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Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Yesterday, Terry McAuliffe, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign and Harriet Miers, longtime George W. Bush friend and staffer, one-time Supreme Court nominee and now active in the planning of the George Bush Presidential Library, met and visited while both were touring the Clinton Library. You couldn’t find two more loyal people: Harriet for George and Laura Bush and Terry for Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Terry was here to speak at the Clinton School and Harriet was here to speak at the Southern Bar Association today. She also spoke to the Clinton School students this morning prior to her SBA speech. One of the great things about being at the Clinton School is the opportunity to have student sessions with two of the closest advisors to the former, current and perhaps future President of the United States.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Former Vice President Al Gore, along with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Recognized for his strong advocacy of environmental concerns and in large part as a result of the Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Gore becomes the first American to win or share this prestigious award since President Jimmy Carter in 2002. It’s a well deserved tribute to the former vice president. I’m sure Gore’s cousin, Mitchell Law Firm Attorney Ark Monroe and his family of Little Rock, are celebrating as well. They should be.
Speaking of Nobel Peace Prize recipients, special thanks to Elgin Clemmons and the Wright Lindsey Jennings Law Firm of Little Rock who have arranged for our Clinton School students to meet with Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, when he visits Little Rock next week. Yunus has been a champion of microcredit banking, which helps provide financing to those who are unable to receive it through traditional means. The time with Yunus represents a very special educational opportunity for our students who perform public service projects in impoverished areas all over the state, country and world.
Posted By LINDSEY CLARK, Clinton School student – President Bush’s veto of a $35 billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has brought into question the partisan politics that has become the norm in Washington. The President feels the spending increase is a ploy by the Democrats to take a step toward “their goal of government-run health care for every American.”
In reality, 70 percent of Americans support SCHIP, which provides coverage to roughly 6.9 million children who are ineligible for Medicaid. Supporters also include many Republicans and private health insurance lobbyists. Yet the veto and its politicizing nature point to an underlying issue that those in Washington have failed to realize: the entire health care system is out of date and is need of an overhaul.
In the wake of WWII, manufacturing and large businesses took off. In the 1960s, many Americans were employed in large auto manufactures. These large companies had a large group of employees, enabling them to spread the risk around. If someone employed at General Motors had a heart attack, the large group insured would cover the cost, keeping health insurance premiums low. One heart attack would not bankrupt the company. Today, the auto industry and large businesses in general are no longer prominent. The majority of Americans are now employed in small businesses where there are fewer individuals to spread the risk around. As a result, health coverage has become limited. That heart attack now has the potential to bankrupt a small business. Americans today are also changing careers frequently, encountering numerous providers with different benefits packages along the way.
Many states, including Arkansas, have begun to reform their health care policy to cover those unable to afford insurance. Arkansas’s ARHealth Net has been established to provide health insurance to those in small businesses with low-income workers. The plan is available to qualified small businesses of two to 500 workers.
Like ARHealth Net, Tennessee’s CoverTN is designed to help those in small businesses afford health insurance.. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen remarked, “We don’t have it in our power to provide health insurance to everyone without limits. But we can offer access to health insurance to those who want it. It’s a reasonable first step.”
These programs demonstrate that we can make progress in reforming the health care system, but this reform that will require states and the federal government to work together. Democrats and Republicans must put their differences aside and realize that no one solution will be perfect, but the health care issue presents an opportunity for a collaboration among political parties that has been lacking in Washington.
Lindsey Clark is a first-year student at the Clinton School, working toward her Master of Public Service Degree. This column represents her personal views.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of spending the day in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta. Since our school opened in 2005, Clinton School students have performed public service projects in this part of the country and this year are working on projects based in Marvell and Helena-West Helena in Phillips County, Ark. I visited with people in both communities but also made time for delicious barbecue in Helena-West Helena where our students are helping market “Delta Made” products.
The most educational part of the day was spent across the river in the Mississippi Delta. From stopping in the small town of Alligator, Miss., to feasting on some of the best vegetables I’ve ever tasted in my life at the Country Platter in Cleveland, Miss., it was one of the most enjoyable and educational days I have spent as Clinton School Dean. Cleveland is a wonderful town: home of Delta State University, a good public school system, a regional hospital, a diversified economic base and strong community volunteers. It is one of the Delta’s crown jewels.
I must say, however, the highlight of the trip was spending time at Poor Monkey’s, a juke joint in an old wooden building on a dirt road outside of Cleveland. Every Thursday at Poor Monkey’s is blues night with a $5 admittance cover charge. Poor Monkey is also the name of the person who runs the place. We missed blues night but spending an hour listening to Poor Monkey tell stories about the Delta and its music exceeded all expectations.
My mother grew up in the Delta town of Batesville, Miss.–not that far from Poor Monkey’s. I spent many summers in the Delta with my grandmother and other relatives so this trip back to the region was nostalgic to me. I’m also glad I made it because it again confirmed the importance of the Clinton School’s public service project work, which I hope in the future might expand to the Mississippi side of the river. It also was inspirational because I met many fine people who proudly call the Delta home. I can certainly understand why. A part of me wanted to stay.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – As a former president of the Little Rock School Board, I watched Tuesday’s Little Rock School Board runoff election with great interest. Congratulations to incumbent Michael Daugherty who defeated a very strong opponent, Anna Swaim by a 53-47 percent margin. Ms. Swaim certainly ran a credible race, but give Daugherty, J.J. Lacey, John Walker, the Classroom Teachers Association and others accolades for increasing voter turnout in the runoff by a large margin. John told me several days ago that the Daugherty total of 808 votes in the primary would rise to over 1,200 in the runoff. He was more than right because Daugherty received over 1,400 runoff votes. The voters have spoken. It’s time for the board to come together acknowledging the 4-3 majority now has solid control. Hopefully, in the future we will see less infighting and 4-3 splits. Surely, everyone will give interim Superintendent Dr. Linda Watson the chance she desrves to run the district and the encouragement to do so. From what I’ve seen since succeeding Dr. Roy Brooks, Dr. Watson has done a good job.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Charlie Cook, of Washington D.C., editor of the Cook Political Report, an NBC commentator and certainly one of the nation’s most respected political analysts, spoke Sunday at a leadership program of the Southern Legislative Conference in partnership with the University of Arkansas System, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and the Clinton School. Legislators from all over the South were in attendance. The conference is being held on Petit Jean Mountain and at the Clinton School.
Cook predicted that Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Hillary Clinton would be the nominees for president in 2008. He also projected Democratic gains in the U.S. Senate (4 to 6 seats) and in the U.S. House (about 10 seats). He praised former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and said Huckabee, despite not raising much money, would be on the “short list” for the Republican Vice Presidential nomination.
Cook, a huge sports fan whose parents attended the University of Arkansas, watched Saturday’s Razorback football game against Tennessee-Chattanooga as the guest of Arkanas House Speaker Benny Petrus. Leaving the game before halftime, Cook told those at the legislative conference that he couldn’t remember ever seeing a more dismal performance by an SEC football team.
Posted by Dean Dkip Rutherford – On November 7, 1997, President Bill Clinton announced that he would place his presidential library on land east of Interstate 30 in downtown Little Rock. He also told University of Arkansas President Dr. Alan Sugg that he wanted also to establish a higher education component as part of it. At the time, the location was a 28 acre site of old and some abandoned warehouses. One restorable historic structure, an 1899 train station, had been a passenger depot, a restaurant, a nightclub, a church and a storage facility. The site the President had chosen was referred to by one newspaper columnist as “murky bottoms” because of its dismal condition and location. Others said people in Little Roc would “under no circumstances” walk under an interstate to get to a museum, school, park or restaurant.
Downtown business leaders were thrilled because they, like Clinton, believed it would serve as an anchor for the emerging River Market Entertainment District. They hoped it would spur retail and residential interest as well.
Clinton had several goals: (1) spur downtown and area revitalization; (2) set an example of how economic development and the environment could work together by building America’s first “green” presidential library; (3) create a statewide tourism magnet because, as the first president to have a White House Conference on Tourism, he knew and understood how important it was. The interstate that people “under no circumstances” would walk under would provide visibility and access for millions of travelers; (4) establish a unique school of higher education in partnership with the University of Arkansas with a commitment to “public service” being its niche; (5) make an architectural statement by bringing a precedent-setting modern style to the South; and (6) develop an interactive museum which would provide those from this part of the country who would never be able to go to Washington and experience icons like the White House Oval Office and Cabinet Room.
On November 7, 2007, the Clinton School will host a community conversation looking back on those 10 years since the President made his decision while looking forward at the next 10 years. I’ll moderate a panel which will include Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore; City Director Dean Kumpuris, Developer Jimmy Moses and the CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, Dan O’Byrne.
Hope you will join us for a noon brown bag lunch in the restored train station/restaurant/nightclub/church and warehouse. For reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Maurice Mitchell is the “Godfather” of Arkansas’s legal profession. He is also one of the best human beings I have ever known. His work ethic is second to none and his civic and charitable leadership sets the highest standard. I take every opportunity I can to learn from him.
During the 1957 Central High integration crisis and the subsequent closing of the Little Rock public high schools, Maurice, then in his 30’s and along with a small group of other talented young lawyers, was a voice of reason. Last night, for what may have been the first time, he shared his 1954-1959 experiences with his Mitchell Law Firm colleagues and friends. You could have heard a pin drop when he described the behind-the-scenes accounts of what was happening in the Little Rock business and legal communities. Because he was in strong opposition to the segregationists, he lost clients and received personal threats. Neither, however, deterred him or his wife, Betty, who joined the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC) and was among the courageous group of women who led the successful effort to reopen the schools.
Dean Chuck Goldner of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law was among those in attendance. Like me, Dean Goldner was in awe. We all heard stories we had never heard before. Based on the conversation that later took place between Maurice and Dean Goldner, I believe a law review article is in the works. It should be.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – For the last three election cycles (2002, 2004 and 2006), I have taught undergraduate seminars on election analysis. So, in preparation for some upcoming meetings and speeches, here’s my very early line on the 2008 presidential tickets:
Republican: Rudy Giuliani (NY) and Mike Huckabee (AR)
Democrat: Hillary Clinton (NY) and Tom Vilsack (IA)
Giuliani is already waging a general election campaign, saying he’s the only Republican who can beat Clinton. That, along with his commitment to nominate conservative judges to the federal bench, may be enough for many of the party conservatives to forgive him for some of his liberal views, such as abortion rights. It’s too early in the campaign to determine that, but his nomination would put states like New York and New Jersey into play. In addition, for many, he remains a 9/11 national hero.
Huckabee, as the vice presidential nominee, would reinforce the party’s evangelical base, strengthen the “solid south” and keep Arkansas competitive. In a close election, Arkansas’s six electoral votes could make a difference. And early Arkansas polling has Clinton with a wide lead over Giuliani–another reason to include Huckabee on the ticket. Give Huckabee credit: with little money and against formidable odds, he’s run a very good national campaign to date, and his poll numbers continue to rise.
Unless someone stops Clinton in Iowa, the Democratic nomination is hers. And I think it’s hers regardless. Vilsack would be an attractive choice as a running mate. Most people I’ve talked to don’t see Clinton losing any state that John Kerry carried in 2004. If that’s the case, a win in Ohio or Florida, would put her over the top. With Vilsack on the ticket, she would be the favorite to win Iowa. Vilsack would also be a strong campaigner in the nearby states of Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Those who say Clinton can’t win in November are just badly mistaken.
Interesting trivia about these projected match ups:
*Giuliani and Clinton were headed for a 2000 New York Senate race until Giuliani withdrew from the campaign.
*Clinton and Huckabee each lived in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, and both believe in a place called Hope. Both badly want to carry Arkansas and both believe they can.
*At Huckabee’s invitation, Vilsack came to Little Rock to run the Little Rock Marathon last year. The two generously praised each other.
Arkansas once again may well be center stage.