Smart Talk Jan. 12 

Drink up

This is only idle talk at the moment. But, somebody asked, what happens if UAPB decides it would like to sell beer and wine at its basketball games, as UALR is now doing at its new Stephens Center?

Our source said this could force a discussion of alcohol sales on UA campuses by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, which did not review the UALR decision. From what we hear, there’s at least some opposition to campus alcohol sales on the UA Board. It’s not allowed at Fayetteville on account of SEC rules, though it doesn’t stop the pouring of spirits in the luxury sky boxes. Or so we’re told, not having been a guest in any of them ourselves.

Popular support

The coalition that wants to amend the Arkansas Constitution to move the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour and index it to inflation got good news in a poll by Opinion Research Associates of Little Rock.

Of the statewide sample of registered voters (nearly half of them self-described as conservatives), 71 percent said they would vote for the constitutional amendment. Only 7 percent were “definitely against” the proposal. More good news for backers: 54 percent “strongly disagreed” that raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses and cost jobs, and 61 percent “strongly agreed” that raising the minimum wage is an effective way to fight poverty. Also, 77 percent “strongly agreed” that “Raising the minimum wage in Arkansas is just the right thing to do.”

These feelings could be altered by an expensive campaign by the business community against the measure. It will be described as potentially damaging to the Arkansas economy. But similar efforts have succeeded in other states in the face of similar opposition.

Retire the Bell Bowl trophy

One of Arkansas’s storied high school football rivalries has come to an end. A reorganization of state high schools based on enrollment has put Central High School in Little Rock in the top classification and Little Rock Hall one step below. Since they will no longer be conference opponents, a decision on whether the two teams will play each year as non-conference opponents is up to the coaches, said Little Rock School District Athletic Director Johnny Johnson.

Hall and Central, whose annual game had become the battle for the Bell, a trophy that went to the winner, will no longer play. Hall is much smaller than Central and hadn’t been competitive for years. “We want to let coaches decide what’s in the best interests of kids and the program,” Johnson said.

The game, a staple on the local football scene since Hall opened almost 50 years ago, had lost some of its glory when the traditional Thanksgiving Day matchup had to be scheduled on another day to accommodate changes in state football playoffs.

The reorganization ends another practice that had stuck in the craw of some Central fans. Central and Cabot now are members of the same conference and will alternate as home team in annual games. In recent years, Central had played only in Cabot, in return for a pay incentive. Many Central fans took that as a sign of predominantly white Cabot’s unwillingness to visit Central’s predominantly black neighborhood.


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