by Max Brantley
The first open line of the work week is right here. Closing out:
* ATTORNEY GENERAL SIDES WITH HOMETOWN SECRECY: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an official opinion today agreeing that it was legal for the city of Little Rock to withhold hometowns when it released a list of employees. The city asked the opinion because someone sought the list of employees who live outside the city. The statute allows protection of "home addresses" of non-elected public employees and McDaniel's opinion said this "encompasses all components parts of a 'home address'; namely, a street address, zip code, city, and county." So, he concludes, Little Rock can release names, but not hometowns. I'm confused for the moment about whether Little Rock proposes merely to release a list of all employees or a list of all employees who live outside the city without hometowns. By doing the latter, of course, they'll be essentially identifying all those who live IN Little Rock. Would that not be an invasion of privacy in the a.g.'s view? In any case, I disagree with him. It is not an invasion of privacy to say someone lives in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Cabot or Bryant. A city is not a home address. A county exception is even crazier. This is no friend of the FOI. (This has been updated as I struggle to comprehend exactly what's going on.)
* JUDGE CRACRAFT DIES: George Cracraft of Helena, former chief judge of the Arkansas Court of Appeals, died yesterday. Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at St. John's Episcopal Church in Helena.
* IS YOUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER? Some county employees who thought County Treasurer Debra Buckner went overboard in inviting media to a showdown with a Little Rock restaurant owner Darla Huie on a $900 tax bill owed, not Pulaski, but Saline County, complained that she should get her own house in order. Some 60 payroll checks issued by Buckner's office bounced a couple of weeks ago. Buckner was ready for the criticism. She said there was $1 million in reserve in the county's account and the problem — as yet not fully explained — was the fault of the Bank of America, which has apologized and made good for any problems caused the employees, all among the small percentage of employees who get paper checks rather than direct deposits. As for Huie: The restaurant owner was not delinquent on Pulaski taxes, Buckner acknowledged, but she said her office's help had been sought by the Saline collector and the law mandated efforts to collect past due taxes. "I think our actions are the law and defensible," she said. She said she was aware of some complaints about singling out Huie. "She’s got a lot of friends and I understand that."
* TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES TO THE CHAMBER: Like Little Rock like Ohio. In Ohio, public money goes to chambers of commerce, which back the governor's anti-union agenda. That's where we're heading in Little Rock.
* ROCKWELL COMES TO LIFE: Ruby Bridges, the New Orleans school girl depicted in a famous Norman Rockwell painting that appeared on the cover of Look magazine in 1964, will speak at the Clinton School Sept. 20. The painting hangs outside the Oval Office today, on loan from the Norman Rockwell Museum. The painting, "The Problem We All Live With," depicts what a child faced in desegregating an elementary school.