Quote of the Week
"Donald Trump's going to win the election ... and let me tell you why. There are so many people in America who are going to vote for Donald Trump [but] they don't want to tell anybody because to do so, the media will label them as a racist, a bigot, an Islamophobe, a xenophobe, misogynist. They're not going to tell anybody, but by gosh, when they go into that voting booth they're going to vote for Trump."
— Former Gov. Mike Huckabee on Fox News, denying the reality of Trump's slide in national polls over the past month.
Left and right against Issue 3
The worst proposal remaining on the Nov. 8 ballot is Issue 3, which would allow the state to pledge unlimited public money to private projects and give local governments latitude to spend tax dollars on businesses and chambers of commerce in the name of "economic development." For once, the conservative group Conduit for Action is on the right side of an issue: It's buying ads in opposition to this giveaway of public funds. Americans for Prosperity, the political organization funded by the Koch brothers, is also making the argument against Issue 3, which it called a "serious risk to economic freedom and limited government in the Natural State" in a recent Facebook post. The conservative activists are on the mark. Issue 3 is a bald example of corporate welfare, masked in the language of "job creation." The group pushing the amendment is funded heavily by chambers of commerce, many of whom received handouts from local governments over the years until a recent lawsuit put a stop to the practice of appropriating public money to local chambers. Now the business interests want to revive the practice by enshrining it in the state constitution; it's up to voters to say no.
Not in our backyard
Three Republican congressmen issued a news release objecting to the resettlement of refugees in Arkansas by the nonprofit Canopy NWA, which applied for certification from the U.S. State Department to help resettle people fleeing violence in Syria and other places. U.S. Reps. Steve Womack, Bruce Westerman and Rick Crawford wrote Secretary of State John Kerry to declare that "we cannot support a program that brings refugees into our nation who could pose a national security threat." Evidently, that includes children and families. A spokesman for Catholic Charities, which is partnering with Canopy NWA, said the effort would probably amount to one or two refugee families a month at first and perhaps 100 people per year after that. Since the civil war began, approximately 4.8 million Syrians have fled the country.
High stakes, big losses
The ballot proposal to install three new casinos in Arkansas is now dead, but committee finance reports filed last week show just how much it cost to wage the battle over Issue 5. The Cherokee Nation contributed $6 million to the effort to install new casinos via constitutional amendment, including a specific carve-out in Washington County for Oklahoma-based Cherokee National Businesses LLC. On the other side of the issue, the owners of Southland Gaming in West Memphis and Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs — Arkansas's two existing casinos, which chafed at the thought of competition — spent almost $1.5 million to oppose Issue 5. Now it's a moot point: Earlier this month, the Arkansas Supreme Court disqualified the measure from the ballot.
A new Chinese import: jobs
After a trip to China to talk trade, Governor Hutchinson announced that a Chinese garment company plans to open a $20 million factory in Little Rock that will employ 400 workers at around $14 an hour. The Suzhou Tianyuan Garments Co. will make adidas apparel. Arkansas is offering the manufacturer over $3 million in grants, rebates and other incentives.
Free bus rides on Election Day
Need a ride to the polls? Rock Region Metro, Pulaski County's bus service, is volunteering its services on Nov. 8. All buses will be free that day whether you're bound for the polls or not. (Although those of us who can do so should consider going before then — early voting opened this week across the state.)