Democratic names we’ve heard to succeed term-limited Rep. Sam Ledbetter in his Hillcrest-centered district include Jordan Johnson, the assistant director of public policy at the public relations firm CJRW. Johnson, 28, is Skip Rutherford’s assistant and son of state Rep. Janet Johnson. They could be the first mother-son legislative team. Or maybe just share the honor with a potential team of Republican Hutchinsons from Northwest Arkansas.
Another first — the first openly gay legislator — would happen if Kathy Webb or Jay Barth runs and wins. Webb is the co-owner of Lilly’s Dim Sum Then Some restaurant. Barth is a political science professor at Hendrix College.
Judge Reinhold (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Beverly Hills Cop”) and his wife, Little Rock native Amy Miller Reinhold, are looking at West Memphis and the Southland Greyhound Park as the setting for a film tentatively titled “Chasing the Wind.” It would be the story of an orphaned boy and his greyhound and would also examine the fate of retired racing greyhounds.
A member of the steering committee for a new Jacksonville library urged that the Jacksonville city government decline, on principle, a $190,000 legislative appropriation for construction of the library. The committee tabled the motion, but the matter presumably could still come before the city council. The money would come from the controversial General Improvement Fund, which legislators divide up for local projects. Critics say the money would be better used for overall state needs. One member of the Jacksonville library steering committee told other committee members that Jacksonville could make the point by declining the appropriation, which was sponsored by Rep. Will Bond of Jacksonville.
Here are a few of the tidbits you missed recently if you don’t read our Arkansas Blog (www.arkansasblog.com):
• North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays is lobbying water commissioners to delay Central Arkansas Water’s condemnation of Deltic Timber property overlooking Lake Maumelle. He lobbied successfully against a protect-Maumelle resolution proposed to the Metroplan board by Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh. Hays says he’s not convinced that the development will harm the lake. He also says, echoing Deltic, that condemnation might prove too costly to ratepayers versus other (what?) alternatives to protect the water supply.
• Some predict coolness by the state Supreme Court to motions to reopen the Lake View case for political as well as legal reasons. Four seats are up for election in 2006, an open seat and three incumbents — Justices Donald Corbin, Annabelle Imber and Robert Brown. Corbin is reportedly retiring, though he’s not advertising the fact, maybe to help discourage competition against Circuit Judge Mike Mashburn of Fayetteville, who’s rumored to be running.
Sen. Jonathan Dismang ran into opposition but still passed his bill to add UAMS, the State Hospital and college athletic events and venues as exceptions to legislation signed yesterday to expand where qualified concealed carry permit holders may take weapons. The NRA will fight the changes in the House.
Hog fans just can't quit blaming the refs for the NCAA men's basketball tournament loss to North Carolina. Now the Arkansas Senate has gotten in on the act, with this resolution introduced by Democratic Sen. Keith Ingram and getting bipartisan co-sponsorship from that brutish and short sandlot roundball player, Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.
IndieWire breaks news long whispered downtown — a more ambitious successor to the Little Rock Film Festival is in the works, with backing from writer/director Jeff Nichols, a Little Rock native. His "Loving" has won wide acclaim recently.
Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.