by Max Brantley
Over to you. Finishing up:
* THE NEXT SPEAKER: The Arkansas House will officially adjourn at noon Friday, March 9. Fifteen minutes after adjournment, members will vote between Reps. Terry Rice of Waldron, a Republican, and Darrin Williams of Little Rock, a Democrat, for speaker designate for the 2013 session. Each will have 15 minutes to speak. Vote will be by secret ballot. And, if Williams wins and the Republicans take the majority in November, an interesting question will be presented.
* WALTON SPENDING ON SCHOOLS: Here are the details on the $159 million the Walton Foundation spent on education in 2011, chiefly to encourage charter schools and other alternatives to conventional public schools. The foundation has spent around $1 billion on school "reform" since 2000.
* FIGHT OVER THE FELON: The Democratic Party provided further legal support today for its correct decision to refuse to declare Fred Smith eligible to run for state representative on account of his felony conviction. Will Secretary of State Mark Martin insist on certifying a felon and force a waste of time and money to get a court to rule he's ineligible? Yes. Martin's office says it's all the Democrats' fault and say they intend to put the felon on the ballot. This means a lawsuit will be required to remove Smith. A lot of noise and expense about a nut. The truly funny thing is the effort by multiple Republicans to attempt to spin something nefarious in the Democratic Party's effort to keep a felon off the ballot. You'd normally think that would be a good thing. But given that the Republicans fought viciously to keep a convicted federal crook on the ballot as a state House candidate in 2010 and refused to utter a peep about another convict in the current Republican House delegation, perhaps not. The Democratic Party will take legal action to remove Smith, its spokesman said. However, I think a strong case could be made that Mark Martin, who swore to uphold the Constitution and who took the action certifying Smith for the ballot, is obligated to uphold the constitutional prohibition against a felon serving by suing to prevent it.