House of the week

New University of Arkansas head football Coach Chad Morris and his wife, Paula, purchased this property on three acres of land with an 11,600 square-foot main house, a 1,975 square-foot guesthouse and a 42-foot swimming pool. All together, the properties have 10 bedrooms, nine full baths and two half baths. According to assessor’s records, the estimated sale price was $3.8 million. Morris is paid $3.5 million per year.


Petitioners get extra time

The backers of an initiated act to increase the state’s minimum wage fell short of the required signatures to qualify for the ballot, but gathered enough for a 30-day extension of signature gathering.


The Arkansas secretary of state’s office notified David Couch, attorney for the effort, that the petitioners had gathered no more than 52,124 valid signatures, with 67,887 needed. But because the petitioners had turned in 68,861 signatures initially, they qualified for a 30-day “cure” period. Couch said the campaign is close to wrapping up collecting the additional signatures.

The proposal would raise the minimum wage from $8.50 to $11 by 2021. The petition drive got a late start, about 30 days before the July 6 deadline, because Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had been refusing to certify all ballot petitions until the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered her to approve one. The group, financed by labor-backed progressive groups, has used paid canvassers and continued to gather signatures after the July 6 deadline in expectation the first round might fall short.


Meanwhile, organizers for a constitutional amendment to expand casino gambling also fell short of the required number of petitions. It turned in about 70,000 valid signatures, with 84,859 needed. It also has a 30-day cure period to collect the needed signatures. Driving Arkansas Forward, the group behind the effort, said it was confident it would collect the necessary signatures.

Weed scoring to be contracted

A divided state Medical Marijuana Commission voted 3-2 last week to contract with an outside consultant to score applications for dispensaries, the retail businesses that will eventually provide access to cannabis for certain Arkansas patients.

The commission first began discussing the possibility of hiring a third party to score the 203 dispensary applications earlier in July, after months of litigation over the panel’s scoring of cultivation hopefuls. The five commissioners themselves graded the cultivation applications, but allegations of conflicts of interest and other irregularities have dogged the process.


Rather than issuing an RFP, the commission will use “cooperative contracting,” allowing it to expedite the procurement process. David Withrow, an attorney with the Office of State Procurement, and Alcohol Beverage Control Director Mary Robin Casteel told the commission that an invitation for bid would be issued within a few days; the lowest bid will be automatically awarded the contract


Wife bills UAMS

Carla Emanuel, wife of Dr. Peter Emanuel, who is leaving his job as director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on July 31, has sent a bill to the institute seeking $4,000 in reimbursement for services provided the institute. Her invoice lists such things as attending the Saints and Sinners Ball (a fundraiser for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre), the Hope Ball (a 20th Century Club fundraiser, “including all the calls leading up to this event”) and a “Day at the Races at Oaklawn” event (saying she “worked the entire room AND I brought in an EXTRA $4,500 that very day!”).

Emanuel, in a brief phone call, said she had no beef with the doctors or nurses or most of the staff and that the Cancer Institute is the best place for treatment for cancer. But, she said, she’d worked “40 hours a week” at the institute and was tired “of not getting compensation.” She said she’d applied to UAMS for a job — she has a degree in marketing — but could not be hired because of nepotism rules.

Emanuel pointed to a trip she made to Chicago, which is included on the invoice. There, she said, she took care of a problem with a donor in 10 minutes, when it would have taken administrative staff at the institute three months.

Leslie Taylor, UAMS vice chancellor for communications and marketing, said UAMS would not pay the bill, and that it was the first such bill received from a UAMS employee’s spouse for work done on behalf of the university.

Dr. Emanuel has joined the staff of CHI St. Vincent.