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Silence is golden 

Tracy Ingle — who was shot five times by a North Little Rock SWAT team during a no-knock drug raid back in January — was slapped with a gag order during his first court appearance since a story about his case was published in the Arkansas Times on March 24.

The gag order was put in place May 2 by Judge Barry Sims at the request of Deputy Prosecutor John Hout. The order forbids all parties from talking about the case to the press. Ingle stands accused of a number of felonies, including possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of aggravated assault.

Ingle's attorney Mark Leverett said that he can't fathom why Hout asked for a gag in the case. Leverett has a hearing May 16 to contest the order.

“I have seen cases where information being leaked to the public may have bearing on the case in some way – something that might affect how a jury will view the case if it goes to a jury trial,” Leverett said. “But there are tons of murder cases that come up every single day before these courts where they are not requested and they are not granted.”

Hout said that he asked for the gag order to keep police from talking about the case. “There had already been his statements out there,” Hout said. “I was afraid that there might be some desire by the police to say something about it. My primary goal is to make sure that things are fair to both sides.”

Since Ingle was shot in his own bedroom after pulling a gun (but firing on no one) because he thought people were breaking into his house; since cops filled the place with lead; and since no drugs were found, we can see why cops and prosecutors and a cop-friendly judge would want to tamp down discussion of the case.

 

MLK turmoil

It's been a hard 2008 for the state Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. But its previous woes may be topped today, May 8, when the Legislative Audit presents the findings of its examination of the commission.

Though it's impossible to say whether the audit will find any wrongdoing, a few King Commission documents suggest some financial shortcomings might be found. In December of last year, the state granted the commission a $60,000 infusion of cash so it could host its annual leadership conference. In her letter of request, Interim Executive Director Jerelyn Duncan wrote that she expected the money to carry the commission through fiscal year 2008, which runs through June. However, in March of this year, Dushun Scarbrough, the new executive director, sent a letter to the Department of Finance and Administration requesting an extra $6,000 to pay for “expenses incurred during the previous administration, [and] for outstanding bills such as Texaco and Visa that were not paid.”

In a separate matter, a review of commission credit card records shows that the card under former Executive Director Tracy Steele's name was used at least three times after Steele resigned from the commission in November 2006. The purchases were for meals and none exceeded 40 dollars. Steele could not be reached for comment.

 

Executive budgets

When Gov. Mike Beebe said he would not operate a five-person Washington, D.C., office as Mike Huckabee had, it raised the question of whether that would mean a five-person reduction in the governor's authorized staff.

Our Arkansas Blog asked the question and Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample responded. Though Beebe is authorized to have 59 employees, the same as Huckabee, his office employs only 56. Why not 54? “We're still going to be doing the state's business, but we're going to be doing it from here,” DeCample said. The change will produce additional savings in office expenses.

 

Hotty toddy

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, campaigning in Mississippi last week for a Republican presidential candidate, raised the hackles of some Razorback fans with warm words for Ole Miss football coach Houston Nutt, late of the University of Arkansas.

“I'm happy for you,” the former Arkansas governor said on a political stop Saturday. “He's one of the finest people I know.” Huckabee also said he feared Ole Miss will be “kicking the Razorbacks for years to come.”

According to a Mississippi blogger, an excited Rebel fan uttered the school's cheer “hotty toddy” at Huck's remarks. That encouraged the former governor to tell the tale of a former aide who was an Ole Miss grad and admirer of the governor's Labrador retriever. When she had pups, he gave one to the aide, who named the dog “Toddy.”

 

Spelling

Emily Paul, a Little Rock lawyer, won the second edition of the Central Arkansas Adult Spelling Bee. It was held last Saturday at Pulaski Heights Christian Church as a benefit for the Interfaith Hospitality Network. The winning word: zwieback.

Rick Owen of Little Rock was second, Brian Harmon of Little Rock was third and Frances Eschenbrenner of Little Rock, 86, was honored as the top speller older than 50.

 

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