A couple of unrelated, wholly unsubstantiated bits of rumor going around so widely that I thought I’d ask what others had heard.
1) Former legislator Joyce Elliott is in line to head the state Health Department after Gov. Mike Beebe exercises his option to split it off from Human Services.
2) The special Little Rock School Board meeting last week was fraught with significance. It was cancelled because two members were unavailable to meet. Unhappiness with Superintendent Roy Brooks may be coming to a head. It would take four votes to fire him or come up with a buyout offer. Such an action would bring the grief of important business people, such as the daily newspaper publisher, down on the head of the district, with probably damaging public relations consequences. On the other hand, the story also goes that some of those same influential people are working to make friends of members they’ve opposed previously.
UPDATE: A health professional I respect offers the following thoughts on the Health Department:
Public health is a professional discipline, not a bureaucratic function. Ark funds a fraction of what other states provide per capita to run the Health Department, and the agency stretches Centers for Disease Control and other dollars to provide what should be state core functions. Halverson (currently leading the Health division of DHHS) wrote THE book for the American Public Health Association on state and local public health, and has Steve Bodigheimer from CDC in admin– good guys.