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Rapert! 

Also, rats in the walls, Tom Cotton saying no (again) and more.

Quote of the Week

"Regardless of who is responsible for these events today — we need to round up every single Muslim extremist sympathizer and other anti-American crazies and detain them or deport them. And for goodness sake — stop bringing more Muslims into this nation."

— State Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), responding on Facebook to two evidently terrorist attacks over the weekend. In St. Cloud, Minn., a young man of Somali origin, Dahir Adan, stabbed 10 people in a shopping mall before being shot to death by an off-duty cop, and in New York City, a bomb allegedly planted by an Afghan-born naturalized citizen named Ahmad Rahami injured 29. (Aside from Adan, no one was killed in either attack.) Ever eager to throw gasoline on a fire, Rapert went on to urge "Americans [to] start pointing out every anti-American Muslim ... and run them out of our country." Facebook at first removed Rapert's posts, but later reinstated them.

The rats in the walls

First Lady Susan Hutchinson wants more renovations made to the Governor's Mansion due to damage caused by rats, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported last week. The governor's private office in the mansion "looks fine, but it's hideous smelling," Hutchinson told the Governor's Mansion Commission. The only solution to the "rat stench," she said, is to gut the room entirely. Some $62,000 in state funds have already been allocated for renovations to the office (out of a $1.1 million grant to improve the mansion and its grounds). A bottle of Febreze costs about $7 at Walmart, by the way.

Just say no

Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is keeping up his one-man blockade of five judges to fill vacant seats on the Court of Federal Claims, the venue for citizens to file claims against the U.S. government for matters such as tax disputes and government contracts. The nominees have been held up for two years, despite the fact that the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has twice approved them unanimously. The chief judge of the claims court has said it badly needs the vacancies filled. But Cotton, who again last week blocked a vote on the confirmation, is interested in obstruction for obstruction's sake. At the moment, the court contains eight Republican appointees and three Democrats, and adding President Obama's five nominees would even the balance. Cotton insists the court's caseload doesn't warrant filling the vacancies.

Beat the house

The battle over a proposed constitutional amendment to allow three more casinos in Arkansas is heating up. The Arkansas Supreme Court last week named retired Judge John Jennings as special master to review evidence in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the proposal in advance of the November election. Meanwhile, Justice Courtney Goodson has recused from the case. She didn't state a reason, but Goodson has connections to the thoroughbred racing business at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, an opponent of allowing more casinos — i.e., competitors — into the state. Governor Hutchinson has appointed Warren Dupwe, a Jonesboro lawyer, as a special justice.

Growing eStem, by the numbers

At a groundbreaking ceremony, eStem Public Charter Schools released an update on its new high school for grades 10-12 on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus. The building is slated to open next fall, thereby beginning a dramatic expansion of the charter school's capacity over the next several years. It's an ominous development for the Little Rock School District, which will likely be weakened by a slow drain of families (especially middle-to-upper income households) towards eStem and other charters.

$11.4 million - The amount of a no-interest loan from the Walton Family Foundation being used to finance the renovation of UALR's Larson Hall and the construction of a new addition to the building.

50,000 - The eventual square footage of the facility when completed, not counting 15,000 square feet in classroom space in adjoining Ross Hall to be leased from UALR by eStem.

1,100 - The eventual size of the high school when it is at full capacity. In the 2017-18 school year, it should hold around 450 students, or a growth of 50-75 students for grades 10-12.

500 - The additional seats in grades K-9 that eStem plans to add for the 2017-18 school year alone.

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