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Car wars

If you drove by War Memorial Stadium last week, you know it was time for the semi-annual Car Wars, when dealers fill the parking lot with new cars for a mass sales event. The event doesn't make some employees of nearby state institutions happy.

Wrote one unhappy Health Department worker to other members of the Arkansas State Employees Association, “this greed-driven, traffic-accident-causing, pulmonary-distressful, heat-stroke-waiting-to-happen event held on a sultry Arkansas August Ozone alert day displaces and puts at risk thousands of workers who need places to park so they may provide essential services to the citizens of the entire State of Arkansas.”

Officially, the Health Department said it's happy to work around the three days of lost parking twice a year. Additional shuttle bus stops were set up in satellite parking lots, such as by Ray Winder Field, to accommodate its employees and other state workers who rely on the War Memorial lot.The event is a small boon to War Memorial Stadium, which gets $8,000 from each rental for Car Wars. The stadium also gets $50,000 from the Health Department, $50,000 from UAMS and $10,000 from the Correction Department for use of its lot year-round.

Situation wanted

It's a new day for Brenda Turner, who made around $100,000 a year as Gov. Mike Huckabee's chief of staff (and whose husband, Terry, enjoyed a job as a Huckabee appointee to the Workers Compensation Commission). She left Huckabee's presidential campaign after a brief period of service and is now looking for work, though she said in a recent letter that she remains “extremely supportive” of him.

We received a copy of the letter. She seems to be relying on a mailing list built during the Huckabee gubernatorial era. We received a copy from a campaign contributor and political appointee.

“During the past 10 years,” she wrote, “you played a tremendous part in the success of Governor Huckabee's administration. … I am writing to express my interest and gain your assistance in pursuing employment opportunities in the private sector in Arkansas. A resume that moves from journalism to owner of a small business [a flower shop in Texarkana] to government executive shows my versatility as an employee.”

Attributes? “… loyal, hard working, a quick study and very willing to serve behind the scenes.” Tough, too, we hear. Her number is in the phone book if you have something.

Returning to the scene

TV news was in its childhood during the 1957 Little Rock school crisis, but most believe the TV images beamed around the world were a coming-of-age moment for TV journalism. Little Rock and subsequent civil rights milestones had much greater impact thanks to TV.

A number of reporters who became big names in TV were on the scene in Little Rock. Many, such as John Chancellor, have died. But at least one famous name from that crew will be returning to Little Rock for anniversary events. That's Sander Vanocur, now 79, a long-time NBC correspondent who spent a year in Little Rock covering school events and who became a good friend of Arkansas Gazette editor Harry Ashmore during that time because he worked out of the Gazette building. He's not scheduled at any public events at the moment, but he'll likely have a sitdown with local journalists during his time here.


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