a big mistake
The discussion about why Arkansas voters overwhelmingly ratified a constitutional amendment to expand legislative powers is mystifying. Members of the legislature who voted to put the proposition on the ballot are horrified that voters went along with the idea. They are talking about putting another amendment on the ballot in 2010 to repeal this one. The governor, who had never uttered a word about it in the 18 months since the legislature referred it, let it be known on election day that he opposed the amendment, and the next day said he was absolutely bewildered by its passage.
Only in Arkansas.
Does Pulaski County Special School District really care about its kids? It’s doubtful.
Cutting off the usurers
If ever the legislature enacted a law that was unconstitutional on its face, it was the check-cashers law that was passed and signed into law by Gov. Mike Huckabee in 1999. Last week, the Arkansas Supreme Court delivered the coup de grace. Unanimously, the justices ruled that it violated the Constitution’s prohibition of usury.
New schools set to open
Although there hasn’t been a new public school built in Jacksonville in more than 30 years, the city’s residents have taken matters into their own hands, and they will soon help build not one but two new campuses not too far from each other — a new charter school on the east side, and a college-level education center in front of Little Rock Air Force Base funded through a unique partnership between Jacksonville and the military.
Base housing goes forward
Despite an economic turndown that has stalled construction across the United States, several major building projects are set to take off at Little Rock Air Force Base, which will benefit all of central Arkansas.
In Boone’s memory
Arkansans have long had a reputation for helping out when help is needed and in our area at least this has continued to remain the case in spite of the recent economic downturn.
How Obama won Tuesday
It is not often that an election can be called earthshaking — 1860 and 1932 come to mind — but if you voted on Nov. 4, 2008, you participated in one. History will have to judge one day what it meant after its impact has been measured over years, but even in the angst-ridden hours after the polls’ closing it was clear that the American electorate meant to cast out the old order and head in a new direction.
Unexpected blowout as nation veers to left
The election of Barack Obama as president is as dramatic as the election of Ronald Reagan a generation ago.
McCain hopes stock rally will save candidacy
The pundits were saying last week that the only way John McCain could win the presidential election was if the stock market went up 3,000 points. Well, who knows?
The man who couldn’t
stay out of trouble
After he went to prison for six years for tax evasion and cheating his followers out of millions in wages, Tony Alamo should have thought about retiring from his phony Christian cult and stayed on the right side of the law, living out his golden years in a double-wide trailer somewhere in the Ozarks, not far from his native Missouri, singing “Volare” to himself as the sun went down.
Family speaks after son killed in shootout with police
Steven Smith’s family buried their schizophrenic son Friday morning, four days after he’d been fatally shot in their house by Jacksonville police following a five-hour standoff.
Gwatney: He found his voice in politics
Not long after he was shot at Democratic Party headquarters just before noon on Wednesday, Bill Gwatney’s family and friends knew his wounds would prove to be fatal.
British girl who survived bombs, German scientist
who made them
Christine Diffie of Jacksonville was just a little girl back in England during the Second World War, when German bombs and rockets fell from the skies and families were split up and sent to the countryside where it was considered less dangerous, especially for children.
Gala honors Jordan centennial
The old house on South Main Street in Brinkley is falling apart, and there’s only a handmade sign in the front yard to remind passersby that this is where Arkansas’ most important musician was born.
Hustlin’ Lu should give back bonus and resign
Luther Hardin, the tireless self-promoter who’s itching to run for governor after Mike Beebe finishes out his second term, should give back the $300,000 bonus he received from his pliant board of trustees just for staying on as president of the University of Central Arkansas.
Soul singer Green keeps streak going
Soul singer Al Green, the minister of love who was born in eastern Arkansas, keeps spreading his message of happiness and good vibes with his third CD from Blue Note, “Lay It Down,” which evokes the exuberance of his 1970s Hi Recordings.
Experienced lawmakers know right from wrong
Sen. Jack Crumbly of eastern Arkansas can keep his seat despite “flagrant fraud” that helped him get elected, but two veteran senators are outraged that their colleagues voted last week to let him stay in the Senate.
Hillary’s loss reminiscent
of stumble by Bill in ’80
Hillary Clinton is giving up her dream of becoming president anytime soon, but she said on Tuesday she’d consider the second spot on the ticket.
Tornado gets too close for
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.
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.
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.
November 15, 2008
Clinton Elementary Students, teachers and equipment will be moved to First Assembly Church in North Little Rock as engineers and district officials check the condition of the school’s roof and decide what immediate repairs are needed to make it safe.
School slated to close Monday
IN SHORT: Students will have no school Monday and Tuesday, then report to First Assembly Church on Wednesday. [FULL TEXT]
Board asks for resignation
IN SHORT: Student-safety concerns bring calls for the superintendent to step down. [FULL TEXT]
Requests for liquor licenses increase
IN SHORT: Two more restaurants apply for permits, while citizens go to court to stop another eatery. [FULL TEXT]
PCSSD’s academic progress is on the rise
IN SHORT: Despite having 18 schools needing improvement, the county sees its efforts paying off. [FULL TEXT]
CenturyTel opens $2.2M complex
IN SHORT: The Southern headquarters is responsible for eight states and operates a modern retail center. [FULL TEXT]
Former owner of Cabot store
arrested again on theft count
IN SHORT: Williams is accused again of selling merchandise on the Internet, but not delivering orders. [FULL TEXT]
6A Playoffs Jacksonville receiver Devin Featherston makes a big reception during the Red Devils’ narrow win over Sheridan on Friday night in Jacksonville.
Red Devils survive, move on
IN SHORT: Two blocked extra points, late touchdown allow Jacksonville to escape with win.
Bear becomes a boar
IN SHORT: Sylvan Hills’ D.J. Baxendale signs to play baseball with the University of Arkansas. [FULL TEXT]