It was a good week for ...
RIVERFEST. Mild weather brought the hordes out. Organizers said more than 250,000 passed through the gates over the three days of the festival.
GOOFBALL ENDORSEMENTS. Dennis Milligan, famous for once saying what the U.S. needed was another 9/11 to get right about terrorism, is a Republican candidate for state treasurer, not mayor of Branson, Mo. Nonetheless, he's trumpeting endorsements from Branson nostalgia acts Tony Orlando and Yakov Smirnoff.
It was a bad week for ...
U.S. SEN. MARK PRYOR. A gun-control group backed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is following through with plans to buy TV time — $350,000 worth — criticizing U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor for helping defeat some modest gun measures recently, particularly universal background checks. The group's first ad alludes to the shooting death of former State Democratic Party Chair Bill Gwatney. It features Angela Bradford Barnes, chief financial officer of the Arkansas Democratic Party at the time.
U.S. REP. TOM COTTON. The congressman, a regular in our "bad week" category, introduced perhaps his wackiest idea yet — an amendment to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 that would punish family members of people who violate U.S. sanctions against Iran with up to 20 years in prison. There'd be no investigation. Cotton's amendment would punish spouses as well as "parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids." The U.S. Constitution expressly prohibits punishing treason based on family ties.
SEARCY COUNTY SHERIFF AND COLLECTOR KENNY CASSELL. The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed a lower court and said Cassell's 1979 conviction on a federal misdemeanor theft charge for stealing Cornish hens from a Tyson's interstate shipment made him ineligible to hold office. The Supreme Court has now made it clear several times that a misdemeanor can meet the 1874 Constitution's definition of an infamous crime that makes someone ineligible for Arkansas office.
EDUCATION. The federal sequestration spending cuts that took effect March 1 will cost Arkansas $18.5 million in 2013, according to Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. A bit more than half the money will be cut from Title I programs for disadvantaged students. Early childhood education programs such as Head Start have also taken a hit.