It's open. Finishing up:
* UA TO DEBATE GUNS: Students at UA-Fayetteville are preparing to debate resolutions calling for a change in the current university policy banning guns on campus. Some student legislators want to open the campus to concealed carry permit holders.
* FISHING FOR SOULS, NOT BASS: Arkansas Business reports that the Dark Hollow land along Interstate 40 in North Little Rock has been acquired by the First Pentecostal Church on the north side of the freeway for possible expansion. It was once considered as a site for a shopping center to be anchored by Bass Pro Shops, a development stopped by a lawsuit over the lack of a sufficient environmental impact study on use of the wetland. A change in potential use of the land doesn't change federal regulations that apply to these wetlands.
* NO WORD ON GAME AND FISH COMMISSIONER: No change in status of the matter of Rick Watkins, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission member arrested in Lonoke County last week, apparently intoxicated and firing a weapon some distance from his vehicle, its engine still running. Watkins has not been available for comment. I asked the governor's office if Watkins, a Beebe appointee, had resigned or if Gov. Mike Beebe had asked him to resign. Said Matt DeCample:
We have received no written or verbal resignation from Watkins. The governor recognizes the serious nature of the situation and the charges, but is simply monitoring the legal proceedings for now.
I've heard multiple reports that Watkins has been making apologies to Game and Fish people. That might not be good enough for many, including other members of the commission, for the embarrassment. If he doesn't resign from the commission, other commissioners could deny him ascension to the position of chairman as internal reprimand.
* PRAY FOR — AND IN — CONWAY SCHOOLS: Belatedly, I've received a response to my FOI request for communication by Conway School Superintendent Greg Murry related to his handling of a complaint over the widespread practice of lunchtime school visits by evangelical organizations. Response was belated because Murry, custodian of his own records, is turning over responses to a conservative Christian legal advocacy group in Texas that is defending Conway from the complaint and is to report this week on a policy that Murry clearly hopes will continue to allow the visits. To get anything from Murry, I have to wait for him to go through them. The record produced today shows the Conway evangelical group K-Life suggested to Murry that he bring in the Liberty Institute. You might disagree, but Murry's sympathies seem to lie with keeping the churches happy.
Here's the thing: I don't doubt that if the school district allows outside visitors at lunchtime, of any sort, it can't prohibit visitors from a religious group. The problem comes in the activities pursued by the religious groups when they visit. Are they recruiting? Are they proselytizing? Are they holding public prayer exercises? That's the question not yet answered in any of the communications I've seen.
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