Smart Talk, April 29 

FAR OUT: A Kumpe creation.
  • FAR OUT: A Kumpe creation.

Poodle power

Angela Kumpe, a Little Rock dog groomer, got international attention in an extensive feature article recently in the New York Times. For the third year, she won the top prize — and $1,500 — for the creative challenge event at Intergroom, a national competition for groomers held in Seacaucus, N.J..

First, she clipped and dyed a standard poodle as a tribute to Elvis, with his image on one side and a guitar on the other. Then she turned a dog into a peacock. This year, she shaped a standard poodle into a grieving angel as a tribute to her late mother, Linda Smead. A woman with hair tied in a bun was sculpted on one side of the dog. Carefully sculpted flowers and green leaves were part of the dog's coat, too. Kumpe herself dressed in white and wore angel wings. Wrote the Times of the scene after Kumpe won the top prize: “Her father, Norman Smead, sat in the front row, holding a small dog. The dog's white coat was smeared with faded colors. The father's eyes were filled with tears.”

Roy Brooks: Lightning rod again

Roy Brooks, fired as Little Rock School District superintendent and encouraged to move on from leadership of the eStem charter school when his salary proved too expensive, was hired recently as superintendent of the 5,000-student Americus, Ga., school district. Looks like history may repeat.

Brooks, who was fired by a black majority of the Little Rock School Board, was hired in a racially divided vote, 5-4. Whites on the Americus board voted for Brooks, who is black. Blacks opposed him to lead the majority black school district.

Brooks' hiring was criticized in a local black newspaper, the Americus-Sumter Observer, which said he was the “worst superintendent they could find.” Dr. John D. Marshall, an NAACP leader and publisher of the paper, said the white majority hired “a man they could control.” Brooks would be a “lap dog” to white Board members, an article in the paper said. Brooks' catering to wealthy whites, including Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman and representatives of the Walton fortune, contributed to his rocky ride in Little Rock.

Do you believe in magic?

Does the name of Roosevelt still have political magic in it? Evidently Bill Halter thinks so. Arkansas voters have received recorded messages from James Roosevelt, a grandson of FDR, urging them to vote for Halter for the U.S. Senate. Roosevelt, a lawyer and Democratic Party official, says that he and Halter fought together in Washington against privatization of Social Security.

Halter was a top Social Security official during the Clinton administration. Some Little Rockers will remember that another Roosevelt grandson, David, lived here for awhile. Since moving away, he's written a book about his grandmother, called “Grandmere,” which is what she liked to be called.


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