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Big day for Chad Griffin 

Aug. 4 was a big day for Chad Griffin, the Arkadelphia native and former Clinton aide who's now a California public relations executive. He's been fighting the California ban on gay marriage from ballot proposition through the current lawsuit. He lined up lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson to press the case for unconstitutionality of the ban. A federal district court in San Francisco last week agreed, though appeals lie ahead.

We featured Griffin in an article last year. He was widely quoted after last week's court ruling as president of the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which put the lawsuit in motion. "This decision follows the founding constitutional principle that every American is to be treated equally under the law. No law may violate the U.S. Constitution, and our courts were established to protect against unfair laws," said Griffin. "Today was an example of our nation living up to its founding ideals."

Athletic emphasis in schools

The state Board of Education this week discussed the continued monitoring of legally required accurate reporting of athletic spending by public school districts. Under the auditors' inspection, reporting has gotten better, the Board was told, but both the Pulaski and North Little Rock school districts were cited for actual expenditures in excess of reported spending for three consecutive years. Interesting, too, are the differences in spending among districts. Following are some of the top-spending districts in the state, ranked by total dollars in 2008-09, but also with per student spending, based on current enrollment data.

School District Total Per pupil

Fort Smith $4.7 million $340

Benton $3.4 million $741*

Rogers $3.3 million $239

West Memphis $2.8 million $472

Pulaski County $2.7 million $157

Bentonville $2.3 million $176

Van Buren $2.2 million $376

Little Rock $2 million $82

Cabot $1.9 million $192

North Little Rock $1.5 million $164

Conway $1.3 million $143

Fayetteville $1.1 million $128

*Benton's numbers were swollen by a $2.2 million construction project.

Put that thing away!

Thanks to KFSM in Fort Smith for reporting on the complaint of Nicole House, who was ejected from a courtroom at the Crawford County Courthouse in Van Buren because she was breastfeeding her daughter. House, who was scheduled as a witness in the case being tried, was ordered out by a bailiff. She was told she could find an appropriate place, but the courtroom wasn't it. Circuit Judge Mike Medlock said he didn't instruct the bailiff, but a certain level of decorum is necessary in court and some actions can be distracting. Said House of the bailiff telling her to leave the courtroom: "He really embarrassed me like maybe it was shameful for somebody to breastfeed, and I don't feel that it is." Arkansas law specifically allows breastfeeding in public, but that doesn't restrict what a judge might hold to be inappropriate in court.

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