Wilson helping out 

Former state Sen. Nick Wilson, who was convicted and served a prison sentence for defrauding government programs, is now spending time in the office of companies that receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicaid funds from the state Department of Human Services. Wilson says he's not an employee — his son, Kirk, is — but only a volunteer who runs errands, answers the telephone and such because he has nothing else to do.

“I'm retired, I don't work anyplace,” Wilson said. “I get Social Security and a little state check [for his service in the legislature]. I don't have anything to do with Medicaid or anything else.”

The companies are AAA Therapy Care and Full Potential Child Development Center, both at 8023 Interstate 30. Roger Baker is listed as incorporator and president of both firms on corporate records in the secretary of state's office. Kirk Wilson is listed as secretary and treasurer. Both companies provide therapy for patients.

DHS said that AAA Therapy received $205,933 in Medicaid payments in the last fiscal year and has received $112,128 so far in the current fiscal year, which will end June 30. Full Potential Child Development received no money last year and has received $135,469 this year. There's a third company, Child Care Connections, that's apparently related to the other two, but according to DHS, it has received no Medicaid money.

School days ahead

If you're familiar with downtown traffic patterns, you might have wondered how the folks at the eSTEM charter schools plan to get 800 kids in and out of the Arkansas Gazette building at Third and Louisiana streets during rush hour every day.

The building has an alley on the east side, westbound-only Second Street to the north, southbound-only Louisiana Street to the west and two-way Third Street to the south. The school's organizers have asked the city to make Louisiana Street — currently two-way from Markham to Second — two-way from Second to Third, according to Tony Bozynski, city planning director. Bozynski said he wasn't sure what the status of the request was, and city traffic engineer Bill Henry didn't get back to us before press time.

Three-way race

The race for the open Little Rock criminal court judgeship now has a third contender: Ernest Sanders. Sanders has spent the last 10 years as a hearings officer on the state parole board. As judge, he would implement video arraignments. He would also look into the possibility of freeing county jail space by expediting hearings for repeat offenders on parole.

Judge Lee Munson, who currently holds the seat, is retiring. There are two other announced candidates for the race: Little Rock environmental court Judge Alice Lightle and Hugh Finkelstein, deputy prosecuting attorney for Pulaski County.

Strange carpoolers

Feb. 7, flyers bound from Washington to Little Rock missed a connecting flight in Memphis. A group of them got together to rent a car for the final leg of the trip.

At the wheel: Tim Griffin, former U.S. attorney in Little Rock. Riding shotgun: U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor's chief of staff, Bob Russell. Among backseat passengers: Michael Teague, Pryor's communications director.

If you didn't know, Pryor's opposition to Griffin's confirmation led to the withdrawal of his nomination to hold the job on a permanent basis. The appointment was caught up in a broader controversy about politicization of Justice Department appointments by the Bush administration.

Passengers — they included Dillard's lobbyist and former state legislator Dean Elliott — say the ride wasn't as uncomfortable as you might imagine, with some jocular banter about past events. Some entertainment came from yet another stranded Arkie, a former Church of Christ preacher who said he had met his wife while she was a New Orleans stripper.

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