Gall, in several parts 

Full and half-page ads the new charter school eStem has run in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since Sunday have public high school teachers gagging. The ads tout eStem as a school that will prepare students “for a brighter future” — in a mangled foreign language and English.

A Latin phrase used in one of the ads was derived, apparently, from an on-line translation tool rather than constructed by a teacher who can read and write in Latin. Marianne Ligon, a Central High School Latin teacher who can read and write in Latin, was so “strung out” over the ad's lazy Latin — which included the English word “can” — that she's posted the phrase on her classroom walls for her students to correctly translate.

Another hard-to-diagram sentence from the ad: “By learning from our past, like Latin and Aristotelian Logic and Rhetoric, we are able to adjust their education to create an atmosphere that focuses on ideas and principles that they will be able to build upon for a lifetime.” Huh?

Here's a rhetorical question for you: Who's paying for the expensive D-G advertising? The school will be located in the remodeled Arkansas Gazette building at Third and Louisiana. The building is owned and leased by Democrat-Gazette publisher and charter school believer Walter Hussman.

Charter schools are, of course, run with public tax dollars. We're waiting for eStem management — nominally public employees — to respond to our questions about what they spent on the advertising.

Holt for mayor?

Jim Holt, the former state legislator and candidate for lieutenant governor, tells us that several people are urging him to run for Springdale mayor. Holt declined to say who's behind the effort until he decides whether to enter the race, which already has three declared hopefuls. His decision won't come until late February or early March, when he returns from a 10-day trip to Israel, where he said he'll be “proselytizing to Hebrews.” In a campaign for mayor he would emphasize such favorite themes as reduced taxation and illegal immigration.

Another political rumor from Northwest Arkansas: Sen. Dave Bisbee, who's term-limited, is considering a race for Benton County judge.

Off to prison

Shawn Hardin, the Maumelle woman who sent a racist letter to her black neighbors last year and later pleaded guilty to federal charges of criminal interference with the right to fair housing, was scheduled to begin a six-month prison sentence on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Forth Worth. Hardin was originally scheduled to report to jail Jan. 22, but she appealed her sentence and asked for a reprieve so her new lawyer could review case materials. Federal Judge James Moody gave her a 15-day extension. Defendants are generally allowed to remain free pending appeal only if the appeal has a reasonable expectation of success; the U.S. Attorney's office argued that Hardin had no such expectation. On the advice of her attorney, Hardin is now in the process of dropping her appeal.


A famous Arkansas murder of recent years will get a national spotlight this week when the CBS news show “48 Hours” airs “Who Killed the Beauty Queen?” at 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9. The hour-long episode will present the facts of the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer, a 19-year-old Arkansas Tech sophomore who was found stabbed and beaten to death in her Russellville apartment in December 2005.

A preview clip of the episode available on the CBS website features video of Dirksmeyer's days as a pageant queen, as well as glimpses of crime scene photos showing her body — clad only in a pair of socks — lying on the blood-stained carpet of her apartment. Also seen in the preview is what appears to be footage from an interrogation session with Kevin Jones, who had been Dirksmeyer's boyfriend. Jones was acquitted of a murder charge in July.


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