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Smart Talk, Aug. 6



Sex and the surgeon general


Essence magazine interviewed Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the Arkansas physician who was President Bill Clinton's surgeon general until controversial remarks about masturbation and other topics brought about her dismissal. She offered advice to President Obama's surgeon general nominee, Dr. Regina Benjamin, another black woman with a strong background in public health. For one thing, she said others could do some of the speaking for the surgeon general on certain topics. That doesn't mean she regrets her remarks on masturbation.

“No. That's probably one of the best things I did for this country. I allowed us to talk about sexuality more openly and honestly. We are sexual beings, from birth to death, and we never feel that we can talk about sexual health. You can't be a healthy, well-adjusted human being without a healthy sexuality.”



High-rent district


Downtown backers are still grumbling about the Social Security Administration's plans to move out of its office on Capitol Avenue downtown to a new building in western Little Rock at a site not currently on a bus line. They are particularly irked that the government is prepared to commit to an unheard-of 20-year lease for space. The prediction is that new construction in West Little Rock (the preferred site is at Bowman Road and Executive Center Drive) will cost some $25 a square foot, a price that could be cut in half in existing office space downtown. Or so downtown developers say.  Perhaps the congressional delegation's review of the proposal will include some price comparisons.


Limits of lottery security


Here's a quirk discovered recently amid the hubbub over state lottery commission salaries, particularly the $115,000 paid to hire former Grant County Sheriff Lance Huey as security director. The lottery law doesn't create police powers for lottery security employees. So the minute he resigned as sheriff, he was no longer a certified law officer. As an immediate practical matter, this meant Huey couldn't look further than any ordinary citizen at records of people who get State Police background checks to be lottery retailers.  He only can see a report that says whether an applicant has a history of criminal convictions. He also won't have the arrest and other powers of law officers should reports develop of illegal actions in lottery activities.

Huey said that shouldn't be a problem. “I don't see a need for police powers. It doesn't mean I can't call for help from local law enforcement agencies.” As a sheriff, he said, he often sent officers on a standby basis when civil actions were underway. He said potential issues in lottery operation should be no different.



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