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Smart Talk Feb. 17

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Calling all Mansion designs The Huckabees and the Governor’s Mansion Association have not asked the public to chime in on what the new residence they plan to build on our Governor’s Mansion grounds should look like. They’re thinking 8,700-square-feet Georgian (though they may scale it back a bit). What about you? Send in your ideas for what the Huckabees’ new digs should look like to Smart Talk, Arkansas Times, P.O. Box 34010, Little Rock, AR 72203, and we’ll correct the first family’s oversight by publishing your design in the newspaper and on-line at www.arktimes.com. You may offer a design for what the new home should look like as a sketch or in words (and we’ll sketch it for you). Three-way race Former state Rep. Jim Lendall of Little Rock (yes, the one with the beard and long hair) is giving serious thought to running for governor in 2006 as a candidate of the Green Party. His aim would be to maintain the party’s ballot position by getting enough 3 percent of the vote. Lendall has been a Democrat, but he says the party has become “Republican lite” on progressive issues. Whatever votes he gets would presumably come from the Democratic side of the ticket. Lendall says, as Ralph Nader did in 2000, that some Green voters are people who otherwise wouldn’t vote at all. Don’t smoke. It pays Gov. Mike Huckabee may be reluctant to prohibit smoking in restaurants, but some employers aren’t reluctant to ban the butts. There’s even a small, but growing movement among private employers to avoid hiring smokers, because of their larger health problems. Such employers include Union Pacific Railroad. It not only bans smoking on its property. It figures it saves nearly $1,000 a year by hiring a non-smoker so it has stopped taking employment applications from admitted smokers in eight states, including Arkansas. “We put so much time into helping employees to lower all these different health risks, it doesn’t make sense to bring them in as smokers and then have to put all that effort into getting them to quit [smoking],” a spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.

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