Burned by the Court 

click to enlarge week_that_was1-1-4daa6dad47399010.jpg

Quote (and hypocrite) of the week:

"Brandt supports creating more Pre-K and early childhood education opportunities for our kids."

— From a Facebook post on the "Brandt Smith for Arkansas State Representative District 58" page. In a videotaped August debate in Jonesboro, Rep. Smith (R-Jonesboro) derided Democratic challenger Nate Looney for his strong pre-K platform. Among other things, Smith said pre-K was a waste of money that "offset family responsibilities."

Burned by the Court

On Thursday, Oct. 27, after over 140,000 early votes had been cast statewide, the Arkansas Supreme Court killed Issue 7, the initiated act to allow medical marijuana. The court said the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act was disqualified due to deficiencies in signature gathering; votes on it will not be counted. Issue 6, the constitutional amendment that would allow medical marijuana, remains on the ballot. An attorney for the Issue 7 campaign has requested a rehearing, but it's a longshot that the court will reverse itself.

The lawsuit challenging the Issue 7 signatures was brought by Kara Benca, a Little Rock lawyer and self-described supporter of decriminalizing marijuana. Issue 7 supporters noted that Benca's complaint relied on information developed by backers of Issue 6. Nonetheless, the campaign for Issue 7 has said voters should now vote "yes" on Issue 6 (and also 7, just in case the rehearing is successful).

In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court disallowed more than 12,000 signatures collected by Issue 7 canvassers, enough to leave the petition drive 2,465 signatures short of the 67,887 needed. That was a departure from the findings of the special master the court assigned to the case, retired judge John Robbins, who said most of the signatures challenged by Benca were acceptable. Two justices (Chief Justice Howard Brill and Associate Justice Paul Danielson) dissented from the majority opinion.

Benca's arguments were about technical compliance with strict new laws on canvassing requirements passed by the state legislature. The largest portion of disqualified signatures related to rules on background checks for paid canvassers. Issue 7 relied heavily on volunteers who were to be paid only if money became available (it didn't). Nonetheless, the court said the law interpreted "paid canvassers" to include those with whom an agreement existed to pay money.

But Issue 6 backers may have shot themselves in the foot with their too-clever bid to undo their rival. For one thing, many Issue 7 supporters who early-voted before the court's decision didn't vote for 6 — but likely would have cast their votes for both measures if they'd known 7 was about to be kicked off the ballot. And second, the fact that the backers of Issue 6 were partly responsible for killing 7 has so enraged some diehard Issue 7 advocates that they're now saying they won't support 6 under any circumstances.

click to enlarge week_that_was1-2-1b95930ec7a49389.jpg

Failure to protect

A former foster parent and truck driver from Van Buren pleaded guilty last week to federal charges related to his transportation of at least five children across state lines to commit rape or sexual assault; a number of the victims were placed in his home by the state Department of Human Services in the early 2000s. The crimes of Clarence Garretson, 65, came to light only when a girl stepped forward earlier this year to report that Garretson had raped her on a cross-country trip in 2014, when she was 10. The FBI investigation that followed uncovered the other victims. According to court documents, DHS investigated Garretson following allegations of sexual abuse, and the agency closed his home to foster children in 2004 — but it remained an adoptive home until 2015. DHS has said it can't comment on the case due to confidentiality laws.

Suhl sentenced

Ted Suhl, the Northeast Arkansas businessman who once operated the behavioral health facility for children known as the Lord's Ranch, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay a $200,000 fine in the court of U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. This summer, a jury found Suhl guilty on four federal counts stemming from his under-the-table payments to a top-level state DHS administrator and former legislator, Steven Jones. (DHS handled the Medicaid reimbursements that provided the bulk of revenue for Suhl's companies.) Suhl's lawyers plan to appeal.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Asa on pre-K

    • Aug 17, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in The Week That Was

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments


© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation