Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday madness commences

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 4:00 PM

The Hurricane Sandy Watch open line commences. Final words:

  • The Daily

* WHAT? ONLY NO. 6: The Daily is the latest with a list of the worst political candidates of the year and it includes the Razorback Wingnut Trifecta of Loy Mauch, Jon Hubbard and Charlie Fuqua, whose craziness has been defended as freedom of conscience by Republican Chair Doyle Webb. Only 6? Note that another Arkie native made the list, world-renowned homophobe Sally Kern of the Oklahoma legislature. Is a Republican majority a great prospect for national prominence or what?

* ON A MORE SERIOUS NOTE: Jay Barth mentioned the Razorback Wingnuts, too, in an article for The New Republic on the Republican push, with Koch billions in support, to end Arkansas's spot as the last Democratic holdout in the South. It's a serious look and Barth notes that it will mean more than the rise of cookie cutter radical Republicanism but an end to the pragmatic progressivism that has marked Arkansas for so many years, thanks to uncommon leaders.

* YUCK-A-HUCK: Always reaching for the gag lines, Mike Huckabee of Florida, who once passed through here on his way to a bigger paycheck, puts down women's liberal voting preferences to their periods.

Several days after CNN published, then deleted, a story about how women are more likely to vote liberal when they are ovulating, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee says women are worse at multitasking than men because of their menstrual cycles.

Speaking of Huck: The Newshounds website wonders how loud Republicans would howl if a CNN or MSNBC show host went on the campaign trail for a Democratic candidate, as Huck is doing for Missouri's Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin. What's missing is outrage from Missouri about Huckabee campaigning in a state where a murdering rapist was set loose to prey on women again thanks to Mike Huckabee's intervention in his behalf.

* FAMILIAR CORRESPONDENT PASSES: For the old fogeys like me who read a daily newspaper regularly, the name Richard B. Dixon should be somewhat familiar. He was a former history teacher at UALR and was a regular contributor to daily newspaper letters-to-the-editor columns, generally on Little Rock history topics. He died Monday at age 86. Ruebel Funeral Home has information here.

* A WRINKLE IN THE OSBORNE AUCTIONS: Arkansas Business reports that earlier accounts about sales of home of the late Jennings B. Osborne at auction need to be amended. Two haven't sold. A lender apparently rejected the sale price in one case. Foreclosure actions are underway.

* ADDING UP MARIJUANA COSTS/BENEFITS: Yes, it will cost the state some money to begin regulation of medical marijuana. But, proponents say, that cost will be outweighed by fees and taxes. Arkansans for Compassionate Care, which is pushing the ballot measure, said:

The Arkansas Department of Health estimates 45,000 Arkansas patients would benefit from the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). According to those numbers the AMMA would generate an estimated $10 million a year in new sales tax revenue to the state and create 500 new, good-paying jobs here.

The ADH indicated the initial startup costs for the program will be between $3.3 million and $6.4 million. This will be paid for by cardholder and license fees. After the initial startup fees are recovered, the entire program will be revenue neutral.

It's not about money. It's about pain relief. (Though legalization of marijuana could be about big tax money.) Regulation costs money. Checked how much we spend on the state Pharmacy or Medical Board lately?

* OTTER CREEK TEACHER IS TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Zsuzsanna Diamond, a fourth-grade teacher at Otter Creek Elementary in the Little Rock School District, was named today as a2012 Milken Educator Award winner. Schooled in Hungary, she's taught in Little Rock for five years. A news release for the award, which includes a $25,000 prize and will be awarded to about 40 teachers nationally this fall, said:

Zsuzsanna Diamond is recognized around her district as a passionate and creative educator with a special talent to connect with all kids. Her ability to foster an open, community type classroom environment has proven effective for students and has earned her the respect of her colleagues. She is highly involved in the school helping with everything from curriculum development to providing professional learning. Diamond’s energy, enthusiasm and ability to understand students’ diverse needs make her truly stand out. In recognition of all she has contributed, she was selected as one of ten participants from the Little Rock School District to attend the Exxon Mobil-Mickelson Math and Science Institute in 2011.

* MURDERER ESCAPES TUCKER UNIT: A man serving a 40-year sentence for murder escaped from the Tucker prison unit today by hiding in a water tank being driven out of the grounds, Fox 16 reports.

* DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE POLITICAL EDITOR BILL SIMMONS DIES TODAY AT 71: Confirmation has arrived of the death of Bill Simmons, a veteran Arkansas journalist whose history included being Associated Press bureau chief in Arkansas and years of coverage of the state Capitol. The paper has now posted a notice.

*NEWS UPDATE: IMPECCABLY BAD TIMING FROM PULASKI QUORUM COURT DEMOCRATS: I've railed for years about Pulaski County officials taking steady increases in pay and bonuses in lieu of COLA's while others in the world, like state employees, have been frozen. It apparrently has happend again.

At Budget Committee meetings this week, the majority Democratic faction on the Quorum Court pushed successfully, over Republican resistance, to an increase in the justices of the peace travel budget from $4,000 to $12,000. A couple of Democrats also spoke enthusiastically about a desire for a bonus for JPs this year, something that won't be officially considered until later. One argument for an increase in the their travel budgets was that JPs shouldn't have to share rooms with others on trips. This was still bad form, a week before an election, with the court scraping to find some extra money to open new jail beds. Worst than the petty payola being sought was the statement on accountability. The Democratic majority voted to keep their comments on the increase in travel budgets and the desire by several for bonuses out of the official minutes of the meeting. The votes included that of outgoing JP Dawne Vandiver, executive director of the state Democratic Party. (JPs currently make $11,200 and get county health insurance.)

No official minutes may exist that reflect these remarks. But audio tapes do and I've listened to them. They include remarks from at least two JPs on how hard they work and how much they deserve bonuses. I believe they'll get some air time, perhaps on TV news tonight.

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