by Max Brantley
The line is open. Closing thoughts:
* CITY OF LR MUST PAY $20,000 ATTORNEY FEES IN LOSING FOI CASE: Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has ordered the city of Little Rock to pay $20,655 in attorney fees to attorney Keith Hall for resisting his request for police records on use of force by police Lt. David Hudson, who beat Hall's client while Hudson was working private security at Ferneau's, a Hillcrest bar and restaurant. Hudson contended Hall's client had created a disturbance, but the charges were dismissed. Griffen ruled, and the Arkansas Supreme Court agreed, that records Hall had sought were covered by the Freedom of Information Act.
* SCRATCH THIS CAT: The Army has scrapped a planned Fort Knox concert by Ted Nugent, the faded rocker whose violent and obscene pronouncements are well-known. So far, the Walton Arts Center still has him on the card for a coming Music Pavilion Show. I understand they are getting mail making remarks to personnel similar to those Nugent made to Hillary Clinton. Wonder if they're amused?
* JUDGE GUNN BEATEN FOR AWARD: Norma, where are you? Just got news that "Last Shot With Judge Gunn," the semi-reality drug court TV show filmed in Fayetteville, finished out of the running for a Prism Award from the Entertainment Industries Council. It was nominated in the category for "unscripted non-fiction" along with "Addicted to Food," "Bad Sex" and "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew." Dr. Drew and Bad Sex tied for the award last Thursday, according to this account.
* WALMART TO BE PROBED BY CONGRESS: News release today:
Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Michael Duke, the Chief Executive Officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., requesting an in-person meeting with company officials to respond to an investigation by the New York Times into allegations that top Wal-Mart executives covered-up the actions of company officials in Mexico who “orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance.”
As part of the investigation, the Ranking Members are also contacting former Wal-Mart executives who may have documents or other information relating to the allegations, including Joseph R. Lewis, Wal-Mart’s former Director of Corporate Investigations; Maritza Munich, the former General Counsel of Wal-Mart International; and Sergio Cicero Zapata, an attorney in Wal-Mart de Mexico’s Real Estate Department.
* SOCIAL SECURITY SOUND UNTIL 2033: News you won't hear from Republicans, but you will hear from the Campaign for American's Future:
Social Security has a large and growing surplus, according to the 2012 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, released today. Last year’s Report projected that at the end of 2011, Social Security would have an accumulated surplus of around $2.7 trillion, which it now has. This year’s report projects that in 2012, Social Security will run an annual surplus of $57.3 billion, causing the accumulated surplus to remain about $2.7 trillion by the end of the year:
...The widely reported fact that the $789 billion in benefits paid and administrative costs projected for 2012 exceed the amount of payroll tax contributions, is neither alarming or even surprising, especially in an economic slump. Including 2012, it will have happened 25 times since 1957, according to the Social Security Administration. It is also not newsworthy since our Social Security system has three streams of revenue, dedicated payroll contributions, interest on the $2.7 trillion in interest from US government bonds, and taxes on the benefits of higher income Americans.
The Report reveals that without any Congressional action whatsoever, Social Security — the combined Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance program — will continue to pay benefits to America’s eligible working families until 2033 under the Report’s intermediate assumptions.
* UNIONS GO TO COURT: As I predicted last week, Pulaski School District unions will go to court to challenge the state Education Department director's decision to nullify union contracts in the district and end bargaining with the unions as a way to address the distressed district's financial problems. The union has beaten the school district before. But a key factor here: Its contracts are with a School Board and independent school district that no longer exists. No strike plans mentioned.