Thank goodness it’s Friday. Back to routine next week. Finishing up:
* BIG ORANGE ROLLOUT: Big Orange, the boffo burger and salad place in The Promenade in Chenal, had confirmed to us earlier plans for a new outlet in the Midtowne center. They’ve made it official-er now with a Twitter today and and a target opening date of summer. Lindsey has details at Eat Arkansas.
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* ARKANSAS SPORTS HALL OF FAME REPORTS THEFT: The Democrat-Gazette reports a North Little Rock police report of an apparent theft of $140,000 from the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. A former employee is suspected of tapping Hall money for personal purchases over a period of six years.
* DECOUPAGE FOR CHRIST: Mike Huckabee reaped a publicity bonanza by fanning the flames of anti-gay bigotry in support of Chick-fil-A. Now he has a new hobby horse, so to speak. He’s hoping to stir up a similar outpouring of people who’ll go to the fundamentalist-owned Hobby Lobby and buy lots of craft crapola as a show of support for the chain’s defiance of the federal law that says private health insurance should cover a full range of preventive care for women. Preventive health care includes birth control pills. The Hobby Lobby owners don’t approve religiously of contraception in the form of pills taken in the hours after unprotected sex. This is abortion in their view. Where a Chick-fil-A snack box became required trade dress for right-wing Republican outings, I guess a Hobby Lobby bag full of knitting supplies will now be required. Going to be a slightly harder sell, I’d guess, but never underestimate the Huckster.
* ACTIVE SHOOTERS IN SCHOOLS: The directors of the State Police and the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training talked today about establishing a committee of law officers and others to draw up a preparedness training plan for “active shooter situations” in schools. The aim is said to be a uniform plan statewide and available to school districts at the Law Enforcement Training Academy. Greenbrier schools hold such an exercise today. Ken Jones, the commission director, is leading the initiative.
* WEIRDNESS AT UAMS: So the woman who supposedly left UAMS as CFO to take a job in Tennessee is going to stay on the UAMS Foundation payroll for a year as a consultant at a tidy $312,120 and be available as needed for questions. That is a whale of a double dip, if she is indeed working somewhere in Tennessee. UAMS says she hasn’t shared the name of her new employer with them. Stephens Media reports. Cue Twilight Zone.
* BUDGET BUSTING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS: In a piecemeal fashion, I’ve been trying to get a better feel for how the University of Arkansas advancement division could run $3 million over budget. And how it could happen without a lot of people being aware of it. The explanations to date have been difficult to follow. Chancellor David Gearhart provided this explanation after Arkansas Business sniffed something was amiss in early December. Brad Choate, the $340,000-a-year head of the division and the division’s chief financial officer were reassigned after the discovery. Some have criticized the UA for not firing the two.
Today, I pass along some information compiled at my request by John Diamond, the UA asssociate vice chancellor for university relations. It breaks down the deficit spending that was occurring in each of the major segments of the division. Expenses actually ran more than $5 million over budgeted amount, though the bottom line was $3 million over the budgeted revenue expected from the university’s private foundation. Overpayment of salaries and wages — by more than $3.6 million in the university development division alone — drove the deficit. I’m trying to get more information about specifically how these sums were run up and for whom. But in the meanwhile, the division breakdown of deficit spending follows on the jump, along with some notes from Diamond in explanation of financial procedure.