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LR Confidential

LR Confidential

June 25, 2015

Vol 41 • No 42

Read the print version

LR Confidential 2015

In exchange for anonymity, local workers get real with the Arkansas Times about what they see and do on the job.

The crossroads

We have reached a crossroads. Call it the juncture of Guns and Glory. Find it, fittingly, in the South.

A Q&A with Vision Control's John Pugh

He comes to Central Arkansas for a pair of shows this week.

Must address racial inequities

We mourn for the families of the dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. As we grieve it's time to rekindle a conversation about race in America and press for the changes that the Emanuel congregation championed for centuries — changes that also made it a target.

Racism is systemic

In a speech on Sunday at Bethel A.M.E. Church, Gov. Asa Hutchinson played directly into the narrative of respectability politics, where white people tell people of color how they should respond to a situation and condemn responses from others in the community experiencing anger, rage and other expressions of grief.

Little Rock photographer's 'Transcending Gender' series seeks the essence of transgender lives

A Q&A with Rhys Harper.

Travs take on Cardinals

Also, Vision Control at White Water Tavern.

Tenant takes Housing Authority to court

Claims her voucher voided unfairly.

Free James Weaver

The Arkansas Times cover story on June 18 regarding the plight of James Weaver, an inmate in the Tucker Maximum Security Correctional Facility who was sentenced in 1990 to life without parole, was timely and informative.

Killer's failure

Has any murdering terrorist ever failed more dramatically than Dylann Storm Roof? Like any punk with a gun, he managed to slaughter nine blameless African-American Christians at an historic church in Charleston, S.C. Intending to start a race war, he succeeded only in shocking the moral conscience of the state and nation.

Pixar goes emo

'Inside Out' sad and joyful.

A bunny tale

Before Debra Wood worked for the Arkansas Foodbank, and the Laman Library before that, and owned the ArtSpace Gallery before that, she worked in the Clinton White House. She handled student correspondence for the president.

More goodness in Bentonville

Oven & Tap makes a strong debut.

Slaves to the past

A boyish white supremacist's massacre of nine worshipers at a black Charleston, S.C., church reminds us that, much as we may wish it were not so here in the old Confederacy, William Faulkner was right when he wrote in "Requiem for a Nun": "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

Inconsequential News Quiz: Live from the Kum and Go Edition

Play at home!

Geto Boys at Juanita's

Also, a celebration of Graham Gordy at South On Main, the Arkansas New Play Festival at The Rep, the Civil Rights Barnstorming Tour at Lamar Porter Field and Geto Boys at Juanita's.

Aftershocks of Charleston

Also, Trump up the jams, farewell to Justin Harris, the agony of polling and Arkansas's growing prison population, by the numbers.

Skulls capped

Decorated ceramic skulls on display at the Little Rock Farmers Market come from a vendor from Talavera, Mexico.

More exposure for hawk Tom Cotton

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton writes for Politico about the lessons he learned at war. It taught him about courage and leader hip, he said — about "hard rights" and "easy wrongs."

LRPD reports traffic death at 25th and Fair Park

A Little Rock police spokesman reports a traffic death this morning at 25th Street and Fair Park near UALR.

Will Arkansas and U.S. Supreme Courts rule today on same-sex marriage? Speculation rises on anti-marriage decision in Arkansas

Both the Arkansas and U.S. Supreme Courts are scheduled to release decisions in pending cases today, though that's not guarantee — even with a looming summer recess for the Arkansas court — that it will be same-sex wedding day. Speculation rises of an anti-equality ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

U.S. Supreme Court opens with Texas housing case

The U.S. Supreme Court begins announcing decisions with a Texas fair housing case in which Justice Anthony Kennedy formed the 5-4 majority against the conservative justices.

Arkansas Supreme Court silent today on same-sex marriage case

Times photographer Brian Chilson reports from the Arkansas Supreme Court that this week's list of decisions by the court includes nothing on the pending appeal of Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling invalidating the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act subsidies 6-3

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a decision affirming the health care subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The vote was 6-3, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority.

James Salter on takeoff

James Salter, the great impressionist writer who died last week, aged ninety, in his home state of New York, had a small history in Arkansas. He spent several months here in the early ’40s. It was during his first life, years before he began writing, his military life. He lived for a spring and summer in Pine Bluff, for flight training. “The field was east of town,” he remembered in his memoir, "Burning the Days" (1997). “The flying school there was run by civilians.” He sketched his instructor: “an ancient, perhaps in his early forties, crop duster from a town in the southwest part of the state, Hope, which he described as the watermelon capital of the world. His name was Basil York. We were probably among scores of young men he had taught to fly . . .”

Huckabee, climate scientist, gets a thorough debunking from Washington Post

The Washington Post fact-checking operation has handed Mike Huckabee "four Pinocchio's" for his, er, "overheated" rhetoric taking exception to the notion that the science is settled on manmade impact on global climate. He claimed it wasn't so long ago that scientists were predicting we'd all be Popsicles because of the dawn of a new ice aged.

On the King v. Burwell ruling and the future of Obamacare in Arkansas

A few quick thoughts on the King v. Burwell.

Republicans: Still searching for free lunch for levees and highways while shoveling tax money to private business

Other topics stole my attention, but a comment is in order on the continuing search for a free lunch by Arkansas Republican politicians. They want magic money to pay for highways and levees while shoveling corporate welfare to private businesses.

Attorney general rejects term limits proposal

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released today an opinion rejecting the proposed wording of a constitutional amendment to shorten term limits for state elected officials from the current 16 years to 10 years.

Clinton National Airport to offer enrollment in TSA pre-check

Clinton National Airport says it will be the first airport in the country to provide a service to enroll in the Transportation Security Administration's pre-check program, which expedites airport security screening.

Larry Crane on post-SCOTUS decision LGBT marriage licensing: answer unclear, ask again later

Pulaski County Circuit Clerk Larry Crane says residents shouldn't expect his office to immediately start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in support of marriage equality tomorrow or Monday. Crane said when his office will be able to begin issuing licenses will depend on how the opinion from the SCOTUS is phrased.

Casey Foundation calls for states to close youth prisons

The CEO of the Annie Casey Foundation has issued a call for states to close youth prisons because they harm development of young people who get in trouble, expose them to danger and fail to improve public safety.

The Thursday open line and video roundup: Also, sentencing in Walmart abduction

Here's today's open line and the video news roundup.

V.L. Cox: Can we talk?

I don't normally post works of art that aren't in an exhibit, but I'm making an exception here. V.L. Cox, in response to the slaughter by the white supremacist at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, is enlarging her "End Hate" project, and she sent me an image of this piece with the following note.

Governor orders flags lowered for South Carolina shooting victim

Arkansas flags will fly at half-staff for a day to note the South Carolina slaying of a state senator by a racist. Don't give a medal to Gov. Asa just yet.

Former reporter, Shoffner witness arrested in Jonesboro

The Jonesboro Sun reports that a former reporter at the newspaper, was arrested this week on a forgery and burglary charge.

Same-sex marriage watch

Back to the scotusblog and periodic checks with the on-line record of Arkansas court cases to see if a decision emanates today from either the U.S. or Arkansas Supreme Courts today on same-sex marriage.

Reactions split on move to end 'Dixie' and Rebel mascot at Fort Smith Southside High School

The Southwest Times Record reports — unsurprisingly — that a Fort Smith School Board move to remove Confederate trappings from Fort Smith Southside High School has drawn plenty of flack, along with some support.

U.S. Supreme Court says states may not prohibit same-sex marriage

The United States Supreme Court this morning ruled that the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Justice Anthony Kennedy announced the decision.

Marriage equality advocates call for immediate compliance by state

The Human Rights Campaign says state officials should move immediately to end discriminaton against same-sex couples.

Which Arkansas counties are complying with U.S. Supreme Court ruling?

Quick calls to clerks' offices in the state's most populous counties finds that many are waiting for guidance from their respective county attorneys. But same-sex couples in Pulaski, Carroll, Faulkner, Washington and Saline counties can apply for licenses immediately.

Arkansas conservatives react to same-sex marriage decision

Jason Rapert, Mike Huckabee, the Meeks bros, Jerry Cox — beyond these extremists, it's hard to find statements from other Arkansas conservatives. That tell you something?

Attorney general says state must follow 'rule of law,' but short on specifics

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has signaled a general intention not to resist compliance with today's marriage equality ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, but her statement lacks specifics on immediate plans concerning the three pending legal cases and implementation of non-discriminatory practices in everything from taxation to issuance of birth certificates by government agencies. Gay hate groups are already weighing in, too, with alarmist predictions.

Piazza performs marriage, reflects on his ruling a year ago

Circuit Judge Chris Piazza, who issued the landmark ruling against the Arkansas same-sex marriage ban last May, married a couple who applied for a license today after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling and commented to assembled reporters on the case.

The price tag on the marriage cases: State will pay

Among today's pending questions from Supreme Court marriage ruling: How much will the state have to pay for losing three lawsuits over rights denied same-sex couples by Arkansas?

Democrats cheer marriage ruling, Arkansas chair aims at dissenters

The Arkansas Democratic Party chair joins cheers for marriage rulings, but acknowledges it's not universally supported in his party's ranks.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says Arkansas will comply fully with marriage decision, though he doesn't like it

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has issued a statement accepting the finality of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality and pledging state compliance. He doesn't like it much.

It could be worse. You could live in Louisiana or Mississippi or Texas

Top legal officials in Louisiana and Mississippi say same-sex marriages still aren't possible in those state on account of legal technicalities.

Teacher Retirement System moves to comply with marriage ruling

The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, one of the defendants in civil rights actions challenging the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage, has moved today to change policy to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

UPDATE: Attorney General Rutledge provides a few more details on marriage ruling response; advising equal treament by state agencies

Judd Deere, spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, has responded to several questions about pending legal questions related to Arkansas's response to today's marriage equality ruling. Key: Same-sex couples should be treated the same as opposite-sex couples by state agencies.

More than marriage remains at issue, Fayetteville ordinance backers say

The ad hoc group working to pass a civil rights ordinance in Fayetteville that would include gay people among those protected against discrimination in housing, public accommodations and employment has issued a reminder that the marriage ruling is only part of the discrimination gay people face.

The High Profile question

NOW will the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publish same-sex marriages in the society section?

Open line, news roundup, a big rock and Amazing Grace

Here's the week-ending open line; the happy video news roundup, and news of the find of a big diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Conway's Loyd and Schenck: first in line after a long wait

R. Robert Loyd and John W. Schenck, the organizers of the Gay Pride Parade in Conway, were the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Arkansas today.

Where's the party?

Here's what we know about parties to celebrate the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision. What else is happening?

Staff Picks: Obama's 'Amazing Grace,' Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Arthur Russell and more

Paul Laurence Dunbar, the African-American poet, novelist and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, would celebrate his 143rd birthday tomorrow. I recommend reading some of his works with care, including two of his poignant pieces on African-American history, "The Unsung Heroes" and "When Dey 'Listed Colored Soldiers," which are both about the Revolutionary War. One of my all time favorite pieces however is the "Invitation to Love," which today is quite appropriate after the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality.

The Good Week Edition

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today that same-sex marriage is constitutional, race and symbolism in the wake of Charleston, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and standardized testing and state Repubs getting Donald Trump as its keynote speaker for a big fundraising dinner — all covered on this week's podcast.

Arkansas Supreme Court dismisses same-sex marriage appeal

Well how about this? The Arkansas Supreme Court just dismissed an appeal of Wright v. Arkansas, the same-sex marriage case it's been considering for more than six months.

Love wins: Rainbows and happiness mark marriage equality ruling. Republicans face dilemma on issue.

Happiness abounded yesterday after the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. MIght it be a tide of brother love that can't be turned around, no matter how loud the haters bellow?

An open line and pride banners held high; stay tuned for judicial maneuvering details

Here's an open line. But stay tuned for tomorrow, when I'll be passing along some new things I've learned about the unconscionable delay by the Arkansas Supreme Court in handling the same-sex marriage case in Arkansas.

Next in the battle for equal rights: Employment, housing and more

The U.S. Supreme Court victory for marriage equality didn't settle legal issues of discrimination against gay people in employment, housing or public accommodation. It will be an uphill climb in Arkansas.

Arkansas Supreme Court on marriage case: Delay, delay and a change of heart

New information sheds a light on the prolonged deliberation by the Arkansas Supreme Court on the same-sex marriage case, events that include a change in direction on whether the court would uphold or reverse Judge Chris Piazza's decision. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately relieved them of a responsibility some on the court did not want.

The Lost Cause(s) open line: Confederate flags and Jason Rapert into the breach for the bigots

Blowhards like Jason Rapert, with frenzied calls to resist the same-sex marriage ruling, are reminiscent of nothing so much as the dead enders who still fight the Civil War and still fly Confederate flags on public spaces in Arkansas.

Meanwhile, at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, flamingoes

Noted: Silence so far from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page on the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.

UPDATE: Plea change scheduled in Gurdon kidnapping case

U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge has announced a scheduled plea change today by Kevin Bolton, indicted in February 2014, for the abduction of 20-year-old Cassie Carter of Gurdon, mother of a newborn, who was found dead in the trunk of a car in North Carolina in March 2013.

Calling all artisans: Arkansas Made Magazine is coming

Calling all artisans: Arkansas Made Magazine wants you!

Supreme Court approves drug for lethal injections

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 in favor of use of a drug in lethal injections challenged as cruel and unusual punishment in its effect.

Kennedy joins liberals again on congressional redistricting

The U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-4 today to uphold Arizona's use of an independent commission to draw congressional district lines.

Supreme Court blocks Obama's mercury initiative

The U.S. Supreme Court today blocked the Obama administration's plan to limit pollution by coal-fired power plants. Some 20 states and many industrial groups that said the Environmental Protection Agency had failed to consider the costs such regulations would impose.

The Ghost of Faubus: Alabama Supreme Court prevents marriage license issuance

The Alabama Supreme Court has apparently attempted to stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Alabma for 25 days, a period when a request for a rehearing of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Friday is still possible.

Justice Rhonda Wood seems perturbed about something

Something apparently is upsetting Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood. Might it be comments here about her role in the delay in deciding the marriage equality case? If so, there's a simple way to clear the record.

Attorney general challenges another environmental protection rule

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge continues to stick with her campaign promise to oppose federal regulations, no matter what benefits they might offer for cleaner air or water.

University of Arkansas again rolls out insurance coverage for same-sex partners

It ought to take this time. The University of Arkansas distributed a memo today advising employees that same-sex spouses may enroll in health, dental and vision insurance plans.

Hutchinson says clerks have no discretion on issuing marriage licenses; one resigns rather than issue

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, in simply upholding the rule of law, again manages to look moderate by comparison with many others in his Republican Party today. He said flatly that county clerks have no discretion in Arkansas. They must fulfill the ministerial duty of issuing marriage licenses, a procedure that, with no software, won't even require their signature.

Open line, news roundup and more Supreme Court news, on abortion

Here's the open line, plus news on the U.S. Supreme Court and a Texas abortion clinic case.

Q&A: John DiPippa talks Friday's same-sex marriage ruling and nondiscrimination

After Friday's monumental U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case, we turned once again for guidance on constitutional questions to John DiPippa, dean emeritus and distinguished professor of law and public policy at William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock.

U.S. Supreme Court renews review of affirmative action in higher education

The New York Times reviews here yesterday's announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it will again review the effort by the University of Texas to make some use of race in university admission decisions. Does this signal the coming end of affirmative action?

UPDATE: Marriage equality and other shifts in public opinion

The New York Times Upshot writes today of how the legalization of same-sex marriage indicates a familiar public opinion trend — civil rights expand and discrimination contracts as a rule. Now if only we could get the Arkansas legislature to vote more in line with prevailing public opinion.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette weighs in on same-sex marriage

Since I mentioned the silence yesterday, note that the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page got around to mentioning the U.S. Supreme Court marriage ruling this morning. Disapproving in many respects, it seemed to me. It included a reference to Nazi Germany and encouraged those unhappy with the ruling on religious grounds, closing, "Onward, Christian soldiers!"

Hipster Bentonville? Yahoo! seems to think so

Yahoo! Travel names Bentonville one of its "Newest Hipster Neighborhoods." We're not sure what "hipster" means, but we thing Bentonville is great ourselves.

Two found dead in car in Saline River

Saline County deputies found the bodies of two males — aged 8 and 35 — in a car submerged in the Saline River at Westlake Drive and Sanderford Road near Lake Norrell.

Oklahoma court orders removal of 10 Commandments monument: Satanists eye Arkansas

The Oklahoma Supreme Court — emphasis, Oklahoma, even — has ordered removal of a 10 Commandments monument, from the Capitol in Oklahoma City.

Neo-Confederates stage flag rallies across Arkansas

Neo-Confederates in Arkansas are busy doing a public service — mounting public displays of Confederate flag-waving so as to readily identify extremists among us.

UPDATE: Southwest to resume flights between Little Rock and St. Louis in January

Clinton National Airport announces that Southwest Airlines will resume flights between Little Rock and St. Louis next year — two a day beginning Jan. 6.

A "very veggie" celebration coming to the Bernice Garden

A vegetarian celebration is coming to the Bernice Garden—but even carnivores should find something to love.

Adieu, Acadia

Acadia, the white-tablecloth restaurant at 3000 Kavanaugh that has served American cuisine and fine wine for the past 16 years, is closing. Owner James Hale announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page that June 30 was to be its last day and thanked patrons for their support. Acadia opened in July 1999, succeeding a health-food restaurant and adding decks for outdoor dining. Hale’s Facebook post did not say why he was closing the restaurant.

Arkansas House Republicans don't like marriage ruling, vow to protect legal discrimination

The Arkansas House Republican Caucus doesn't like the marriage equality ruling and they are going to do all they can to guarantee the ability of people to discriminate against gay people in the name of religion. A follower of Jesus can do no less, right?

The line is open; with today's video and also: Child abuse and more crazy Rapert

Here's the open line for Tuesday, plus our video roundup.

Clean Eatery serving food for the fit at Stratton's

The Clean Eatery, the food truck purveyor of healthy food for the fit (or would-be fit), is now open in Stratton’s Market, 405 E. Third St., where it is serving grab-and-go lunches.

Old State House adds historic desk

The Old State House Museum proudly announces it has acquired a desk believed to have been used in the Arkansas Senate in the 19th century, a gift from Van E. Manning Jr. and Susan Ashcraft. Manning's grandfather, M.J. Manning, was president of the Senate 1899-1900.

The Senator Rapert report

We mentioned a bodacious crack by Sen. Jason Rapert on Facebook yesterday in which the Bully of Bigelow declaimed that the majority would decide would rights minorities get (in the context of his extend perorations about how it's his view of the Bible that should guide civil law and the legal behavior of Arkansas 

'81 things Mike Huckabee has denounced'

A Washington Post writer has compiled a whopper of a list of 81 things Mike Huckabee has denounced during his time in public life. The list includes his denunciation of people who spend a lot of time constantly taking offense at things. Et tu, Mikey?

UPDATE: Yell County clerk delays on marriage licenses

Yell County Clerk Sharon Barnett told me in a telephone interview this morning that her office is not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples "at this time." She wasn't anxious to discuss the matter. Later in the day, an employee of the office said marriage licenses would be issued to all.

Attorney general announces Medicaid fraud arrest

The attorney general's office said today that Tabitha Woods, 43, of Dermott had been arrested for Medicaid fraud for billing Medicaid for services allegedly provided to her mother while Woods was clocked in and working as a contract employee of the Arkansas Department of Correction Regional Unit and while her mother was admitted to a nursing home.

Ballot set on Fayetteville civil rights ordinance

The ballot has been set on the special election Sept. 8 in Fayetteville on a city civil rights ordinance that includes sexual orientation and gender identity among groups protected against discrimination in employment, housing and public services.

Little Rock is the new athletic brand for the place formerly known as UALR

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock announced new branding for its athletic teams. The UA is gone. The UALR Trojans are now the Little Rock Trojans.

Purple Hearts for LR attack awarded in Capitol ceremony

Purple Hearts were awarded today at the Arkansas Capitol to Quinton Ezeagwula, who was wounded, and the family of William Long of Conway, who was killed June 1, 2009, when Abdulhakim Muhammad fired on people outside a Little Rock military recruiting station.

Forget symbols: Racial disparities are measurable

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has issued a report on the 2015 legislature that highlights — however corrosive such symbols as the Confederate flag might be — how concrete shortcomings present larger obstacles.

The Hot Springs Farmers market begins food truck Fridays

Food Truck Fridays come to Hot Springs.

New music from Young Gods of America, 'Leash'

Here's the new single from Little Rock rap collective Young Gods of America, which you can (and should) also find on iTunes. It's their first official collaborative release under that name, as far as I can tell, and their first release since affiliating themselves with the independent label Foredise. Featuring Goon des Garcons, Fresco Grey, Reggie Gold, Cool Chris, plus references to both Mike Huckabee and Paul Wall and more:

Duggars face potential claim; question raised about use of local police as bodyguards

In Touch, the celebrity publication that ignited the story about sexual molestation in the Jim Bob Duggar home of reality TV fame, is still breaking new ground on the case.

Open line, news video and, in other news a bank robbery and school money

Here's today's open line, video news roundup and a crime scene photo from earlier today of a bank robbery at the Med Center Bank of America branch.

Catholic bishop decries Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling

Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Catholic diocese of Little Rock intervened in the Arkansas lawsuit attempting to end the state ban on same-sex marriage and his side's loss of that case before the U.S. Supreme Court left him with something less than the pope's occasional conciliatory tone where many disagree with church doctrine.

Attorney General Rutledge dodges key points on civil rights ordinances

An attorney general's official opinion, generally a long and learned recitation, today is a short, succinct "no" to the question of whether local ordinances can supersede the gay-discrimination act passed by the legislature to prohibit local governments from passing their own civil rights ordinances. Spoier alert: It's meaningless.