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Twenty years: An Arkansas Times retrospective 

A look back at the highs and lows of the last two decades, through the eyes of the Arkansas Times.

Page 8 of 20

1999

March 5: The Times publishes staff writer Jan Cottingham's definitive profile of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorialist Paul Greenberg, noting that he can be "caustic, even cruel" in his editorials while maintaining a pose of civility. Greenberg tells her: "I never go off the record. I'm unworthy of confidences."

April 9: Staff writer Michael Haddigan reports on his interview with child-killer Christina Riggs, who would in May 2000 become the fifth woman in the U.S. and the first woman in Arkansas to be executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. Riggs smothered her son, 5, and daughter, 2, with a pillow.

April 22: Jan Cottingham reports on her interview with Susan McDougal, released after serving 22 months in prison for her role in the 20-year-old real estate transaction that came to be known as the Whitewater scandal. Eighteen of those months she served for refusing to testify about President Bill Clinton before a grand jury. McDougal told Cottingham that none of the degradation she suffered — being stripped naked in the Pulaski County jail and sprayed with a delousing agent, being shackled and handcuffed before being led away before a TV crew, transported with male prisoners who masturbated in front of her, enduring cells full of insects and no privacy on the toilet — was bad enough to get her to talk to Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr.

July 23: Staff columnist Ernest Dumas, in an interview with Webster Hubbell, takes a scathing look at Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's relentless effort to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton by going after an already beleaguered Hubbell, who'd served prison time for falsifying billings at his law firm. Hubbell explained to Dumas his eventual decision to get Starr off his back by pleading guilty to one count of not being truthful to federal banking regulators about a potential conflict of interest in the 1980s and one count of failing to make payments on his federal income tax liability while he was in prison. In return, Hubbell got a signed promise from Starr that he would never again prosecute him, his family or his friends.

Sept. 24: Guest writer Craig Berry talks about the right way Little Rock should proceed in deciding whether to annex Deltic Timber property in West Little Rock — such as doing a complete fiscal impact study on the city that would detail the costs of creating neighborhood infrastructure and looking at impact fees. He suggests that the city planners' conclusion that annexation would pay for itself did not take into account all it should have. Thirteen years later, thanks to development out west, the wastewater utility has had to come to the city asking its approval for several rate increases, partly to pay for a new sewage plant, and the city had to go to the voters to approve a sales tax increase to build a new fire station.

Oct. 22: In a column introducing a 25th anniversary edition, Arkansas Times publisher Alan Leveritt writes, "The mission of the Arkansas Times is to make Little Rock a two-newspaper town again. That reminder is taped to the top of my computer screen. Editor Brantley rolls his eyes when I talk such, but that's the goal. Not sure how, not even sure how one defines "two-newspaper town" in light of the Internet and e-communications. But that is where we are headed. Not entirely certain how we'll cross the mountains, but we're sure enough headed in that direction.

"During the next 25 years the huge capital outlays associated with daily newspapers are going to shrink. While I doubt we'll ever see a daily Arkansas Times on the porch, the steady advance of Internet technologies makes the publication of a second daily "newspaper" inevitable rather than unlikely. Our job now is to be there and be ready when the next incarnation becomes clear."

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