Dec. 17-23, 2008
It was a GOOD week for …
HOTEL CONSTRUCTION. McKibbon Hotel Group moved its proposed site for a new Aloft Hotel one block south of the original site at Clinton Avenue and Commerce Street to avoid opposition by the neighboring Central Arkansas Library System.
DEBATE. Differences emerged as Gov. Mike Beebe, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and key legislators discussed their ideas for the shape and benefits of the new state lottery. So far, it's been a rare debate guided mostly by philosophical differences, not special commercial interests. Not to worry: The lottery game vendors and marketers will be along soon enough.
It was a BAD week for …
NORTH LITTLE ROCK MAYOR PAT HAYS. He's as angry now as he was in 2005 when he was pushing bad Tax Increment Finance legislation to help shopping center developer Bruce Burrow. He forged ahead despite North Little Rock School Board opposition and legal questions with a scheme to steal school property taxes from some newly completed developments to build a parking deck for a hotel.
SUPERIOR INDUSTRIES. The auto parts maker laid off 268 workers in Fayetteville and Rogers, the latest in a series that have reduced employment there by 1,400 since 2006. And some legislators think the U.S. auto industry's troubles aren't important in Arkansas. See next entry.
U.S. SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN. After forsaking U.S. autoworkers on the bailout vote, she began waffling on legislation to curb management dominance over union organizing (largely a non-issue in Arkansas anyway, a right-to-work state with few union members).
HELENA-WEST HELENA MAYOR JAMES VALLEY. He was fined $1,900 for releasing city animal shelter dogs loose in a nearby national forest. A Humane Society complaint against the mayor remains under investigation.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION. A circuit judge agreed that the state did not need to reveal which state employees had been using state computers to clean up Wikipedia entries about state politicians on the public's dime.