The Insider reported last week that a recent feature on “Power Women” in the society magazine Soiree was a paid feature and that, among the payees, was the city of Little Rock, which paid $1,770 for Vice Mayor Stacy Hurst's profile and photograph.
Boy, oh boy. That set off some noise, first on our Arkansas Blog and then in a page-one article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Even before the D-G article appeared, Hurst released a statement that said she would reimburse the money. The company that publishes Soiree apologized for failing to label the article as advertorial.
Hurst has remained unavailable for comment about how a city public relations fund came to be used for the expense. The city, in a hazy manner, took responsibility. Hurst issued a prepared statement:
“After seeing the appearance of this feature in Soiree, I feel it is better for me to reimburse the City to remove any appearance of impropriety,” said Hurst. “There are pressing issues such as public safety and economic development that deserve our full attention. Let us move forward together to ensure our City is safe, sound, and living up to its outstanding potential.”
Graham Rich, who moved to Little Rock last year to become new CEO of Central Arkansas Water, loves his Briarwood neighborhood, maybe too much, he decided recently.
It's a great neighborhood, he said, quiet and the kind where neighbors look out for each other. This good feeling prompted Rich to not think much before leaving home with his wife June 21 to attend a North Little Rock City Council meeting. He left no lights on and didn't lock all the doors.
You guessed it. He was burglarized. Someone crashed through the front door and stole a laptop before fleeing. Another casualty was Rich's dog Jessie, a 14-year-old rescue dog with chow heritage. She was outside and Rich believes the burglar picked up a shovel and hit the dog, who barks at strangers. When Rich came home, the dog was hiding under a storage shed, a place it never goes, and finally emerged limping after much coaxing. “But she's going to be OK,” Rich said. He plans to buy timers to turn lights on and off and also to be sure doors are locked in the future. “People just need to be a little smarter than what we were,” Rich said.
Deal in works
At press time, public hints had been made that a deal had been struck to sell at least a part of CDI Contractors, the national construction firm based in Little Rock founded by the late Bill Clark and half-owned by Dillard Department Stores. Dillard had announced its intention to sell its half-interest and a CDI spokesman said Tuesday that a deal of an unspecified process was in the works. The continuing structure of the company has been up in the air since Clark's death and was complicated after the disappearance of CDI's chief financial officer, John Glasgow. Glasgow had been part of a group hoping to buy Clark's interest in the company, but that idea dissolved after his disappearance. News stories about him revealed some stress between CDI and Dillard's officials over bookkeeping practices.
The Boston Phoenix, a weekly paper, has compiled a list of the best bands of all time, the best solo performer and the best new band of each of the 50 states. Arkansas winners: Black Oak Arkansas, Johnny Cash and Gossip, featuring punk rocker Beth Ditto. Wrote the Phoenix about Black Oak: “If Skynyrd wore spandex, played their instruments in barrels of sludgy motor oil, and were led by a choogly, boogie-woogie bonehead straight outta Spinal Tap, they'd have been Black Oak Arkansas, named for frontman ‘Big Jim Dandy' Mangrum's hometown.”