by Max Brantley
I"ve been driven from my office by Internet problems and from my home by workmen pounding on my bird-ravaged back wall. So, from Starbucks, some closing items of note;
* POLICE CHASE ENDS IN CRASH: A chase that crossed Saline County and Little Rock ended in a crash near 7th and Johnson this afternoon without serious personal injury. Officers were pursuing a man who, when State Hospital authorities went to pick him up in Saline County, took off with his mother, in her 70s. The chase included crashes with sheriff's cruisers and a private car, according to various reports. The man is back in custody and his mother is reportedly unhurt.
* GAME AND FISH COMMISSION: Gov. Mike Beebe will announce an appointee to the Rich White Male Hunter Commission tomorrow. Does a lawyer from Harrison sound like a decent bet? He would be white and male, meeting two critical criteria to be one of the bwanas. The appointment comes amid indications that the agency hasn't yet settled down — questions about the vehicle fleet, communications purchases, wrangling at the independent Foundation and other matters continue to float across this desk.
* LAYTON STUART UPDATE: After four days of trying, I finally got in touch with Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs about the March death of banker Layton Stuart, deposed CEO of One Bank and Trust. Friday, a federal court filing, in addition to alleging a vast web of money laundering and self-profiting by Stuart while seeking to seize assets of his estate, mainly a $20 million life insurance policy, made pointed remarks about his death. They included that he made funeral arrangements less than a week before his death, amid transfers of "tainted" money to keep premiums on the insurance policy current. Hobbs said he'd ruled the death due to natural causes. Stuart had congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease and had a pacemaker, he said. Hobbs said drug screening showed the presence of medications Stuart was supposed to be taking to treat his various ailments, which indicated he hadn't stopped treatment.
* PERSONHOOD AMENDMENT: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has declined to certify the form of a so-called personhood amendment to ban abortion from the moment of conception. Ambiguities cited.
* OLD EASTER SEAL CENTER TO BE DEMOLISHED: Word from the state board that oversees the state schools for blind and deaf is that finishing touches began tonight to end a long dispute. The 99-year lease Easter Seals held on its abandoned center at the east end of Lee Avenue will be terminated (Easter Seals will get $50,000) and the property will revert to the schools. Money provided through legislative help from Rep. Warwick Sabin will be used to demolish the building. Neighbors who had fought efforts to convert the property into various commercial uses are thrilled.