Meanwhile, back at the convention center | Arkansas Blog

Meanwhile, back at the convention center

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The ad hoc committee reviewing the LR Convention and Visitors Bureau operation met today. David Koon reports:

Mostly final sweeping up today, Chairman and former judge John Plegge setting a date of March 19 for the release of a final report on the matter. Plegge urged the seven-member commission to complete their interviews and notes, to be forwarded to member Paula Casey, who will compile the final report.

As to the comparing of notes in pursuit of that goal, Plegge again seemed to buck against the idea that they shouldn't be allowed to meet in private sessions. "I talked again to Tom Carpenter again today, and he assures me that we cannot meet in private," Plegge said, "and I talked again to Paula, and she assures me that we can meet in private."

Other than that, the meeting's other slight ray of drama came when Sally Majors came to the audience microphone and asked commissioner Jack Murphy about "several rumors" going around that Murphy had once been a neighbor and friend of former LRCVB chairman Barry Travis, had known LRCVB chief fiscal officer Janet Charles since she was a little girl. Majors went on to say that the rumor she had heard suggested Murphy might be biased because of these relationships. Murphy caused chuckle in the room when he asked: "Was the rumor that I would be biased for or against them?" He then defended his service record with the city, saying that he had never been charged with impropriety. He went on to say that he had interviewed both Travis and Charles in the course of the committee's investigation.

Plegge stepped in to stick up for Murphy, saying that Murphy had informed him of his connections to both Charles and Travis at the outset of the investigation, with Plegge professing his belief in Murphy's honesty. "I would shoot craps with him over the telephone," Plegge said. Mayor Mark Stodola suggested that, just to lay the matter to rest, another member of the committee should re-interview both Travis and Charles.

Before adjourning, committee member John Steuri addressed Democrat-Gazette reporter C.S. Murphy, saying that her newspaper's editorial page had taken an "absolutely unnecessary cheap shot" at the committee with a recent editorial against the board's thoughts on meeting in secret and "whether there should be a grand jury and so forth." "That was entirely uncalled for," Steuri said. The comment was seconded by Plegge with. "I feel that's the opinion of the entire board" and a suggestion that Murphy should take the sentiment back to share with her newspaper.

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