Smart Talk, June 12 

UA blows off senator


State Sen. Sue Madison of Fayetteville joined those who oppose the University of Arkansas's purchase of Fayetteville High School with a letter last week to the UA Board of Trustees. Why?

She said a $59 million purchase was ill-timed, when the state budget is being cut and jobs aren't being filled.  She continued:  “The University of Arkansas has undertaken many construction projects during the past 11 years and our bonded debt has increased dramatically.  Several properties have been purchased, and many new non-classroom buildings have been constructed.  Yet, tuition is raised every year and faculty and staff salaries remain depressed.

“The Fayetteville High School property is not adjacent to the teaching or research areas of the campus, and the announced purchase price is only a fraction of the cost.  The buildings are not suitable for immediate use and will need considerable retro-fitting at additional expense.  Debt service and maintenance of the property will preclude addressing more pressing and central educational needs for many years to come.”

Despite her plea, the UA Board voted last Friday to offer $50 million for the school, subject of an Arkansas Times cover story March 13.    


Spare time in Arkansas


Wired magazine reveals that the hottest thing on the web in Japan is the product of Arkansas ennui.

The phenomenon is 2channel, a website where Japanese vent about anything and everything. Wikipedia says it's the largest Internet forum in the world. The beauty is its openness — no registration, no names, no censorship. It's become a cultural phenomenon, spawned books containing interesting threads of conversation and produced an advertising income of about $1 million a year for creator Hiroyuki Nishimura. Nishimura told Wired he created the simple bulletin board system nine years ago as an exchange student at the University of Central Arkansas. “I was bored,” he says. “I made it to kill time.” It went on-line at his Conway apartment May 30, 1999. It's a design throwback similar to the old bulletin board systems — little more than hypertext links and texts punctuated by banner ads. Nishimura, 31, has now partnered with a company producing a hot video website — Nico Nico Douga (Smiley Smiley Video).


Last of the lifers


Legislators used to serve a long time. A member could put in 20 years and still not have enough seniority to be a committee chairman. The voters ended that system in 1992, when they adopted an amendment limiting representatives to three two-year terms and senators to two four-year terms. The old lions began to leave.

Today, only a couple of really long-term legislators are left. Both stacked up years in the House before the term-limits amendment was adopted, then won election to the Senate. Each is serving his second and last Senate term.

Sen. John Paul Capps of Searcy is the leader. He served 36 years in the House (18 terms) and has served five in the Senate, for a total of 41. Orval Faubus was a young governor when Capps entered the House. Sen. Bobby Glover of Carlisle has 25 years of legislative service.

At the top of the Arkansas seniority list, for all time, is the late Sen. Max Howell of Jacksonville. He served 46 years, mostly in the Senate. With term limits, nobody will ever match that.



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