When the state Office of Procurement put out a request for bids on providing the state’s long distance service, it estimated the call volume, not only in the U.S., but to 88 foreign countries.
Leading the list on the estimate was an anticipated 94,620 minutes of calling a year to Cameroon, a West Africa nation. What the … ?
Turns out the Department of Information Systems based the estimated calling on a “typical” month and multiplied times 12, said DIS Director Claire Bailey. The sample month happened to be August 2003.
As it happened, that was the month a native of Cameroon, a student at Henderson State University, apparently abused the university’s long distance access code. The matter was discovered and remains under investigation, a Henderson official said.
After our inquiry, the DIS drew up a new estimate that takes the unauthorized Cameroon calling into account. There is still a healthy estimate of foreign phone needs, led by calls to Italy. But UAMS claims many of these and says they are legitimately related to care of patients from foreign lands, particularly for faxing of records.
Remember the two Greenwood High seniors who filed suit last fall after their school suspended them for what amounted to blowing off steam on their personal web sites? U.S. District Judge Jimm Hendren ruled unequivocally in their favor Feb. 25, ordering Principal Jerry Efurd and other school officials not to punish the boys in any way. No notations on their permanent records, no mentioning the incident in conversations with college recruiters.
The judge also ordered the school district to pay the boys’ attorney’s fees, which could be in the $10,000 range. The students, Justin Neal and Ryan Kuhl, and two others got in trouble at the beginning of the school year after school officials took exception to unflattering remarks (or, in Justin’s case, an unflattering cartoon) the students had made on their weblogs.
Efurd claimed they qualified as threats and disrupted the educational process, even though the students didn’t use school computers or school time.
Stuff you’d already know if you regularly checked our Arkansas Blog www.arkansasblog.com, though not if you rely on other local media:
• Jackson T. Stephens and his son and daughter-in-law, Warren and Harriet Stephens, made Slate magazine’s list of the top 60 charitable gifts of 2004 for their $30 million gift to the Episcopal Collegiate School Foundation.
• UA Athletic Director Frank Broyles, a very active 80, told KUAR’s Ron Breeding the other day that he plans to keep working at least until he’s 90.
• Riverfest tickets are going up this year. A ticket good for all three days of the Memorial Day Weekend music and arts fest will cost $7.50 in advance and $15 at the gate, up from $6 and $10 last year.
• The venerable convenience store at Beechwood and Kavanaugh was preparing to shut already, but it also happens that developer Lou Schickel is purchasing the building. Schickel will be looking for other retail businesses for the c-store slot. Poor Little Rich Girl and EJ’s Eats will be sticking around.
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.