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Komen, Catholics to meet



Representatives of the Arkansas affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure are to meet with Catholic officials in Arkansas on Thursday, March 6, on what they say is inaccurate information disseminated by the Catholic Diocese that oversees Arkansas.

In a Feb. 4 statement advising Catholics not to support Komen, the diocese claimed the national Komen organization made grants to Planned Parenthood. But national foundation grants are strictly for medical research, said Sherry McBryde, director of the Komen affiliate headquartered in Little Rock, so no grants go to Planned Parenthood.

Of the money raised in Arkansas, 75 percent stays in state and funds education, screening and treatment; the remaining goes to the national organization. No Planned Parenthood affiliates in Arkansas offer abortion.

The Little Rock Diocese's statement was based on one issued by the archdiocese in St. Louis, which did not forbid support for Komen but advised against it.

Party proceeds

We wrote previously about the Oxford American magazine's discovery of embezzlement by a former bookkeeper. An item in Publisher's Weekly reports that it was worse than originally thought. Said the report:

“ ‘We've now found out she may have taken as much as $70,000,' said founder and editor Marc Smirnoff. ‘She's left us with just $3,000 in the bank.' He doesn't believe restitution is an option. ‘I just don't expect Renae has any of the money left: she bought cars, got a tattoo, spent it on a sweet sixteen party for her daughter at the best hotel in town. Who knows, she might have even used the money she stole from us to pay for bail,' he said.”

Pay bump

The buzz in North Little Rock is that Mayor Pat Hays has been angling for a pay raise. He makes $90,000. Alderman Murry Witcher told us that Hays had suggested he should make more — maybe a 25 percent increase to $112,500 — but not until city employees had received a 2 to 3 percent raise for the year, perhaps by April. The mayor himself said later that he would not accept a 25 percent raise “this year,” but noted that the NLR mayor once was the best paid in the state. He confirmed he'd been “chewing the fat” with city officials about his salary. When city police and fire told Hays they wished for parity with Little Rock, he said “amen to that.” The Little Rock mayor, Mark Stodola, is paid $160,000.

Wayward prosecutors

Pulaski Prosecutor Larry Jegley has had his hands full with wayward lawmen. Two weeks ago, our cover story detailed his investigation of former Fort Smith prosecutor Ron Fields on a rape allegation. No charge was filed.

Now we learn that two cases are pending before the Arkansas Claims Commission on another allegation of a prosecutor's sexual misconduct that Jegley once investigated.

These cases involve Joe Wray, who had been a deputy prosecutor in El Dorado. Female prison inmates said Wray had coerced them into having sex in return for leniency and other favors. Jegley, appointed special prosecutor, charged Wray with sexual assault and sexual indecency. In a plea bargain in April 2006, Wray pleaded no contest to lesser harassment charges and gave up his law license. He was diagnosed with cancer shortly after and died after refusing treatment.

Two of Wray's victims are now seeking damages of $500,000 each from the state through the Claims Commission. They argue that the 13th district prosecutor's office for which Wray worked disregarded knowledge of Wray's history of sexual misconduct. Lawyers for the state are arguing that the state can't be held responsible for Wray's behavior.

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