by Max Brantley
The line is open. Closing out:
* PULASKI SCHOOLS IMPASSE: The Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers has declared an impasse in negotiations with the Pulaski County School District over redoing contracts because of the dire financial straits of the district, now in state receivership. The union, and the related union for support staff, have offered to take no increase in pay next year and to otherwise address financial needs, but they have been resistant to reopening a range of other contract issues. Jerry Guess, the interim superintendent, abruptly ended contract talks recently in the face of the union's unwillingness to reopen parts of the contract. The impasse declaration allows entry of mediators. Guess has responded that his team would be happy to meet with mediators next Thursday. I don't think there's much to mediate. Guess has made it clear he'll impose new terms unilaterally, if necessary. The union's continued existence — it seems to me, at least — is dependent on it giving Guess most of what he wants. Particularly if the state is right that it was not legally bound by old contracts entered before it took over the district.
* PARAGOULD POLICE SHOOTING: Authorities say James Raymond Spence, 46, of Paragould didn't require hospitalization after being shot by State Police Special Agent Scott Pillow Thursday night. Authorities said Pillow attempted to stop Spence’s vehicle, but his State Police vehicle was rammed by the vehicle being driven by Spence. When Pillow got out of his vehicle, Spence allegedly attempted to run him over. Pillow then shot and wounded Spence, who's in the Greene County Jail on charges of attempted capital murder, fleeing and possession of meth with intent to deliver.
* VANDIVER TO CONCENTRATE ON DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Justice of the Peace Dawne Benafield Vandiver said today she won't seek re-election as a Pulaski County JP to concentrate on being executive director of the Arkansas Democratic Party. Democrat Tyler Denton is expected to run for the open Quorum Court seat.
* ANTI-SEVERANCE TAX RALLY: The State Chamber of Commerce-run and gas industry-funded committee formed to oppose a severance tax increase has scheduled a rally next Thursday at the Capitol at which industry employees will rally in force to show the "face of the natural gas community." Royalty owners are expected to attend, too. Noted: Southwestern Energy and Stephens Production have upped their contributions to the effort to $300,000 each according to a report on file at the state Ethics Commission. Alone they've contributed three-fourths of $800,000 raised. If these be grassroots, it's the kind you find on country club golf greens.
* ELECTION FILINGS: Nothing unexpected today. The Pulaski County election commission provides handy links to both state and Pulaski offices here.
* PARKING LOT MURDER CASE:Fox 16's David Goins is following up on the October disappearance and slaying of Patricia Guardado, a UALR student, whose car was found on a parking lot near the school. Police believe someone should have seen her getting into a car on that parking lot and are encouraging them to come forward with information.