Slow day for me. The line is open. Couple of things:
* FOURTH BRANCH?: Legislative Audit raised questions yesterday about a group of Arkansas Supreme Court employees whose salaries and pensions were set up outside the state budgeting process for the thousands of other state employees, including the members of the Supreme Court themselves. Good questions about how, constitutionally, the court can control that group of employees. Even if the costs come from special fee income — as do costs in nooks and crannies all over state government — seems like they should be treated the same as all over state government, not like a special palace guard. I was interested that the original story in D-G commented on how some court-controlled employees made more than the governor and attorney general, whose pay is limited by constitution. For the record: These employees also generally make less than the top hands at Legislative Audit. Roger Norman, head of audit, made $158,000 in 2010-11. Audit lawyer Frank Arey, who raised the questions, makes $130,000.
* JON HUBBARD’S PROBLEM: DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE: Great opinion piece in the Jonesboro Sun, paywall protected, by managing editor Maria Flor about bad boy Republican Rep. Jon Hubbard, whose wild-eyed letters to the editor full of incendiary remarks about the positive side of slavery and the evils of desegregation have rightly drawn international attention. Some excerpts: