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Leaner, but still mean

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Although the Oxford American magazine is $30,000 poorer after it was discovered recently that Renae Maxwell, a former office manager, had apparently been forging checks and taking money from the magazine for five months, editor Marc Smirnoff does not expect there to be any change to the publishing schedule. A home issue will come out soon, followed by an expanded anniversary music issue. “We're a small, poor non-profit, but we're not going to be defined by common, low-class treachery,” Smirnoff said. “Maxwell won round one, but the game ain't over.”

Judicial race

North Little Rock lawyer Cecily Patterson Skarda, 41, says she'll run against incumbent Circuit Judge Mary McGowan. “That particular court needs a change,” Skarda said. “It's important that attorneys and participants are treated with respect and dignity in the courtroom. It's also important that the court give timely rulings.”

Not-so-public school

How ironic is this: While the foot soldiers at the Democrat-Gazette are pushing for access to Little Rock School Board e-mails under the Freedom of Information Act (they've been irked about information the Arkansas Times has received that has not gone as speedily to the big paper), the “public” e-STEM charter schools backed by publisher Walter Hussman and housed in his building at Third and Louisiana are ducking FOI laws by hiding behind a private, non-profit “charter management organization” that's been handling all aspects of the schools' set-up, including extensive advertising in the D-G — ads, by the way, that take pains to point out that the e-STEM schools are public.

Joe Mittiga, chief operating officer of the management organization, said the schools have yet to receive any public money, and that neither the schools nor the board of directors is officially up and running yet — despite the fact that a principal has been hired, teachers are being actively recruited, and at least two public meetings have been held to get information out to parents — and therefore there is no public entity to be subject to FOI laws.

The state has spent public money reviewing and approving the e-STEM charter school application, but has not made a start-up grant to the school yet.

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