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There was a lot of news last week--national, international, state, local. Jane Fonda was in the papers again. It seemed news was breaking constantly.

Little Rock's schools. Impeachment in the U.S. House. A trade truce with China. A new exhibit at Crystal Bridges. A city director in Little Rock handcuffed by the cops. E-cigarettes. Kurds. Joker. Rudy. Ellen.

It was strange, but understandable, that a member of the state Legislature in Arkansas could be removed from his position by the full state House of Representatives, and such a thing could be below-the-radar news, if not below the fold. For the first time in more than a century, a member had been expelled. And the vote wasn't close: 88-4.

The state rep, from Hot Springs, had pleaded no contest to failing to file or pay taxes after a June 2018 arrest. He was accused of owing more than a quarter million to the state. For somebody that is in a position to direct state taxes, or at least vote on them, the whole matter was poor form.

But he wouldn't take "go" for an answer. The writing had been on the wall for months, but he wouldn't quit his post. The Speaker of the state House finally decided to take it to the chamber, and reporters for this newspaper had been tallying vote counts for weeks now. The whole situation could have been avoided with a simple resignation. But some people won't learn except through experience, which, it has been said, is a dear teacher.

The lawmaker in question, may he do well in private life, had argued that a no-contest plea isn't the same as a guilty plea, and he should be allowed to continue in office. Even members of his own party didn't buy that. And proved as much in the vote last Friday.

Said lawmaker is now decidedly a former lawmaker. And all it took was a lot of embarrassment, especially for his colleagues who had to do this saddening and upsetting thing last week. Again, poor form.

Let's hope this is the last of it. This bit of news has been lingering much too long.

Editorial on 10/15/2019

Print Headline: No contest, 88-4


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