Quote of the Week:
"I cannot be complicit in machinations which have the effect of depriving justice to any party before this court. Because I believe the current actions of the court impinge on the oath I took and my duties under the Code, I must recuse in this matter"
— Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Paul Danielson in a letter recusing himself from the new (and redundant) same-sex marriage case created by the court last week; Chief Justice Jim Hannah also recused in a similar letter. Last November, the Supreme Court heard the appeal of Judge Chris Piazza's decision to strike down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, but now that the court has two new members, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge wants the case to be argued again. Hannah said the creation of the second case was an attempt by a majority of the court to delay ruling on the controversial matter.
Surprise! LRSD schools to be reconfigured
News surfaced this week that two schools in the Little Rock School District, Rockefeller Elementary and Baseline Elementary, will be reorganized. Baseline will be converted into a school focusing on literacy and Rockefeller will be converted into solely an early childhood education center.
There's nothing wrong with those ideas — but perhaps Dexter Suggs, the interim superintendent of the LRSD, might have informed parents and teachers of the plans. Instead, the news was released to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before staff or families were told anything about the changes. All staff at Baseline will be removed and placed into a pool of unassigned teachers.
The district and the Arkansas Department of Education also have been remarkably unresponsive to Freedom of Information Act requests since the state took over the LRSD in late January. For example, less than a week before this news broke, the Times asked Suggs under the FOIA for any documents concerning plans to reassign principals in the district. There were no such documents, came the reply. The LRSD plan just released makes it clear that the principal at Baseline (and possibly the principal at Rockefeller) will be reassigned. So, did Suggs provide false information in response to an FOIA request, or was the plan to reconfigure the schools concocted in the past five days alone?
Not bad for a failed district
Four Arkansas students were among the 800 African-American high school seniors named as Achievement Scholarship winners in the National Merit Scholarship Competition. Two of the four, Dana Abulez and Chandler Smith, are from Central High School. (Jonah Rodgers of Jacksonville and Taemora Williams of North Little Rock were the others honored.)
Race against the machine
Mike Huckabee, a darling of the 2008 GOP presidential primary but striving to stay relevant in advance of 2016, attempted to style himself as the one Republican candidate with a proven record against the Clintons. "Every time I ever ran for public office in Arkansas — every time — I ran against ... their machinery," Huck said in an ABC interview over the weekend. "I ran against their money and frankly both Bill and Hillary Clinton came back and campaigned personally in the state for every opponent I ever had."
In fact, in Huckabee's critical first victory, which he won against Democrat Nate Coulter for the lieutenant governor's seat in 1993, neither Bill nor Hillary appeared in Arkansas. They were too busy in Washington.