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Smart Talk, Oct. 15



LR flight delays


A Brookings Institute study released last week placed the Little Rock National Airport 18th worst in the country for on-time performance of its commercial air carriers. Why? Our flights are mostly short hops to major hubs, sometimes with more time on the ground at either end than in the air. When backups happen at hubs, Little Rock travelers suffer. Some are better than others: We looked up FAA stats on the on-time performance for airlines in Little Rock from August 2008 through August 2009:

The percentage of delayed flights for select airlines: 31.7 for Comair, a Delta feeder; 28.1 for Delta feeder Atlantic Southeast; 26.6 percent for American Eagle; 25.9 for the Continental feeder ExpressJet; 21.9 percent for Pinnacle Airlines, a Delta feeder; 17.1 percent for Southwest, and 15.4 percent for Northwest.


Pushing the public option


Unions pressing for a government health insurance option tried without success last week to sway U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln on the issue, in part by testimony from one of her constituents. David Arellanes, a retired phone company worker from Bryant, went to Washington to tell Lincoln about his wife's experience.

She suffered a severe brain injury in a horseback riding accident. At a Fort Smith hospital, doctors said she needed emergency surgery. Arellanes said his insurance company first refused coverage on the ground he had not reported the accident. He had. Then it denied coverage because the hospital was out-of-network. Mrs. Arellanes recovered, after weeks in a coma, but $200,000 in medical bills cost the family their home and forced them into bankruptcy, according to an account in the New York Times. Arellanes thinks a public option might change private insurance companies.


Court plan rejected


Led by judges who weren't happy about disciplinary findings against Circuit Judge Willard Proctor for improprieties in his probation program, the judges in Pulaski County voted for a new case assignment plan for 2010 that would strip Proctor of all criminal cases. The Arkansas Supreme Court, which has the final say, has now rejected the plan. Judge Vann Smith, the chief judge for Pulaski County, said the Supreme Court objected to the plan because it assigned only civil cases to Proctor and two other judges. The Supreme Court allows court specialization only in criminal, domestic and juvenile cases, not civil lawsuits. A new plan, that would give criminal and civil work to Proctor and domestic and civil work to the two other judges is now being proposed as an alternative. Concerns about Proctor will be moot if the Supreme Court upholds a disciplinary committee's recommendation that he be removed from the bench.

CORRECTION: This item has been corrected from the original version which inaccurately described the new proposal for splitting cases.


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