Quote of the Week:
"You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell. ... He's a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn't represent my party. He doesn't represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for. ... He's the ISIL man of the year. ... He is empowering radical Islam."
— GOP presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on CNN on Tuesday, responding to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's extraordinary call for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" after last week's terror attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 dead. Most other candidates of both parties also condemned Trump's proposal. But then, Trump is polling around 30 percent nationally among Republicans; Graham's numbers are between 0 and 1 percent.
The fall of Ted Suhl
Last week, a federal grand jury indicted Ted Suhl, the one-time operator of two behavioral health companies, on multiple counts of bribery and related charges.
Suhl once wielded significant political influence. He ran an inpatient mental health center for youth known as the Lord's Ranch — later renamed Trinity Behavioral Health Care — around which swirled allegations of physical abuse. During the Huckabee administration, Suhl sat on the state board that regulated mental health providers — including himself.
Last year, Suhl's companies were cut off from state Medicaid funding after the indictment of former state Department of Human Services official Steven Jones (also a former state legislator). Though the federal court documents in Jones' indictment didn't mention Suhl by name, DHS said at the time that Suhl had been identified as the unnamed person who steered cash to Jones in return for inside assistance, including internal agency information. The wheels have turned slowly, but Suhl's day in court is coming; his arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 15.
Your 2 cents on the Arts Center
The Little Rock City Board last week approved ordinances to levy 2 additional cents on hotel receipts, intended to fund renovations to the Arkansas Arts Center and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. The city also scheduled a February referendum in which it will ask voters to approve using the new tax revenue to float $35 million in bonds, a sum that would be matched by private donations.
Readers may recall that earlier this year the Arts Center foundation quietly explored the possibility of moving across the river to North Little Rock if that city provided sufficient tax dollars. A full proposal from NLR failed to materialize, but the episode seems to have lit a fire under Little Rock leaders to take action on long-deferred renovations to the Arts Center's current location.
Think the same-sex marriage issue is settled and done? Not quite yet. A skirmish is playing out in Arkansas over birth certificates issued to same-sex parents, with the state dragging its heels every step of the way.
Last week, after Circuit Judge Tim Fox ordered that three plaintiffs be issued birth certificates immediately, the state Health Department issued documents to
those parents ... but refused to extend the courtesy to other same-sex couples. The Health Department this week gave some ground, saying it would issue birth certificates to same-sex couples who could show they were married before the birth of their child. At the same time, though, state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge continues to seek a stay of Fox's ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Four little words
A careful reader sent the Times a note over the weekend pointing out a difference between an AP story on the Paris climate talks that appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and another version of the same story that appeared in a different paper.
The original AP version includes this line: "For larger nations, the question is what's realistic and what's not when it comes to limiting global warming."
The D-G's version: "For larger nations, the question is what's realistic and what's not when it comes to limiting what some say is global warming."
Of course, "some" — like the vast majority of the world's scientists. The climate denialists must be appeased.