A couple of items from the morning mail and web review:
* BALLOT QUESTION ISSUE UNSOLVED: AP’s Andrew DeMillo writes this week about how the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling striking a casino amendment from the ballot underscores the failure of a law intended to avoid last-minute challenges of ballot measures. A last-minute challenge was raised — after signatures were gathered — and a good-faith effort to avoid potential shortfalls in the language caused the proposal’s invalidation by the court. Catch 22.
* MED CENTER/CHURCH-STATE MERGER: Joann Coleman, a neighbor who happens to be a lawyer and a dedicated opponent of the idea to merge many operations of UAMS with the private, Catholic Church-run St. Vincent Infirmary tells me she cornered Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel at a social event about the proposal. By her account, Gov. Mike Beebe offered assurances that the proposal was aimed at being unlike a similar idea rejected by the Kentucky governor on account of irreconcilable church-state problems. Beebe seemed to express surprise that the University of Arkansas had hired an out-of-state mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer to work on the project. Ever Beebe, he promised to consider any material she gathered. McDaniel, by her account, said he’d unofficially expressed concerns about religious establishment in the deal, but emphasized he hadn’t been asked by anyone for an official opinion. Maybe some public official could remedy that by asking the A.G. to weigh in?
* ARKANSAS BLACK HALL OF FAME MEMBER HENRY SHEAD DIES IN LAS VEGAS: I received word over the weekend of the death of Henry Shead, 71, a Fordyce native and a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. His musical talent was evident as a child and he became a musician and music teacher and choir director before devoting full-time to performing. He moved to Las Vegas in the 1970s and he was a popular band leader at the major hotels over the years.
UPDATE: I asked McDaniel’s office for a comment relative to what had been reported to me, in greater detail, about his comments related to the UAMS/St. Vincent operating agreement. A spokesman responded:
The Attorney General does not think it is appropriate to comment on matters discussed privately with constituents at social gatherings.
However, in regard to the potential merger, our office relayed to the University’s in-house counsel a number of concerns based on the lessons learned in Kentucky. Legal counsel in this matter is being provided by the University, which is customary.