The line is open. Closing out:
* TREASURER’S AUDIT ON AGENDA: The fiscal year audit of the state treasurer’s office is on the agenda of the Legislative Joint Auditing Commitee Friday morning, though it’s not available for public review yet. A separate audit will assess Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s securities buying practices, which have drawn some attention. Auditors will be expected to address whether securities salesmen had equal access and provided competitive terms for state deposit business and whether the money was churned by any dealers to produce commissions or in ways that cost the state money. The audit won’t delve into some questions that arose about handling of her campaign finance account. That would be a matter for the Ethics Commission or other legal authorities. There will be a separate audit review of investment practices of the treasurer and state Board of Finance in the dramatically changed financial markets, where paltry returns are the best possible on CDs, once a state staple, and the bond market has also undergone changes. The Audit Committee also will discuss a review of the Rehabilitation Services Division of the state Career Education Department, where some decisions by agency head Bill Walker have stirred controversy.
* THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA AT HARDING: A POSTSCRIPT: Michael Brown wrote a fascinating article for the Times earlier this year with little-known history about support for racial justice at what is now Harding University back during the tumultuous Little Rock school crisis. Brown’s blog provides a postscript on that article, rounding up the generally positive reaction he heard, but reporting also on criticism from an unhappy Harding staff member at a recent Christian Scholars Conference. If you liked the original story as much as I did, I think you’ll be interested.
* DECONSTRUCTING SCHOOL REFORM MYTHS: Got some time? Check into the Daily Howler from time to time. He’s a former teacher and an equal opportunity scold of left and right on education issues. But he’s particularly insightful in taking down the mainstream media’s programming with favorite themes of the Billionaire Boys Club’s “reform” movement. Actually, U.S. students ARE making progress. Did you know, for example, that black students now score higher in math than white students did during the Bill Clinton presidency, including in big city schools? Sounds like progress to me.
* COURTHOUSES SPARED: There are no Arkansas courthouses on the final list of federal courthouses targeted for closure to save money. Six Arkansas courthouses had been potential targets.