Friday night line | Arkansas Blog

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday night line

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 4:22 PM

The line is open. Final notes:

* CHAMBER OF COMMERCE UPDATE: The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce has been hampered in responding to questions about its solication of public money because its CEO, Jay Chessir, is on medical leave. Meanwhile, I've done some calling on my own. Graham Rich, who serves on the Chamber Board and whose Central Arkansas Water attorney is also listed as a chamber committee member, spoke in support yesterday of doubling water ratepayers' contribution to the chamber from $25,000 to $50,000. I've learned that the Little Rock Port Authority is contributing $15,000. The Little Rock Wastewater Utility has $25,000 budgeted this year, a continuation of past years. UALR has promised $7,500 in foundation money to chamber economic development initiatives. The city's contribution is holding this year at $200,000, the city insists. The new Technology Park Authority has not been asked for a contribution so far. UAMS contributed $7,000 in membership fee and contributions, but took the money from its Foundation funds. The Central Arkansas Library System is a member of the chamber, but says it has given no direct cash support. Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines says the county still doesn't contribute. It can't afford it, for one thing, but he notes the county also has many chambers of commerce and couldn't very well support one without supporting all. He says the county sometimes will use road money and contribute in other ways to development projects. The Little Rock National Airport pays just under $1,000 for membership and sponsored a brunch for $1,300.

* ANOTHER CORPORATE SHAKEDOWN: Gas industry toadies in the legislature are attempting to coerce municipal officials not to support a severance tax increase to pay for highways. City officials aren't moved. No wonder. The severance tax makes out-of-state people pay for highways and roads damaged by drilling rigs. Gas company toadies would make Arkansas workers pay for road building with grocery, clothing and utility taxes and limit cities' ability to raise money for vital needs by adding another jolt on the sale tax. This is the proverbial no-brainer, but legislators threaten to kill city legislation if they persist in a fair tax burden for Arkansas residents. Toadies haven't explained how having a severance tax no higher than that in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma will drive producers to Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

* STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Mike Huckabee's cozying up to likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney is pure situational politics. No love is lost between these two. And imagine if Romney had done the ad cooked up in 2008 to hammer the Huckster for helping free rapist Wayne Dumond, who went on to murder. (Another Arkie angle is that Romney attack ad using Dumond was based on an independent ad effort cooked up by Arkansas Republican politico Keith Emis.)

  • ED FRY
* ED FRY DIES: Ed Fry, a long-time aide to Arkansas congressmen who was well-known in the political community, died today of cancer. A service is set at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at Trinity United Methodist Church with a reception after at Argenta Community Theater. It took an unusual sort to work for such a disparate group as Ray Thornton, Tommy Robinson and Vic Snyder. Fry managed it cheerfully. He spent his last years in government affairs with James Lee Witt Associates.

* LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL: A documentary film follows Mitch Mustain, the former Springdale, Arkansas and USC quarterback, as he tries to build a life after the final whistle.

* WEST MEMPHIS THREE: Lots to watch. I watched HBO's "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" last night. Another fine documentary. It is a stroke of fortune, aided immeasurably by the HBO documentary makers, that Damien Echols is alive, never mind miraculous that he and co-defendants are free. Another good one coming, "West of Memphis," the trailer below.

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