Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 15:57:00
The line is open. Final words:
* ROAD RAGE ARREST:
The Pulaski sheriff's office announced that Andrew Cody Cortinez
, 27, of 4114 Longtree, had been arrested in the road rage incident last week on Pinnacle Valley road. Three young people said they were driving slowly on an ice-covered road when a man sped by in a truck, blocked their way, challenged them and fired three shots into their car as they drove off.
Here's the arrest report.
Here's the report on the shooting.
The report identifies Cortinez as a convicted felon on active parole supervision and said he admitted the shooting to investigators. He was charged with counts of terroristic acts, possession of a firearm and criminal mischief.
Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 15:40:00
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross
was endorsed by the Arkansas Education Association
today and potential Republican opponent Asa Hutchinson
used it as an opportunity to broadly insult thousands of Arkansas teachers. By criticizing the AEA, Hutchinson took a swipe at an organization with a better record of working in kids' interest than he demonstrated in Congress. He also, Ross noted, was blastinga group whose endorsement he'd sought.
The AEA, which represents 12,000 teachers and school staffers, endorsed Ross at the Capitol today.
Said AEA President Brenda Robinson:
“As the son of public school educators, Mike knows first-hand the challenges educators face, the value of their experience and training, and the importance of a first-class education to prepare Arkansas students for the global marketplace,” said Robinson. “Mike understands that when parents and educators work together, they give students a great chance to grow and learn, so he will expand opportunities for collaborative family, school and community partnerships. He supports quality afterschool programs, summer learning programs, and early childhood education. For all these reasons, the AEA believes that Mike Ross will fight to continue the progress Arkansas public schools are making in preparing our children for today’s competitive economy, and AEA members and leaders will work tirelessly for his election.”
Ross, too, citied his parents' profession and said adapting Arkansas education to the needs of a changing economy was a top goal of his campaign.
Hutchinson, expecting the endorsement, issued a pre-emptive blast. He derided the AEA as an affiliate of the "left-leaning" National Education Association and said the endorsement put Ross in a league with Barack Obama
and union bosses.
The AEA and NEA indeed represent their members. They also have been stalwarts in the battle for better education in Arkansas, sometimes when it hasn't been easy. The AEA leadership's courage goes back to the bad days of the 1950s, when it stood up to segregationist Orval Faubus. The AEA has fought incursions on state financial support of schools; joined the legal battle for equal and equitable education, now enshrined in case law; and works in every legislature for the interests of kids. It's insultng when Hutchinson says teachers put their "liberal ideas ahead of kids." It certainly wasn't true with the dozens of AEA members who educated my kids in Little Rock public schools. And if liberal ideas include advocating the teaching of science over religion — another plus for the NEA — then I'd rather have that than whatever Asa has on offer.
Hutchinson is merely obeying billionaires intent on wrecking the existing American public school system and illustrating his partisan ideology with a unilateral smear of thousands of good teachers. (It's worth notting that Arkansas is down to a single school district, Little Rock, where the AEA works as a typical union.)
The Arkansas Democratic Party
said Hutchinson owed teachers an apology and went on to spell out his record on education issues as a member of Congress.
"When Congressman Hutchinson went to Washington he left Arkansas’s teachers and students behind. Congressman Hutchinson voted to cut education funding repeatedly, even voting several times against increased funding for special education, after-school centers, Head Start and class-size initiatives. Fewer resources and larger classes do nothing to help students learn and makes the already difficult job of teaching that much harder. When it comes to education, Congressman Hutchinson doesn’t make the grade.”
Ross gigged Hutchinson for blasting the AEA after seeking its endorsement.
Now, moments before I got here, Asa Hutchinson has already put out a statement blasting these teachers and education support professionals behind me. What Asa fails to mention in his statement is that he came to Little Rock, he sat in that room over there, and he interviewed and asked these teachers for their endorsement. And, after he didn’t get it, here’s what he now says: he says these teachers are nothing more than union bosses and that they remind him of Pelosi & Obama. Look it up. Next thing you know he’ll be blaming the ice storm on Pelosi & Obama.
“I think Asa Hutchison has spent too much time living, working and voting in the Washington, DC area, because he seems to think this is a race for President, or Senate or Congress. But, Congressman Hutchinson, let me be clear, I don’t know about you, but I’m running to lead the state of Arkansas.
“This race has nothing whatsoever to do with Washington. The last thing we need is to see Washington partisan politics right here in this State Capitol. I’m committed to working with everybody – Democrat, Republican, Independent – to get the job done.
“He says in his statement – Asa says that these teachers do not care about our children. Asa Hutchinson, you can attack me. I’m willing to take the hits if that’s what it takes to improve public education in Arkansas and to create more good-paying jobs in this state. But, do not attack these teachers and education support professionals standing behind me today – the same teachers and education support professionals that you sought an endorsement from just a few weeks ago.
Funny. An AEA ally, Sen. Joyce Elliott,
tried valiantly last week to build $2 million more for pre-K education into the state budget. She was rebuffed. Republican leadership did send $5 million to build charter schools, a pet project of Republican millionaires in Arkansas and a movement that threatens to re-establish a dual system of education in Arkansas and the U.S.
The Walton billions, by the way, are supporting the effort to charterize New York city schools,
even taking over existing public school classroom buildings to do it. New Mayor Bill DeBlasio has modestly resisted a few of the charter schools and has been blasted for it — dishonestly, as Diane Ravitch makes clear here.
The charter school disinformation campaign is also the subject of this article
by a — charter school! — parent.
I've asked the Hutchinson campaign for a comment about Ross' critics of seeking the AEA endorsement before ripping the organization.
Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 07:13:00
The Ready for Hillary Super PAC
had a fund-raiser in North Little Rock last night and old Clinton hand Craig Smith
made the media rounds beforehand about the group's effort.
His visit with me underscored how much things have changed since Smith was on the front lines as a former Bill Clinton
gubernatorial staffer in the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign. Pre e-mail, we both recalled.
Today, the Ready for Hillary campaign
is channeling the Obama model of working all the social media connectors — Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and so on — to build digital lists of people committed to the cause of a Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy in 2016. This PAC is not just about raising big money from a few billionaires and buying TV ads. It's a grassroots PAC. He said 23,000 people had already contributed at the $20.16 level. The idea is to build a national voter list, related data and willing volunteers.
He said this, too, about the "inevitability" question. (Remember 2008, when Hillary's nomination was a foregone conclusion?) Nothing is being left to chance. A lack of primary organizing in 2008 won't be replicated in 2016. For example, he said Iowa Democratic county committees would be meeting today and that the Ready for Hillary organization would have a representative at all 99 meetings. Similar organizational efforts are underway in other early primary states.
Does it mean Clinton is running? Smith says he doesn't know and wishes he did. He can't talk with the candidate or her husband lest the Super PAC violate non-coordination rules. If she does run — and that decision isn't likely before November because her decision to enter will take millions that might go to other candidates — then the grassroots information the PAC has provided can be rolled over into the campaign in a variety of ways and the PAC will go away. The PAC does coordinate with other super PACS, such as the Correct the Record
PAC staffed by old Clinton loyalists and headed by former Clinton foe David Brock. It is doing what its name indicates: Providing instant war-room-style response to what it sees as erroneous, misleading or incomplete reports about Mrs. Clinton.
PS — If Hillary was definitively NOT running, this PAC wouldn't exist.
PPS — Michael Cook tells me about 150 people from all over Arkansas attended last night and pitched in $36,000. That's Craig Smith at right speaking last night.
More Arkansas Blog
Friday, March 7, 2014 - 15:01:00
I remember noticing, when I was finally old enough to steal my parents' records, how strange it was that my mom had so much James Taylor
. She had multiple copies of the same albums. Some still looked brand new, like she'd bought them just in case, as back-ups. Sometimes I'd find something I actually wanted, only to pull out the sleeve and find a James Taylor record inside. There was something almost pathological about it: Nobody needs more than one copy of "Sweet Baby James."
I was so young. What I didn't realize then — and I see this now — was that James Taylor is a national treasure. He deserves our respect, and now is your chance. The Verizon Arena has just announced he'll be in town the night of August 8. Tickets go on sale a week from today, on March 14, at 10 a.m., and range from $78-$99.50. And as if they saw this coming somehow, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
has planned a tribute called "Shower the People: The Music of James Taylor," which will be held at the Robinson Center Music Hall on May 3 at 8 p.m. and on May 4 at 3 p.m.
Friday, March 7, 2014 - 10:46:00
Little Rock's Big Piph
has had a more interesting year than any of us, and he's here to rub it in with his new video, "I Am Not Them," which finds him rapping, lecturing and globe-hopping around at least a handful of African countries. Feel like I expanded my horizons just by watching this thing. Also that little kid in the tracksuit break-dancing around 2:07 is a revelation, a moment not likely to be topped in a local video this year.
"I Am Not Them" is from 2012's "Such is Life"
tape, but he also has a new project on the way, "The Calm,"
due out March 19. Here at Rock Candy
, we even got our hands on the first single: "Balance (Let 'Em Know),"
featuring DJ Discipline. Don't get distracted by the man's podium, he goes in here over some slick country-rap bass and orchestral sweep. Check it out below.
Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 15:17:00
I was a little nervous to speak to Seth Rollins
, because just look at him. A WWE Superstar and member of the wrestling stable The Shield
, Rollins has more than once on-air been called "the Architect" and "the flag-bearer of individualism." Watch his running single leg dropkick—or better yet, his corner forearm smash—and you will begin to understand the man's appeal. There is something unhinged about him—it's there in even his most benign facial expressions. So when he gave me a call this afternoon, I didn't know what to expect. You can catch Rollins in person next Tuesday night at the Verizon Arena. Here's our conversation:
I read you grew up in Iowa, what was that like?
Iowa’s great. I grew up in a real small town here, so it’s nice, not too overcrowded. I’m in Iowa now—we’ve got a couple of days off before we hit the road, so I’m just hanging out. I wanted to be decompress with family and friends, my dog, my girlfriend. Just try and hang out and enjoy their company.
Did you always want to be a wrestler?
I was always a wrestling fan growing up and I pretty much knew this was what I was going to try to do since I was about fifteen or sixteen. My friends were all really into it at that time. Late 1990s, early 2000s, the industry was just really booming then. You had guys like The Rock, Steve Austin, all those guys.
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