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Help for immigrants

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The University of Central Arkansas at Conway will consider the children of immigrants to be in-state students if the children graduated from an Arkansas high school. That means the students will be charged only in-state tuition — about $6,000 per year — instead of the more expensive out-of-state tuition of more than $10,000 per year. A bill was introduced in the 2005 legislative session that would have required all state-supported colleges and universities to treat the children of immigrants — mostly Latinos — as in-state students if they had graduated from an Arkansas high school. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives, but failed by two votes in the Senate.

“The failure of this bill does not preclude each university from treating these students as in-state students,” UCA President Lu Hardin said. “This is clearly the right thing to do and is not a difficult decision.” He said the students were living in Arkansas “and are directly or indirectly paying taxes, through rent or withheld state income taxes.” The students also will be eligible for other forms of financial assistance.

“The only stipulation that will be put on these students is that they actively pursue the legalization of his/her immigration status,” Hardin said. “UCA has checks and balances in place to assure that the process is being followed as a student progresses through the university.”

In the 2005-06 school year, UCA had about 20 Latino students in a total enrollment of 11,377.

Filling a power vacuum

J. Michael Jones, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, said that the board “will be meeting in the next month or so” to discuss replacing Sybil Hampton, whose retirement as foundation president was announced a day after the death of Lt. Gov. Win Paul Rockefeller. Rockefeller sat on the board of the charity, founded by his father. Hampton retired after 10 years as president of the foundation, one of the most powerful philanthropic institutions in Arkansas.

Hampton told the Arkansas Times, “It is not clear what I will do in my new life, but there is work to be done for the children of women in prison, children around the state who need to be exposed to the work of the Arkansas Symphony, Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts, the Arkansas Arts Center and the Arkansas Rep, and children who need after-school enrichment programs and academic development support.”

Jones said that the board would hire a consultant to lead a national search for Hampton’s successor.

No parking yet

A solution still awaits a problem the Times first reported June 15. This is the proposal by the Downtown Partnership to sell the Metrocentre Improvement District parking deck at Seventh and Scott for $1.5 million to Stephanie Smith, the real estate developer who wants to turn the historic Donaghey Building into condos. The parking spaces across the street are critical to the project.

The deal was set for City Board approval early in June, but a memo from City Attorney Tom Carpenter derailed it. He noted that the city, which would receive no money from the sale, owned the land underneath it and had invested at least $500,000 in the project, plus given up expected rent.

Since the story broke, the Metrocentre Improvement District has provided another legal opinion that there’s no legal impediment to the deal on account of the city’s past investment. But still the deal hasn’t moved forward. There’s at least some resistance on the City Board, apparently. Sharon Priest, director of the Downtown Partnership, said she’s working to assure sufficient Board support before pushing adoption of the sale.

Missing: Mike Huckabee

Gov. Mike Huckabee surprised attendees at the Southern Legislative Conference in Louisville, Ky., by failing to appear for a scheduled July 30 presentation. He offered no explanation for his absence. We asked his spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, why he didn’t show up, but she never called us back with an answer.

Maybe Huckabee was jet-lagged. According to a San Francisco Chronicle columnist, he visited that newspaper’s offices on July 28.

Whither Huck?

This weekend Huckabee will be in South Carolina (a key presidential primary state) to host a National Governors Association meeting, where “he’ll manage to squeeze in a speech about defending heterosexual marriage,” according to the National Journal’s Hotline blog.

Later this month, Huckabee will make another jaunt through New Hampshire. We’re piecing together that schedule, but so far we can confirm that it includes Huckabee and his band performing at a Manchester fund-raiser on Aug. 10 and a cookout with the Manchester Young Republicans on Aug 13.

And in September, Huckabee joins Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich and other conservative notables at Focus on the Family’s Washington Briefing, described as a “values-voter summit.” Topics will include “The Preservation of Marriage: Why Children Need It.”

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