You're on. Close-out specials:
* Nate Silver's analysis of public opinion polling on gay military service. A growing majority favors it. A tiny minority wants it prohibited. The compromise DADT policy, a necessary evil in 1993, is no longer necessary for majority comfort level, he concludes. The red-hot hate groups and Republican enablers are hanging on to their bigotry to the bitter end. It is perfect that my erstwhile frat bro, U.S. Rep. Joe "Liar" Wilson is leading the charge against gays. He's an acolyte of Strom Thurmond, the die-hard Dixiecrat, who fought desegregation almost to the bitter end.
* The Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville will announce its expansion plans tomorrow. Press packets will be distributed at 5 p.m., but a spokesman insists there's no document indicating the decision currently available under the FOI because the decision won't be made until a 4 p.m. facilities committee meeting tomorrow followed by a 4:30 p.m. board meeting. Count me skeptical. Somebody's going to have to hustle on that press kit in the final hour. Whatever. I'd still wager a small sum on Bentonville as the site for future expansion.
* ALSO: I heard on Channel 7 as I walked in the door that Circuit Judge David Laser had been designated to preside at hearings on whether new evidence requires a new trial for the West Memphis Three murder defendants. He had a lengthy career as a litigator before he became a judge in Jonesboro.
* ALSO: Stonewall Democrats call on Sen. Mark Pryor to vote against a filibuster and vote for an end to the law that discriminates against gay people wanting to serve in the military. Lost cause, I'm afraid. Gays are going to hell in Pryor's view and, well, they can go to hell here, too.
Today comes an invitation to the world at large to tour the site Mayor Mark Stodola has identified as a potential resource center for the homeless, deep in the industrial East End on Ninth Street. The time is set for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
He told me in an e-mail this morning that the decision wasn't final, but you'll see from his note on the jump that he sounds high on it. He noted to me in a note today that it is not in a residential neighborhood, is close to the "downtown core" and is on a bus line. Cost and operational issues have not yet been explained. It's been used recently as a probation office, but it is the privately owned former Little Rock Road Machinery property and is listed for $789,000, slightly more than its appraised value on tax rolls. A spokesman said the cities can't afford that price.
The mayor objected to my recitation of slapdash notice on this yesterday. It's true that he didn't inform the ward's director, Erma Hendrix, until after many others, including me, knew about it, but he said he'd tried to call her earlier without success. He also said he didn't know a city employee who was to distribute the notice was on vacation. The news filtered out through various sources.
He said he was not intentionally trying to provoke Hendrix, as she had suggested to me, but said, "It is a proven fact elsewhere around the country that a center such as this has to have some close proximity to where the homeless congregate." Hendrix no doubt was aware of this in suggesting a vacant grocery store in Riverdale, near a homeless camp beneath a railroad overpass (and, it happens, in the shadow of the hills of Hillcrest and the Heights). If Stodola really wants to get close to the core homeless population, he could find some vacant space in the River Market neighborhood, but I don't suppose the Chamber of Commerce would get behind that suggestion.
I've never had one of downtown's street people ask for money for bus fare. That may change.
The Little Rock School Board has scheduled a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday "to consider taking action with respect to the superintendent's employment contract."
The time apparently is at hand to move forward with a proposal to buy out the seven months remaining on Superintendent Linda Watson's three-year contract, which the Board has voted not to extend, and to put in place the process to find a successor.
The Board's goal will be to have a permanent replacement at work by July 1, but the success of a search will determine how soon that can be accomplished. If an agreement can be reached to end Watson's tenure, the Board may also find an interim leader, someone who would not be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis.
This meeting has been delayed several times. It seems unlikely that the board will join unanimously on the action. Members Katherine Mitchell and Dianne Curry had voted to extend Watson's contract. Mitchell told Channel 11 recently that she wouldn't participate in the hiring of a new superintendent because scores had risen under Watson.
Two young men from Mountain Home were first in line at 5 a.m. this morning at the Little Rock Sam's Club for Sarah Palin's book signing tonight. Up to 1,000 people will get wristbands to enter the store. As mentioned previously, no reporters allowed, though photographs will be permitted. Brian Chilson captured the interview with the early arrivals. Below is another 5 a.m. arrival from Wilmar. (The first line-sitter, Jason Tolbert notes, is a 19-year-old just-elected JP from Baxter County.)
An "emergency" Pulaski County School Board meeting has been set for 5:30 p.m. tonight. Subject: "Discussion of future role of superintendent."
Superintendent Charles Hopson has not been available for elaboration. A district spokesman said Hopson had requested that the meeting be called and described the topic.
Contributing tension: After school elections produced a school board majority ready to continue a working contract with the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers (the previous majority tried to end union representation of teachers), negotiations on a new contract resumed. School Board member Gloria Lawrence said an agreement was reached on everything but salary three weeks ago, but the district administration, presumably led by Hopson, has refused to return to the table. But she said she was in the dark about tonight's meeting beyond what the notice says.
Board member Tim Clark said he'd spoken with Hopson and that he'd said he intended to address the board about "certain board members" who'd overstepped their boundaries as policy makers to get involved in administrative decisions. He gave no specifics. Clark added that he didn't think Hopson was signaling any desire to depart the job.
Said Clark: "We need to step back and allow him to do his job."
Educated guess: A board member or members has been attempting to suggest pay terms to the administrative negotiating team. That isn't how negotiations generally work.
Little Rock police vice squad officers made three ticket scalping arrests at Saturday's UA-LSU game: Edgar Caves, 50, of Duncanville, Texas; Lloyd Blasingame, 28, of Little Rock, and Houston Spencer, 56, of Memphis. Caves and Spencer were charged with two counts, each, and Blasingame one.
Based on my observation, the police missed a few.
Lt. Terry Hastings declined to release details of the arrests.
"It is an under cover operation so we do not release details. We say each year to those attending games that they should know that the person who they are trying to sell a ticket to for more than the face value may be an undercover officer."
Though evidence remains in short supply, Mike Huckabee apparently is in agreement with a Republican U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick that Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese grup, is infiltrating the U.S. disguised as clandestine Mexican border crossers with the help of Mexican drug cartels.
The picture? The Huckabee file shot used by Talking Points Memo put me so much in mind of Jim Nabors that I took a look at Google and found I wasn't the first to see the resemblance. I should confess that a student in a class I once taught at Philander Smith once broke out laughing during my lecture and, after much prompting, said her hilarity was caused by MY resemblance to Gomer Pyle. Shazam.
Needing 67 votes, Republicans got only 39 in the Senate on a mostly symbolic proposal to ban earmarks. Sens. Pryor and Lincoln voted no.
A Pentagon study to be released this afternoon is expected to find no serious obstacles to ending the ban on military service by acknowledged gay people. It will also show that the troops — even more than a strong majority in the public at large — are at ease with the idea.
This will not, you may be sure, be enough for Mark Pryor and John McCain or hate groups like the Family Research Council and affiliates.
UPDATE: Here come the details:
According to a survey sent to 400,000 service members, 69 percent of those responding reported that they had served with someone in their unit who they believed to be gay or lesbian. Of those who did, 92 percent stated that their unit's ability to work together was very good, good, or neither good nor poor, according to the sources.
Combat units reported similar responses, with 89 percent of Army combat units and 84 percent of Marine combat units saying they had good or neutral experiences working with gays and lesbians.
At the same time, the report found that 30 percent of those surveyed overall — and between 40 and 60 percent of the Marine Corps — either expressed concern or predicted a negative reaction if Congress were to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law, which allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military on the condition that they keep their sexuality a secret.
Defense Secretary Gates has asked Congress to repeal the ban on gay service this year, but give the military time to implement the change. Those counseling against a "rush" to repeal are either poorly informed or dishonest. As Tap has noted so often, until the ban is lifted the military can do nothing to gradually adapt to the change. Change would be illegal.
The Center on Community Philanthropy at the Clinton School of Public Service has received $750,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to study and promote giving that builds equitable communities.
Baldor Corp. the electric motor manufacturer based in Fort Smith, has been sold to ABB, a Swiss group, for $3.1 billion plus another $1.1 billion in assumed debt. The companies' statement says the operation and management in Fort Smith will remain.
A product design manager for Facebook wrote an op-ed for today's New York Times on trolls and the tendency for anonymity to encourage uncivil behavior. She proposes a variety of methods — some used here, including registration and some moderation — to encourage more civil comments on websites. It is interesting to read of legal efforts to force disclosure of people who make unflattering comments in an era when anonymous speech in the form of huge corporate expenditures on political races has been given broad protection.
John Brummett comments further today on Sen. Mark Pryor's emergence as a vigorous voice of right-wing Republicanism in the case of gays in the military and immigrant children.
Pryor, who got cancer and fundamentalist religion along the way, always has leaned to the considerable right of his father and to the more-distant right of his mother.
Now he positively plunges in that direction, somewhat imaginatively, actually, strongly suggesting that his natural leanings have been accelerated by fear of the Republican sweep that took place in his state a few weeks ago and which presumably could threaten him four years hence when he ventures back to the ballot.
It is beginning to appear, in fact, that Pryor and John Boozman may be able to work in a single-minded senatorial tandem reminiscent of that of Pryor’s father and Dale Bumpers in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Pryor can pick and choose all he wants according to his (flawed) beliefs on where the majority of voters stand on various hot button issues. But if he builds a four-year record as an opportunistic, backbone-deprived religious zealot interested only in his own re-election, voters on both end of the spectrum will have little reason to feel common cause with him. They might fancy any old colorless Republican lump that comes along as an alternative. Or simply stay home in droves. See: Blanche Lincoln.
Blogger Jason Tolbert says it's time for Sarah Palin to be more like Mike Huckabee and engage with the press at book appearances. She'll be signing books at the Little Rock Sam's Club this afternoon. Her publicist has told Tolbert she'll only sign books and take no questions. No press will be allowed inside the building. (How they'll stop an intrepid reporter seeking to enter Sam's Club under the guise of buying an industrial-size supply of cheese doodles we'll just have to see.) Writes Tolbert:
If Palin is serious about running for President, she needs to stop hiding from the media and only going on shows that are friendly to her point of view. This practice only fuels the perspective that she is not capable of answering tough questions. I understand the media can be tough but that is part of it.
Line is open. Noted:
* The appearance Tuesday by Adam Richman (Man v. Food) has drawn so much interest it has been moved from the Clinton School to the Robinson Center Music Hall. So there will be plenty of seats. 6-7 p.m. Book signing to follow.
* Terminology note: Steve Roberts' departure as ASU football coach has been termed a "resignation." Undoubtedly a condition of receiving a buyout from the Red Wolf Club, an amount Athletic Director Dean Lee said would not be revealed. If a public employee such as Lee knows the terms, then everyone should know, BTW.
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