The new Democrats
Now that Jason Willett has been installed as the new chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, attention is turning to who will take over as the party’s executive director. (Willett’s first action as chairman was the firing of the previous director, Michael Cook.)
The Insider hears that Chris Masingill, the district director for U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, will assume the role on an interim basis while Willett considers a permanent choice. Willett confirmed that he would appoint an interim director, but he did not specify it would be Masingill.
Leading candidates for the permanent position include Masingill; Gabe Holmstrom, a staffer for U.S. Rep. Marion Berry who assisted Willett in the chairman’s race; Rodney Shelton, who directed the 2004 Democratic coordinated campaign in Arkansas; Cydney Pearce, a project coordinator and manager of U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s Arkansas office; and Michael Teague, a deputy district director for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor who also worked in the Clinton White House.
Sounds of silence
KUAR-FM’s Ron Breeding last week followed up the Arkansas Times’ reporting on the refusal by the Governor’s Mansion administrator, First Lady Janet Huckabee and members of the non-profit Mansion Association to provide information on a new residence on the Mansion grounds, despite the work of public employees in raising money for the project and coordinating the work.
Though Gov. Mike Huckabee had said he welcomed inquiries from the “legitimate” press (as opposed to us), Breeding didn’t do much better with the Huckabees.
His report did reveal that plans on file at the Arkansas Building Authority show the new residence, envisioned in 2002 as 7,000 square feet, is now 8,700 square feet. But Mrs. Huckabee abruptly terminated Breeding’s interview when he dared to ask for details. (Blueprints for the new mansion and a recording of Breeding’s interview may be found at www.kuar.org.)
To follow up on the KUAR story, the Times called Kathy Crass, vice president of the Mansion Association. She could not comment, she said, on particulars such as cost, money on hand and whether state agencies will oversee the work. She referred us to Mansion Administrator Don Bingham, who Crass said had told her he’d reply to e-mail questions. He had refused repeated attempts to get answers in the past, but, ever hopeful, we e-mailed Bingham again Monday. At press time, we were still waiting for a response. Do you still think the Association is really in charge of this project, or the Huckabee administration?
KARK reports that police shot a man in an alley behind Ernie Biggs on Clinton Avenue in the River Market district about 2 a.m. today. His condition was not known, but initial reports said he was in surgery. UPDATE: The shooting was fatal.
Federal Judge Brian Miller has affirmed his decision to dismiss the city of Little Rock and former Police Chief Stuart Thomas as defendants in a lawsuit brought by the mother of Bobby Moore, killed by then-Office Josh Hastings in 2012.
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.
We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.