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Ball three, strike two, tax 

The new Dickey-Stephens baseball park in North Little Rock apparently will be tax-exempt, which means no taxes will be assessed for support of the schools or other public purposes. The ballpark will open next year as the new home of the Arkansas Travelers. The park is owned by the city of North Little Rock. Normally, property owned by state and local governments is not taxed. Mike Pearce of the Pulaski County assessor’s office said he expected that would hold true for Dickey-Stephens as well, though he wasn’t aware of any formal ruling by the assessor’s office. Publicly owned property such as Alltel Arena (county-owned) and War Memorial Stadium (state-owned) are not taxed, he said. In the case of Dickey-Stephens, the park will be rented to the Travelers, a private, for-profit organization, for 70 games a year, but North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays said the park could be used for public purposes the rest of the time.

Fact-checker needed

Gov. Mike Huckabee sold copies of his new book at his presidential exploratory fund-raising “gala” last Saturday night with the come-on that the books would not be available in stores until January.

Funny thing. The Insider bopped out to an Arkansas bookstore Monday and bought one. Paid full price, too. Got to help put food on all the governor’s fancy new dishes.

Mr. Dumond

A few pages of Huckabee’s book, “From Hope to Higher Ground: 12 Stops to Restoring America’s Greatness,” are devoted to giving readers a defense of his role in the release of Wayne Dumond, the high-profile rapist paroled at the governor’s urging.

Huckabee spends most of the time blaming others for Dumond’s freedom. He also chastises an unnamed “tabloid” for erroneously stating he had pardoned Dumond and otherwise linking him to Dumond’s release. He’s talking about the Arkansas Times, of course, and we’ve never accused him of pardoning Dumond, only of working for his release. Huckabee did write the famous “Dear Wayne” letter in which he told Dumond, “It is my desire that you be released from prison.” He did tell Dumond’s wife that he wanted to spring the rapist. He did meet secretly with the parole board and, according to at least four of them, urged Dumond’s release.

Heal thyself, guv

While chastising our reporting — and mischaracterizing our sources for our prize-winning story on his intervention in the Dumond case (we cited multiple named sources and an unnamed former Huckabee staffer; he claimed we relied on one partisan) — Gov. Huckabee said this about Dumond:

“A parole plan was eventually approved for Dumond, but two years later, he was arrested on a murder charge of a Missouri woman and suspected in yet another similar killing. He died in jail before going to trial and with his death, many unanswered questions remain.”

Before going to trial? Dumond was convicted of the 2000 murder of Carol Shields. He was sentenced to life without parole in January 2004. When he died in prison last year, Missouri Prosecutor Dan White said, “I think the world’s a better place without Wayne Dumond in it, and I wouldn’t want to be him right now.”

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