News » Smart Talk

Time to go



There's a small movement under way (mostly confined to law schools and university political science departments so far) to establish term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices, who now have lifetime appointments. Reporting on this movement, the New York Times said “Most countries place term or age limits on their high court judges, as do 49 states (all but Rhode Island).”

Arkansas's method of assuring that judges don't stay around too long is indirect, but very effective. Judges are elected in this state, and state law provides that any appellate or circuit judge who runs for office after the age of 70 forfeits all of his or her state retirement benefits. Judges and those who aspire to judgeships already know this, of course, but we thought it might be comforting to laymen.

Central, again

Little Rock Central High School, which again this year produced the most National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists in the state (17), also dominated the state in producing National Achievement Semifinalists, the special recognition for black students.

There were no black National Merit semi-finalists in Arkansas this year, but there were 13 National Achievement semi-finalists in Arkansas, six of them from Central. The selective admission Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science and the Arts in Hot Springs had two and there was one each from Fort Smith Northside, Fort Smith Southside, Little Rock Christian, Maumelle's Academics Plus Charter School and Osceola.

All My City Directors

While there's some amount of feuding to be found in the government of any city, a recent row between two Hot Springs city directors has taken things to the soap opera level, up to and including at least one screaming argument, allegations of bullying and getting the cops involved.

According to an incident report filed on Sept. 5 by Hot Springs District 1 City Director Peggy Brunner-Maruthur, District 3 Director Steve Smith has been “harassing her for some time” and “cursed at her and was verbally abusive to her” after a board meeting in early August.

Calling Smith a “bully” who likes to intimidate people smaller than him, Brunner-Maruthur told Arkansas Times that Smith had repeatedly made rude comments toward her whenever she rose to speak at board meetings. She said that when she confronted him about it during a break from the meeting on Aug. 4, Smith began screaming at her, dropping the F-bomb. Brunner-Maruthur consulted with the Hot Springs city attorney before deciding to file a complaint with the Hot Springs police. That complaint has since been forwarded to the prosecuting attorney.

“There is no place for this type of behavior from an elected official,” Brunner-Maruthur said. “With the language that was used, he crossed the line. The screaming and the language warranted this being reported. That's what I did.” Smith didn't return phone calls.

Though District 4 Director Carroll Weatherford was out of town during the Aug. 4 meeting, he said that he hasn't seen any evidence of Brunner-Maruthur's claims that Smith makes comments whenever she takes the floor. Weatherford added that he believes it is actually Brunner-Maruthur who has been most disruptive at meetings of late, including her insistence on sitting in the audience instead of at the board table at a recent budget meeting in order to be further away from Smith. Stay tuned, drama fans.

Add a comment