IT WAS A GOOD WEEK FOR …
CORPORATE WELFARE. Tax increment finance legislation — which allows capture of school taxes for private developments — seems headed to passage. Expectant beneficiaries include a sporting goods store, a mall and a movie theater in already prosperous cities. How about a newspaper TIF?
PORK. Completion of the overlong legislative session finally was permitted by payment of a sufficient pork tribute to The Brotherhood, a group of senators led by Bob Johnson and Gil Baker. Schools? These greedheads don’t need no stinkin’ schools. They need street repairs in Bigelow and money for the county fair.
IT WAS A BAD WEEK FOR …
PUBLIC EDUCATION. The legislature ground to a close with only tiny advancements on its first actions to comply with the Lake View ruling.
OUTDOOR DRINKING. Gov. Mike Huckabee vetoed the bill to allow open-air alcohol consumption in designated “entertainment districts.” It was his first veto and widely viewed as a payback to the religious lobby he’d spurned in allowing a bill expanding gambling to become law. An override campaign was in the works at press time.
WAL-MART. The very week the big retailer threw a PR event for national reporters in Bentonville, the Wall Street Journal unleashed a story suggesting ousted exec Thomas Coughlin had used company expense money for fancy boots, a dog pen and hunting trips, among other excesses.
ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY AT MOUNTAIN HOME. It canceled a planned speech by David Corn of The Nation. Somebody apparently discovered Corn’s a liberal, unacceptable in Republicanland. University officials refused numerous opportunities to explain themselves.
The CLINTON FOUNDATION. Turns out volunteers in Little Rock had to sign an incredibly detailed two-page nondisclosure agreement and a damage waiver, a muzzle unheard of at other presidential libraries or the Clinton New York office. Sounds like a lawyer run amok.