by Max Brantley
Two days to go. But first, an open line. Final words:
* NEW LEADER FOR ASMSA: University of Arkansas President Donald Bobbitt announced today that he'd recommended Corey Alderdice, assistant director for admissions and public relations for the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Bowling Green, Ky., as the new director of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs. Current Director Janet Hugo is retiring in June. The UA Board of Trustees must confirm Alderdice's selection. The competitive residential school has about 200 students.
* HILLCREST NEIGHBORHOOD SQUABBLE: I've written previously about the eternal squabble over what the state schools for the blind and deaf will do with an asbestos-riddled building once occupied by Easter Seals that sits on 10 acres owned by the school at the end of Lee Avenue in a residential Hillcrest neighborhood. Easter Seals keeps trying to convert the building into cash. The governing board is running out of patience. This week it indicated Easter Seals must renovate the building and serve students there as its land lease requires, or the lease will be revoked. Waiting in the wings is an offer by Doug Martin, a Hillcrest resident who works for Stephens Inc., to buy the acreage and use it for one single-family house, with most of the acreage being put in a conservation easement. He'd pay $1 million for the building and land, with about half of that necessary to pay for demolition. Further meetings are planned.
* THE CAT'S OWWW! A Logan County man said he was trying to shoot a stray cat (oh, that's OK), but shot a 29-year-old neighbor instead.
* I'VE MET MANY DOGS NAMED MAX BUT THIS BEATS ALL: Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan,, this report on the fastest rising names for newborns:
Briella, which jumped 394 spots, to No. 497. Briella Calafiore stars in "Jerseylicious," a reality TV show about battling stylists at a beauty salon in Green Brook, N.J. She's also in a spinoff called "Glam Fairy." Brantley was the fastest rising name for boys, jumping 416 spots to No. 320. Brantley Gilbert is a singer who had a No. 1 country hit called "Country Must Be Country Wide".
* SLIMEBALL REDUX: Another botched and misleading stunt by right-wing provocateur James O'Keefe.
* AS THE HOUSING AUTHORITY TURNS: The agency formerly known as the Little Rock Housing Authority is in turmoil. Its executive director, Shelly Ehenger, is suspended because she suspended someone else. That suspension turned on a memo about rampant employee unhappiness. An outside counsel, Arkie Byrd, was hired for $180/hr. to get to the bottom of it. She's gotten to the bottom of things before, a $10,000 report occasioned by Ehenger's complaint about a remark and anger displayed by Commissioner Brad Walker. I link it, you decide. You'll find the word "dysfunctional" therein. I'd second that. No action was taken by the board of commissioners following receipt of the report.
* THE LYING LIAR: U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin announced that he'd voted to renew the Violence Against Women Act today. What he didn't tell you is that he refused to vote for the Senate-passed bill, with bipartisan support, opting instead for a version that the president also opposes because it weakens protections for immigrant women and Indians provides no protection for same-sex couples. Domestic violence is domestic violence, except to thugs like Tim Griffin who thinks some people — gays, Indians and immigrants among them — are less deserving of equal protection.