This month's issue of the glossy society magazine Soiree features a spread on “Power Women” — profiles and portraits of 26 prominent women.
We took a look after a tipster — a powerful woman herself — told us that a fee was required for inclusion in the article, which is not identified as an advertising supplement.
A round of calls indicated our tip was sound, though the precise details have been hard to pin down. Several women featured didn't want to talk about it. One said there'd been a photographer's charge for the photo used with her profile.
Cynthia L. Conger, a Little Rock CPA whose photo and profile appears in the piece, said that representatives from Soiree told her that the article would appear as advertorial. “There was a fee involved,” Conger said, “but it was less than a full-page ad would have been, so I felt like it was a very good opportunity.” Conger said she couldn't recall how much she paid to be included.
We also hit taxpayers' paydirt. The city of Little Rock picked up the tab for Vice Mayor Stacy Hurst's profile, to the tune of $1,700, an invoice provided by the city's public relations manager, Scott Carter, showed. Hurst declined to answer questions about the Soiree appearance.
Becki Moore, the publisher and editor of Soiree, referred all questions to Jeff Hankins, the president of Soiree's parent, the Arkansas Business Publishing Group. Hankins said that Moore had selected the women included in the article, and that the article in question was “a promotional feature.” Asked to clarify and whether that meant women paid to be included, Hankins would not comment further.
The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the state's largest institution of higher learning, is also the most top-heavy with administrators, according to a legislative study.
The state Bureau of Legislative Research compiled a 2007 ratio of student semester credit hours to administrative, executive and other (non-faculty) staff at each of the state colleges and universities. UAF had the fewest student credit hours per administrator/executive with 69. Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock had the most credit hours per administrator, with 453. The only institutions with fewer than 100 hours of student credit per administrator were UAF, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (93) and Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas (95). CCCUA is at DeQueen.
The results were much the same for a 2007 ratio of faculty and assistants to administrative, executive and other staff at each institution. Pulaski Technical College had the highest ratio of faculty to non-faculty staff at 1.37. CCCUA had the lowest at .35. The average for four-year institutions was .72. The average for two-year institutions was .79. UAPB had the second lowest ratio of faculty to administrators with .42. UAF was third lowest at .43.
Co-op director suspended
The director of the Southeast Arkansas Educational Services Cooperative in Monticello, Bruce Terry, was suspended with pay last week by the coop's board for unspecified reasons.
The action came after a grievance hearing against Terry was started, but, at the request of the attorney for the person who filed the grievance, continued until a later date. The attorney who represented Terry at that hearing, John Frank Gibson, said it was “natural to assume” that the hearing and the suspension were related, but that he wouldn't comment on it. Nor would he discuss the nature of the grievance, although he did defend Terry:
“Because of all the speculation out there about what's going on, all I can say is he's not guilty of any wrongdoing,” Gibson said. “Whatever anybody might want to think is happening didn't happen. But I can't speculate on what they're thinking.”
The coop provides services such as teacher training and special education services to rural school districts in southeast Arkansas. Terry has been its director since 1998.
Interim director Karen Eoff referred all questions to the coop's lawyer, Paul Keith. Keith said he wasn't in the executive session where board members discussed whether to suspend Terry, and couldn't confirm what led to the suspension.
A word of caution to those looking to book Little Rock's newly refurbished Junction Bridge for weddings or birthdays: uninvited bikers might crash your party.
Billie Ann Myers, chair of the Pulaski County Bridge Facilities Board, said that under current regulations, the county can only close the Junction Bridge to pedestrian and bicycle traffic two times a year, during Riverfest and the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. That means, she said, that even if you book the bridge for a party under new rules currently being developed, three feet of the span will have to be roped off to allow traffic to pass. Even so, that still allows for a pretty big dance floor — 14 by roughly 400 feet.
Myers said that the Bridge Facilities Board began receiving calls from those looking to reserve the bridge soon after it reopened in May. In response, the board is holding meetings to help set rules and fees for parties on the span. Myers said that in order to determine what to charge for rental, they have been looking both at local outdoor spaces available for parties, and at other mixed-use pedestrian bridges around the country.
Huckabee: prom queen?
The Wonkette blog recently explained the secret of Mike Huckabee's reasonably successful run for president on a shoestring budget. It was the metaphor:
“Millions of extended metaphors about key lime pie and yard work and skinning ducks, or other archetypal aspects of the Average American's daily life. And now that he wants to be John McCain's vice president, he has a new metaphor to explain the situation: he wants the football captain to ask him to prom, mostly because he wants to wear a pretty dress. …
“Huckabee suggested questions about whether he might join McCain on the ticket were premature. ‘You can't accept an invitation to the prom until the football captain asks you. So I'm not going to go out and buy the outfit just yet,' said Huckabee, according to AFP.”
Observed Wonkette: “Shit, he's pregnant.”