Wednesday, 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.

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