The line is open for a fireworks-free night before July 4 in parched Arkansas (103 in Little Rock today). Final words:
* DOUBLE SLAYING SUSPECT: Fox 16 reports the arrest of a suspect in a double fatal stabbing Sunday in Little Rock that left another person injured.
* BURNING UP: Fire talk all over the state, including some home evacuations near Atkins.
* TECH TALK: Mayor Mark Stodola responded to an e-mail from me today. He reiterates his belief, in response to my skepticism, that the Forest Hills and Oak Forest residential neighborhoods are off the table for Technology Park sites, based on the City Board resolution asking a review of alternatives and Authority Chair Mary Good's letter acknowledging the board action. Mary Good, however, has continued to say the residential neighborhoods are being evaluated. Also, criteria for site selection will be set by the private consultant who chose residential locations between UAMS and UALR in the first place. Still, the city board does control the money. Stodola said he continues to question minimum acreage and minimum distance from UALR and UAMS preferred by the Tech Park Authority. He adds: "I intend to submit additional locations not encumbered by residential neighborhoods and Dan [Rahn of UAMS], Joel [Anderson of UALR] and I all wish to meet after the 4th of July holiday. I am also researching the distance issue with other research parks."
But, I asked Mayor Stodola, what about Good's continued interest in the neighborhoods if they show interest, as some rental property owners have. His response:
It seems to me that there is substantial neighborhood opposition to locating in the areas mentioned. I understand her letter to say “unless there is substantial neighborhood support” they will no longer be considered. While that is slightly different in context, all we have seen is letters from absentee landlords. Absentee landlords do not a “neighborhood” make.
* FIGHTING FOR A BETTER ETHICS LAW: You may think it's a holiday. But the Regnat Populus 2012 committee is soldiering on tomorrow and through Friday in a desperate drive to meet the signature requirement to qualify the ethics reform law for the ballot. They might make it (if Secretary of State Mark Martin, reflecting the general Republican disgruntlement with stronger ethics, doesn't throw a monkeywrench in the operation during the review process.) Marie O'Connell's update follows. It gives would-be volunteers an idea of where they might be able to help, along with a window into how hard this group is working, along with the Better Ethics Now committee's paid canvassing effort.
FROM MARIE MAINARD O'CONNELL
Dear Canvassing Friends,
Thank you for sticking with us so far! Last night we had a great notarization and turn-in meeting, and here are the results:
Last night's turn in: Over 1,100!
Counties we have in the bag: Carroll, Clay, Desha, Faulkner, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lawrence, Little River, Perry, Prairie, Pulaski and Randolph! That's 12! We only need 3 more...
Counties we ALMOST have, or will have if people turn in the signatures they have reported:
- Calhoun needs 61; Go Sam L!
- Franklin needs 215; Go Brent B's family!
- Lincoln needs 21, and Abbie, Gordon and Caleb have plans to go visit on the 4th — reply if you'd like to join them!
- Woodruff needs 20, and Mac and Kaitlin just reported from the field that they got it this morning! Bring 'em in folks, congratulations!
- Monroe needs 67, and Mac and Kaitlin have moved on to that county right now! Keep up the good work!
- Arkansas needs 92, and probably needs folks who know the area in order to really succeed!
- There are other counties we need too...for instance, we weren't even close in Lincoln until someone brought in 100; YOUR efforts can deliver a county we hadn't dreamed of!
All of this means that we WILL make our goal of 15 counties at 4% minimum!! Well, we will if we keep pressing on with the same speed and vigor. Good work everyone; but we aren't done yet.
WE STILL NEED TO CONTINUE GATHERING AS MANY SIGNATURES AS POSSIBLE THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THIS WEEK, AND ON INTO JULY. "But why, Marie? I thought we were done?" The hard work of democracy is never done my friend. But we're actually pretty close...with this phase. Please allow me to explain.
We need to gather 62,507 signatures to turn in Friday (see below for details!), and then we need to KEEP gathering signatures beyond that. The Secretary of State's office will collect the signatures and begin checking them for accuracy, throwing out those that are illegible, unregistered or otherwise unacceptable. WE can use this time to continue collecting signatures in order to make up for the ones that are thrown out, and we'll have 30 days after the SoS affirms we have our minimums to do so. Which means DON'T throw any signatures away! Turning them in 'late' is great, because they're actually still on time! So this is what this week and beyond needs to look like:
Wednesday July 4th: Canvassing at huge public events, with a midnight notarizing and turn in with Terra at their downtown Little Rock July 4th notary location above Ten Thousand Villages on Pres Bill Clinton Avenue. (See below for July 4th events).
Thursday, July 5th: FINAL notarizing opportunity 11am-1pm at First Presbyterian Church, 800 Scott St in Little Rock. (Lunch is also served upstairs in the Stewpot Soup Kitchen; you should visit this excellent community service.) If you want your signatures to count for the MOST important first turn in, now is the last chance to make SURE they get in. It's terribly important, because every signature matters.
Friday, July 6th: Turn in to the Secretary of State's Office, afternoon time TBA (likely after 3pm). Clear your calendar and come on down! We'll need tons of volunteers to carry in petitions and be present for our press conference in the late afternoon, and then a celebratory party! You're all invited!
Saturday, July 7th: Consider resting...OR consider whether you want to go to some of the great events happening around the state! Regnat Populus promised 15,000 signatures towards this effort, and we'll have about 3000 more to go to reach our personal goal.
THIS WEEK'S CANVASSING OPPORTUNITIES
Today, JULY 3:
• Westover Hills Farmer's Market, Little Rock 3:30-7pm
• Fireworks in Sandy Beach, Heber Springs @ 9:30pm (Cleburn Co)
• Freedom Fest in Benton (Saline Co), Saline Co Fairgrounds (free), Bullriders @ 7pm,
• Freedom Fest in Benton (Saline Co), Saline Co Fairgrounds (free), 5k 7:30am, BBQ contest 4:30pm
• HUGE Pops on the River, noon-10pm Downtown Little Rock and observers all along both sides of the River! Catch folks from all over the State!
• Freedom Fest in Russellville (Pope Co)
• Fourth of July Celebration in Pine Bluff, 3-10pm (Jefferson Co)
• Beebe Fourth of July Extravaganza (White Co)
• July 4-7 Rodeo of the Ozarks in Springdale (Washington AND Benton Co)
JULY 5: Last Notarization and turn in before Friday, 11am-1pm First Presbyterian Church, 800 Scott St. Little Rock.
JULY 6: TURN IN DAY FOR REGNAT POPULUS AND BETTER ETHICS NOW! Keep your afternoon free, time TBA, Party afterwards!
JULY 7: Resume gathering signatures for “the cure” period!
JULY 8: Conway Gun Show, 9am-5pm (Faulkner Co)
As you can see, we are well on our way to making real, substantial change for our political system in Arkansas. I'm sure you'll hear from me again later this week, with further details about Friday's turn in and celebration, as well as plans for regular canvassing throughout July and our campaign to encourage people to vote for this initiative. The "Campaign Finance and Lobbying Act of 2012" is almost on the ballot...please stay with us to make certain it gets there.