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The Week That Was, July 21-27, 2010 

It was a good week for ...

CAREFUL SPENDING. The state Higher Education Department says it wants to continue a moratorium on new college campuses for 10 more years, given that the existing institutions are already under-supported.

VEHICLE INSPECTION. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that at least 414 state employees have state-owned cars they use for personal matters, based on income tax payments on the perk. Taxes constitute a fraction of the cost of buying and maintaining a car and personal use is arguably illegal, a taxpayer's lawsuit argues.

The GREEN PARTY. It nominated a slate of candidates for the November ballot, led by former state Rep. Jim Lendall as a gubernatorial nominee. They'll not only likely qualify for automatic ballot recognition in the future, their votes could prove spoilers (likely to Democratic candidates) in fall races. Some of them might even win.

The LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL BOARD. A motion to extend Superintendent Linda Watson's contract failed 4-3. No vote to extend her contract should have occurred without a full discussion of the board's evaluation of her work (obviously seen as lacking in a number of respects by some board members).

LITTLE ROCK NATIONAL AIRPORT. Higher rates on short-term parking meters have produced a 50 percent increase in meter revenue, a key source of operating income for the airport.

PRAYER. The ACLU accepted a lukewarm settlement with the city of North Little Rock over a complaint that the City Council opens each meeting with a prayer, typically sectarian. The city promises it will try real hard to discourage sectarian prayers. It would be so much easier to junk the hollow prayer exercise, but there's the American way and then there's the North Little Rock way, the latter never too concerned with the fine points of law and Constitution.

It was a bad week for ...

COMFORT. High heat — enhanced by oppressive humidity — led to several heat-related deaths.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK MAYOR PAT HAYS. With his usual lack of bull-in-china-shop planning, the mayor pushed the City council into a plan to build a natural-gas fueling station, mainly at the behest of a couple of gas companies. What's the actual cost? Will it be a continuing revenue drain on the city? Who cares? If Boss Hays wants it, Boss Hays gets it. Another cost to add to the city's deteriorating financial picture.

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