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Using words but saying nothing 

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Quote of the week

"Well, we don't have a bill. That's what we're working on. The reason we're working really hard to come up with a bill is to solve some of the problems of Obamacare."

Sen. John Boozman, using words but saying nothing, in an interview with Vox.com, on the health care bill that Senate Republicans are crafting in secret, ahead of a potential vote before the Senate recesses for the Fourth of July holiday.

No rival amendment

The Arkansas Bar Association House of Delegates failed to endorse a proposed constitutional amendment to counter a legislatively proposed constitutional amendment to limit damage lawsuits. The amendment the legislature referred to the ballot would almost entirely make serious damage lawsuits a thing of the past by limiting damage awards and attorney fees and turning rulemaking authority over to the legislature. The bar proposal would have kept rulemaking authority at the Supreme Court and prevented the cap on damages and attorney fees the legislature has proposed. It also would have included a requirement for disclosure of money spent to elect judges. Needing a 75 percent vote, the House of Delegates gave it 72 percent.

Without bar backing, it is just about impossible to put an amendment on the ballot. The bar had hoped to draw on members to get the job done and avoid some of the punitive measures the legislature has placed on groups that hire paid canvassers. This likely means the battle will be over the legislature's amendment, with lawyers providing money to attempt to defeat it. "Greedy lawyers" will be the theme of the legislative amendment, most likely.

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Ex-cop wins civil suit over use of force

A federal court jury found retired Little Rock Police Lt. David Hudson was not liable for damages in a civil lawsuit brought by a man he punched during a 2011 arrest at a Little Rock restaurant. Erwin said Hudson, who was disciplined by the police chief afterward, used excessive force. The beating was videotaped. Hudson, who was working as private security for the now closed Ferneau restaurant, said he used force necessary to subdue Erwin. He said Erwin had objected to directions to leave a private party room in the restaurant. Ferneau and the city of Little Rock were originally part of the lawsuit, but Erwin settled with them for an undisclosed amount before the trial began.

Fed grant for river trail

The city of Little Rock got word last week that it will receive $1.6 million in a Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) grant to build a ramp to the $1.1 million bridge it's building over the railroad tracks at the western end of the Medical Mile, which begins in Riverfront Park and ends at the tracks abutting the Dillard's headquarters. (The bridge is being built with a state grant of $1 million and sales tax revenues.)

The money will also pay to repair the river trail just east of the new bridge, which has been collapsing into the river for a couple of years. John Landosky, the city's bike/pedestrian coordinator, said the slumping area is not actually riverbank but 19th century fill for a railroad bridge. Landosky called it an "ecologic disaster waiting to happen; we have no idea what's under there, like 109-year-old railroad junk." The ramp will go over the slumping area to the new bridge.

In 2009, about 100 feet of the river trail about 300 feet east of the slumping area collapsed. It was filled in 2013 with 5,500 cubic yards of riprap to the tune of $800,000, most of that money from FEMA.


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