Quote of the Week
"I just couldn't help myself. I knew God told me I needed to run the car into it."
— Michael Reed, the man arrested for driving into and destroying the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds just hours after its installation in June, in a telephone interview with Jacob Rosenberg of the Arkansas Times.
Martin dumps data
Secretary of State Mark Martin complied with the demands of President Trump's "election integrity committee," which most suspect was created to purge the names of those who would vote Democratic from the voter rolls rather than find real evidence of fraud in the 2016 presidential election. Martin turned over name, birthdate, street address, telephone number, political party registration and voting history of every voter in Arkansas, 1.7 million Arkansans in total, to the group headed by Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who has been sued, repeatedly and successfully, by the American Civil Liberties Union over his voter suppression efforts in Kansas. Martin apparently made Arkansas the first, and perhaps only, state to comply with the commission's demand for the data dump, a request that 44 states had deemed inappropriate and had refused to abide by as of July 5. Martin said it's all public information, anyway. A federal lawsuit has been filed against the commission's request.
LRSD discrimination suit to go forward
Federal Judge Price Marshall refused last week to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges racial discrimination in the state's operation of the Little Rock School District. John Walker, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he was looking forward to making his case that decisions to close facilities and invest in others discriminated against minority students. Marshall wrote, "Though [Superintendent Michael] Poore and [state Education Commissioner Johnny] Key make strong arguments about traceability and on the merits, the Court concludes that it can make a better judgment on the facilities/resources claim after seeing and hearing the witnesses, plus considering the documents with the context that only live testimony, as well as oral argument, will provide."
Governor announces aid to LRPD
Governor Hutchinson announced a joint investigative group made up of officers from city, county, state and federal agencies would be formed to "share intelligence" on gang activity and that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division would more strictly monitor bars after the July 1 shooting at the Little Rock nightclub Power Ultra Lounge in which 28 people were injured, 25 of them by gunshot. Hutchinson also said the State Police would provide manpower for investigation, intelligence and arrest. "We are committed to supporting the LRPD," Hutchinson said, and Little Rock Police Department Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley said the force saw the state's efforts as a means to "increase its footprint."
Candidates announce for mayor
Also in the wake of the shooting at Power Ultra Lounge, potential candidates in Little Rock's 2018 mayoral election emerged. State Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-LittleRock) announced he was exploring a run and state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) said he was interested, though he didn't announce that. Mayor Mark Stodola, in response, said he'll seek re-election, but is too busy working on city matters to be campaigning. Sabin's announcement triggered interest in his legislative seat: Tippi McCullough, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Pulaski County, and Ross Noland, a lawyer and director of the Buffalo River Foundation, said they would seek Sabin's District 33 seat in the House, which runs from Interstate 30 on the east to Reservoir Road on the west through Hillcrest.