It was a good week for...
DARRIN WILLIAMS. The Arkansas House elected the Democratic state representative from Little Rock the speaker-designate for the 2013-2014 legislative session. The secret ballot vote was 54-46 for Williams over Republican Rep. Terry Rice of Waldron. The House is currently split 54-46 between Democrats and Republicans. If the Democratic majority holds during the next election, Williams will be the first black House speaker.
MIKE HUCKABEE. His coming syndicated radio show, scheduled to debut April 2, seems well-positioned to overtake Rush Limbaugh as the Voice of the Right on the radio as Limbaugh's advertisers flee in droves following his tirade against law student Sandra Fluke.
ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE. The state daily elected to run Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury" comic strip this week despite the controversial topic of abortion. A number of more timorous newspapers across the country refused to run the strip because of the theme, which is critical of increasingly punitive anti-abortion bills in state legislatures.
TRIXIE. The Cairn terrier mix won the Humane Society of the United States' annual Dog of Valor award. Trixie kept owner Ida Moose of Little Rock warm for nearly 20 hours after the 78-year-old fell outside on a cold and rainy day. Doctors said Moose likely wouldn't have survived the night without Trixie.
It was a bad week for...
LEGISLATIVE PAYOLA. A settlement agreement between the Arkansas Public Law Center and the state of Arkansas has been filed in a lawsuit the APLC filed over legislative expenses (Times senior editor Max Brantley is on the APLC board). The agreement, which will be presented for court approval at a hearing before Judge Chris Piazza April 3, says that legislators in the future will be reimbursed only for actual expenses and they will be subject to audit. The suit argued that most legislators had been drawing flat monthly sums and a payment in lieu of per diem, without itemization, that amounted to unconstitutional supplements to salaries, generally set around $15,000. The non-itemized flat payments could exceed $36,000 per year.
PAT CROWDER. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission revealed that Crowder, of Forrest City, purchased a fishing license three hours after he claimed to have caught a fish near Wynne that would have set the Arkansas largemouth bass record.