The governor’s race
Bill Halter, the North Little Rock native who ran the Social Security Administration at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, seems to be moving closer to challenging Mike Beebe for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
While he has not registered as a candidate, Halter has a website (www.halterforarkansas.com) that accepts campaign contributions.
And while he wouldn’t directly answer our questions, he issued a statement that said “I have been approached by a number of Arkansans to consider running for Governor of our great state. They believe that a Democrat with fresh ideas can give Arkansas a clean break from politics as usual. I am humbled by their support and grateful for their confidence. I look forward to continuing my conversations with Arkansans about the future of our state as I consider my potential candidacy.”
The Funny Bone space on East Markham may be open soon to club-goers.
A business known as On the Rocks (no relation to a similarly named club in Fayetteville) recently received a restaurant alcohol permit, conditioned on presenting a sufficient food menu.
Brad McCray, who obtained the permit, said the club would be open “four or five nights a week,” with an emphasis on music, both live and karaoke. Dining is not the main draw, in other words.
Gov. Mike Huckabee’s propensity for overstatement bought him a little national grief last week as the country’s writers become aware of his presidential candidacy.
Liberal bloggers castigated Huckabee for a speech he gave in Iowa Sept. 17 after it was broadcast on C-SPAN. He retold a story about taking his daughter to a Holocaust memorial in Israel and her question of why “somebody didn’t do something.” That was the take-off for a Huckabee exhortation for Iowa Republicans to “do something” to save the country – specifically work to elect Republicans in 2006. Many took offense at Huckabee drawing a parallel between 2006 politics and the Holocaust. He said the criticism was nutty.
Huckabee also caught grief from the right wing. Conservative columnist Mort Kondracke, writing in Roll Call, did the research on Huckabee’s bodacious claim in an interview that he got 49 percent of the black vote in 2002. More like 18 to 20 percent, Hendrix professor Jay Barth told Kondracke. Commented Kondracke: “ … there seems to be something in Arkansas’ water that inspires a Clintonesque detachment from reality.”
The Greek life
The Arkansas Blog, www.arktimes.com, a constantly updated list of news, comment and buzz, broke the news this week that three black students at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville participated in men’s formal rush this month, which drew 437 men. All three were extended a bid to a fraternity — two to Sigma Nu, and one to Pi Kappa Alpha.
Most of the Greek houses are segregated by race and the black fraternities and sororities have a separate rush process. One notable exception happened last year, when a black female student pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma.
It's a state holiday today to observe the birthdays of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee, the general who led the secessionist states' fight to preserve slavery. From the files of history, King's famous speech and the segregationist roots of the Lee Holiday observance in Arkansas.
The president of the Arkansas Restaurant Association says there is a way to make sure a sales tax is collected from on-line retailers, most recently adopted in Louisiaa. He's working on the idea in Arkansas.
The Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District today provided me with the subpoena it received from federal investigators in a probe that led to former Republican Rep. Micah Neal's guilty plea to taking kickbacks from money he guided to a nonprofit agency and a private college in Springdale, apparently Ecclesia College.
Having gotten a deep security briefing and probably a confidential glimpse of our own vast cyberspying operation, Donald Trump is no longer pretty sure that the Kremlin didn't hack Democratic computers or employ other tactics to help his election.
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.