It was a good week for ...
A COLLEGE EDUCATION. Enrollment in Arkansas colleges and universities jumped 5 percent this fall. Not as big as the 6.2 percent jump recorded last year, but a continuation of a positive trend that some think was helped by new lottery scholarship money.
ERNIE PASSAILAIGUE. The state lottery chief rescinded (admittedly under immense pressure) all comp time he'd granted himself and other highly paid lottery employees for extra hours worked in the lottery startup. He'd enraged just about everybody by passing out lavish time off to people with six-figure salaries, a practice followed nowhere else in state government.
It was a bad week for ...
PULASKI ASSESSOR JANET TROUTMAN WARD. The Democrat-Gazette's Charlie Frago discovered that she had exempted nine local preachers for the real property tax on their private homes (not church-owned). She thinks she can, though she can cite no statute in support of her position. What other favors is she handing out? Lawsuit anyone?
BISHOP STEVEN ARNOLD. He abruptly resigned as senior pastor of 7,000-member St. Mark Baptist Church, the state's largest African-American congregation, citing indiscretions. His departure called into question the church's ambitious expansion plans on the reviving 12th Street corridor.
U.S. REP. JOHN BOOZMAN. He got page one front-page coverage for a feel-good story: His effort to honor a longtime postmaster by naming the Hartman postoffice after the late Bucky Walters. Oops. It had to be belatedly announced that Boozman's legislation is as dead as Walters. Postal investigators found hundreds of pieces of undelivered mail in his home, some of it opened.
AARON JONES. The Saline County lawyer and developer was ordered directly to jail while he appeals his conviction for setting fire to his Chenal Valley mansion to collect insurance proceeds. His family offered a reward afterward for information leading to arrest of the "real" criminal.
The STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY. It filed a promised suit – legally shoddy according to the lawyer for a broader and better suit over state vehicles– against Democratic statewide officers who have had free autos for their offices. The lawsuit didn't go after equally questionable income enhancements paid legislators. Some of them, of course, are Republicans. The plaintiff was a Republican official whose house was recently foreclosed on and whose resume includes a mail-order PhD. (See Ernest Dumas.)