by Max Brantley
Over to you. I have to see a man about some siding. Final words (except Leslie Peacock will drop in on the Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board meeting this afternoon, which ought to be interesting):
* USDA DISCRMINATION AND FRAUD: I gave a lot of attention recently to a major article in the New York Times about fraud in the claims process for the USDA settlement of undisputed discrimination against black farmers over a period of many years. I was struck by anecdotes about the admitted sloppiness of an Arkansas lawyer who'd processed many claims and by the fact that a dubious character was still promoting claim filing in a Little Rock Baptist church despite more obstacles than he seemed to have let on. That has prompted a response from Susan Schneider, who directs a master's program in agriculture law at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She writes a blog in which she's pointed out some problems, in emphasis and understanding of the facts, on the Times reporting. I recommend it highly for those interested in the topic. Here's a letter to the editor that summarizes her response to the article.
* CHURCH FIRE CAUSE UNDETERMINED: The ATF today concluded its investigation of the fire that destroyed the First Baptist Church Highland Park early Sunday April 28. Its investigators couldn't determine the cause.
* A SECRETARY OF STATE CHALLENGER: I've heard of a potential Democratic contender for secretary of state — Susan Inman, former Pulaski County election coordinator and a member of the state Board of Election Commissioners. She raised objections in the recent legislative session to Sen. Bryan King's bills to engineer an instant partisan takeover of the bipartisan commission, rather than to let the rising Republican tide eventually take its toll in time. Those were the bills Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed after the session adjourned. So far, there appears to be no movement for the full assembly to reconvene May 17 for an override vote. Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin, who's found the job so difficult he Twitters a lot of the time from Prairie Grove, is expected to want to give the state four more years. UPDATE: Inman confirms her interest and says she'll decide in a few weeks.
* SPEAKING OF POLITICS: Mark down May 21. That's one year before the 2014 primary. That's the day judicial candidates (they're already out there) can officially let their intentions be known. Court of Appeals Judge Rhonda Wood, I've said previously, is a likely candidate for the Supreme Court seat filled by temporary appointment after Justice Robert Brown retired. Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of Conway is prepping to attempt to
succeed Wood fill a seat for the same district, currently held by an appointee. Heard an interesting rumor today. It is that appointed Justice Cliff Hoofman might make a run for that same seat Maggio is seeking. He lives in rural Faulkner County. There will be more.
* 79-YEAR-OLD KAYAKER DIES ON BUFFALO RIVER: Fox 16 reports on accidental death of a woman whose head struck a tree and her kayak overturned.