Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In this week's Times: The influential and more

Posted By on Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 9:18 AM

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The new Arkansas Times is heading to boxes around town, but it's already live on the web with this week's cover story on 50 influential Arkansans, a group we selected across many sectors, from business to media and education.

I hope readers will notice the list includes some of the blog's favorite targets. We may disagree, but we don't diminish the likes of Teresa Oelke of Rogers, the leader of the Koch-created Americans for Prosperity organization in Arkansas, or the lead Walton school reform financier. We may disagree, but we absolutely acknowledge their rising influence. Otherwise, why bother talking about them?

I pushed for inclusion of another influencer from the conservative end of the spectrum, Tea Party radio talk favorite Dave Elswick, but he didn't make the cut. He's another who's uttered few words with which I have agreed over the years, but his show is a popular friendly forum for the rising red tide in Arkansas. Like many on that end of the political spectrum, including Oelke, Elswick prefers to control his message apparently. He declined to participate in our research for the piece and wound up on the cutting room floor.

ALSO, IN THE SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION CATEGORY: My column returns from vacation hiatus this week with a quick roundup of comment on news that occurred while I was gone. 1) How Todd Akin revealed the truth about Republican abortion politics and the seamlessness of the GOP's attack on women's medical autonony, from contraception to abortion. 2) About Mike Beebe's response to the well-financed Republican effort to take legislative control. 3) And, finally, about some of my many questions about the UAMS idea to merge hospital operations with a religious institution, St. Vincent Infirmary, whose guiding principles aren't all in the broader and more diverse public interests of a taxpayer-financed institution. And what's government doing as an equity investor in a private business anyway? They sure got off to a bad start by flouting the state open records law, perhaps a harbinger of the proposed new day of public-private partnerships.

AND DON'T MISS: Another weirdly wonderful column from the genius Bob Lancaster. It's about the absence of any degree of separation among us Arkies.

ALSO: Doug Smith writes about a hot Senate race in South Arkansas, which features yet another sulled-up Republican, Mike Akin, unwilling to talk to the press about his record of self-dealing in public positions. There's also Razorback football, Shakespeare at the Rep and seafood in Hot Springs, among others.

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