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Journal Archives

Legislator stalls 20 University of Arkansas colleges projects

Action comes after Fayetteville campus didn’t hire job candidate he favored

After the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville didn't hire his favored candidate for a job, a state lawmaker secured a legislative panel's delay in considering 20 proposed contracts and construction projects at colleges in the University of Arkansas System.

In recent interviews, state Rep. Jon Eubanks, R-Paris, said he asked the Legislative Council's Review Subcommittee co-chairman, Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, R-Hermitage, to have the committee "hold" onto the proposals during the panel's July 18 meeting because he wanted to express his concerns about the direction of the Arkansas Leadership Academy to UA System Vice President of University Relations Melissa Rust. The academy is on the UA campus in Fayetteville.

Eubanks said he didn't ask Rust to have UA-Fayetteville reverse its recent decision to hire Huntsville Public Schools Superintendent Clint Jones as the academy's director. Eubanks' preferred candidate was Tina Smith, director of policy and special projects at the state Department of Education.

"We'll be watching it to see what comes out of the Leadership Academy now as far as the direction," Eubanks, a former Paris School Board member, said when asked whether Rust satisfied his concerns. "Developing leadership at the building level is critical if we want to move education forward."

Read more: http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/aug/19/legislator-stalls-20-ua-colleges-projec/

Icon of civil rights visits state: Rep. Lewis campaigns for Democrat, urges people to vote

Longtime civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia beseeched Arkansans on Sunday to vote this fall -- and, specifically, to vote for congressional candidate Clarke Tucker.

"We've come a long way; the state has made tremendous progress," said Lewis, his voice rising in a packed auditorium at Philander Smith College in Little Rock. "There are forces in Washington and other parts of America that want to take us back. We've come too far, made too much progress, and we're not going back."

Tucker, a Democrat, will face incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill and Libertarian candidate Joe Swafford in the Nov. 6 election for Arkansas' 2nd Congressional District seat.

Lewis, whose record in civil rights advocacy includes being arrested more than 40 times during peaceful voting-rights protests in the 1960s and speaking alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington in 1963, implored the crowd not only to vote, but to encourage others to vote as well.

Read more: http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/aug/20/icon-of-civil-rights-visits-state-20180/

Gov. Parson ousts Missouri's top cop

JEFFERSON CITY • In the first staff shake-up since Gov. Mike Parson took office, the director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety is being replaced at the end of the month.

Drew Juden, who was appointed to the post in January 2017 by then-Gov. Eric Greitens, is leaving his $116,000-per-year job at the request of Parson.

“I think the governor was just looking for a different approach,” spokeswoman Kelli Jones told the Post-Dispatch.

Jones said there was no specific event or policy decision by Juden that led to his firing.

“As a former law enforcement officer, the governor was just wanting to go in a different direction,” Jones said.

Read more: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/gov-parson-ousts-missouri-s-top-cop/article_f6057808-69f3-536d-aa62-9807bca9035f.html

Lawmakers, competitor, await answers from Missouri on questionable Medicaid bid

In July, Navigant Consulting’s David Mosley had questions for the state of Missouri.

A couple of weeks earlier, the managing director of the consulting company had filed a protest over a bid award in a Medicaid contract that went to a competitor, McKinsey & Co.

One of the top officials in state government is the state’s chief operating officer, Drew Erdmann, who used to work for McKinsey. But that’s not why Navigant protested the bid.

As I reported in June, it was because it wasn’t an open and transparent process, that the winning bid was more than three times higher than several others, and that the original bid included preconditions that in a normal bidding process would have rendered it unresponsive to the state’s request.

Read more: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/tony-messenger/messenger-lawmakers-competitor-await-answers-from-missouri-on-questionable-medicaid/article_f1ccceee-866c-5863-a561-66f86021b5fe.html

North Carolina acts deep blue with state worker minimum wage

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina Republicans have infuriated liberal activists by slashing income-tax rates, defending illegally gerrymandered districts and passing a now-partially repealed "bathroom bill" aimed at transgender people.

But GOP legislators surprised critics by acting more like lawmakers in a deep-blue state when they passed a $15-per-hour "living wage" for about 10,000 state government and university system employees, including secretaries, hospital workers, security guards and housekeepers.

At least four other states have steps already in place to increase pay for state workers to $15. But North Carolina sped to the front of the line, with salary bumps for many arriving in their late-July paychecks.

The lawmakers' motives appear to be both economic and political. One top budget writer at the legislature says it helps state agencies retain veteran workers doing often-thankless jobs. But it also wins favor with North Carolina's chief state employees' union in an election year for Republicans trying to hold onto their control of the General Assembly.

Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/news/business/national-international/article217001420.html

Fast-food workers sue Overland Park-based firm, alleging misdeeds by managers, unpaid hours

Six fast-food workers have sued Overland Park-based KBP Foods, claiming they’ve been required to work without pay because of technology problems, managers’ misdeeds and company policies.

The workers’ lawsuit seeks class-action status to represent other cooks, cashiers and shift managers similarly working and underpaid at hundreds of KFC fast-food restaurants that the company operates.

KBP Foods operates 581 restaurants in 23 states and has grown rapidly in part by acquiring groups of restaurants including KFC and Taco Bell brands.

Company spokeswoman Michelle Doebele said in an email that KBP Foods follows all state and federal labor laws and that its policies ensure workers are paid for all hours worked.

Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/news/business/workplace/article216879560.html

Kansas race for governor poses a complex math problem with crowded ballot

Kansas Democrats are seeking to frame the race for Kansas governor as a binary choice, but Kansas Republicans are relishing a crowded field that could allow the GOP to hold onto power in Topeka with less than 40 percent of the vote.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the state’s top election official and a fixture on cable news, won a historically close election against the sitting governor and will go on to face state Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat.

They won’t be alone.

Independent Greg Orman’s name also will appear on the ballot after Kobach’s office on Friday certified his petition to run. Orman has never held elected office, but he has deep pockets and statewide name recognition after a 2014 run for U.S. Senate.

Kelly will be relying on a coalition of Democrats, unaffiliated voters and moderate Republicans to win the governor’s office after eight years of Republican control. And Orman’s candidacy for governor has sparked backlash from Democrats who fear he will draw these crucial votes from Kelly.

Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/election/article216886830.html

Texas doctor found guilty of raping sedated patient. He won't serve any prison time

The Houston police chief said it is “beyond troubling” that a Texas doctor will not be going to prison after a jury found him guilty of raping a heavily-sedated hospital patient.

Chief Art Acevedo was referring to Shafeeq Sheikh, the former doctor who allegedly raped a patient in her hospital room in 2013 and was only sentenced to 10 years of probation last week, according to BuzzFeed News.

“A hideous crime is committed in a hospital room which should be a sanctuary for patients,” Acevedo tweeted. “So many new norms that run contrary to what we’ve always stood for, I pray no accountability for harming people isn’t one of them.”

That punishment also surprised defense attorneys, the Houston Chronicle reported.

“When you’re a doctor, I’d expect you’d get prison time,” attorney Casey Kiernan told the newspaper. “We hold doctors to a higher standard.”

Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/latest-news/article216985870.html

Missouri Democrats Delete Platform's Pro-Life Welcome, Reversing July Vote

In July, the Missouri Democratic Party voted to add an amendment to its platform welcoming "a diversity of views on abortion." But it didn't leave the welcome mat out for long: On Saturday, the state committee reversed course, voting overwhelmingly to delete the controversial addition.

The July amendment, which was pushed by former state Representative Joan Barry (D-St. Louis County), had been a last-minute amendment to the work of the party's platform committee. It was emailed to members one day before a scheduled vote on a new platform — and the vote ended up taking place on a day that many party activists had already committed to being at immigration protests. After its narrow 31-25 approval, anger ran high.

And perhaps that's one reason the vote to strip the amendment's language just one month later wasn't even close. Even Barry voted abstained rather than voting no. (An unofficial tally live-tweeted by Planned Parenthood staffer Sarah Felts listed sixty-one in favor, two abstentions, and none opposed.)

Stephen Webber, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, said this in a statement:

Missouri Democrats are strongest when we fight together. We saw that on Tuesday when we worked together to resoundingly defeat Prop A and we saw that at our State Committee meeting today when our members stood united to pass a platform that clearly demonstrates our Party's unwavering commitment to defend the right of all Missourians to access reproductive health care without interference from the government.

Democrats will continue to fight [to] defend the full spectrum of women’s reproductive rights ensured in Roe v. Wade, including the right to safely end a pregnancy, to safely carry a pregnancy to term, and the right to raise your family in a safe and healthy environment.

Read more: https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2018/08/13/missouri-democrats-remove-pro-life-welcome-from-platform-reversing-july-vote

St. Louis Area Company Rejects Black Women For Having "Ghetto Names"

At least three black women applying to a Missouri-based chain of testosterone clinics were told that their "suggestive" and "ghetto" names made them unfit for employment — a policy that seems to amount to an astonishingly blatant example of discrimination and racism.

The rejections were sent in writing from the company's Chesterfield office on Monday. One arrived in the inbox of a Hermeisha Robinson, who had applied for a customer service position.

"Thank you for your interest in careers at Mantality Health," the response began. "Unfortunately we do not consider candidates that have suggestive 'ghetto' names. We wish the best in your career search."

Robinson, who works as a business manager for an O'Fallon event planning company, took to Facebook hours later to publicize the interaction and expose the apparent discrimination. She attached a screenshot of the email as well.

[UPDATE: Mantality Health's owner says the company was hacked. See the latest below.]

Read more: https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2018/08/14/st-louis-area-company-rejects-black-women-for-having-ghetto-names
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