Cops, Weed, & Wells 

Arkansas: One less choice on the ballot

The Arkansas Supreme Court disqualified one medical marijuana initiative from the November ballot, but voters will still be able to vote for a competing amendment.

The court disqualified the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, otherwise known as Issue 7, because it found there were not enough valid signatures on the petition to qualify it for the ballot. The court disallowed more than 12,000 signatures, leaving the petition with 65,412 signatures. The petition needed nearly 68,000 signatures.

In response to the removal of Issue 7 from the ballot, the campaign behind the initiative, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, has called for voters to throw their support behind the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, or Issue 6.

Issue 6 is the more conservative of the two initiatives, with fewer qualifying conditions that would allow a patient to receive medical marijuana and no provision for home growth.

DOJ to police Memphis police

It turns out that the Department of Justice (DOJ) showing up at your door can be a good thing, you just have to send out the invitation in the first place.

That's what Chief Noble Wray of the DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) reiterated in a press conference last week. Flanked by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III, and Memphis Police Department (MPD) director Michael Rallings, Wray announced the launch of an independent assessment of Memphis Police Department's community policing techniques and policies related to use of deadly force.

"This is a collaboration, and it's important to know that," stressed Wray, adding that the COPS program is an independent, objective assessment that the MPD entered into willingly.

click to enlarge MPD Director Michael Rallings speaks last week.
  • MPD Director Michael Rallings speaks last week.

"The purpose is to improve trust between a law enforcement agency and the community it serves," said Wray.

The review is extensive and detailed, and is expected to take up to two years to complete. During the review, community input will be sought through town hall-style meetings that the COPS office calls "listening sessions."

Rallings acknowledges that a detailed investigation of this size and scope will likely yield some uncomfortable findings, but regardless the department is ready and willing to comply.

"We want to improve," said Rallings, "and in order to improve ... you have to open yourself up."

The first listening session will be on Nov. 29th from 6 to 9 p.m. at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Midtown.

Sierra Club gets more time on well vote

The Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) delayed an appeals hearing for two wells proposed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) at the request of the local chapter of the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club filed the appeal on Oct. 4th. County law says at least 30 days is required between the receipt of the appeal by the SCHD and the hearing, which would make Wednesday, Nov. 3rd the earliest date for a review.

The proposed TVA wells would draw 3.5 million gallons of water daily from the Memphis Sand Aquifer, the source for Memphis' famous and delicious drinking water, in order to cool a new power plant under construction.

According to Scott Banbury, Sierra Club local coordinator, at least four wells are needed to adequately cool the plant. TVA has already been granted three permits that can no longer be appealed. If the last two permits are denied to TVA, they will be forced to consider other options for obtaining the needed water.

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