by Max Brantley
The morning roundup:
* SHERWOOD APPROVES ORDINANCE: Sherwood voters have affirmed a City Council-approved ordinance to enter a new 20-year agreement with North Little Rock as a wholesale supplier of electricity, an arrangement that dates back to 1949. North Little Rock makes money off Sherwood. Sherwood city government gets a kickback from NLR. North Little Rock spent money to discourage a "no" vote on the continuation of the deal on the ground that it would be prohibitively expensive for Sherwood to pay NLR for the electricity infrastructure it had installed if the supplier changed and a different power deal might not be so good anyway. Voters ratified the ordinance 1,921 to 858.
* FREE PARKING IN RIVER MARKET TO END: Channel 4 reports on the coming Little Rock City Board vote to install parking pay stations along President Clinton Avenue in the River Market district and end free parking on the stretch from Cumberland to the Presidential Library. Workers in the area aren't happy about it, naturally.
* STATE CUTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION AFFECT VET STUDENTS: More to come on this, but for starters here's a link to a petition campaign urging the state to deliver on past tuition/grant promises to graduate students in the 2013-14 school year. The petition arises from news — not yet announced — that Arkansas will not cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for Arkansas students newly entering the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. (Arkansas has no vet school.) This is for new students, not those already enrolled. I don't know yet how far this budget cut extends, but we have to pay for the income tax cuts for the wealthy somehow. I have a call in to the Higher Education Department. But its website notes that there are subsidies similar to the LSU Vet school program for 77 entering slots each year in dentistry, podiatry, chiropractic, optometry and osteopathic medicine at a number of schools. An LSU entering student learned of this from LSU, not from the state of Arkansas, by the way.
* THE BEST HIGH SCHOOLS IN THE U.S. If you follow the rankings issued by Newsweek, this examination of the flaws in the process might interest you. In short, the survey essentially ranks students, not schools. Selective admission schools and those with better economic demographics tend to dominate given the material they work with.
* DEATH OF A FRIEND: I got sad news this morning of the unexpected death yesterday afternoon of Dave Rickard. He was a stalwart in many good causes and led the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He'd testified recently in Georgia in favor of abolition. A memorial service is tentatively planned at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian-Universalist Church, the church's Facebook page says.