Lots of odds and ends have floated in, so let me round them up here.
* HEY, REX, I DIDN’T MISS MIKE HUCKABEE THAT MUCH: Rex Nelson — voice of OBU, major domo of the Political Animals Club and former mouthpiece for a Florida resident who once was governor of Arkansas — noted my headlined column last week, “Missing Mike Huckabee.” So he knew I”d want to get word out loud and proud that the tax fugitive sugar-sand beachcomber is going to be back in town next week.
Yes, Michael Dale Huckabee will speak to the Political Animals at 7 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25 at the Little Rock Club. It costs $20 and that covers breakfast, not a speaker’s fee for the Huckster, who’s hinted lately he might have another presidential run in him.
* DRUNKEN ESCAPADES FASCINATE CANADIANS: Canada had to get through their Thanksgiving holidays first, but national newspapers have lately been having a field day with stories from Little Rock about the Capital Hotel capers of a wealthy stockbroker from Toronto who’s been sued for injuring a hotel valet in alcohol-fueled hijinks. Dropped trousers, encounters with women, stood-up investment colleagues and more were part of the account in the lawsuit and accompanying hotel security account of Michael Wekerle’s very bad night. Several newspapers picked up the video we put together from an exterior security camera.
In a statement emailed to the Star by his lawyer, Wekerle said the incident occurred during a difficult period of his life.
“I had just lost my wife and I still have difficult moments. While I dispute certain parts of the allegations, I acknowledge that on that night three years ago I behaved in a way that I’m not particularly proud of. For that, I apologize. There is a legal process currently unfolding and I am going to let it run its course,” he wrote.
At the time of the incident, Wekerle had just become a single dad with four children younger than 11, said his lawyer, Jeff Kehoe.
“Mr. Wekerle is aware of this historic incident and he plans to defend this vigorously,” Kehoe said.
Sure. If my wife had died when my children were young, I might have flown to Toronto, gotten knee walking drunk and dropped my pants in the bar of the fanciest hotel in town. Wouldn’t you?
* I’VE GOT NINE GENERATIONS. DO I HEAR TEN? Several Republican candidates have made a point of emphasizing — in every news release — their family roots in Arkansas. At least a couple have claimed six generations of Arkansas ancestry. Comes today Little Rock banker French Hill, whose truly glittering resume mentions that he’s a “ninth generation” Arkansan. (He’s a Republican and running for a Heights-area state House of Representatives seat.) So his 7-great-grandpap was hanging in the ‘hood with maybe, who?, DeSoto? Can anybody top that? And, French, could you send me the genealogy? It has to be fascinating.
A stray thought on all those deep-rooted Arkies from a first-generation variety (does it count if my wife goes four deep, or so?) Doesn’t it follow that — the longer your family claims roots in Arkansas — the greater responsibility you bear for our low estate all these years?
* BBQ FAN NOTE: Joe McClard, 70, who succeeded his grandfather and father as operator of McClard’s Bar-B-Q in Hot Springs, died Oct. 9. He was no longer active in the business. Subsequent generations of the family are now in charge. He went straight to work in the business after high school. Funeral is Saturday.
* HERE’S A JOB FOR LEGISLATIVE AUDIT: It involves a Republican-controlled city and, specifically, Bryant Mayor Jill “Republican” Dabbs, so the Republican-friendly Legislative Audit Division probably isn’t interested. But I am not buying the story that Mayor Dabbs peddled to the City Council and Democrat-Gazette in explanation of how she and three city cohorts struck a good deal by upgrading to first-class plane tickets to a convention in Boston, a jaunt that cost the city a cool $11,000.
Mayor Jill Dabbs, City Attorney Chris Madison, Human Resource Director Shari Knight and a planning and development employee all flew first class to Boston because they said it was cheaper than paying the luggage fees associated with coach tickets.
“It cut luggage expenses in half and saved the city money,” Dabbs told the council at a Finance and Personnel Committee meeting Monday night. She noted that the tickets were purchased as coach and upgraded at the airport when they realized it would save money.
I simply don’t buy this. I’ve done a lot of flying. If you could get a first-class upgrade for the cost of a bag or two (how many bags did Republican Dabbs take on this trip, anyway? It was just a League of Cities convention, not a big game safari) everybody would be flying in the front of the plane. Has anybody requested receipts? Found the cost of the coach tickets? Found the cost of the upgrade? Checked the airline’s policy on baggage charges generally and charges for additional bags. Investigative reporting needed. Mr. Arey? Mr. Norman? I’ve flown American Airlines to Boston and you can check one bag for $25, and check a second for $35. Plus you can carry stuff on.
When the immaculate upgrade deal is thoroughly examined, then see if the credit card companies can supply the specifics missing on the charge card reimbursements the foursome turned in. Best part of the Beantown Boondoggle was Dabbs’ wish the alderman with questions about her travel expenses would have called her personally rather than bringing the matter up in a public meeting. No doubt.