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Deal or no deal

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Quote of the Week:

— Curtis Hagerty is the dentist in question at Russellville's Hagerty Family Dental, but the idea for the message originated with his wife, hygienist Tisa Hagerty. "We thought it was funny," she told the Huffington Post, after a picture of the sign went viral. "And it's true. The dentist doesn't hunt lions. Or anything else."

Deal or no deal

Word leaked Sunday that the Little Rock School District — which was taken over by the state Education Department in January — would offer its unionized employees a difficult choice. Under a draft proposal released Monday by Superintendent Baker Kurrus, the Little Rock Education Association will maintain its status as a local union with exclusive negotiating rights on salary and benefits, but the terms of its lengthy, 50-year-old contract will go by the wayside. That means teachers and other workers stand to lose a number of protections they've won over the years. However, there's little the LREA can do when the state holds all the cards. If the union pushes back too hard, it risks its contract being dissolved unilaterally (as happened in the Pulaski County Special School District after a state takeover there). LREA President Cathy Koehler urged restraint, saying, "I fully anticipate that we will continue to be a part of conversations moving forward."

As the Times went to press Tuesday evening, LREA members were preparing to meet to consider the offer. Students return to the district's classrooms next week.

Maybe settle for veep?

In a telephone poll conducted before last week's Republican debate, Donald Trump bested Mike Huckabee in Huckabee's home state.

Among 428 likely GOP primary voters in Arkansas, 26 percent said they'd vote for Trump, compared to 22 percent for the former governor. Trump continues to lead the cartoonishly crowded Republican pack both nationally and in Southern states as a whole — even after a debate performance in which he gleefully rejected ruling out a bid for the White House as an independent, drawing ire from his rivals. He then outdid himself by insulting Fox News host Megyn Kelly for asking him a tough question about his history of crude remarks toward women. Trump the frontrunner: It's remarkable, it's horrifying and, if we're being honest with ourselves, it's a little bit delightful. (Huckabee, meanwhile, continues to hover around fourth or fifth place in the Republican field in national polls.)

Date set for Ellison trial

The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last week affirmed a lower court ruling that two Little Rock police officers are not immune from a lawsuit in the 2010 death of Eugene Ellison. Ellison, 67, was killed in his apartment at a complex where the officers were providing private security. The officers, Donna Lesher and Tabitha McCrillis, had argued the suit against them should be dismissed. Lesher shot Ellison after he allegedly became belligerent that the officers entered his home uninvited to check on his "welfare."

The unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel means the case can now proceed. Judge Brian Miller has set the trial for Nov. 2.

The long goodbye to coal

Entergy Arkansas, the state's largest electric utility, indicated that it may shut down the White Bluff power plant near Jefferson by 2028. The proposal to shutter Arkansas's biggest and dirtiest coal-burning facility came as part of Entergy's response to an Environmental Protection Agency plan to improve air quality and reduce haze. The utility said it'd be cheaper to wind down operations at White Bluff than install expensive scrubbers to make it cleaner.

It's a hopeful sign Arkansas might be changing its outdated, coal-loving ways, especially combined with new investment in renewables and natural gas (which at least burns cleaner than coal). Yet Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge continues to fight the feds tooth and nail on every regulation issued by the EPA, including new ones intended to combat climate change. Some folks are stuck in the past.

A shooting in Blytheville

On Saturday night, a dozen people were wounded and one killed — 19-year-old Adline King — in the Northeast Arkansas town. But despite a large number of eyewitnesses, police have yet to identify a gunman. Scott Ellington, the prosecuting attorney for Mississippi County, is pleading for anyone with information to step forward.


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