All that money the state is paying the ACLU 

Quote of the Week:

"I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States."

— Hillary Clinton at her official campaign launch rally in New York last weekend. (What, you thought Clinton had already been running for months? Shows how much you know about campaigns. Next, you'll say you thought Jeb Bush — who officially announced his candidacy on Monday — had been in the race for months, too.)

Think before you ACT

The State Board of Education surprised everyone last Thursday by rejecting a proposed contract for a new statewide standardized test, the ACT Aspire, which was recommended by Gov. Asa Hutchinson earlier that week. The ACT Aspire would have replaced the current PARCC test, which has been in place for only one year. Among the board's concerns: The switch would be the third such testing change in as many years for Arkansas students, and the governor appeared to have bypassed the normal procurement process in making the recommendation.

PARCC has been highly unpopular among teachers in its first year of implementation, but that doesn't mean the new test would necessarily be an improvement. The vote against the ACT Aspire contract united business-leaning members of the state board with its progressives. Diane Zook, a member typically sympathetic to the Chamber of Commerce and the Walton Family Foundation, said, "I have the greatest respect for the governor, but I don't feel he was well-served with a full picture" of issues regarding the test.

A frontal assault?

As we went to press on Tuesday, details were still sparse regarding Larry McElroy, the man who crashed an SUV into a curb near the gates of the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, and emerged from the vehicle with a rifle. McElroy was shot by military security and disarmed. He remains in critical condition in the hospital, and his house was raided by FBI agents on Tuesday.

Money well spent

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge isn›t through defending the state›s unconstitutional law banning abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy, despite the fact that a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the statute last month. Last week, Rutledge asked the 8th Circuit for a rehearing on the issue, this time before the full court.

Defending the ban has already cost the state about $70,000 in court costs and legal fees, and that figure will surely rise. But not to worry. The legislature, knowing that a loss is inevitable, has already set aside $200,000 for costs and fees associated with this specific suit. The bulk of that money will pay the legal fees of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the law. That's right: Arkansas Republicans are so determined to proceed with this piece of political theater that they're giving as much as $200,000 in public money to the ACLU.

Blind justice in Little Rock

Last week, the story emerged of Eric Wilson, a legally blind Little Rock resident who was manhandled by two officers with the LRPD as he walked home from work on 65th Street in the middle of the afternoon. Apparently, he was mistaken for a suspect. The dashboard camera footage from the police vehicle shows Wilson mildly complying with the officers' commands; they then wrestle him to the pavement. Wilson went to the hospital that evening for back pain and was told he had a strained lumbar. He's filed a complaint with LRPD.

Simply Marvellous

Marvell, a town of 1,200 in Phillips County, passed a nondiscrimination ordinance last week that states the city will not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, sex or sexual orientation. The tiny Delta community, which is majority African American, thus joins the limited ranks of Arkansas cities with such protections. "I don't like a lot of laws, but I want everybody to have a fair opportunity to have a decent quality of life," said Mayor Clark Hall. "We want to make our part of Arkansas the best we can be."



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