements, paving the way for the city to begin registering couples Friday.

Electronic games of skill at a West Memphis dog track and a Hot Springs horse track handled more than $30 million in wagers last month, according to figures released Wednesday by the Arkansas Racing Commission. Combined, the machines brought $369,725 to the state through an 18 percent privilege fee levied on their net proceeds.

A board appointee of Gov. Mike Beebe acted in roles similar to a judge and defendant when he voted as a board member to accept a settlement involving his propane gas dealership. Don Anderson of Hindsville presented the Arkansas Liquefied Petroleum Gas Board with a check to pay a $1,500 fine. Anderson’s Gas & Propane Inc., has been fined three times, more often than any other of the 70 or so dealerships in the state. Anderson is the only board member to ever be fined by the board.

Faulkner County Justices of the Peace unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday night authorizing County Judge Preston Scroggin to enter a contract with private attorneys to file litigation in recovering expenses lost during the era of meth addiction in the United States.

A federal lawsuit against the Rogers mayor and police chief maintains a ban on pandhandling violates the constitutional rights of both the panhandler and the giver. The suit is filed on behalf of J.D. Ames. who, according to the complaint, is neither a panhandler nor a resident of Rogers. It states she works in Rogers and has given to panhandlers in the past and plans to make such donations in the future.

Pulaski County Coroner Mark Malcolm has been selected as one of 30 members of a newly created advisory council for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals dismissed a Hot Spring County woman’s arson conviction, ruling that prosecutors did not offer proof other than a disputed confession that she set fire to her home. Barbara Fowler was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a Hot Spring County Circuit Court found her guilty of felony arson.

Special Pope County Circuit Judge John Patterson has scheduled a hearing for June 29 to address outstanding issues in advance of Kevin Jones’ trial for the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer. Among items to be reviewed is a bloody palm print on a lamp which is the alleged murder weapon.

Several defendants have been added to a lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died following his arrest by Russellville police. The family of Bobby Joe Rylee alleges in a federal lawsuit that the officers beat him and jumped on him, then jailers refused to provide medical assistance despite Rylee suffering life-threatening injuries after his July 15 arrest.

Two men accused in a May 2006 fatal road rage shooting understood English and voluntarily gave statements to police, a judge said Wednesday, denying requests from defense attorneys to suppress the statements and prevent prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

Little Rock police continue to investigate the shooting in broad daylight of two unidentified men at a Brookside Drive apartment complex. The attack occurred during an eviction and shots were apparently fired from a passing automobile. A nearby traffic accident may be part of the incident.

Dickey Morton, the University of Arkansas’ second all-time leading rusher, has been arrested on 21 felony counts of theft and computer fraud, accused of duping more than 20 farmers and businessmen out of about $100,000.

A Fort Smith police officer, Cpl. Tim Randolph, has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge connected to an reported confrontation with his estranged wife in a local restaurant.

Fort Smith police are on the trail of three men suspected of robbing and beating a wheelchair-bound local woman, and possibly robbing three men in a separate incident.

A pair of farmers from Pocahontas had the surprise of their lives recently when they learned of crop circles in their Delaplaine wheat field. Justin Gates farms with his father, Fred Gates. About a week ago a crop duster pilot flying over their field spotted the crop circle, which was not completed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy motoring from the Holy Father

The Vatican has issued some moral guidance to motorists. Before you go off laughing, they are certainly correct to observe that the automobile can lead us into moral difficulties.

Some of the advice is right on target, so let me quote, “Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.” It’s about time moral theologians weighed in on highway conduct. I especially like, “On the road, protect the more vulnerable party. Feel responsible toward others.”

These are good thoughts, but I think the Roman authorities could have done more if they had spent some time on the road in Arkansas. They might have included instructions not to apply makeup while driving, and no cell phone chats either. Getting dressed behind the wheel should be a sin, and woofing down any fast food is probably going to take you right down that highway to hell.

Remember that others are depending on you. Remember the golden rule.

(Broadcast June 20, 2007)

Wednesday summary

Arkansas senators applauded Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee for demanding an investigation into claims that Tim Griffin, a former Republican operative-turned-U.S. attorney from Arkansas, engaged in illegal voter-suppression activities. E-mail evidence from Griffin's time as an opposition researcher at the Republican National Committee show the Magnolia native "knew and approved of" a 2004 vote-caging program.

A state prosecutor has dropped misdemeanor drug and weapon charges against Jonesboro school shooter Mitchell Johnson, saying federal investigators are pursuing their own felony case. During the traffic stop Johnson was cited for having marijuana and a firearm.

Ron Quillin’s graphic e-mail exchanges with a woman working for Pulaski County’s financial software provider are public record and should be released, a circuit judge decided Tuesday in the Democrat-Gazette’s FOI lawsuit. There are also reportedly references to Quillin’s attempts to assist a county attorney find a state job. Quillin, the county’s former director of administrative services, is accused of stealing $42,000 in county funds.

A man facing charges in the death of his wife and unborn child in an automobile accident last summer was arrested in Washington County after another accident. Police said Brenton Wayne Linn ran away after causing an accident in Springdale. A 12-year-old in a separate vehicle was hospitalized with heavy bleeding on the face and head.

Talks are ongoing between the University of Arkansas and KATV, Channel 7, regarding a new play-by-play announcer for Razorbacks football and radio broadcasts. KUAR’s Ron Breeding gives the edge to Scott Inman. In an interview with Pat Lynch, Stephens Media Group coluknist Harry King calls it for Chuck Barrett.

Gov. Mike Beebe says that a plan to use $25 million in state general revenues for a statewide trauma center program is unacceptable. "You can't do that," Beebe said. "A balanced budget is a balanced budget. We're conservative in our budgets but we're not so conservative that there is an extra $25 million laying around. You couldn't take $25 million out of general revenue without seriously impacting current essential services."

Chances are "pretty good" Congress will reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond Simon said Tuesday during a visit to his alma mater, the University of Central Arkansas. Simon, a Conway native who holds bachelor's and master's degrees from UCA, was the third speaker in a lecture series celebrating the university's 100th anniversary.

The state’s largest airport would save $1 million over the next five years by creating its own police force under a plan recommended by a staff report released Tuesday.

Wal-Mart is “on the road to truly becoming a global company,” but remains committed to boosting sales in existing U.S. stores, a top company official reported.

Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat producer, won the acclaim of scientists and advocates after announcing it stopped feeding antibiotics to millions of chickens.

Nestle will add a new production line of Stouffer brand meals resulting in 67 new jobs at its Jonesboro frozen foods plant. Plant Manager Jim Triskett says the company started a second shift April 30. The line produces 57- and 38-ounce Stouffer Family Style lasagna pack meals.

Unemployment in Arkansas rose slightly in May to 5.2 percent, remaining within the half-percentage point range it has maintained since November 2004, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Pine Bluff City Council will appeal a Jefferson County Circuit Court decision that overturned a controversial April 16 ordinance abolishing the city’s Civil Service Commission.

Interim Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon expects to appoint a panel of residents this week to advise him on whether the city should buy the North Hills Country Club, in response to what he sees as a favorable appraisal on the 105 acres.

Fort Smith Public Schools Superintendent Benny Gooden got an increase in his salary package to $190,000. The raise increases Gooden’s salary by a little more than 3 percent.

The Gillette Coon Supper will continue, despite the elimination of football at Gillett High School. The supper, held every January, has become a rite of passage for Arkansas politicians but began as a fundraiser for the school football team and other athletes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

King picks Barrett to gain Hogs radio chores

My interview from this morning with Stephens Media Group columnist Harry King is now posted. We spoke of many things, including Daren McFadden and the Houston Nutt poll. King believes that Broyles will prevail and appoint Chuck Barrett Voice of the hogs. It's in the "on demand" audio section of

Harry's great columns are archived here.

Houston Nutt's approval rating

A weather man from Alabama, claiming to be an ardent Hog fan, has released a survey he commissioned to test Coach Houston Nutt’s public approval rating. It is more scientific than an internet poll or a talk show, but there were problems.

The questions about the methodology, however, all indicate that the results should be skewed against Houston Dale Nutt. In fact, the results were not so bad, despite the opening questions about controversial emails and such. Sixty-three of the responding Razorback fans are approving of the head football coach. If the results are to be believed, that is outstanding.

It must also be noted that the University was dead wrong about only five percent of the people causing all the troubles. Fifteen percent of those participating were very dissatisfied. I thought it would be much higher. This measurement also reportedly shows the strongest backing for the program in Northwest Arkansas. That goes against conventional wisdom.

You can’t get much out of this thing, but it is probably good news for Houston Nutt. The guy just has nine lives and, no matter how bad things get, nothing can get rid of him.

(Broadcast June 19, 2007)

No greater love ...

This is the kind of thing we have all been taught to do. You know. It's the golden rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

So how does that work in real life? Ask William Hoover of Alma. His story is in today's Southwest Times Record.

Hoover saved a life. Today, with no health insurance and collection agencies knocking at the door, he faces losing everything.

Hoover says he does not regret the decision that has cost him so dearly.

While a young woman was about to be burned up alive, 20 frightened people looked on. It was a dangerous situation. Maybe it is understandable not to step into harm's way. Can't we find a way to help this man today?

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