Smart talk, Dec. 4 

Candidate vindication


The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission Nov. 21 released a letter of reprimand to Circuit Judge Mary McGowan of Little Rock. The commission found: 1) that McGowan had failed to decide matters promptly and, on seven occasions had failed to report cases pending more than 90 days as state Supreme Court rules require, and 2) had “lapses in demeanor” on the bench – specifically that she had not been “patient and courteous” to lawyers and litigants.

Cecily Patterson Skarda called the Times after the news. Skarda unsuccessfully challenged McGowan's re-election this year. Skarda built her campaign on allegations that McGowan was slow to rule and that McGowan was, as a Democrat-Gazette article put it, “insulting, rude, arrogant and mean-spirited.”

Skarda, her criticism upheld by a neutral party, wanted to note further a Democrat-Gazette article about the race in May. McGowan had responded to Skarda's criticism by saying that she had been notified of no complaint by the Judicial Discipline Commission: “I don't know what she's talking about, but there are avenues for folks to deal with that,” McGowan told the Democrat-Gazette.

Didn't know? Skarda observed that the letter of reprimand issued by the Judicial Discipline Commission showed the investigation of McGowan's demeanor began in 2005 and covered “lapses” prior to May 2005. McGowan, whose reprimand was a negotiated settlement of the two complaints, has declined the daily newspaper's request for comment.


Candidate vindication II


Republican Patrick Mulligan, who ran against Pulaski Sheriff Doc Holladay, filed an Ethics Commission complaint against Holladay because a Democratic candidate for state representative, Val Yagos, appeared at a deputies meeting in northern Pulaski County. Mulligan complained that Yagos campaigned at the “mandatory” meeting and that the Republican candidate wasn't invited.

The Commission voted 5-0 recently to dismiss the complaint. Its letter said it found no probable cause that Holladay had violated ethics rules. The Commission said that, while Yagos served a meal to deputies and was introduced as a candidate, there was insufficient evidence Holladay had devoted time during office hours to her campaign. It also found insufficient evidence that a room in the sheriff's office was used to distribute Yagos' campaign materials.


Tracking the trail


The National Trails Symposium that met recently in Little Rock heard about a city Parks Department plan to extend the Arkansas River Trail west along the river bluff behind Dillard's headquarters on Cantrell.

Dillard's hasn't OK'd the plan, but Mayor Mark Stodola and others from the city have met with representatives of the company. The location, Parks Director Truman Tolefree said, is “probably going to be the best route for us” to link the River Trail downtown with its already established western route along the river. Episcopal Collegiate School has declined to provide access to its property for a route south of Cantrell.

The trail behind Dillard's would be below the bluff line and would require building a bridge at one point and struts along the hillside. Jacobs Engineering has helped the city with its initial design. Construction is a while off: Dillard's approval isn't in the bank, and neither is the $8 million to $22 million the route might cost.


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