Quote of the Week
"It is ill-advised to viciously attack women, or anyone for that matter — and that's why, when you look back at how Hillary Clinton treated those women during the 1990s and went to destroy them, Donald Trump's actions pale in comparison to Hillary Clinton's actions. ... What Mr. Trump is saying — he's trying to focus on jobs and the economy, but Hillary Clinton is the one that took us into this, this dumpster of politics, and it's out of the Democrats' playbook, and it's really a shame. ... What we should be talking about is how we can help women, and what we've seen is that Donald Trump has promoted women throughout his thousands and thousands of jobs that he's created. How many jobs has Hillary Clinton created? Zero is the answer. Zero jobs for any woman."
— Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, responding to questions on MSNBC about Donald Trump's treatment of Alicia Machado, winner of the Miss Universe pageant in 1996. Trump, as an executive producer of the pageant, had scolded and shamed a teenage Machado for gaining weight; after Clinton brought up the topic, Trump tweeted, "Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?" When pressed to justify the GOP nominee's remarks, Rutledge circled back again and again to Clinton's alleged responses to her husband's dalliances.
Judge: LRSD takeover was legit
Federal Judge Price Marshall dismissed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the state Board of Education's takeover of the Little Rock School District and its decision to allow the expansion of charter schools in the city. The plaintiffs, led by civil rights attorney John Walker, had argued the state board's actions were racially discriminatory. Marshall agreed with the plaintiffs that "there's no real question about [the] disproportionate effect" of the state board's decisions, considering the elected local school board had been majority African-American and the charters in question serve a smaller proportion of black students than does the LRSD. However, the judge added, "the settled precedent is clear; discriminatory effects alone are insufficient to show discriminatory intentions" in regards to the racial balance of students in public schools. Walker has indicated he may appeal.
No charges in Walker arrest
Walker also landed in Little Rock news last week for his arrest after attempting to film a routine police traffic stop; another lawyer at his firm, Omavi Shukur, was arrested as well. The police afterward announced they'd drop an "obstructing governmental operations" charge against Walker but not Shukur. However, after viewing police dashcam video of the arrest, Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley said there wasn't sufficient evidence to charge Shukur either. The dashcam shows Walker filming the traffic stop from across the street (well, attempting to — Walker, who is 79, admitted later that his limited technology skills prevented him from actually capturing footage on his phone). Two white police officers cross the street to ask him what he's doing; Walker, who is a state representative, correctly says that he doesn't have to explain himself. The officers get angry, and an argument ensues, in which one of the cops calls Walker "a race baiter" and a "thorn in the side" of police. Things go downhill from there.
Governor Hutchinson announced an interagency effort to share information and coordinate "voluntary action" regarding the protection of the Buffalo River watershed — a hot topic of concern ever since a hog farm established itself next to a tributary stream several years ago. The Beautiful Buffalo River Action Committee will include the departments of Environmental Quality, Health, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Parks and Tourism. Though unmentioned by the governor, the move may have been sparked by recent concerns over large algae blooms in the waterway. It's an encouraging step, but it remains unclear what actions, exactly, the action committee might take.
Where's John Boozman?
Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman last week skipped another opportunity to debate his challenger, Democrat Connor Eldridge. Boozman was a no-show at a Sept. 16 debate at the University of Arkansas, after which he claimed he hadn't received an invitation. This time, Eldridge's camp sent the senator a certified letter and delivered a personal invitation to his campaign office in Little Rock. Boozman still dodged the event, leaving Eldridge to debate Libertarian Party candidate Frank Gilbert alone.