by Max Brantley
A weird Monday for me. What's on your mind. Closing out:
* AIRPORT TURBULENCE: I wrote Saturday about Little Rock Airport Commissioner Tom Schueck's unhappiness with Airport Director Ron Mathieu for not choosing former City Director Michael Keck as the airport's new PR chief. Mark Raines first accepted, then turned down the job after hearing about a division on the commission. It ain't over. A special meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday. Bottom line: Are certain members of the commission going to allow Mathieu to be the chief executive and choose his own PR aide or are they going to micromanage the choice themselves (with four of the seven said to have some leaning toward Keck.) This could be a vote that could have a long-term impact on Mathieu's future at the airport.
* MEDICAID: Gov. Mike Beebe has sent a letter outlining changes he hopes to make to restrain Medicaid expenditures.
* VEGAN PORN: No, I don't mean beautiful photos of vegan food. I mean that PETA has a plan to spice up a website with XXX fare to attract viewers to its material about commercial animal abuse.
* FIGHT IN THE FOURTH: Roby Brock reports Beth Anne Rankin will announce another Republican run for 4th District Congress Aug. 29. She's unafraid of announced GOP opponent Tom Cotton, who wants to waltz into Congress after years absent from Arkansas. Of course, Tim Griffin pulled it off.
* SCHOOL VOUCHER WARNING: The Heritage Foundation staged a dog-and-pony show in LR today intended to help set the stage for a school voucher push in Arkansas in 2013 and Republican acolytes were on hand to trumpet the call. The gimmick is the homecoming of a black 1969 Central High grad, Virginia Ford, who worked for years for school choice in D.C. (where studies show scant positive impact from school choice programs) to be a vanguard here. I met with the folks later and they are serious as can be. Virginia Ford has already talked with researchers at the University of Walton School of Education Reform, Luke Gordy, chief enabler for the Billionaire Boys Club, and the Walton Foundation, so I suspect she can count on some grant money and covering fire when she goes to work in earnest. Charters, vouchers, choice, whatever, they're for it, no matter what the scores show. Heritage doesn't really think much of NCLB, by the way. The messaging has become devastatingly simple: Why can't parents take public tax dollars and take them wherever they want to take them? Don't they know best for their kids? The answer, of course, is no, unless you want to wreck the American system of egalitarian public education. Good example: The corrupt charter school that the state Education Board closed in Little Rock for multiple financial and other shortcomings. Parents were outraged. They LOVED their charter school, no matter how sorry it was. We need a system with general accountability that doesn't use public money to create islands of privilege for those with motivated parents and a remnant disaster for those who don't. If schools aren't safe, make them safe. (Surprise. Rep. David Sanders, who has a job raising money for a church school wants to send tax dollars to church schools..)