The library by the numbers
Courtesy of the Clinton library and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, some numbers on the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center:
• Dedication ceremony attendance — 25,000
• Visitors to library as of Nov. 28 — 21,525
• Cafe 42 opening day lunch crowd — 400
• Clinton gift shop sales, first four days — $250,000
• Visitors to Arkansas Arts Center on opening weekend — 8,000
• Outbound passengers at Little Rock National Airport Nov. 19, the day after the opening – 5,000 (compared with 4,000 on the day before Thanksgiving, the heaviest travel day of the year)
• Visitors at Central High Museum during library opening week – 3,200 (10 percent of the center’s normal average annual attendance)
Exporting courage to Missouri
There’s an Arkansas angle in a recent Missouri lawsuit. Brad Mathewson, 16, formerly of Fayetteville, is suing the Webb City, Mo., school district because school officials wouldn’t allow him to wear gay pride T-shirts to school, even as it allowed other students to wear anti-gay messages.
Mathewson’s objectionable clothing included a T-shirt of the Fayetteville High School Gay/Straight Alliance that bore the legend, in addition to the group’s name, “Make a difference.” The ACLU is suing in Mathewson’s behalf. The school district is now banning all references to sexual orientation on student clothing.
Said Mathewson, “I think tolerating each other’s differences is a key part in teaching students how to become good citizens.” The Fayetteville alliance also issued a statement quoted by the ACLU. “… We at Fayetteville High School are fortunate in that we have an administration, faculty, and student population that aspire to live by the heart of the Constitution. We wish the same for Brad’s new community and every community.”
The guv’s international audience
We forgot to report last week on a performance by Gov. Mike Huckabee that drew arched eyebrows from several at the VIP luncheon following the Clinton Presidential Center opening. With world leaders and the White House press pool on hand, Bro. Mike handled the invocation. He played it for laughs, whipping out his cell phone and placing a call to God. Witnesses say some laughed; some sat in uncomfortable silence. Here’s the report from the White House press pool, which should remember the governor if he makes a run for the White House in 2008:
“Governor Mike Huckabee offered the invocation. He pretended to talk to God on a cellular phone. ‘In Arkansas, that’s a local call,’ he quipped. The president, who was standing along with other members of the head table, had his head bowed but as Governor Huckabee continued goofing around with the phone, Senator Clinton peeked and then the president looked up. The governor asked the party on the phone who was responsible for the weather and pretended the answer was Jerry Falwell, which he said made sense. The president chuckled politely. The president also chuckled politely when the governor noted that there were a few, not many, Republicans there. ‘But everyone’s been nice,’ he said.”