Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Morning report: Media, Duggars, Little Rock crime

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 6:56 AM

FIDDLING FOR AKIN: Members of Jim Bob Duggars family, shown here in older photo, made music at a rally in Missouri yesterday for Republican candidate Todd Akin.
  • FIDDLING FOR AKIN: Members of Jim Bob Duggar's family, shown here in older photo, made music at a rally in Missouri yesterday for Republican candidate Todd Akin.

Some odds and ends from the overnight supply and the morning newspaper review:

* WHY DID THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE GO ALL NON-PARTISAN ON QUORUM COURT?: The Little Rock daily newspaper today did thumbnail summaries of the races for Pulaski County Quorum Court, the county governing body. The Quorum Court has a great deal of say over protection of Lake Maumelle and operation of the county jail and sheriff's office. It's important, boring as it might seem. I wish every candidate had been asked directly about their position on land use controls in the Maumelle watershed. I wish it had included Republican Chris Stewart's past as a paid lobbyist for a firm representing the Kochs and Deltic Timber, leading opponents of watershed regulation. I gave an endorsement in this race last week to Democrat Kathy Lewison.

But most of all I wonder: Why the heck didn't the summaries of every Quorum Court candidate include their party affiliation? Does the newspaper NOT want voters to have this ready identifier? With few exceptions — Republican JP Phil Stowers, for one, is periodically overtaken by common sense — the Republicans vote in lockstep and will do so, certainly, with a Quorum Court majority. Some, like Stewart, are itching to use the platform for social issues as some Republican JPs have done in the past. But, most of all, they are government stranglers, which doesn't bode well for water protection or sufficient operation of public services such as the sheriff's office, jail, courthouse and rural services. Heck, the people who FAVOR that approach to government need to know the party affiliations, too. Odd omission.

* AND SPEAKING OF THE KOCHS: Aren't we always speaking of the Brothers Koch, because the billionaire industrialists are setting the pace in unreported spending of millions to take over state governments for the Republican corporatist agenda, in Arkansas and everywhere else. In New York, private spending by shadowy groups like the Kochs' Americans for Prosperity is also a problem. There, legislators have attempted to require more disclosure. They've failed, for the same reason regulation is failing everywhere, the insanity of the court-legislated notion that an ad is not electioneering if you don't employ certain magic words.

A landmark ethics overhaul enacted last year directed the State Board of Elections to develop rules for the disclosure of outside spending in state elections. But the board’s new regulations, which were approved in September and take effect next week, require disclosure only in the case of advertisements that explicitly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate.

“You don’t need to hire a team of campaign-finance lawyers to figure out how to evade disclosure under the Board of Elections regulation,” said Adam Skaggs, a senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “It’s as simple as pie. And all you do is leave out the ‘vote for’ or ‘vote against.’ ”

It's time to require disclosure of all election-related spending and to relitigate the sewer that was built by past court decisions.

* A FAMILY WAY: Janet Huckabee isn't the only famous Arkie (make that former Arkie) working to elect Todd Akin, the troglodyte Republican Senate candidate in Missouri. The Huckster himself is making robocalls (you have to wonder if he commanded a fee for the work) and now comes word that the Duggar family joined Mrs. Huckster at an Akin rally. May Mizriz Huckabee do as well for Akin as her own race for statewide office.

UPDATE: Sound bite from Janet Huckabee, who says women are "on fire" for Todd Akin.

* CITY BOARD PRIORITIES: Robert Webb, opposing eternal incumbent Joan Adcock for a Little Rock City Board seat, distributed a broadside against the board for its meeting last night and other meetings at which it dwells on relatively minor issues while ignoring crime in inner city wards, particularly shootings that occur at proliferating alcohol retailers.

* JUSTICE FOR BULLDOGS: A busy Facebook page has sprung up to support the family whose western Pulaski County home was burned by an arsonist in a fire that also cost the lives of two English bulldogs and burned several others.

* UAMS INTERVIEWING FOR TOP JOB: Chancellor Dan Rahn says there are three finalists for the job of chief executive officer of UAMS Medical Center and interviews are scheduled. They are: James Eastham, senior advisor to Vanguard Health Systems in Nashville, Tenn.; Scott Stringer, professor and chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, and Roxane Towsend, former assistant vice president of health systems at Louisiana State University.

* SCHOOLS FOR BLIND AND DEAF WEIGH NEXT MOVE ON EASTER SEALS: The state board that governs the schools for the blind and deaf discussed again last night what to do about the intransigent Easter Seals agency, which has refused to let go of its former center on Lee Avenue on school property. The board wants Easter Seals to officially vacate. It doesn't want to go without capturing some money for the mostly vacant structure, which sits at the end of a narrow street in a neighborhood that opposes redevelopment of the building for commercial purposes. No decisions reached. An observer indicated the attorney general's office is working on options, which could include legal action.

* RULES, SCHMULES: A formal complaint has been filed with the state Ethics Commission over extremist Republican Mark Lowery's alleged repeated failure to comply with deadlines for campaign finance filings in his race for state House of Representatives. Lowery upset a solid and conventional Republican candidate in the primary. He's getting a strong contest from Democrat Kelly Halstead, but Maumelle's reflexive voting pattern may overcome the need for a look at Lowery's lamentable record, poor in respects other than filing details. Halstead's background here.

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