What’s Up with Arkansas?!?

Milwaukee       No matter what P.T. Barnum once said, sometimes bad press is really bad press, even when they spell your name right, and that’s what seems to be happening in Arkansas now, thanks to the boneheaded right wing in the legislature and in Republican bureaucracy that is trying to punish the poor and lower income families.

The Economist is not what you could every confuse with a fake news, liberal, lefty rag.  It’s conservative, if not libertarian, on all manner of issues.  Nonetheless, there it was with both an editorial and a lead article slamming what it called “the Arkansas experiment” at denying Medicaid benefits to poor families because of onerous and inept reporting requirements for so-called “community engagement,” meaning work, volunteering or whatever.  The state was given the first such waiver in the country to allow it to essentially deny health benefits to the poor.  I’m already embarrassed for Arkansas, even as I write this much, but it gets much worse.  The Kaiser Foundation estimates that if all fifteen, largely Republican states that applied in me-too fashion to follow Arkansas were granted such waivers, it would push between 1.4 million and 4 million people off of coverage.

As The Economist reports in devastating fashion,

“The preliminary results from the Arkansas experiment look alarming:  18,000 people lost their health insurance in the first six months because they did not comply….Confusion seems widespread.  Many only realize they have lost insurance in the pharmacy, after trying to pick up a prescription they can no longer afford.  In some months more than 90% of those required to report their activities did not.  For the first few months reporting could only be done online.  More than 20% of those affected did not have access to the internet:  those that did found the website, which shuts down between 9pm and 7am, clunky and complicated.”

How can anyone from DHHS nationally down to Governor Hutchinson in Arkansas claim this is about “responsibility,” when their implementation is so completely irresponsible?

From there the Arkansas story becomes even more despicable.  The state has no way to count and isn’t much interested in doing so.  It’s own incompetence at determining where the reporting responsibility has failed or whether jobs changed, were lost or found is covered up by their own failure and whitewashed by Washington.  Hutchinson was left telling The Economist that he was sure one of the 18,000 “out there is healthy, has received a notice, understands the responsibility but just doesn’t do it.  And what do you do at that point? He asks.”  Wow!  I guess, Governor, you deny 17,999 in order to punish that one scofflaw bastard.  The ignorance and bias of his statement takes my breath away!

Oh, and then there’s the legislative fight to undue the will of the people in voting to raise the state minimum wage from $8.50 to $11 over coming years.  An Arkansas state house panel advanced legislation that would exempt “small businesses, some non-profits and teenagers” from a minimum wage hike approved by voters last November . On this one, Governor Asa Hutchinson and the state’s Republican party came out against the move. “I think the public has spoken on it and I think we need to abide by that,” Hutchinson said to the Associated Press.

Governor are you sure?  There might be one joker out there who will get the new minimum wage who you don’t think deserves it.  Don’t you want to punish everyone in the whole state of Arkansas in order to make them work harder because of that one guy?

Arkansas is going to have change its motto from the Wonder State to the WTF State soon.

Please enjoy Renée Wahl and The Sworn Secrets’ To the Bone.

Thanks to KABF.

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Little Rock Slumlord Highlights Tenant Abuse in Arkansas

source: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/jan/13/code-violations-follow-landlord/

Little Rock       Imran Bohra is not exactly a household name everywhere in Pulaski County, where Little Rock and North Little Rock are located, but among lower income tenants, he’s famous in the worst of ways as a notorious slumlord.  He has about 150 properties that he rents in both cities with perhaps the bulk of them in North Little Rock.  Recently, his latest company, Entropy, and his practices got some much-needed attention after he evicted and seized the possession of Theodore Thompson, a tenant who is also a member of Arkansas Community Organizations (ACO), the former Arkansas ACORN, and their tenant organizing and advocacy project.

Of course, saying he was tenant is kind of a stretch in some ways because he was never given a key to his apartment after Bohra drove him to look at the place and kept his car idling outside while Thompson checked it out.  Supposedly, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, his property manager was supposed to drop the key by.  Thompson didn’t pay rent without the key and didn’t know where he was even supposed to pay his rent.  Then Thompson found an eviction note affixed to the door and Bohra seized all his belongings in the process, which amazingly is a landlord’s right in Arkansas.

Thompson, ACO, and the rest of us might ask how any of this is possible and how can it be stopped.  As Thompson says, “It’s hard for me to understand how I’m not the first, and if he’s not stopped, I definitely won’t be the last.”

Sadly, this seems to be just business-as-usual for Bohra and from talking to Neil Sealy, head organizer of ACO, many other slumlords in central Arkansas who operate with similar impunity.  Since the beginning of 2016, the newspaper found that Bohra’s properties had been cited for code violations 170 times in Little Rock and North Little Rock.  Many of Bohra’s tenants claim they believe he has no interest in making repairs because a big part of his business model is based on collecting security deposits, first and last month rent, and pyramiding his money based on quick evictions.

All of that is helped by the fact that Arkansas has arguably the worst laws protecting tenants in the country.  Without a doubt, Arkansas is the only state that has a statute that makes eviction a criminal offense!  What that really means is that a tenant either protesting and withholding their rent to pressure a landlord to make repairs, or a tenant falling behind on their rent is seen under Arkansas law to be effectively stealing from their landlord.

A landlord can also evict a tenant with three (3) days’ notice for any reason or no reason at all and file a notice of “unlawful detainer” in civil court.  As the Attorney General’s website details that’s not a pretty process:

Unlawful detainer actions require a landlord to provide you with a three days’ written notice to vacate. If you do not leave, the landlord can sue by filing a complaint against you in court. After you receive a summons to appear in court, you have five days to object in writing to the eviction. Any objection must be filed with the clerk of the court in which the eviction action was filed, and you should send a copy of your objection to the landlord’s lawyer. If you do not file an objection, you can be removed from the dwelling by the county sheriff. If you do object, a hearing will be scheduled to determine the outcome to your case.

If that’s not bad, it can actually get worse for tenants.  As one report noted:

Tenants who plead not guilty have to pay the amount the landlord says they owe to the court before they can get a trial. In the Little Rock suburb of Jacksonville, they’re held on $250 bail.

If criminalizing non-rent payment isn’t enough to make Arkansas the most landlord friendly state in the country, the fact that there is no “warrant of habitability” guaranteeing that the tenant is living in a safe dwelling also makes Arkansas the only state without such a promise to its citizens as well.

It’s fair to say that Arkansas has the worst landlord-tenant laws in the country.  How long can this be allowed to continue?

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Please enjoy Keith Richards’ Talk is Cheap 30th Anniversary Reissue. Thanks to KABF.

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