The Thursday open line | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Thursday open line

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 3:56 PM

The line is open early. Some recent loose ends:

* THE KOCHS AT WORK: Get a close-up look at one of the key figures behind the government shutdown. He's not about negotiations. The Kochs and their handmaidens (Tom Cotton, Tim Griffin) want to strangle government. They think they smell death.

And now, related:

Holy Mother of Poverty, the Kochs are getting greedy right up front, right now. The Koch front lobby, Americans for Prosperity, has joined the call for "entitlement reform" to accompany a raising of the debt ceiling. And more. They want spending cuts dollar for dollar for every bit of the limit raised. That's modest relative to their broader ideas for bringing the government to heel — means testing for Medicare. As any social scientist can tell you, means testing makes a program a poverty program and thus eventually spells its death. Which is the idea, of course. The Kochs have billions. They can pay for their health insurance. They don't want to contribute a dime to anybody else's. Oh, and they also want NO restoration of sequestration budget cuts. Stimulus? What's that? They are determined to strangle the modest economic recovery. Then they could buy the rest of the country at a song, presumably.

The market sure seems to want this debt ceiling nonsense fixed. The Dow jumped more than 300 points on news of a short-term possible agreement on the debt ceiling. Though Republicans also want to keep government closed in the interim, which isn't much of a deal.

* LEISURE ARTS OWNERSHIP CHANGES: Arkansas Business reports today that Comcast now owns Leisure Arts of Little Rock as the result of stock buyback deal with Liberty Media. Now changes are anticipated at the business, which employs 80.

* TWO SHOOTING INCIDENTS IN LITTLE ROCK TODAY: Three people were shot at a business at Twelfth and Adams Streets this afternoon and police are also investigating a shooting at the Bristol Park apartment complex. Fox 16 has some details.

* THE FINANCIAL MYSTERY AT ARKANSAS BAPTIST COLLEGE: Officials at Arkansas Baptist College have not yet provided anything like a full explanation for problems that have roiled for campus for weeks, but have included missed paychecks, computer problems and student complaints about financial aid. Still not much to report, but the Arkansas Department of Higher Education has announced that director Shane Broadway is working with the college.

The Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) is working with Arkansas Baptist College (ABC) to assist with issues on campus resulting from their information technology system malfunction. This includes but is not necessarily limited to problems with student financial aid. Our director, Shane Broadway, has met with Dr. Fitz Hill, ABC president, and his staff and will continue to receive daily updates on the situation.

That doesn't say much. Except something is amiss if a state agency is helping out a private college. I've asked for any documents that might shed more light. Something sure seems fishy on Martin Luther King Drive.

UPDATE: Comment from Brandi Hinkle at Higher Ed:

Although we don't have any authority over the private schools, we have had calls from concerned students and parents when their financial aid wasn't available in the last few weeks. Director Shane Broadway has been having conversations with Dr. Fitz Hill since that time and met with him as recently as this morning.

We are having our financial aid persons reach out to retired financial aid folks in the state who might be willing to help process forms. Since their IT network went down, it has impacted things such as student accounts, financial aid, payroll and communications - no telephones, Internet or email for a while. The U.S. Department of Education had some individuals here to look into the situation but they've since been furloughed. The Little Rock PD is investigating whether criminal charges will result from the system malfunction, as it appears perhaps a disgruntled employee sabotaged the system.

We understand classes are being held, on-campus residents are being housed and fed, and they're working with students to ensure they have adequate education resources, i.e. books.

* RESPONSE TO HOUSING COMPLAINT: BSR Trust of Little Rock issued a statement today in response to a fair housing complaint reported here yesterday. It's from Daniel M. Oberste, senior vice president and general counsel:

“BSR Trust owns 113 multi-family units across 10 states. Our communities consist of more than 19,000 units, with more than 40,000 people calling one of our communities home. A wide variety of races, gender, income levels and ages of residents live in our communities. We were surprised to find out about a complaint made by the National Fair Housing Alliance alleging discrimination against Latinos at one of our Little Rock, Ark., communities. We were made aware of the complaint through a news release the NFHA distributed Oct. 9 to local media and have yet to hear directly from NFHA. We received no details of the allegations – only what local media have reported – but hope to learn more from the National Fair Housing Alliance.

The business that has become the market division of BSR began in 1956 as a family-owned business in Little Rock. We pride ourselves on providing safe, comfortable housing for everyone. We have a long-standing and well-earned reputation with our residents, vendors and team members for high ethics, respect for all (including our residents and team members) and community support. Our employees are the heart of our business, many of whom have been with us for years. Our leadership, property managers and leasing agents are committed to providing clean, safe and beautiful communities to residents of all ages, races and genders. Our team members frequently participate in training and certification in numerous fair housing issues and are consistently marketing to all groups to fill our communities to capacity. So, needless to say, we were very surprised to hear of the NFHA complaint.”


click to enlarge march.png

* STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS: A double-barreled march is planned Saturday in Little Rock in support of better treatment of immigrants.

Read on the jump for more.

Also, more information on Facebook.

It's the work of the Arkansas United Community Coalition. Marchers will depart at 3 p.m. from two locations — Philander Smith College and Dickey-Stephens Park — to meet at the state Capitol at 4 p.m. Speakers including Catholic Bishop Anthony Taylor and Sen. Joyce Elliott will speak in support of immigration reform. Activists in the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network will be in town this weekend to join the event.

One way or the other, the succession of voluntary fiscal crises in Washington will be (temporarily) resolved in the next few weeks. Whenever that happens, Congress will have to confront the real, substantive political problems currently being ignored. At the top of the real, substantive agenda is comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration reform has met resistance in Congress, particularly from Republicans such as Reps. Tim Griffin and Rick Crawford, who fear a backlash from the significant anti-immigrant segment of the GOP. But religious voters, the business establishment and many others have both moral and practical (Latino vote considerations) in support of acting on legislation currently stuck in the House.

This weekend's march and rally on the Capitol steps is a push to keep Congress and the public aware that the issue isn't going away. The Arkansas United Community Coalition is organizing the event for Saturday, Oct. 12th. Two marches will depart at 3 pm from separate locations — Philander Smith and Dickey Stephens park in NLR — and will converge on the Capitol by 4 pm. Bishop Anthony Taylor and state Senator Joyce Elliott, two longtime fighters for immigration reform, will accompany the march and address the crowd at the Capitol. A regional network of activists, the Southeast Immigrants Rights Network, will also be in town this weekend for their annual conference.

Care to participate. Wear white. Bring American and Arkansas flags. Signs ok, but not mounted on sticks.

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