Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday summary

Arkansas National Guard officials this week will decide if more Guard units will need to be called up to supplement the 39th Infantry Brigade as it prepares to return to Iraq — the first National Guard unit mobilized for a second tour of duty in the 4-year-old war.

Mike Huckabee finished second Saturday in a pivotal straw poll in Iowa, a surprising vote that could vault him to the top tier of Republican presidential contenders.

Attorneys for the Democrat-Gazette asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to expedite a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit regarding access to e-mails of Pulaski County’s former comptroller, who is accused of theft. Circuit Judge Mary Spencer McGowan deemed that more than 600 e-mails between Ron Quillin and a vendor were public records.

A lawsuit seeking to halt Tuesday’s special election on mayoral power in Little Rock is set for a this morning hearing in federal court. Little Rock voters will go to the polls to raise the annual salary of Mayor Mark Stodola to $160,000. (SCROLL DOWN FOR SEVERAL INFORMATIVE POSTS CONCERNING THIS ELECTION.)

Eureka Springs voters will decide in an election tomorrow whether to refinance a bond issue to complete work on a sewage treatment plant.

Arkansas is trying to sign up more adults for health coverage through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, just as funding for the federal subsidy is up for debate in Washington. President Bush has threatened to veto legislation that he thinks expands the federal program too much, but Arkansas needs funding increases in part to keep up with new coverage for the uninsured that state officials are heavily promoting.

Gov. Mike Beebe intends to grant two pardons from a total of 107 clemency applications. A 30-day waiting period now opens to receive public feedback. Beebe intends to grant pardons to James B. Hudson of Ann Arbor, Michigan, who is serving time for Drug Possession and Kyle Ogden of Little Rock who was convicted of burglary, terroristic threatening, and aggravated assault.

A judge has denied motions by two newspapers to force hearings in a capital murder case to be opened to the public. Benton County Judge Tom Keith ruled at the end of a hearing that two murder suspects’ rights to a fair and impartial trial outweigh the public’s right to know, but he will open documents filed in the case.

A Fayetteville woman pleaded guilty Friday to killing a child in her care. Lorita Lanej, who was caring for the boy; will serve 20 years before she becomes eligible for parole. The child's parents, Elmitha Saito and Junious K. Annam of the Marshall Islands pleaded guilty to failing to get medical help for the child who was abused.

An employee at the state’s Booneville Human Development Center for people with disabilities has been fired for providing false information about a resident who was found dead earlier this month. Jesse Ingram was found dead early Aug. 2 in an outbuilding where he worked shredding paper during the day. Results from an autopsy are pending, but authorities believe Ingram may have suffocated.

Three workers remain in critical condition after suffering burns in a fire at a Deltic Timber Corp. sawmill at Columbia County.

A Mena-based Sonic Drive-In and its holding company will pay $75,000 to settle a sexual-harassment lawsuit filed last year by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith, charged that a night manager subjected two women to sexual harassment during their employment at the Sonic. One of the women was a teenager at the time.

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