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New quarters

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When Gov. Mike and Ginger Beebe took occupancy of the Governor’s Mansion in January, it meant a change of Little Rock residence for the Searcy couple.

To avoid the commute to the home they retain in Searcy during his previous years in public life, Beebe purchased a unit in the Forest Hills Condominiums in the Heights. He won’t need that anymore, maybe not for eight years if all goes well.

Pulaski County real estate records show Beebe sold Unit 43 in the condos on Jan. 12 for $120,000. Built in 1979, the unit has about 1,062 square feet of space and 1.5 baths.

The condo was purchased by the Southland Management Group, a real estate firm in Van Buren managed, according to secretary of state records, by Aaron B. Littlefield III, Wynorma Littlefield and Aaron B. Littlefield Jr.

The buzz

The rumor mill is buzzing with unconfirmed reports that Dr. Joe Thompson, Arkansas’s chief medical officer and a leader of health initiatives during the Huckabee administration, is under consideration for the job of U.S. surgeon general. This job, as the country’s leading health figure, was once held famously by another Arkansan, Dr. Joycelyn Elders. She was forced to quit after a string of pronouncements on sexual issues drew fire from conservatives. The current surgeon general, Rear Admiral Kenneth Moritsugu, holds the job on an interim basis.

In for a scrap

The U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas will likely be one of the most hotly contested in 2008, when Democrats will be trying to retain their slight majority in the Senate. That’s the assessment of the National Committee for an Effective Congress, a liberal group that nearly always supports Democratic candidates, such as Pryor. The NCEC says:

“The state of Arkansas is generally considered to be Democratic and moderate compared to the rest of the South. Pryor’s approval rating continues to hover around 50 percent, which suggests that this will be a battleground race. A potential Republican candidate is former U.S. Attorney Chuck Banks.

According to the NCEC, the most vulnerable Democratic senator is Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. She won by only a narrow margin against what the NCEC calls “an underfunded GOP opponent” in 2002, and Louisiana’s loss of nearly 250,000 people because of Hurricane Katrina poses a problem for Landrieu. A majority of those who left were Democrats.

Where there’s smoke

Mark Abernathy, the Little Rock restaurateur who owns and operates Loca Luna and Bene Vita, may be preparing to open a new establishment in the Capitol View/Stifft Station neighborhood.

Abernathy is scheduled to address the Feb. 12 meeting of the neighborhood association. According to Kathleen Countryman, the facilitator at the city’s Capitol View/Stifft Station alert center, Abernathy recently acquired a lot at the southeast corner of 7th and Woodrow streets.

Countryman says she heard Abernathy is planning a barbecue restaurant. When asked to comment, Abernathy told the Arkansas Times, “We’re not talking about it yet. ... It’s not a done deal yet, so we’re not talking about it yet.”

Add a name

Add one more name to the list of those considering a run for Little Rock district judge, should David Stewart retire from presiding over the environmental division. That would be Bill Mann, chief deputy city attorney.

Hard driving

Will there be some final word on Mike Huckabee’s destruction of computer hard drives during his last days as governor? We’ve been told that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is looking to several facets of Huckabee’s last days, including the destruction of hard drives and the removal of a variety of items from the governor’s office and Governor’s Mansion, ranging from furniture to fixtures and, at the Mansion, paperwork related to the work of the Mansion administrator. Huckabee has defended all these as proper, but various critics have said that decisions about some of these things were not the governor’s to make.

We put the question to a spokesman for McDaniel: “We are currently researching our obligations and responsibilities in regard to these issues,” Gabe Holmstrom said.

To all followup questions, Holmstrom said, “At this time I cannot comment any further than my previous statement.”

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