by Max Brantley
The line is open. But I close with another reminder that the Arkansas Times begins its digital membership Aug. 1. That's Thursday, FYI. This applies to our four blogs — Arkansas Blog for news and analysis; Rock Candy for entertainment news; Eat Arkansas for dining news, and Eye Candy for fine arts news. Some limited free use will continue to be available on all, but we hope regular readers will sign up for subscriptions for unlimited use to help us expand our growing use of the web for timely news coverage. The weekly print edition remains free, as does the portion of the website devoted to its content.
We have added an annual subscription option since our original announcement. We also have worked out a way for those who MUST pay by check to do so, rather than use the on-line credit card feature. Here's the signup page. And here's an updated list of frequently asked questions.
* IN THE CAR AT OAKLAWN ALONE: A crushingly sad tale here from Channel 11 of a five-year-old child left along in his father's car on the Oaklawn Racino parking lot while his father went inside to gamble Saturday night. The child was found wandering three hours later.
* JASON RAPERT HITS THE BIGTIME: Salon names Sen. Jason Rapert one of the five most extreme anti-abortion public officials in the country. He'll put this in his campaign advertising. It also credits him with the most Freudian Twitter background wallpaper. His anti-minority rant also gets a mention.
* ROBBERY SUSPECTS SOUGHT: The Little Rock police circulated the photos above today in the search for suspects in three weekend robberies — of a LaQuinta motel on I-30 and Mapco convenience stores on 12th and 65th streets. Details from Channel 4.
* A COMMENT FROM LITTLE ROCK SUPERINTENDENT SUGGS: I stirred up a lot of opinion Sunday with an item about an e-mail sent by the new Little Rock school superintendent, Dr. Dexter Suggs, to Cathy Koehler, president of the Little Rock Education Association. He wrote after she'd sent a letter to the Little Rock School Board concerning some special assignment teacher positions he wanted to create to focus on discipline and attendance in some targeted schools. He sharply suggested that she should have come to him first. (I didn't get the note from Koehler, by the way.)
Suggs called me today. We had a nice talk. First, he said, he's never known anything but school districts where teachers are represented by a union. "I support our union 100 percent," he said. He didn't disagree that his note to Koehler might have seemed sharp, but he said, "People don't quite know me yet. I'm very direct."
That particular memo, he said, perhaps could have been done "a little bit better." But he said he had specific ideas in mind for the teacher-on-special-assignment slots, already approved by the board. Though the board approves the terms of the teacher contract, he's the person in charge of carrying it out day to day, he said. He said he had had and expected to have a "great relationship" with Koehler. "I love her and she loves me," he said. They've exchanged further notes, but she's on vacation this week and they haven't yet had the meeting he promised in the note I reprinted.
* BRANDON BARBER PLEA CHANGE: The indicted former developer is scheduled to change his not guilty plea Wednesday in federal court, reports Arkansas Business.