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March 12-18, 2008 

It was a good week for …

The HOGS. The men's basketball team knocked off Tennessee and Vanderbilt to reach the finals of the SEC Tournament. The loss in the finals to Georgia didn't prevent them from a ninth-seed into the NCAA Tournament in Raleigh.

LITTLE ROCK. The metro area braced for a huge influx of basketball fans for opening-round NCAA basketball tournament games in Alltel Arena.

CLEAN AIR. The Little Rock Parks Commission is studying whether to restrict smoking in city parks.

The LITTLE ROCK HOUSING AUTHORITY. It has sued to go after cash raised by a private nonprofit created by a former Housing Authority director. The Housing Authority says, rightly, that its former officials shouldn't profit from arrangements they created as government employees.

ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY. It's official. Its teams are no longer Indians, a mascot that Native Americans found demeaning. They are Red Wolves.

It was a bad week for …

JUSTICE. Word slipped out that Thomas Coughlin, the former Wal-Mart executive, was allowed to attend a Wild Turkey Federation banquet, complete with drinks and firearm displays, in fulfillment of the “community service” he's supposed to perform instead of jail time for his felony theft conviction. First a federal judge helped Coughlin on account of his station in life. Now, it appears, the U.S. probation office is doing the same.

The LITTLE ROCK ZOO. It had to close the children's petting zoo because of the spread of Johne's Disease. Twelve animals were destroyed; a cow, four sheep and seven goats were put in quarantine.

The CITY OF LITTLE ROCK. It ran a $3.2 million deficit in 2007. Absent a lot of layoffs, or an unexpected rise in tax revenues, there seems to be no fix short of a sales tax increase. How about starting with a hard look at programs that funnel tens of thousands into churches and other politically favored organizations for youth services of dubious reach?

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