Demolition Crew Hits Gas Main at Majestic Hotel Site

Just after 11:00 a.m. local time, workers for the demolition team working on the Majestic Hotel site hit a gas main causing strong odors to fill the area. Hot Springs Police Department responded to the scene and blocked off Park and Central Avenues as a precaution.

Corey Alderdice, Director of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, released a statement on social media, saying, “We are moving employees from the Cedar St. and Faculty Hall buildings to the other side of campus because of the smell. Classes and office functions are continuing as normal.” ASMSA’s campus is just west of the Majestic Hotel site and in fact, contains the “Majesticam” which is a live stream of the demolition work being done.

An article appearing in the Sentinel Record yesterday reported that the demolition work was ahead of schedule. Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Lance Spicer said the Tulsa-based company was ahead of schedule and was planning to begin demolition on the Lanai Towers next week. The bid submitted didn’t schedule demolition on the Towers to begin until mid-October. Spicer said, “They are a solid two weeks ahead of schedule.”

At this time, no injuries or illnesses have been reported due to the gas main leak.


Legislature subpoenas judge to testify about child custody decisions.

First, the straight journalism lede courtesy of KARK:

The Legislative Joint Performance Review Committee has subpoenaed Circuit Judge Patricia James, who handles juvenile cases in Pulaski and Perry County, to testify to explain her child custody decisions.

Now the truth: This is the latest example of a power-thirsty Republican legislature run amok. The constitutional power it gave itself under voters’ approval of institutionalization of legislative review was already breathtaking. It further diminished an executive weak because of the 51 percent veto override provisions in the Constitution.

But now the legislature wants to tell the court what to do. The amendment to cripple lawsuits against nursing homes will end court control of court rules and pass it to the legislature. But this James subpoena is an even more audacious flexing of unconstitutional muscle.

Republican Sen. Alan Clark of Hot Springs seems to be driving the train, as part of his crusade against judges who put the safety interest of children ahead of parents whose religion or simple nuttiness favors physical punishment, weird food supplements and other strange ideas. DHS also doesn’t like to be called down in court by judges when they fail to follow court rules and procedures, and their unhappiness is the root of some of this. (We all know what a great job they’ve done looking after children in the past; Justin Harris, anyone?) They’ve complained about some of James’ rulings.

First. Of course, she should answer a legal subpoena. She must. The system demands it. And then she should tell legislators, in polite terms, to get f****ed. The ethical rules that govern judges prohibit her from discussing why she made certain rulings. She is not obliged to defend or explain them.

If DHS doesn’t like Judge James rulings, there is an established procedure to follow. They may appeal them to the Arkansas Supreme Court. As beholden as that court has proven lately of legislative wishes, they might get some relief.

I need know NOTHING of the particulars of the cases that James has handled that have prompted this unprecedented subpoena and the threat to hold her “in contempt of court” as KARK put it, if she doesn’t answer. The legislators are daily in contempt of the separation of powers doctrine of the Constitution. Patty James may not call them on it, but I will.

On issue of contention is this: James has previously explained that while Arkansas law gives preference for placement of children with relatives, judges must first weigh the safety of those decisions and sometimes decide state custody is preferable. Again, if DHS or someone else believes the judge erred in deciding the safest place for a child, they may appeal. In court.

Judge James responded in writing:

“All I can comment is that I have not seen the subpoena yet, but once it is received, it will be forwarded to the appropriate people to respond to it.”

It would have been injudicious to say, “stick it where the sun don’t shine.” I am reminded of the famous George Fisher cartoon of the place where the sun doesn’t shine being the brain of Tommy Robinson. If only George were around to update the cartoon with Alan Clark.

Courtesy of Max Brantley, Arkansas Times

Naramore Not Guilty (video)

Motion to Dismiss Granted (video)

Day 3 of the Naramore Trial

Testimony continued in Day 3 of Judge Wade Naramore’s negligent homicide jury trial today. Two detectives from the Hot Springs Police Department testified and two 911 calls were played, giving the jury a clearer understanding of what took place on that hot day in July last year.

Detective Kirk Zaner offered testimony that Naramore routinely dropped Thomas off at daycare and, in fact, had dropped him off the previous 4 days before the day of his death.

Detective Mark Fallis was then called to the stand to provide details about his November interview with Naramore. That video-taped interview was played in its entirety for jurors. Naramore was heard stating that he got his son ready and then prayed with him before going by McDonald’s. Naramore stated that he thought he dropped Thomas off but couldn’t remember. Neither Naramore nor his wife could recall who had put the child into the car that morning. She stayed behind to clean the house because she had a housekeeper coming. Naramore stated that he made several stops including going by Kroger, a liquor store and the meat market. He then went home to pack a bag with swim lessons items and even cut up some fruit to take along. He had been taking Thomas to lessons so this had been his routine. He loaded the items into the trunk of the car and left. As he was driving he heard a noise that made him realize the child was in the car so he stopped.

Other items of interest were that police were questioned as to why they didn’t do a complete search of the car. Also an anonymous tip given to the prosecution led to the questioning about an “alleged affair”. Naramore denied the affair. Naramore’s clergy was heard saying to the media that “this is the cruelest thing he’s ever seen”.

The prosecution rested their case and the defense will begin presentation of their case tomorrow.