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The Insider Feb. 24

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The hand of Huck Though Governor Huckabee has declined to take a public position on SB 230, opponents of the bill say that he solicited a letter favorable to the bill from a Health Department official, angering Health Department employees in the process. The bill would make it harder for Central Arkansas Water, a government utility, to protect Lake Maumelle from pollution by private developers. Charles McGrew, director of shared services at the Health Department, wrote a letter dated Feb. 7 to Sen. Bob Johnson, D-Bigelow, chief sponsor of SB 230, saying that the bill would “adequately protect public water supplies.” The letter seemed to contradict in part a letter McGrew had written CAW in November. Opponents say Huckabee asked for the second letter. Huckabee would not respond to the allegation. McGrew did not return telephone calls. Bill may be broadened SB 230 was introduced at the behest of Deltic Timber Corp., which wants to build a subdivision on Lake Maumelle. As written, it apparently would not affect a condemnation lawsuit filed earlier by CAW against Rick Ferguson, another developer. That could change, according to a lawyer for Ferguson. The case is awaiting a decision by Pulaski Circuit Judge Willard Proctor Jr. Steven W. Quattlebaum recently wrote the judge: “It is my understanding that there may be an amendment that would make the bill applicable to any case in any condemnation action in which title has not yet transferred. … The Court may want to consider withholding any ruling until there is some resolution regarding this proposed legislation.” War is heck Thanks to the Federal Communications Commission and decisions by the Public Broadcasting System and AETN, viewers tuning in to the PBS news program “Frontline” Tuesday night got the Shirley Temple version of war. Over the objections of “Frontline” journalists and producers, PBS offered its member stations only the bowdlerized version of “A Company of Soldiers,” stripped of its profanity. The documentary follows grunts with the 8th Cavalry Regiment during some of the heaviest fighting of the campaign to secure Fallujah in November 2004. At least one soldier was killed during the filming. Frontline supplied PBS with two tapes, one in which the soldiers speak like soldiers, the other “sanitized” for stations where “local sensitivity” has been an issue. “Frontline” producers wrote PBS that they “came to believe that some of that language was an integral part of our journalistic mission: to give viewers a realistic portrait of our soldiers at war.” “Frontline” offered the intact version to stations brave enough to air it. AETN was not one of them. AETN publicist Tiffany Velker said that the station’s decision “had everything to do with the FCC, and all the restrictions that have been placed since last year’s Super Bowl.”

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