by Max Brantley
The line is open. It's a sports page kind of night.
* AW, MOM, DID YOU HAVE TO? Story of the day is the future of hotshot Florida running back Alex Collins. The Hogs thought they'd land him. Then his mom ran off with the national letter of intent he needed to sign. Inspired lots of jokes. Hey, if she can outrun her son, why not sign HER?
* AND THEN THERE WAS TENPENNY: And Evin Demirel has a giant story about North Little Rock's Altee Tenpenny, successfully recruited by Alabama.
* THE SPORT OF CORPORATE WELFARE: The Arkansas House began a marathon session today to ask questions of sponsors of the giant corporate welfare handout for the Big River Steel Mill proposed for Mississippi County. I'll try to update. Question is whether, in the end, anybody will vote against at least $75 million in direct taxpayer handouts, plus lending and more inducements, in return for more than 500 good manufacturing jobs that might create government-subsidized competition to existing steel plants in Mississippi County. Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson has lauded the deal. GOP candidate Curtis Coleman opposed it today on Radio KNUT (aka KARN). Score Coleman a hypocrite, if you're still attempting to tally the ever increasing tally of GOP hypocrsiy. He received a fat government loan (still outstanding) for a struggling business he started. The biggest hypocrites are the swashbuckling Koch Bros., tireless crusaders against government handouts except in this case. They'd get 40 cents of every dollar spent by state taxpayers on Big River as a 40 percent equity partner. George Hopkins, who's putting Teacher Retirement into 20 percent of the plant, said if the return wasn't 17 percent, he'd return and eat crow. (That's down from 40 in his original estimates.) Rep. John Burris did a little grandstanding. If tax incentives are necessary to lure a plant, why not cut taxes, as he favors?
* THE SPORT OF MEDICAID: The Republican governor of Michigan is the latest addition to the list of Republican chief executives who've embraced the obvious — taking federal Medicaid expansion is a no-brainer. Brains, alas, are in shorter supply in the Republican legislative majority.
* HIGH JUDICIAL IRONY: You maybe read today that Arkansas Surpeme Court Justice Courtney Henry Goodson has reported she received a $50,000 trip to Italy in 2012 from Fayetteville lawyer, W. H. Taylor, a business partner of her husband, Texarkana lawyer and UA trustee John Goodson. Taylor gave her a $12,000 trip to the Caribbean last year. Mighty nice gifts. A year earlier, she reported nearly $100,000 gifts from Goodson, then her boyfriend. Judges can take gifts from someone from whom they've had a "bona fide personal" relationship under Arkansas Ethics rules ("In determining whether a gift was conferred on account of an independent relationship, the Commission will consider such factors as when the relationship began (i.e., before or after the public servant obtained his or her office or position), the prior history of gift giving between the individuals, whether the gift was given in connection with a holiday or other special occasion,and whether the same gift was given to other public servants.) Goodson has said she won't hear cases in which Taylor participates. His work for high-profile Arkansas interests has bleed-off potential for ill appearances, of course. Goodson, you may also recall, wangled a meet-and-greet with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on the day she accompanied her husband to Washington to hear arguments in a dispute over class action procedures in Miller County, a venue where Goodson's work has made him a millionaire, the sort of guy wealthy enough to give his girlfriends expensive purses and stuff. I bring all this up because a reader thinks I should note that Goodson in December was named as the Arkansas Supreme Court liaison to the Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct, which oversees the ethical performance of lawyers. Noted.
* HOW A REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR IS SELLING MEDICAID EXPANSION: Take a look at how Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich is selling Medicaid expansion in his state. I liked this. Blame it on Obama.
An analysis from the Ohio Health Policy Institute found that the expansion could bring in over $5 billion in federal dollars by 2022, according to one analysis, while only requiring $609 million in state spending.
“Ohio has already said no to a state exchange and no to federal takeovers of insurance regulation and Medicaid eligibility,” Kasich spokesman Milburn says. “This is another no—to a $13 billion grab by Uncle Sam of Ohioans’ federal tax dollars, Obamacare’s rural hospital closures and its even higher health insurance premiums.”
* CHEER UP; HAVE A PIZZA: I got a communication from Chattanooga, a followup to a report the other day about a letter sent by the Chattanooga daily newspaper's publisher, Walter Hussman, about the fact that advertising was down and readers were going to be asked to pay an unspecified increasing cost for the paper. Hussman, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher, has distributed similar words to newspaper readers in Arkansas. I don't know if Arkansas employees of Hussman got the recent bonus that Tennessee employees got with their paychecks along with a note from newspaper president Jason Taylor — a coupon good for a free Papa John's medium pizza. Coincidentally, the coupons preceded by a few days a big newspaper spread on Papa John's pizza making preparations for Super Bowl Sunday. Taylor promised "more surprises" in 2013.