IT WAS A GOOD WEEK FOR …
The LITTLE ROCK NINE. The black students who Gov. Orval E. Faubus tried to keep out of Central High School in 1957 assembled in Little Rock for double honors — a U.S. postage stamp and an installation of sculptures of the students on the lawn of the Capitol.
FORT SMITH. The city lost an Air Guard fighter wing as expected, but, in a big surprise, the Base Closure and Realignment Commission voted to replace them with A-10 Warthogs. Little Rock Air Force Base lost no missions, but its expectations for a big gain apparently weren’t realized.
GAMBLING. The Oaklawn and Southland racetracks scheduled Nov. 8 elections in Hot Springs and West Memphis, respectively, on expanding machine gambling at the tracks. This likely will mean video poker and similar games that offer faster play and a quicker profit — the law requires only an 83 percent payoff to gamblers. On average, in other words, somebody has got to lose and the house has got to win these “games of skill.”
PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS. Gov. Mike Huckabee spent a whirlwind day in New Hampshire — his entourage included a pollster and a PR flack — softening up the early primary state for a 2008 presidential run. Who’s paying for this political travel? He, uh, wasn’t sure. Yeah, right. There’s no question about who’s paying for the state’s national advertising campaign featuring the Huckster — J.Q. Public.
IT WAS A BAD WEEK FOR …
The STATE LEGISLATURE. The special masters in the school finance case may yet let them off the hook, but the weight of the testimony makes it difficult for lawmakers to argue that they did enough to provide the Constitution’s mandate of an adequate education for ALL Arkansas students.
GOOD HEALTH. School districts are already looking for ways around new rules somewhat limiting sale of soft drinks and candy in schools.
DRIVERS. Thanks to a price spike from Hurricane Katrina’s temporary disabling of Gulf oil supplies, $3 gas seemed likely to arrive in Arkansas.
The AP reports that the Southeastern Conference, from which millions flow into University of Arkansas coffers, has asked the state to exempt college sports events from a newly expanded gun law that allows concealed weapons on college campuses, in the Capitol, in courthouses, in bars and in many other places.
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.
Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled today that he had no choice based on a past Arkansas Supreme Court decision but to dismiss a lawsuit by Death Row inmates seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection process.But the judge did so unhappily with sharp criticism of the Arkansas Supreme Court for failing to address critical points raised in the lawsuit.