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What’s in a name?

Sen. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith, tried to run a bill today that would have prohibited drivers from renewing their licenses until all their outstanding warrants were paid.

Mike Munn, assistant commissioner for revenue with the state Department of Finance and Administration, expressed concern about the measure, saying that frequently mistakes are made because people have similar names and ages. As an example, he said his wife was once stopped for a traffic violation but was taken into custody because the officer thought she was wanted for writing hot checks.

Turned out Munn’s wife and the actual suspect had similarly spelled names — one woman had an “s” at the end of her last name and an “e” in her first name that the other did not — and were born in the same year, so the officer assumed they were the same person.

Munn also told the Senate Committee on Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs that officials with the Arkansas Crime Information Computer, ACIC, have problems with the bill.

He then introduced ACIC’s operations administrator, Bill Clinton, to address the panel.

“Bill Clinton?” Altes asked.

“That’s another example of the names (problem),” Munn said.

Altes later pulled Senate Bill 564 and said he might bring it up at another meeting.

Clinton said later that he has worked for ACIC for more than 25 years and his name is often a topic of conversation, whether he likes it or not.


Democratic rallies set

Bill Clinton’s sweep through his native Arkansas tomorrow and Saturday on behalf Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and the rest of the party’s election ticket is set.

The former president, along with Gov. Mike Beebe and former Arkansas Govs. and U.S. Sens. Dale Bumpers and David Pryor, will headline a get-out-the-vote rally at 5 p.m. Friday at the corner of Fourth and Main streets in North Little Rock.

The quartet will follow Saturday with an 11:30 a.m. rally in downtown Pine Bluff and a 1 p.m. appearance in Jonesboro. They’ll be joined at various stops by Democratic Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, along with Democratic Congressmen Marion Berry, Vic Snyder and Mike Ross.

Obama has not visited Arkansas since an October 2006 appearance in support of Beebe and other state Democrats. Republican John McCain has visited the state twice since becoming the GOP presidential nominee. Former Arkansas and U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton headlined a rally for Obama in Little Rock two weeks ago.


Coming for Obama

Former President Bill Clinton will join Gov. Mike Beebe, state Democratic Party Chairman David Pryor and former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers at a series of rallies for Barack Obama this week, the Democratic Party of Arkansas announced today.

The get-out-the-vote rallies will be in North Little Rock on Friday and in Pine Bluff and Jonesboro on Saturday. The times and exact locations of the events have not been determined.

Former Arkansas and U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton headlined a rally for Obama in Little Rock on Oct. 10 and drew a crowd of about 3,000 people.


Beebe stands by his man

State Rep. Steve Breedlove, D-Greenwood, should be happy to know that his re-election campaign ranks high on Gov. Mike Beebe’s list of priorities.
Beebe said today he recently refused to cancel plans to appear at an upcoming campaign event for Breedlove in favor of an event that had been scheduled for the same day with former Arkansas first lady Hillary Clinton in support of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
“They had it scheduled at a time that I’d already committed to a Democratic state representative to be at a fundraiser for him in the western part of the state, actually Breedlove,” Beebe said. “I said I can’t back out on that, so they moved it to a later evening event where I can be there.”
Asked for specifics about the event for Obama, Beebe referred questions to state Democratic Party Chairman David Pryor. Party spokeswoman Darinda Sharp said later that a visit by Clinton has not been confirmed.
“We don’t know who is and isn’t coming yet,” she said.
Former President Bill Clinton said last week he planned to campaign in Arkansas for Obama. An Obama campaign worker said Monday that no Arkansas appearances by either Bill or Hillary Clinton are on the campaign’s calendar at the moment.
Breedlove will face Republican challenger John Van Gorder of Greenwood in the Nov. 4 election.


Aloha, Arkansas

Fans of the television show “Lost” got a surprise treat Thursday during a joint meeting with the Hawaii delegation to the Democratic National Convention.

Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Jin on the popular show, found himself at breakfast with the Hawaiian group. “Lost” is filmed in Hawaii.

“We’re going from the state of our last great president to the state of our next great president,” said Kim. Barack Obama is a Hawaii native.

“So I think there’s a bit of history in this room right now and I’m glad to be a part of it,” he added.

He was accompanied by Kelly Hu, an actress and former Miss Hawaii. Hu starred as Lady Deathstrike in X2, the sequel to the X-Men movie. She was also in the movie “The Scorpion King.”

Hu said she and Kim took a red-eye flight from Hawaii to Denver overnight Thursday. They were in town for Obama’s acceptance speech tonight at Invesco Field.

Obama’s sister is scheduled to speak at the joint delegation meeting.

Arkansas, Hawaii, and Delaware delegations are all staying in the same hotel.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, noted the unique grouping: Bill Clinton was born in Arkansas, Obama in Hawaii and Joe Biden, the vice presidential nominee, is a senator from Delaware.

“Isn’t this a great day where we can put Arkansas and Delaware and Hawaii together, this day was destined to happen,: Abercrombie said.

He added an aside to the group from Arkansas: “Who would have believed that Bill Clinton was going to come out of Arkansas and win not only the first time but kick $#! the second time?”


Arkansans eager to hear native son

Arkansas delegates expect a frenzied crowd to welcome former President Bill Clinton tonight when he speaks at the Democratic National Convention.

Clinton, governor of Arkansas for more than a decade, will take the stage at 8 p.m. Central. Like his wife on Tuesday, Clinton is likely to endorse Barack Obama and call for Hillary Clinton supporters to rally around the presumptive Democratic nominee for the general election.

Delegates last night got a preview of what to expect when the former president enters the Pepsi Center tonight.

Fayetteville’s David Whitaker said almost every convention-goer turned to watch Bill Clinton when he arrived last night for his wife’s speech.

“I felt sorry for the speaker at the rostrum because when President Clinton entered, I swear, the poor speaker lost our attention for five minutes as people looked and craned their necks and waved,” Whitaker said.

“I fully expect when the president enters the room that place is going to come apart,” he added.

Remarks made by the former president in the past have added to speculation that he is not completely behind Obama’s presidential bid.

Arkansans said such speculation is nonsense generated by the opposition party.

“The talk about tension is Republican garbage,” said Don Bishop of Harrison. “That is not going on and it is not relevant at this convention. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton support Barack Obama, period.”


The party’s party

Arkansans are probably pretty tired today after an official delegation party that lasted well into the night Tuesday.

The party was billed as a tribute to the late Bill Gwatney, who would have been 49 Tuesday. Music was provided by a group that plays at the White Water Tavern in Little Rock. Gwatney chose the musicians before his death Aug. 13, Arkansas Democratic Party officials said.

Former President Bill Clinton did not attend, though he was expected. Among the high profile guests were Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, according to state Rep. Steve Harrelson who is blogging at the convention.

Kaine was on the short list of vice presidential contenders.

Incoming state House Speaker Robbie Wills of Conway billed the event as a “real Who’s Who of Arkansas Democratic politics.” Wills is helping Harrelson, D-Texarkana, on his Web log, Under the Dome, this week.

Harrelson was designated by the Democratic Party as the “official” Arkansas blogger of the convention. He has a prime seat with the Arkansas delegation at the Pepsi Center.

The late-night party was at The Tavern, a nightclub in the trendy LoDo section of Denver. The club’s Web site boasts that its rooftop deck was named one of the “Top 10 Best Rooftops in America” by Playboy magazine.

The deck was indeed impressive. It offered great views of Coors Field, the baseball stadium located right across the street. On Tuesday night, visitors could see mountain vistas to the west illuminated by frequent lightning flashes in the distance.


Hillary fans headed home

Like scores of Hillary Clinton supporters across the country, a handful of Arkansans hit the road back to the Natural State this morning after hearing Clinton’s convention speech Tuesday night. It seems the most famous Arkansas native won’t stick around for Barack Obama’s address, either.

CNN reported that former President Bill Clinton will not be at Invesco Field on Thursday when Barack Obama formally accepts the Democrats’ presidential nomination in front of a crowd expected at 75,000 people. Hillary Clinton is expected to attend.

Delegates from Arkansas didn’t have specifics on how many Arkansas residents were in Denver just for Hillary Clinton’s speech. They made clear that no one in the state’s official delegation to the Democratic National Convention is skipping town.

“Of course, a lot of supporters wanted to hear Hillary. A lot of people flew here to hear her and then they left,” said Diana Gonzales Worthen, a delegate from Springdale.

All delegates and alternates were accounted for at a breakfast meeting this morning, said Don Bishop of Harrison.

“The Arkansas delegation will stay here until the end. We will support Barack Obama for president,” Thurman Metcalf said.

Metcalf, of Rogers, is a pledged delegate for Clinton.


Clinton speech mentions Gwatney

Hillary Clinton paid tribute to Bill Gwatney in her Democratic National Convention speech.

Clinton called Gwatney “one of our finest young leaders” and that Gwatney “believed with all his heart that America and the South could be and should be Democratic from top to bottom.”

Gwatney’s widow, Rebecca, is watching the speech with former President Bill Clinton in a private box at the convention hall.

Rebecca Gwatney was elected by the state’s Democrats to fill her late husband’s spot at the convention.

Hillary Clinton praised Rebecca Gwatney for traveling to Denver so shortly after Bill Gwatney’s Aug. 13 death.