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The Insider, Jan. 21



Teacher-board conflict

Marty Nix, president of the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers, said this week that Tim Clark, president of the Pulaski County School Board, had wrongfully omitted a $1,000 campaign contribution from PACT on his 2008 campaign finance report. Clark, who was out of town on family business, said that he'd look into the matter when he returned, and “If there was a mistake, I'll correct it.” He said he'd need to know the number of the alleged PACT check. PACT endorsed Clark in 2008, but he and the teachers have since fallen out. The School Board voted last month to end recognition of PACT as a bargaining agent for the district's teachers.

Nix made other accusations against Clark this week. For one, she said he'd asked her to raise money from teachers for a Clark campaign against state Rep. Ed Garner of Maumelle. Clark said that was “a blatant lie.” Clark said of PACT criticism of School Board members, “They're trying to ruin our lives.” PACT contends that it has a valid contract with the School Board despite the Board's action last month. A hearing is scheduled March 8 in Pulaski Circuit Court.


Smart money?

Republican Tim Griffin, the former Karl Rove political hatchet man who hopes to win the Second Congressional District seat, happily announced that investments tycoon Warren Stephens of Little Rock would lead his fund-raising efforts. Where Stephens' money goes, the money of his minions follows, so it can't hurt Griffin. But how's Stephens as a political picker?

The website provides some information. Stephens and his wife Harriet gave money to a variety of individual candidacies for state office in 2006 and 2008 cycles — candidates for governor in Ohio and Colorado, candidates for attorney general and lieutenant governor in New York and Arkansas candidates for state legislature (Kelly Eichler), attorney general (Paul Suskie) and state treasurer (Mac Campbell). Every single one of them was a loser. Stephens did contribute to one winning candidate — an unopposed candidate for Arkansas Supreme Court, Robert Brown. He was active on the national level, too, with contributions to about a dozen federal candidates in election cycles since 2006, about evenly split on winners and losers. He was also bipartisan. Most of the wins came thanks to Democrats, putative or otherwise — Sens. Joe Lieberman and Mark Pryor and Reps. Marion Berry and Mike Ross. Noted: Stephens has also poured the maximum into Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln's re-election campaign.

Our gal in NYC

We're shameless homers for Ashlie Atkinson, the Pulaski Academy grad and former Arkansas Times intern who's working as an actress in New York. Her current role as Phoebe in the highly praised “As You Like It,” directed by Sam Mendes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, earned her a big personality profile in Playbill, the theater magazine (on-line at The show runs at BAM through March 13.

Who knew that Atkinson  made three music videos for MTV as Chunky Pam, a plus-size, white girl rap star from New Jersey. That she'd had two roles in Law and Order episodes? That her audition song is a bumping and grinding “When You're Good to Mama.” Or that she changed the spelling of her first name in sixth grade from Ashley because she knew too many Ashleys? Her plus-size personality shines throughout the Playbill interview. Check it out.

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