* BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE: Spitting rain here. Little Rock City Hall is delaying its start time until 10 a.m. Pulaski County School District operating on normal schedule. How about you?
* GIVE PEACE A CHANCE IN LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL DISTRICT: Little Rock School Board member Greg Adams urges that I keep calm in response to my fears about the current search for a new school superintendent. He writes:
In the summer of 2010, the board vote to not extend the contract for Dr. Watson was 4-3. Later in the fall the board vote to not reconsider the earlier decision was 5-2. The board vote to hire Dr. Holmes as interim superintendent was 7-0. The vote to hire Dr. Holmes for 2 years was 7-0. The vote this fall to begin a new search for a superintendent was 7-0 and the board vote this week to interview the top recommendations of the search firm was 7-0. There are four candidates to consider and a long day of multiple interviews for each of the candidates where s/he will interact with school personnel, members of the public and media and members of the board. From a distance, it could be that the board is seeking to work together as much as possible and follow a set and open process together. Making a final decision together and another 7-0 vote would be ideal, and even if that goal is not met, it will matter how the final decision is reached and the strength of the final consensus. The future of the district and the success of the next superintendent will benefit from these efforts to find consensus and move forward together. I don't believe this process, especially when viewed in a larger way, necessarily leads to the conclusion that we are headed for disaster. I hope and believe otherwise.
* UA GETS ON OBAMA'S TEAM: The Obama administration and supporters have gone all out to highlight the range of services to be felt if the budget sequesters take place and result in automatic spending cuts across government. Add the University of Arkansas news service to the chorus:
Sequestration Budget Battle Could Reduce Programs for Low-Income Students and Veterans
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — More than 2,400 students in Northwest Arkansas, as well as parts of Missouri and Oklahoma, have a personal stake in the current Congressional debate over the federal budget. The same is true for 130 local veterans, 325 University of Arkansas students and the 25 full-time staff and other part-time workers who direct and staff eight federal programs within the office of diversity affairs at the U of A. For that matter, this also applies to thousands of students and veterans in other parts of Arkansas, and across the nation who are served any of the federal TRIO programs.
True, though I'd bet it smacks of lobbying to some in the legislature, which recently moved to ban public spending on campaigns for ballot initiatives. Under that proposal, I'm thinking public employees using their public jobs to state facts useful in making decisions on public policy (as here) might be a problem.
It's academic in the sequestration debate. NY Times says House, of course, will not accede to the White House blend of tax increases and spending to help the federal budget. So here come the cuts.
* VOTE SUPPRESSION AND FETUSES: No evidence emerged of Democratic Party claims yesterday that a Republican senator in floor debate yesterday had admitted the obvious — that the voter ID bill approved by the Senate was intended to help Republican election outcomes. What DID happen was the usual dishonesty from the lying liars, such as Sens. Alan Clark and Sen. Jason Rapert, who could only point to acts not covered by the law in support for the bill, no in-person voter ID fraud. Rapert actually said on the floor that vote buying by a Democratic legislative candidate in East Arkansas proved the need for the legislation. It did no such thing. Voter ID was not an issue in the Hudson Hallum case and this bill, had it been in place, wouldn't have deterred those illegal activities. The truth isn't in Rapert, who claimed for two years that no vaginal probes were required by his anti-abortion bill, when they were. In the face of medical testimony, he took the probes out, but left a bill that remains unconstitutional and goes to a House vote today.
* SPEAKING OF ABORTION: Given the coming House vote on Rapert's patently unconstitutional abortion prohibtion at the 12th week of pregnancy, it's a good time to review Leslie Peacock's earlier cover story on Jason Rapert and the rest of the Republican Party's war on women this legislative session. Not that facts are likely to deter the anti-woman express train.
* UPDATE: OBITUARY OF THE DAY: Durango no doubt caught this one. It was called to my attention by a friend. But let's all bid a fond farewell to Carrie Mae Stell Austin of Monticello. Wish I had known her. Read on:
Carrie Mae Stell Austin, born April 18th, 1930, died February 19th 2013.
She is survived by her children, Ginger Norris and Gloria Gladden (Royce), all of Monticello, Hugh Austin (Wrenetta) of Conway, David Austin (Debbie) of Little Rock, grandchildren, Kristy Hales (Mike) of Wasilla, Alaska, Andy Norris (Donna) and John and Drew (Lauren) Gladden all of Monticello, Stephanie Witherspoon (Chris) of Benton, Ashley Braswell (Jason) and Lauren Erion (Matt) all of Conway, great-grandchildren Abby, Lily, Keith, Brayden, Valeri, Ava Claire, BJ and Lane', many nieces and nephews. Carrie is predeceased by her husband, Rev. Houston E. Austin, parents Johnnie Mae Smith and David Eugene Stell, one grandson, Jason Austin, one brother, John D. Stell, sisters: Francis Kelly, Jean Cahill, Celeste Fairweather, and Betty Donaldson, her beloved son in law Keith Norris.
An honor graduate of Hamburg High School, she attended ASU, UCA and graduated summa cum laude from UA Monticello. Carrie's life was a reflection of her very diverse interests. She was a retired high school English teacher, Business Woman, an avid reader, family historian, Minister's wife, a patriot and a Yellow Dog Democrat! Her career was spent in public schools in Tillar, Star City, Bearden, England and Dermott, Ark. Referred to as "Aunt Bea" by her students (behind her back), she was a tireless supporter of education and students both young and old. She continued graduate work and other classes of interest most of her life. She was in her 50's when she convinced a friend to share a dorm room for the summer term to study computers. A dedicated reader of the Arkansas Gazette, she never embraced the merger with the Democrat, but read it cover to cover. Born and Reared in her beloved Promise Land community in Ashley County, she traced the family ancestry from 16th century England to the founders of the community she always called home. Her story telling, dry wit and verbose e-mails are a cherished part of family lore. Her love for her students extended beyond teaching literature, grammar, and journalism. She invited many adults to her kitchen table and taught them to read and write. Many things could be said of her professionally, but one of her greatest honors was being asked by a committee of African American students in the mid 70's to deliver Rev. King's "I have a dream" speech at a black history assembly at England High School. She was both humbled and honored, and delivered that speech proudly and respectfully. She truly judged people by the content of their character rather than race, economic or social status. Carrie was traditional, yet progressive. Embracing her role as a Southern Baptist minister's wife, with poise and graciousness, she could respectfully challenge others to examine different views and opinions. Unwavering in her Christian faith, she knew that the spiritual life on earth is a journey and only now has she achieved perfection. She proudly wore the label of Christian and Baptist but accepted and respected the diversity of Christian doctrine represented in the family. A constant, fearless ally of her children and grandchildren, her love was constant, a foundation for their successes and comfort in their failures. Carrie was keenly aware of her gifts and shared them freely with others until her brilliant mind was ravaged by Alzheimers Disease.
A celebration of her life and faith will be a graveside service at 3 p.m. Thursday at Union Ridge Cemetery. Arrangements are by Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home. As the former owner of a florist, Carrie would welcome floral tributes. Memorials in her honor to the donor's favorite charity. Online guestbook www.stephensondearman.com.
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