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Good week for Ethics Reform

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It was a good week for...

ETHICS REFORM. A bipartisan committee called Better Ethics Now formed to help reach the ballot the Regnat Populus 2012 initiative to strengthen Arkansas ethics law. Taking the lead in the committee are Brent Bumpers, son of former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers and now looking for ways to put fruits of the sale of his Brent and Sam's cookie empire to public-spirited use; Jim Keet, the restaurateur/entrepreneur and former Republican state senator and gubernatorial nominee, and Baker Kurrus, the Little Rock lawyer and former school board member who manages business interests of the late Lt. Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller.

A NEW BRIDGE PLAN. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department floated a surprise new proposal for replacement of the Broadway Bridge. It would preserve the old bridge while building a new bridge along the west side. The old bridge then could be converted to a pedestrian/bike path. The plan would avoid the problem of closing the bridge for construction for up to two years.

U.S. REP. MIKE ROSS. After opting not to seek another term in Congress, he was widely expected to run for governor in 2014. Not going to happen. Instead, Ross will be a lobbyist for the Southwest Power Pool, the energy distribution agency based in Little Rock that's in a huge battle to keep from losing Entergy's business to another power wheeling agency.

It was a bad week for...

DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS DIRECTOR DAVE FLETCHER. After meeting with Governor Beebe on Monday, Fletcher announced that he would retire immediately. The department has been mired in a mess over overcharges to veterans in the residential facility it operates in Little Rock.

THE ARKANSAS LOTTERY. Michael Hyde, the Arkansas Lottery's internal auditor, informed the Lottery Commission of his intention to resign. Hyde had irked some members of the commission with persistent findings of questionable activities during the Ernie Passailaigue era and, more recently, with continuing questions about the legality of a contract change that benefited lottery vendor Scientific Games. Commissioner Bruce Engstrom, who's been a minority critic on the commission of the Scientific Games deal, said he thought the Scientific Games controversy was the tipping point for Hyde.

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