The open line | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The open line

Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 4:44 PM

The line is open. Closing out:

* EQUAL RIGHTS? NOT MUCH IN FAVOR: 37 U.S. senators have signed a letter urging President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting employment discrimination against gay people on federal contracts. No, neither Arkansas senator signed the letter. No, none of the Arkansas House delegation is on an earlier letter from some House members. Arkansas congressmen support employment discriminaton against gay people. It's that simple.

* FISHING FOR THE GAME AND FISH APPOINTEE: Gov. Mike Beebe will appoint a Game and Fish commissioner tomorrow to replace Rick Watkins, who resigned after a run-in with the law. An often reliable source says he believes Beebe will name someone from Texarkana tomorrow. Jeez, not a partner of John Goodson, I hope. If so, wonder if he's been on a cruise to Italy on a Tyson yacht? And salt this away: Additional scuttlebutt says a law school pal of Beebe's from Harrison is up for the next regular appointment. Rich white guys who've made political contributions is the usual template, whoever the next candidates might be.

* THE HUCKSTER!!! Public Policy Polling puts Mike Huckabee in second place, behind Marco Rubio, but ahead of Gov. Bobby Jindal, in polling of Louisiana voters on potential Republican presidential nominees in 2016.

* RAZORBACK ECONOMIC IMPACT: The University of Arkansas distributed a study the other day touting the economic stimulus effect of Razorback athletics. Sure. The new construction will put some laborers to work. Chris Bahn at Sporting Life Arkansas puts the whole thing under the microscope. He wonders about the benefits to the HOGS, never mind the general economy, from some of the athletic department work.

* EXPANDING THE COOLING OFF PERIOD: OK, if legislators can't lobby for a year after leaving office (now, forget the horde of new lobbyists who exempted themselves from that bill when it passed two years ago), Sen. David Sanders proposes to extend the pain to many others. He filed a bill today to impose a one-year cooling off period for statewide elected officials, judges and, significantly, employees of statewide elected officeholders, heads of state agencies and deputy heads of state agencies and members of the Arkansas Public Service Commission. It also limits participation in judicial and other proceedings in behalf of private parties where the former employee has had involvement in an issue. He says he's concerned with the work current state officials and employees might do while on the public payroll to plan soft landings. Yes, a fair concern.

* A TOUCH OF BIPARTISANSHIP: Washington is coming. Republicans mounted a floor fight in the House today against a $1.8 million appropriation approved in Joint Budget to help pay for a huge increase in the cost of the GED test. Until now, the state has paid for the tests. The bill doesn't require the expenditure, it just allows it, depending on future developments. Republicans were up in arms against paying test fees. These strivers need to put their own "skin in the game" said the naysayers.. The amendment, offered by Rep. Warwick Sabin, passed with a bare 51 votes, to 32 nays. It wouldn't have happened without at least five Republican votes, including Allen Kerr of Little Rock and Speaker Davy Carter. You want to see the Ignorance Caucus, people unconcerned about increasing the number of people without high school degrees? Check the 32 in the roll call.

* PASSING THOUGHT: Could the city of Little Rock possibly have f***ed up worse the technology park circus? Did anybody ever think this thing through — what it was to be, how it would be paid for, what tangible benefits could be readily imagined, how it would be administered and governed? Or did City Hall just assume that it was SOP — give the Chamber of Commerce some money and let them do what they want to do, whether it makes any sense or tromps on any poor people or not. The messy democracy that has ensued is, if nothing else, a good lesson. Even if it only heightens the lack of faith in city government and an absence of effective leadership. PS — I'm on record favoring the downtown site if the park must be built. But I'm not in favor in letting a private commercial landowner hang onto his property and leverage it into a piece of a publicly subsidized real estate project. If condemnation is good enough for poor people's homes, it's good enough for a commercial real estate owner's marginal property.

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