Friday, August 31, 2007

A few totally gay questions

State Representative Steve Harrelson’s “Under the Dome” blog raises some excellent questions about the Arkansas Family Council’s proposed initiated act to prohibit homosexuals from adopting or being foster parents. He uses the arrest of Idaho Senator Larry Craig as a basis for his inquiry.

As you know, Craig was arrested and entered a guilty plea on misdemeanor public indecency charges stemming from an incident in a Minneapolis airport men’s room. Riddle me this one, Family Council. Under the law you are asking voters to adopt, is Craig qualified to foster or adopt? Does the guilty plea equal an admission?

It is a substantial question because Craig denies being gay. Does a single act qualify? What if somebody says they are not gay any more? There are so many other little complexities to this proposal, and they demand an answer.

What about unrelated people of the same sex living in the same residence? Are they presumed to be homosexuals? Can homosexuality be reversed, and, if so, under what conditions? One presumes the Department of Human Services will have to enforce the law if it passes and they will need guidance. The voters will need some help as well.

(Broadcast August 30, 2007)

Friday summary

An attorney for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette filed a motion with the Arkansas Supreme Court to unseal court briefs submitted in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over access to former Pulaski County Comptroller Ron Quillin’s e-mails. Pulaski County has refused access to 668 e-mails Quillin exchanged with Cheryl Zeier, a Missouri woman who works for a financial software company that the county has paid more than $1.1 million over the past four years.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that would deny Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola voter-backed increases in power and pay. The lawsuit was dismissed “without prejudice” and may be refilled.

Two more heat-related deaths have been confirmed in Arkansas, bringing the total this summer to eight, state health officials report. A State Department of Health spokesman declined to release specific information about the most recent victims, citing federal privacy laws.

The state attorney general's office has filed a lawsuit against a Jonesboro company for allegedly offering fake driver's licenses to Hispanics in northeastern Arkansas. McDaniel's office filed suit in Craighead County Circuit Court against Benjamin Sanchez, Oscar Sanchez and Rita Soto, owners and operators of International Automovil Association Inc.

Weekend motorists can expect to see sobriety checkpoints along with a saturation of law enforcement. The holiday saturation period will begin Friday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m., and continue through midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Gov. Mike Beebe and a panel of lawmakers have called for broad increases in pay for state employees, saying a raise is necessary to compete for workers likely to be lured to private sector jobs.

A 23-year veteran of the Department of Correction has been fired after investigators determined he took a rifle once assigned to Director Larry Norris and then lied about it when confronted. The employee wasn’t identified because he has state appeal rights, but spokesman Dina Tyler says that the 45-year-old had been a training instructor at several prisons. His duties included training staff to shoot firearms.

Former Justice of the Peace Johnny W. Brady says that he has dropped his appeal of a circuit ruling that reversed last November's District 10 justice of the peace election. The seat Brady once pursued and attained is now held by JP Jerry L. Roberts, who ran as a Republican. Before Roberts' lawsuit, Brady, a Democrat, was deemed the race's victor by a 738-736 total count.

Wireless, high-speed Internet access may be available to the people of Polk County in about two months. Access to high-speed Internet is an economic development must-have, according to Polk County Judge Ray Stanley.

A group of Humphrey citizens are hoping that an empty grassy lot on the north side of town will be the home of a new state-of-the-art school facility next fall. Organizers of the proposed “School of Excellence” open-enrollment charter school will submit their application to the state Board of Education for the second time on Friday.

Arkansas will receive $13.2 million over the next six years to raise the scores of students taking Advanced Placement exams and, ultimately, to produce more mathematicians and scientists for the state and nation.

Three Arkansas communities are planning new health clinics with the help of new federal funding announced this week. A group of 12 community health centers in Arkansas was awarded about $1.4 million in grants to start primary-care clinics in Mount Ida, Lake City and Bentonville.

Derwood Smith doesn’t think the fashion of baggy pants — the kind that hang low enough to expose the boxers, briefs or thongs underneath — is going out of style fast enough. So, to help speed the process, the 74-year-old Pine Bluff alderman is proposing the city fine anyone with the look $200, plus court costs.

Police in Indiana have arrested an Arkansas prisoner and a former Faulkner County jailer who authorities believe loaded her three small children into a vehicle and helped the inmate escape almost three weeks ago.

A Blytheville man who told relatives he was tired of caring for his partially paralyzed brother faces manslaughter and abuse charges after an autopsy found the brother died of starvation and neglect on a back porch. Police arrested Gerald Wayne Whitaker after receiving a report from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory that called the death of Larry Whitaker a homicide.

A former Fayetteville police detective faces federal child pornography charges. Jeremy Boyd Grammer was indicted by a federal grand jury. He was arraigned in federal court in Fayetteville on three charges, including one count of distributing child pornography that was transported in interstate commerce by computer and two counts of receiving child pornography that was transported in interstate commerce by computer.

A Fort Smith couple who pleaded three weeks ago to more than 40 theft-related felonies in Sebastian County appeared in Crawford County Circuit Court and pleaded to more. Jeffery Paul Mattox and Stacy Lynn Mattox were each charged with three felony counts of residential burglary and three felony counts of theft of property. Judge Gary R. Cottrell sentenced the couple to 15 years in prison plus 15 years suspended. Federal authorities are investigating firearms charges against the couple.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday summary

With the collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and the closing of the Interstate 40 bridge in Memphis, Congress will likely consider raising the gas tax slightly in order to pay for necessary repairs to improve America’s aging roads and bridges, Rep. Marion Berry told a Jonesboro civic group.

Pulaski County prosecutors have linked criminal charges against former county Comptroller Ron Quillin to his affair with a county vendor, according to a criminal complaint released Wednesday. The complain was filed under seal and Pulaski County has been attempting to hide emails between Quillin and the female vendor from public scrutiny.

The Pulaski County sheriff’s office on Wednesday sent Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley its completed investigation into allegations of ethics law violations by Little Rock School Board President Katherine Mitchell, interim Superintendent Linda Watson and a small group of other Little Rock district employees.

The Arkansas State Police is investigating how money used for undercover drug buys was managed at the Beebe Police Department, according to White County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Raff.

Alltel Corp. shareholders’ overwhelming approval of the sale of the company for $26.3 billion marked a final step toward taking the publicly traded firm private.

A study projecting a three-year, $5.5 billion statewide economic impact from natural-gas production in the Fayetteville Shale formation was much too low, according to Kathy Deck, director of the University of Arkansas’ Center for Business and Economic Research. Arkansas has the lowest severance tax in the region.

Roby Brock reports on Mississippi County has a hot industrial prospect although the name of the company is not being disclosed. Earlier this week, Mississippi County officials agreed to add $175,000 in economic development funds to a $425,000 commitment in trying to land a major industry in the county. The prospect is rumored to be in the steel industry, which would compliment Nucor Steel’s major operations in the region.

Equity research giant Credit Suisse issued a scathing memo on Dillard’s Department Stores and the company’s woeful second quarter in which the Little Rock-based mall retailer reported a $25.2 million loss.

Several record companies filed a lawsuit in Arkansas against 10 people they say copied music illegally through a file-sharing website, and then distributed over 5,000 copies. The ten people have internet provider addresses through a Little Rock company, Windstream Communications. In the lawsuit, the record companies asked for permission to subpoena Windstream for the real names, addresses and phone numbers of the ten.

Southwestern Energy Power Co.’s proposed coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County is likely to cost more than the company’s $1.4 billion estimate, an attorney for some of the opponents has suggested.

Reconfiguring the Interstate 630/Interstate 430 interchange in west Little Rock will cost at least $130 million, almost twice the original estimate, a top state highway official reports. The total cost likely will be even higher, in part because the project will take several years to complete, said Scott Bennett, assistant chief engineer for planning at the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. The cost estimate is in today’s dollars, he said.

The state has determined that Jefferson County violated state ethics rules by paying more than $600,000 to vendors that employed family members of former County Judge Jack Jones and another county employee, according to an audit released Wednesday.

A state representative who is trying to kick a more than 20-year habit of smoking cigarettes wants colleagues who chew tobacco to change their ways, too. Rep. Pam Adcock of Little Rock proposed changing House rules to bar representatives from chewing tobacco in the House chamber and committee rooms.

Arkansas State University officials told a legislative panel they have a tool that could help promote interest and demand for broadband technology in the state, but they lack funding to use it. At a meeting of the Joint Committee on Advanced Communications and Information Technology, ASU officials gave a presentation on the NETmobile, a van with wireless Internet access that the university acquired through a 2001 grant from the U.S. Department of Economic Development.

Volunteers seeking to raise $2 million to save Bald Knob schools say they are being hindered by untrue rumors that substantial sums have already been raised.

Rachel Hoffmann of Searcy has joined an elite group in the nation. She has achieved a perfect score of 36 on the ACT when she took the exam in June. The ACT is a test given to high school seniors used to qualify them for entrance into college.

A day after an e-mail chain sparked concern about safety in Little Rock’s River Market District, police arrested two teens Wednesday in a pair of carjackings occurring in the entertainment district in the past month.

A former Arkansas Tech University chemistry professor arrested in conjunction with a Russellville Police Department online sting operation designed to catch Internet predators has been indicted in federal court. Prosecuting Attorney David Gibbons says he declined to continue prosecution of Albert Snow in Pope County Circuit Court after federal prosecutors notified him they planned to pursue the case in U.S. District Court.

A woman tried to plead guilty in an arson case Wednesday in hopes of keeping her children from losing both their parents to prison, but a judge wasn’t convinced of her guilt. “I can’t accept the plea,” U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson Jr. told Tawanna Thomas after she said she didn’t know that when she bought gas canisters for her husband, he planned to use them to commit a crime, let alone to ignite the Bada-Bing Grille nightclub in Pulaski County.

A 9-woman, 3-man jury was seated at the Craighead County Courthouse in the case of a Paragould woman charged with manslaughter and four counts of second-degree battery. Judy Cozart is charged in connection with a traffic accident on March 21, 2006, in which Greene County Justice of Peace Mark E. Reed was killed and four others were injured. Another motorist called 911 describing Cozart’s irratic driving prior to the wreck.

Country star Faith Hill will sing the opening theme to NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” this season, the network announced Wednesday.

Big-time moviemaking returns to Memphis in October, when Matt Dillon, Kate Beckinsale, Alan Alda, David Schwimmer and Vera Farmiga come to town to shoot "Nothing But the Truth," a political thriller from writer-director Rod Lurie.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What to do about Iraq

While trying to save himself this morning on KARK TV Channel 4's Wednesday Wake-Up, Republican consultant and strategist Bill Vickery gained a momentary victory by asking what Democrats would do about Iraq.

Of course, no Democrat got us into the war and, last time I checked, it is a Republican who is commander-in-chief. Don't they even believe in personal accountability?

Anyway, I was researching another story when I came across a little story about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Here is what he has to say.

His plan for withdrawal calls for unifying Iraq by establishing autonomous regions for the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis with a central government that controls border security and distribution of oil revenues on a per capita basis.

Second, his plan includes securing Sunni support by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenues, putting Baathists back to work and re-integrating those with no blood on their hands.

Third, his plan calls for increasing economic aid by tapping the oil-rich Arab Gulf states. Biden also proposes convening a regional conference to enlist the support of Iraq's neighbors and create a Contact Group of major world powers to enforce their commitments.

Finally, his plan includes withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq by 2008, which would allow time for the political settlement to take effect. In turn, a small residual force would be left solely for counter-terrorism and training.

Of the 27 million people in Iraq, about 4.2 million have self-cleansed, 2 million have left the country and 2.1 million have been displaced internally, according to Biden.

Arkansans Increase Amtrak Revenue

If you missed it, my friend, Dr. Bill Pollard from Conway, got his picture on the front page of yesterday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Pollard is part of a volunteer team that has, for the past nine years, been successfully managing the sleeping car and coach inventory on Amtrak. They manage the price charged for tickets based on availability. Airlines do a similar thing.

This group also talks with train crews and helps them identify regular travelers, especially between St. Louis and Chicago, and target them to buy unused sleeping car rooms as office space. Since that is a short trip and the same room is sold later at night, when the business traveler is gone, it increases revenue. It looks like this little hobby has brought revenue up for the Eagle, which passes through Arkansas once daily northbound and southbound.

Why does every long distance train not have a marketing expert devoted to increased revenue production? The reason is that airline and highway interests want Amtrak service snuffed out anywhere it is not already booming.

That is the other dirty little secret. In the northeast, where there are modern fast trains on convenient schedules, rail travel is thriving. Around the world, many countries have trains going at over 200 mph.

(Broadcast August 29, 2007)

Wednesday summary

Former Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Tom Coughlin, confined to his upscale Centerton residence since pleading guilty last year to defrauding Wal-Mart and the IRS, could end up in prison after all. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled his 27-month home-confinement sentence handed down by a federal judge in Fort Smith was too lenient and ordered a new sentencing hearing.

Two months after President Bush’s immigration plan collapsed in the U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder on Tuesday heard an earful from several people here who said they want more to be done to crack down on illegal aliens.

Asa Hutchinson, who has held a series of high-ranking federal posts in Washington and Arkansas, says he would not rule out succeeding departing U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales if he is asked by President Bush.

Gov. Mike Beebe has announced a college grant program designed to attract late blooming high school students of limited financial means. The GO! Opportunities Grant is the first state-funded college grant program in Arkansas based solely on financial need, Beebe said.

Arkansas’ high school class of ’07 upheld recent past showings by performing above the national average on the SAT college-entrance exam. But, in contrast to national trends, a smaller and less diverse group of the state’s students took the exam.

A new high school on Springdale’s east side is not fiscally responsible, even if patrons are willing to pay a hefty price tag. Superintendent Jim Rollins says a new high school on the east side, comparable to Har-Ber High School on the west side, could cost $50 million or more in today's market.

A local Veterans Affairs official pledges to support Arkansas’ medical school and Washington County in their plans to locate a satellite medical campus on land the VA deeded to the county decades ago.

The Arkansas Supreme Court on has allowed $635,000 in settlement checks to former Little Rock School District Superintendent Roy Brooks and his associates to be distributed and cashed without fear of court penalties.

Deploying broadband Internet service to rural areas by using money from the Universal Service Fund was among ideas suggested Tuesday at a meeting on the state of high-speed Internet service in Arkansas.

Poor sales and a lawsuit settlement pummeled Dillard’s bottom line for the quarter ending Aug. 4. The Little Rock-based retailer reports that it suffered a net loss of $25.2 million, or 31 cents a share, in its second quarter. For the corresponding period a year ago, the company reported earnings per share of 20 cents on profit of $15.7 million.

Fort Smith Mayor Ray Baker’s surgery for colon cancer has been delayed until Friday, after the procedure was started and stopped on Monday. Reached at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Medical Center in Little Rock, Baker said surgeons began the operation Monday before they halted it because of a “technical problem.”

A Searcy resident has filed a lawsuit against the Alcoholic Beverage Control board and Kelley’s Restaurant in Bald Knob seeking to have the restaurant’s liquor license revoked. Brett Watson, a 1991 graduate of Harding University and a member of the law firm of Anderson, Murphy and Hopkins in Little Rock filed the suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

A murderer given a life sentence as a teenager 30 years ago received a clemency recommendation by the Arkansas Board of Parole on Tuesday. Melvin Smith Jr. was 16 when he was convicted of killing Grover Howard Smith (not related) during a burglary of Smith’s house in Sweet Home in June 1977. Smit was given an additional 15 years in 1983 after being convicted of a prison stabbing.

An elderly Mansfield woman was found dead and her husband critically injured in what law enforcement officials believe was an attempted murder-suicide at the couple’s home. Police found a woman dead from a knife wound and her husband bleeding profusely from a knife wound to his neck area. Sebastian County Coroner Terry Campbell confirmed the identity of the deceased Mansfield woman as 83-year-old Marie Basham and her husband as Autry Basham, who is also in his 80s.

An El Dorado woman made her first appearance in Union County District Court on charges that she attacked her pregnant teenage daughter and cut her 8-year-old son with a knife or a box cutter. Latresa V. Manning was charged with aggravated assault on a family or household member and third-degree domestic battering, both felonies.

A funeral home director who police claim wanted to kill the Newport police chief and mayor is under arrest and will be charged with two counts of criminal solicitation to commit capital murder, authorities said. Lawrence Tolerson, owner of Tolerson and Sons Funeral Home, was arrested by Jackson County sheriff’s deputies and was taken to the Woodruff County jail in Augusta and held because that was where the plot to kill the two men originated.

A female resident of the Arkansas State University campus reported that her life was threatened, and she was kidnapped from the parking garage on the north side of the university and made to drive to Goobertown, about 10 miles away. The 18-year-old woman told University Police Department officers that while she was walking to her vehicle, “several men,” both black and white, “jumped her on the first level of the parking deck.”

The former treasurer of Sugar Creek Elementary School's Parent Teacher Organization turned herself in to police on a warrant charging her with stealing $23,130. Heather Diane Jennings is held at the Benton County Jail in lieu of a $10,000 bond set by Senior Circuit Judge Tom Keith.

Larry Craig

We are not supposed to gloat over our adversaries’ problems, so let us consider soberly the case of Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho. He was arrested on a misdemeanor charge arising out of lewd conduct in a Minneapolis airport men’s room.

Apparently some vice cop became suspicious about the foot tapping coming from the honorable gentleman’s stall. The first reaction, of course, is “good grief!” Surely such a powerful and wealthy man could find some other outlet for his sexual desires than such a public and humiliating venue.

The crime is an offense against his office and the institution of the Senate. And, just in case you are about to ask, yes I would apply the same standard in other high-profile cases, although an office is not quite as public as a restroom.

The folks back home in Idaho will remember how much he denounced homosexuals and espoused “family values.” Who knows? Maybe he is a compassionate conservative, although I doubt it. Apparently rumors about Senator Craig have been floating around for some time, so perhaps he just wanted to get caught. Surely a smart guy like this must know that cops patrol airport restrooms.

The genius of our system has a method to handle things like this known as elections.

(Broadcast August 28, 2007)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Democrat-Gazette breaks major Amtrak story

My friend, Dr. Bill Pollard, is on the front page. This one is about how three volunteers manage the sleeping car and coach inventory on the Eagle, which passes through Little Rock.

The story is linked here. Please remember that the Democrat-Gazette is a subscription web site.

This item is discussed on my rail passenger blog, Trains for America.

Education investment pays off

Here is something Mike Huckabee should be telling the Club for Growth. THIS is real growth, not just increased greedy gain for a favored few.


Arkansas’ public school students once again posted gains in terms of participation and performance on Advanced Placement (AP) Exams in 2007 and maintained SAT scores that are above the national average, according to information released Tuesday by the College Board.

“Last year we were named ‘The Arkansas Model’ for other states to emulate in terms of our policies encouraging participation in Advanced Placement courses,” Dr. James said, “so it is wonderful news to hear that both participation rates and exam scores remain on the rise.”

In 2007, 16,013 public school students took AP exams, representing a 6.4 percent increase over the 15,054 students who took the exams the previous year. What’s more, there was an 8.8 percent increase in the number of exam scores of 3 or higher from last year for public school students. On AP exams, a 3 is “Qualified,” a 4 is “Well Qualified,” and a 5 is “Extremely Well Qualified.”

"It is impressive to see the increase in the number of students who score well on the AP exam," said Dr. Steve Floyd, Interim Director of the Department of Higher Education. "This means there are more high school students who are earning college credit and preparing themselves well for postsecondary education. Good preparation in high school will contribute to higher graduation rates from college."

As of the 2009-2010 school year, all high schools in the state will be required to offer an Advanced Placement course or its equivalent in each of the four core areas of English, mathematics, science and social studies. The state also began paying for students taking AP exams in May 2005. Both of these pieces of legislation have garnered national praise for Arkansas because of the increased access they gave public school students to rigorous course work.

“We know from research that anytime students take AP courses, they are greatly increasing their chances of finishing college in five years or less,” Dr. James said.

Arkansas public school students did not completely mirror the scoring trend found nationwide on the SAT Reasoning Test, which incorporates Critical Reading, Math and Writing portions:

· The state’s public school students’ mean score in Critical Reading increased by 2 points to 579, as compared to a one point drop in scores nationally to 502.

· The state’s public school students’ mean score in Math remained at 571 as compared to a three point drop in scores nationally to 515.

· The state’s public school students’ mean score in Writing fell one point to 567 as compared to a three point drop in scores nationally to 494.

The state had 1,044 students taking the SAT in 2007, a 3.6 decrease in the number of test-takers in 2006.

Of the public school students taking the SAT, 87.2 percent enrolled in colleges, according to the College Board, and two-thirds of those attended Arkansas schools. The three colleges and universities in Arkansas receiving the most SAT scores from Arkansas test-takers were the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the University of Central Arkansas and Hendrix College.

Tuesday summary

The I-40 Mississippi River Bridge at West Memphis is open after being closed for several hours Monday. Highway officials cut off access to the Interstate-40 bridge over the Mississippi River near West Memphis for more than nine hours Monday after an inspector detected a slight shift in a pier on an approach to the main span.

Gov. Mike Beebe joined with three Democratic members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation to support the federal reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health insurance for low-income children. The Program helps fund ARHealthNet, prenatal care for immigrant women, and ARKids B. Rep. John Boozman, the Arkansas delegation’s only Republican, voted against the House proposal because he feared privately insured children would switch to the SCHIP Program.

Arkansas' Democratic U.S. senators welcomed the resignation Monday of embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales but expressed concerns about reports that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff may be nominated as his replacement. AP and Bloomberg also mention former Arkansas gubernatorial candidate and Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Asa Hutchinson.

Gov. Mike Beebe will not call the Legislature into special session to change the Arkansas law that allows children of any age to marry if they have their parents’ consent.

The continued backlog of state prisoners being held in county jails across Arkansas prompted the state Board of Corrections on Monday to invoke the Emergency Powers Act, making up to 704 inmates eligible to apply for early parole.

Closing the border with Mexico is not a solution to America’s immigration problem, according to Mexican Consul Andres Chao. The solution, he says, lies in open communication and in both countries accepting responsibility in what he called a complex relationship. Chao is troubled by law enforcement agencies in Northwest Arkansas that are sending officers to receive immigration enforcement training.

Three years after then-Gov. Mike Huckabee announced a campaign to reduce obesity rates in Arkansas, the state has seen little progress among adults. His Healthy Arkansas initiative sought to cut the state’s adult obesity rate from 23 percent in 2002 to 15 percent. Since then, the percent of adults who are considered obese has actually increased to 26.9 percent in 2006.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is suing an out-of-business Pine Bluff car dealer for failing to pay off debt on traded-in vehicles, leaving the former owners responsible. McDaniel also alleges that when McKay Motors LLC and owner John P. McKay sold new vehicles to consumers through its McKay Hyundai dealership, the business failed to make sales tax payments for consumers when it promised consumers it would do so.

A Financial Times of London article reveales that Wal-Mart is evaluating new store formats as well as mergers and acquisitions in America. The company is searching for a senior executive to head the initiative, according to a job posting at its web site. With same-store sales slowing in the U.S. and new threats from niche retailers as well as the pending arrival of British competitor, Tesco, Wal-Mart wants to evaluate a multi-format strategy to boost growth.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday will continue discussion about a proposed ordinance making English the official language of the city. The board voted 4-3 last week to table the matter until it could be studied further, before voting to approve or reject the ordinance.

The civil-rights era is a model for the country’s future, not a just a historical event, said civil rights historian Taylor Branch to an audience of more than 200 at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock on Monday.

A move to add zoning restrictions on businesses that make “payday loans” has North Little Rock officials looking at a two-year, citywide moratorium on new check-cashing businesses. The ordinance would establish a 24-month moratorium on the establishment of check-cashing businesses while the city studies zoning measures that would specifically affect payday lenders.

The Little Rock School District is buying three pieces of property on Arkansas 10 and Taylor Loop Road West as a site for the district’s first new school on its western edge since 1978.

The Searcy City Council is considering an ordinance by which the mayor would not preside at meetings and would not be allowed to speak unless recognized.

A 20-year-old former nursing student, diagnosed with a mental condition that led her to make her toddler daughter sick, admitted Monday she repeatedly injected the 11-month-old with insulin while the girl was hospitalized in Little Rock for low blood sugar. Tammy Ramme pleaded guilty to a first-degree charge of endangering the welfare of a minor in exchange for five years probation.

Three members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club pleaded not guilty to felony battery charges stemming from the beatings of four members of a rival gang in Eureka Springs last month.

According to a Missouri Associated Press story, Northwest Missouri State claims it won Thursday night’s season opener 21-0, even though lightning ended the game with 2:30 left in the first quarter. According to Arkansas Tech, the game never happened. It will be up to the NCAA to decide the final outcome, and ATU head coach and Athletic Director Steve Mullins said that decision would come from the NCAA some time soon.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Swift justice

Let us take a look at the crime report. In my hometown, two men were shot in the head while sitting on the front porch late at night. That would make a total of 31 killings so far this year, which is actually quite a bit better than last year.

There is a trend I note in Pine Bluff, that is both tragic and agreeable. Twice in the past week a young man with a gun has been shot to death inside a residence. That should telegraph a little message. I do not approve of the death penalty as it is carried out in our legal system, which favors the well situated and wealthy. I do not believe in any cruel or unusual punishments, and I expect every criminal defendant to receive the full compliment of constitutional rights. We need to be careful of government, so that is how it must be.

On the other hand, when somebody enters a residence armed with a handgun, they have informed the homeowner of an intention to do harm and deserve whatever happens. It is regrettable because the two deceased individuals are rather young, but they made a grownup decision. Do not call them “boys.”

I would not execute either one of them, but I am glad some righteous homeowner has done it for me. The world is a better safer place today.

)Broadcast August 28, 2007)

Monday summary

Arkansas starting defensive end Marcus Harrison has been suspended indefinitely after a traffic stop late Friday night revealed he had marijuana and Ecstasy in his possession. Harrison was arrested on a felony drug charge and cited for several traffic violations, including speeding, driving on a suspended drivers license and not wearing a seat belt.

Joe Adams plans to play football with the University of Southern California. Adams, a Central Arkansas Christian student, is the top high school football player in the state and one of the best in the nation. ESPN has ranked Adams #24 in its ESPN 150 high school football prospects list for the class of 2008. Former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain left the University of Arkansas to play at USC after his freshman year.

Unless “substantial” electric-grid upgrades occur in southwest Arkansas, a coalfired power plant planned for Hempstead County would likely have to be downsized, state regulators learned Friday.

The Morrilton Municipal Airport Commission extended an official invitation to Conway and Faulkner County to join together with it to share airport facilities, in an open letter to city and county officials and the Federal Aviation Administration on Aug. 15. It's an offer the city might consider, Mayor Tab Townsell said, if plans for an airport in the Lollie Bottoms area fall through.

Sewer charges would go up 9 percent this fall in North Little Rock in the first phase of a rise in rates over five years under a proposal on course for City Council approval. The only public hearing regarding the increase is scheduled for the North Little Rock City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. The meeting has been moved from tonight to avoid a conflict with the final Arkansas Travelers baseball game at Dickey-Stephens Park.

A federal appeals panel has ordered a new hearing on death row inmate Terrick Terrell Nooner's request for a mental health evaluation. The reversal of a U.S. district court judge's decision comes less than a month before Nooner's scheduled Sept. 18 execution. The decision does not postpone the execution, but allows for Nooner's attorney to request a stay of the execution so a hearing in U.S. district court on the latest appeal can be held.

The father of a 12-year-old boy slain by a West Memphis police officer wants action in a $225 million damage suit filed in federal court to be suspended until a Crittenden County court names an administrator of the boy’s estate. Robin Perkins, father of DeAuntae Farrow filed a motion Friday to intervene in a wrongful-death suit filed by the boy’s mother, Debra Farrow.

Two Little Rock men were found shot to death on the front porch of local residence early Saturday, becoming the 30th and 31st homicides of the year.. There was no sign of a struggle, police said. Both had been shot in the head.

A woman police say shot a man in the face and shoulder surrendered after an hour-long standoff with Springdale police.
Police officers negotiated with Regina McClellan of Tontitown for a few minutes because she didn't want to give up. McClellan kept police at bay by holding a gun to her head before surrendering. After surrendering, McClellan lost consciousness and was taken by Springdale emergency personnel to Northwest Medical Center-Springdale.

A 14-year-old boy was shot and killed by a man who told police the teenager broke into his home and started shooting. Winston Walls Jr. was found wounded in the abdomen inside the home of Jimmy Shaw near Dollarway High School. Police said the teenager kicked in the door of Shaw’s home and entered it, armed with a handgun.

A Jonesboro couple faces charges after leaving a 1-year-old child strapped inside a vehicle where temperatures reached 120 degrees. Penny Louise Towell and Willis D. Brewer were arrested for three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and possession of an instrument of a crime.

The father of a 7-year-old was arrested after police said he bit his son's toes. Todd Wayne Hall of Rogers was arrested on a warrant for felony second-degree battery. Hall was convicted in 2000 for the same crime involving his 11-month-old daughter while they lived in Bentonville. In February, the Department of Human Services placed the boy in the custody of his grandparents.

A Fayetteville man accused of raping and videotaping a 14-year-old girl pleaded not guilty in Washington County Circuit Court. Daniel Chappell is charged with rape, computer exploitation of a child, distributing, possession or viewing sexually explicit conduct involving a child and possession of methamphetamine.

A Texas man who police say attempted to rob a White Hall bank Wednesday with his wife admitted to robbing at least three other banks since March. Alan Glazier told authorities that he and his wife Tracy Estabrooks both of Corpus Christi, netted $91,000 in three bank robberies in Louisiana and Oklahoma before attempting to rob the White Hall Financial Center on Wednesday.

Bentonville police obtained an arrest warrant for a woman they believe stole about $23,000 from the Sugar Creek Elementary School's Parent-Teacher Organization. Officers think Heather Jennings, former treasurer for the parent-teacher organization, is in Bentonville after she reportedly moved to Colorado.

The Fayetteville School District will require a password to access its new online bus-routing system after parents complained that the system could be misused to harm children. Randy Willison, Fayetteville’s associate superintendent, says that officials will limit access to the site to parents when it’s launched next week. The system posts school bus pickup and drop-off times on the Web.

LR Touchdown Club TODAY!

TODAY, MONDAY, at the Little Rock Touchdown Club, Embassy Suites

"Former Head Coach of the National Champion Miami Hurricanes"


...2001 National Champions (12-0) National Coach of the Year, 2002 12-1 and 2003 11-2... -In his 6 years as head coach of the Hurricanes Coker’s career record was 60 wins and 15 loses, an .800 winning percentage- 4-2 Bowl Record, 5-2 vs Florida State and 3-0 vs Florida...This season he will serve as a commentator for ESPNU

If you have not sent an RSVP YOU ARE STILL WELCOME TO ATTEND WITH YOUR GUESTS as the Embassy Suites will do its best to provide lunch to everyone.

We are expecting a LARGE TURNOUT, so please get there early if you can, and hang in there with us as we check everyone in...the buffet lunch will be served from 11:00-12:00 and the program is from 12:00-1:00

Special thanks to our GREAT VOLUNTEERS, our true SPECIAL TEAMERS, who assist with CHECK IN!

TD Club Membership- $50.00 for the entire season
Lunch Costs $15.00 for members, $25.00 for non-members
Non eating attendance - $10.00

Embassy Suites Hotel
Buffet Lunch 11:00-12:00 / Program 12:00-1:00

The Little Rock Touchdown Club
"Where Everyone's Opinion Counts"

presented by

Thanks also to Embassy Suites, Popeye's Videos, Impact Photography and website host Gregg Petersen & Anthony Short

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Arkansas, land of opportunity

It looks like the big secret is out. It is a curious development that SWEPCO admits in hearings before the Public Service Commission that one of the big reasons they want to build that coal-fired plant in Hempstead County is because Texas does not want any part of it.

That had been suspected but it is almost refreshing to hear somebody just come out and publicly say that one of the benefits of doing business in Arkansas is that our laws and regulators are so impotent, we will roll over for anything. That looks like a strong industrial recruitment tool for me, it is almost as good as one of the other current favorites; our workers are not as well educated but they work cheaper.

Let’s get busy and tell the nation.

If your business can’t operate anywhere else, if you are bad for the air, and dump chemicals in the water, we want you in Arkansas.

If you create a load of hazardous waste, welcome to Arkansas.

If you expect to hire workers just barely above the average salary of a Chinese political prisoner, we want you.

Come to Arkansas because we are so gosh darned desperate for any new business, we just don’t care. One more thing, while you are fouling our air and water, we have huge tax incentives waiting.

(Broadcast August 24, 2007)

Friday, August 24, 2007

David Sanders explores New Hampshire politics on Unconventional Wisdom

This month's Unconventional Wisdom on AETN is the best yet, according to host David Sanders.

On this month's addition of Unconventional Wisdom, I'll be discussing presidential politics with two New Hampshire journalists . Andrew Cline is the editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader and James W. Pindell is a reporter and blogger with the Boston Globe.

Is Mike Huckabee's second-place finish in the Iowa straw poll helping to launch him into first-tier status? How is he playing in New Hampshire? Can Hillary Clinton maintain her lead over Obama and Edwards in the state's Democratic Primary? Why is the New Hampshire primary so important to the rest of the country?

Those questions and more on Unconventional Wisdom, Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at noon on AETN. Outside Arkansas? Stream it over the Web at starting tomorrow at 4:00 p.m.

Friday summary

A paratrooper from Malvern is one of the latest Arkansans killed in Iraq. Specialist Donavan Witham died Tuesday in an IED attack near Baghdad. Specialist Tyler Seidman, 20, from Lincoln, Arkansas in Washington County was also killed in Iraq. He died in a helicopter crash Wednesday.

A Michigan state judge has dismissed a wrongful-termination suit against Wal-Mart by high-profile former ad chief Julie Roehm. The judge says the case should have been filed in Arkansas. Details by both sides in the lawsuit and a Wal-Mart counter lawsuit have revealed embarrassing details about an alleged affair by Roehm and a subordinate, accusations of violations of company policies by Roehm, and alleged ethics violations and misconduct by the retailer’s CEO Lee Scott and other Wal-Mart executives.

The state Education Department's new guidelines for teaching Arkansas History in public schools do not appear to violate state law, according to an opinion issued by state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. The attorney general issued the opinion at the request of state Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, who has been an outspoken critic of the new guidelines that went into effect this month.

The Central Arkansas Library System will ask Little Rock residents to go to the polls in November and approve two property-tax questions that would raise money for two new libraries and additional services across the city.

NASA has awarded UALR a $750,000 grant to conduct research into “non-invasive methods of exploring the subsurface of the moon for ores and minerals.”

U.S. District Judge James M. Moody dismissed a lawsuit filed by former state senator and current head of workforce education Bill Walker, who sought to have his daughter placed on the Central High School cheerleading squad.

Preventing the extinction of the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker could cost more than $27 million over five years, according to a draft recovery plan released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kenneth Osburn's pre-trial hearing lasted several hours inside the Desha County Courtroom Thursday. Prosecutors say he murdered and kidnapped Casey Crowder. She was reported missing August 28, 2006 when her car ran out of gas on Highway 65 in Dumas. Six days later, investigators found her body near a canal. Now, authorities say, DNA evidence and resident interviews led to the arrest of Kenneth Osburn.

The status of thousands of misdemeanor warrants in Arkansas is in question because of a recent court ruling that says issuing them violates a procedural rule requiring that only summonses be issued for nonviolent offenses.

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports it is still unclear just how local police officers would be involved in immigration enforcement despite the release of draft agreements between federal immigration authorities and four Northwest Arkansas law enforcement agencies.

Masquerading as a federal agent to scare companies into changing their hiring practices of undocumented workers is a crime, a Little Rock man learned Thursday. Carl Dean Wynn Jr., an out-of-work house framer, confronted Hispanic workers, “threw down ultimatums” outside the Graham Smith construction company and sent the company letters citing the U.S. Code and claiming that the company was “under investigation for criminal hiring misconduct.” He was also accused of vandalizing company property, and got a one-year suspended sentence.

A federal appeals panel has ordered a trial in a lawsuit filed by a state prison inmate whose truck was towed in Pine Bluff in 2003 as part of a homicide investigation and later sold without the owner’s knowledge. The ruling reversed a district court judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Ricky Smith against Insley’s Towing & Recovery in Pine Bluff.

The parents of a Jacksonville toddler face murder charges in connection with the boy’s Aug. 16 death. Sharilyn Lopez pleaded innocent to charges of second-degree murder and acting as an accomplice in the death of 2-year-old Jaden Cotton. Police have an outstanding warrant for capital murder against her husband, Ausencio Lopez, who is hospitalized after a suiciden attempt.

Two brothers are under arrest for the Monday robbery of First Arkansas Bank and Trust in Guy. David Wade Sandlin and James Ronald Sandlin Jr. were apprehended in the Cleburne County area.

A quick response from law enforcement agencies throughout Jefferson County resulted in the arrest of two unnamed suspects who allegedly attempted to rob a bank at White Hall.

An argument between two people in the same car ends with a deadly crash on Chenal Parkway in west Little Rock. Police say the driver of the car died, his two passengers including a young child have serious injuries. Traffic was at a standstill for hours.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A change of heart

One benefit of having a mind is being able to change it. Lately, I have been tempted in several areas. It seemed that electing a pushy woman from Chicago was a stretch, but now I am starting to wonder. Hillary Clinton’s endorsements from Mark Pryor and Mike Beebe and her show of fundraising strength here tell me that Arkansas will likely be a blue state in 2008.

That is pivotal because the Democratic nominee must carry one southern state. Mrs. Clinton is a lot closer than I thought. Of course, in politics, a week is like a thousand years, so the election is a long way off.

State Representative Steve Harrelson has started to change my mind about the need for a special session, but you will have to wait for next week’s column for that.

I have not changed my mind about the Little Rock School Board. The black majority is not a gang, but a duly elected body and they are wrong much of the time. There will be some big mean chickens coming home to roost there.

Another thing I have not changed my mind about is Michael Vick. He is a total loser. Period. A friend of mine was suggesting that, perhaps, Vick might have a different outlook if NFL quarterbacks were killed every time they lost a contest. Blessed are the merciful.

(Broadcast August 22, 2007)

Writing better laws

Back in the springtime, the Arkansas General Assembly tried to do a good deed by fixing up a state law that treated guys and girls differently on the age of marriage without parental consent. At least that part is my recollection. It started off completely harmless, but by the time it was over the fix may be worse than the cure.

At the root of the problem is a little three-letter word, “not.” The way things turned out, according to the law as passed by Arkansas General Assembly, boys and girls of any age may marry with parental consent. It was not the intend of lawmakers, and officials that take care of the Arkansas code decided to just drop the little negative word and fix things. It was a noble gesture, but the Legislative Council is having nothing to do with this quick and dirty solution.

As much as it grieves me to say so, this time the legislative branch has it right. If unelected bureaucrats decide to edit any law they think does not look right, there is no end to the mischief. At the end of this almost hilarious story is an expensive and inconvenient special session.

That is not the cheapest, easiest or most efficient outcome. It is absolutely the best for all concerned.

(Broadcast August 21, 2007)

Thursday summary

Opposition to coal-fueled electricity in Texas and the prospect of a tough permitting process played a key role in selecting Arkansas for a proposed $1.4 billion power plant, Southwestern Electric Power Co. officials said during the fourth day of Arkansas Public Service Commission hearings that could decide the 600-megawatt facility’s fate.

Children in the state child welfare system continue to go without timely care that would ensure their safety and services needed to support them and their families. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a Little Rock-based nonprofit organization, also noted improvements in the state Children and Family Services Division’s staffing levels and an increase in state funding, in its third annual report, “Children in Crisis: An Update on the Arkansas Child Welfare System.”

The Arkansas Department of Education assumed control of the financially troubled Bald Knob School District on Wednesday, ousting the superintendent and the School Board.

The organization that sought unsuccessfully to prevent homosexuals from adopting or fostering children has submitted a 2008 ballot proposal that its leaders hope will accomplish much the same goal. The initiated act proposed by the Family Council is under review by the Attorney General.

The Arkansas Supreme Court will speed up its decision on whether former Pulaski County Comptroller Ron Quillin’s email exchanges with a vendor are public record. The high court clarified for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which sued Pulaski County over access to the emails, that a previous appeal by the county remained open and that both parties have seven days to file new court briefs. The parties then have until Sept. 4 to respond to each other.

Attorneys for four governmental entities in Northwest Arkansas participating in the federal 287(g) program released information this week despite directives from federal authorities not to do so. The information was requested by the American Civil Liberties Union and media outlets under the state's Freedom of Information Act.

The superintendent and junior high principal of the Watson Chapel School District may be on the hook personally if a jury finds, at a trial next month, that the district punished armband wearing students last October to suppress their viewpoints, a federal judge has ruled.

Arkansas National Guard officials plan to put the 39th Infantry Brigade on state orders in October to enable it and 12 other state units bolstering the brigade’s ranks to start training as full-time soldiers.

The chances are slim that predators would prey on children under the Arkansas law that allows children of any age to marry as long as they have parental permission, Gov. Mike Beebe says.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors will revisit a proposed ordinance making English the official language of the city, after the board narrowly voted to table the matter.

A Colorado millionaire has acquired the Royal Arkansas Hotel & Suites, according to real estate transactions at the Jefferson County assessor’s office. Bruce Rahmani, a hotelier and restaurateur from Northglen, Colo., has bought the hotel out of receivership from Zions First National Bank of Utah after the bank had foreclosed on its previous owners.

A Fort Smith woman and her 10-year-old male relative are both suspects in a purse-snatching spree throughout the weekend. Bridget Kursh and her juvenile relative were each arrested on nine counts of felonious property theft. They are accused of stealing purses from women shopping in stores in Fort Smith, including Wal-Mart, TJ Maxx, Kmart, Academy Sports and Central Mall with a scheme to distract women who had placed their purse inside their shopping cart.

Some of the biggest names in professional bass fishing will compete for $250,000 at the Bassmaster Legends event being held today through Sunday on Lake Dardanelle.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday summary

Arkansas' largest National Guard combat unit received formal notice it will mobilize in January for another deployment to Iraq, only two years after returning home from its first tour of duty, officials announced Tuesday. The order for the 39th Infantry Brigade tells the state to provide 3,200 troops for a deployment that would last a little more than a year.

Gov. Mike Beebe says that if he calls a special legislative session to fix a flaw in the state marriage law, lawmakers shouldn’t expect an opportunity to introduce bills on other policy issues.

The Arkansas Municipal League announced Tuesday that it supports an increase in the state severance tax on natural gas, but a leading legislator, State Senator Bob Johnson of Bigelow who also leads the self-seeking “Brotherhood, said such an increase is a bad idea.

Arkansas’ bout of hot weather has been hard on crops, especially those not yet mature. About a million acres of late-planted soybeans “probably got hurt the most,” according to Jeremy Ross, soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

The government is investigating a series of errors made by air traffic controllers in Memphis that caused planes on six occasions in one week to come too close together, including jets flown by Southwest and American airlines. Air traffic controllers blame the mistakes -- including confused communication due to radio static and plain miscommunication -- to being chronically short-staffed.

Students and teachers began school in Bald Knob amid rumors of a state takeover coming on Wednesday. Teachers are also hearing that more jobs will be cut at the end of this school year, students are wondering if their school will still exist in 30 days, and a district in which 55 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price lunches is attempting to raise between $800,000 and $2 million within 30 days in order to save their school.

The Little Rock School Board and outgoing Superintendent Roy Brooks agreed to a $635,000 buyout package for Brooks. The board vote was a unanimous 7-0. The package will compensate Brooks for the two years remaining on his district contract, as well as any and all of his legal claims against the state’s largest district.

Hartford School District Superintendent Chris Rink wants to assure parents and guardians of Hartford students that the school is not closing. Recent rumblings throughout town have led Rink to contact the Times Record.

Palestine-Wheatley School Board will become the first district in the state to sue over state laws governing the School Choice Program. Board members agreed unanimously to file a lawsuit challenging the state law that allows students to transfer from one district to another.

Gov. Mike Beebe has set an Oct. 16 execution date for Jack Harold Jones Jr., who was sentenced to die in 1996 for killing a woman in Bald Knob.

Jacksonville police confirm that the death last week of a toddler whose stepfather jumped from an interstate overpass near the hospital he was being treated at was a homicide. Jaden Cotton died from brain damage at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Thursday, two days after his parents, Sharilyn and Ausencio Lopez, told Jacksonville police that he fell out of his bed while at their home at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Jail officials confirm that a state inmate who was serving a 40-year sentence at Faulkner County Detention Center for battery, forgery and various theft charges has apparently escaped. James S. Johnson was last seen by jail employees at 4:53 p.m. Aug. 11, and is suspected of fleeing the area with Sarah Bergmann, a former jail employee who resigned the same day Johnson escaped.

Authorities are looking for a white male who walked into the First Arkansas Bank and Trust in Guy on Monday and robbed the establishment of an undisclosed amount of money.

A 57-year-old Little Rock man whose ailing 85-year-old mother was found covered in vermin, bruises and sores on a urine-soaked mattress in his house was sentenced to two years in prison by a Pulaski County Circuit judge who described the case as “extreme neglect.” Warren Law was allowed to remain free on $2,500 bail while he challenges his conviction for adult abuse.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday summary

Carol Dipert, the mother of slain Russellville beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer, has told the Russellville Courier she is considering a wrongful death lawsuit. Kevin Jones was recently acquitted of that killing.

Legislators and county officials have a mixed reaction to the possibility that Gov. Mike Beebe may call a special session to address a flaw in the state minimum marriage age law.

The Arkansas Parole Board rejected convicted murderer Terrick Terrell Nooner’s request for clemency, 32 days before he is scheduled to die by lethal injection.

Sen. Hillary Clinton says she will return to Arkansas during her 2008 presidential campaign and vowed to put Arkansas "back in the winning column" for Democrats. "I need your help and your support. We're going to win Arkansas and take back our country," Clinton said to cheers from a friendly crowd at Gloria Jean's Coffee on Dickson Street in Fayetteville.

Hearings that could decide the fate of Southwestern Electric Power Co.’s proposed $1.4 billion coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County are underway with the utility seeking limits on some environmental testimony. SWEPCO attorney Stephen Cuffman asked the Arkansas Public Service Commission to restrict how far plant opponents can go in arguing air quality issues under review by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

More than 1,040 homes in Arkansas were in some stage of foreclosure in July, the 17th highest rate of foreclosures in the country, a California real estate company reports. Arkansas’ July foreclosures were up 48 percent compared with July last year but down 15.4 percent from June. Nevada had the country’s highest foreclosure rate for the seventh month in a row.

Bald Knob School District Superintendent Wayne Fawcett could not confirm a rumor that the Arkansas Department of Education will take over Bald Knob Public Schools on Wednesday during a late Monday afternoon interview with Searcy’s Daily Citizen. Patrons of District filled the bleachers of their high school gymnasium Monday, eager to hear plans to raise $2 million in hopes of saving their district from a potential merger with a neighboring district.

When Mayor Ray Baker calls the Fort Smith Board of Directors meeting to order Tuesday, it will be 40 years ago to the day since the board met for the first time.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors will consider an ordinance making English the official language of the city of Fort Smith today. The ordinance was placed on the board’s meeting agenda at the request of Ward 4 Director Bill Maddox.

The West Nile virus is being blamed for a person's death in Arkansas, the State Department of Health said Monday.

Emergency workers assembling in the Little Rock area in case Hurricane Dean struck the Texas coast have been sent home, officials with the American Red Cross report.

A former insurance agent has been sentenced to 20 years with 10 years suspended for stealing from an elderly woman, the state insurance commissioner announced Monday. John Phillip Middleton of Van Buren pleaded guilty to five counts of theft of property, a class B felony, and was ordered to pay more than $138,000 in restitution to a woman in her mid-70s, from whom he took money for investment in his personal business ventures.

A Fort Smith man accused of negligent homicide is suspected of driving drunk and causing a crash that resulted in the death of his passenger. Kenneth Miesen was arrested at St. Edward Mercy Medical Center after crashing his Mercury Tracer into parked cars. The crash killed passenger Thomas McAlister, also a Fort Smith resident.

A teenager has been arrested on animal cruelty charges, accused of stabbing a cow and trying to run over a herd of cattle, authorities said. The youth, who was not identified because of his age, faces charges of first-degree cruelty to animals and first-degree criminal mischief, Pleasant Plains Marshal Matt Thomas said.

The fourth season for the growing Little Rock Touchdown Club begins Monday with former University of Miami coach Larry Coker as the speaker, club president David Bazzel announced Monday.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Huckabee heats up

All well-informed people will read my column in this morning’s Democrat-Gazette. Since I wrote that last week, Mitt Romney won a beauty contest in Illinois and Mike Huckabee finished a bit further back in the pack, which matters very little.

Romney is another example of how far money will carry those of limited ability. I hit on something in today’s paper that has been eating me for some time. Voters naturally want to know what candidates really believe, so many have been very quick to tell folks exactly what they think they want to hear. It turns out to have been lies more than once. You just can’t see inside somebody’s heart.

Our government was never meant to be some sort of extension of the church. It is more than foolish to look at politicians as spiritual leaders. The best we can hope for is that they would be good people. There are some things Mike Huckabee did as governor of Arkansas that commend him as somebody who cares about human beings. Of course, his record is not perfect. I guess I am saying that, by their fruits you will know them.

(Broadcast August 20, 2007)

Monday summary

For many Arkansans, today is the beginning of the school year. It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus. Drivers are required by law to report offenders to the superintendent within two hours.

Changing a law regarding the age of consent to marry would have to be done in a special session called by the governor or during the next legislative session in 2009, legislators said Friday. The Legislative Council voted to ask the Arkansas Code Revision Commission to reverse the clarification it made to the law last month, saying the change it made went too far and changed the meaning of the legislation.

The former executive director of the state Board of Architects, John Harris of Little Rock, has been fined $2,500 and issued a public letter of reprimand by the Arkansas Ethics Commission. Two state audits found that Harris collected about $210,000 in improper travel reimbursements from 1995-2006 and that he reimbursed about $105,000 of that to the board. The audits have been turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Seven months into Gov. Mike Beebe's term, the state's Washington office remains vacant, with legislative leaders saying they would leave it to the governor to decide when or if the office should reopen. The state pays about $3,000 a month rent for the five-room suite of offices on Capitol Hill. The lease runs through next year.

For the second time in less than three years, an elected Jefferson County circuit clerk has resigned her position amid allegations of mismanagement of county funds. Annette Branch, who took office Jan. 1, submitted her resignation, effective at 5 p.m. Friday. A state police investigation is underway.

A group of Little Rock School District residents challenging the constitutionality of the School Board’s plan to buy out Superintendent Roy Brooks for half a million dollars or more have taken their case to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

A judge has dismissed an amended suit over the University of Arkansas’ handling of a harassing e-mail to a former freshman quarterback.

Arkansas’ unemployment rate rose half a percentage point to 5.5 percent in July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Profits from Richard Branson's travel related companies could soon go towards the development of Arkansas' alternative fuels industry. Craig Sieben, president of Chicago-based Sieben Energy Associates says that Gov. Mike Beebe has applied for funding from Branson, who announced last September that he would invest an estimated $3 billion over the next nine years to fight global warming.

A potential landfill expansion in southwest Little Rock faces rejection from a newly empowered mayor and some of his city board colleagues if the issue reaches City Hall. The publicly stated opposition by Mayor Mark Stodola and other members of the Little Rock Board of Directors signals a likely defeat of BFI Waste Services’ plans to boost its Mabelvale Pike operation.

In a brief e-mail to Conway Mayor Tab Townsell, the FAA says that it has approved the city’s land-use plan for the proposed airport site in the less-populated Lollie Bottoms area just southwest of town and near the Arkansas River.

When given the opportunity to tell the Arkansas Board of Parole why he deserved to live, death-row inmate Terrick Terrell Nooner talked about why he wanted to die. Nooner was convicted of capital murder in 1993 for the slaying of Scot Stobaugh, 22, a college student who was shot seven times in the back at a 24-hour laundry in Little Rock. Nooner is scheduled to be executed Sept. 18.

The state wants murderer Shirley Marie Curry's inheritance, and has sued Curry to get the money to pay for her room and board, medical care and other costs of keeping her in custody. Curry, convicted Oct. 16, 1979, of two counts of murder in Washington County inherited $58,666 from an estate. The cash is in her prison account. She is serving a life without parole.

A 15-year-old boy was shot and killed by a Pine Bluff pawnshop owner who said the teenager tried to break into his business. Taron Hopkins was found about 11:30 p.m., facedown beside a small pile of dirt inside a fenced-in area connected to Chuck Smith’s Pawn Shop. Smith, the store’s owner, told police he shot the teenager with a .38-caliber revolver as the boy and others tried to break into the store. Smith says he was in bed in his apartment at the time.

On Friday, three days after his 18th birthday, a Pope County man pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of his girlfriend’s 17-month-old daughter. Originally scheduled to stand trial Sept. 11, Harvey Lee Epperson was sentenced to serve 35 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction in connection with the death of the baby, who died of multiple blunt-force trauma. He will be eligible for parold at age 42.

A man accused of shooting and paralyzing a 19-year-old man he found hiding in his daughter's bedroom is now charged with first-degree battery and a terroristic act. George David Reed was arrested July 31 and is free on a $150,000 bond.

The Mansfield School District’s transportation director has been removed from a Department of Human Services child maltreatment directory after he was mistakenly placed on the list. Transportation Director Larry Wagoner and Mansfield High School Principal Tina Smith were targeted in a second investigation conducted by the Division of Child and Family Services regarding the alleged mishandling of information about sex abuse by a male student on a district bus.

Former Razorbacks quarterback Clint Stoerner is returning to football in Arkansas by way of Tampa, Fla. Stoerner, along with former Hogs J.J. Jones, Chrys Chukwuma and Anthony Brown, signed contracts with Arkansas’ unnamed All American Football League franchise Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.

Demons cast out of Pat Lynch

Now that I have your attention, Let me draw your attention to a great interview with my pastor, Philip Jones. He is at St. Andrews Anglican Church in Little Rock and we are having the big Grand Opening this Sunday. We talked about the significant place of this church in the history of Anglicanism in America. Philip and I got into several other things, including a great program for folks who would like to know more about the Christian religion. It's ALPHA and it starts in September at St. Andrews. Better yet, it's free. You can learn all about it in the FREE "on demand" audio section of my home page,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Some weekend reading from my rail passenger blog

Over at Trains for America, things have been busy for the past week. Here are a few headlines from recent posts.

Wilmington Whine
Question mark over Michigan Amtrak operations
Minnesota conference on energy hits important rail issues
New Minneapolis bridge will be ready for light rail
Rick Murphy: No Madison stop for Twin Cities train
Fort Worth Stat-Telegram comes close
The trains are coming back to Goldsboro
Maine tackles highway congestion with rail solution
Michigan on the move
But we would fall off the edge of the world!!!
Make those who cause the damage pay for highways
Albany reader calls for improvements to existing service
After bridge colapse, Minneapolis holding out for the best plan Portland, Maine prattle
Amtrak June revenue and ridership up
Amtrak equipment shortage highlighted by Talgo failure
Houston Chronicle readers question airport congestion
Beaumont, Texas is on the radar
Bombardier looks ahead
North Carolina's positive viewpoint
Passenger rail safer and faster
Atlanta - Macon corridor gets a nod
Major airports connect to transit and Amtrak
And you thought The Sunset had problems?
Baltimore is burning
Talking tall in Texas
Amtrak makes Bush's "naughty" list
Micro-managing Amtrak

That last one is particularly appropriate for folks who think Amtrak should be run like a business. It contains a lengthy direct quote of the appropriation bill's language about requirements Congress slaps on Amtrak.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lyncho in the Lions Den

Did I mention my Wednesday noontime speaking engagement?

It will be just like old times when I return to the Little Rock Founders Lions Club, of which I was a member for many years. They meet at the Lions World Serivces for the Blind near UALR.

I am getting my "A" material ready. The house will be rockin'.

Nervous financial markets

The international financial markets are very jittery these days, and I am not going to tell you that things will be OK, even though that is what I think. There are some very unnerving situations, including an irrational fear of the mortgage industry. A certain portion of that segment is in deep trouble, banks and companies that wrote proper loans will be just fine.

I am thinking of Franklin Roosevelt. At a difficult moment he said that all we have to fear is fear itself. I don’t recall that personally, but I do read. My old pal, the late radio analyst Lowell Ruffcorn, used to say that there are only three reasons people make an investment: ignorance, fear or greed. This is all psychological.

Investors are looking for justifications for the decisions they have already made. All it takes is a little push. We will make it through this, although it might be a good idea, in the future, not to give any more loans to folks that do not have an income of a good history of debt payment.

Bankers have all but ignored an old standard known as the “3 “C”’s”. They are character, capacity and collateral. That does not necessarily cut out the small borrower, especially from a hometown bank that understands the person and the local situation.

(Broadcast August 17, 2007)

Huck advances

Mike Huckabee says that his “win” in the Iowa straw poll moves him into the top tier of presidential candidates. Checking with a couple of my conservative friends, David Sanders and Bill Vickery, there is some disagreement with the former governor’s overly optimistic assessment. Let’s just say that he is in a position to raise more money, get more exposure, be taken much more seriously and eventually move up to the top tier.

Whether this happens will have a lot to do with how Huckabee does under close scrutiny. Take it from me, the Arkansas media is a bunch of lap dogs. It is significant that Mike Huckabee did well against a very well financed front-runner. Mitt Romney, who poured millions of personal money into Iowa, should have performed much better.

The other part of this puzzle is radio ads sponsored by the so-called Club for Growth. These guys are all over the former governor for raising money to improve the worst public school system in America. Their children go to private school someplace else, so it is some sort of crime for people to pay for roofs, wiring, books, and programs to help young people?

It looks like folks in Iowa, even home-schoolers and evangelicals, saw through that nonsense.

(Broadcast August 16, 2007)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday summary

The National Weather Service reports the Sharp County community of Evening Shade registered the highest temperature in Arkansas for the current heat wave, 112 degrees. Observer reports from neighboring states did not show any higher readings, either.

U.S. Rep. Marion Berry continued to praise the cooperation in the House during negotiations on the farm bill that has been passed through the House and sent to the Senate. “All commodity groups and stakeholders came together” to write a bill that Berry said can help America’s farmers stay in business and provide the safety net that is needed in hard times.

The time has come for the U.S. to leave Iraq and the war there, U.S. Blanche Lincoln said during stops in Northwest Arkansas. The Springdale Chamber of Commerce had a message of its own for the senator: The city will not cooperate on future regional highway projects unless some progress is made on the U.S. 412 bypass.

The University of Arkansas is part of a seven-way tie as the 124th best university in the nation, according to rankings released today by U.S. News and World Report. The ranking brought Arkansas into the upper tier of the magazine's rankings. The university was ranked in the third tier last year, and in the second tier in 2005.

Education Commissioner Ken James syas that getting more students to take a “rigorous” course load in Arkansas high schools is the key for improving college retention and graduation rates “One of the problems we’ve got across the state is simply the fact that we don’t have a large portion of our kids in certain pockets of the state engaged in a rigorous course of study,” James said. “

Legislators are skeptical of a push by developers to shift infrastructure costs from buyers of new homes to all real-estate buyers. Rep. Ray Kidd of Jonesboro likened the proposal to “putting it on the poor folks.”

Rogers and Springdale Police departments, and the sheriffs' offices in Benton and Washington counties received Freedom Of Information Act requests from lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas on Thursday "for all documents and records relating to the ... consideration of and participation in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's 287(g) program or other enforcement of immigration laws."

An Oklahoma law denying benefits and jobs to illegal immigrants raises concerns among the Hispanic community, the region’s Mexican consul said Thursday. Consul Andres Chao says those concerns come as police agencies in northwest Arkansas prepare to send officers to federal immigration training. However, as Arkansas’ cost of living remains low, the state will draw immigrants wanting to save money to send home to their families, he said.

Complaints about high prison phone charges and spotty service prompted state legislators to question whether the about $2.5 million in state commissions on inmate calls is an appropriate way to fund some correctional operations. Sen. Kim Hendren of Gravette, said he thought the rate of $4.80 for a 15-minute call was “pretty steep” and expressed concern that the state’s “profit” was at the expense of family and loved ones of prisoners.

A dispute over a law intended to set a minimum marriage age boils down to whether changing “not pregnant” to “pregnant” in the law is a “technical” correction. The argument is expected to come to a head in today’s meeting of the Arkansas Legislative Council. It focuses on a clause intended to allow pregnant teenagers to marry if they have parental permission. But the bill was passed with an extraneous “not.” It authorized women “not pregnant” to obtain parental consent to marry. That would remove any minimum marriage age, allowing even infants to marry if their parents OK it.

Workers in violent wards of two state mental health facilities will soon be eligible for hazardous-duty pay under a proposal approved by an interim legislative committee.

The former treasurer of a prison employee association has resigned after accusations that she stole thousands of dollars from the charitable organization. The Department of Correction’s internal affairs division began to investigate the 31-year old employee at the Jefferson County Jail y last week after the new treasurer noticed discrepancies in the accounts of the employee association.

MMI Investments, the shareholder that has opposed a $3 billion buyout of Acxiom, says that it has re-evaluated the deal and now won’t ask others to vote against it.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has approved a 60-day duck season with a six-duck bag limit for 2007-2008. Nineteen changes in Arkansas fishing regulations in 2008 were approved by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at its monthly meeting Thursday.

Environmental activists who live in and around the Ozark National Forest want federal officials to set fewer and smaller fires to manage the forest, and they’re trying to bring U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln around to their way of thinking.

Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau Chief Financial Officer Janet Charles’ retirement incentive package will cost taxpayers up to $75,000.

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has turned down a Jonesboro chain restaurant’s request for a private club liquor permit. ABC Director Michael Langley on Friday denied the permit for Ruby Tuesday, citing “significant public opposition” to warrant a full hearing before the board.

A businessman’s excellent record trumped a police chief’s concern about what might happen as the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted 4-to-1 Wednesday to grant a permit to sell beer for off-premises consumption to Jordan’s Kwik Stop No. 12 at the intersection of Highway 463 and Cedar Street in Trumann.

For the second time in a week, a 25-year-old Rector woman has been charged with first-degree sexual assault involving a 15 year-old male from her church group, the Singing Hands, at First Baptist Church in Marmaduke. Monica Cluck was first arrested last week after her husband, Jeffery, approached Greene County authorities with evidence of his wife’s sexual involvement with a 17-year-old male, who was also a member of this same group.

A Mexican national who fought extradition to Arkansas for more than a year pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of raping children. A judge ordered that Daniel Lopez Bibiano be held in lieu of a $1 million bond on two charges of rape, one charge of attempted rape and two charges of sexual assault against five girls ages 5 to 15.

A man was arrested Tuesday night after the Fort Smith Police Department received a report that he assaulted his son. Jamie Mark Edwards stands accused of striking his son, Eric Edwards, with a pool cue and firing a gun at him. Edwards was booked on complaints of aggravated assault, domestic battery and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

A McDonald’s restaurant in Pine Bluff that is on the National Register of Historic Places is scheduled for closure. The restaurant is notable because it has a single arch, which is a design from the 1950s. The owner of the restaurant is moving to a new location, with construction to start soon. Restaurant manager Tequila Jones is not sure whether the arch will move to the new location.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday summary

Wal-Mart has reached an agreement with the California Labor Commission to pay about 50,000 employees a total of $3.9 million in overtime, waiting time penalties and interest.

Gov. Mike Beebe told a group of health advocates that states like Arkansas have to find ways to expand health care options on their own instead of waiting for guidance from the federal government.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders says a lack of sex education in the nation's public schools has hastened the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and sex crimes against children. Speaking at the health care summit, Elders said only education, not any amount of money, could improve the U.S. health care system.

State Education Commissioner Ken James paints a bleak picture for the Bald Knob School District, telling a gymnasium full of parents and teachers that the community needs to come up with at least $2 million to even begin to save the district.

The Corps of Engineers has lifted the small craft advisory on the Arkansas River from Fort Smith to Pine Bluff, and expects to remove it for the remaining part of the river downstream from Pine Bluff on today. The decision ensures that the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza tournament will go on as rescheduled for Friday through Sunday. The tournament, originally scheduled for June, had been postponed because of the hazardous boating conditions.

Patrons frequenting Southland Park in West Memphis or the Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs will now be allowed to consume free drinks in either park’s gambling areas under an amended regulation passed by the state board that regulates alcohol.

A teary-eyed Richard Hodo buried his head in his hands when the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approved his request to sell alcohol from his restaurant in the historic district of downtown Van Buren. The board's 4-1 vote cleared the way for alcohol sales in Crawford County for the first time since June 27, 1942, when residents voted to make the county dry.

State funds contributed to plans for a second expansion of an aircraft services and completion site here, according to the state economic development agency. Dassault Aircraft Services says it will build a new $10 million hangar, doubling the capacity of its service space and adding about 100 jobs over the next three years.

Friends are mourning the death of four family members from Fayetteville killed Tuesday in a car accident about an hour south of Cancun, Mexico. Paul Hoover and his wife, Maureen, were in a rental car with Paul's father and stepmother, Steve and Sharon Hoover, when another car crossed the highway median and struck the car they were in.

A former prison psychologist swallowed a quantity of prescription drugs in an apparent courtroom suicide attempt moments after a jury convicted her of having sex with an inmate. Anna Clark was found guilty of two counts of third-degree sexual assault for having sex with a severely depressed and suicidal inmate in the mental health barracks at the Cummins Unit at Grady. The jury of seven men and five women recommended sentencing her to three years in prison or possible probation.

Two skateboarders who sparked controversy after their arrest on multiple misdemeanor charges June 21 in downtown Hot Springs pleaded no contest Wednesday in Hot Springs District Court.

Animal control officers say that as many as 114 dogs may have been left without proper food and water for up to four weeks before being found abandoned at a kennel in Bloomer, near Fort Smith. Control officer Richard Rivera was called to the kennel in this town along Arkansas 22, about 15 miles east of Fort Smith. He said two of the 114 dogs were dead and the rest had run out of food and water.

Free meals for the whole student body in the Dollarway School District will be a thing of the past when students return to the classrooms next week. Previously, the district — which has 93 percent of its student population eligible for free and reduced priced lunches — provided free meals to every student. The failure to collect official applications from parents last year means that Dollarway will have to nix the across-the-board free meals.

Marked Tree and Tyronza in Pointsett County have passed sales tax increases for community improvements.

Four instances of formal indebtedness and contracts between Lowell and several companies were questioned by the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit in a preliminary report filed recently.

Parking any type of vehicle on the grass in residential areas of Fort Smith could be prohibited in the near future. The Fort Smith Board of Directors directed Wally Bailey, director of planning and development, to draft an ordinance that would prohibit parking a vehicle in a residential area on anything other than a hard surface.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

This politics is local

It looks like my viewpoint did not prevail in the special election in Little Rock. The people have spoken and my heart is troubled for the those whose neighborhoods will surfer at the hands of special interests who always get their way in land use decisions.

I am not a big fan of the federal lawsuit filed here to stop the election, although I think it may slow down the big changeover. Although I like Mark Stodola personally, he was not elected to exercise the kind of authority passed by the voters yesterday and I think a federal court may agree. Then again, I could be wrong.

You know what is really disheartening? It is the lack of participation in local elections and I bet this happens in your town too. Good men and women have suffered and died so we could all have a say. What’s more, the local government scene is a place where our voices can be heard. You can make a difference in local politics, if it is doing nothing more than casting a ballot. Folks in Washington seem to march to their own drummer, but the city council makes decisions we have to live with every day. I truly wish that more people would have an interest in local affairs.

(Broadcast August 15, 2007)

Wednesday summary

Little Rock voters have approved a pair of measures designed to bolster their mayor’s role at City Hall, changes that must now clear a federal lawsuit. More than 61 percent of voters awarded the job full-time status and gave the mayor veto power over the city’s Board of Directors.

Teachers, principals and other employees at five Little Rock elementary schools shared $242,507 in performance pay this week for achievement gains made by the children in their classrooms or in their schools over the past year.

The Little Rock School District has offered Superintendent Roy Brooks $550,000 to buy out his contract, an amount that School Board President Katherine Mitchell says is “the bottom line.” But Brooks said he is entitled to more.

The federal regulator for national banks has reprimanded ANB Financial of Rogers, the second-largest locally owned bank in Northwest Arkansas. The federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency found “unsafe and unsound banking practices relating to the supervision”. ANB’s commercial real estate lending is the target of the notice.

St. Mary's Hospital in Rogers may soon belong to Benton County. The Benton County Committee of 13 approved putting down $50,000 in earnest money for the entire hospital, which includes 255,000 square feet in the main building, multiple outbuildings and about 12 acres.

A 4-year-old Plainview boy who was apparently left unattended in a vehicle parked outside Ozark Gun and Pawn on North Arkansas Avenue in Russellville is dead after being hit by a truck in an alleyway.

A former prison inmate testified that he had sex about a dozen times with a prison psychologist at the Cummins Unit before they were caught in the act by a corrections officer. Anna Clark, the former prison therapist fired soon after the incident in April 2006, could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of third-degree sexual assault.

The family of the Hartford woman who was run over by the chief of Hartford police are dismissing reports that she was lying in the street when struck. Brandi Wooten was seriously injured when Chief Stephen Layne ran over her with his vehicle. Deanna Webb, Wooten’s mother, says the scenario that Wooten was passed out in the road is false.

The Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office along with several other local agencies seized large marijuana crops planted in fields behind the Fort Smith Regional Airport. Investigators were notified by members of the Arkansas Air National Guard approximately three weeks ago that during a flight, Guard pilots saw marijuana crops growing in fields behind the airport.

Little Rock officials say that they will seek more information before considering a resolution to sue Pulaski County to force it to accept more inmates at the county jail.

Professional illusionist/escape artist Michal Angelo, a Fort Smith native, asked the Sebastian County Park Board for permission to stage for free a seemingly death-defying escape stunt in Ben Geren Regional Park on Sept. 8. Angelo said the straitjacket escape while attached with a burning rope to a five-story tall crane is a birthday present he wants to give to his hometown — his birthday is Sept. 1.

The Fort Smith Parks Commission has voted to recommend fines for people who feed the Canada Geese in Carol Ann Cross Park. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Alsup said that people feeding the fowl have led to overpopulation of geese at the park, which has created several issues, including complaints about aggressive behavior by the geese and excessive amounts of feces.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


if you scroll down, there is plenty of information on today's election. Big money special interests, listed in the news summary below, have fairly well strangled the flow of information on this important decision.

For example, if it is such a good thing to raise Mark Stolola's salary to $160,000 a year, why do the expensive full-color mail out ads not say that? The dishonesty is obvious.

I have several essays below, so make up your own mind. Information on polling locations is available by calling (501) 340-8383.

UPDATE: Marie and I voted during the noon hour. Short line and it appeared that there was fairly moderate voting for a special election in August on a brutally hot day. It looks like more people than I expected have turned out. This is GOOD NEWS for those of us who want to defeat this power grab. It is possible to beat the Stephens interests and the other big real estate developers ONLY if you take the time to get out and VOTE "NO" TWICE. (actually you vote "AGAINST"). We can win the day!

Tuesday summary

A federal judge has decided to let Little Rock voters cast ballots today on whether their mayor should have more say at City Hall and more pay for the extra responsibility, more quadrupling the salary to $160,000. Further hearings are expected.

Principal backers of the move to increase Little Rock’s mayoral powers, according to the Democrat-Gazette are Stephens Investments Holdings, Coulson Oil of North Little Rock, Alltel employees’ political action committee, Phillips Development Corp., Vratsinas Construction Co. Williams and Anderson law firm; Glass Erectors, run by 2 Votes for Leadership Co-Chairman Gary Smith; McLarty Companies Inc.; Herren Hickingbotham; real estate developer Rector Phillips Morse; the Stone Ward public relations firm; and Lakewood Village Shopping Park of North Little Rock. There is no number available on how much money has been spent in this effort, although they have raised nearly $50,000 to date.

Pulaski County authorities say two people who were discovered dead in Little Rock on Sunday and a South Dakota truck driver who died Monday at a North Little Rock truck stop are possible heat-related deaths.

The original optimism over Marcus Monk’s recovery from a knee injury was tempered substantially Monday as Arkansas’ star receiver underwent arthroscopic surgery that will sideline him at least a month.

Forty-seven of Arkansas’ 1,067 public schools were put on probation Monday by the state Board of Education for violating accreditation requirements in the 2006-07 school year.

Entergy bills stand to be lower - regardless of customer class - after state utility regulators upheld their earlier rejection of the utility’s $106.5 million-a-year rate increase request. Under new calculations made by the Arkansas Public Service Commission - which are based on electricity use similar to that of the previous year - residential ratepayers can expect a 6.7 percent reduction in monthly bills.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says that his second-place showing in Iowa's Republican Party Straw Poll was as good as a win and should put him in the top tier of presidential candidates.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., a leading contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, is scheduled to appear at big-ticket fundraisers in Arkansas next week.

Reports from state agencies reveal that Arkansas spends about $169 million annually to educate and imprison immigrants and their families, a number that state lawmakers say is bound to grow if they don’t take steps to curb illegal immigration.

Officers and deputies from four law enforcement agencies are traveling to Boston on Monday for federal training. Rogers Mayor Steve Womack confirmed on Monday that six officers with the Rogers Police Department are scheduled to begin 287(g) training next Tuesday.

A Rosston man appeared in Nevada County Circuit Court on Monday facing two counts of capital murder in the shooting deaths of his ex-wife and her husband in front of his own 11-year-old daughter. Kelvin Box told police that he tackled his ex-wife, Tracey Lambert, and then shot her three times in the face, just after he fired four shots to the back of the head of Jerome Lambert.

A capital city man is dead after being shot outside his house Monday night. The death was Little Rock’s 28th homicide this year. At this time last year, there had been 42 homicides in the city.

While discretely pursuing a suspect, the chief of the Hartford Police Department ran his vehicle over a woman who was reportedly lying in the street early Sunday morning. Brandi Wooten was struck by Chief Stephen Layne at around 1:03 a.m. Sunday. Wooten was lying on the roadway at East Third Street when Layne ran over her when he took his foot off the brake and began to move, according to Cpl. Ray Triplett with Arkansas State Police.

History is in the making at Riverview High School on the east edge of Searcy as balls will be flying through the air, whistles will be blown and fans will pack the stands in just a few weeks. The district’s school board continued to approve final touches on the school’s new football stadium, which also contains a track.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tough on crime?

Governor Mike Beebe has been doing well, for the most part. He has been very judicious in the use of executive clemency. Of 107 recent applications, he has granted two.

One is a gent from Michigan who got in trouble for drug use. I would grant pardons to every single druggie and get them out of the system immediately. Law enforcement wastes far too much time with this so-called “war on drugs.” Of course, it has become a growth industry and plenty of folks are getting rich off the misery of others.

The other man is from the capital city and has been convicted of burglary, terroristic threatening and aggravated assault. Now, I might as well clue you in that local law enforcement has no complaint with this proposed pardon, but I have a real problem. One of the reasons violent crime is such a problem is that we do not take it seriously.

I will say this to the day I die, so you can just get used to it. Write it down. When somebody makes a decision to do bodily harm, they have told the rest of us they do not intend to obey the rules. All such people should be considered dangerous and locked up for many decades. I recommend they stay behind bars till at least age 70. By then, bad boys are too tired to cause any more trouble.

I’d never turn a violent criminal out of prison if I had the choice.

(Broadcast August 13, 2007)

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