Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
Quote of the week
"All politics are local and I am for sending the illegals back but we know that is impossible. We are where we were with the black folks after the revolutionary war. We can't send them back and the more we piss them off the worse it will be in the future. So what do we do. I say the governor needs to try to enforce the law and sign the letter of understanding with the INS and at least we can send the troublemakers back. Sure we are being overrun but we are being out populated by the blacks also. What is the answer. Only time will tell."
— Former state legislator Denny Altes in a 2007 email reply a former Fort Smith mayor, who'd apparently written Altes to encourage him to keep fighting "illegal" immigration. Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Altes as state drug director last week. This despite Altes lacking any relevant experience and having a legislative record that included introducing a bill to establish a curriculum for teaching the Bible in public schools, one that required federal law enforcement officials to obtain permission from county sheriffs before making arrests in their counties and another that would have required officials to verify that anyone voting or taking advantage of any sort of public assistance was a U.S. citizen.
Fit for an army
On Tuesday after the Arkansas Times went to press, the Little Rock Board of Directors was to consider whether to authorize the Little Rock Police Department to spend $340,000 on enough riot gear to outfit 500 officers. Forty-four officers already have similar gear. That means all but seven officers on the force would have access to batons, shields, gas masks and flat-black helmets. Police Chief Kenton Buckner has apparently forgotten the ideals of community policing, which he talked about often in his early days on the job last year. He said the request for more riot gear came in response to protests in Baltimore. He called it a "proactive measure."
Here's Arkansas NAACP president Dale Charles with some needed perspective for Buckner: "We're not in Iraq. We're not in Afghanistan. ... It's a waste of money. Some of that money could go back into training police officers how to better deal with diversity in the community."
More good news for equality
Seventy-one percent of voters who cast ballots in Eureka Springs last week voted to keep intact Ordinance 2223, the measure passed by the city earlier this spring banning discrimination of LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations. The final tally: 579 votes for, 231 against. That's a total of 810 votes total — a higher turnout than the 792 votes cast in the 2014 midterms last November.
In addition to its symbolic importance, the Eureka ordinance poses the clearest legal challenge to Act 137 (previously known as SB 202), the state law passed in the 2015 legislative session that will prevent city and county governments from adding protected classes to civil rights law. That law will go into effect on July 22.
Meanwhile, the Central Arkansas Water Board of Commissioners approved a comprehensive nondiscrimination resolution that covers hiring, employee benefits and vendors. The water utility also extended benefits to spouses of same-sex married couples. The Pulaski County Quorum Court also advanced a nondiscrimination ordinance that protects LGBT county employees from discrimination and requires businesses that contract with the city to do the same. The full Quorum Court could vote to approve the ordinance as early as the end of the month.
Arkansas baby names, by the numbers
The Social Security Administration announced last week the most popular baby names in Arkansas in 2014. Here are the top 10 for each gender: