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Smart talk, Aug. 14


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Watering the roots

 A celebration is set this weekend for two venerable non-profits that labor to raise the voices of average citizens. The Arkansas Public Policy Panel, which grew out of the school desegregation struggle and was originally known as the Panel of American Women, will celebrate its 45th anniversary and the Arkansas Citizens First Congress, a spinoff that is a community-based policy group, will celebrate a decade of work.

Together, they'll have an awards dinner at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Ferndale 4-H Center.  Former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers will speak.

You may not know the names well, but these groups work hard at the legislature, sometimes even successfully. They toiled in the effort to create a state Agriculture Department and the commission on global warming. They worked for better pre-school education and an increase in the minimum wage.

Honorees this year represent activism ranging from promotion of home-grown produce to stream preservation, civil rights for the Latino community and activism in the cause of peace. For more information, write


Bad reception?

 Let it be known: The UCA Student Center ballroom is available for your wedding reception. As per university policy, use of the space is free of charge as long as you provide food for the party. We inquired because of complaints that Dr. Michael Stanton, a member of the University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees, had enjoyed a free wedding reception there for his son Zack.

True, but there's an asterisk. The room was free. Aramark, which provides food service there, originally billed the families $2,700 for catering. But, in the end, Aramark forgave the entire bill. According to documents provided by the university, a table holding the punch bowl collapsed. The mother of the bride, who handled the arrangements, also complained about other poor oversight. As a result, Aramark comped the event.


The booze patrol

 Stephens Media last week reported something that was news to us. With a federal grant of $300,000 the state Alcoholic Beverage Control hires teen-agers for $10 an hour to go to licensed alcohol sellers to see if they can buy booze underage. Enforcement follows for those who fail to check ID. The practice came to light when one of the underage operatives allegedly tried to use his position to shake down some free grub from a Maumelle restaurant, which blew the whistle. An ABC spokesman was quoted in the coverage as saying “teens are carefully screened and normally are children of law enforcement officers or are well-known to ABC agents.”

In other words, if you know the right people, you, too, might be able to find a well-paid and hard-to-find $10-an-hour job open not just to teens, but only to teens. How about posting those jobs next time, ABC?


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