by Max Brantley
Lunch today at Copper Grill was celebrity studded if politics is your game.
The ACLU's Rita Sklar was with, among others, lawyers Cathi Compton and Graham Catlett, celebrating a rare morning of liberal legislative victories. They cheered committee approval of the in-state tuition bill and a bill to prevent shackling of pregnant inmates, plus defeat of a bill to exempt the Correction Department from the FOI Act on execution procedures. (Secret state killing policies? Great idea). Outcomes on all these could change tomorrow, of course.
I'm sure I missed some, but others at Copper Grill today included: Gov. Mike Beebe and several of his staff members; former House Speaker Bill Stovall; LR Mayor Mark Stodola; UA lobbyist Richard Hudson; Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford; Arkansas Week host Steve Barnes; former state Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher; publishing titan Alan Leveritt; real estate men Jimmy Moses and Rett Tucker, and a layabout blogger conspiring with columnist Ernie Dumas and lawyer Nate Coulter. More on that later.
Salmon salad was popular.
NOTED AT OUR TABLE: For all his technical skills and all his power with the legislature, Gov. Beebe hasn't put it on the line on a truly tough issue. The in-state tuition bill, for example, will have to pass over Beebe's opposition. Ernie Dumas noted in recent editorial that this is an area where Mike Huckabee, a less popular governor with far less governing skills and generally less-sure instincts, distinguished himself far beyond Gov. Beebe.