Jan. 7-13, 2009
It was a GOOD week for …
HOT AIR. The Arkansas legislature convened for a session that now, thanks to voters, is to become a regular annual event.
BURNING MONEY. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Arkansans still smoke far above the national average despite the expenditure of more than a half-billion dollars on health programs financed by a tobacco lawsuit settlement.
DAVID O. DODD. He's still dead, but the young man hanged in Little Rock as a Confederate spy was lauded in no less than three articles, plus three photographs, in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's continuing hagiography of a Lost Cause footnote.
It was a BAD week for …
SEN. BOB JOHNSON. The senate president pro tem advocated bulldozing the Little Rock Zoo to provide a parking lot for UAMS. He was also unapologetic about his unsuccessful scheme several years ago to turn the state's tobacco settlement into a gigantic financial windfall for his patrons at Stephens Inc.
ALLTEL EMPLOYEES. Verizon's takeover of the Little Rock-based wireless carrier was completed. Most employees remain in place for now, but hundreds of layoffs are expected before the year is out.
LEGISLATIVE ETHICS. Aren't they all bad weeks for this? Several more legislators turned into lobbyists when their terms ended Dec. 31. One of them, former Sen. Jack Critcher, has the added benefit of a wife on the Senate payroll. Worse, few seemed to see anything wrong with the practice.
The LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL BOARD. It's split, again, this time over necessary budget cutting. Some Board members want to trim administrative ranks first. Others, and the superintendent, seem intent on preserving the top-heavy administration.
The RAZORBACKS. Happy days seemed here again when the UA men's basketball team knocked off two top-10 opponents. A harsher reality set in when Mississippi State thrashed the Hogs in the SEC opener on the Pigs' home court.