by Max Brantley
It's open. Closing out:
* POLITICS AND SOCIAL MEDIA: Michael Cook, who's a Democrat, writes at length about the obvious — Republicans are far advanced compared with Arkansas Democratic politicians on use of Facebook and Twitter. Democratic Chair Will Bond sounds defensive — Democrats are more interested in doing good deeds for people than making up cute Tweets. I think a great deal of Republican Facebooking and Twittering is echo chamber stuff. But it nourishes the base that uses social media. It sometimes — regrettably — plants bogus themes that find their way into mainstream media. It communicates in ways people today increasingly communicate. You have to do it all. Will Bond's crack reminds me of the piece I read the other day about a guy who told his kids in the 50s that TV was a passing fad and people would be back to concentrating on books in short order. The politician who doesn't do it all — knock on doors, make frequent public appearances, raise money, communicate by TV, radio, mail, telephone and social media — is a politician who won't win most of the time.
* FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Important decision today allows at least some window into the record of police officer use of force by the Little Rock police. But issues remain. They still have not released to me the name of the officer who killed a man who carried a weapon when a SWAT team broke into his Oak Forest house Jan. 17 on a no-knock search for a drug bust. The name should be released. So should his record, if any, of use of force. I suggest no wrongdoing on his part or second-guessing of actions that day. But openness is critical for accountability and confidence in a public agency with the power to use summary force. UPDATE: Though I was denied this information several days after the fact, Lt. Terry Hastings says the officer's name, Jeff Holt, was released the day after the shooting. I'll take him at his word on that, though I have a copy of an e-mail he sent me six days after the shooting saying the name was being withheld because of threats by people related to the man killed. I still have a request pending on use of force reports he's made, if any.
* ARKANSAS TECH TO FIX THEATER: Now that the administration has rid itself of former theater director Ardith Morris, the college is willing to spend some money to make the theater there usable. The Tech Board of Trustees today approved spending $176,000 to renovate the theater workshop, cited for safety problems.
* DRUG BUSTS CONTINUE: More federal drug indictments — nine of them in Pine Bluff covering 24 defendants. Pine Bluff crowd has a lot to learn from Helena 'bangers. Not a single funky nickname among those named. Speaking of the Delta Blues bust in eastern Arkansas: A third police officer has pleaded guilty. At some point, they might start assembling a list of potential cooperating witnesses sufficient to move up the judicial system food chain.
* BLYTHEVILLE PROBE SOUGHT: Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington of Jonesboro has asked for a State Police investigation following completion of a legislative audit that shows the city of Blytheville is $2 million behind in payment of withholding to the IRS.
* WOMEN STEAMROLLERED: On top of Darrell Issa's all-male anti-birth control show trial in the House today, the Virginia Assembly has voted to give personhood to fertilized eggs and to require transvaginal examination of women — even if they don't want it — before they may receive even a medical abortion. Shouldn't there be a gender gap coming? Will a technical override of rape-by-instrument statutes be high on the Arkansas Republican agenda in 2013? Sadly, I think I know the answer.