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The Insider May 26

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Affirmative action Wal-Mart, which faces a class action lawsuit alleging job discrimination against women, is working to put a good foot forward in its legal department. A May memo issued by the legal department, headed by Tom Mars, the former State Police director, urges law firms that represent Wal-Mart to put more “women attorneys and attorneys of color” to work and managing the firms’ Wal-Mart relationship. Said the memo: “During the next 45 days, we will be reviewing our relationships with our top 100 law firms (determined by annual billings). As part of the review process, we will ask these law firms to submit a slate (no less than three and no more than five) of potential attorneys who will be responsible for managing the relationship with Wal-Mart and directing the Wal-Mart work assignments within the firm. Among the attorneys proposed, we will expect to see at least one attorney of color and at least one female attorney.” A Wal-Mart spokesman said the directive had no relationship to the discrimination suit, but was simply a reflection of the company’s commitment to diversity. The legal department’s diversity? It’s about 26 percent minority and 43 percent female with three female division chiefs and two minority division chiefs among the nine division leaders. Associates only Now the word from our Northwest Arkansas source is that the June 2 Jimmy Buffett concert at Razorback Stadium to entertain those attending the Wal-Mart stockholders’ meeting will be open only to stockholders and associates. UA concerns about crowd control are being blamed for the change from a free public concert. The university harbors no similar concerns, apparently, about the high-testosterone Promise Keepers revival meeting that Frank Broyles invited to the Hogs’ playpen. Nor, for that matter, the sometimes drunken hordes that turn out for football games. Former Arkie Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been working hard to stop a shift of Air Force jobs to Little Rock Air Force Base. She wants to preserve jobs at the Niagara Air Reserve Base near Buffalo that otherwise would move to LRAFB under recent Pentagon recommendations to consolidate many cargo units there. The Buffalo newspaper quotes her as saying: “The Little Rock base is a fine base; I don’t want to say anything negative about that here. But to put all our eggs in one basket makes no sense.” Said the newspaper: Clinton and others fighting to save the Niagara base stressed that Little Rock is far more likely to experience tornados than Niagara. Arkansas is in tornado alley. But the Weather Service can find only one confirmed touchdown of a tornado at LRAFB in 55 years. A small one damaged some base housing June 4, 1998. LRAFB, by the way, did not have 109 inches of snow last winter, as Niagara did.

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