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The Insider June 23

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Masters’ pay The Arkansas Supreme Court’s reappointment of former Justices Bradley Jesson and David Newbern as special masters in the Lakeview case piqued a reader’s curiosity: How much are special masters paid to advise the Court? According to the state administrative office of the courts, Jesson will be paid at a rate of $465.40 a day and Newbern $232.70 a day. The rate for special masters is based on what active judges are paid and is set by statute. The statute also provides that masters who are drawing judicial retirement, as Newbern is, are paid half as much as masters who are not. Jesson was not a justice long enough to draw retirement. For their work as special masters last year, Jesson was paid a total of $22,126 and Newbern $9,978. The total for Jesson apparently includes expenses for travel and lodging. He lives in Fort Smith. Newbern lives in Little Rock. The Supreme Court appropriation includes money to hire special masters and other legal counsel. Hold your water The Memphis district of the Army Corps of Engineers, which has successfully fought litigation to stop its $315 million irrigation project on the White River, has hit another snag. The Arkansas field office of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ecological Services, which handles compliance with the Endangered Species Act, wants the Memphis district to do more to make sure the project won’t harm the ivory-billed woodpecker recently rediscovered in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. The Memphis district’s position has been that the project, which will require 75 acres of upland and bottomland hardwoods and forested swamps to be cleared, was “not likely to adversely affect” the species. If Fish and Wildlife is to concur in that finding, a June 8 letter to Memphis said, the Corps must survey for suitable woodpecker habitat within a one-mile radius of the construction project and temporarily halt work if the bird or evidence of the bird is discovered or reported. It also asks the Corps to create, in association with other state and federal agencies, a long-term monitoring plan to evaluate the effect of water withdrawal on the area’s forested wetlands. No word yet on Memphis response. Dining al fresco There’s a bit of a buzz in the River Market neighborhood about a plan by the owner of Terrace on the Green to set up a food trailer on the private parking lot at Commerce and Clinton Avenue to sell munchies to revelers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Some restaurants in the neighborhood have grumbled quietly about the ease with which mobile peddlers can obtain city permits to compete with them. Scott Harris, owner of Underground Pub, takes a middle-of-the road view. “I don’t want to see them all over the place, but if they have a good business plan and abide by what the city asks, I have no problem with it.” He said he understood the food sales would be aimed at late evening hours and most restaurants stopped food service between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

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