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The week that was March 21-27

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It was a good week for …

The HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE. It beat the mean and unconstitutional bill to prevent gay people from adopting or fostering children, including their own blood kin.

It was a bad week for …

The JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. More proof emerged that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been repeatedly untruthful about the removal of a group of U.S. attorneys, including the case that started it all — the firing of Bud Cummins to replace him with Karl Rove pet Tim Griffin.

The state SENATE. Led by Sen. Bobby Glover, it threw up a roadblock to House Speaker Benny Petrus’ bill to require more lobbyist disclosure of spending on legislators and to impose a two-year-waiting period before former legislators can become a lobbyist.

DRINKERS. The legislature is hot to increase the taxes on retail liquor and wine and beer, all already sky-high. If it really needs new revenue: 1) why cut the tax on business electric rates or 2) why not raise the severance tax on natural gas, paid mostly by people out of state and about the lowest such severance tax in the country?

TIM GRIFFIN. He continues to act as if he’ll hold the U.S. attorney post until George W. Bush leaves office, rather than do the class thing and resign. He also continued to refuse to answer questions about reports that he participated in efforts to depress the black vote in Florida in presidential elections.

STAN HEATH. As we predicted, he was fired as Razorback men’s basketball coach. He’ll get $900,000 in traveling money. At press time, Billy Gillispie of Texas A&M was the leading contender to replace him.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Walton-financed lobbying appears likely to succeed in allowing more charter schools to be packed into urban areas such as Little Rock, whether they fill an unmet need or not. Most likely, they’ll skim the cream of students from public schools and thus be able to claim “success” with a self-selected group of motivated parents and students, while finding plenty of ways to avoid working with the tough cases.

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