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The Week That Was, Dec. 1-7 

It was a good week for ...

STATE EMPLOYEES. The economy and tax receipts have improved enough that Gov. Mike Beebe lifted a freeze on cost of living pay increases.

The RAZORBACKS. An Auburn victory put the Hogs in the Sugar Bowl against once-beaten Ohio State.

The LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL BOARD. There was a minimum of fuss as the Board approved a deal to buy out the six months remaining on Superintendent Linda Watson's contract to make the planned transition to new leadership easier. Watson devoted a worthy career to Little Rock school children, but didn't aggressively shake up the bloated administrative structure as the board wanted.

A PLEA BARGAIN. Former North Little Rock Alderman Cary Gaines pleaded guilty to a federal rap that he'd conspired in a kickback scheme for city business to pay off gambling debts. He's expected to be prepared to testify in a trial of Alderman Sam Baggett and George Thompson of Cabot.

It was a bad week for ...

MIKE HUCKABEE. He's making huge sums from TV and radio shows, but he's still griping about the cost of New York restaurant meals and his poor upbringing even as he builds a $3 million beach home in Florida. The Jackie Mason of politics also whines that the media isn't giving him enough attention as a 2012 presidential candidate.

FAYETTEVILLE. Money talks. The Walton Arts Center Board endorsed an expansion plan that will move the center's dominant new facility to Bentonville. The Walton family wouldn't have contributed money otherwise. Some officials in Fayetteville, which helped build the original center, are talking lawsuit.

U.S. SEN. MARK PRYOR. He said he opposed open gay service in the military.

U.S. REPS. MIKE ROSS and MARION BERRY. Both voted for Republican procedural motions to kill a Democratic plan to extend only middle class tax cuts, not those for the wealthy. Ross ultimately voted for the Democratic bill, but complained he wanted tax breaks for the rich, too. Lame duck Berry ducked out on a final vote. Rep. John Boozman, naturally, was a no from the start. Next year, Tim Griffin and Steve Womack will fill out an Arkansas House delegation of and for the rich.

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