Cotton to CIA? 

Also, Boozman on taxes, new AD at Arkansas and more.

Tweet of the week

"TaxReform means delivering relief to the American people. Studies show it will raise incomes and wages and grow the economy. Arkansans deserve to keep more of their own and this bill will let them. ..." — Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas (@JohnBoozman) regurgitating party talking points that are at best, wishful thinking, and, at worst, dishonest. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation have found that, by 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while those earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut, The New York Times reported.

Cotton to CIA?

The Trump administration is expected to force out Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and, in turn, install Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton to head the CIA, The New York Times reported last week. Commentators have noted, among other lowlights, Cotton's refusal to accept reporting about Russian election meddling and his defense of waterboarding as factors that would make him particularly ill-suited for the job.

New AD

The University of Arkansas has hired Hunter Yurachek, 49, away from the University of Houston to be athletic director at $850,000 a year on a five-year contract. Before Houston, Yurachek, a Richmond, Va., native, headed the Coastal Carolina athletic department.

Big money to flow

Bret Bielema will receive $11.8 million for the three years remaining on his football coaching contract at Arkansas, ESPN has reported.

The money would be paid in monthly installments. It would be reduced by future earnings.

Add this to the buyout for Jeff Long, the fired athletic director, and potential buyouts for Bielema's staff of assistants (still employed) and you're talking potential payouts of up to $19 million to settle contract guarantees. It would be money from the income stream of the athletic department and Razorback Foundation, fattened by TV and marketing revenue and private contributions, not tax dollars.

Probation company lawsuit dismissed

U.S. District Judge James Moody has dismissed a lawsuit by The Justice Network, a for-profit Memphis outfit that lost a long-running and lucrative probation services arrangement in Craighead County after the election of new judges.

We featured Craighead County District Judges Tommy Fowler and David Boling as Arkansas Times Visionaries for cleaning the judicial house of The Justice Network. The company's probation services meant fines and fees and a cycle of debt for many misdemeanor offenders. The judges came up with a stopgap amnesty program: They entered new probation orders, allowed offenders to reset payment plans and deleted The Justice Network while forgiving court costs and fees.

The Justice Network sued in federal court to recoup fees it lost. It said its contract overrode the judges.

Moody said the judges were personally immune from lawsuit because they were acting in their official capacity. He also dismissed the claim against Craighead County and the cities of Bay, Bono, Brookland, Caraway, Cash, Egypt, Lake City and Monette. He said the judges were state employees and no liability could be stretched to the cities and county.


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