The minimum wage shuffle, contd.
We noted last week that, fingers to the wind, Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson and Republican Senate candidate Tom Cotton did some flip-flopping and decided they'll support the initiative to raise the state minimum wage now that it has made the ballot (no wonder: More than 70 percent of Arkansans support the measure). Taking a different approach, French Hill, the millionaire banker running for Congress in the 2nd District, is apparently hoping to have it both ways. Back in June, Hill told KUAR FM, 89.1, that he opposed a state wage hike. After the measure qualified for the ballot, Hill told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette he would support the proposal "if he can ensure it doesn't negatively impact Arkansas jobs," but Stephens Media, which interviewed him the same day, reported that Hill opposed the measure. Hmmm. Roby Brock got him on tape over the weekend. Hill's final answer? Dithering. "I'd like to be able to vote for it," he said. "I'm doing my due diligence to see if it will not have a material impact on jobs." When will all that due diligence be completed? We're betting right in time for Hill, a long-time opponent of raising the minimum wage, to vote NO in the voting booth. Will he share that decision with voters? How about a smartphone picture from the voting booth? Might be a good idea for Cotton and Hutchinson too.
$1.2 million. That's the amount Arkansas liquor stores have contributed — so far — to an effort to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment to allow retail alcohol sales in all 75 counties. Huh? Turns out the liquor stores are just trying to protect regional monopolies on alcohol sales. For example, Conway County Liquor Association was the leading contributor at $400,000. They can count on lots of customers thanks to the "dry" status of neighboring and populous Faulkner County. The Poinsett Package Store, which neighbors dry Craighead County, contributed $100,000 and Greene County liquor dealers, another neighbor to Craighead, contributed $60,000.
Reading the downward dog tea leaves
The New York Times has a proud history of investigative journalism, but has the Gray Lady ever had a prouder lede than this one, speculating that Hillary Clinton is running for president? "She is building stamina through tough new workouts with a personal trainer and yoga. She is talking about how to address income inequality without alienating corporate America. And she is reviewing who's who in the Democratic Party in Iowa, a crucial early voting state in the presidential cycle." The article is titled "Clinton Silent on 2016 Bid as Campaign-Style Actions Begin to Speak Volumes." Speaking volumes indeed. No word on whether she's doing Bikram hot yoga, the ultimate tell.
Tweet of the week
@RepJamesMcClean is a leader who works across party aisles. A great public servant. The state needs him in the Senate.
GOP House Speaker Davy Carter made a rare break with Republican Party discipline, giving a social media endorsement to Rep. James McLean (D-Batesville), running for an open state Senate seat against Linda Collins-Smith of Pocahontas, a Tea Party-style Republican. The impetus is likely the Medicaid private option, which Carter and McLean support but Collins-Smith bitterly opposes.
Tweet of the week 2
You know you're in Arkansas when your state rep sends out this on social media:
May we contact your previous employer?
"Do not re-hire." That's the label that the Department of Human Services put on Republican attorney general nominee Leslie Rutledge after she abruptly resigned from her job at DHS as a staff lawyer in 2007, according to documents acquired by the Times via Freedom of Information requests. The termination form had the word "voluntary" scratched out and was coded with a number indicating gross misconduct as a reason for termination. Thus far, neither DHS nor Rutledge has offered much by way of explanation.
40 years of the Arkansas Times, by the numbers
This week's issue celebrates our 40th birthday. After 40 years in business, here's the count:
1,382: Number of issues
10: Number of editors
2: Number of anthropomorphic catfish on the cover
1: Number of nude humans on the cover
3,362 (give or take): Number of times Max Brantley — on the Arkansas Blog, Week in Review podcast and in the pages of the Times — has lamented the impending total Republicanization of Arkansas.
Orange is the new black
Baxter County jailer Rose Gomez was fired for allowing Ryan Lindsey, on "parole" from the jail, to spend a night at her home. She also put money in his commissary account and passed him notes while he was in jail. Gomez wrote about the incident on her Facebook page:
"Here it is everybody. I made a mistake. But I answer to God. And he knows my heart. I am NOT a crooked cop. Nor am I the kind of woman who lives an immoral lifestyle. I'm only sorry that my mistake brought shame to the sheriff's department. I don't regret caring for people. I'm only sorry people look at me as something I'm not. God knows my heart. Not perfect. But I am forgiven. It's enough for me. Hopefully it'll be enough for my friend."