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Insiders July 29, 2004

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Chief departing? Will Little Rock be looking for a new police chief soon? We pose the question because a very reliable source quotes Chief Lawrence Johnson as saying in casual conversation as confirming rumors that he plans to retire by the end of the year. Johnson, 52, wouldn't take our call. He had a department spokesman, Sgt. Terry Hastings, handle the question. Hastings said Johnson had made no official announcement, but reporters would be the first to know when he had one. Hastings added that Johnson committed to five years on the job when he was hired. The five years end in March (though, depending on accrued leave time, he perhaps could depart active work a few months earlier). Bus stop Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards will be in Arkansas next week as part of a post-convention bus tour through the South. His visit will include a Tuesday night stay in Little Rock and a mid-morning rally Wednesday, Aug. 4th in North Little Rock's Riverfront Park, where the backdrop will be a photogenic Little Rock skyline. He'll then ride on to West Memphis. While neither the theme of the event nor the other speakers on the program had been determined at press time, the main purpose of Edwards' appearance is to introduce him as a native Southerner who can connect with Arkansans. A "biscuits and gravy" Southern breakfast will be served. The timing of his visit -- so soon after the convention -- underscores the importance of Arkansas in the campaign's electoral calculations. Orient expressed Thanks to the Times of London, as quoted in the New York Times, for informing us about an unauthorized Chinese version of Bill Clinton's memoir, "My Life." The Mandarin language pirate edition includes material not penned by the author. For example, the Chinese edition speaks of Clinton's admiration for Mao Zedong. But the best addition is right up front where the Chinese version says Mr. Clinton's boyhood home of Hope has "good feng shui." No, that's not the Mandarin term for watermelon. Feng shui is a philosophy that says the environment, such as home decor, can affect your health, emotionally and otherwise. The information was part of a report on changes made in the Clinton book for the British edition because of that country's strict libel law. Critical references to Special Persecutor Kenneth Starr were toned down for the Brits. GOP speculation Since we speculated recently about Democratic candidates for attorney general, we thought it would be fair and balanced to pass along a Republican lawyer's predictions of potential candidates on his end of spectrum: U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins, former legislator Gunner DeLay of Fort Smith, national GOP operative Tim Griffin and eternal wannabe Rod Martin of Little Rock. He also mentioned former State Police boss Tom Mars, but it's hard to imagine Mars leaving his big job as house counsel for Wal-Mart. Also toss in the pot the name of Insurance Commissioner Mike Pickens.

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