The line is open. Closing out:
- SAVE PETRINO RALLY: Last night in Fayetteville.
* BOBBY PETRINO UPDATE: Nothing to report from Fayetteville so far today, but there are unconfirmed reports floating that Athletic Director Jeff Long is meeting with football coach Petrino. The talk isn’t likely about new uniforms, if so.
Meanwhile, here’s what an Atlanta sportswriter says about it. Everybody, particularly Arkansas fans who support Petrino, ought to be ashamed:
Over 21,000 Arkansas fans have joined a “Team Save Bobby Petrino” Facebook page. Some-200 fans showed up for a public protest to save the job of a man who for the better part of his career has proved to be a liar, a coward and morally bankrupt — all of which might matter if he went 7-6 instead of 11-2 last season.
… Petrino’s acts aren’t surprising. He proved himself flawed and devoid of character long ago. He lied and ducked out the back door at previous jobs, most notably the Falcons, where he didn’t even complete the season. Players knew him as two-faced and cowardly. While they were preparing for a game, he was talking to Arkansas. When even the esteemed Warrick Dunn calls you “selfish” and “a liar,” you know you’ve done something wrong.
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long amusingly is being cast as some upstanding guy in all this. Remember, he went behind owner Arthur Blank’s back to interview Petrino during the season while the coach was under contract. If it’s up to Long, Petrino stays. Why? Because he wins.
* CHARTER SCHOOLS ADVANCE: The state Board of Education approved another round of charter school renewals. They included an enrollment increase for the LISA Academy from 600 to 800. Board member Vicki Saviers said more options were needed in Little Rock for middle schools. Yes, particularly because charter schools such as LISA and eStem, established without regard for the state’s desegregation promises, have leached so many white and middle class and already adequately performing students out of Little Rock magnet schools. Dunbar was particularly hurt by LISA. Its renewal was limited to five years on a motion by Sam Ledbetter when it wanted 10.
* STATE WINS RISPERDAL CASE: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office said the state had won unanimous jury verdicts today on deceptive trade practice and Medicaid fraud allegations in the lawsuit against Johnson and Johnson and a subsidiary for not giving adequate warnings about side effects on children and elderly patients of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. The financial penalty phase will be argued tomorrow morning. McDaniel has said damages could reach $1.2 billion if a penalty is assessed for every prescription over the 3.5 years at issue in the trial.
* MAIN STREET BLUES: I wrote back in February that the Arkansas Redevelopment Authority wasn’t happy about finances and tax payments on $1.8 million in redevelopment loans to Scott Reed, who had big plans for Main Street redevelopment that has so far primarily produced the troubled Porter’s restaurant. The Arkansas Development Finance Authority has taken back most of the property.
* JUSTICE IN ARIZONA: The former prosecutor that infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio used to target his political enemies was disbarred today. An aide was also disbarred and another aide had a license suspended.
* WALMART UPDATE: I’m hearing a July opening for the Riverdale Walmart Supercenter Jr.
* ALEC LOSES A HAPPY MEAL TICKET: Common Cause says McDonald’s has joined the list of corporate sponsors abandoning ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.
* HUCKSTERING: The Mike Huckabee radio show got off to a riproaring start with a caller praising him to the skys. Of course. It was a plant.