Afternoon headlines | Arkansas Blog

Afternoon headlines

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With lots of bits and pieces wandering in, I thought a mid-afternoon roundup might be in order.

* NO DECISION ON PULASKI SCHOOLS: State Education Director Tom Kimbrell met again today with Gov. Mike Beebe on the state's reaction to a legislative committee's recommendation that the state remove the board of the Pulaski County School District and take control of the controversy-plagued district. No announcement on a decision, if one has been made, will come today, a spokesman for the governor said. Check back next week.

* CRYBABY MARK MARTIN: Secretary of State Mark Martin put up a pitiful whine to the AP's Andrew DeMillo about "FOI abuse" and general mistreatment of his poor Republican self on account of nasty reporters writing about all his dunderhead mistakes and demanding documents when he won't answer questions. I'm with him on one thing: I don't think it's fair that the governor and attorney general get total FOI exemptions. Let's get behind a law change on THAT, Mr. Secretary. The notion that FOI requests keep Martin and staff from brainstorming is as laughable as the notion that his brain could stir up a stiff breeze, much less a storm.

* THE LYING LIARS AT AFP: We've been down this road before, but it never hurts to remind about how the Koch billions are being used to finance Americans for Prosperity and attack advertising on political candidates it doesn't like, even as it claims these ads are non-political issue ads. Right. Remember Democratic congressional candidate Chad Causey? This article does.

* AIRPORT LOBBY CONTRACT: I picked up one news tidbit during my time Thursday with Little Rock National Airport Director Ron Mathieu. The Airport Commission's lease committe declined Thursday to put renewal of its $100,000 annual lobbying contract with Witt Associates on the "consent" agenda for Tuesday's meeting. Commissioner Tom Schueck apparently has some criticism of the lobby group because of passage of a state law that cut the concession fee charged Security Parking, a private parking lot next to the airport and wants further discussion. About that: The airport's move to push the oncession fee from about 5 to 8 or 10 percent of gross was easily portrayed as confiscatory. The Republican owner of the property hired a huge group of lobbyists and had near unanimous Republican support from the outset on account of Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson's sponsorship. Little Rock is a dirty word(s) at the legislature. The airport was suffering a huge black eye from the controversy over Mathieu's $40,000 expenditure on a football field ad at a private Christian school. Bill Clinton and Jesus Christ lobbying in tandem probably couldn't have stopped that legislation. Nonetheless, Witt has associated Republican Ron Fuller in hopes of dealing with a feeling that a Republican presence would have been helpful. Fuller was on hand for the pitch to the lease committee.

* PROSTITUTION RING: Five people have been sentenced to prison in western district federal court for participation in a prostitution ring that found clients with escort service Yellow Page advertising in Arkansas and Missouri. Two more people await sentencing. James Mitchell, 67, of Fayetteville, got the stiffest sentence — 10.5 years. Mitchell, who owned the service, reportedly charged $200 an hour and split the fee with the escorts, who were equipped with credit card machines.

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