It was a good week for...
THE BURNS PARK GEESE. The North Little Rock City Council agreed with Mayor Pat Hays to postpone next week's planned controlled goose hunt in Burns Park to reduce the flock of 200 near-domesticated waterfowl by 150 or so. Hays said he'd open the record to any suggestions for alternatives to reducing the problem caused by geese — both prolific defecation and unpleasant attitudes toward walkers, bikers and other park users. Hays said he wanted to quickly put suggestions in place to see if they might work. If not, the hunt might be rescheduled in January before the hunting season is over.
HYPOCRISY. Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), an outspoken critic of President Obama's handling of the economy, received $5,990 from a federal stimulus-funded state program to convert vehicles to run on natural gas, the Democrat-Gazette reported.
PAY-OFFS. An FOI request from the Arkansas Times revealed that Willy Robinson, recently ousted defensive coordinator for the University of Arkansas football team, will be paid his base salary, about $27,000 a month, through March 5 unless he's hired before then. He'll also get a bowl game bonus equivalent to one month's base pay. Not a golden parachute, perhaps, but a nice soft landing.
It was a bad week for...
EQUALITY. According to new analysis by a University of California at Berkley economist, six members of the Walton family are worth as much as the bottom 30 percent of Americans. The Waltons' $70 billion represents (according to a 2007 Forbes analysis) the assets of about 100 million people.
THE BUSINESS LOBBY. The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a nearly $50 million verdict in Lonoke County for farmers who said they were damaged when genetically altered rice from the Bayer CropScience contaminated their crops. Importantly, the court upheld a finding that a statutory cap on punitive damages, which constituted $42 million of this $48 million verdict, was unconstitutional. The state legislature passed the cap in 2003, hoping to extort acquiescence out of a Supreme Court fearful of the business lobby, even though two attorney generals, Beebe and Pryor, opined that it was unconstitutional.
KEVIN LEWIS. The Little Rock lawyer, who swindled several banks of nearly $50 million through fake improvement district bond issues, was sentenced to 121 months in federal prison. He'd pleaded guilty earlier to one count of bank fraud. He's agreed to $33.8 million in restitution, though it's unclear what ability he has to make that restitution.