Axios Northwest Arkansas

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Happy Tuesday!

☀️ Sunny today with highs in the mid-70s; chance of storms after 4pm.

Membership makes a difference. Be a supporter of local journalism by becoming an Axios Northwest Arkansas member.

ğŸŒŽ Situational awareness: Cox Communications retail stores in the NWA metro area, as well as Fort Smith and Harrison, are recycling e-waste through April 28.

  • Small lithium and alkaline batteries, modems and routers, TV and stereo remotes, cables and chords, headphones, electronic toys and games will be responsibly recycled for free.

Today's newsletter is 798 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Group pushes for constitutional right to transparency

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Transparency advocates are circulating petitions to get two measures on the November ballot to strengthen the state's sunshine laws.

Why it matters: Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) protects the public's right to access many government documents. Journalists, interest groups and citizens frequently use it to hold officials accountable.

State of play: Attorney General Tim Griffin approved language for five FOI initiatives, but advocates are only collecting signatures for two of them, lawyer David Couch of Little Rock tells Axios.

The Arkansas Government Disclosure Amendment
would:

  • Give Arkansas citizens a constitutional right to government transparency, much like the right to bear arms or to free speech.
  • Any law passed by the state General Assembly relating to government transparency would require a two-thirds vote by lawmakers and would automatically be referred to voters in the next general election.

The Arkansas Government Disclosure Act would:

  • Repeal the portion of the law allowing school board directors, superintendents and lawyers to meet regarding litigation, settlements, contract disputes and real property outside of public view.
  • Make most planning and security services of the governor and other constitutional officers public after three months, partially reversing a law passed last year that shields those documents.

Read the full story

2. The Agenda: Your city councils' plans

Springdale City Hall. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Here's a sneak peek at what your local governments plan to address tonight.

Bentonville will consider:

Accepting a grant worth about $1.17 million from the Walton Family Foundation for construction and administration of the Southwest Bright Road Sidepath, which includes multiuse path segments along the east side of the road.

  • The council will also vote on an $80,000 agreement with CEI for construction administration services and a contract of more than $1 million with 81 Construction Group to construct the side path.

Spending approximately $1.17 million on new furniture for the library, which is being expanded.

Rogers will consider:

Selling land at East Pinion and South Third streets to Habitat of Humanity of Benton County for $33,000.

Springdale will vote on:

Rezoning land at 2202 S. 40th St. from agricultural district to low-density multifamily residential, which would allow multifamily housing to be built there, at the request of Taldo Properties.

If you go: 6pm at Bentonville and Springdale city halls and 6:30pm at Rogers City Hall.

3. Kitchen Sink: News bubbles

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

👗 An exhibit called "What Were You Wearing" will be displayed through Thursday in the Arkansas Union International Connections Lounge on the University of Arkansas campus. It's the 10th anniversary of the exhibit that explores how sexual-assault victims are blamed. (University of Arkansas)

🏫 The pilot choice programs at Colbert and Holt middle schools in Fayetteville are both full. (Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

🚛 A nonprofit organization designed to help people with criminal records become truck drivers recently opened a Siloam Springs office. (Northwest Arkansas Business Journal)

4. Taco Talk: Springdale events czar Kat Wilson

Photos: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Worth here. Kat Wilson's the sort of person you take to review tacos and she orders the torta.

  • Artists are a funny bunch.

The setup: I met her at Alex's Taqueria in Springdale, where the red sauce is hot and the green is mild.

  • I ordered my usual tacos — two asada and one pastor ($2.60 each) — but added a cheese, bean and chicken gordita ($4).
  • Wilson's torta was asada.

Driving the news: She was named Downtown Springdale's executive director of events in March.

  • It's the latest in a long list of — jobs? gigs? posts? — where Wilson typically injects her spark of nonconformist creativity, business savvy and true get-'er-done grit.

The big picture: Springdale's downtown revitalization is turning the corner toward maturation. Businesses have launched, restaurants are a draw and developers are investing in residential units.

Between the lines: Wilson isn't making immediate, major changes to the city's list of successful events; however, next year she hopes to build on the calendar with even more events and broader appeal.

A photo of a plate of street tacos.
Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

The verdict: The tacos were solid choices, though I preferred the asada over the pastor. The gordita was fine, but not a must-have for me.

  • Wilson enjoyed the torta and liked how the asada was chopped.

What's next: A slate of events are scheduled throughout the spring, including the Art Walk set for Thursday-Saturday.

  • The renovated and reimagined Luther George Park is scheduled to reopen in October and will quickly become a centerpiece for many events, Wilson said.

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Taco Talk is a regular feature. We sample a taqueria with the movers, shakers, artists and bakers of NWA, and rap about news in their world.

5. Quote du jour: Rep. Womack praises foreign-aid bill

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R) of Rogers spoke at the University of Arkansas on Monday. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

"I hope you will appreciate what we were able to accomplish, that you will remember that it took political courage — political courage — from our speaker to do what he did, and I'm eternally grateful."

—
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R) of Rogers, thanking House Speaker Mike Johnson for his leadership that led to House approval of a $95 billion foreign aid package on Saturday

Thanks to Fadel Allassan for editing and James Gilzow for copy editing this newsletter.

⚖️ Alex is paying attention to the Supreme Court case concerning people experiencing homelessness.

☀️ Worth is reading about $7 billion in solar grants that President Biden revealed on Earth Day.