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It was a good week for Muckraking the Mayflower Oil Spill


It was a good week for ...

MUCKRAKING THE MAYFLOWER OIL SPILL. The Arkansas Times' collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning news outlet InsideClimate News has legs. In less than a month, the Times and Inside Climate News raised more than $25,000 through the crowdfunding site in order to fund two reporters to spend several months aggressively covering the spill. One of the reporters, Sam Eifling, starts work this week. The other, Pulitzer winner Elizabeth McGowan, arrives in Arkansas in early August.

MIKE ROSS. The Democratic gubernatorial candidatereported that he's already raised almost $2 million for his campaign. Meanwhile, his Democratic primary opponent, Bill Halter, said he'd raised $92,000 in the quarter, but had $837,000 on hand. Republican candidate Asa Hutchinson reported $378,000. He has $649,000 on hand. According to the Ross campaign, Ross raised more in the first quarter of an Arkansas governor's race than any other previous candidates.

A LAWSUIT SEEKING EQUALITY. Another week, another legal push towards equality. On Monday, Little Rock lawyer Jack Wagoner filed a federal lawsuit challenging Arkansas's constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage on behalf of three couples. See more on page 11.

ATTORNEY GENERAL DUSTIN MCDANIEL. He aptly called the state's execution process "completely broken." Challenges to lethal injection have become a whole new federal court legal industry. There's no real prospect of executing anyone by injection in Arkansas for probably years to come. The approved drugs aren't available. Other suitable drugs haven't been found and cleared. Or else they must be administered by physicians. Physicians won't perform executions. McDaniel urged the legislature and people of the state to have a conversation about a way forward.

It was a bad week for ...

BAPTIST HEALTH. The hospital announced the layoff of 170 workers, about 2.5 percent of its 7,300-worker force, statewide. It has hospitals in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Arkadelphia.

TRANSPARENCY. After much delay, ExxonMobil finally delivered the results of a metallurgical analysis performed on the section of the Pegasus Pipeline that ruptured in Mayflower to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). But neither ExxonMobil nor PHMSA had released the report to the public at press time.

JUDICIAL ACTIVISM. Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of Conway, a self-styled "conservative judicial voice of reason," negated the unanimous jury verdict in a nursing home death case in Faulkner County. He reduced its compensatory damage award by a whopping 81 percent, from $5.2 million to $1 million.

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