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The incredible shrinking Huckabee

Plus: COPS!

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WEINDRUCH
  • WEINDRUCH

In an exhaustively researched article posted at http://plutarch01.wordpress.com, an anonymous blogger makes what seems to be a very solid circumstantial case for the fact that Huckabee's weight loss was more medical than miracle. It's so well researched, in fact, that it's easy to start thinking it might be an internal document created for a rival campaign. Included — among many, many other things — are graphs and charts showing the sky-high odds against Huckabee's 100-plus-pounds-in-one-year weight loss (and the even more unlikely idea that he's been able to keep it off long-term), a discussion of the mysterious extended vacation the then-governor took just before the pounds started to melt off, and before-and-after photos which seem to show that Huckabee exhibits the tell-tale muscle-wasting, sallow complexion and hair loss than can be caused by vitamin deficiency in the wake of gastric intervention.

By all means, take everything you read on the Internet with a grain of salt as big as the Ritz. But for those of us who have long suspected something fishy with Huck's incredible shrinking man act, this is definitely worth a read.

The longer I work at this job, the more I think that there are a lot of cops who just don't like reporters very much.

On the evening of Dec. 11, Bill Lawson, a 59-year-old reporter with the Maumelle Monitor, was walking up a public street on his way to cover a house fire when he was stopped by Arkansas State Trooper Tom Weindruch. After barring Lawson from the scene, Trooper Weindruch then arrested the reporter when — still trying to cover the story for his newspaper — Lawson snapped a picture of the fire from 50 yards away. Lawson was held in cuffs for 30 minutes before being issued a citation charging him with “obstructing governmental operations,” a class C misdemeanor. Last week, cooler heads at the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney's office won out and the charges against Lawson were dropped. Just before, the State Police had announced that Trooper Weindruch has been removed from regular patrol and will be put on office duty during the internal affairs investigation. (I find no joy in reporting that. Though maybe this outcome will make the next cop think twice before trampling a reporter's First Amendment rights, the end result — that a police officer is off the streets — doesn't do any of us any good.

Bill Sadler is the spokesperson for the Arkansas State Police. He said he couldn't comment directly on the incident between Weindruch and Lawson, due to an ongoing internal review being conducted by the ASP. Sadler said that every new class of trooper recruits goes through a course on dealing with the media, taught by Sadler himself. In addition to discussing the Freedom of Information Act with students, Sadler said the class includes quite a bit of role playing.

“We do interviews in which I play a reporter,” he said. “They interact with me, [and] we talk about how they may handle one situation versus another. Some of the situations, the role playing would be more representative of a deadly scene. … Some of the role playing just has to do with a fender bender on the side of a two-lane road.”

Sadler said he tries to emphasize that troopers should be courteous, cooperative and forthcoming with at least the basic information when dealing with reporters.

“Maybe you can't tell them who has perished in a traffic crash,” he said, “but you can at least say this vehicle was southbound and this vehicle was northbound and there was a collision at this point in the highway, and the call time was 9:30.”

Beyond giving information on the course, Sadler said the pending investigation creates a line he can't cross in terms of what he can say, up to and including a reluctance to say what “obstruction of governmental operations” might mean to rank-and-file troopers. “I want to be cautious,” he said, “because answering the question even hypothetically might — written in the context of this particular incident — someone might infer that what I'm saying is the way it should have been handled.

Call me, sweetheart

david@arktimes.com

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