U.S. Rep. John Boozman is continuing to take paid leave from his duties as a public servant but plans to start working again next year. You may remember that before the general election last month, Boozman stopped helping constituents get federal money for local projects, following the Republican Party line against "earmarks." Boozman suggested that Arkansans seeking his help should turn instead to other members of the Arkansas delegation, including Sen. Blanche Lincoln, whom Boozman went on to defeat in the general election. The senator-elect now finds that the problems of closing one office and opening another are too great to allow time for constituents in December. Efforts to contact Boozman's Washington office produced this response:
"Please pardon our delayed response to your questions as we move from the U.S. House of Representatives to the U.S. Senate. ... Unfortunately, my office will not be able to assist with specific government agency problems during the month of December. If you have an emergency involving a federal agency, you may want to contact another Arkansas congressional or Senate office for more immediate help. Once the new office is up and running we look forward to assisting with your concerns. Thank you for your patience. — John Boozman"
Appointments to watch
The Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission has always been a coveted appointment. It includes some travel (an annual industry conference in Hawaii is often attended by commissioners, though not this year) as well as a choice airport parking spot. Three of the seats are open next year. The five-year terms of Thomas Schueck, Jimmy Moses and Chairman Bob East expire at the end of December.
Mayor Mark Stodola will make new appointments to five-year terms, subject to City Board confirmation. Will current commissioners be reappointed? Will the mayor appoint new faces? Public scrutiny will be high in light of the attention given to airport financial practices by Arkansas Times reporting. Most of it centered on Airport Director Ron Mathieu's virtually unchecked spending — on lavish travel, personal expenses and even his shirts — but the commissioners are responsible for oversight. Some of the spending was on or by commissioners themselves, including tickets to dinners honoring Schueck and other commissioners and a $9,000 private plane/limo trip to Washington by East and Mathieu (since largely reimbursed by East). Applications for the seats were due by Nov. 19.
Moses is not seeking reappointment. Schueck and East are. Other applicants for the seats: Henri' Atkins, Wesley Clark, Walter Ederle, Max Livingston, Kenyon Lowe Sr. and Heartsill Ragon III.
Animal abuser hired at zoo —briefly
n Timothy King, who was convicted along with his wife on a combined 93 counts of animal cruelty in February 2009 for squalid conditions at a Saline County puppy mill, was recently hired through a temp agency by the Little Rock Zoo. King worked under the supervision of his father, a zoo employee. When the Times inquired, Susan Altrui, a spokesperson for the Little Rock Zoo, said they were unaware of his previous conviction and provided the following statement.
"The Little Rock Zoo does not condone cruelty to animals in any way. Timothy King is not a full-time or part-time employee of the Zoo but is a worker for Command Center: Command Labor. The Little Rock Zoo often uses workers from the Command Center to assist with maintenance and construction projects. Little Rock Zoo Director Mike Blakely said he was not aware that Timothy King was convicted of animal cruelty and is handling the matter appropriately."
When asked if King would be allowed to work at the zoo in the future, Altrui replied, "The Little Rock Zoo will not allow any employee or Command Labor worker convicted of animal abuse to work at the Zoo."
A Times cover story last January detailed some of the conditions of dogs packed into a small windowless shed. One of the dogs (pictured here), lost both eyes due to infection, but was adopted by a good home.