by Max Brantley
The story didn't change today. The woman struck by Biviano's pickup said he stopped and asked her to move her car after saying he'd exchange insurance information. She said he provided none before abruptly driving off. He says he gave her a business card. It appears no insurance payment arrangements were made until days later, when the woman's husband found out who the House of Representatives license plate belonged to and called Biviano. Cops claimed to have investigated, but it appears they made no effort to run down the license plate until after the newspaper's article appeared.
He said-she said. Hard case to prosecute. The police won't.
No prosecution doesn't mean no harm done. Biviano, a Tea Party Republican from Searcy, shouldn't have left the scene of an accident and is properly embarrassed for having done so. He also shouldn't have, in his one interview with the Democrat-Gazette before clamming up, tried to shift blame to the woman when it was he, based on accounts in the paper, who should have yielded to street traffic. The police look terrible. They blew off investigating the woman's complaint. (She said, by the way, that she misspoke in describing damage to her aging Toyota as $11,000. It was $1,100, just as I mentioned on the comment thread last night, quoting Koch organization lobbyist Laurie Masterson, who touted Biviano on a Tea Party panel yesterday.)
The Capital Hotel told the D-G that Biviano wasn't on the reservation list for the five-course bacon and bourbon feast I reported here yesterday. I can't make out the images perfectly myself, but the video I posted shows Biviano in the background, two different sources who know him tell me, including one who was there. I've now also added a photo in Ashley's taken on a cell phone that night. If he went on a lobbyist's tab, that presumably will be reported in quarterly expenses, right? The dinner cost $150 a head. Gifts of over $100 to public officials are a no-no, so perhaps Biviano reimbursed whoever made reservations.
UPDATE: Biviano has stepped in it now. He told the Searcy newspaper his hitting the news was the result of a Democratic "vendetta." And he again blamed the woman for the accident. Yes, Democrats made him hit a woman driving by. Yes, Democrats made him drive off without waiting for police. Yes, Democrats made him look like a fool by refusing to answer questions about what he was doing that night, making a perfectly legitimate dinner seem something to be embarrassed about. He's actually blaming his embarrassment on his opposition to federal health care reform. Is there nothing to which a Republican won't stoop to blame Obama? Accountability. Hah.
While we're on the subject of Little Rock police and the agency's insufficient reaction to hit-and-run reports, I'd like to share a similar report from the past, from a Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce newsletter after a hit-and-run two years ago smashed a car in the chamber's parking lot. LR cops came up with nothing. In about five minutes, a private eye member of the chamber found the suspect vehicle. The driver, it happens, was a prominent fellow, a member of a state regulatory board. His insurance company, like Biviano's, eventually paid up.