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T-minus four months and holding

Readers have asked why the Arkansas Times has not yet begun a countdown for Tim Griffin, the former Karl Rove underling who was installed in the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock without Senate confirmation.

Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed legislation repealing a Patriot Act provision that allowed the Bush administration to install U.S. attorneys on a permanent interim basis without going through the Senate. That was the plan with Griffin until Sen. Mark Pryor started a ruckus that has turned into a national Bush administration scandal.

When the provision is signed by President Bush, interim U.S. attorneys will be able to serve a maximum of four months, then federal district judges will name an acting U.S. attorney until a permanent replacement is confirmed in the Senate.

The House and Senate approved slightly different versions of the bill and a Republican senator blocked a vote on an agreed bill before Congress went into recess. So action can’t be completed until Congress returns. Griffin, undeterred by the rising tide of bad publicity about the way in which his and other U.S. attorney appointments were made, apparently doesn’t intend to save any face for the Justice Department by resigning before the last possible moment. The four-month countdown will begin when the law takes effect.

Place your bets

Comic and columnist Will Durst has handicapped the Democratic and Republican presidential races for The Progressive magazine. New York Sen. (and former Arkansas First Lady) Hillary Clinton is the favorite on the Democratic side at 7 to 2. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is second at 6 to 1. Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is 8,000,000 to 1. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is “In it for the parties.”

On the Republican side, Arizona Sen. John McCain leads at 3 to 1, followed by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 9 to 2. Further back is former New York Gov. George Pataki, 20 to 1. Durst says of Pataki: “Bad timing. Country not ready for another president named George. Severe third-degree George fatigue.”

Pataki is followed by Arkansas’s favorite son, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, at 40 to 1: “Bad timing. Country not ready for another president who was governor of Arkansas. Arkansas fatigue.”

Reward unclaimed

Though police arrested 18-year-old Grover Evans Jr. for the slaying of a bank employee in December 2006, both the $1,000 reward offered by Little Rock Crime Stoppers and a separate $50,000 reward from Metropolitan National Bank still sit unclaimed.

On Dec. 23, 2006, police say, Evans entered a Metropolitan branch bank on Rodney Parham Road and shouted, causing window teller James Garison to turn in his chair. The masked robber then shot him in the back before taking money from another teller and fleeing.

Officer Cassandra Davis, Crime Stoppers Coordinator for the Little Rock Police Department, said that no one has submitted a request for the Crime Stoppers reward in the Garison case. Andrea Nixon, public relations specialist with Metropolitan National Bank, said that the bank’s $50,000 reward would be given out after a conviction, with the decision on who gets the money made by Little Rock Crime Stoppers.

Davis said that the process of awarding Crime Stoppers-administered rewards is initiated by the detective investigating the crime, or by a witness submitting a request for the reward. Once a witness submits a request, Davis passes it along to detectives, who make the final decision on how essential information given by witnesses was in an arrest.

According to the police affidavit, the LRPD originally began seeking Evans because of a tip from his mother, Pamela Smith, who saw a video of the robber on television. Evans’ former landlord also provided an identification to the police. Evans is set for trial Aug. 8.

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