The Top 10 Business Stories of 2008

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 22, 2008 12:00 am  

John Glasgow, CFO of CDI Contractors, disappeared on Jan. 28. Dillard's owned a half-interest in CDI and was embroiled in a bookkeeping dispute with CDI management when Glasgow, of Little Rock, vanished.

"Arkansas is one of the most restrictive states in the Union on legislative term limits, and yet we voted for the annual session. That was the most shocking thing to me," Beebe said, according to a Stephens Media report.

The amendment faces two possible changes during the coming session.

So far, one legislator has filed a new bill in the House that, if passed, would allow Arkansans to vote to repeal the annual-sessions amendment. Another legislator has filed a bill altering the order in which the new sessions take place.

The bill would move budget-only sessions to odd-numbered years. By swapping the order, freshmen legislators would first experience the budgeting session, then take part in the broader general session during the second year of their terms.

Only 20 states now budget biennially, and Arkansas is the first state to switch from biennial to annual budgeting in the last two decades, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

8.) Gwatney Murdered
While 2008 has been a difficult year on many fronts, one of the most tragic and stunning business news stories was the slaying of Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney.

When news broke on Aug. 13 of the shooting of the 48-year-old party chairman, shock reverberated throughout the state's business and political communities.

"There is deep pain in Arkansas tonight because of the sheer number of people who knew, respected and loved Bill Gwatney. Along with thousands of other Arkansans, Ginger and I are trying to come to terms with such a shocking and senseless attack," Gov. Mike Beebe said in a statement.

Timothy Dale Johnson, 50, of Searcy entered the party headquarters near the state Capitol just before noon on that Wednesday, asked to see Gwatney and, after introducing himself, fatally shot the former state senator.

Gwatney, CEO of Gwatney's Little Rock Auto Group and owner of three dealerships, died at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at 3:59 p.m.

Johnson fled the scene, leading law enforcement officials on a 30-mile chase that ended in Grant County. Officers shot the armed Johnson to death after he emerged from his vehicle.

The Little Rock Police Department later reported that Johnson had quit his job at Target in Conway on the morning of the attack after being confronted about writing profanity on a storeroom wall. Johnson took antidepressants, according to his autopsy.



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