I love me some Republican Dirty Tricks — especially where campaign advertising is concerned — and before we all get shipped off to the GOP Morality Re-Education Camp outside Rogers, I figured I might get in a mention of one of my favorites that turned up this year: an 11th-hour flyer by District 3 JP candidate Jim Brown — courtesy, some say, of Brown’s Republican allies on the Quorum Court.
On the Friday afternoon before the election, voters in West Little Rock’s District 3 came home to find a lime-green flyer signed by Brown that screamed, “Who should pay for Kathy Lewison’s week-long trip to Honolulu, Hawaii? Kathy Lewison thinks you should.” The flyer went on to say that the trip would cost taxpayers “between $3,600 and $4,500.” Lewison was the Democratic incumbent for the District 3 JP seat. On Tuesday, she beat Republican challenger Brown by about 500 votes.
Yes, there actually is a meeting of the National Association of Counties this July in Honolulu. The PUCO Quorum Court will discuss budgeting money to send a representative at its next meeting. The problem, Lewison and some other Democratic JP’s say, is that when Brown’s flyer hit the doorsteps of District 3, the only people who knew that were members of the Quorum Court. What’s more, when the agenda for the budget committee (penned by Republican JP Dennis Sobba, who is the Budget Committee chairman, and a past critic of Lewison) was distributed to QC members later on Friday — after Brown’s flyer began appearing in West Little Rock — Lewison was one of four Democratic JPs listed in the budget beside the Honolulu item as having expressed interest in going on the trip. It was an assertion all four denied. District 7 JP Pat Dicker said it all points to a last-minute effort by Republican members of the court to oust Lewison — an effort that included feeding Brown information on the Hawaii trip and then manufacturing a source for his allegations in the budget committee agenda.
“It’s about as rotten a stink as anything could be, the way that they went about it to put it in that [flyer] and then in the agenda to make sure they had some cover for it,” Dicker said. “Otherwise it would have been pretty blatantly obvious how it came about. It was just dirty, pure and simple, and the girl did not deserve it.”
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial cartoonist John Deering reports that he’s been having a lot of fun lately with one of his side gigs: his daily strip “Zack Hill.” Strictly working on the art with writing partner John Newcombe penning the lines for more than a year now, Deering said the strip has headed in new directions of late, and has been picked up by several new newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times.
The strip revolves around the adventures of Zack, whose mother owns a boarding house.
Creators Syndicate originally assigned Newcombe to work with Deering on Zack Hill because they wanted the strip edited very closely early on. “I noticed that as I turned in the strip every week, his suggestions were very good,” Deering said. “We seem to think along the same lines.” Newcombe’s suggestions were so good, in fact, that Deering asked him to come on board.
Deering said he still generates story ideas for “Zack Hill,” but the day-to day direction of the strip mostly falls to Newcombe these days (with the Nov. 2 general election, recent story lines have found Zack running for class president). While Deering said he wished the strip would do more with the tenants of the boarding house owned by Zack’s mother, he has been pleased with the storylines Newcombe has cooked up so far.
“We seem to be spending a lot of time right now at Zack’s school,” Deering said. “The good thing is we’ve really been about to talk a lot about the relationship between Zack and his teacher, Mrs. Anderson.”
Deering said the strip is syndicated in 30 to 35 papers, including recent additions the Seattle Times and the Anchorage Times.
Tips? Info? Recipes?
An interesting element of the ongoing story of budget problems in the University of Arkansas Advancement Division has been a divide in outlook in the pages of the state's dominant news medium, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.