Quote of the Week:
"I understand Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi are the three Southern states targeted by the radical, left homosexualists to change our students' perspective."
— Betty Peters, a member of the Alabama Board of Education, warning of a deadly conspiracy against Southern values that includes the Common Core education standards, the Human Rights Campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center and God knows what other tentacles of the gay Illuminati.
More staff for Stodola
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola has insisted on the creation of two new staff positions answerable directly to him: A chief of staff who'd be paid $60,000 to $90,000 and an assistant to the mayor who'd be paid $44,000 to $68,000. The mayor already has an administrative assistant (paid $45,600 currently) and can tap other city staff as necessary. But Stodola said the new positions were essential, given the workload of the mayor's office. Emails requested by the Times show some disagreement among city staff regarding the necessity of the new positions (at least at those compensation levels) given Little Rock's organizational structure, in which most day-to-day operations are the domain of the city manager, Bruce Moore.
Transit authority seeks sales tax vote
The board of Rock Region Metro, formerly the Central Arkansas Transit Authority, has voted to ask the Pulaski County Quorum Court to call a referendum on a quarter-cent sales tax that would provide dedicated funding to the public transportation agency. The tax would be voted on March 1, 2016, at the same time as the primary elections.
A quarter-cent is the statutory tax limit for public transportation agencies. Rock Region Director Jarod Varner said it would produce $18 million a year that, in addition to the $12.5 million kicked in by Authority members Little Rock, North Little Rock, Pulaski County, Sherwood and Maumelle every year plus ridership revenues, grants and contracts, would transform the system.
The vote was the culmination of the board's Move Central Arkansas proposal. With tax revenues and city contributions, Rock Region could add buses and routes and decrease wait times. It would be able to modify its old-fashioned hub-and-spoke system-creating, for example, a crosstown bus route in North Little Rock so that people who work on one side of the city could commute to their homes on the opposite side without first having to go to the Travel Station in Little Rock. Rock Region also wants to put in Bus Rapid Transit routes for express travelers and community shuttles.
The secret billionaire
Bloomberg News reported last week that it obtained court records showing details of the estate of the late John Walton, who died a decade ago in an accident. (Along with his siblings, John was partial heir to the immense fortune of his father, Sam Walton.) It's been assumed John passed on the bulk of his riches to his widow, Christy, but the records show that half of John's estate was given to charitable trusts, and a third to their only child, Lukas Walton. Christy, once estimated to be the richest woman in the U.S. at a net worth of $32 billion, is worth a paltry $5 billion, it turns out. The now-29-year-old Lukas is worth $11 billion.
The 2015 Arkansas Poll, by the numbers
Every year, researchers at the University of Arkansas (led by political science professor Janine Parry) take the temperature of likely voters in the state. Here are highlights from the 2015 survey:
60% say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to become citizens if they learn English and pay back-taxes, as compared to 25 percent who want them all to be deported.
53% disapprove of the federal health reform law.
68% would support allowing patients to use medical marijuana, a sharp increase since 2012.
65% say global warming poses no serious threat in their lifetime.
52% would support "open carry" gun legislation.
64% insist same-sex marriages should not be legally recognized.