Dec. 23-29, 2009 

It was a GOOD week for …


AMERICA. The Senate passed health reform legislation on Christmas Eve, a small but important step toward universal care. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor voted in the majority.


SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS. The Democrat-Gazette reported that their average pay has risen 8.7 percent since 2005-06 versus 6.2 percent for classroom teachers. It's all about the classroom, right?


LITTLE ROCK SANITATION WORKERS. Garbage crew members, who make $7 to $9 an hour, pooled $1,000 in donations to provide meals and Christmas gifts to nine poor children. It was a striking act of generosity by poorly paid workers under a wage freeze that the City Board refused to impose on the publicly subsidized Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. See Max Brantley's column.


EUREKA SPRINGS. An alarm and a 24-hour surveillance camera apparently put a stop to the annual theft of the baby Jesus from the Nativity Scene in Basin Park.


It was a bad week for …


CRIME. Two would-be robbers shot and killed Philip Wise, a Salvation Army major, as he returned to the Army's center in North Little Rock after a visit to bell-ringing sites. He was with his three young children. His wife, also an Army major, was inside.


RAIN. Epic downpours flooded roads, washed out dams and made Christmas Eve travel difficult. The rain pushed the total in Little Rock to a record of about 80 inches for the year.


CHRISTMAS MUSIC. Craighead County Judge Dale Haas has had courthouse-mounted loudspeakers blasting Christmas tunes in Jonesboro 16 hours a day. Some enjoy it. Some are being driven nuts, particularly when the CD sticks.


UNEMPLOYMENT. Extended high unemployment has drained the Arkansas unemployment compensation fund. It is borrowing money to continue issuing benefits, but either an increase in the tax paid by employers or a cut in benefits will be required to make the fund solvent. Guess which solution the Chamber of Commerce will favor.


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