Walmart to Riverdale 

We hear that Walmart has firmed up plans to put a Walmart, a Supercenter no less, in the former Harvest Foods store in the Riverdale shopping center on Cantrell Road. It would use the building's existing footprint, which means a smaller-than-normal Supercenter.

A new Target on University; a new Kroger in Hillcrest; a big Kroger in the Heights; the new Food Giant at Cantrell and Mississippi and now this. Sounds like competition.

Good government

Republicans, with increased numbers in the legislature, have talked about making some good government issues a part of their program.

Rep. John Burris, the House caucus leader from Harrison, says he's interested in a possible constitutional amendment that would end lobbyists' spending on legislators. A so-called Walmart rule – named after the retailer's policy of prohibiting employees from taking even a cup of coffee from vendors – would be paired with a proposal to raise legislative pay, now around $15,000 a year and limited to cost-of-living increases, by vote of the legislature.

Because the legislature now meets annually and the work is often close to full time, Burris thinks a pay increase could be justified, perhaps to as much as $30,000 a year. It's just an idea at the moment, but it's a step in the right direction. The Democratic Party response will be interesting. Will it match or exceed the Republicans' professed interest in good government?

No action on Sharia

The Bella Vista City Council has taken no action on a request that it ban the use of Islamic law, called Sharia, within the city limits, and no action is expected, according to Mayor Frank Anderson. In September, the Council listened to both proponents and opponents of a request by Bella Village resident Kay Strickland that Sharia be officially banned from Bella Vista. Since then, "I haven't heard anything about it," Anderson said, from either side of the discussion or from any member of the City Council. At the time, Strickland's proposal received considerable media attention. Strickland may have been inspired by a proposed state constitutional amendment on the ballot in Oklahoma to ban Sharia in that state. The amendment was approved by Oklahoma voters Nov. 2, but has been held up by a federal judge until a hearing is held on a lawsuit claiming that it violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Where's Wyatt?

Still seeking former Arkansas State University President Leslie Wyatt, we called the number that, until a few days ago, was listed for him on the website of American University System in Washington. A secretary said there was no one there by that name. Told that he'd been listed on the AUS website as "president and chairman," she said that might be true, but he didn't work in the Washington office and she didn't have a telephone number for him. AUS is a private company that provides on-line educational services. ASU has been listed on the website as a client of AUS, prompting ASU faculty to wonder if there might be a conflict of interest. ASU officials have said the university has paid no money to AUS and they were unaware that Wyatt was president until the website was called to their attention. Dan Howard, interim chancellor of ASU-Jonesboro, where Wyatt is now employed as a professor but is on "compensated leave," said that he had only an e-mail address for Wyatt. Wyatt has not responded to Arkansas Times e-mails.


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