Presents from the president



Last week, inspection of UCA Foundation records showed that UCA President Lu Hardin has used his presidential discretionary fund financed by the Foundation to lavish gifts — gift baskets, flowers, hams, for example — on the board members who keep him employed and others. So the question: Is it normal practice in other Arkansas universities for presidents and chancellors to have similar expense accounts — Hardin’s is more than $70,000 a year — and hand out such loot?

Officials at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville say the practice isn’t followed at the state’s largest campus. Chancellor David Gearhart can be reimbursed for expenses on official travel and business, but he has no discretionary fund. There is no fund to purchase flowers, gifts and awards. A UA spokesman said, “The development office does use branded gifts for major donor cultivation and sends flowers on a very limited basis. These are occasionally sent on behalf of the chancellor.”



Airtime for clean air



Opponents of the coal-fired plant that Southwestern Electric Power Co. is determined to build next to one of Arkansas’s most beautiful and important natural areas have found a voice on the air: No Coal Radio, broadcast at 9 a.m. every Tuesday on KABF, 88.3.

No Coal Radio features an interview each week — state Rep. Kathy Webb, No New Coal organizer James Burke, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality head Teresa Marks and others have been on — and live music with hosts Joe Sundell and his brother Jack. Fiddler Bill Thurman plays; Joe Sundell, a musician with the Damn Bullets, and his brother sing coal industry-themed songs. Guests have talked about the role of the Governor’s Commission on Global Warming in the debate, regulations on the release of toxins, and the plant’s potential harm to the natural areas it adjoins, protected for more than a century by private owners and home to bird rookeries and rare plants.

John Cane, programming director, said Burke asked him if KABF would carry the show, and his response was that it “sounded very right on to me.” Joe Sundell said he hopes the show can stay on the as air long as the fight against the SWEPCO plant lasts and perhaps evolve into a show on other environmental issues.



Highest circulation


The Arkansas Times’ Best Doctors survey of physicians, the results of which are detailed in this week’s cover story, produced a runaway winner this year in terms of the single greatest vote total for any doctor: vascular surgeon Dr. John Eidt. More than 500 doctors answered the survey.

Eidt’s been nominated by his peers as one of the state’s best doctors in 1995 in every survey including his specialty since 1995, the year the Times began publishing the annual list.

Eidt, 53, who joined the staff of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1988, earned his medical degree in 1981 at the University of Texas Southwestern, where he later did additional vascular surgery training. He spent some time in France this summer, working with Doctors Without Borders.