Topping the discussion on the latest Arkansas Week was violence in state prisons with recent incidents sending inmates and guards to the hospital. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has called for a plan to address the problem and I discussed testimony that week by the director of the Department of Correction to a legislative committee. Also on the panel was political scientist Heather Yates with the University of Central Arkansas as we talked about the status of healthcare, an executive order on environmental regulations, and President Trump’s level of support from the right.
As Republicans in the U.S. Senate struggle to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, I filled in hosting AETN’s Arkansas Week on July 21, 2017. It came as the two senators from Arkansas, who had mostly been quiet on the issue, finally weighed in with their thoughts. We also discussed former Circuit Judge Michael Maggio reporting to begin a prison sentence and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency visiting Arkansas touting changes in federal regulations.
I was able to talk about my book Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas on the program Barnes and… on the Arkansas Educational Television network, which is the local PBS outlet. The program, which was aired July 17, 2017 at 6:30 p.m., also features many of the photographs included in the book. You can find a list of upcoming public events and a link to buy the book here.
I filled in hosting this week’s edition of Arkansas Week on AETN, focusing largely on the escalation of violence in Little Rock. The city has seen a 24 percent increase in violent crime from a year ago, but what finally prompted action from Gov. Asa Hutchinson was an outbreak of gunfire at a Little Rock nightclub early Saturday, July 1, with 25 people being shot. Amazingly no one died. Hutchinson announced the creation of a multiagency partnership that includes the FBI, Arkansas State Police and the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office working to get a handle on the situation. I opened the program interviewing Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, then talked with our panel made up of political science professor Heather Yates from the University of Central Arkansas, Wes Brown of Talk Business & Politics, and Independent journalist Steve Brawner. The program will be aired tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m., or you can watch the program below.
Arkansas’s plan to execute eight death row inmates over an 11-day period has generated a lot of attention from around the world. While courts removed two of the men slated to die, international media outlets continue following the story carefully. Shortly after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a stay for the executions, I reported live on Israeli television network i24NEWS to discuss the latest. You can find a link to watch the broadcast here. I mentioned in the interview that we were still waiting for a ruling from a federal judge, and that ended up coming down the next morning, also staying the executions. The state is now appealing those decisions.
There was a lot of uncertainty when we recorded AETN’s “Arkansas Week” on Friday, April 14. As the state prepared to carry out an unprecedented seven executions over an 11-day period, there was a flurry of legal filings and decisions that were about to come down. A four-day federal court hearing had just wrapped up the night before, but no verdict issued yet, and the rapid pace of the lethal injections was drawing media attention from around the world. I took part in that week’s panel discussion joined by UCA political science Professor Heather Yates and Blytheville Courier News Editor Tom Henry.