Social Security move
The Social Security office, now located at 700 W. Capitol, in the Federal Building, will move to West Little Rock by the end of next year, a change that raises questions about access.
The General Services Administration has published on its website a “presolicitation notice” for interested contractors on a two-story, 46,874-square-foot “build to suit” government facility at the intersection of Executive Center Drive and Bowman Road, south of Kanis Road. The GSA wants the building ready for occupancy by Dec. 1, 2010.
Wes Davis, the spokesman for the SSA regional office in Dallas, said the new location was chosen for its central location and its proximity to Little Rock's “growth area.” Unlike the Federal Building, the new site will have parking, and Davis said most of the people who visit SSA offices drive. He did not know what would happen to the Federal Building after SSA moves out.
Davis said he believes the agency will work with the city to make sure bus access is made available. Central Arkansas Transit's closest route is one that connects downtown and the Arkansas Heart Hospital on Shackleford.
Kane Webb, columnist and writer for the editorial department of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, will be departing the newspaper July 22 to become a teacher at Catholic High School for Boys, his alma mater. Steve Straessle, Catholic's principal, said Webb was hired as an English teacher to teach American literature, but likely will do some additional work, such as helping with a journalism course and perhaps teaching a music history course. Straessle said he hoped Webb would be able to continue to write for publication in addition to his teaching.
In announcing Webb's departure in an e-mail, editorial director Paul Greenberg said Sarah Prickett, who has been a copy editor for editorial pages, will take over Webb's role as editor of the Sunday Perspective section.
Out at eStem
Joe Mittiga, the chief operating officer for eStem Public Charter Schools Inc., is no longer employed there and his position will not be filled, office manager Mary Cathey said this week. Mark Milhollen, the chief financial officer, will take over his duties, she said. She said only Milhollen could discuss Mittiga's leaving, but he wasn't in the office.
Mittiga, who like Milhollen worked in the Little Rock School District before the eStem charters were created, was paid $100,488 when he was hired.
The office — a non-profit funded by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation and administrative fees charged to the three eStem charter schools — is less than open to inquiries. The Times has made several attempts to get information from Dr. Roy Brooks — the former LRSD superintendent who heads the non-profit — and Milhollen, without success. EStem is, in theory, a public school.
There have been rumors at the courthouse that Circuit Judge Willard Proctor might try to run for the bench again should the Supreme Court uphold an ethics panel's recommendation that he be removed from the bench for various ethical miscues, most associated with operation of the Cycle Breakers probation program he started.
Proctor's employees — who risked jobs to testify in the case — need not fear his return by that means. If he's removed, it will occur under a statute that says “Any judge removed from office pursuant to this subchapter cannot be appointed or elected thereafter to serve as a judge.”
No gambling at Wal-Mart
State Lottery Director Ernie Passailaigue has talked of using electronic ticket machines as a way to sell lottery tickets in big box retailers such as Wal-Mart without creating a headache at already busy checkout lines. He apparently can forget about Wal-Mart. A spokesman for Wal-Mart told KUAR this week, “We have no plans to sell lottery tickets in our stores.”
The Arkansas Blog broke the news last week that the rent house in which KATV's Anne Pressly was fatally attacked in October had been torn down to make way for construction of a new house. Neighbors welcomed the removal of the symbol of the tragedy. See our editorial page for a photo of the ceremony that preceded the demolition.
Real estate tax stamps indicate that Michael and Charlotte Whitt bought the 1,200-square-foot cottage from Dick and Debra Flowers for about $245,000. The Flowers had bought the house in 1999 for $124,000. The Whitts plan a 2,500-square foot bungalow on the property, with a face of brick and wooden siding. It will occupy a 7,000-square foot lot on Club Road, one of the priciest neighborhoods in the city.
Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has hired Maurice Taggart, 29, of Pine Bluff, as director of community outreach. A spokesman said Taggart fills a fourth staff position in the office that had been vacant. Taggart is black, but his efforts will be targeted toward “all demographics,” Halter spokesman Garry Hoffmann said. Some other politicos had wondered if Halter was taking a page from the book of some other Arkansas statewide politicians in hiring staff devoted to that important Democratic voter constituency. Despite continued speculation that the lieutenant governor might have higher aims in mind, Hoffmann said Halter continues to gear up for a re-election campaign next year.