Hear me now?
Those looking to talk or text via cell phone in Cammack Village better take heed. A new ordinance in the town-within-a-city imposes up to a $100 fine and 10 days of community service on those caught using anything other than a hands-free wireless device in a school zone between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Cammack Village Police Chief Peter Powell said the ordinance, which went into effect at the start of the school year, was passed in response to incidents of distracted driving near school crosswalks near Jefferson Elementary. "We've had some incidents where parents were texting and driving, and we've had some rear-end collisions," he said. "We actually had some kids get bumped while crossing the street."
Powell said the ordinance is currently only enforced from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., and from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., though officers can potentially issue tickets and warnings any time school is in session. The city of Rogers also has a law forbidding cell phone usage in school zones, as do cities in other states.
Cammack Village has put up signs warning drivers of the prohibition on cell phone use at either end of the school zone. Though Powell said there have been no tickets issued so far, we've heard from at least one driver who said she was stopped and given a verbal warning.
According to the ordinance, exceptions to the law include if the person talking on the phone is operating a vehicle which is stopped or parked, if they are driving an authorized emergency vehicle such as a fire truck, ambulance or police car, or if the person is an employee of a hospital, fire department, health clinic, police department or medical doctor's office.
Huck's Willie Horton
It's a bigger story in Washington than Arkansas, but it also could have an impact on a Florida resident. We're talking about a new book, "The Other Side of Mercy: A killer's Journey across the American divide." Ken Armstrong and Jonathan Martin have expanded significantly on the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting of the Seattle Times on the slaying of four Washington police officers by Maurice Clemmons, a parolee from Arkansas who was freed from a 108-year sentence by clemency granted by Gov. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee, now a Florida resident, may run for president again and his Clemmons decision – along with his infamous help for rapist Wayne Dumond, who killed and raped again – is sure to be an issue.
The book provides much new detail about Clemmons' criminal history and how he wound up with a 108-year sentence. He was serving time for eight felonies and had refused plea bargains that would have shortened the sentence substantially. He pleaded rehabilitation to Huckabee, though Clemmons had dozens of prison disciplinary infractions, including extortion and gang rape. On release, he was evaluated as having the highest risk of committing violent crimes again. Indeed, he was convicted in another robbery and implicated in yet another, but the parole board continued his release, despite a prosecutor's objection. The book gives Huckabee points for believing in forgiveness and making politically difficult clemency decisions, but the details don't compliment the quality of his judgment, his careful review of cases or his truthfulness in describing Clemmons' record while defending his action on TV last year. In the course of recounting Clemmons' life, the book touches on many facets of Arkansas history, from racial strife in his hometown of Marianna to the historic evil conditions in Arkansas prisons to the interconnection of political figures. Clemmons champions happen to include Circuit Judge Marion Humphrey and Parole Board Chairman Leroy Brownlee, an elder in the Presbyterian church Humphrey pastors.
It's book-length journalism and good reading. Huckabee's future opponents can be expected to have it on hand.