Saturday, October 13, 2012

The line is open

Posted By on Sat, Oct 13, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Slow day for me. The line is open. Couple of things:

* FOURTH BRANCH?: Legislative Audit raised questions yesterday about a group of Arkansas Supreme Court employees whose salaries and pensions were set up outside the state budgeting process for the thousands of other state employees, including the members of the Supreme Court themselves. Good questions about how, constitutionally, the court can control that group of employees. Even if the costs come from special fee income — as do costs in nooks and crannies all over state government — seems like they should be treated the same as all over state government, not like a special palace guard. I was interested that the original story in D-G commented on how some court-controlled employees made more than the governor and attorney general, whose pay is limited by constitution. For the record: These employees also generally make less than the top hands at Legislative Audit. Roger Norman, head of audit, made $158,000 in 2010-11. Audit lawyer Frank Arey, who raised the questions, makes $130,000.

* JON HUBBARD'S PROBLEM: DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE: Great opinion piece in the Jonesboro Sun, paywall protected, by managing editor Maria Flor about bad boy Republican Rep. Jon Hubbard, whose wild-eyed letters to the editor full of incendiary remarks about the positive side of slavery and the evils of desegregation have rightly drawn international attention. Some excerpts:

Rep. Hubbard is his own worst enemy
So I get to hear in- and out-of-state media ask what we’re thinking here in Jonesboro. I’m ashamed Arkansas is in this kind of national spotlight. I worry new industries won’t locate in Jonesboro if they see all the racist controversy we ought to be way past by now still burning up the Internet.

And, worse, I have to hear people rallying to Hubbard’s defense.

This is far too much energy expended about a man responsible for his own undoing.


Hubbard is trying to make this about politics, but it’s not. There’s a higher issue here that’s being lost in all the back-and-forth rhetoric and advantage-taking among party leaders.

We’ve known for years in this office that Jon’s emails to us are caustic just on common matters. He routinely accused us of imbalanced coverage and shielding Democrats.


The Jon Hubbard who emails this office is at odds with the polite man at dinner who asked me to buy his book, and I can’t reconcile the disconnect. But I believe Jon the writer drives his agenda.

In his book, he said this about integration: “To make matters worse, the lack of discipline and ambition of black students soon became shared by their white classmates, and our educational system has been in a steady decline ever since.

“This is not a racist statement, but a valid and realistic evaluation of what has actually happened to our schools.”

Just because he says it isn’t racist doesn’t make it so. It’s racist.

There’s no political interpretation here. He just said what he said. Then he defended it.

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