Friday, March 05, 2010

EDITORIAL >> They’re off to the races

This is just like the good old days (only maybe better) — the days when there were spirited battles for the Democratic nomination for nearly every federal, state and regional political office. It may be better this year because there are lively races for offices in both the Republican and Democratic party primaries. Arkansas voters have an embarrassment of electoral riches.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter assured Democratic voters a real choice for the highest office the state has to give, the United States Senate.

It is the first time since 1974 that an incumbent senator has had to match wits with a proven competitor who offers to make a better claim on the soul of the party. You remember what happened in that one. The challenger, Dale Bumpers, defeated a five-term senator, the eminent J. William Fulbright, by a landslide. Bill Halter is no Dale Bumpers, but we shall see whether Sen.

Blanche Lincoln is up to that sort of challenge.

Democratic leaders, from former President Clinton and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee down to Arkansas party leaders, despair over the development, believing the old bromide that a challenge in her own party will only weaken Sen. Lincoln for the general election, when she will face an arch-conservative and amply financed Republican. That is apt to be Rep. John Boozman.

We think it will work the other way. Either a triumphant Sen. Lincoln will have grown stronger and more confident by having explained and defended her values against a smart foe, or else the party will go into the fall with a stronger standard bearer who has demonstrated that he is more to the liking of rank-and-file voters. The Republican nominee also will be better for having survived the crucible of a primary in which he has had to vindicate his principles and his record (if any).

Sen. Lincoln’s current low estate in the polls we think derives not so much from the way that she has voted but from her vacillation, especially as she has got closer to the election. Whether it has been union-management elections, health care, climate change, taxes, stimulus spending or any of the socio-religious issues that Republicans love to raise, she has feinted one way and then the other. Most voters admire courage and conviction more than they adhere to a certain litmus test. (We said most, not all.) No voter, we dare say, respects a politician who comes over to his or her side only when the polls show that popular opinion has shifted slightly in that direction.

Lincoln’s problems — Halter’s too — were on display in their first combat this week. Lincoln berated the lieutenant governor for taking in a lot of money from outside the state in the opening days of his race. No matter how much Halter raises from the far reaches, it will be piffling compared with her out-of-state benefaction. Then Lincoln released her first television commercial, which seemed mainly to be an attack on her party, which she said she was proud to say she often voted against in Washington. Denigrating your own party seems to be an odd tactic in your own party primary. In almost the same breath, as if it were a repudiation of her party, she mentioned that she voted against bailing out Wall Street and the auto companies and creating a cheap public-health insurance plan to compete with private companies. The first two were initiatives of the Republican administration, not the current Democratic one.

Halter jumped on her immediately with a little misdirection of his own. He pointed out that Lincoln did indeed vote for President Bush’s $700 billion financial bailout in 2008. But if you played Lincoln’s commercial back you hear that she sneaked the word “more” into the phrase: “I voted against giving more money to Wall Street.…” She (like her likely Republican foe, Boozman) did vote for the $700 billion bailout requested by Bush and his treasury secretary. There were no strings attached to the bank assistance. The taxpayers in effect were going to buy the institutions’ toxic assets.

Barack Obama’s team in January wanted more strings attached before the second half of the money was released to the banks, and Bush courteously sent that proposal to Congress in his last week in office. Public reaction to bailing out the profligate banks was so strong by January that Lincoln and many Republicans who had voted for the first one bailed out on the second one. A more principled stance would have been to oppose the first and vote for the second.

In TARP II, as it became known, the new president wanted to give taxpayers an equity investment in the financial institutions until they repaid the loans and also to spend part of the money to help troubled homeowners instead of giving it all to commercial banks, investment houses and American Insurance Group (AIG). Most people, if they understood the financial maze, might not have liked the second half of the bailout, but they would have liked it better than the first.

Halter sounds like he would be, and would have been, a fierce opponent of corporate bailouts, which is the popular thing right now. But actually he inserts a small proviso that most people probably didn’t catch. He would have been against the financial relief if he could not have inserted some controls over how the money would be spent — not for executive bonuses, for instance.

Halter, an economist, knows that, no matter how profligately it was handled, without the emergency relief the U. S. financial system, and perhaps the world’s, likely would have collapsed and this terrible recession would today be a full-fledged depression. Halter’s clever rhetoric allows him the private satisfaction of being both a populist, satisfying the madding crowd, and a realist.

Oh, and what about his boast that he had to fight the special interests to give the people of Arkansas a lottery and a college scholarship program? What special interests? The United Methodist Church? We’ll hear about the lottery in every Halter commercial.

Still, this is going to be a good season for Democrats and Republicans. Bring it on.

TOP STORY >> Farmers market open to all

Construction workers from Brockway Services in Beebe on Friday erect steel girders, which will become the Jacksonville Farmers Market near the community center.


Leader staff writer

Leader staff writer When the twice-weekly Jacksonville farmers market opens under its new 2,100-square-foot pavilion in April, it will be stocked with more than just Arkansas-grown produce.

After more than 30 minutes of debate Thursday night over the issue of leaving the market as an Arkansas-only outlet or not, the city council unanimously voted to open it up to all produce.

But it may all be for naught as farmer Kelly Carney told the council that state farmers have about 40 state legislators backing a bill that would make farmers markets open to Arkansas products and produce only. “It should pass in 2011,” Carney said.

Jody Hardin, a fifth-generation farmer, called changing the current city ordinance from Arkansas-only to any produce a “big mistake that would jeopardize the city’s relationship with local farmers and even the area supermarkets.”

The controversy goes beyond the local farmers; it hits Mayor Gary Fletcher squarely at home. His wife’s family operates Kyzer wholesale produce and under the new ordinance would be able to sell its imported produce at the local farmer’s market.

“I’ve been trying to keep quiet,” Fletcher said after about 30 minutes of debate. “This has been a nightmare for me. I have no way to win in this. I married a Kyzer. Unless I divorce her, I can’t win.”

The mayor went on to tell the council, “There is no conspiracy. In the seven months since I’ve been mayor, everything I’ve done is what I think is best for the community. I can tell you right now, I’m not making any money off this and neither is my wife’s family.”

The city is building a $225,000 pavilion for the market.

The city’s director of administration, Jim Durham, told the council, “You’ve heard that rising tides raise all ships. That’ll be the case here. I rather have 2,000 people visit the market because we have diversity and a variety than just 200 people because we have only local in-season produce.”

Durham didn’t see how excluding a group from selling was fair to the taxpayers who have the right to choose whether they want to buy local or not.

He added that Little Rock’s River Market was not restricted and was doing well.

The Arkansas-only market in North Little Rock, now in its third year, saw the number of vendors nearly triple from year one to year two. But Durham lacks the faith that the same thriving market can be replicated in Jacksonville if it relies solely on local produce.

He fears that there won’t be enough locally grown early-season produce to establish a strong customer base when the Jacksonville market opens in April.

If people go away disappointed, Durham said, it will be hard to get shoppers to come back again.

“We absolutely want as many Arkansas grown and produced products as we can, but we are not going to give them an exclusive license,” Durham said.

“We want a farmers market full of vendors, preferably local people with locally produced products. But if you have four Arkansas-only vendors, the supply can’t meet the demand,” he said.

Durham disagrees with those who say that non-local goods will hurt the local growers, but if that proves to be true, he says the city can look at a policy change.

Julann Carney, a Sherwood resident and sister of farmer Carney, felt Durham had it backwards.

“You’ve been on the cutting edge with an ordinance that only allows Arkansas produce. Why not stay with it? And then if it doesn’t draw the people it should, then change it,” Carney said.

The new ordinance is written to give wide latitude to the parks and recreation department, which has been put in charge of setting regulations for the farmers market and managing it.

“The parks and recreation department can designation an Arkansas-only day, if it wishes,” the mayor said.

The market, under the new ordinance, will be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.There will be no reserved spaces. It will be first-come, first-served. But there is talk of giving local growers preferential spots at the market.

“We want it more wide open – the more people come in, the more likely the (local growers) will sell out,” Durham said. “We don’t want to restrict it.”

On other days, vendors may use the southernmost 100 feet of the parking lot to sell their goods. Hours all days of the week will be 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Sunday, when hours will be 6 a.m. to noon.

Under the new ordinance, there will be no restriction on resellers of wholesale items made out of Arkansas. That means, that there will be no requirement that a vendor must have made or grown a portion of goods sold.

The ordinance will allow the sale of the following grown or produced items: baked goods, cheeses, flowers, fruit, grain, honey, marinades and sauces, molasses, plants, raw juices, trees, vegetables and other similar produce.

Also allowable are pieces of art, crafts and other handmade products.

Hardin and the Carneys left the council meeting disappointed and feeling that the new ordinance will destroy the heart of the market, but they still plan to be there when it opens.

In other council business:

City Engineer Jay Whisker told the council, in his monthly report, that his department issued 17 building permits and 14 business licenses in February. The department also performed more than 70 inspections and issued 97 warning letters to residents for excessive trash, unkempt lawns or hazardous property conditions.

In his monthly report, public works director Jim Oakley said the animal shelter received 99 dogs and 22 cats during February. Shelter officials were able to adopt out 48 dogs and 13 cats and returned 29 dogs to their owners. The shelter had to euthanize 28 dogs and three cats.

Three bite cases were reported during February: a dachshund bit his owner, a hound mix bit his owner and a Boston terrier bit his owner. None of the dogs were declared vicious and the shelter took no action.

The council agreed to waive competitive bidding to allow the wastewater utility to buy up to 321 linear feet of piping material for around $80,000 from a Hot Springs company.

Aldermen agreed to the request because the company already had the annual contract for sewer rehabilitation and construction.

(Leader staff writer Nancy Dockter contributed to this article.)

TOP STORY >> Beebe set to sign up for major water plan

Leader staff writer

The Beebe City Council and Mayor Mike Robertson held a special meeting this week to discuss a possible rate increase for water customers, cutting back on the number of dogs taken into the animal shelter and the need for a hazard-mitigation plan to gain access to federal grant money.

The consensus of the council was that there is no time for voters to decide if water rates should be raised for Beebe to participate in a $50 million project to bring water to the area from Greers Ferry Lake and they didn’t have enough information to decide.

For example, no one knows for certain how much the water will cost.

The water commission has been asked sign to a water-purchase agreement by May 4. A joint meeting of the water commission and city council has been called for 6:30 p.m. March 15 for more discussion.

The flood on Christmas Eve damaged about 30 homes in the Windwood subdivision. Two were so badly damaged they will have to be torn down. Some residents want the city to get a federal grant to buy the houses that will likely flood again, but the city’s floodplain manager has learned that the grant money is not available because the city does not have a hazard-mitigation plan.

The council also said Horace Taylor, the city’s animal-control officer, should stop accepting owner-release dogs and pick up only strays.

Water rates would need to go up 6 percent a year for three years for Beebe to be part of the Lonoke White Water Project. If the project moves forward, water should be flowing by 2013. Project. If the project moves forward, water should be flowing by 2013.

At that time, Beebe would buy 10 percent of the water it needs from Lonoke-White Public Water Authority at a rate possibly of $2.50 per thousand gallons.

By comparison, customers of Southwest White County Water pay $2.13 per thousand gallons.

Beebe doesn’t need more water now. A new well and upgrades to the treatment plant planned for 2017 would provide enough for the future at about half the $3.5 million the city will have to pay to help build the Lonoke-White Water Project.

But water experts say you must plan well into the future to be able to provide needed water and in the future, water should come from lakes, not wells.

John Powell, chairman of the commission that oversees water and sewer for Beebe, said Friday that he hopes the mayor and council agree that buying into the Lonoke-White Project is the best solution for Beebe’s future needs.

Beebe already owns equity in the project, Hayes said. And it has a vote on the board that runs the Lonoke-White Public Water Authority just like larger members such as Cabot and Jacksonville.

“If we get out of this, we lose control,” Hayes said. “If we don’t do this, we will be a water buyer at someone else’s mercy.”


The city council gave approval for Milton McCullar to work with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management on a hazard-mitigation plan for the city.

McCullar said the plan would cost at least $20,000 but grant money might be available to pay for it. The plan could take more than a year to complete, he said, and that means it would not be ready in time for the city to pursue a grant to buy the houses in Windwood that are prone to flooding.

The mayor reported to the council that he had learned federal grant money will not be available to build railroad trestles in the Windwood area.

Sometime over the past 20 or so years, two trestles were filled in. Now water that runs into the subdivision is held there until it can run through the remaining trestle.

The mayor said he learned that Union Pacific is a private company and not eligible for a grant to pay for the trestles. However, he said he is still working with the railroad and still hopes they will be built.


Robertson told the council that 50 percent of the dogs in the city’s animal shelter are not strays found on city streets. They are dogs that the animal control officer picked up at the owners’ request.

The mayor said, and the council agreed, that the animal-control ordinance needs to be overhauled to include charges for giving unwanted pets to the city and guidelines for adopting pets.

The mayor said he was in favor of not charging adoption fees because he would rather give the dogs away than kill them.

In other business, the council discussed the need to buy a truck to pull the new $29,400 leaf vacuum purchased with a 75/25 matching state grant.

On Thursday, the council held a special meeting to approve the purchase of a 2003 Chevrolet C43 bought from Jerrell Clark of Heber Springs for $18,250.

TOP STORY >> District’s attorney believes goals met

Leader senior staff writer

Pulaski County Special School District could wrap up its case seeking unitary status and release from federal court oversight by Tuesday afternoon, according to its attorney Sam Jones.

Such a declaration would also bolster the chances of Jacksonville school activists to break off from PCSSD and form their own school district.

“But we’re a long ways from being over. The Joshua Intervenors are going to call all board members and former board members,” he said.

The intervenors insist the district still discriminates.

Also on the witness list for the intervenors, who oppose a finding of unitary status for the district, are Mills High School principal Mike Nellums and former administrator Bill Barnes.

Both men are black, and the district has a long history of opposing Nellums, moving him around and trying to fire him. Barnes reportedly was fired after he testified on Nellums’ behalf during one such recent attempt.

The potential witness list for the Joshua Intervenors is longer by half than PCSSD’s list.
PCSSD has put on witnesses during this first week of testimony aimed at proving the district’s assertion that it was unitary in the areas of discipline, enrollment, teacher assignment, multiculturalism and reducing academic disparity between races.

Jones expects to put witnesses on the stand Monday to finish addressing discipline, special education and hiring and recruiting staff.

“We’re going to have to put on facilities proof,” said Jones. “All we have to prove on facilities is that we did the Kahn report to determine conditions of schools, what was wrong, and what it would cost to fix it.”

“They (Joshua) should stipulate that we built the new schools discussed in Plan 2000—Daisy Bates Elementary, Chenal Elementary and Maumelle Middle School,” Jones said.

Asked to reply to that Thursday, John Walker, the attorney for the intervenors, said, “There’s no way (facilities) are equal. You don’t spend $200 million on schools for rich kids. The 1999 (Kahn Report) promised equal schools. They are creating new violations along the way—separate but equal.”

Walker said PCSSD was in court because of “2007 legislative agitation for PCSSD to seek unitary status.”

That was the year former state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, got approved special language encouraging North Little Rock and PCSSD to seek unitary status and providing money for attorneys and for help from the state attorney general’s office in the effort.

The state paid for two expert witnesses and Deputy Attorney Gen. Scott Richardson helped in the preparation of the case and is second chair to Jones in the hearing.

“I think it’s going reasonably well,” Jones said Friday evening. “We have a lot of challenges, but we are doing the best we can to meet those.”

Friday, Warren Dupree Elementary School principal Janice Walker stood fast in the face of pointed cross-examination by John Walker as she testified that academic progress was being made in an orderly fashion by both black and white students at her school and others in the district.

In a challenge apparently tailored as much for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals as for District Judge Brian Miller, John Walker asked whether the academic plan for student improvement was aimed at Plan 2000, the desegregation agreement PCSSD was to comply with.

Janice Walker, who is also a command sergeant major at Camp Robinson, seemed neither rattled nor intimidated by Walker’s cross-examination and said later it didn’t shake her.

Neither Janice Walker nor others who have testified about the district’s attempted academic progress, could say that improvement efforts were tailored to Plan 2000, but rather to the Arkansas Consolidated School Improvement Plan, or ACSIP.

“We are using all available data to meet the needs of all students including sub-populations,” she said.

“We made double-digit gains in all grades (at Dupree),” she said, “using strategies that work.”

Dupree Elementary was named a 2007-2008 National Distinguished Title I School for dramatically improving academics, she said.

Third-graders improved the number of proficient students in language by 18 percent and by 27 percent in math, she said; fourth- graders proficient in language increased by 22 percent and 17 percent in math; and the number of fifth-graders proficient in language increased by 29 percent and in math by 24 percent.

On his cross-examination, John Walker asked if Janice Walker had been the object of racial discrimination while principal at Landmark Elementary.

“No,” she said.

Walker did establish that the district changed the attendance zone boundaries at Landmark while Janice Walker was there, pulling out the higher-achieving white students.

One of the requirements of Plan 2000 is that the district work to reduce or eliminate the disparity between the academic scores of white and the lower-achieving blacks.

She testified that no one at PCSSD had asked her for a plan about reducing the disparity between test scores for blacks and whites.

She also testified that no one had told her to tailor academic improvement to satisfy the Plan 2000, or its addendum, the Ross Plan.

Janice Walker and others have testified that they were aiming to satisfy requirements of No Child Left behind and of ACIP Plan.

A Ross plan requirement is “To improvement achievement of all with special attention to African- Americans and others at risk.”

TOP STORY >> Population count could mean a lot to cities

As the 2010 census gets under way, cities are hoping to make gains and earn valuable dollars to help with infrastructure.

Some may see growth, while others may see population declines. Here’s a preview of what’s in store.


Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman believes her city’s population will come close to rivaling Jacksonville’s come the 2010 census.

In her state-of-the-city address that she recently presented to the council, Hillman said estimates show the city has increased by 8,500 residents, and that will put Sherwood at the 30,000 mark.

Jacksonville, according to the 2000 census, is at 29,516, and is projected to hit above 30,000 after the census count.

Along with that growth, Sherwood also saw tax collections rise. “We were fortunate that while some surrounding cities experienced a decrease in sales tax revenues, ours increased from 2008,” the mayor said.

“The increased revenues may be contributed to streamline taxing as well as the new Walmart Supercenter.”

Hillman noted that for the second year in a row, permits for new residential and commercial construction were down, but the value of those permits was up more than $6.7 million from 2008 to 2009.


Metroplan research planner Jonathan Lupton told a group of Jacksonville officials recently that the city may see a slight decline in population with the 2010 census, though he is “betting on a slight increase.”

Jacksonville’s population growth slowed to a crawl when the Vertac chemical plant was declared an EPA Superfund site in the 1980s.

The population is more racially diverse, younger and has a higher proportion of males to females than the regional and national averages. But the income and educational level is below the norm, with a higher proportion of blue collar jobs.

“Single-parent households have really shot up,” Lupton said.

If Jacksonville wants to attract young professionals, city planners need to understand that there are three types of places important in life: places to live, places to work and places to hang out, said planner Jasmine Moore.

That resonated with Mayor Gary Fletcher.

“That is a niche we need to work on,” Fletcher said. “Not everyone is like me – 55 and who at the end of the day is ready to go home and watch television and then go to sleep at 10 o’clock.”

Another challenge is that Jacksonville has little in the way of housing that would attract younger people with income to spend on a nice home. More of the homes are cramped, older and of modest value, compared to other communities in central Arkansas. Finding a way to “retrofit” small houses to be competitive in today’s market may be a solution, Lupton said.

Walkable neighborhoods with a mix of homes, shopping and other amenities are the trend.

Jacksonville’s $76,500 median home value is well below the national average of $119,600 and those of other regional cities, such as Little Rock-North Little Rock at $87,700 and Conway at $99,900, Lupton said.

The Metroplan team did not raise the prospect of an independent school district for Jacksonville.

“That is one of the biggest things we have going for us, and it will really change the demographics,” Fletcher said.


Eddie Jones, director of the Arkansas Association of Counties, says the formula for dispensing state turnback to counties is a complicated one that involves more than a head count. Still, the turnback is about $60 per person. But it is also important to get an accurate count because federal grants are often based on population, Jones said.

“It’s always extremely important to get a good count because you’re going to depend on those numbers for the next 10 years,” he said.

Cabot’s population was 15,261, but a special census completed early in 2007 set the population at 22,092. Now city officials estimate the population between 23,500 and 25,000. Finding out which one will be free. The special census that started in 2006 cost the city almost $300,000.


The population signs in Beebe say 4,930, but Mayor Mike Robertson said he would be surprised if the census doesn’t show an increase of more than 2,000. Robertson said he is looking forward to the additional funds for streets.

“All cities are struggling for money for streets,” he said. “Streets take a backseat to fire and police.”

The lack of money for streets is the reason Beebe has not attempted another annexation like the one in November 2006 that more that doubled the city’s area but brought in only a few new residents, he said. Construction of new homes is the reason for the population growth.


With 2010 U.S. Census forms already in the mail, Lonoke Mayor Wayne McGee hopes the new count will grow the city “by a couple of hundred or three,” he said Thursday.

Each person counted is worth about $1,000 a year, McGee said, meaning 200 additional residents over the official count of 4,287 in 2000 would translate into an additional $200,000 a year in city coffers in federal funding—or about $2 million over the decade until the next census.

McGee said the money will go into the city’s general budget and that the city would be sending reminders to residents with their water bills to fill out the 10-question forms and return them in the postage-paid envelopes.

“It would be nice to get (the population count) closer to 5,000 people,” McGee said.

“There’s very little that has to do with family that isn’t affected by the census count,” he said.

The 2000 census counted about 72 percent of all U.S. residents. Lonoke counted 73 percent, Lonoke County 71 percent and statewide 67 percent were counted.

The census is “absolutely important” to counties, according to Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman. He was at an Association of Arkansas Counties meeting in North Little Rock Thursday, where he said the 2010 census was an important conversation.

“It amounts to about $600 a year for each individual counted,” Troutman said. “It’s a numbers game in state and federal turn back,” he said.

“The last census was about 53,000. In my opinion, it’s grown about 10,000 in 10 years. You’re talking about a lot of money after a while.”

A growth of 10,000 people in the county would provide another $60 million to county general funds over the next decade, he said.

The 2000 census found not only 4,287 people in Lonoke, but also 1,595 households and 1,092 families in the city.

The population density was 990 people per square mile, with 1,703 house units.

The city was about 73 percent white, 23 percent black and about 2 percent Hispanic or Latino of any race.

A third of households had children younger than 18 living with them. Fifty percent were married couples living together and 14 percent had a female head of household with no husband present. About 32 percent were nonfamilies, 29 percent were individuals and 15 percent had someone living alone who was 65 or older.

The median income for a household was $31,558 and for a family was $44,423.

Men out-earned women by roughly one-third.


Home construction has also made Ward grow from 2,580 in 2000 to an estimated 3,600. Although large homes are built in Ward and Austin, the homes available in those cities are generally smaller than those available in Cabot where the high cost of land combined with the economic downturn has led to a decline in new home construction.


Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain can identify with that statement. The population signs going into Austin say 605, but six subdivisions have been built there since the 2000 census and Chamberlain estimates the actual population at 2,000 to 2,500.

Using the lower estimate, Chamberlain expects about $90,000 a year in additional state revenue for the next 10 years for a total of $900,000.

“I just can’t wait for the census to be done,” Chamberlain said. “We’re going to fix roads.”
In fact, she already knows that it will cost $100,000 a mile for asphalt overlay and $40,000 a mile for chip and seal.


The census is required by Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution and it must by law count every person residing in the U.S., including people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens and non-citizens including illegal immigrants.

In an effort to get a higher rate of participation, the questionnaire will be one of the shortest in history.

It asks for name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship and whether the home is owned or rented. Census officials say it will take only about 10 minutes to complete.

Households failing to return the questionnaire will be sent a second questionnaire and a census worker will visit those don’t respond to that. The fine for failing to complete the questionnaire can be up to $100 and the fine for lying can be as high as $500.


In March, forms will be mailed throughout the U.S. kicking off the 23rd national census.

Should anyone question why they should fill out and return the forms, here are some myths and facts about the census, provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, that may not be widely known:

MYTH No. 1: Information from the census form will be given to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

TRUTH: The Census Bureau is interested in statistical information only. The questionnaire collects information on the number of people in a location, their ethnicity, housing situation, and other social and economic data. That information is then processed electronically and any information that could be used to identify an individual or company is removed before it is made public. Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information and violating this law is a crime with severe penalties.

MYTH No. 2: The census form is too long and asks too many personal questions.

TRUTH: The 2010 census form is very short and will only take about 10 minutes to answer. There are questions regarding your name, sex, age, date of birth, race, ethnicity, household relationship, number of occupants and other administrative questions.

MYTH No. 3: It’s OK if I choose not to fill out the census form.

TRUTH: Section 221 of Title 13, Chapter 7 of the U.S. Code requires people receiving a census form to fill it out completely and return it by April 1. It also stipulates the penalties for failing to do so, as stated in Myth No. 1. If you do not return your census form by April 1 census workers will contact you to assist in completing the questionnaire.

MYTH #4: The census is only for U.S. citizens. - FALSE

TRUTH: Conducted every 10 years, the census is a headcount of everyone residing in the United States. The U.S. Constitution mandates it.

MYTH No. 5: The census information won’t help me.

TRUTH: All census data is used to distribute congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year.

SPORTS >> Long jumper, former Bear hitting height

Leader sports writer

Sylvan Hills alumnus Jeff Henderson finished second in the long jump at the recent USTAF indoor nationals meet in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Henderson, who won a state title for Sylvan Hills in the same event his senior year in 2007, had a leap measured at 26-00.75 to claim the runner-up spot.

Henderson’s jump matched winner Jeremy Hicks’, but Henderson ended up with foulson his five other attempts, which gave him no other measurement to fall back on for a tiebreaker.

“I’m surprised I jumped that far,” Henderson said. “I’ve never jumped that far before indoors. I have outdoors.”

Henderson works with AAU team elite coach Walter Harris and former Olympic triple jumper Brian Wellman.

Henderson has been competing on a semi-regular basis since graduating from Sylvan Hills in 2007.

He balances his time between training and college at Pulaski Tech.

Henderson is getting his basic courses out of the way at this point and plans on pursuing a degree in architecture.

Henderson intends to go through Olympic qualifying trials for the 2012 Summer Games in London.

SPORTS >> Panthers fail on outside chances

Leader sports writer

VAN BUREN – Cabot’s normally solid outside shooting game never came together when the Panthers needed it the most as Fort Smith Northside beat the Panthers 44-31 in the first round of the 7A state tournament Wednesday.

Fort Smith Northside’s dominant senior post player and Missouri State signee Corey Copeland controlled the inside on both ends and Cabot struggled with a 31.4 field-goal percentage.

Copeland led the way for the Grizzlies with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds, while Panthers sharpshooters Alex Baker and Darin Jones were held to seven points each.

“Oh, man, that second quarter, we just went cold,” Panthers coach Jerry Bridges said. “I’m going to give them credit — they did a good job on Baker. We rode that little fellow a long way.

“Those who have seen us play, that little sucker has put up some big numbers for us, and honestly, when we’re playing teams like that and beaten them, he’s shot well.”

Panthers senior post Christian Armstrong matched Copeland’s 6-3 height at, but the bulk and overall strength Armstrong surrendered made inside shooting and rebounding a challenge.

Armstrong battled his way to six points and three rebounds, most of which came in the second half.

“I wasn’t pleased with our interior game in the first half,” Bridges said. “I didn’t think they were aggressive. We’re used to being small, but I didn’t think we were as aggressive in the post as we wanted to be.”

All of Baker’s points for Cabot came in a competitive first quarter.

He scored the first points of the game when he was fouled from the three-point line and hit all three free throws to make it 3-0.

Baker added a pair of baskets in the last three minutes of the period and Jones added two free throws with 5:18 left in the first to help Cabot to a 9-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Junior Kai Davis was Cabot’s only double-digit scorer with 11 points, including the Panthers’ only three-pointers.

He hit his first three-pointer to start the second quarter to give Cabot a 12-8 lead, but those were the only points for the Panthers in the disastrous period until he made another three with 33 seconds left.

In that time, Copeland and junior forward Ian Carter went to work inside for the Grizzlies. Copeland scored on a putback with 1:34 left in the half and Carter scored off a steal less than a minute later to push the score to 22-12.

For seniors Baker, Armstrong, Seth Bloomberg, Patrick Martin, Karsten Powers and Jacob Ellerbee, it was their final game in a historic run of three-straight state tournament appearances. Prior to 2008, Cabot had not been to state in 31 years.

“We finished strong. I’m proud of these kids,” said Bridges, who this year had to replace scoring catalyst Daniel Sterrenberg, now at Arkansas State. “We lost 99.9 percent of our scoring. We had an inexperienced group, but they have a lot of pride, and the group of seniors didn’t want to be the group that started another streak of not being in the state tournament.

“I thought they did a great job of putting their stamp on the program. As far as I know in recent history with this sport at Cabot, there’s no group that can say they’ve been to state three years in a row.”

SPORTS >> Outage hits Cabot girls in early exit

Leader sports writer

VAN BUREN – Fort Smith Southside did not allow Cabot a fourth-quarter field goal until the final minute as it advanced from the first round of the 7A state tournament with a 61-52 victory Wednesday at Clair Bates Arena.

The Lady Rebels (12-15) came in as the No. 5 seed from the 7A West, but controlled the momentum against 7A Central No. 4 seed Cabot (11-15) almost from tipoff to buzzer.

“Cabot’s been there so many times,” Lady Rebels coach Sherry White said. “They have tradition. Crowder does a great job with them, and they know what it takes. They were doing everything right in that fourth quarter to beat us, and luckily, we had some free throws that went in.”

Cabot junior guard Kaki Thomas ended a 7:38 field-goal slump for the Lady Panthers with a three-point basket from the right side with 56 seconds left to play that cut Southside’s lead to 56-49, but the Lady Rebels hit 5 of 8 free throws in the final minute and allowed only one more field goal by the Lady Panthers.

“We shot the ball a lot more than them; ours just didn’t go in,” Lady Panthers coach Carla Crowder said. “That would have been great if they would have missed their free throws, but good teams usually aren’t going to miss their free throws at this point.”

Momentum was up for grabs a little more in the first half.

Southside took an 11-2 lead before Cabot rallied with a run that started with a pair of free throws by Sydney Wacker with 3:41 left in the first quarter. Brooke Taylor then scored the first of her 14 points with a running jumper up the middle, and Melissa Wolff cut the lead to 11-8 with a steal at halfcourt she converted into a lay-up with 2:28 left in the quarter.

Wolff scored on a putback with 5:08 left in the half to give the Lady Panthers their only lead, 17-16. Southside then went on a 6-1 run before Wolff and Taylor each hit a basket in the final minute to pull within 25-22 at halftime.

Wolff led the Lady Panthers with 17 points and eight rebounds, six of which were offensive.

Wolff, a sophomore, and Taylor, one of only four juniors on the Cabot roster, will return next year to a team that sported 12 sophomores. Post player Sarah Moore and guard Amber Rock will be the only players lost to graduation.

“We’re young and the kids have really overcome a lot this season,” Crowder said. “They’ve learned a lot, and we have really improved. At the beginning of the season, we didn’t think we would be here. I’m just proud of how hard they’ve worked and what they’ve done throughout the season.”

Senior 5-11 forward Madison Jones led the Lady Rebels with 23 points and seven rebounds, including six rebounds on the defensive side. Emile Gray scored 16 for Southside.

“We had too many turnovers in that first half,” White said. “We came out in the third quarter and did better. I was liking that it was taking them a long time to get a shot off. I hope it was our defense that did that. We have prided ourselves in our defense all year.”

SPORTS >> Lady Jackrabbits do their part for drama

Leader sports writer

CHEROKEE VILLAGE — The anticipated 4A state semifinal started to come together when Prairie Grove beat Malvern 58-40 at Highland High School on Thursday.

Four hours later, the Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits did their part by beating Waldron 53-39 to set the stage for a showdown between the top two seeds today in the first semifinal at 1 p.m. Lonoke is seeking its fourth straight berth in the state finals and its first championship in that span.

Lonoke (28-5) methodically built a 29-19 lead through the first half before creating more transition opportunities in the final two periods. Waldron (27-6) had a strong night inside from senior post player Caitlin McKay, who scored15 points, but the Lady ’Rabbits held dynamic guard Shelbie Trozzi to only two points.

“I think she got defended maybe a little bit better than normal,” Lady Jackrabbits coach Nathan Morris said. “We were able to put pressure on that guard bringing it up. They’ve really got some big size, and their size led to some easy baskets that we didn’t want to give.”

Lonoke spread the ball around, which resulted in big nights for Asiah Scribner, Cara Neighbors and Ashleigh Himstedt.

Scribner found the basket for a game-high 22 points while Neighbors scored 16 and Himstedt scored 14.

“We made baskets inside; we had some drives out of the guard play,” Morris said. “We had excellent drives in the second half.

First half, we had several. I thought we were a little slow footed at times, but it’s the state tournament; we’re in the state semifinals.

“A lot of people want to be here, and there’s only going to be four left after Friday night. So we can’t be any happier about it than that.”

Himstedt made a strong move to the basket and scored with 5:18 left to play to put the Lady ’Rabbits up 49-31, and had two chances to increase the lead to 20 but came up short on a pair of fast breaks. She was sent to the free-throw line with 4:22 left but hit only the second shot to make it 50-31.

Scribner started each quarter off with a basket. Her first made it 2-0, she scored with 6:47 left in the second quarter to make it 18-12 and hit the first basket of the second half to increase Lonoke’s lead to 31-19. Scribner took an assist from Himstedt with 6:28 left in the game to complete the pattern and give the Lady ’Rabbits a 46-29 lead.

The Lady Jackrabbit’s pressure on Trozzi was the difference for Lonoke defensively. Michaela Brown, along with Neighbors, did not let up in the second half and the two were able to generate a number of half-court steals from a strong, ball-handling Lady Bulldogs team.

“Those three seniors, they don’t want to be out,” Morris said of Brown, Scribner and Himstedt. “We’ve just got another game or two. We’ve taken this thing one game at a time; that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

Eryn Root added 10 points for Waldron.

Star City played Clinton and Stuttgart played Shiloh Christian Friday night in the bottom half of the quarterfinals bracket to determine the other semifinal matchup today at 6 p.m.

SPORTS >> Wildcats size up, beat Red Devils in second round

Special to The Leader

WEST MEMPHIS — Watson Chapel’s size was just too much for Jacksonville.

Daniel Broughton, a burly 6-7 senior, scored a game-high 23 points and dominated under the basket as the Wildcats eliminated defending state champion Jacksonville from the Class 6A state tournament with a 67-57 quarterfinal victory.

“Down the stretch their size was too much for us,” Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner said. “If we’d had somebody to wrestle with their big boys it would have been a different game.”

Watson Chapel (25-3) chalked up the first victory by the 6A-South Conference over the East after four straight losses. The Wildcats will play in a semi-final game today for a third-straight season.

The Red Devils (12-15) had a tough go in the first half as Chapel held leading scorer Deshone McClure to only two points.

McClure scored a game-high 26 points in Jacksonville’s first-round victory over Pine Bluff.

“McClure’s tough to stop one-on-one,” Watson Chapel head coach Danny Myatt said. “We did a great job against him in the first half, but we knew there was only so much we could do the whole game.”

McClure ended up with 21 points to lead Jacksonville in scoring, but his heroics in the second half couldn’t pull the Red Devils back into contention, at least not for long.

After trailing by 12 points in the first half, Jacksonville rallied to within 29-25 at halftime. McClure opened the third quarter with a basket to make it a two-point game, but that’s as close as the Red Devils could get.

Watson Chapel answered with a 12-2 run and took a 41-32 lead with 3:18 left in the third quarter.

Broughton was unstoppable down the stretch. He scored 11 of his points in the final 12 minutes.

“He’s good, but we just don’t have anybody with any size that can match up with him,” Joyner said. “Some of the other teams we’ve played this year have the big guys that could have done a better job on him.”

After a McClure dunk cut Watson Chapel’s lead to 51-47 with 6:21 left, Watson Chapel put the Red Devils away with six straight points.

Raheem Appleby and Troy Green added 12 points apiece for Jacksonville while Justin McCleary scored 10. Watson Chapel also got eight points from Javon Barnes and seven from Kyle Piggy.

“We felt like coming into the game there was a little burden on us being the South champions,” Myatt said. “Our teams have taken a pretty good beating so far in this tournament, but we had the better conference two years ago when we had all four in the semifinals from the South. It just goes in cycles, and right now the East looks to be a little stronger than we are.”

SPORTS >> Older, wiser Falcons win big

Special to The Leader

ALMA – The North Pulaski Falcons weren’t going to get fooled two years in a row.

A year after narrowly escaping an early-round upset, North Pulaski approached Thursday’s first-round game in the Class 5A state tournament much differently.

The Falcons outscored Greenbrier in every quarter and methodically marched to a 67-47 victory at Airedale Arena to advance to the second round.

Last year, North Pulaski was the top seed out of the 5A-Southeast and the leading contender for the state championship, but barely slipped past Central Arkansas Christian, 64-63, in the second round.

“We almost got knocked out last year,” North Pulaski coach Raymond Cooper said. “CAC throws up a seven-foot shot right at the buzzer. If that shot goes in, we’re going home. Our guys really have an understanding of how you have to be focused and prepared. Everybody talks about how experience helps; we understand.”

North Pulaski (23-5) never trailed in the contest and just slowly pulled away in each quarter.

“We’ve had so many games where we jumped on people early that we started to expect it,” Cooper said. “We told them that the pace was going to be slow and that we’re going to have to, quarter-by-quarter, just keep playing solid and play defense the whole possession. If one guy falls asleep, they find him. It really teaches them to stay in it mentally.”

Kyron Ware hit a three-pointer to start the Falcons on the way to the victory. Aaron Cooper also added a three-pointer in the opening quarter, and North Pulaski took a 14-10 lead.

I.J. Ready hit a three-pointer to open the second quarter for the Falcons, who cruised into halftime with a 31-19 lead. North Pulaski scored the final six points of the half with Cooper hitting two free throws, Ready driving for a layup and Cooper converting a steal into a basket as North Pulaski opened the game up.

“That was a pivotal time right before halftime where they made that run where they stretched the lead out to double figures,” Greenbrier coach Jason Johnson said. “What we needed to do was slow down and run our stuff.”

North Pulaski padded its lead to 43-25 with a 6-0 run in the third quarter before settling for a 46-30 lead heading to the final period.

“They’re a very good team,” Johnson said. “We had opportunities but didn’t take advantage. Their pressure was a factor. We have pressure valves all throughout our offense. One thing we didn’t do very well was use those pressure valves to release the pressure and turn their pressure against them and get some layups.”

Daquan Bryant, Shyheim Barron, Cooper and Courvoisiea Allen all scored during an 8-0 run that extended the Falcons’ lead to 55-41 midway through the quarter and end all doubts.

Greenbrier sophomore Neal Burcham led all scorers with 19 points, hitting three second-half three-pointers.

“A couple of times we lost Burcham and left him open,” Cooper said.

“We lost our focus here and there, but they stuck to the game plan real well.

“We don’t see that style that much and a team that is as good as they are.”

Aaron Cooper scored 16 points and had seven steals. Ware added 15 points and four rebounds. Ready had nine points and six steals.

North Pulaski played Blytheville in the semifinals on Friday night. Today’s semifinal game is at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

EDITORIAL >> Jim Bunning strikes out

The country thinks of Washington as a shipwreck, where the machinery just doesn’t work anymore. An old senator from Kentucky has giving us a fine primer on why that is so.

Jim Bunning, who pitched superbly for 17 years for the Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers but was a long-running disaster as a public servant, single-handedly halted unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of men and women, stopped payments to doctors for treating Medicare patients, shut down road-building projects, ended COBRA coverage, blocked flood insurance and small business loans and held up distant network television for satellite viewers. Arkansas reaped some of his whirlwind.

Bunning said he was for all those good things, but he wanted to make a point and he didn’t care how much suffering it caused.

Authorization for all those programs ran out at midnight Sunday and Bunning has used a rule of senatorial courtesy to prevent the Senate from voting to continue the programs. The quaint rules of the Senate require the unanimous consent of senators to take up emergency measures, which allows someone to put a temporary hold on legislation until he can get up to snuff on it. It is one of those rules that was never intended to allow one or even a few senators to thwart the majority’s will but rather to slow down a stampede. The filibuster rule is another. Now they’re used to prevent the majority party, whichever it happens to be, from doing anything.

Bunning announced last month that he would not let any of the programs continue until the Senate, House of Representatives and the president raised $10 billion to pay for them, either by taxes or slashing other programs. He wouldn’t want them to cut defense spending or anything that affected his state.

Bunning has become as unpopular in his own state as he is in Washington with members of his own party, who view him as a buffoon and a handicap. He has been at war with the party and his own Kentucky colleague, the minority leader Mitch McConnell, and he was driven last fall to announce that he would not run again this year. The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee had recruited people to run against him.

Bunning decided to take a defiant stand on what he thought was the most popular ground in the country: deficit spending. He said the Senate simply had to stop deficit spending and that he would block the most popular programs until the government funded them directly.

He counted on the country and the good people of Kentucky having short memories. The mammoth deficits that he correctly condemned were much of his own making. The country had run four consecutive years of surpluses for the first time in 70 years when in 2001, Bunning began to vote for all the initiatives that ended balanced budgets and created the worst string of deficits in history. He voted to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and not to pay for them, preferring instead to finance them by borrowing. He voted for four rounds of tax cuts for the well-to-do and corporations. It took five years for the government’s revenues to return to 2000 levels, but meantime, Bunning and his colleagues ramped up spending until the deficit soared past $1 trillion for a single year. He voted in 2003 to vastly expand Medicare but to meet the hundreds of billions in new invoices by just putting it all on the tab. President Bush said it would be all right, so that was good enough for Jim Bunning. Bush had once owned the Texas Rangers, so he had to know what he was doing.

Yes, Bunning bucked his president and the leaders of his party and voted against the bailout of financial institutions in 2008, correctly sensing that most people would be outraged that the government was helping the very people who had brought on the second worst economic crisis in the nation’s history. But he picked February 2010 to become a deficit hawk.

As we were going to press yesterday evening, Bunning capitulated. His own party in virtually unanimous rebellion — Senator Susan Collins of Maine said people in her state were baffled that Congress could permit such foolishness — he said he would allow a vote.

President Clinton confided to his historian after leaving office that the old Philly righty was the creepiest person in Congress.

Clinton will get no argument from most Republicans, but here’s the thing. In Washington, D. C., for a few weeks, Jim Bunning was running the show.



Jerry D. Adams (D)

County Judge:
Charlie Troutman (D)
Doug Erwin (R)

Circuit Clerk:
Denise Brown (R)
Deborah Oglesby (D)

County Clerk:
Dawn Porterfield (D)
Rita F. Schmitz (D)

Patricia McCallie (D)

Sherry Stracener (D)

Karol DePriest (D)

Justice of the Peace:
Dist. 1 Joe Farrer (R)
Dist. 2 Jannette Minton (R)
Dist. 3 Larry A. Odom (R)
Warren D. Leill (R)
Dist. 4 Timothy B. “Tim” Lemons (R)
Dist. 5 Barry D. Weathers (R)
Dist. 6 Trent Eilts (R)
Dist. 7 Adam Sims (D)
Dist. 8 Roger Dale Lynch (D)
Dist. 9 Robert Sonny Moery (D)
Dist. 10 Bill Ryker (D)
Dist. 11 Mike Dolan (D)
Dist. 12 Henry Lang (R)
Dist. 13 Mark Edwards (R)


Eagle Township
Jimmy G. Taylor (D)

Gray Township
William A. Southerland (R)

Jimmie Pawlowski (R)



Wayne McGee (D)

Prudie Percefull (D)

Alderman, Position 3
Pat Howell (D)

Alderman, Position 4
Wendell Walker (D)

Alderman, Position 5
Efrem Z. Jones (D)

Alderman, Postion 6
Norman Walker (D)
Raymond Louis Hatton (D)

TOP STORY >> Debate slated for Rep. Berry’s seat

Lonoke County Leadership will host a debate for candidates running in the First Congressional District at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 22 in the Lonoke Community Center, 1355 W. Front St. in Lonoke.

Rep. Marion Berry (D-Gil-lette) is not seeking re-election.

So far, former state Sen. Tim Wooldridge, Assistant Attorney General John Adams and Chad Causey, all Democrats, and Rick Crawford and Princella Smith, both Republicans, have announced they will run.

The debate will be free and open to the public.

Lonoke County Leadership is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that teaches leadership skills through formal training courses.

TOP STORY >> GOP candidate for Congress

Leader editor

Tim Griffin, the former interim U.S. attorney who describes himself as “a common-sense conservative,” was the first candidate to file for office at noon Monday at the state Capitol. He is running as a Republican for Congress in the Second District, a seat that is being vacated by Rep. Vic Snyder, a Democrat.

Although he’s soft-spoken and unassuming, Griffin has a reputation as a tough political tactician who was involved in the disputed presidential election in Florida in 2000, securing a close victory for President George W. Bush, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld.

Griffin worked in the White House as a top aide to Karl Rove, who helped him become interim U.S. attorney in Little Rock after Bud Cummins, another Republican, was forced to resign, along with several other U.S. attorneys who fell out of favor with the Bush administration.

Griffin, who couldn’t win confirmation in the Senate, held the post from December 2006 to May 2007.

After the Republic primary, the nominee will face the winner of a crowded field in the Democratic primary, including House Speaker Robbie Wills, Rep. Joyce Elliott, Assistant Attorney General John Adams and David Boling, Rep. Vic Snyder’s chief of staff.

Griffin, a major in the Army Reserve, has been a military lawyer for 12 years. He has served in Iraq, where his assignments included prosecuting Private Nicholas Mikel, who had tried to kill his platoon sergeant and fired on his unit’s early-morning formation.

Mikel pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

A Magnolia native, Griffin lives in Little Rock, where he has a law practice.

Here are Griffin’s answers to our questions:

Why are you running for Congress this year?

Because I, like many Arkansans, am fed up with what is going on in Washington, especially with Nancy Pelosi and Congress. We see Congress as working against us, not for us.

I believe our congressman should represent the common sense views and values of the people here in the Second District on issues like the cap-and-trade energy tax, card check legislation, health-care legislation, federal spending and the national debt.

How did you get into politics?

I first got into politics paging for Sen. Bill “Friendly” Henley, a state senator from Camden back in the 1980s. My cousin was Gov. Sid McMath. He is a man I respected greatly not only as a civilian leader but as a military hero.

When did you start at the White House?

I started working at the White House in April 2005 and worked until September 2005, about six months. (I was on military leave from September 2005 to September 2006 because I was mobilized as an Army Reservist.)

What were your responsibilities?

I was special assistant to the president and deputy director, Office of Political Affairs. In that capacity, I worked with the Office of Presidential Personnel and helped build support for the president’s agenda on select matters, such as the nomination of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

What is voter “caging”?

Caging is an old direct-mail industry term that means to sort returned mail.

Adding “voter” to it was an attempt to defend against the voter-registration fraud groups like ACORN committed all around the country, especially in 2004, when they were submitting thousands of fraudulent voter registrations.

Is your connection to Karl Rove a positive or a negative?

I am a fifth-generation Arkansan, and my own person with my own views and values. The truth is I worked for the president at the White House for six months when Rove was deputy chief of staff.

I am very proud to have had the opportunity to work for a president, and I will tell any preacher’s kid from Magnolia, if you get the opportunity to work for a president, I don’t care who the president is, you go do it. And to say otherwise is silly.

Will Rove visit Arkansas to help your campaign?


After waiting several months to win Senate confirmation in 2007, why did you resign as interim U.S. attorney?

I resigned because it was clear that the Senate Democrats were more interested in political theater than providing a fair confirmation process.

Has the political scene changed much in the past few months?

Over the past year, Arkansans (and Americans) have become more and more frustrated and concerned at what is going on in Washington.

The out-of-control spending that the Republican Congress and President Bush bear much of the blame for has gotten worse and worse under the current administration and Congress. It is time to send a common-sense conservative to Congress.
Will that help you?

Yes, I believe that Arkansans want to be represented by a common-sense conservative who will work to get the government off the backs of businesses and get the national debt under control.

I believe Arkansans understand that taking back this congressional seat might take the speaker’s gavel from Nancy Pelosi. We need to focus on policies that make it easier to create sustainable private-sector jobs. And Arkansans understand that our debt is the biggest threat facing our nation. We need someone in Washington to remind Congress of four simple words: “We can’t afford it!”

Will the Second District switch from representation from one of the most liberal to a conservative congressman?

Yes. This is a conservative district that voted for President Bush and Sen. McCain. I believe the voters will elect a conservative who will vote to protect them from the agenda offered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Isn’t health care expensive?

Yes, we need health-care re-form, but it should be market- based. Let’s allow competition across state lines for insurance providers. Let’s reduce the practice of defensive medicine by passing tort reform. The Obama-Pelosi health-care bill with more government spending, more government control and forced personal mandates is not the answer.

What can we do to lessen the burden on individuals and small businesses?

First, do no harm by stopping the Pelosi health-care bill, and the cap-and-trade energy tax. Second, extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Third, eliminate the death tax.

How do we restart the economy?

We need to look at what President Reagan did in 1981 and 1982. Cut spending, cut taxes.

We need to get our fiscal state of affairs under control. We need to cut government spending: Let’s send a signal to the American people, the markets and the world that we are serious about eliminating our deficits and debt.

Let’s also give money back to the American people. Again, let’s extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Let’s reduce the corporate tax rate, one of the highest in the world. Let’s enact a territoriality measure like Congress did in 2004 — bring $1 trillion earned overseas by U.S. companies home.

Let’s enact a payroll-tax holiday. Let’s accelerate depreciation to encourage capital investment. Let’s return domestic discretionary spending to pre-stimulus levels: freeze domestic discretionary spending and keep it there.

Let’s end the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP): Stop further obligation of unpaid funds. Let’s rescind unobligated stimulus funds. Let’s suspend the Davis-Bacon Act on public-works spending.

Let’s say “no” to card-check legislation, the cap-and-trade energy tax and the president’s health-care proposal.

What did you think of last week’s “health summit” with President Obama and congressional leaders?

Thursday’s health-care summit was a good idea. It is important that our representatives and senators start having an honest and transparent conversation about legislation which represents one-sixth of our economy and impacts all Arkansans.

However, the president’s choice to use the partisan Senate bill as a starting point for the discussion seriously crippled the summit before it even began.

We have to remember, however, that the Senate bill was the result of discussions involving no Republicans. And I am concerned that the words “tort reform” appear nowhere in his 11-page proposal.

Further, the Congressional Budget Office cannot determine the cost of the president’s proposal due to the lack of specificity provided.

Additionally, there is no mention in the president’s proposal of not allowing taxpayer dollars to be spent on abortions.

However, his plan compels an individual to purchase health insurance under the threat of a fine – a first in our nation’s history.

I would have preferred the president walked in with a blank piece of paper and allowed a truly bipartisan discussion to take place.

Cong. Snyder has secured millions of dollars worth of projects for Little Rock Air Force Base. Will you support the base if you’re elected?

Yes, most definitely. I am a veteran and am currently in my 13th year as an Army Reservist. I understand the importance of Little Rock Air Force Base to our state, region and country. I was flown around the Middle East in C-130s and understand the critical role they play in our national defense.

I will stand with Little Rock Air Force Base 100 percent.

What does your young family think about your running for office?

They are extraordinarily supportive and proud of the campaign we are building.

Next: House Speaker Robbie Wills.

TOP STORY >> Frustrated McGill considers lawsuit

Leader staff writer

Rob McGill, acting superintendent for the Pulaski County Special School District, is considering legal action after a confidential report was leaked regarding allegations he had made racist remarks.

Rizelle Aaron of the Jack-sonville chapter of the NAACP divulged that he had been sent the report, which summarizes findings of the investigation by Lassiter and Couch, a Little Rock law firm.

He made the revelation during the public-comment period at a special meeting Monday of the PCSSD School Board.

The firm released the 24-page report last Friday to school board members and Jay Baquette, attorney for PCSSD. Only late Monday afternoon did McGill receive the report.

The report on the investigation is part of McGill’s personnel file. Releasing it without authorization violates district policy.

In response to Aaron’s statement, McGill said he wanted to release the report after all names of witnesses – all PCSSD employees – were blacked out. The report sent to board members and leaked to Aaron contained witness names.

The report was released to news media Tuesday afternoon, with names blacked out.

“It is very serious, something that you just don’t do other than to officials who have the need and right to know,” McGill said. “I am considering an investigation into the matter.”

McGill would not say whether he was considering a sanction against the individual who released the report or legal action.

“I will be talking to my personal legal counsel about that,” McGill said.

School board president Tim Clark said that whether to go for ward with an investigation will be a board decision.

“It is important to keep personnel information confidential,” Clark said. “A, it is important that it never happen again, and B, does the board want another investigation?”

The report summarizes interviews with four witnesses regarding an incident alleged to have occurred in January in the lobby of the Arkansas Department of Education building immediately following the Arkansas Board of Education’s denial of two PCSSD charter school applications.

The lawyers’ report concluded: “(W)e find that Mr. McGill did not make a racially insensitive remark. We wish to point out at this time that we do not believe any of the witnesses are lying or even shading the truth. We believe they told us exactly what they remember hearing or not hearing.”

McGill requested the independent investigation after a copy of a letter about the alleged incident was publicized. The letter was from a black PCSSD employee to McGill. The person alleges McGill said, following denial of the charter application,

“They gave the blacks something, but didn’t give the whites nothing.”

McGill has since said that what was overheard was his chastising a white employee, who had made the charter school presentation. He said that out of frustration the person commented that the race of the presenters might have had a bearing on the state board’s decision. All members of the PCSSD presentation team were white.

According to McGill, he corrected the employee, pointing out that Little Rock School District presenters, also white, were denied an application as well.

McGill met with the employee who sent him the letter, distraught over the alleged comments. Subsequently, the employee sent a letter to the PCSSD saying that the matter was resolved.

“I met with Acting Superintendent Rob McGill today. Apology extended and accepted. I want to make sure that my letter does NOT interfere with his opportunity to interview for our district’s superintendent.”

McGill says he was not apologizing for making racial remarks but for the other employee’s comments.

According to the report, sometime after the incident, rumors began to circulate among PCSSD personnel that McGill had used the word, “nigra,” or “negro” that day in the ADE building lobby.

And by other reports, McGill apologized for the alleged remarks at a PCSSD school board meeting, which would seem to indicate that he indeed made the comments.

According to the investigators’ report, regarding what McGill said about the matter at a board meeting: “(T)here is significant dispute about whether he admitted making the remark or not. Mr. McGill’s explanation, as well as that of other witnesses who attended the meeting, leads us to the conclusion that Mr. McGill tried to explain the comment as it related to the comment of another employee without providing too many details prior to the investigation. This explanation has been apparently construed by some as an admission, although we do not believe that is a fair construction.”

Board vice president Charlie Wood said that he favored “asking someone to prosecute” whoever leaked the report.

Aaron says that the report does not clear McGill, but simply fails to make a clear case against him. His obtaining the report without authorization is no different than what occurs with leaks to the press in the public’s interest – “kind of like reporters,” he said.

TOP STORY >> McGill may not reapply, board scrambles to regroup

Leader staff writer

Shunned by the Pulaski County Special School District board Monday evening, Rob McGill, the acting superintendent, is considering withdrawing his name from consideration for the superintendent’s job.

McGill and Vashti Washington were the two finalists for the job and Washington withdrew her name on Friday to take another job, but instead of offering McGill the job, the board voted 6-1 to restart the search and interview as many as four candidates.

The board had planned to select a superintendent this week following a final round of applicant interviews. Washington is an assistant superintendent from South Carolina.

“Dr. Washington pulling her application kind of threw us all for a loop,” board president Tim Clark said after the meeting. “The bottom line is we couldn’t get a majority of the board to agree to McGill.”

The firm hired by the board to conduct a national search has been asked to reinitiate the process immediately. McGill will have to reapply if he wants to stay in the running.

“We will ask for two to four good candidates in seven to 10 days, and hopefully we’ll have this wrapped up within a month,” Clark said.

McGill said he was surprised by the board’s decision in light of its stance two weeks ago in unanimous support of him as one of two top contenders. He indicated that he may not reapply.

“I don’t know yet; I will be considering that,” McGill said. “I am disappointed at this point, but the board has made its decision.”


Board member Charlie Wood cast the only vote against reopening the application process. He said that he was relieved that the board voted as it did “rather than dismiss McGill’s chances altogether.”

After the meeting, Wood released a two-page statement to the press expressing his support for hiring McGill, the remaining candidate. Wood contends that some board members are unfairly biased against McGill because he is white and because of strong opposition from the teacher’s union. The board in December voted to decertify the teacher union.

Three board members are black and four are white.

“(T)he board publicly agreed that these were the two best candidates,” stated Wood, who is white. “Now, though, there is only one of those two choices remaining; so it seems obvious to most objective people in my zone that the choice of Rob McGill is now natural. The board agreed on a method and process, and followed it diligently. However, now some Board members say that agreed upon process needs to be scrapped because they have a personal agenda against Mr. McGill. It is not supposed to work that way.”

According to Wood, the allegations against McGill that he made racially charged comments were an orchestrated attempt to discredit him.

“(I)t has been a disgraceful attempt to undermine the reputation of a good, honest and hard- working man just to insure the hiring of a favored candidate,” Wood said.

Board member Bill Vasquez of Jacksonville said the board decision was simply that “we were not ready to move forward” with selecting McGill.

The person selected for superintendent will be either taking on a district newly released from federal court supervision or a “district with a lot of work to do,” Vasquez said. “This is a big decision and the candidate we hire has to be able holistically to heal this district including all the stakeholders. This district has 17,000 students and 5,000 employees and taxpayers … There is a ton of people who have a vested interest in our making the right decision.”

Board member Gwendolyn Williams, who is black, said that her interest in reopening the application process was about McGill’s qualifications for the post. She says the allegations did not have a bearing on her decision.

“Regardless of all that, bottom line, is that I do not feel McGill is qualified and has enough experience. He was granted an interview only because a board member asked for that out of courtesy because he is the acting superintendent. Other candidates were more highly qualified head and shoulders above Rob McGill.”

Board member Danny Gililland, who is white, said that he would have preferred that the board consider McGill and their next-second pick among the original field of finalists rather than reopen the application process.

He said his interest in looking at other applicants in addition to McGill was “about experience.” Gililland added that he was glad that McGill was exonerated before a board decision about how to proceed in the candidate search.

Other applicants have more years of experience as a superintendent or deputy superintendent than McGill, who had none prior to his service in the past year.

He took leave a year ago from his position as principal of Pine Forest Elementary School to serve as acting superintendent after James Sharpe resigned in 2009. McGill’s current contract runs out at the end of June. If he is not hired as superintendent, he will go back to his former position.

Sawyer, who is black, said that she wants to re-open the application process because of her desire to find the best-qualified person. Feedback from public forums on candidates conducted in December shaped her thinking, Sawyer said.

Strong leadership skills, a willingness to communicate with the community and engage with school personnel to meet state and board expectations, and accountability are paramount, she said.

As for the allegations against McGill and the independent investigator’s report, Sawyer said all of that had “no play at all” on her decision.

Clark, who is white, said that the allegations and report had “no bearing” on the discussion of McGill’s candidacy.

“My concern is finding the right person for the job,” Clark said.

Board member Mildred Tatum did not return phone calls for comment Tuesday.


The board vote concluded a tumultuous meeting in which Rizelle Aaron of the Jacksonville chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People divulged during the public comment period that he had been leaked the report on an investigation into allegations that McGill had made racially insensitive remarks following the state Board of Education’s denial of a PCSSD application for a school charter.

Subsequently, McGill asked that an independent investigation be conducted. The Little Rock law firm of Lassiter and Couch conducted the investigation and on Feb. 26 emailed a report on its findings to board members and attorney Jay Baquette.

Aaron said that the findings did not clear McGill, but were “inconclusive.”

Aaron was responding to a statement issued by Wood to the press Sunday that McGill had been exonerated.

Upon hearing Aaron say that he had read the report, McGill told him that he had obtained the report illegally and went on to say that he wanted the report made public after all witness names were redacted. The report is part of McGill’s personnel file.

McGill said that Wood’s issuing the press release was “inappropriate and unethical.”

Later, Aaron said he had done nothing illegal by receiving the report.

“I receive information anonymously daily in my capacity with the NAACP,” Aaron said. “The person who sent it was illegal.”

Baquette said the leak of the report on McGill was not illegal, but was a violation of district policy.

“Personnel files are confidential and are not to be disclosed to people who do not have the authority to review them,” Baquette said.

As of Tuesday, most board members said that either they had not received the investigator’s report or had not had time to read it.

Gililland said he had no objection to what Wood did. On the other hand, board member Sandra Sawyer said she would have liked time to review the report before reading about it in the newspaper Monday.

“I don’t think that is the way we should operate as a board,” Sawyer said. “We should keep everyone informed including the news media, but let’s be sure we have all our ducks in a row first. I like to be involved and kept in the loop.”

At the board meeting, Williams told Wood that all board statements should come from the president.

“Okay, you can slap my hand,” said Wood, who is board vice president. “I checked with Baquette and he said it was important to get the information out to the public.”

At the time, Clark was out of town.

TOP STORY >> Court oversight should end, say experts in court

Leader senior staff writer

Pulaski County Special School District is unitary—or desegregated—for purposes of discipline, student enrollment and teacher assignment, more so than most districts that have been declared unitary and more than most districts in the United States, experts testified Monday and Tuesday before District Judge Brian S. Miller.

While simple numbers show that blacks are more likely to be disciplined than whites, economic status and not race is the determining factor in all areas of achievement and discipline nationwide, Christine Rossell testified Tuesday. Rossell, a Boston University professor who is a statistician and a social scientist, said that explains why black students are suspended disproportionately.

Tuesday was the second day of testimony in a PCSSD desegregation hearing that could last three weeks, according to John Walker, lead attorney for the Joshua Intervenors, who oppose a finding of unitary status in the decades-old desegregation case.

PCSSD and its attorney, Sam Jones, opened the hearing Monday with David Armor, Rossell’s colleague and co-author, who testified that the district was unitary for racial balance regarding student enrollment and teacher assignment.

Armor uses a standard of plus or minus 15 percent to evaluate teacher assignment by race compared to the census data, and plus or minus 20 percent for student assignment at a school.

Armor said his standards had passed muster with the U.S. Supreme Court in at least one previous case.

He said absolute racial balance in all schools is “virtually impossible to ever hope to achieve.”

“In my opinion, the PCSSD has adopted and implemented a desegregation plan that has been effective in meeting the requirements of unitary status that courts have established in the areas of student and staff assignment,” according to Armor, a George Mason University professor of public policy.

Virtually all PCSSD schools except Harris Elementary and Bayou Meto Elementary, which is exempt as a geographically isolated school, meet Armor’s standard.

“The only feasible way to desegregate Harris is to close it,” Armor said.

Both Rossell and Armor were paid by the state to study those areas, write reports and testify.

The Little Rock and North Little Rock districts and PCSSD have been intertwined for about 30 years in the complicated and expensive “solution” to school segregation in Pulaski County.

The Little Rock School District has been declared unitary. Miller heard the North Little Rock School District petition for unitary status in February and the PCSSD hearing started Monday.

Miller has said he won’t make a ruling in either case until he has reviewed the transcripts.

Some Jacksonville residents believe a declaration of unitary status for PCSSD would bring Jacksonville a step closer to having its own school district.

“The Pulaski County Special School District has eliminated vestiges of racism…discipline is not meted out on the bases of race and it meets the conditions of unitary for discipline,” Rossell said.

Hired by the state, she conducted a study that concluded:

The racial disparity in suspensions is almost entirely caused by differences in the rates of poverty between the races—a factor outside the control of the district;

There is no evidence of racial discrimination on the part of white administrators;

Racial disparities are less than most districts that have attained unitary status and

PCSSD has complied with the discipline requirements of its court orders to the extent practicable and should be declared unitary in that area.

She praised the PCSSD’s student handbooks as “probably the most detailed…I’ve seen.”

Using the qualifications for the free school-lunch program as a definition of poverty, Rossell said the qualifying for a free lunch is the greatest predictor of whether or not a student is likely to be a discipline problem—based on suspensions.

Although the district has more white students than black, a higher percentage of black students qualify for the free lunches.

The district has done an extraordinary job in creating a clear and fair district-wide discipline management plan, she said.

“We will see the disparity disappear when poverty disappears,” she said.

“Students spend (only) 9 percent of their time in school by the time they are 18,” she said, adding there wasn’t much a district could do to counter the bad effects of poverty at home on discipline and achievement.

Rossell drew laughter from the Joshua and Knight Intervenors when she said of racial discrimination, “If you do the proper statistical analysis, you can almost make it disappear.”

Questioned by the judge, who asked a lot of questions and has exhibited curiosity and humor throughout the first two days of the hearing, she said that racial prejudice still exists, but that actual discrimination on the basis of race is rare because it is socially and legally unacceptable. She said that when it appears that banks are discriminating against blacks in making loans, if you factored in all the data—such as financial history, job history, credit scores—than the racial disparity disappears and that it’s poverty and not race that’s the critical factor.

Robert Pressman, an attorney for the Joshua Intervenors, spent about two hours attacking Rossell’s credibility and challenging her methods and motivation.

He quoted a judge in one case as saying, “Dr. Rossell’s credibility was not credible.”

Under redirect examination by Jones, the PCSSD attorney, Rossell said she had generally favorable reviews by the judges in the cases she testified in, and that she had been told she knew desegregation law better than many desegregation lawyers.

Pressman noted that Rossell used free lunches as the poverty standard, while she previously used free and reduced lunches combined in her analysis.

Rossell said students could come from lower-middle-class and middle-class homes and still qualify for reduced lunches, meaning it wasn’t a good indicator of poverty.

Pressman asked if she didn’t always find districts to meet unitary standards when they were her employers. She said she often found districts to not meet unitary standards in some areas and then advised them not to apply for unitary status until they had met those standards.

Pressman also asked her whether or not she had considered the terms of the Plan 2000 desegregation agreement.

She agreed that she hadn’t studied whether or not various guidelines were met for erasing the disparity in discipline because it’s attributable to poverty and at a very reasonable level.

Also Monday, Laura Shirley, director of the gifted and talented and advanced placement program, said partially in order to eliminate the disparity between percentages and numbers of blacks and whites in those classes, they had been thrown open to all students who wanted to take them.

“We meet the standard and we’re compliant,” Shirley said.

She was cross-examined by Walker, who asked, “You have a recruitment strategy to increase black participation. Have you found that a number of black students start out in AP classes, then drop out?”

“That happens,” said Shirley.

“Have you assisted (school) principals to work to get more AP blacks?” Walker asked her, referring to a provision in the Plan 2000 desegregation agreement.

She said she had done so.

TOP STORY >> Filings make it official

The Capitol Rotunda in Little Rock was full of eager candidates on Monday as they filed for this year’s elections.

Political candidates started filing for state and local offices on Monday and Tuesday at the state Capitol and county courthouses.

The filing period for the May 18 primaries ends Monday.

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, a Republican, and former state Rep. Lenville Evans of Lonoke, a Democrat, filed Monday for Senate Dist. 28 to succeed Sen. Bobby Glover (D-Carlisle), who is term limited.

The district covers Lonoke, Prairie and Arkansas counties.

“I’m excited about the race,” said Williams, who has decided not to run for a second term as mayor.

Rep. Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) and former Rep. Sandra Prater of Jacksonville, a Democrat, filed Monday for Senate Dist. 29 to succeed Sen. John Paul Capps (D-Searcy), who is term limited.

The district includes parts of north Pulaski, White and Faulkner counties.

Jesse Boyce, a Democrat, and Jeremy Gillam, a Republican filed for Dismang’s House seat in Dist. 49.

Rep. Walls McCrary (D-Lonoke) filed for re-election in Dist. 15, as did Rep. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) in Dist. 42 and Jim Nickels (D-Sherwood) in Dist. 43.

Former state Sen. Tim Wooldridge, Chad Causey and Terry G. Green, all Democrats, and Rick Crawford, a Republican, have filed in the First Congressional District to succeed retiring Rep. Marion Berry.

Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley filed for re-election for a sixth term. He’s the longest-serving prosecutor in Pulaski County history.

Tim Blair, a Democrat, filed for Lonoke County prosecuting attorney in Lonoke County to succeed interim Prosecuting Attorney Will Feland, who is filling out the unexpired term of Lona McCastlain, who resigned.

Justice of the Peace Bob Johnson of Jacksonville filed for re-election to the Pulaski County Quorum Court in Dist. 11.

SPORTS >> Hardwood, harder lines in headlines

Leader sports editor

We’ve gotten a little wrapped up in high school basketball here lately with last week’s regionals and the state tournaments starting this week, but a lot of things have happened elsewhere in sports, so it’s time to play catch-up.

It sure was a wild and woolly Winter Olympics, complete with death, personal tragedy, personality clashes, blunders, mishaps and breathtaking performances. Sunday’s gold-medal hockey game between the U.S. and Canada, won in overtime by the Canadians on the home ice of Vancouver, was the best hockey game I’ve watched in 10 years.

It was the only hockey game I’ve watched in 10 years, but still.

And I’ll never forget Canada’s women’s hockey players celebrating their gold-medal victory, also over the U.S., by swilling beer and smoking cigars on the ice — my kind of women.

But the thing that will stick with me is the weather conditions.

Heavy rains and the warmest January on record left Cypress Mountain, the site of snowboarding and freestyle skiing events, practically barren. Snow cannons were brought to bear, and snow was also trucked in and shipped by helicopter.

To all the newly minted, global warming “experts” who saw winter snow in Arkansas and thought it meant global warming doesn’t exist, what does it mean when Canada has to truck in snow?

The up-and-down hardwood Hogs of Arkansas became the first SEC victim of LSU, which improved to 1-12 in the conference when it beat Arkansas in Baton Rogue and prompted — again — the question “How does Razorbacks coach John Pelphrey keep his job?”

I submit Pelphrey is the J. Edgar Hoover of college basketball, surviving because he has a file cabinet full of unflattering dossiers on his superiors.

Hey, speaking of LSU, notice how coach Trent Johnson’s team has struggled since the remnants of former coach John Brady’s last squad have departed? And did you notice how Brady, in his second year at Arkansas State, has improved the Red Wolves from 13-17 and 5-13 in the Sun Belt West last year to 16-13, 11-7 this year?

The Red Wolves meet rival UALR to settle their series, tied 1-1 after the regular season, in the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament in Hot Springs on Saturday.

Speaking of Arkansas State, the football team is on its second offensive coordinator since firing Doug Ruse last fall. The first, former Memphis staffer Clay Helton, came and went without coaching a down, departing for USC to join well-known program-jumper Lane Kiffin last month.

Arkansas State has replaced Helton with Hugh Freeze, who comes from household name Lambuth.

I sort of predicted this kind of thing would happen when the university oddly announced head coach Steve Roberts was staying after last year’s disappointing 4-8 finish — despite the fact Roberts is still signed through next season — but without announcing a contract extension.

It was the kind of ringing vote of no confidence that scares off potential staff hires and the kind of thing opposing recruiters can use against a program.

Arkansas State, which hides behind the press release the way the Wizard of Oz once skulked behind his curtain, rather peevishly chose not to name Helton’s new employer when it announced his departure.

I mean, come on!

That’s what columnists say when they can’t think of a better way to express outrage.

For example, I noticed on Yahoo that the NFL Combine was recently among the most frequent searches. The Combine? Didn’t the Super Bowl end, like, last week?

I mean, come on!

Baseball spring training is under way in Florida and Arizona, which means the Los Angeles Angels will soon be deciding which up-and-coming prospects and players not yet ready for the big time will comprise the roster for the Arkansas Travelers, who open play at Midland, Texas, on April 8.

Speaking of the Travelers, former Travelers pitcher and hall of famer Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) made the news recently for blocking the short-term extension of unemployment and health care benefits in the Senate. Bunning’s move also led to the furlough, without pay, of two thousand federal transportation workers.

It was not the best pitch made by a man who was 18-23 in two different seasons at Little Rock and went on to throw a perfect game during his 17-year, hall of fame career with Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.

Bunning, who at the request of his own party is not running for re-election, reportedly uttered a more profane version of “tough toenails” when asked to relent and complained he had been ambushed by Democrats who caused him to miss the
Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game.

Apparently the old pitcher has forgotten how to play ball.

I mean, come on!