Arkansas news, clipped and spun for the short-attention-span era.
Q: STATUS? A: QUO. To no one one's surprise, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith and Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde threw in with the road builders' lobby and said they liked the idea to build Interstate 30 as a 10-lane concrete gulch through the cities' downtowns. More vibrant cities are tearing down freeways for the neighborhood blight and increasing congestion they engender. If you believe freeways are good for cities, walk alongside the existing six-lane corridor through North Little Rock and try to imagine why Mayor Joe thinks even more concrete will make it better.
HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. The Arkansas Constitution allows impeachment of the secretary of state for gross misconduct in office. You could make a case against Mark Martin. He expected county clerks to drop 7,000 suspected felons from voting rolls while knowing the list he supplied them was highly suspect — two-thirds erroneous in Pulaski County. Martin is also conniving — serving as computer host even — for a multi-state crosschecking venture. It's nominally aimed at sniffing out double voters. They've found no more than four nationally in millions of records searched over four years. More important is a reporter's finding that the operation's list of suspects is wildly inaccurate and biased against minority groups that tend to vote Democratic. Russian hackers are supposedly infiltrating the U.S. voter system. Could they do worse than Mark Martin, who just added another long-time GOP patronage beneficiary, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's daddy, to election oversight machinery in Arkansas?
GOPOCRISY I: Rutledge is a purported federalist. But what did she do last week? She asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Arkansas law and throw a shield of secrecy over State Police vehicle accident reports. States' righter Rutledge, in this case, thinks federal judges know better than the Arkansas legislature and courts.
GOPOCRISY II: Gilbert Baker, the former senator and Republican Party chairman who's hip deep in the bribery investigation of his hometown ex-judge Mike Maggio, got arrested in Conway early last Saturday for a DWI. Sounds from police reports like he attempted the "do you know who I am?" routine in the process. Baker is a "family values" Republican who has fought alcohol sales in Faulkner County and elsewhere. More quietly, he's been an ally of liquor monopolists in Conway County and was viewed as the go-to political guy by Faulkner County applicants for the now-ubiquitous "private club" permits in Conway. Cheers!
GOPOCRISY III: State Rep. Dave Wallace (R-Leachville) has made a fortune using his veteran status to get a preference on federal contracts to supply labor for disaster cleanups. This affirmative action beneficiary of federal money turned up in the news this week after workers he'd rounded up for a federal project in flood-ravaged Louisiana were involved in a fatal bus crash. The workers and the bus driver, who had terrible driving record, were illegal immigrants. Wallace said an intermediary hired the workers. He said he'd never hire an illegal immigrant. You wonder if he'd join U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton in voting against federal disaster relief as well as for speedy deportation of all people who work at hard jobs for less money.
THEY SAID WHAT?: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the city and state's biggest newspaper, commented favorably in an editorial on the suggestion that the Clinton Foundation should be closed immediately. You'd think a rational editorial writer would recognize a positive contribution to the newspaper's hometown by the foundation programs centered at that big presidential library across the street from the newspaper printing plant. Shut it all down? Really? The smug writer can take comfort: Much of the foundation's work IS going to end if Hillary Clinton is elected, if not before. And if fewer people in Africa get HIV medication, well, tough.
COLLEGE HALL OF SHAME: An LGBT group, Campus Pride, has published a Shame List of 102 colleges that have sought exemption from Title IX civil rights law so they may discriminate against LGBT students and/or women who have children out of wedlock or obtain abortions. Harding University and Williams Baptist College have sought the exemptions on religious grounds. Campus Pride says no college in Arkansas qualifies currently for its listing of more than 200 LGBT "friendly" campuses. As the desegregation pioneers have often said, sometimes it's easier to cope with overt discrimination than to face shunning and uncertainty from others.
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