Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
Quote of the Week:
"That Josh Hastings would be involved in a police shooting of an African-American Little Rock citizen was as predictable as the sun coming up tomorrow. This was not a matter of if — this was a matter of when."
—Attorney Michael Laux upon filing a federal civil rights lawsuit on June 1 against Hastings, the former Little Rock Police Department officer who was twice tried for manslaughter in the 2012 shooting death of 15-year-old Bobby Moore. Both criminal trials ended in hung juries. The new civil suit also names former LRPD chief Stuart Thomas and the City of Little Rock as defendants, alleging that the department should never have hired Hastings or retained him as long as it did. Sylvia Perkins, Moore's mother, is the plaintiff.
Swollen by weeks of rain, the Arkansas River — along with many smaller streams in the area — overflowed its banks over the weekend and into this week. In southern Arkansas, the Red River was approaching historic levels on Tuesday, and the water was still rising. Still, Arkansas was spared the worst; in Texas and Oklahoma, at least 31 people were killed by weather and flooding in the last weeks of May.
Inviable from the beginning
What a surprise: Roe v. Wade still stands. Last week, the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a lower federal court's decision to overturn Arkansas's ill-conceived ban on abortions past the 12th week of pregnancy, a blatantly unconstitutional law authored by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) and approved by the legislature in 2013 over the veto of then-Gov. Mike Beebe.
The opinion — written by a panel of three 8th Circuit judges, all of whom were appointed to the court by President George W. Bush — seemed to sympathize with the spirit of Arkansas's 12-week ban. But even anti-abortion judges couldn't uphold a statute that openly conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court's long-standing ruling that a woman has a right to choose an abortion before viability, which is generally around 24 weeks. Rapert, in true form, wrote on Facebook, "I submit to everyone that every single baby is viable if left in their natural environment which is the mother's womb."
Like oil and water
Central Arkansas Water last week objected to a proposed settlement of the combined state/federal lawsuit against ExxonMobil over the 2013 rupture of an oil pipeline in Mayflower. The proposed consent decree, which was announced in April, would slap Exxon with $5.1 million in penalties — but CAW said the settlement would do little to protect against future accidents that could imperil Lake Maumelle and other water supplies. CAW wants the pipeline relocated from the Lake Maumelle watershed entirely, among other specifics.
Whether or not the objection goes anywhere, you've got to love the sight of our local water utility poking its nose into a gentleman's agreement between Exxon, the U.S. Justice Department, the EPA and the state of Arkansas to demand a tougher deal. Sic 'em!
Tilting at bike lanes
Little Rock Ward 1 City Director Erma Hendrix delayed a restriping of Chester Street out of her objection to the city's plan to convert the thoroughfare to three traffic lanes with bike lanes on either side, a design similar to the one implemented on Main Street in 2013. Hendrix opposed that change as well, saying then (and now) that restriping downtown streets to make way for bikes was the work of a privileged white minority within the ward. The eventual compromise on Chester: The city moved ahead with a three-lane plan that left ample space to accommodate cyclists, though without bike lanes specifically marked.
Land of (slightly lower than average) opportunity
Mike Huckabee has become fond of claiming on the presidential campaign trail that Arkansas experienced a 50 percent growth in income on his watch as governor from 1996 to 2007. PolitiFact took a closer look at the numbers and found that while Arkansas income (before adjusting for inflation) did in fact rise 59 percent, the whole of the country went up 62 percent during the same time period. PolitiFact concluded, "So what Huckabee is touting as something special is actually something that was below the national average."