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TGIF open line

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Over to you. Final words:

* MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF THE DAY: If New York can get Dairy Queen, why can't Little Rock?

* MUNICIPAL LEAGUE HOLDS FIRM ON SEVERANCE TAX: Gas industry lobbyists, Chamber of Commerce foot soldiers and a handful of local officials from the shale zone tried to persuade the Arkansas Municipal League to back off support of the gas severance tax initiative campaign at a Hot Springs convention this week. They failed, despite hard work at the Wednesday session. The 150 delegates overwhelmingly approved a resolution continuing the League's endorsement Thursday. Don Zimmerman said only a scattering of "nos" maybe six or eight, were heard on the voice vote. The gas producers forget that a relatively small area is experiencing an economic benefit from the drilling industry. The rest of the state, sorely pressed for money, is paying for the environmental and road expenses that the current low severance tax isn't sufficient to cover without benefits. Zimmerman said the outlook was good for obtaining 63,000 signatures by July 6 to put the severance tax increase on the ballot. The new revenue would go to highway construction and city road funds.

* PROTECT OUR CASINO: STOP OTHER CASINOS: It should come as no surprise that Delaware North, owner of the Southland casino in West Memphis, is funding the campaign to discourage a casino amendment from reaching the ballot — $87,000 reported spent so far. By the way, the group circulating petitions to put the casino on the ballot has not filed a report with the Ethics Commision beyond organizing papers. Something is amiss there, given the canvassers out on the street. They don't work for free. Petitioners promise to be on hand in the War Memorial Stadium parking lot all this weekend.

* READING BETWEEN THE LINES: Further analysis on yesterday's developments in the great Technology Park saga. City Hall was desperate to put off Tech Park site selection for six months, until after the November election. That's why heaven and earth was moved for a dog-and-pony show neighborhood meeting yesterday afternoon at which Director Joan Adcock disingenuously told neighbors they'd "won." Neighbors would be well advised not to bank on the representation that their neighborhood is off the table forever as consideration for removal to make way for an office building.

The city badly wants to renew a property tax millage for streets and drainage in November. The rich folks who like the sales tax, because it little affects them, aren't nearly so fond of property taxes, particularly those in western LR. Poor folks, who voted overwhelmingly against the sales tax, could be the critical swing voters in a November property tax election. That's why City Hall was desperate to tell Mary Good, Dickson Flake and Jay Chesshir and the rest of the Tech Park board to shut up for a while about seizing residential property. The property tax comes first. After November, the bulldozers can roll.

* SPECIAL MEETING ON PRINCIPAL CHANGES: The Little Rock School Board will hold a special meeting Monday night to hear complaints from Williams Magnet parents about the reassignment of Principal Sandra Register to Terry School, changing jobs with Lori Brown. It was one of 13 principal changes that Superintendent Morris Holmes said was part of his strategy to lift low-performing schools. Parents say Williams has been a model magnet school, with a racially diverse student body and rising test scores that are among the best in the district. Register has been there only two years and should be allowed to stay longer, they say. Some 125 parents petitioned the board to hear their concerns. The Williams meeting is at 7. Western Hills parents also have gotten a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on the reassignment of their popular long-time elementary principal, Scott Morgan.

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