Quote of the week
"Help is on the way."
— U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, employing John Kerry's signature 2004 Democratic National Convention refrain, in his widely panned speech Monday at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Cotton mentioned Donald Trump's name only once in his speech.
Quote of the week II
"That was covered once in our history. We don't need to cover it again."
— Gov. Hutchinson in response to the Washington Post asking if he wanted to revisit the Monica Lewinsky affair from the convention stage. Hutchinson, who was a House manager of President Bill Clinton's impeachment, was to speak at the convention on Tuesday night after the Times went to press.
Us vs. them
City Director Erma Hendrix has again called for a city residency requirement for the Little Rock Police Department. The Fraternal Order of Police has again taken umbrage. The proposal isn't likely to go farther than the last unsuccessful vote on the issue. But the subject remains important — maybe even more important than ever in the current national turmoil about police-community relations and violence by and against police.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that only 183 of 528 officers live in Little Rock. Of the 528 officers, 343 are white. Last year, when Hendrix first proposed the residency requirement, the Arkansas Times found that 62 percent of the black LRPD officers lived in the city, while only 21 percent of white officers did. LRPD Chief Kenton Buckner cited the state of the Little Rock School District as a reason many of his officers don't want to live in Little Rock. Thanks, chief, for buying into the propaganda and writing off the Little Rock School District.
The question lingers from last week's State Board of Education meeting at which the Board ignored federal court desegregation orders and allowed students to transfer out of Jacksonville and El Dorado school districts over the objections of the districts. Both Jacksonville and El Dorado are covered by federal court desegregation cases, still active, and both asked for an exemption from school choice as allowed for such districts under state law. With board member and charter school/choice advocate Diane Zook in the forefront — and aided by Governor Hutchinson's appointees — a majority of the board essentially told the courts to go to hell and allowed the transfers. Allen Roberts, attorney for El Dorado and the Pulaski County Special School District, which struck the no-transfer agreement with Jacksonville, called the Board action "radically segregationist."
Friends with benefits
The trial of Northeast Arkansas businessman Ted Suhl on federal bribery charges began last week. Over the years, the state has paid Suhl's companies hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements to treat troubled children at his inpatient facility in Randolph County, the Lord's Ranch (now renamed Trinity Behavioral Health) and his outpatient clinics. Now, prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice allege Suhl funneled cash payments to his "friend" Steven Jones, a top official at the Arkansas Department of Human Services, in return for inside information and favors. Jones has accepted a plea deal in exchange for his cooperation and is now in prison. But the prosecution has its work cut out: Jones' testimony on the witness stand wasn't entirely clear, and Suhl's legal team (drawn from a top-dollar Washington, D.C., firm seasoned in defending corruption cases) will try to paint the entire indictment as a fiction spun by overzealous government attorneys. This week, we'll see if the jury buys it.
Dallas Oliver Bump, 98, of Bear (Garland County) died Saturday. His passing deserves a note because he was judged an Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Arts Council for his custom-made rocking chairs, "the best oak rocking chairs ever made," according to his obituary. One is on permanent display at the Smithsonian. Bump continued making chairs until he was 96.