by Max Brantley
Another week begins with these odds and ends:
* LITTLE ROCK POLICE TRAVAILS: The Democrat-Gazette reported this morning the news of the expected firing of Josh Hastings, the police patrol officer who has been charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a youth driving away from the scene of what Hastings said was a car burglary. The unprecedented charging of a cop in the shooting of a criminal suspect — and now his firing — are important acts in the context of other legal matters involving the department. Michael Laux, attorney for the family suing over the fatal shooting of a Little Rock man by an off-duty copy working private security, has a broad attack underway of 1) police use of force generally and 2) the internal reviews of use of force. Laux told me recently that he believes evidence will eventually show that Little Rock uses force disproportionately and that the reviews are compromised by conflict of interest. In the case of the Eugene Ellison shooting, the review was conducted by a division that employs the spouse of an officer involved in the shooting, for example. Laux would like to see his effort lead to independent reviews of police force. This is hotly controversial with police.
* LANCE ARMSTRONG STRIPPED OF TITLES: The International Cycling Union has stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles because of "sophisticated, professionalized and successful" doping program, NY Times reports.
* NEGATIVE PERSONAL ATTACKS: Republican Rep. Allen Kerr e-mails me to get out and vote early as a response to the negative "personal attacks" he's endured. These, presumably, would be information noting his dishonesty in claiming to be a bipartisan legislator and friend of Gov. Mike Beebe. The message of Kerrr's friendship with the governor goes to likely Democratic voters, of course, who, of course, should be voting for Barbara Graves. Mail to likely Republican voters emphasizes the Republican plan to throw over moderate rule for the extremist Republican agenda. Other Republicans have been parroting the negative personal attack theme recently, despite a lack of much evidence (except where personal attacks include past police records and the like). Republicans have never personally attacked the black man in the White House have they, whether over his religion, citizenship or supposed socialistic leanings? In fact, the Republican Party of Arkansas has one theme in every race from legislature to Quorum Court to dogcatcher this year — vote against the man in the White House. Lest you miss the point, his photo and that of other people of color are employed frequently in advertising to underscore the core of the message.
* DRUG COURT: Tipster says Republican members of Congress — Dr. No, Col. Womack — are expected to be on hand for presentation of a $400,000 grant to the drug court in Washington County. This is good federal spending, as opposed to all that bad federal spending. Perhaps a TV crew will be on hand to film a bit to promote the the commercial TV reality show an enterprising public employee built from this operation. Whatever happened to Last Shot With Judge Gunn, anyway?
UPDATE: Make the grant $325,000 a year for three years. And add Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor to the names of those announcing the grant for an expansion of the program. So, too was Mary Ann Gunn, who oversaw the drug court before leaving office attended by an ethical cloud on account of her use of public resources to get her TV show running.
* DEMONSTRATION AT CLINTON NATIONAL AIRPORT: If you see some demonstrators at the Clinton National Airport this morning, they're likely related to an activist group protesting Southwest Airlines' sponsorship of presidential debates because third-party candidates aren't included. They've been given a designated spot to demonstrate.