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Insiders Sept. 30, 2004


No Nader raider Sam Hilburn, the North Little Rock lawyer, won’t say whether he’s being paid for his legal work to get Ralph Nader on the ballot in Arkansas. But don’t confuse him with a Green. Hilburn is widely known as a Republican. Republican Party press conferences have been held in his office over the years. Also, since 2001 he’s donated at least $3,500 to Republican causes — $1,000 for former Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, $1,000 in 2004 for Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska, and $1,500 in 2003 to the Republican Party of Arkansas. Film break Melanie Masino, the executive director of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute and its annual October festival, plans to step down after the Institute completes its busy fall schedule, which includes a series of films in Little Rock planned around the November opening of the Clinton Presidential Center. Word of Masino’s resignation after six years slipped out after a lengthy Institute board meeting last week. At that meeting, Bill Asti was picked to succeed Dexter Doyne as the board’s chairman in December. Masino and some members of the 26-member board have clashed on festival direction, even though Masino has led the organization out of red ink and into a high-profile arrangement to screen Academy Award-nominated documentaries in Arkansas every year. Was the choice of a new leader the catalyst? "I support who the board has chosen as chairman," Masino said. Office mates Gen. Wesley Clark and former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater are joining former Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt's Washington consulting firm as vice chairs and senior advisors. Clark will remain chairman of Wesley K. Clark & Associates and Slater will remain a partner at the high-powered DC law firm Patton Boggs. Witt's company advises governments about how best to prepare and respond to disasters. Clark will focus on domestic and international security and Slater on transportation and critical infrastructure. They’ll have competition in the risk services business from Marsh Inc., led by Paul Bremer, late of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Sooner visitor U.S. Rep. Brad Carson, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma and poll favorite to take a seat now held by a Republican, was in Little Rock Sept. 27 for an informal reception at Mack McLarty's office. The event was thrown together at the last minute because Carson was on his way back home from Memphis, and while it was not billed as a fundraiser, some of the 35 guests wrote checks to Carson's campaign. New Dem voters? Democrats take heart from the 17,000 new voters that have been registered in Pulaski County since April 1. Most were concentrated in Little Rock and North Little Rock, cities that typically lean Democratic, and roughly 6,000 live in black neighborhoods, another Democratic base. CORRECTION Last week’s issue referred to the "late" poet Miller Williams. He is still very much among us.

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