We're bullish on natural gas
Here is some helpful prologue to the special legislative session on the severance tax that Gov. Beebe will convene Monday: The second-biggest producer in the Fayetteville shale play announced yesterday that it would more than double the number of rigs drilling in the shale by early next year.
Hanky-panky at the polls
One of the disgraces of Arkansas history is that our institutions, from the courts to the legislative branch, have always countenanced election fraud. Hanky-panky at the polls is the subject of jokes — vote early and often! — and it is considered just one of the unavoidable sideshows of democracy.
Good Dustin chases lenders
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, the state’s chief law enforcement officer, is not going to stand for this unlawful behavior any longer! Nine years of it apparently is enough!
Beebe rounds up votes for session
Who can ever again underestimate Gov. Mike Beebe, who continues to reach every goal he sets? Beebe yesterday called a special session of the legislature for March 31 to enact a severance tax on natural gas.
Still no room in Pulaski jail
Pulaski County government sure enough has cleaned up its act and may be ready to repair the shambles it made of the correctional system that is supposed to provide a little safety to a quarter-million people.
Minority stops fair tax on gas
Gov. Beebe’s dilemma over the severance tax illustrates better than anything the ruinous effect of a particularly perverse section of our state Constitution that was adopted at the threshold of the Great Depression.
Bill will save kids like Jack
For a day, Sen. Mark Pryor has made believers of us all. Pryor is the consummate come-let-us-reason-together politician, which the cynics among us have delighted in reviling, but last Thursday, Pryor passed far-reaching regulatory legislation to protect consumers from dangerous products. He did it by marshaling overwhelming bipartisan support like no one has seen on Capitol Hill in at least a generation.
Bright future for Huckabee
Our gallant neighbor, Michael Dale Huckabee, ended his quixotic quest for the presidency Tuesday night and retired to his Shady Valley home in North Little Rock, like the original Don Quixote to La Mancha. We hope he does not suffer the disillusionment with chivalric causes that beset the poor Quixote.
Embrace gas initiative
Governor Beebe learned this week, like the rest of us, that there are limits to his legendary prowess as a dealmaker. He could not work out a deal with the big energy companies on a reasonable severance tax for them to pay for the vast quantities of natural gas they take from Arkansas soil.
Ledge must act on tax
Gov. Beebe is reported to be ready to summon the legislature to Little Rock to raise the severance tax on natural gas. It will be far harder to do than the weak arguments against it suggest.
ADEQ friend of polluters
We confess to a vague uneasiness over the comments made by officials of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality when it comes to pollution in the state. The department is not concerned at all about the proposed expansion of the Two Pine Landfill in Jacksonville.
Hillary is still alive in race for president
I’m going to stick my neck out and predict former Gov. Mike Huckabee will not be Hillary Clinton’s running mate. He won’t even be Sen. John McCain’s running mate.
Huck prays for miracle after losses
An obvious sign that his presidential campaign is sinking and out of money, Mike Huckabee is throwing the national media off his plane and bus and will probably soon abandon Florida, placing all his bets on Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.
Huck’s main adversary is not running
Mike Huckabee’s most formidable opponent is not running for president.
Central book is suddenly more timely
Ralph Brodie dropped in at the Jacksonville Rotary Club on Monday to talk about his book, “Central in Our Lives: Voices from Little Rock Central High School, 1957-59.”
Hillary hurt, Huck boosts McCain for nomination
Until a year ago, Mike Huckabee was an obscure governor from a small state that has a knack for producing national political figures.
Aretha releases record of the year
Record of the year: Aretha Franklin’s “Rare and Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul,” a two-CD set from Rhino that discounters sell for about $15, which is a bargain. [FULL TEXT]
What little girl wanted for holiday
(This is a reprint of a previous Christmas column.) When my friend Jack Sallee was with the Jaycees in Fayetteville, they’d put an ad in the paper at Christmastime, saying that for $2 you could have Santa come to your place.
Huckabee impressive, unenduring
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee is way up there in the polls, pulling almost even with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination, although Huckabee badly trails all potential Democratic nominees.
(This column about the late McLyle Zumwalt first appeared here on Dec. 9, 1989 and is reprinted to mark the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.)
County too poor for sick inmates
Beebe police recently arrested James E. (Big Ed) Fuller for selling crack cocaine out of his apartment.
Tough vet able to cry and smile
When you saw Bill Greer, he usually smiled like all his brothers.
Parties still looking for their savior
While Republicans and Democrats are slugging it out over who should get their party’s presidential nomination — for many, the choices aren’t all that terrific, which is why minor candidates like Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are pulling up from the rear —the good news for Lonoke County Republicans is they have squelched a rebellion to humiliate the mayor of Cabot and an alderman.
Department plays games with scores
The state Education Department last Friday sent out a poorly written press release that bragged about how much progress public schools are making, although if you read far enough into the press release, you realize schools are doing less well than the year before.
Quillin’s relatives stand by their man
Ron Quillin’s mother-in-law wasn’t too happy with my column Wednesday about the former Pulaski County comptroller who’s in prison for stealing more than $40,000 to finance an affair with a lady friend who was doing business with the county.
Emails out, but in-laws still pay up
It was nice of Ron Quillin’s in-laws to mortgage their home so he could repay Pulaski County more than $42,000 he stole while he was the county comptroller, but after they saw the infamous emails he sent to his girlfriend printed in the papers, they must wonder if the bum is worth keeping as a son-in-law.
It doesn’t take long to get out of prison
You’ve probably noticed how criminals get their names in the papers over and over again.
It’s Biscuit time in Helena
The Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in downtown Helena — formerly the King Biscuit Blues Festival, although it’s still the Biscuit for most fans and it’s still free — will kick off next Thursday with several strong acts and will continue through next Saturday with plenty more good music, and there’s still lots more across the river the following afternoon in downtown Clarksdale, Miss.
Classmates meet, recall friendship
Ernest Green, perhaps the best known of the Little Rock Nine, was walking up a couple of flights of stairs at Central High School after Tuesday’s ceremony marking the integration of Central 50 years ago this week.
No troops when you need them
Most people in Little Rock resented the arrival of the 101st Airborne Division to ensure the integration of Central High School 50 years ago — many of those troops were flown into Little Rock Air Force Base — but almost exactly the year before, I would have welcomed the 101st into my native Hungary.
All voices need to be heard now
No one at the Little Rock School District or at Central High School will tell us if the city will honor white students and their teachers who stood up to the bigots outside Central High School when Gov. Faubus tried to keep nine black kids out of their neighborhood school 50 years ago this month.
Recognizing others who were there
Gene Bowman of Jacksonville is one of about 4,500 people who’ve received invitations to a ceremony Sept. 25 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the integration crisis at Central High School in Little Rock.
Pizzeria closes after move and owner’s surgery
The state Highway Department is completing work on an on-ramp at Hwy. 67/167 in north Jacksonville, where the Pizza Company did pretty decent business for more than a decade.
Sad news hits us hard this August
A death in the family and deaths of friends have made us think about mortality.
My father: A witness to 20th Century
When my father passed away at the age of 85 late in the afternoon on Aug. 5, one of the doctors at the emergency room at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami called my brother Steve with the terrible news.
Is Villines trying to hide more disgrace?
It’s hard to figure out why Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines has opposed the release of emails written by a disgraced former employee — unless Villines thinks they will make his office look bad and raise questions about what his workers are doing when they’re on the clock.
Americans who make a difference
While we visited the other day with Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz, the commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, and later with members of a local church, they reluctantly mentioned some extraordinary things they’ve done — one in the line of duty, the others going overseas with a church group.
Local TV closes in on killing
When it comes to local TV news, they say if it bleeds, it leads.
Kids, dope don’t mix with driver
He’s been driving a bus for the Pulaski County Special School District for 22 years, and this summer he drives a van for special-education students who attend a summer program at the Jacksonville Middle School for Boys.
Stax marks 50 years of great music
If you remember Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft,” the Staples Singers’ “Respect Yourself,” Eddy Floyd’s “Knock on Wood,” Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay,” Booker T. and the MGs’ “Green Onions” and the Mar-Keys’ “Last Night,” you would have enjoyed a concert last month in Memphis commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stax record label.
Air strategy saving lives
Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz is in his office at the headquarters of the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, where he’s the commander, and he reaches for a dagger he’d brought back from Qatar a couple of years ago, when he was in charge of running airlifts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Payday series wins award in competition
(The Arkansas Press Association awarded The Leader first place in the Better Newspaper Contest for our in-depth reporting on payday lenders. This column from March 22, 2006 was part of that series.)
A populist state like Arkansas, which once had the lowest usury rate in the nation — 10 percent was the interest limit until 1982 — now allows payday lenders to charge outrageous interest rates — often several hundred percent interest.
Next move may be up to federal prosecutor
When the FBI completes its public-corruption probe into former Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh’s administration, interim U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin in Little Rock could be the one who decides whether to file charges against Stumbaugh and his cronies.
How city wiped out vet’s investment
A veteran of Vietnam, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, Jim Eggert bought two commercial buildings in Jacksonville, but the closing of the Graham Road rail crossing killed business. He’s put his property up for sale, but he’ll have to take a huge loss.
Famed photographer had roots in area
If you turn off Hwy. 5 at Cabot near the freeway and drive down Cleland Road for less than a mile, you’ll come to Mt. Pleasant Road.
U.S. prosecutor demoted over bullying e-mail
Witness in Campbell trial used his government computer and official title to try to intimidate newspaper with threat of a $50 million libel suit and takeover of The Leader.
Why didn’t feds take this case?
You may have wondered while you were following the corruption trial of Jay and Kelly Campbell in Lonoke County why the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock didn’t prosecute the couple, along with two shady bail bondsmen, who will be tried later.
March 26, 2008
Cabot Street Department workers re-cover culverts on Locust Street last week after a heavy rain. Front row, left to right, are Jerry Cole and Hershal Colburn; back row, Richard Taylor, crew leader Rick Mize and superintendent Dan Whillhite.
IN SHORT: Communities say they're doing a better job. [FULL TEXT]
Outlying areas still in danger of floods
IN SHORT: Rivers to crest today through weekend as many evacuate homes or stock up on supplies in White County and elsewhere. [FULL TEXT]
U.S. judge keeps all parties in land suit
IN SHORT: Order says original buyers of North Hills golf course could have gotten title to property. [FULL TEXT]
Payday lenders could change loan practices
IN SHORT: Operators may morph into pawnshops or use other business models to stay afloat after threats by Attorney General McDaniel to shut them down. [FULL TEXT]
C-130J fleet grows to 14 at base
IN SHORT: Little Rock Air Force Base is amassing a large group of ultramodern cargo planes. [FULL TEXT]
Annexation to be voted on Tuesday
IN SHORT: Early voting through Friday in Jacksonville and Sherwood, until Monday in Little Rock. [FULL TEXT]
Player of the Year: Cabot's Leah Watts
Leah Watts averaged over 19 points a game in leading the Cabot Lady Panthers to the quarterfinals of the 7A state tournament.
Court savvy, sharp shooting earn Lady Panther guard top honors
IN SHORT: They say dynamite comes in small packages. That is certainly true of Cabot senior Leah Watts. [FULLTEXT]