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The Week That Was, Nov. 10-16, 2010 

It was a good week for ...

MIKE HUCKABEE. He's obliquely alerting the faithful to gear up for a 2012 presidential run. Why not? His numbers look as good or better than any other Republican contender and President Obama's political trajectory continues to run in the wrong direction.

The LITTLE ROCK POLICE. Missing pets are not a high priority for police in a city with a stout homicide rate. But the cops managed to get cat lovers in the Stifft Station in an uproar for a tepid response to a mentally disturbed man's suspicious encounter with neighborhood cats. (He seemed to have been trying to carry one off in a small cooler.) Is he a felinicidal maniac responsible for multiple missing neighborhood cats? Or just misunderstood? Who knows? Before it was over the police chief, a city director and the prosecutor's office were in talks with unhappy residents.

DR. CHARLES WELCH. The president of Henderson State University was a last-minute applicant for the job of Arkansas State University president and — surprise! — he got the job over two out-of-state applicants and received high praise from ASU Board members who've known Welch for many years. If you get our drift.

STATE EMPLOYEES. Gov. Mike Beebe said the budget – if creeks don't rise, etc. – might provide a 1.8 percent state employee pay raise. That's not a lot. But it's better than zero, last year's raise (except for special exceptions like coaches and such.)

It was a bad week for ...

ARKANSAS. Sen.-elect John Boozman fell in lockstep with his party leaders (surprise) to swear off seeking special spending for Arkansas projects. The benefits to Arkansas in highway, park, research and other "earmark" projects over the years has been significant. No more, if Boozman has anything to do with it.

LITTLE ROCK NATIONAL AIRPORT. See our story, which went on-line last week, about Airport Director Ron Mathieu's spending $40,000 on the football field at his kid's private church school. See their uncommunicative media manager. See their lavish expense accounts. See a governing commission slow to react. It sounds like Game and Fish Commission Story II, though Mathieu finally apologized Tuesday.

REP. JOHN BURRIS. The House Republican leader got off on the right foot by promoting the cause of ethics reform. But then he jammed his foot in his mouth by saying legislators couldn't be expected to vote to give up free meals from lobbyists because their pay was so low and they depended on the handouts. Indeed. And therein lies the problem.

The ARKANSAS LOTTERY COMMISSION. A legislative audit turned up all kinds of bookkeeping foulups by director Ernie Passailaigue and his gang, to which Ernie P. issued his standard non-response response: "What, don't you want our children to have scholarships?" The audit showed some undocumented and high-priced travel by Ernie and Co., on top of their exorbitant paychecks. We hear South Carolina calling these boodlers back home.

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