Let's go back to old ways
When the luckless people of Zimbabwe turn out in far greater proportions to vote in a hopeless election than people in this old democratic commonwealth, we have a problem. We will not know the precise figures for a while, but 18 percent or fewer of the eligible voters in Arkansas went to the polls Tuesday in the preferential primaries.
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Most don’t see
tax benefits
Here is a small statistic that might have big meaning for you. It’s supplied by Citizens for Tax Justice, the think tank that constantly crunches numbers from the Treasury Department’s data files on taxes. Almost four of every five dollars in tax cuts given to Arkansas taxpayers in the big capital gains and dividend tax cut in 2003 goes to the richest 1 percent of Arkansans.
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Huck shoots himself in the foot (again)
Mike Huckabee committed not one but two faux pas last week that sharply lowered his standing in the vice presidential sweepstakes. His best hope is that John McCain was too busy with other demons in his campaign to notice.
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Buddy Villines
on Tuesday
When you reach county judge on the Pulaski County ballot Tuesday, it would be best to remember Voltaire’s advice: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
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The Leader’s picks
The Leader’s considered recommendations in the primaries Tuesday:
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Put inmates to work
The Natural State is nice, but the Trash State is more apt. Anyone who has traveled extensively outside our borders must be struck by the contrast in roadsides.
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More judicial
endorsements
As long as it is tempered by wisdom and compassion, there is nothing quite like experience when you are looking for a judge. That is the first consideration when you evaluate the contestants for a judge on a trial bench like the Pulaski Circuit Court.
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Lonoke jail tax: Please vote 'yes'
This is a no-brainer. Lonoke County desperately needs a new jail, and county residents have an opportunity to pay for it quickly and almost painlessly.
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Judge Griffen
is our choice
Ordinarily, you get to know nothing about the people running to be a judge in Arkansas unless you happen to be in the candidate’s circle of friends and family or unless he or she had a previous public life — a lawmaker or prosecutor perhaps — that exposed the candidate’s ideas and predilections about how the public’s business should be conducted.
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Huck reprimanded
The state Ethics Commission, which never met an ethical lapse by a politician that it could not indulge, issued Mike Huckabee still another Letter of Caution last week, this one for not reporting some $31,000 in secret cash gifts that he received in 2006, his last year as governor.
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People helping
other people
It only seems to get noticed when some major disaster hits the area, but it’s something we’ve always known and it’s what makes this area special—people helping people. It doesn’t matter if they know you, are their neighbor or not, richer or poorer than you—Arkansans believe in pitching in and helping out.
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Cabot parks look
to new direction
The Cabot Parks and Recreation Department has a new director whose responsibilities will include restoring confidence in the department after a series of embarrassing episodes that cast a shadow over an organization that has done outstanding work.
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PCSSD’s war
on Jacksonville
The Pulaski County Special School District continues its war against Jacksonville. The latest outrage is a refusal by PCSSD officials to approve two grant applications for Jacksonville schools, which were seeking federal grants for enrichment programs that the district refused to submit for approval.
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How Hillary can still win
When does victory spell defeat? When you need a miracle rather than a mere good win. That was Sen. Hillary Clinton’s dilemma before the Pennsylvania primary last week, and it remains her obstacle with eight diminishing contests to go.
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The court roars again
Nine years is a long time to leave lawlessness unrestrained, but when the river of justice begins to flow, it leaves no flotsam.
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City needs good news
Jacksonville could use a bit of good news right now after taking a triple whammy in recent weeks: Losing the Gravel Ridge annexation fight to Sherwood, seeing a second landfill about to go up along Hwy. 67/167 and I -440, and taking a battering at Tuesday’s Pulaski County Special County School Board meeting, where a proposed separate Jacksonville school district was voted down after a couple of board members switched sides.
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Another Huck PAC
Mike Huckabee is most predictable when he sets out to surprise. The former governor and presidential candidate spawned a small frenzy of speculation when he revealed that he would have a dramatic announcement on Tax Day, April 15. His campaign Web site featured a doomsday clock ticking down to the fateful day.
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Huge windfall for natural gas
Remember the dire warnings from foes of the natural gas severance tax? The little 5 percent tax on gas from the Fayetteville shale would crimp exploration companies so much that they would go elsewhere in search of gas and leave Arkansas high and dry.
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Pit bulls lose another one
We take any incursion upon our civil liberties very seriously, so we do not consider the legal dispute over the ban of pit bull terriers in Jacksonville, Sherwood, Lonoke and Beebe to be a joking matter.
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Tornado gets too close for
comfort

Sen. Bobby Glover was in his car early Friday afternoon when a storm roared into Carlisle. He was just a couple of blocks away from the old railroad depot on Main Street, where he has his insurance office, and he was worried about his daughter Robin and was desperate to find her.
[FULL TEXT]

LR lawyer caught in subprime meltdown
Before there was a subprime meltdown, thousands of homes were sold to buyers who couldn’t afford the mortgages that went with them and middlemen lined their pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and fraudulent expenses.
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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.
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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.
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Huck’s main adversary is not running
Mike Huckabee’s most formidable opponent is not running for president.
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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.”
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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.
[FULL TEXT]

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.
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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.
[FULL TEXT]

Pearl Harbor marks 66th anniversary
(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.)
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County too poor for sick inmates
Beebe police recently arrested James E. (Big Ed) Fuller for selling crack cocaine out of his apartment.
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Tough vet able to cry and smile
When you saw Bill Greer, he usually smiled like all his brothers.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Sad news hits us hard this August
A death in the family and deaths of friends have made us think about mortality.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Local TV closes in on killing
When it comes to local TV news, they say if it bleeds, it leads.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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May 24, 2008

The terrorist attack at Khobar Towers was one of the deadliest against Americans overseas. MSgt. Bob Oldham survived, but 19 airmen were killed and many wounded.

Eyewitness account: Khobar Towers
IN SHORT: MSgt. Bob Oldham, of the 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, spoke at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History about the attack on a military complex when he was stationed in Saudi Arabia. [FULL TEXT]

Election in White County a mess
IN SHORT: There will be runoffs and a recount, but voting officials promise to learn from their mistakes in November. [FULL TEXT] [CLICK HERE FOR WHITE COUNTY RESULTS]

Counting in Lonoke County is done early
IN SHORT: Even with a higher turnout, ballots are tabulated without missteps as computers do their job. [FULL TEXT]

LRAFB holds ceremony to mark Memorial Day
IN SHORT: Airmen from 314th Airlift Wing have a formal retreat in honor of fallen service members. [FULL TEXT]

Ceremonies honor those who served
IN SHORT: Cemeteries will have observances, while city offices will
be closed and services suspended.
[FULL TEXT]

 

 

Sports

Meet of Champs Kristen Celsor clears the bar at the Lion Relays in March. Celsor leaped 5 feet, 5 inches on Wednesday to win the Meet of Champs high jump at Lake Hamilton. James Anderson of Beebe won the boys competition.

Celsor, Anderson win
IN SHORT: Searcy sophomore, Beebe senior win high jump competition at track meet of the elite. [FULLTEXT]

Jackrabbits return plenty of talent on both sides of ball
IN SHORT: Head coach figures healthy Elam, multiple attack will make for explosive offense in 2008. [FULLTEXT]

Sports just one of Pastor’s loves, talents
IN SHORT: Record-setting Lady Owl athlete a high achiever in the classroom and at the easel, too. [FULLTEXT]

Numbers down, talent up
IN SHORT: Only 27 Falcons came out for spring, but roster should be over 40 when sophomores-to-be report for summer football. [FULL TEXT]




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