Axios Northwest Arkansas
December 01, 2022
Good morning. We're glad you're here this Thursday.
⛅️ Today will be partly cloudy with highs in the low 50s.
🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios NW Arkansas member Porter Briggs!
Today's newsletter is 889 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: Clinton talks democracy
Former first lady of Arkansas, presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Wednesday night.
- Her appearance, for which Angie Maxwell, director of the Diane Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas, moderated, was part of the museum's "We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy" exhibition.
The big picture: Clinton touched on misinformation about the integrity of elections, social media attacks by foreign interests and the country's polarized political landscape, which, she said, if allowed to go unchecked, will erode democracy.
- While she and Maxwell noted that election processes are largely not included in the constitution, thus leaving room for states to gerrymander, Clinton said she's changed her mind on more checks and balances regarding elections being codified, saying they should.
- Clinton called the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision reversing the constitutional right to abortion a "results-oriented outcome."
- "[Abortion] is a very complicated legal situation, which I think needs to be dealt with politically," she said, noting it will be a top issue in elections for years to come.
Zoom out: As the U.S. continues to debate who "we the people" includes, Clinton said some people in power want to minimize the voices of those who don't support them through means such as voter suppression, disinformation and threatening election integrity.
What she said: "It’s very troubling to see our elections, which have already been viewed as the centerpiece of our democracy, being so targeted."
The bottom line: Maxwell asked if she thinks democracy will survive. "Absolutely," Clinton said.
- She pointed to the midterm elections in November, noting some people were willing to speak up for facts and there were "little glimmers of fact-based reality."
2. U.S. Capitol rioter trial delayed
A trial date for Richard Barnett of Gravette — photographed in the office of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot — has been rescheduled.
- Originally set for Dec. 12, the trial will now begin Jan. 9, 2023, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
Why it matters: While many involved with the Jan. 6 insurrection have already faced trial, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, Barnett's won't begin until after the two-year anniversary of the event.
Context: Lawyers representing Barnett last week asked to move the trial to March, and the judge granted a "brief continuance."
- Barnett is charged with taking a stun gun into the Capitol and obstructing Congress' meeting to certify the Electoral College vote count for the 2020 presidential election.
Flashback: The trial has been repeatedly delayed. It was moved from Sept. 6 to Dec. 12 because Barnett's attorney had COVID-19 and Lyme disease.
- The judge recently denied a motion to dismiss charges against Barnett or move the trial to Arkansas. The request claimed President Biden and the congressional Jan. 6 committee have "intentionally and irreparably poisoned the jury pool," the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Meanwhile, Jon Thomas Mott of Yellville pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for his participation in breaching the U.S. Capitol building.
- He could receive a maximum sentence of six months in prison, five years probation and a $5,000 fine.
3. Between the lines: Bentonville's 2023 budget
Bentonville City Council recently approved the city’s budget for next year.
Why it matters: City budgets are a blueprint for how local governments plan to spend your tax dollars.
By the numbers: The general fund budget includes nearly $66.9 million in revenue and $76.7 in expenses. The city expects to use more than $8.7 million from its reserve and make another $1.5 million in impact and capacity fees.
Some highlights include:
- $6.9 million on the parks and recreation department, including $4.85 million on facility renovations and designs, $500,000 on adding to Southwest Bentonville Trail, $300,000 for sidewalk construction and the rest on various equipment and upgrades.
- $2.9 million on the city's fire department, including $1.5 million on an aerial equipment replacement. The remainder is earmarked for various equipment investments, such as a cot and loading system for an ambulance and upgrades to the training facility.
- $2.7 million on the transportation and street department, including $1 million for street overlays and $980,000 to expand the street department building.
- $1.5 million for the police department, including expenses such as vehicle replacements, body camera replacements and network storage, upgrades and replacements.
Yes, and: The city also plans to add 30 new staff positions, including six police officers, six firefighters and four parks maintenance employees.
- Employees are eligible for 6% raises.
4. Kitchen Sink: Poultry ... processing
👩💼 Little Rock-based Arkansas Center for Health Improvement created a position, director of Northwest Arkansas community engagement. The organization named Stephanie Blevins, who previously worked as Gov. Asa Hutchinson's NWA representative, to serve in the role. (ACHI)
🏳️🌈 Arkansas Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman voted against the Respect for Marriage Act, which will add federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage. The Senate passed the bill in a 61-36 vote with 12 Republicans joining the Democratic caucus. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
🧑⚖️ A survivor of the shooting that took place last week at a Walmart store in Chesapeake, Virginia, is suing Walmart, alleging the company continued to employ the suspected gunman even though he "had known propensities for violence, threats and strange behavior" toward other employees. (Axios)
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5. 🎄 Your holiday decor
Thanks to the readers who responded with pics of their holiday decorations. Keep them coming.
This newsletter was edited by Gigi Sukin and copy edited by Carlin Becker.
🗳 Alex is voting in her local runoff election. See if you have any runoffs.
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