Smart Talk Nov. 25 

This is probably nothing. But we can’t help but pass along a snatch of conversation we overheard last week strolling among the hordes on Clinton Avenue during library dedication week. We were in front of the River Market Artspace. Roland Mesnier, the former White House pastry chef, was staying late to sign copies of his book. A young couple in front of us – a professional couple in perhaps their mid-20s – were talking about the event. Said the male: “That’s the former White House pastry chef. You know he said he’s going to make Chelsea’s wedding cake.” A promise years ago to a young White House resident? A tip that Chelsea Clinton and her beaux are nearing a momentous decision? We don't know and can't tell. It was just one of those things "heard on the street." Cinderella story A little dabbling in the snack food market with a family recipe item had a fairy tale ending for Melinda Nabholz Smith. Her family’s recipe produced Otis & Betty’s, a snack mix developed by her mother that has the salty tang that makes for a good accompaniment to cold beverages. The item took off and it’s now in national distribution. At the end of September, Smith says she got an offer she couldn’t refuse from a company related to Frank Fletcher's enterprises. His daughter Jerrilynn Fletcher and Jana Binns will run the company and try to expand its national footprint. Terms of the sale weren’t disclosed. No aid for AIDS It’s been a few weeks now since Gov. Mike Huckabee announced he simply couldn’t find the money in his emergency fund to help out the state’s AIDS drug program. The request was for $160,000, without which about 30 people would have to be kicked out of the program. Huckabee gets a new $500,000 allotment at the beginning of each fiscal year, on July 1. Perhaps, we thought at the time, the Huckster had grander plans for the $472,500 that remained in the fund when he turned down the AIDS folks. It’s been close to a month, though, and so far there’s been but one new expenditure: $7,500 to help cover the expenses of the regional office of the Morgan Nick Foundation. We’ll do the math for you: $465,000 left in the bank. The rest of the $27,500 already spent? Parceled out to the King Biscuit Blues Festival, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and the Minority Business Development Roundtable, and $10,000 to help transfer and restore the U.S.S. Razorback. Looking back a couple of years, the Gov. usually kept awards from the fund under $30,000, although there have been exceptions: $225,000 to help turn the LP Gas Board building into a state parking lot, for one, and $90,000 for the Department of Information Systems to put out a bid to develop the Arkansas Wireless Information Network. Humanitarian causes don’t appear to be a high priority, although earlier this year Gov. Huckabee did throw in $10,000 to help the state’s new education chief move back to Arkansas, and another $25,000 for attorney’s fees.

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