Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blake's Think Tank responds to my commentary on the LR power grab UPDATE: I respond to Blake's response

Blake Rutherford wrote an incredibly reasonable and complimentary response to my recent postings on Little Rock city government's current proposal to further solidify control in the hands of wealth special interests in his "Blake's Think Tank" blog.

He does me honor by the extensive quote of my arguments against the August 14 ballot measure. Alas, he's wrong.

It is an understandable error to take the twin items before voters as a first move toward more needed reform in Little Rock city hall. Alas, if this first step passes, it will surely be the last step taken for many years.

Proponents have only one object in the initiatives. They intend to preserve the three at-large seats which favor the wealthy interests that make contributions to those who run citywide for those positions. Doing so is essential to the larger plan to impose the land use plans of greedy real estate interests.

Let me quote myself. (Is this some sort of Internet first???)

The problem is the underlying hybrid manager-council arrangement in Little Rock, which includes three at large city directors. One more time, let us do the math. It costs more money to run citywide, so those individuals must raise enough to buy advertising and are more beholden to the special interests who make campaign contributions. They mayor also runs at-large. That’s four votes. Now, follow me. This is important.

There are eleven votes on the council, so it takes six to get something passed. There are two wards which would be considered affluent. Taken together with the mayor and three at-large seats, the wealthy special interests win every important vote.

The slick ad you got in the mail today never told you any of this, did it? They also did not tell you that, under this proposed reorganization, the mayor can hire and fire the city manager and city attorney. (Yes, we keep those high paying positions even though the mayor becomes a six-figure executive.) With six votes always in his back pocket, the mayor will attain absolute control over city hall.

As hard as it is to believe, things could actually get worse for neighborhoods and regular folks.

(WOW! That was fun!

Indeed, Little Rock needs a strong mayor and I would have no object to that man being Mark Stodola. The problem is institutional. The wealthy elites will never allow taking away their playhouse. As things are set up now, they win every time and this election changes none of that.

None of the cities cited as being successful with strong mayors has even ONE at-large board member AMONG THEM ALL. Without exception, the mayor-council form has local ward representation. One man, one vote. If it can work in South Africa, why not Little Rock? Why must the wealthy run everything?

Passing these measure assures 15 years of relentless tyranny.

Little Rock needs a mayor-council form of local government and the big shots will do anything to keep that from happening.

VOTE "NO" TWICE in early voting and on August 14.

UPDATE: My further response to Blake (who has a really cool and thoughtful blog and is going to be on my radio program Friday morning.)

It is true that I cannot foretell the future. I am good, but not that good. I do know something about history and human nature. The last tiem we in LR had the chance to "reform" city government was about 15 years ago. The power brokers ran a sneaky deal to keep control of things by offering up this hybrid thing with which we have been saddled ever since.

I must imagine that, once passed, the rich owners of local government will tell us worthless peons to "wait and see" how it works. All the while, they will continue robbing us blind. 15 years form now in 2022, we MIGHT get a chance to vote on a mayor-council arrangement. That is 15 long years of exploitation.

It would be such a good thing if the highly paid and more powerful mayor were held accountable by the people, but how is that supposed to happen? Who will have the money to run against him? If we got a mayor who represented neighborhood interests, the special interests would still control 5 votes. They only have to fool one ward representative to win the big ones.

I am holding out for the mayor-council form of government, and passage of the twin ballot items on August 14 assures no more reform for years. I believe my analysis is supported by history, common sense and an understanding of human nature.


Tuesday summary

Arkansas is among a group of states that don't think the Internet should be a tax-free haven for online shoppers. Since 2001, Arkansas has worked with several states in a project to streamline tax codes so vendors can tax online and mail-purchases when the retailer is located outside the buyer's home state.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox will not stop the Little Rock School District from buying out the contract of Superintendent Roy Brooks. In two rulings issued Monday Fox declined to order a preliminary injunction to stop the payments, and issued a summary judgment for the school board and the district.

Three Texas men remain hospitalized, one in critical condition, after a fight Sunday between rival motorcycle clubs in Eureka Springs, where the Hells Angels met last week. Police arrested six men, including five who are Hells Angels. All are being held in the Carroll County Jail awaiting bond hearings, each on a charge of first-degree battery.

The small White County town of Garner is the new headquarters for a motorcycle club which is somehow affiliated with the Bandidos, a violent group known for its involvement in organized crime, especially the selling of methamphetamine. Local interest in the presence of Bandidos in White County began earlier in the spring when a building at 102 South Main Street was acquired by a motorcycle club.

Bikes, Blues & BBQ hasn't had a problem with motorcycle clubs or gangs because event organizers and a strong police presence discourage them from attending, Fayetteville officials said Monday.

Axciom has released the salaries of top executives. Charles Morgan, the Little Rock-based data broker’s chief executive, received $1,151,210 for the year. The total includes Morgan’s bonus, salary and other compensation. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette also includes the estimated value of stock options and awards granted for the year in its calculation. Frank Cotroneo, who resigned as chief financial officer in February after nine months, received $1,000,851, including the severance payment.

Tyson Foods Inc. exceeded analysts’ expectations Monday when it announced $111 million in net earnings for its third fiscal quarter, the best results for the meat company in two years.

The Bankers Bank of Georgia, the nation’s largest institution that supplies services to banks, is doing business with about 15 Arkansas banks and expects to open an office in the state eventually, one of its officers said Monday. »

A missing 3-year-old boy is safe after being found in a deer stand in Pearcy following a three-hour search by authorities and emergency personnel Monday morning. Connor Williams, wearing only a T-shirt and underwear, reportedly was abandoned in the tree stand in a thickly wooded area off Whitfield Road by his mother, Dianna Farmer who was arrested Monday on a felony charge of endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree.

Sherwood residents go to the polls today to fill the mayor’s office after an election earlier this month narrowed the race to interim Mayor Bill Harmon and City Clerk Virginia Hillman.

Jonesboro police have backed out of an offer to reimburse 18 traffic tickets issued by police officers conducting an operation to trap motorists into violating Arkansas’ new law requiring drivers to move to an inside land when police are on the shoulder. Attorneys are promising to fight the tickets.

Ex-American Idol Corey Clark, who claimed to have had an affair with show co-host Paula Abdul, is in the North Little Rock jail after being arrested early Monday on charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Clark has outstanding warrants from Arizona for aggravated harassment and interference with judicial proceedings. He awaits extradition.

A dispatcher with the Hughes Police Department is facing charges of theft of property after her arrest Friday. According to a report from the St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department, Stephanie Fuller, 37, of Hughes, was arrested and charged with theft of property under $500.

Dirksmeyer Developments

The Russellville Courier had a sit down with the local prosecutor over the just concluded Kevin Jones murder trial. Talk about a bunch of rationalizations and excuses. You can read it all here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Clinton correspondence

A former pen pal of young Hillary Rodham has released 30 letters penned by the then-Wellesley student from back in the mid-60’s. Some friend, huh?

Do not take this as a defense of the Democratic presidential candidate and former Arkansas First Lady, but Isn’t it just something how people who are supposed to be a friend just toss you under the bus? There was nothing intimate or sexual in the lengthy letters, although I am sure the far right slander machine will go to work on an intelligent and socially conscious young person who was desperately trying to get her own life organized and amount to something.

I wonder what sort of letters George W. Bush was writing when he was in college. Don’t you suppose those would be some kind of literary triumph? If I am correctly informed, young women could not be officially admitted to Harvard at the time, and Wellesley was the equivalent Ivy League college for brilliant young females. She was sure that.

If I had my head on half as straight, I might have made something of myself. The story is in the New York Times and I am sure you can find it online.

Of course, I’m not satisfied. I want to know what she was thinking in Junior High.

(Broadcast July 30, 2007)

We have guests

Tuesday morning at 9, the legal correspondent, local lawyer Les Ablondi, will stop in and I have a number of things to hash out with him.

Thursday at 9, yet another lawyer - and this one is a poltician, Rebekah Kennedy drops by. She is the Libertarian candidate for U. S. Senate.

If you missed my visit with the Sports Doctor, Gary Campbell, it is now posted on my home page, lyncho.com.

Monday summary

Arkansas' ability to ensure health care for its neediest children will be jeopardized if a federally funded health insurance program is allowed to expire. In his weekly radio address, Gov. Mike Beebe called on Congress to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP. Congress has been debating the future of the 10-year-old program. The program will expire if it is not reauthorize by Sept. 30.

More than 600 new state laws take effect Tuesday, including one allowing charitable bingo games. So far 141 organizations across the state have registered to host the games. Among other laws passed this year, one adds a 1 percent tax on beer. Another limits the marrying age.

Four members of a rival biker gang were stabbed, and two critically injured, in a melee Sunday afternoon with a group of Hells Angels outside a closed antique shop in Eureka Springs, police said. Six members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club are being held for questioning. Their names were not released.

A former Fordyce police chief is charged with capital murder in the shooting death of his wife, with whom he taught Sunday school. Paul Douglas Gill is accused of killing Sandra Kaye Gill on March 22 at their Fordyce home and then trying to make it look like a suicide.

Kenneth James Istre of Russellville is facing child rape charges in connection with a series of alleged rapes investigators say occurred while the victim, a family member, was between the ages of 6 and 8 years old.

A Barling woman is facing charges after reportedly striking two children with her vehicle and fleeing the scene. Jessica Nicole Turner was arrested on suspicion of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and driving while intoxicated. Two girls, aged 11 and 14, required hospital treatment. One sustained a broken ankle.

A Little Rock man accused in separate acts of firing a crossbow at a motorist and shooting out a window of a pizza restaurant with a shotgun was pronounced fit for trial Friday. A state psychologist who examined 27-year-old Wayne Allen Dierks Jr. found him competent to stand trial, diagnosing him with alcohol and marijuana dependence, in remission, and with a depressive disorder.

Authorities have identified a woman whose body was found hanging in a tree west of Batesville on Wednesday morning. Kevin Scott Honeycutt told police he found the body of Elizabeth Yvette Crutcher of Batesville hanging by a rope from a tree near his house.

A federal judge says that Hollis Wayne Fincher misrepresented his financial condition and will have to pay for his court-appointed attorneys. U.S. District Judge Jimm Larry Hendren also said he'll ask the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to send the case back to him so he can resentence the militia leader based on his actual assets.

El Dorado Chemical Co. is still a partner in a proposal to build a pipeline to ferry wastewater to the Ouachita River, a company official said Friday - a month after the chemical manufacturer announced it planned to withdraw from the project. Gregory Withrow, general manager of El Dorado Chemical, said that the company did not want its three partners to have to restart the permitting process.

The Arkansas Travelers Baseball Club Inc. has settled up with the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, sending the agency $10,361 in back taxes from when the team played at Ray Winder Field.

Get ready for doomsday

Since I was already up early, and the morning web walking was going well, I thought this might be a perfect opportunity to take the air out of your balloon, and ruin your day.

This may be hard to believe, but President Bush has yet another plan to take more power for himself. In this circumstance, all he need do is declare a disaster. The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the poop.

The plan, embodied in National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51), was issued without fanfare by Bush on May 9. It draws upon blueprints prepared by past administrations stretching back to the Truman administration.

The latest directive underscores long-standing presidential authority to declare a "catastrophic emergency" and coordinate "enduring constitutional government."

But it also awards the president broader authority to take over disaster recovery from state officials and calls on federal authorities to provide "appropriate support" to the vice president to orchestrate any post-attack recovery, if necessary.

More power for the Vice-President? What could possibly be wrong with that?

One congressman, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, complains that the White House has rejected his request to review secret parts of the Bush plan.

"Maybe people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right," DeFazio speculates. "I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack."

Then again, President Clinton and Vice-President Obama may need expanded executive powers to deal with such dire contingencies.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Teaching Arkansas History

All the discussion about teaching Arkansas History has been most enlightening. I have no idea which side is right, and since when should the governor decide? Mr. Beebe, you may be heading for your first serous mistake.

I studied Alabama history for a semester of my freshman year at McGill High in Mobile. Our teacher was a man named Bob Castalian. He had deep wrinkles from working on a shrimp boat, and we called him “Scuba Bob.” The other half of the year was civics, and I had known that material all my life.

I do vividly recall our instructor’s respect for the early native people who inhabited Alabama, the five civilized tribes. He talked at length about a game played by the Cherokees called “ball play.” It was some sort of primitive form of baseball, but they didn’t even have steroids back then. All of the explorers came through Alabama and everything was going fine till about 1860. Then it all fell apart and how are you supposed to teach that anyway.

Come to think of it, I have a renewed appreciation for folks in Germany and Japan teaching about the unpleasantness of 60 years ago. Judge Buzz Arnold wrote a book on colonial Arkansas which pretty much says it all. St. Louis became the big city and economic development moved north.

(Broadcast July 27, 2007)

Dems on YouTube

Even with the added value of viewer questions by way of You-Tube, I could not bring myself to endure the debacle of another Democratic presidential debate. It’s like a deathwatch. Everybody is waiting for the fatal error, and that seems a little morbid.

Here is where things stand, just in case you were wondering. There are three legitimate leaders at this moment. Obama, Edwards and Clinton are out in front, but it is tighter than you may think.

Edwards is running well in Iowa and Obama is a hit in New Hampshire. If either, or both, should pull even a narrow upset over Senator Clinton, she will have to do some damage control. Obama is especially dangerous because he is raising large amounts of money with which to get his name and message out to voters.

It is still Hillary Clinton’s nomination to lose, but it is very early. In politics, it is useless to make predictions. One good thing that is happening is that the candidates are defining themselves and being civil about it for the most part.

The issues are a lot more important than personalities, and how they deal with issues tells us a lot about character.

(Broadcast July 26, 2007)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Little Rock Zoo attendance up so far this year

Zoo Director, Mike Blakely, was in for a checkup Friday morning. He says that crowds are coming back to the zoo since much of the construction has ended and some new facilities are open. It's a fine hour, and I have posted it online at my home page in the Audio "on demand:" section.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The ominous brooding Mayor Stodola

You may find the first salvo in the propaganda war to fool Little Rock voters into giving total control of Little Rock city government over to the special interests that already call most of the shots waiting in your mailbox.

I will say that the image of a brooding Mark Stodola looking down upon the capital city skyline sure scared the daylights out of me. It is not an image for the squeamish.

If this thing passes, instead of holding down an honest job, the mayor will work full time for the local swells. The beautiful (although somewhat frightening) multi-color oversize post card fails to mention that Stodola gets a 6-figure salary out of this deal, triple the current pay for mayor.

This is a slick and expensive advertising piece, so the financial backing of wealthy special interests is obvious.

Little Rock already has a mayor elected at-large and is, to some degree, a political leader for the entire city. This town is large enough to have a full-time and accountable mayor with authority to run city government. That is how it is in most communities of this size that have a mayor-council form of government. As a matter of fact, North Little Rock has that type of organization.

The problem is the underlying hybrid manager-council arrangement in Little Rock, which includes three at large city directors. One more time, let us do the math. It costs more money to run citywide, so those individuals must raise enough to buy advertising and are more beholden to the special interests who make campaign contributions. They mayor also runs at-large. That’s four votes. Now, follow me. This is important.

There are eleven votes on the council, so it takes six to get something passed. There are two wards which would be considered affluent. Taken together with the mayor and three at-large seats, the wealthy special interests win every important vote.

The slick ad you got in the mail today never told you any of this, did it? They also did not tell you that, under this proposed reorganization, the mayor can hire and fire the city manager and city attorney. (Yes, we keep those high paying positions even though the mayor becomes a six-figure executive.) With six votes always in his back pocket, the mayor will attain absolute control over city hall.

As hard as it is to believe, things could actually get worse for neighborhoods and regular folks.

Little Rock needs a mayor-council form of government, and that is the very last thing the big-shots ever want you to have a chance to vote on. Passing this power grab on August 14 will ensure that a sensible type of local governance, one that treats people equally no matter of street address or socio-economic status, will not be back on the agenda for 15 years. It was in the early 1990’s when we were last lied to on this urgent piece of business.

Demand real reform in Little Rock city government. Demand a change to mayor-council. Vote “no” TWICE on August 14, and in early voting.

Friday summary

A group of Delta politicians and advocates has called on Congress and the presidential candidates to reverse what they characterized as the Bush administration’s neglect of the region. Caucus Director Lee Powell criticized the reduction of the authority’s budget from $30 million a year when it was created under President Bill Clinton in late 2000 to $5 million a year at one point. The budget for the current year is $12 million, said Rex Nelson, the agency’s alternate federal co-chairman.

The Senate has voted to spend $3 billion to beef up border security by hiring thousands of federal agents and constructing a 700-mile border fence. The funding would pay for 23,000 full-time border patrol agents in an effort that Sen. Mark Pryor claimed would "help restore American confidence in our immigration system."

On the eve of today’s court hearing on whether to temporarily stop the Little Rock School Board from using public money to buy out the remainder of Little Rock Superintendent Roy Brooks’ contract, Brooks has asked to be allowed to intervene. An injunction could stop him from receiving payments from the district when he departs in August.

Despite agreement on both sides that a 44-year-old Memphis school desegregation lawsuit should be dismissed, a federal judge says the request is premature and that Shelby County Schools has more work to do. In a 62-page opinion, U.S. Dist. Court Judge Bernice Donald ruled more needs to be done in areas of extracurricular activities, student assignment and faculty integration.

A citizens group will file suit today to overturn Cenral Arkansas Water's settlement with developer Rick Ferguson that allows him to build a subdivision overlooking Lake Maumelle, Little Rock’s water supply, near the water intake.

In northeastern Arkansas, some of the cash registers are now police informants. When drugstore customers buy more than three 10-caplet boxes of 12-Hour Sudafed in a day or seven boxes within a month, the county sheriff gets an e-mail alert listing the buyer’s name, address, birth date and the amount purchased.

The name of the historically troubled Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility, the state’s largest youth lockup, is changing beginning Tuesday to the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center.

A man who was out on parole, and has been in and out of prison since the 1990s, is charged with capital murder in the slaying last month of a Conway florist. Charles Earl Glenn Jr. also was charged with two counts of theft of property and fraudulent use of a credit card in connection with Cynthia Farmer’s death.

A Bella Vista man pleaded guilty in federal court to having sexual contact with foster children in his care and filming the encounters. Brian John Bergthold admitted to producing child pornography and transporting child pornography in Arkansas earlier this year and to producing child pornography in Oregon in 2000.

Three men have been charged by White County prosecutors after being accused of sexual activity with minors in three separate incidents. Jerry Don Foster of McRae is charged with rape after a May 28 incident at Hays Livestock Auction on Booth Road in Searcy. Daniel Gene Moss of Judsonia is charged with sexual indecency with a child in connection with some allegedly inappropriate photographs. Enrique Jimenez of Bald Knob was charged with sexual assault in the second degree on an eight-year-old girl.

A man who police say robbed a downtown Pine Bluff bank by pointing a finger under his shirt was arrested Thursday after deciding to ditch his getaway vehicle and hail a taxicab to Little Rock. Police arrested Derrick Wilson and charged him with aggravated robbery.

Ginger Shaw is appealing a 30-day jail sentence for hitting another woman in the face at a Bentonville restaurant in an apparent spell of jealousy after seeing the woman talk to her husband, who was a Rogers Police officer. Thad Shaw, then a 10-year veteran of the Rogers force, resigned after his arrest on charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

Kelley’s Restaurant in Bald Knob now has a private club license. The ABC Board ruling will allow Kelley’s to serve alcohol and join four other private clubs in White County that serve alcoholic beverages in an otherwise dry county.

Jack Fleischauer, who spent more than 30 years in the banking business in Arkansas, died Thursday of metastatic melanoma. He was 58. When Fleischauer former president of the western region of Regions Financial Corp., retired earlier this year because of health complications, he oversaw more than 350 Regions branches in Arkansas.

The boardwalk project at Lake Dardanelle State Park is a reality after years of patience and dreams. The 351-foot boardwalk will allow about 55 to 60 bass boats to tie up right along the bank.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Audio available at lyncho.com

After several days absence, the audio archives at lyncho.com have been updated.

David Sanders was on this monring discussing presidential politics with me and also hyping his Friday evening program on AETN. David has some surprising commentary. It is refeshingly blunt. David's TV guests are Rex Nelson and Kane Webb. It's on at 6:30 and again Sunday at noon.

Glen Hooks from the Sierra Club has a report that purports to show that Arkansas has been getting warmer. We have a lively chat over coal fired power plants.

Sandra Wilson has new information about the changing face of the homeless. More children and elderly are being tossed on the streets. What a great county.

I plan to add Zoo director Mike Blakely tomorrow afternoon afer he appears at 9 Friday morning.

New Arkansas media blog

You just yawned. Cut it out!

The newest blog on Arkansas media and culture is pretty darned cool, even if it does spoof me a little. Just to set the record straight, I am darned serious about the bankers, real estate interests, and powerful local swells who use Little Rock's local government for a toy.

Secondly, I might have been a little hungry during that Wednesday Wake-Up on Channel 4. (She's darned perceptive!)

Anyway, it's Floaty's Arkansas TV news and culture blog. It rocks.

Arkansas congressmen vote on Amtrak

I cover this in more detail on my "Trains for America" blog. It is noteworthy that the Arkansas delegation is, for the most part pro-Amtrak. I have a link to the votes cast by every member of congress over there, so knock yourself out.

There is an exception, so let's make a game out of this. Which Arkansas representative do you think is not in favor of reliable convenient ground transportation? Hmmmmm.... who could that be?

While you ponder, let's consider the five proposals that would have crippled Amtrak's ability to serve most of America.

The amendment offered by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) to require Amtrak to eliminate the train with the highest loss per passenger-mile [Sunset Limited] failed on a 139-283 vote.

Bachmann (R-MN; transfer $106 million from Amtrak to homeless programs) FAILED 110-308

Flake (R-AZ; eliminate $475 million from Amtrak operations to reduce the overall cost of the bill) FAILED 94-328

Flake (R-AZ; eliminate $425 million from Amtrak Capital and debt service grants to reduce the overall cost of the bill) FAILED 104-312

Sessions (R-TX; eliminate the Sunset Limited) FAILED 139-283.

OK. Time's up. If you guessed "John Boozman (R-Wal Mart), you win! He voted against the Bachmann proposal to transfer Amtrak funds to the homeless, so I guess John puts the homeless behind Amtrak passengers in the pecking order of worthiness. He was, otherwise, solidly anti-Amtrak.

Thanks to Congressmen Snyder, Ross and Berry for supporting rail passenger service, even though current proposals can only be described as embarrassingly inadequate.

Thursday summary

Pulaski County government is among the targets of a federal investigation of bid-rigging in a $43 millioon bond scheme that was supposed to provide cheap housing to poor people, but instead lined the pockets of various bond daddies. A Democrat-Gazette FOI request discovered a Feb. 5 IRS letter alleging that the county had “no reasonable expectation” that it would spend the money for houses.

Southwestern Electric Power Co. and some state regulatory officials are hiding key facts about a $1.4 billion coal-fired power plant planned for Hempstead County, say owners of 15,000 acres of nearby hunting land. Property owners contend consultants hired by the Public Service Commission found that the proposed plant does not adequately deal with carbon dioxide emissions and is not the most economic option.

Gov. Mike Beebe is now open to delaying the curriculum guidelines that some scholars claim shortchange Arkansas history.

Arkansas State University Chancellor Robert Potts said Wednesday that he will accept suggestions from the public for a new university mascot and hire a sports marketing firm to help with the change.

Knight Vorachith is being held in the Sebastian County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder in a Tuesday afternoon incident. Quy V. Nguyen was shot to death at the rear entrance of Wal-Mart Supercenter in Van Buren. Vorachith was arrested at the Valero across the street from Arkansas State Police headquarters after he called 911 from a pay phone outside the gas station.

Shawn Goodwin is no longer police chief for the city of Plainview.
Goodwin was arrested in Russellville for allegedly raping his then-13-year-old baby-sitter in 2006. Charges have yet to be filed in the case. Goodwin was accused of a similar crime in 2001, when his then 16-year-old baby-sitter filed a police report. Prosecutors declined to file charges in the case, although Russellville Police say the department will request the prosecuting attorney reopen that case.

The Wynne Police Department has made several arrests surrounding a fight last month at a construction site that sent several men to the hospital. Five men who work for Southern Plumbing, which is based in Wynne, and three men who work for A&K Drywall and Acoustical, which is based in Pangburn, are facing charges. Injuries included broken ribs, lost teeth, a broken jaw, and one gentleman was struck by an automobile in the course of this altercation.

Rich’s Package Story is open. It is the first Marion County liquor store in 60 years.

American Railcar Industries broke ground in Marmaduke on Wednesday on the latest part of the company’s expansion in northeast Arkansas that state officials say will create over 300 jobs.

Central Arkansas officials have approved a new route for the remainder of the North Belt Freeway, ending more than a decade of turmoil. The voice vote,paves the way for state highway officials to design the freeway, secure federal approval for it and, sometime next year, finally begin acquiring rights of way. Plans call for a 12.3-mile four-lane, divided highway from U.S. 67/167 westward to the Interstate 430/Interstate 40 interchange - a project now expected to exceed $200 million.

Acxiom Corp. ended its fiscal first quarter with a net loss of $11.5 million, behind $15.1 million in one-time expenditures associated with its pending buyout transaction with ValueAct Capital and Silver Lake. Without factoring in those expenses, Acxiom would have ended the quarter with a profit of $4.6 million, a 74 percent decrease from the company's fiscal first quarter of 2007.

Despite lower crude oil and natural gas sales volumes, Murphy Oil Corp. reported a 16 percent increase in second-quarter earnings Wednesday.

Arkansas Best Corp. saw its earnings dip by 39% due to market conditions, which have also forced the trucking giant to revise its capital expenditures downward for the year.

A lawsuit challenging the results of a 2006 election for a justice of the peace position in Jefferson County will go to trial Thursday afternoon in circuit court. Republican Mike Burdine, who was defeated by 17 votes, filed the lawsuit. Burdine contends that approximately 300 voters received faulty ballots because of errors in the county clerk’s office that were made following the 2000 census when the districts were reapportioned.

An amended land-use plan Mayor Tab Townsell hopes will "tie the ribbon" around the city's plans for a new airport in the Lollie Bottoms area, which still must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, has been passed by the Conway City Council.

Voters in Helena-West Helena may have not anticipated that refinancing the regional landfill bond would wipe clean all past city debt from the books, Crews & Associates says that, when the bond is refinanced, the city should be refunded the money put into various accounts. That will be an estimated $1.2 million dollars available at the beginning of October.

Several people at a meeting in Hoxie this week took a prospectus for investors in a soybean oil and biodiesel facility being planned for Corning. Interest is growing and already 36 people have invested in the facility which, when built, will not only provide a local market for soybeans, but will extract oil, sell soybean meal and process biodiesel motor fuel.

Teachers understand

The capital city had one of those very hip “community conversations” earlier this week, and although I did not attend, it looked rather worthwhile. The Little Rock Classroom Teachers Association staged the event to get some discussion going on the gap in academic performance between whites and minority children. It is very worrisome.

Looking at statewide literacy rates, as reported by the Arkansas Times blog, some disturbing results at the eighth grade level emerge. Statewide 73% of white children pass while only 44% of minority kids are appropriately literate for the grade. Since most of us to not subscribe to racist theories, there must be something else driving these numbers.

Teachers suspect, and I agree, that early influences have a lot to do with how young folks do in school. Poor kids often come from homes with few books or magazines. They come to school unable to read and socially unprepared, and it is downhill from there. Parents often expect schools to do everything, and that is simply impossible.

In less well-off families, often headed by a single mom, there is no time to help kids study. Education just does not seem important to parents, and they obviously need some help.

(Broadcast July 25, 2007)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Little Rock Power Grab Takes Shape

They came out in the open yesterday. There were the usual suspects, Dailey, Stodola, Kumpuris, and the typical swells who have become accustomed to calling the shots in local government, to the direct detriment of neighborhoods and frequently in opposition to public opinion.

Jim Dailey's last official act as mayor was to shield the despicable from public scrutiny and immediate dismissal. If nothing else, they do take care of each other.

The 2 Votes for Leadership campaign carefully and deliberately misstates the facts of what will happen if voters approve the twin proposals.

It is, at least theoretically, true that Little Rock needs stronger and more accountable government. The suggested changes will actually result in less accountability, not more.

Instead of making a direct change to a mayor-council form, the power brokers maintain iron-fisted control of Little Rock City Hall by keeping three two at-large seats on the board. They (correctly) state that most large and vibrant cities have a strong mayor, but they omit that those cities have NO at large council members. The successful municipalities have a mayor-council organization, and that is the very last thing the big shots want.

Again, the math. There are eleven members of the board; therefore, it requires a majority of six to get things done. Under the proposed arrangement, the "fix" is always in and the mayor has absolute power over the city manager and city attorney. Wealthy interests control the "at-large" positions because it takes so much money to run in a citywide race. The mayor runs from the entire city. That's four. Add at least two affluent districts (West Little Rock and Hillcrest) and you're there. The rest of us always lose the important votes.

If South Africa can get "one man, one vote," why not Little Rock?

Mark Stodola gets a 6 figure salary out of this proposed change, and we still have a high dollar city manager and city attorney.

Our former Mayor, Jim Dailey, is very wrong to suggest that passage of this measure is a good "interim" step. It is yet another convenient delay to keep the same people in total control.

VOTE NO TWICE ON AUGUST 14! (and in all early voting too) It's important.

Wednesday summary

Discerning whether former Pulaski County Comptroller Ron Quillin’s e-mail exchanges with a female vendor are personal or private will be difficult, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mary Spencer McGowan said Tuesday. The judge met with attorneys to go over just how McGowan will review the more than 600 e-mails. Quillin is accused of stealing $42,000 from various county funds starting in January 2006.

Arkansas ranks 45th in the nation in the 2007 Kids Count Data Book, which ranks all 50 states based on their performance in 10 areas related to child well-being and is released annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Arkansas’ ranking remains unchanged from 2006.

Shareholders suing Alltel Corp. over its proposed $26.3 billion buyout by two private equity firms have reached a tentative agreement with the nation’s fifth-largest wireless carrier to settle their cases.

2005 ruling favoring Dillard’s Inc. has been reversed in a lawsuit that alleged the Little Rock-based retailer discriminated against black shoppers at a Columbia, Mo., store. The case will be returned to district court. Former employees have testified that it is Dillard’s policy to more closely monitor black customers and to treat their returned merchantdise more strictly.

The hospital management company taking over operations of the city-owned Eureka Springs Hospital in September said it will build a $25 million, privately owned hospital as part of the deal. Allegiance Health Management of Shreveport will enter a five-year lease with the city upon approval from the Eureka Springs Hospital Commission at its Aug. 20 meeting.

Two Arkansas factories will shutdowns and bringing 400 layoffs. Sanyo Manufacturing Corp. said it will cease all production and assembly at its Forrest City TV-manufacturing facility in October, and Wheatland Tube Co. will shut down its manufacturing facility in Little Rock by the end of September.

The federal minimum wage rose 70 cents Tuesday to $5.85 an hour, the first of three yearly, 70-cent increases that will set the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour in summer 2009. The Arkansas Legislature increased the state's minimum wage to $6.25, effective last October.

Former Benton County Coroner Kimberly Scott will serve 60 days in jail and pay a $10,000 fine as the result of her plea bargain in connection with stealing prescription medications from the homes of deceased persons.

Frank Greenwood, the tuberculosis patient who defied a medical isolation order and was on the run for 17 days before being captured, is now discharged a Little Rock hospital and charged in connection with the theft of two cars during his escape. Arkansas Health Department officials said recent tests revealed Franklin Greenwood is not infectious.

Les “Skip” Carnine, a former Little Rock and Texarkana school superintendent who retired in Rogers, announced Tuesday that he’ll run for a state House seat in District 94.

Jason Brown of Redfield allegedly set a house where his landlord lived on fire Friday and now will have to post a $100,000 bond to be released from the county detention center.

The aftermath of an altercation after last week's quorum court meeting has resulted in a peaceful resolution. Deputies separated White County Justice of the Peace Boss Vaughn and county judge Michael Lincoln after the meeting was adjourned. The dispute erupted when Vaughn suggested a possible violation of the Freedom of Information Act in disposing of the old jail.

University of Arkansas plant pathologists found Asian soybean rust, a serious yield-robbing disease, in a field of soybeans in Little River County. Left untreated, the disease can defoliate a crop in three weeks, causing a 50 percent or more yield loss.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Making sense of Arkansas prisons

Here is a press release sent to my attention. Lord only knows that prisoners sometimes need our help.

Understanding the A D C
(Arkansas Department of Correction)

W o r k s h o p

All Public & Media is invited!

If you have a Friend or Family member that is Incarcerated and would like to learn how you can help influence changes in your loved one’s life to make a difference in how they are received back into the free world Please Join us at the Watershed located at:

3701 Springer Little Rock, AR 72206
10:00am to 12:30 (Refreshments provided)

Saturday July 28th, 2007

Guest Speaker T B A


Employment of Ex-Offenders
Institutional Record
Importance of Parole Plan
Who is F E I P A & What we do?

We may have breakout sessions in workgroups depending on attendance for certain topic discussions. Afterward we will have a special presentation by Rev. Hezekiah Stewart.

This program is Sponsored by Moody Chapel A.M.E. Church and F E I P A Program

Our Physical Address is:
F E I P A Program

3701 Springer Blvd
Little Rock, AR 72206 (501)-378-0176
E-mail: feipa_arkansas@yahoo.com

Wednesday Wake-up on KARK Channel 4

Bill Vickery will join me at around 6:45 on KARK TV Channel 4. Who are the winners and losers? Get ready because we will rock the house. Set your DVR, or drag your sorry butt out of bed and watch!

Life is short

There was an occurrence at Dickey-Stephens ballpark in North Little Rock that was so sudden and final it is almost beyond words, but here are a few anyway.

Death is the most natural and common of happenings. It is right up there with birth. There is a prayer in the Great Litany of the Anglican tradition which says, “from sudden death, good Lord Deliver us.” It is a fearful thought to imagine that one might die unprepared, and none of the hundreds of families present were prepared for what the witnessed.

The first base coach of the Tulsa Drillers is dead after being struck by a foul ball. Mike Coolbaugh was hit in the side of the head in the top of ninth inning. In North Little Rock on the same day, a fleeing purse-snatcher randomly murdered another man. There were many witnesses in both instances.

If you are expecting me to make sense of this, get ready to be disappointed. Let us always remember the shortness and uncertainly of human life. Two men were enjoying the day when their lives were snuffed without notice. There comes a time when there are no more “I love you”’s and no more chances to say “sorry” or “thanks.” The day is coming when there may not even be a simple “good-bye.” Time is our most valuable possession.

(Broadcast July 24, 2007)

Tuesday summary

Only a few months into his new job as a Tulsa assistant football coach, Gus Malzahn had already created some recruiting buzz in his home state. Monday night’s publicity tour standing room only appearance at a Springdale restaurant with first-year Golden Hurricane Coach Todd Graham and other members of the staff magnifies a commitment to seeking out prospects in Arkansas.

Joshua Leallen Lofton is accused of snatching a woman’s purse and assauling her in the parking lot of a North Little Rock Wal Mart and then firing at least three shots into a crowd of by-standers, killing Dean Worden of Jacksonville. Lofton is charged with first-degree capital murder.

A Benton County man suspected of hurling a rock and killing his father is under arrest. John Edwin Crawford, 39, was sought in connection with second-degree murder charges and is being held in the Benton County Jail

Andrew Kumpuris, the son of Little Rock at-large City Director Dean Kumpuris, is facing charges arising from a fatal weekend car accident in Oregon. The younger Kumpuris struck some trees after running off a crooked road. His passenger was killed. Kumpuris is charged with second-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants and reckless driving.

A group including two former Little Rock mayors and a sitting city board member is set today to kick off its campaign to support a stronger mayor’s office, and consolidate the power of special interests in city government, as outlined in two Aug. 14 special election proposals.

District parents, administrators and teachers gathered Monday night for a community forum to discuss ways to combat an “achievement gap” between white, black and Hispanic students in the district.

John Walker, an attorney for the Joshua intervenors in the Little Rock desegregation case, has submitted a one-paragraph motion to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis requesting that the court hold his appeal of the district’s release from court supervision “in abeyance” pending the outcome of mediation on a possible settlement between the intervenors and the Little Rock School District.

By next week, Shelby County Schools could be relieved of a desegregation order that has monitored the district's racial equality since the height of the civil rights movement. U.S. Dist. Judge Bernice Donald announced Monday she would write a decision in seven to 10 days.

The University of Arkansas continues to reap the benefits of its seven-year fundraising campaign two years after its end, bringing in $100 million in private gifts in fiscal 2007.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter on Monday named his campaign manager, Michael Cook, as his chief of staff. Cook, 35, succeeds Ron Oliver, a former Democratic Party chairman, who is leaving the job to be executive director of the Arkansas Racing Commission. Cook starts Aug. 1.

Arkansas State University System President Dr. Les Wyatt stresses the importance of the university maintaining its independence and separateness. A lobbying network of 4-year colleges and universities in Arkansas has been established and is known as the Arkansas Association of Public Universities. However, Arkansas State University and Arkansas Tech is not a part of the new organization.

A direct flight to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., from Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport is scheduled to begin Nov. 4, American Eagle Airlines officials announced Monday.

Alltel Corp. has scheduled a special meeting Aug. 29 for shareholders to vote on the proposed $26.3 billion buyout of the wireless giant by TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners. The meeting will be held at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Big week for Little Rock Power Grab

There will be a press conference tomorrow to announce the local power brokers who will step forward in the latest deceitful scheme to wrest even more control of Little Rock city government. Scroll down or stick around and you will get a million reasons right here to be against the wicked scheme.

The next phase is fundraising for pay for the slick full-color lies designed to confuse and numb an unsuspecting citizen. The host committee is led by Mayor Mark Stodola, Directors Brad Cazort, Gene Fortson (appointed to the board), Stacy Hurst, Michael Keck, Dr. Dean Kumpuris, Doris Wright, and former Mayors Jim Dailey and Sharon Priest.

Well, at least nobody will accuse that crew of being representative of the ordinary people.

This charade will officially be known as "2 Votes for Leadership Campaign."

Actually, they might have more acurately called it the "2 Votes for Keeping the Same Worthless Special Interests in Charge."

It's Thursday 5 to 7 at Cothams and they have kindly suggested a free will offering of $100. That means the Chamber and the secretive 50 for the Future has already written large checks.

VOTE NO AUGUST 14. It's important.

How did Little Rock get that windmill plant?

Since there has been so much said about Marion’s difficulty lining up a Toyota plant, I am very interested in Roby Brock’s analysis on how Little Rock scored a Danish windmill blade manufacturing plant on TalkBusiness.net. The capital city did not score a super-project. This one is not quite that big, but it is a $150 million investment and the North American headquarters.

We had the usual tax and cash incentives and a population base that suggests the possibility of finding capable employees. It is also noteworthy that Pulaski Tech has computer-training programs that fit nicely in the manufacturer’s plans. Brock notes in his analysis that Little Rock officials were fast in answering questions and concerns. The other positive selling point is a bit mushy, but it is commonly called “southern charm.” Everybody likes being well treated, so why not?

Could it be that the small things, the stuff we take for granted or completely overlook, are also important? It is also worth mentioning that discord over our public schools did not scare off a European investor, and folks from over there are fanatic about schools. People that care usually find a way for their kids to get a decent education.

(Broadcast July 23, 2007)

Trains for America

It's a hobby, but I do try to keep some interesting material on my new "Trains for America" blog, which is dedicated to an intelligent discussion of ground transportation and passenger trains.

recent offerings include:

Highlights of an excellent Baltimore Sun editorial
Fast trains come to Russia
Arkansas electric utilities ask customers help on rail antitrust legislation
Amtrak ridership up, revenue down
ABC News reports on high speed trains around the world, and their conspicuous absence from the U. S. transportation scene

Lyncho and Vickery on KARK TV Channel 4 in the 5:00 news tonight!

Vickery and I will be looking ahead to this evening's Democratic "debate." I promise tha twe will have major fun, so tune in or set your DVR.

Monday summary

The first base coach of the Tulsa Drillers is dead after being struck by a foul ball during a game at Dickey-Stephens Park on Sunday night. Mike Coolbaugh was hit in the side of the head in the top of ninth inning with Drillers player Tino Sanchez at bat. Coolbaugh collapsed to the ground and lay there motionless as medical personnel and team members came to his side.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says a Pulaski County judge must review hundreds of often explicit e-mails written by a county employee charged with theft to determine whether the correspondence is public record, a ruling that dissenting members of the court said could threaten access to public information.

State Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen on Friday asked a federal court in Little Rock to throw out a disciplinary case in which he is accused of breaking rules barring jurists from speaking out on controversial political issues and to declare those rules unconstitutional.

A press release issued by Russellville Police Chief Tom McMillen after the acquittal of Kevin Jones says, “[t]he Russellville Police Department will be evaluating and debriefing on the Nona Dirksmeyer case; however, any future action on this case will be at the discretion of the Prosecuting Attorney. Our condolences go out to the victim’s family.”

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has fixed and declared the popular names of two proposed constitutional amendments that were approved by the state Legislature earlier this year. One would change some rules for poll workers and remove the word “idiot” from the state constitution. The other proposal would allow yearly legislative sessions.

A lawsuit is will be filed soon in Pine Bluff the federal court to make the Arkansas Correction Department open the execution process from beginning to end. The ACLU is providing the legal representation. Plaintiffs include the NW Ark. Society of Professional Journalists and Arkansas Times editor Max Brantley.

A northwest Arkansas electric company is asking customers to turn up pressure on lawmakers in Washington over railroad antitrust legislation. The Carroll Electric Cooperative added a one-page flyer to its monthly bills seeking customer help in support of congressional action to rein in what utilities see as out-of-control costs and unreliable rail delivery of coal.

A purse snatching on the parking lot of a North Little Rock Wal Mart turned into a homicide when the fleeing suspect shot Dean Worden of Jacksonville. Police interviewed several witnesses and are reviewing security video. This is North Little Rock’s ninth murder this year.

Fifteen banks in Arkansas have delinquent loans that exceed 20 percent of their equity, and almost half the state’s banks have past-due loans higher than the national average. Still, analysts say that doesn’t mean those banks are in trouble.

A Forbes columnist mulls the possibility of the next potential takeover targets, analyzing ten firms that could be candidates for private equity buyouts. Robert Maltbie’s top pick is Murphy Oil. Maltbie says that Murphy Oil would be “a perfect addition to a T. Boone Pickens-style empire” and he notes that the firm “could be attractive to any of the big integrated oil majors.”

A service charge tacked on to some collect calls from prison inmates is being scrapped after advocates complained the fees wiped out most of the recent savings promised by a new vendor.

A proposed program to train prison inmates to drive big rigs has been deep-sixed for now by the Department of Correction, still leery over last year’s escapes by work-release van drivers.

Minority farmers are being short-changed compared to white counterparts when it comes to getting federal aid, according to a study released this week. Only 18 percent of black farmers received U.S. farm aid compared to 34 percent of white farmers, according to the study by the anti-poverty group Oxfam America.

Layoffs at Conway's IC Corp. plant are still possible, according to IC Corp. parent company Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley, who said the plant's situation hasn't changed since workers were given 60 days' notice of the possible layoff of as many as 500 workers last month.

Unemployment in Arkansas dropped to 5.0 percent in June, two-tenths of a percentage point less than in May, but the state’s joblessness level is still among the worst in the country.

The number of people living in homeless shelters and on the streets in central Arkansas rose by one-third in the past three years, and those who work with the homeless say they are seeing more families without a permanent place to live.

The next park in Bentonville will be fit for a dog. The city wants to build a dog park along North Walton Boulevard, just south of Northwest "A" Street, thanks to a $29,500 donation from Wal-Mart vendor American Safety Razor.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shooting at NLR Wal Mart - UPDATE

North Little Rock police are investigating a Sunday afternoon shooting on the parking lot of the McCain Wal Mart. Witness descriptions of the alleged shooter vary, but he left the scene in a white or silver Chrysler 300. Direction of travel is reportedly toward I-40.

UPDATE: Make that a homicide. Apparently 2 victims and one is dead.

Witness accounts describe the shooter as a black male, about 6 feet tall, medium skin, gray-black pants. License plate of 4-door 2007 Chrysler 337LHX.

UPDATE 2: KATV Channel 7 has more.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

CONDEMNED: City officials discover 'deplorable' conditions at Benton residence

The Benton Courier has a story today that should stir the moral conscience of anybody who still gives a damn about his fellow human being. The details are harrowing and I am ashamed of my own attachment to possessions and material goods. Our country is in sorry damn shape.

A South Market Street house was condemned on July 11 after personnel from the Benton police and fire departments responded to a medical emergency and found two women living in what authorities called “deplorable conditions.”

The structure was condemned, but the owner, Leroy Nalley of Nalley Real Estate, has said he believes the house can be repaired to make it suitable for occupancy.

On the other hand, maybe these freeloaders should take personal responsibility for their lives, get jobs, and move on.

According to a police report, the 62-year-old woman has Parkinson’s disease and a deteriorating spine and the daughter had numerous sores and scratches from what she told police were “flea bites.”

As always, the business community can be counted on for both fiscal responsibility and sound moral leadership.

“There are other houses worse off than this one,” Nalley said in reference to his rental property. “But nothing is done about it.”

The two residents of the home, a 62-year old woman and her daughter, told police that they have lived in the home they are renting from Nalley for three to four years. Nalley said that they have been renting the house for $360 a month and he could not remember if they made a deposit.

The description includes rats, mice, soggy floors, collapsed ceilings, and intolerable plumbing conditions.

Those of us who have been so richly blessed should be thankful for warm beds, hot water, air conditioning, and the ability to live in dignity. Thank you Lord.

State money for airports

The director of the Little Rock National Airport has talked to a joint legislative committee about getting $17 million for airport expansion and a dedicated source of state money for future use. This raises a few questions and you can read more on my new blog devoted to ground transportation, Trains for America.

The city manager is safe?

WHEW! That takes a load off my mind.

Bruce Moore is a great guy. He is obviously a fine professional and an excellent politician. I had no ideas that Bruce might be in any kind of difficulty. Max and the gang at Arkansas Times have all the gory details. It seems that somebody decided to start a nutty rumor about some sort of "secret plan" based on race.

Several city directors have issued a statement to the effect that no such plan exists, and Little Rock City Hall never lies.

Of course, ihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.giff the POWER GRAB passes on August 14, Mr. Moore will be the servant of the mayor, who will always have the six votes needed to back him up.. The city manager WILL lose his professional independence.

So it matters none who happens to be city manager, that person will do what he is told. Period.

Little Rock deserves and needs a true city council form of government, without the three at-large seats.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Educators, Citizens, Parents, and Leaders Commit to Helping Students and Improve Schools

This came to my in-box.

LITTLE ROCK—The Little Rock Classroom Teachers Association, an affiliate of the Arkansas Education Association, in partnership with business, civic, and community organizations will sponsor a citywide community conversation to talk about how the community can help close the achievement gaps among students in Little Rock Public Schools.

The conversation will be held on Monday, July 23, at Mosaic Church, 6420 Colonel Glenn Road. Mosaic Church is housed in the former Wal-Mart building. The event is free and will last from 5:30-9:00 p.m. Dinner will be served and the public and media are invited to attend.

The conversation, which is expected to draw hundreds of participants, is the first stage in an effort by the Little Rock community to develop a plan for supporting public schools, but more importantly, how parents, guardians, and other citizens can help schools work on closing the achievement gaps that exist between minority students and white students.

"We know and research has shown that much of what our students learn occurs outside of the classroom. In order to improve Little Rock public schools, it is going to take shared responsibility,” says Katherine Wright Knight, president of the Little Rock Classroom Teachers Association. "The community, along with elected officials, parents, and business leaders are all responsible for making sure that all children are successful.”

From 2004-2007, literacy and math scores for fourth grade students in Little Rock students were significantly lower than the statewide average. Similar declines happened for students in grades 3-8.

Scores are even lower among minority students. In fact, in 2007, 65 percent of Black students and 60 percent of Hispanic students were rated "Not Proficient” on statewide literacy exams, compared to white students. That same year, less than 30 percent of Little Rock's white students were rated "Not Proficient”.

Similar trends were found with math scores. Of the number of fourth grade students who took the statewide math test, 60 percent of Black students scored "Not Proficient”. The percentage of Hispanic students whose scores were "Not Proficient” was 50 percent, compared to 20 percent of white students.

”Any percentage of students, regardless of race, is not acceptable. Still, the gaps are too wide for us not to notice,” says Knight.

The conversation will feature national and local experts who work to close gaps in student achievement, in addition to, experts skilled in training communities to help support public schools.

For more information regarding the community conversation and to register, please contact the Little Rock Teachers Association at (501) 372-3519 or send an email to lrcta@comcast.net.

Just say NO to the Little Rock power grab

Most of your usual proponents for maintaining the lousy local status quo are backing an idea to give the mayor of Little Rock added powers, including a veto and control over top executives. Not only is this a bad proposal, it’s just a tad sneaky.

So long as Little Rock’s city board has “at large” representation, ordinary folks do not have an equal say in city government. Let’s do the math. There are 11 voting members of the board, including the mayor. You need six to get anything done. There are three “at-large” spots, which are always occupied by those with enough financial backing to run citywide. It’s the same thing for the mayor. That’s four. Add on at least 2 wards which are mostly affluent, and the special interests always get what they want. Regular neighborhood people are dead before they even begin.

The mayor would be a full-time job under the new proposal. My memory may be all wrong, but I recall the salary for this position being set around $70k. Now, if we have a strong mayor, why do we need a city manager making over 90k? And there is the city attorney also in high dollar territory. In this scheme, the mayor gets to appoint the three highest paid people in city hall. Remember, he already has the 6 votes to do whatever he wants. That is something close to absolute power.

In other words, the newest audacious concept for “reform” of municipal government is, in fact, a bold power grab.

If the bigs wants real reform, they would propose getting rid of the “at large” slots. Put another way, if South Africa can have “one man, one vote,” why won’t it work in Little Rock.

Here is an even more radical idea, why not a straight out mayor-council form of government like North Little Rock?


Kevin Jones walks

Kevin Jones is a free man, having been acquitted by a jury of his peers. Maybe I am a sucker, but there is something inspiring about our criminal justice system that just gives me chills.

The prosecution must prove its’ case and the defendant can just sit silently, and there is nothing anybody can do about it. The judge decides on the procedural stuff and rules of evidence. The jury decides on the facts. It does not allow for perfect fairness, but, if everybody does his part, you get justice.

All the prosecution had was a disputed palm print. Things got worse when defense lawyers started raising questions about the Russellville police handling of crucial bits of evidence, such as Ms. Dirksmeyer’s cell phone. We can learn a lot from trials. Maybe the local police have learned something.

The most valuable evidence in this murder has been botched and there seems but scant possibility of a useful investigation. However, if there is a killer still at large, life has a way of exposing that kind of thing.

I am still not completely clear on why the judge did not include lesser charges in his jury instructions, but I will figure that out. An important trial was conducted in nine days. That is impressive.

None of this helps Nona’s family and it does not do justice to a beautiful young woman so brutally taken. Like I said, the system is not perfect.

(Broadcast July 20, 2007)

Trains for America

I have started a new internet project directed at promoting the benefits of passenger trains. It’s a blog called “Trains for America.” No sentimentalism about the so-called “good old days” of the Super Chief and the Twentieth Century Limited. Those days are done, but we still need good passenger trains.

Truckers and airlines just hate the idea, believing that providing proper funding for Amtrak cuts into their little taxpayer funded playhouse. In the immortal words of Rodney King, can’t we all get along?

Nothing could ever diminish our highway system, although the skies over major population areas are getting very busy. Putting more trips on faster trains over highly populated corridors makes a lot of sense. Amtrak needs some stable management and funding. Any company whose primary mission is an annual battle to survive is not going to be very successful at accomplishing the mission.

There are not too many trains out in this part of the country, but reliable passenger service would make a big difference to small towns. Anyway the web address is, trains-4-america.wordpress.com. Check it out and tell me what you think.

(Broadcast July 19, 2007)

Friday summary

Prosecutors, relying heavily on a bloody palm print, failed to produce enough evidence to convict Kevin Jones of the 2005 slaying of his longtime girlfriend, Nona Dirksmeyer. Jones was acquitted of first-degree murder in the Dec. 15, 2005, death of Dirksmeyer, 19, in her Russellville apartment.

A Sharp County Circuit Court jury recommends the death sentence for Steven Victor Wertz of Kissimmee, Fla., for killing Terry and Katherine Watts in their southern Ash Flat home on Dec. 31, 1986. The seven men and five women on the jury took just an hour to decide on the sentence. On Wednesday, the jury found Wertz guilty of two counts of capital murder after only 40 minutes of deliberation.

Two Little Rock men, Robert Michaelyn Williams and Marco Balderas, stand charged with first-degree assault, capital murder in the shooting deaths of the owners of Tom and Jean’s Grocery Store. They pleaded innocent.

A Little Rock woman who said she would rather go to jail than spend another year at an alcohol-treatment facility will serve two years in a prison drug treatment program. In June, Susan Marshall pleaded guilty to two felony counts of driving while intoxicated. The charges represent her fourth and fifth arrests, which came about two weeks apart in September and while she was out on bail after her third DWI arrest, a misdemeanor. Her case made headlines in October, when a Little Rock district judge accused her of coming to court drunk during a hearing in her misdemeanor drunken driving case.

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes granted a request from attorneys for an Arkansas Tech University public safety officer to delay a federal lawsuit filed against officers involved in the July 2006 arrest of Bobby Joe Rylee, whodied in a Little Rock hospital five days later from injuries inflicted during the arrest. The lawsuit alleges the officers, along with Pope County Detention Center employees, violated Rylee’s civil rights and wrongfully caused his death.

Four convicted murderers are among the Arkansas prison inmates the state Parole Board has recommended for executive clemency. Larry L. Davis, Bobby J. Mitchell, Freddie Hendrix and Cecillia Roleson were among those recommended on a list released Monday.

Arkansas history should stand alone and be taught separately in elementary schools, advocates of teaching the subject told the state education commissioner Thursday. Members of the Arkansas History Education Coalition, including former U.S. Sen. David Pryor, met with Commissioner Ken James to discuss the group's opposition to planned curriculum changes that move Arkansas history into the social studies curriculum.

State Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen on Thursday asked members of the state commission that disciplines judges to remove themselves, and the panel's director and attorney, from the judicial misconduct case against him.

Little Rock National Airport's director told lawmakers that the airport needs $17 million from the state to pay for its planned expansion. Deborah Schwartz, the airport's executive director, told members of the Senate and House public transportation committees that she's working with other Arkansas airports to push for a dedicated revenue source in the 2009 legislative session.

A Mike Huckabee appointee who also served in the state senate when Bill Clinton was governor pledges his support to Huckabee, claiming the Republican presidential candidate could work better with Congress than Sen. Hillary Clinton. Lu Hardin, a former legislator and head of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, claims Huckabee's strength is his ability to unify policymakers.

Sam’s Club can sell beer, wine and whiskey when it opens in Fayetteville in September. Michael Langley, director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration Division, issued the sales permit Thursday. The permit gives Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the right to sell liquor from a walled-off section of the store.

State Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Langley on Wednesday denied an application for a private club license in Van Buren. The applicants will have an opportunity to appeal Langley’s decision to the board. If the board were to overturn Langley’s decision, Sister’s Bistro would be the first business in Crawford County, a dry county, to obtain a private club license.

Efforts to mediate a so-called “settlement” with the Joshua intervenors and the Little Rock School Board, which has been released from federal court supervision, are scheduled to begin Aug. 9. Board attorney Chris Heller said he and John Walker, the attorney for the intervenors who represent black students in the district’s 24-year-old desegregation lawsuit, plan to meet in Little Rock with John Martin, the settlement director for the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, plans to more than double its stores in China in the next five years to tap the growing personal wealth of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

An Arkadelphia aerospace manufacturer expects an $1.8 million expansion of its operations in the Southwest Arkansas community. The expansion at HITCO Carbon Composites will bring total investments in Arkadelphia to more than $5.87 million, and will add more than 60 jobs over the next five years, the company said.

The football season Arkansas experienced in 2006 hasn’t been forgotten around the SEC. League coaches selected 11 Razorbacks for 12 spots on their preseason All-SEC teams. Among the Arkansas players included was first-team running back Darren McFadden, the only unanimous selection.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dirksmeyer UPDATE: lesser included charges

Today's acquittal of Kevin Jones raised the question I brought up yesterday. Why did the judge not allow the jury to consider "lesser included" charges?

A paralegal sends this observation.

When your defense is you absolutely didn't do it, you can't rely on those lesser offenses.

If you say I did it, but... that's when you fall back on the lesser-included offenses.

Any lawyers want to weight in?

Kevin Jones "not guilty of Dirksmeyer murder.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

How did it happen? Scroll down to "Dirksmeyer oddity."

Thursday summary

An Arkansas soldier died Sunday from injuries sustained in Balad, Iraq. Sgt. John R. Massey of Higginson was injured when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle on Saturday. The Defense Department says Massey died the next day.

Weary from pulling an all-nighter, Arkansas senators cast votes Wednesday to advance an amendment calling for U.S. troop pullouts from Iraq. Democrats failed to break a Republican filibuster against the measure. The vote was 52-47, while 60 votes were needed. Pryor voted to break the filibuster even though he said he opposed the amendment. He has said he opposes setting public timelines for troop withdrawals.

The the U. S. House of Representatives set aside $23 million to help pay for a massive overhaul of a power plant on the Arkansas River in Franklin County.

Jury deliberations in the murder trial of Kevin Jones continue today. Judge John Patterson instructed the jury that it can only vote to acquit or convict Jones of first-degree murder; no lesser charges may be considered.

The mother of a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by West Memphis police last month seeks $225 million in damages in a wrongful-death suit filed in federal court Wednesday. DeAunte Farrow was killed June 22 by a shot from the gun of Officer Erik Sammis.

A Florida man who fatally shot an Ash Flat couple more than 20 years ago will begin the sentencing phase of his capitol murder trial today after being convicted by an Sharp County jury. A jury of seven men and five women convicted Steven Victor Wertz on two counts of capital murder in the Dec. 31, 1986, shotgun slayings of Terry and Katherine Watts.

Mara Leveritt reports in Arkansas Times new evidence in the West Memphis Three murder case. DNA from a victim's stepfather has been found in crime scene evidence; no DNA evidence of the three convicted has been found. The police are interviewing the stepfather and his ex-wife, who now believes the three in prison are innocent. Prosecutor Brent Davis of Jonesboro has no comment.

A Little Rock doctor may continue his legal quest for the right to have wines made outside Arkansas sent directly to his doorstep, despite the Legislature’s repeal of the statute he originally sought to overturn, a federal judge has ruled. Judge Susan Webber Wright dismissed cardiologist Scott Beau’s initial complaint, but allowed a new complaint addressing what they say is unconstitutional discrimination created by a law the Legislature passed this year.

While the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and the secretive Fifty for the Future decide whether to publicly support a proposal to transfer absolute control of Little Rock city government into the hands of powerful real estate interests, represented by the mayor and “at large” directors, the results of a recent survey designed to trick telephone respondents into supporting the measures have not been announced by the anonymous backers.

A settlement has ended a 13-year-old lawsuit by the family of a 28-year-old former Little Rock Boy Scout who suffered crippling brain damage in a fall during a scout camping trip almost 16 years ago. Terms were not disclosed, but court filings show the guardians of Andrew Baxter Low turned down a $2.5 million offer last year from the five insurance companies.

A Danish windmill blade manufacturer will build its third North American manufacturing plant in the Little Rock Port Authority, along with its North American headquarters and a work force training academy. LM Glasfiber's $150 million investment will be the largest industrial investment ever in Central Arkansas, eclipsing a $100 million investment announced just last month by an Indian manufacturer of pipes for the oil and gas industry.

A $25 million project involving several areas along Interstate 530 in southeast Pine Bluff could begin construction in September.

A Little Rock couple is dead after opening their small grocery store to a pair of neighborhood men who now face capital murder charges. The men, aged 15 and 17, were frequent patrons of the business. The capital city has now recorded 23 homicides so far this year.

One of 127 people arrested after a raid on a Crawford County cockfighting operation says that law enforcement officials knew of the operation for years and gave it their implicit approval. On Wednesday, 75 defendants identified by police as cockfighting organizers, handlers and referees pleaded innocent in Crawford County Circuit Court. The other 52 defendants are set for arraignment July 27 in Van Buren District Court.

Chief Mike Yates said 18 motorists were issued the illegal citations for failing to move to an outside traffic lane when an officer was conducting a traffic stop on the shoulder of a multi-laned highway. According to Yates, one of my officers would pull his patrol unit behind another unit on the shoulder of the road and when a vehicle passed without moving to the other lane, one of them would take off, pull the driver over and issue a ticket. Refunds have been made to 18 individuals.

Police killed a dog after it reportedly attacked a meter reader and then an animal control officer. The Forrest City Police Department is investigating the incident which left the two men injured and the 100-pound dog dead.

Two years after it failed, the Fort Smith Board of Directors approved an ordinance restricting the city’s power of eminent domain.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis turned the heat on Federal Emergency Management Agency director R. David Paulison for the way his agency wasted $70 million worth of unwanted ice. In his first Capitol press conference, Cohen blasted FEMA for providing answers about the cost of the boondoggle to a television station in Syracuse, N.Y., before addressing his formal Congressional inquiry. He said FEMA has once again violated the public trust.

A Little Rock couple donated $2.5 million to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to create a longevity clinic, the medical school announced Wednesday.. The donation will be used to create the Thomas and Lyon Longevity Clinic in the UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging.

Frances Titsworth, a native of Arkansas and graduate film student at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in Orange, Calif., will shoot her thesis film in her home state of Arkansas over a six-day period from Aug. 14-19 in the Dardanelle area. The film is entitled “The Mount Nebo Chicken Fry” and is inspired by the real life festival of the same name.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dirksmeyer oddity

The defense has rested in the case Kevin Jones, accused of killing beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer. The jury has quit its' deliberations for the night. The Russellville Courier has extensive coverage, but here is the kicker.

After lunch, Special Judge John Patterson issued jury instructions. The jury can only vote to acquit or convict Jones of first-degree murder; no lesser charges may be considered. Both sides presented their closing arguments and the jury retired to deliberate at about 4 p.m.

No lesser included charges? (Second-degree? Manslaughter?)

This was a big deal in the murder trial which acquitted Little Rock car dealer Herbert Jones of homicide charges some years ago. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Judge John Plegge made a mistake by not giving the jury options other than first degree murder.

These jury instructions make it more likely that Jones will walk. Please understand that there are other facts which could contribute to the same result. There is a question as to whether the prosecution has met its' burden of proof.

A most interesting case.

Some financial accountability, please

There is an item from Bentonville that brings to mind the constant complaining of Dr. Ben Mays, the Clinton veterinarian and unceasing watchdog over high school athletic expenses. Mays is a member of the state board of education and is always insisting on accountability.

For some strange reason, local school districts treat athletic expenses like a state secret. Of course, so-called boosters and former jocks want us to believe that sports are self-supporting and, to maintain that clever fiction, they like to keep honest accounting to a minimum. When time comes to release the consolidated state reports, there are always plenty of blank spaces.

I have long said that this concealment of relevant information probably proves that districts not only don’t have a clue what it costs to play ball, they don’t know what it costs to run a library or teach biology.

Bentonville, it turns out, had a software problem so severe that they did not reconcile the check book for one year. They did not properly account for deposits from the day care center, and did not properly handle cash. This must happen all over the place. None of these things are hanging offenses, but it should suggest to all involved that a little more care might be necessary with the people’s money.

(Broadcast July 18, 2007)

Thursday's Pat Classic

Our favorite mean mom from Fayetteville, Laurie Taylor Masterson, is back on Thursday morning at 9. She is always a million laughs and most provocative.

Michelle Page from the Helena Daily World is up at 10 with a few things on John Edwards visit. She may also have a few other tid-bits.

And now, some REALLY good economic news for central Arkansas

has this one. The windmill blade plant will include some "extras" which make it an even better deal. http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

Get ready to welcome the north American headquarters and a major training facility.

My new rail passenger blog

I will surely burn for this, but it is no longer possible to resist squawking over the deplorable condition of America's transportation infrastructure. It will not get the daily attention of the old venerable workhorse, Lynch at Large, but I do plan to update several times a week. Bookmark and check in regularly on Trains for America.

Let me know what you think.

FOI Lawsuit against Clinton Library

The plaintiff is Judicial Watch. The object is the filing is to obtain schedules, calendars, and timelines from Hillary Clinton's office at the White House. Looks open and shut to me. Here's the story.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption announced today that it filed a lawsuit on July 16, 2007 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration to obtain access to the following records from the Clinton Presidential Library: “First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s calendar, to include but not limited to her daily office diary, schedule, day planner, telephone log book, and chronological file.” The Archives, which operates and maintains Clinton Presidential Library records, failed to respond to Judicial Watch’s April 5, 2006 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Wednesday summary

Danny Nutt, Houston's younger brother, stepped down as Arkansas' running backs coach because of a recurring brain condition that has caused constant headaches and made even simple tasks hard to do.

Arkansas senators are split over legislation to force troop withdrawal in Iraq. Democratic leaders ordered a rare all-nighter to test Republican resolve to kill the measure that requires most U.S. forces out of Iraq by April. Sen. Blanche Lincoln supports the legislation. Sen. Mark Pryor, who is critical of making public any withdrawal deadline, opposes it.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says that his office’s research shows that former Gov. Mike Huckabee and people in his administration broke no laws when more than 90 computer hard drives were crushed before Huckabee left office in January.

The state attorney general's office has received the names of about 50 Arkansas sex offenders who created profiles on the MySpace Web site.

Defense attorneys attacked the reliability of evidence gathered by the Russellville police department in the trial of Kevin Jones for the murder of beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer. At issue is the time when Jones made the bloody handprint on the lamp believed to be the murder weapon. Expert witnesses also questioned the failure to thoroughly search Dirksmeyer’s apartment for fingerprint evidence and to check her computer and cell phone for outgoing text messages.

The state panel that regulates the judiciary may hold a hearing in August, not this month, to determine if state Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen broke rules restricting judges’ speech off the bench, the Supreme Court ruled.

Voters in Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District want Congress to take action on global warming, according to a survey to prod the district’s lawmaker, Rep. Mike Ross. The survey, released Monday and commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, found almost 70 percent of 4th District voters consider global warming to be a “serious problem.”

Benton County Coroner Kimberly Scott resigned Tuesday as part of plea negotiations in a criminal case against her for three felony charges and two misdemeanors. Scott was arrested following an investigation after two of her employees told police they suspected Scott was ingesting medications seized from homes of deceased persons.

A Danish maker of fiberglass windmill blades is expected to announce that it will invest at least $150 million to build a manufacturing plant at the Little Rock Port. Ultimately, 1400 new jobs could be created.

The Little Rock School Board voted 6-0 Tuesday night to appoint Linda Watson of North Little Rock as interim school district superintendent. She is replacing Roy Brooks, whose contract was bought out in May.

Little Rock police are wrapping up their investigation of the drowning of a 6-year-old Monday and expect the file to be given to the prosecutor by the end of the week. The accident happened on a daycare field trip at a private West Little Rock pool. Steve Ma drowned in only three feet of water.

Court proceedings were held in private Tuesday in a murder case for two defendants in a May 2006 road rage shooting in Lowell. Hours of discussion between 5 attorneys and Benton County Circuit Judge Tom Keith were conducted in the judge's chambers, and the judge said all motions are being filed under seal. Later in the afternoon, a courtroom hearing was conducted with attorneys standing at the bench out of hearing range for observers.

Franklin Greenwood, the missing tuberculosis patient, is back to the hospital from which he escaped more than two weeks ago. He was captured by Little Rock police Tuesday morning.

Gregory Allen Henderson of Atkins is charged with the rape of his two daughters. According to testimony of Pope County Sheriff investigators, Henderson admitted sexually abusing both girls.

A Hope man, Avery Steffon Rogers Jr., is facing two counts of sexual indecency with a minor after internet conversations with a Conway police officer who assumed the persona of a 14 year-old girl. It is alleged that Rogers twice exposed himself on a webcam. Rogers could face up to six years in prison, if convicted.

Jerry Moody of Marvell is under arrest after he allegedly attempted to choke and attacked his wife, Helen Moody, with a hot iron. Moody is charged with first degree domestic battery and terroristic threatening.

St. Francis County may join a lawsuit filed in Independance County against several companies that produce legal substances, ephedrine and psuedoephedrine. The lawsuit is seeking to recoup damages from the companies that the counties have incurred while fighting methamphetamine production and use.

University Avenue at the Interstate 630 interchange will close from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. today (Wed.) as workers install a new 150-foot-tall light pole.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Major economic news for central Arkansas (finally)

Roby Brock reports on his BIZBLOG that the long awaited windmill blade manufacturing plant will be announced tomorrow.

I plan to invest in wooden shoes and tulip futures immediately!

Sleep in tomorrow

Mr. Bill Vickery will be unable to attend tomorrow morning's Wednesday Wake-Up on KARK-TV Channel 4 because of a scheduling conflict with some East coast elitist Republican coven gathering and convocation of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. We will return next week with winners and losers, so keep watching!

Tuesday summary

Roy Jordan reportedly showed no emotion while in court on five counts of negligent homicide in connection with an automobile collision near Pine Bluff. Chief Deputy Prosecutor, Kyle Hunter says it looks like drug use played a role in the crash. And confirms that Jordan, a truck driver from Mississippi, admitted to using crack cocaine six hours before the crash.

A faction of Little Rock taxpayers is joining the federal desegregation lawsuit. They say intervention is necessary to protect the district from a settlement the board approved last week by a vote of 4-3, along racial lines. The board disregarded the advice of its own legal counsel in voting to approve Walker’s request that the district negotiate an agreement. The taxpayer plaintiffs say Walker’s proposal contains “numerous conditions and arrangements that echo the court-supervised remedial burdens on the District that were the last remnants of the desegregation case.”

Presidential hopeful and former senator John Edwards made a stop at the New Zion Community Center on his highly publicized "Poverty Tour" to hear first-hand from those living life at or below the poverty level. Former state representative Arnell Willis said, "In the past, we have not had anyone on the national level focus on poverty. He'll highlight the needs of this region. If he becomes president, he can do something for the Delta."

A Republican state senator reports raising a record amount of money in the first month in fundraising for his 2008 re-election campaign, thanks in part to support from two prominent Senate Democrats. Sen. Gilbert Baker of Conway reported June contributions of $154,075, which he said set a record for the most money raised in one month by any candidate for the Arkansas Senate.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter raised more than $340,000 in the last quarter as he reduced his 2006 campaign debt from $1.05 million to $736,059, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel reported raising more than $247,000 in the last quarter, in which he said he paid off his campaign debt of $225,698.

Acxiom Corp. received no buyout offers better than the $3 billion cash and debt proposal from ValueAct Capital Partners and Silver Lake during the agreed upon 60-day "go shop" period. The 60-day period that Acxiom had to solicit and entertain superior offers ended Monday at 12:01 a.m.

The Arkansas Health Department has recorded the state's first heat-related death of the year. The department says the person who died was middle-aged and lived in central Arkansas. The agency did not identify the person or say when the death occurred.

A high school math teacher of the Rose Bud School District has been arrested for having sex with a minor. Kenneth Barrow, a veteran of the Iraq war, has been charged with with sexual solicitation of a child and sexual assault in the second degree. Kenneth Barrow is alleged to have had contact with a 16 year-old girl since he returned from Iraq in November.

A 2-year-old girl drowned at her parents’ home in Manila after she apparently fell into a swimming pool. Arianna Marcus was pronounced dead after she was taken to a hospital in Blytheville.

The safe that burglars recently stole from a Van Buren bank by driving a forklift through a wall was found off old Highway 68 near Siloam Springs in Benton County over the weekend.

Former President Bill Clinton will narrate a UA spot during a series of televisionads on SEC student athletes.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dirksmeyer doings

From the Russellville Courier

State v. Jones - Prosecution rests; defense recalls Frost

The prosecution rested its case in the State v. Kevin Jones trial at the Franklin County Courthouse this morning. Before the prosecution concluded its part, 5th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney David Gibbons called Bobby Humphries, an Arkansas State Crime Lab latent fingerprint examiner, to testify about his opinion of two sets of fingerprints lifted from a floor lamp, the alleged murder weapon.
Prosecution expert Tom Bevel testified regarding his reconstruction of the crime scene and what he termed several items he believed the killer may have placed in order to “stage” the crime scene and divert law enforcement’s attention in another direction.

Monday summary

Gov. Mike Beebe said Friday that the Little Rock School Board’s vote Thursday to enter into settlement talks in the long-running desegregation case “throws into serious question” whether the state should continue sending extra money to the district. Sen. Jim Argue of Little Rock, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, says the state should “rethink” the forgiven $15 million loan to the district. He suggested that the state look into withholding that amount from state funding the district receives.

School officials did not reconcile bank statements for a year, did not properly record and deposit day care fees and don't adequately separate cash-handling duties. That's what auditors found when examining Bentonville School District financial records for the year ended June 30.

A proposal to allow the El Dorado School District to partner with the state to build a new high school during the current biennium was approved during a hearing in Little Rock.

The trial of Kevin Jones for the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer enters its’ second week today. A former Russellville police chief testified Friday that he concluded that a bloody palm print on the light bulb of a floor lamp used to kill 19-year-old Nona Dirksmeyer was made by Kevin Jones, the suspect on trial.

A mother and four children are dead following Saturday afternoon accident in which a tractor trailer collided with a car on Highway 425 near Pine Bluff, according to reports. The tractor trailer was traveling north on the road when it crossed the center line and slammed into a car going south, authorities said.

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Ellen Brantley has directed UAMS “to isolate Franklin Greenwood for purposes of examination and treatment” and restrain him “by handcuffs or other device that will assure that he will not again escape from this facility and endanger himself or others.” Greenwood, a tuberculosis patient, has been sought by area police since he escaped from the medical facility.

Appeals Court Judge Wendell Griffen says the proposed delay in his hearing before the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission violates a commission rule requiring a hearing 30 to 45 days after notifying the judge of the charges against him. Griffen was served with a list of charges on April 24 and says that even a July 20 hearing would break that rule. In addition, he said he is scheduled to appear as a witness in a separate case during the August dates.

A doctor who lost her license in April over allegations she prescribed excessive amounts of medications to five patients - including one who died - has had her license reinstated. Dr. Judith Butler of Blytheville appealed the decision by the Arkansas State Medical Board, asking to introduce additional evidence in the case, because she felt there had been numerous errors in her hearing and suggesting she was the victim of an over-zealous state trooper.

Nearly two-thirds of public comments at an air permit hearing for a $1.4 billion coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County are against the project, citing air-quality, mercury contamination and global warming concerns.

Regular gasoline prices rose an average of almost 10 cents in Arkansas over the past week because of higher crude-oil prices and alleged refinery problems in the Midwest.

Persons familiar with Cantrell Field in Conway tell the Log Cabin Democrat the same aircraft which hit a house killing the pilot and an occupant a couple of weeks ago, slid off the end of the runway in March and become mired in mud. No damage was caused to the aircraft or nearby property in the earlier incident. A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the pilot’s estate and others.

A Craighead County jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, Joe Turner of Lawrence County. Turner brought suit against Cleo Watkins Jr. over a fight in Turner’s rice field in which Watkins allegedly took Turner’s pistol and beat him with it. The jury awarded Turner $500,000 in compensatory damages and $700,000 in punitive damages.

A hospital in Paragould has agreed to manage the Randolph County Medical Center in neighboring Pocahontas, quelling fears that the financially ailing 52-year-old facility would soon close.

Jermain Taylor is putting his world middleweight titles on the line one last time. Multiple sources have confirmed to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Taylor will defend his WBC and WBO middleweight belts against Kelly Pavlik on Sept. 29 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. The bout will be televised on HBO, not pay-per-view.

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