Friday, April 22, 2011

Dustin McDaniel's excellent week

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 6:39 AM

OPPORTUNIST: Dustin McDaniel
  • Arkansas Leader
  • OPPORTUNIST: Dustin McDaniel
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, prepping for his race for governor against Mike Ross in 2014, has had an excellent week by his lights.

* He got wide coverage front and center kissing the butt of the NRA's Wayne LaPierre at the Clinton School. "I'm at your service," McDaniel told him.

* Yesterday, the Arkansas media bought, with rare exceptions, McDaniel's trumped-up accounting report that implied that school districts in Pulaski County had misspent money provided by the state under the desegregation agreement. This is sheer dishonest demagoguery on a proven red-meat issue. The districts aren't required to spend the money on categorical deseg programs. They weren't required by law to account for the spending in the fashion McDaniel demanded. Even McDaniel's office will admit as much, when pressed. But I heard more than one reporter yesterday solemnly intone that the three Pulaski districts had "misused" the money. Not true, at least insofar as deseg is concerned. McDaniel gave far less billing to some true misuse of school money in Pulaski County on shady consulting deals and expense reimbursements. (The thorough account by Cynthia Howell in the Democrat-Gazette fills in all of the things McDaniel intentionally left out in his slanted news release, though it might have been fun to ask him why he spent a quarter of a million dollars on a report on something the districts weren't required to do.)

Let me be clear: There's plenty of room to debate the effectiveness of the state's spending in righting inequities in the districts and desegregating schools. Ongoing court hearings are considering that.

But if you want to find violations of the deseg agreement, look no farther than McDaniel. He has aided and abetted the state's violation of its court promise to not contribute to further segregating county schools. This has been in the course of fostering creation of majority-white charter schools that have damaged local school districts. Don't expect McDaniel to seek TV interviews on this. He wouldn't want to anger the Walton/Stephens/Hussman/Murphy charter school axis.

Heckuva job, Dusty. The 2014 primary season is going to be something. I never thought it was possible to top Mike Ross for opportunism and demagoguery, but we might have a contender.

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