by Max Brantley
The line is open. Closing out:
* CAREFUL WHERE YOU PARK: In the day of cellphone cameras, political candidates with state legislative license plates should take care to be sure that their cars aren't found parking in slots marked for the disabled if they don't have a visible permit displayed for use of such spaces. I've written Rep. Jane English to see if she has an explanation for this parking job outside Brave New Restaurant today, but haven't heard back.
* ARKANSAS ARTS CENTER: The Board of the Arts Center met today and approved a budget of about $6.1 million for the year beginning July 1, bigger than last year. But the Board also aparently discussed — in a meeting not allowed in private by the state Freedom of Information Act — eliminating a couple of jobs to keep spending within expected revenue. Leslie Peacock will have details shortly on Eye Candy. The Board has authority only to hire and fire the director. The director controls other jobs. Therefore, state law prevents the board's meeting in private to discuss anything but the director.
* LIGHT VOTING: Early voting ended today in Pulaski County with 72 votes cast in the runoff between Charles Armstrong and Tommy Branch for the Democratic nomination for a state House seat in Little Rock. The winner has no fall opponent. Should Armstrong, who led the first primary, win, it will create an opening on the Little Rock School Board, which often splits 4-3 on racial lines with Armstrong in the majority. So this is a race with potential trickle-down impact.
* ETHICS SPREADS STATEWIDE: The Better Ethics Now Committee, working to qualify an ethics law for the ballot, will announce tomorrow in Fort Smith Sebastian County leaders for the petition drive, which has until July 6 to gather 63,000 names. Co-chairs Brent Bumpers and Jim Keet will be on hand for the announcement and similar events are planned in Jonesboro, Conway, El Dorado and Texarkana.
Do you believe in miracles?
Let's try. But I should note the tiny cadre of Tea Party Republicans expressing opposition to this idea to reduce corporate influence in government is growing. Or else they are ducking reporters' questions. They apparently LIKE the corporate teat. Sen. Missy Irvin, Rep. Nate Bell, Rep. Andrea Lea to name three who've indicated coolness: Still waiting for your callbacks on whether you support the ethics reform ballot initiative. I already know Reps. John Burris and Jon Woods don't want any part of it.
PS — Don't blow any smoke, 'baggers, about free speech or corporations as persons. The Citizens United ruling didn't touch the federal law prohibiting direct corporate contributions to candidates and it's the model on which the Arkansas proposal is based.
* SPEAKING OF SIGNATURES: Roby Brock reports on an e-mail from Arkansas Municipal League leader Don Zimmerman, trying to stir the troops to get sufficient signatures on petitions to put a gas severance tax increase on the ballot. Gas companies are funding a campaign to smother the tax campaign in its crib. Zimmerman said the drive for signatures is still short of the almost 63,000 needed.
* STEALTH PAULTARDS: Roby Brock reports on how Ron Paul fans scored a few delegates in the Arkansas delegation to the Republican National Convention.
* I LOVE CHICKENS AND THE ARKANSAS BLOG: An offbeat item this morning on the training of chickens to play tic-tack-toe and other animal oddities had already inspired some good reader comment. But this afternoon, I heard from Art Gillaspy in the UCA psychology department. I've added to the original item a trove of his information about animal training, including history and links to a website full of photos and academic research he and Dr. Elson Bihm have done on the subject. A mere sample is the photo below of a chicken playing baseball at Hot Springs' IQ Zoo. Our little blog community continues to inspire.