by Max Brantley
Well. I went to San Francisco and all hell broke loose in Arkansas politics. Some close-outs before you take over:
* UPDATE: MCDANIEL FALLOUT: Too much talk not to mention that there's been a boomlet of talk today — some claiming to have real insight — that House Speaker Davy Carter will run for governor now that Dustin McDaniel is gone. Fun to think about. Fun to think if he could win a Republican primary (probably not) and if he might switch parties and run as a Democrat on good will with the establishment Democrats who helped elect him House speaker. The Dem establishment, if you didn't know, isn't overly warm toward either Bill Halter or John Burkhalter.
* BIG ECONOMIC NEWS: Gov. Mike Beebe has scheduled a major economic development announcement Tuesday morning at his conference room. Could it be the super project? Local companies are said to be taking part. Hmmm. Surely a local company wouldn't demand a state handout to stay here and expand would they? Would they? I note with some amusement that the news conference will happen to conflict with the billionaires pep rally for charter school deregulation, a proposal Gov. Beebe has assessed succintly: "If it ain't broke, why fix it?"
* BETTER ETHICS: Rep. David Whitaker of Fayetteville has introduced legislation to expand those covered by the requirement to file statements of financial interest. He wants to bring in Advertising and Promotion Commission members because they handle large sums of money, often related to businesses in which many of them participate. Rep. Warwick Sabin, joined by Joyce Elliott and John Edwards, has an amendment to add soon that will also apply to members of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority. Good. Same thing. They made some voluntary filings, but that's not the same as a report filed as a legal requirement where fudging can have consequences.
* CORPORATE WELFARE SLASHER: Rep. Jim Nickels has introduced a fine piece of good government legislation, which means it's not likely to go anywhere. He's filed a bill to repeal the law of dubious constitutionality and terrible practice that allows local governments to ship money to nonprofit organizations — read chambers of commerce and similar — for "service contracts" to pursue economic development. This is part of what yesterday's taxpayer lawsuit is about. These sham arrangements are a way to put public tax money in unaccountable private pockets of suits who lobby against the public interest for lower corporate taxes, against environmental regulation, against government health insurance and just about anything else good you can think of.
* SO-CALLED FILIBUSTER REFORM: Senators are spraining themselves with self-backslaps over changes in filibuster rules that will make it marginally harder to mount these roadblocks to government. The coalition that fought for meaningful filibuster reform explains here why they are disappointed.
* CALLING ALL DUCK HUNTERS: Here's a link to the new comprehensive Arkansas sports website — Sporting Life Arkansas. Add them to your bookmarks. But this particular link is about a joint effort between them and our Arkansas Wild outdoors publication. They'll be picking up articles from Arkansas Wild for their website, such as this one about Arkansas-made duck calls. They'll also be making free e-books for electronic distribution of future issues. Check out this newfangled multi-platform deal.