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ACLU to sue

Former First Lady Betty Bumpers dies and LR seeks bike-share program.


ACLU to sue

The American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project and the ACLU of Arkansas have filed notice in Pulaski County Circuit Court that they will appeal citations issued by the state Board of Health against three Arkansas abortion clinics.

The citations were imposed under a state law prohibiting physicians from collecting payment during a 48-hour waiting period after the patient's initial visit, part of a slate of measures aimed at shutting down Planned Parenthood clinics in Arkansas via unnecessary requirements and imposing cumbersome protocols on their patients.

The ACLU will argue that the state law regarding the waiting period is unconstitutional and ask that the citations be dismissed and the law be invalidated.

Former first lady Betty Bumpers dies

Former Arkansas first lady Betty Bumpers died Nov. 23. She was 93. Before her husband, Dale Bumpers, became governor, she worked as an elementary school teacher in Charleston (Franklin County), where she played a role in the desegregation of the Charleston Public School District. It was the first school district in the South to integrate all 12 grades after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954.

Bumpers used her position as first lady to launch a groundbreaking campaign to have every child in the state immunized against childhood diseases. After Dale Bumpers won a U.S. Senate seat in 1974 and the couple moved to Washington, Betty Bumpers teamed with U.S. first lady Rosalynn Carter to expand the immunization program nationally.

As the Cold War heated up in the early 1980s, Betty Bumpers founded Peace Links, a group that sought to encourage friendship between American and Soviet women.

Buffalo pollution

Preliminary results of new federal and state studies have found increased pollution in the groundwater of the Buffalo River watershed, as well as algae growth that now affects nearly half of the 150-mile river, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this week. The research comes from U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Groundwater pollution was among concerns raised by activists opposed to the presence of C&H Hog Farms, the 3,000-hog feeding operation situated on a tributary of the Buffalo. However, the preliminary findings have not proven a direct link between the pollution, algae and the presence of the hog-feeding operation. The studies are ongoing and could take years to conclude.

The ADEQ denied a waste disposal permit for C&H last week. That decision is being fought in court by C&H, which continues to operate despite the expiration of its permit two years ago. ADEQ denied the permit for disposal of liquid hog waste based upon its review of evidence of environmental risk due to the underlying karst geology, which can allow waste to seep through and contaminate groundwater, as well as the impacts of land-applied waste washing into the nearby Big Creek, a tributary of the Buffalo, and eventually into the Buffalo itself.

Little Rock seeks bike-share program

The city of Little Rock has issued a request for proposals to bike-share service providers.

Bike sharing allows people to pay a minimal fee to use bikes between locked stations. It is unlike the city's program several years ago that put free bikes in the River Market district for people to borrow. Those bikes cycled off into the sunset; there was no way to keep them from being stolen.

The RFP, which has a response due date of Dec. 11, is for a three-year contract with a bike-sharing company that would put a minimum of 200 bikes at 20-25 pay stations in the River Market district and downtown next year, and add 100 more bikes at the end of 2019.

The city will invest in the first three years of a six-year pilot program, but "the equipment, operations, and other System expenses will primarily be funded through sponsorships or other funding sources secured" by the bike-share company, the RFP says. The city could use its dollars to match grants to purchase equipment or with "sponsorship investment" could fund operations and equipment in a "lease-to-own" model, the RFP says, or the bike-share company could retain ownership of the equipment. The city wants the bike-share company to be responsible for day-to-day operations but give the city oversight of the system. The first phase of the city's pilot program will target the River Cities Center (the city bus depot), areas of high-density parking, areas of high-density employment, the Clinton Center and restaurant/entertainment areas, the RFP says.

City Manager Bruce Moore will appoint a team to score the bids according to a score sheet attached to the RFP.

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