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Smart Talk, Feb. 11

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How green was my ammo

Munitions-maker American Rhein-Metall Munitions has invited news media to Camden Feb. 17 to tour “the first and only 40mm green ammunition facility in the United States.” “Green Ammo” is supposed to be more environmentally friendly than regular ammunition, though still harmful to those who are struck by it. The manufacture of green ammo involves using other substances in place of lead.

According to Rheinmetall, there's no danger of its ammunition leaching into water systems. Furthermore, the ammunition is intended to “resolve Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) issues. UXO creates economic stagnation for communities impacted by high-risk unsellable land.” Rheinmetall says that its fired projectiles “can be stepped on, picked up, rolled over and excavated with no risk of bodily harm.”

The plant is in Highland Industrial Park, which was the site of a Naval ammunition depot from 1944 through 1957.


The criminal mind

Argenta News, the website (argentanews.com) that covers the historic core of North Little Rock, turned up an interesting crime story last week. Owners of a house on West Seventh came home after work late one night to find thieves had ransacked the house and stolen TVs. About 1 a.m., after police had taken a report and left, a man walked up to the house and offered to sell the homeowners items that had been stolen a few hours earlier. A quick call brought police back, but the man denied any involvement in a crime and, lacking solid evidence, police turned him loose.
All turned out well. The man was arrested the next day pawning items stolen in burglaries police had been trying to solve for months. He was described as a “one-man crime wave.” He was being held in Faulkner County, there being no room in the Pulaski County lockup.


Unusual contribution

A tricky question in campaign-finance law: Can a candidate for one office use his campaign funds to contribute to the campaign of another candidate? The question was raised recently by the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers (PACT) concerning the 2008 campaigns of state Rep. Ed Garner, R-Maumelle, and Tim Clark, chairman of the Pulaski County School Board. PACT is at odds with Clark.

Clark's campaign finance report shows a $100 contribution to his 2008 school board campaign from the Committee to Elect Ed Garner, which was formed to support Garner's legislative candidacy. Clark said he didn't know why Garner's committee contributed to his campaign. Generally, state campaign laws prohibit contributions from one candidate to another, but Garner said he'd been told by the state Ethics Commission that “it is legal for a candidate to attend a ticketed fund-raiser for another candidate if his appearance raises his profile and benefits his own campaign.” A commission spokesman confirmed that interpretation. Garner said he'd been invited to a Clark fund-raiser by one of his own supporters, who encouraged him to support Clark and said that tickets were $50 apiece. Garner and his wife attended, he said. It's rumored that Clark will run against Garner this year. Clark says he hasn't decided on his political plans for 2010. Garner says he's running for re-election himself, and doesn't know Clark's intentions.

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