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The Insider Sept. 8

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Quotable We want to memorialize Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson’s shining moment on national TV last week. Hutchinson was a guest Wednesday night, Aug. 31, on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” with Chris Matthews. He was presented as an expert on disaster response by virtue of his former position as deputy secretary, No. 2 man, in the Homeland Security Department. By Wednesday night, the flood waters had risen in New Orleans. Thousands were trapped and many were dying. In responding to a question about the difficulties, Hutchinson acknowledged them, but added: “But let me say, though, that I think the department has done an extraordinary job of coordinating the response capability.” We hate to think what an average job could have entailed. Plaque editing Seen the new monument to the Little Rock Nine on the Capitol grounds? Then perhaps you noticed the monument maker’s attention wandered a time or two. Nine small bronze plaques are spaced around the base of the sculpture, each with a quote from one of the Nine or some other historic personage. One quotes Mahatma Gandhi, misspelled (“Ghandi”). Another quotes Jefferson Thomas describing how God “blesed” him. Also, the monument currently lacks a central plaque fully identifying the Nine and their significance. Deputy Secretary of State Cathy Bradshaw said the monument was finished hurriedly, so that its unveiling could coincide with that of a new postage stamp honoring the Nine. That’s probably what’s behind the typos, she said. (She already knew about Gandhi’s name, but not about “blesed.”) The plaques will be fixed, she said. As for something permanent to identify the larger monument itself, it’s coming soon. In? Whispers grow louder that former state Sen. Bill Walker is angling for a run for Little Rock mayor in 2006, to be announced after Jim Dailey makes the expected announcement that he won’t be running again. Other loose talk: 1) Decrease in speculation that City Director Dean Kumpuris will make the race; 2) increase in speculation that City Director Barbara Graves will announce sooner rather than later. All subject to change, of course. Out? We hear that state Rep. Jay Martin of North Little Rock will not run for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor after all. He wouldn’t return our calls. (NOTE: This item appeared in the print edition. Since going to press, Martin called us back and said he most definitely IS running.) Follow the money Former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush joined together at the request of President George W. Bush to promote the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, to aid victims of the hurricane. And where will that money go? A statement on the fund’s website (www.bushclintonkatrinafund.org) reads: “This fund will serve as an umbrella organization for the three special funds established by governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi and will focus on collecting donations to assist in the long-term recovery plan for the states affected by this terrible tragedy.” That doesn’t exactly sound like the fund will benefit the immediate relief efforts underway to feed, clothe and house people displaced by the storm.

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