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The week that was Jan. 18-24

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IT WAS A GOOD WEEK FOR …

POLITICS. Bill Halter got in the Democratic primary race for governor and instantly he and Attorney General Mike Beebe, the other announced Democrat, actually began discussing issues.

RAIN. It was no total fix for the parched reservoirs and damaged vegetation, but a long, slow, thorough rain last Sunday was good for our parched souls.

WORKING FOLKS. An amendment to raise the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour was certified for the ballot. The Democratic gubernatorial candidates both endorsed it. Asa!? Nope.

CASHING IN. James Lee Witt, the country boy who ran FEMA like a pro under President Clinton and then established a disaster consulting firm, struck a deal to sell his company for $6 million in cash and stock now and as much as $15 million more later, depending on the company’s performance.

EMPTY TALK. HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt flew into Arkansas on behalf of the Republican governor, to assure us that the state will be reimbursed for covering the Bush administration’s screwed-up Medicare drug program. Two days later, a Huckabee administration official wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the state might have to sue insurance companies to get its money back.


IT WAS A BAD WEEK FOR …

ARKANSAS’S CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS. They claim to back lobby reform, but they don’t want to give up free travel or travel to raise money. The only way to remove the stench is to take only travel that deserves reimbursement by their employer – taxpayers.

HERSCHEL CLEVELAND. The former legislator and lawyer had to apologize to fellow state Ethics Commission members for breaking the state ethics law. He made prohibited contributions to Democratic candidates. The Republican Party said he should resign. But even the Republican chair of the commission stood up for Cleveland.

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