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Attorney general says public facilities that serve alcohol can ban guns

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST

Who knew Attorney General Leslie Rutledge would say there ARE circumstances in which the right to bear arms may be infringed?

Her word came in an official opinion released yesterday.

In response to a request for an opinion from state Sen. Bill Sample of Hot Springs, she said:

Publicly owned facilities and buildings that serve alcoholic beverages may prohibit handgun license holders, including those that obtain the new advanced permit, from carrying guns.

The facilities must only post a written notice.

Such a written notice would be effective as to holders of enhanced concealed-carry licenses, as well as holders of conventional licenses. Likewise, a written notice would effectively prohibit individuals with enhanced (and conventional) concealed-carry licenses from possessing firearms in a publicly owned building or facility where beer or light wine is consumed.
The question arises because the old law prohibited concealed weapons in public buildings and places where alcohol was sold. A 2017 law aimed at putting guns on college campuses lifted the ban on most public buildings and also opened bars and other places that sell alcohol to people with the "enhanced" carry permit, which is issued after eight additional hours of training for those with concealed carry permits.

The old prohibition still applies to the basic carry permit. But it can be applied, with notice, to holders of the new permit even though public buildings and alcohol servers were otherwise opened up to them.

I trust this means notices will be going up soon on, for example, public convention centers where events include service of alcoholic beverages.

Which reminds me:

Somebody called my attention this week to a Facebook post by a Fayetteville man who said he strode into Arsaga's restaurant with his strap-on and was asked him to leave.  They have a notice properly posted against guns on premises, as the law allows. Private property rights? This fellow doesn't seem to think they apply in "Gayetteville."

The comments came in fast and furious. I particularly liked those from ardent gun rights people who say folks like this give them a bad name. One bad apple ....

City taxpayer handout to chamber of commerce on agenda. A word on their deeds

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 05:44 AM PST

The agenda meeting for the Little Rock City Board this week includes a resolution for the city to pay the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce $300,000 again this year for  "economic development consulting services."

This was the money spent unconstitutionally by the city for years until the Arkansas Supreme Court put an end to the practice in a taxpayer lawsuit. This brought a legislature-proposed constitutional amendment, approved by voters, to legalize taxpayer subsidies of chambers of commerce because the practice had become epidemic around the state. Why should the highway construction lobby have to pay the cost of the chamber of commerce lobbyists when they can get city taxpayers to do it?

The court found that this payment was consulting in name only. The chambers do what they've always done, simply with a taxpayer subsidy to do it.

City taxpayers get no specific accounting of how the money is spent.

We do know the money pays salaries of chamber employees who:

* Worked for the takeover of the city school district, now suffering continuing body blows from Walton-funded attacks in the form of proliferating charter schools.

* Support the huge concrete freeway gulch through the heart of the city.

* Oppose democratic mayor-council form of government, because corporate interests control most outcomes through at-large director elections influenced by their big money.

* Support the amendment that will make it — on account of damage limits and attorney fee limits — difficult if not impossible to sue for medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and other corporate wrongs.

* Support socialized government, in which city sales tax money finances a real estate play otherwise known as the technology park that put $11 million in the pockets of the richest man in Little Rock through the purchase of some his office buildings.

* Oppose control of private property use by landowners, at least when the owner is the Quapaw Tribe and the land is near the Little Rock Port. The chamber's effort to hamstring the tribe is about preventing the Quapaws, ancestral owners of the land, from developing a casino on the property. Why opposition? Because it would compete with the Hot Springs casino operated by a chamber of commerce financial sponsor, the Oaklawn Jockey Club.

The resolution on handing out $300,000 in tax on poor folks' hamburgers to pay fat salaries for chamber lobbyists is on the "consent agenda." It is noncontroversial, in other words, at least on the corporate-controlled City Board.

PS: A footnote on my link  to Democrat-Gazette story this morning about the need for still more budget cuts in the Little Rock School District on account of an enrollment decline linked to proliferating charter schools, with hundreds of more charter seats coming next year: The Walton lobbyist who attacks LRSD daily has been boasting that the percentage of poor kids in the district is dropping, which he sees an argument against those who criticize charters for taking middle-class kids out of the schools. It's demonstrably BS. Superintendent Michael Poore says poor parents haven't been filling out the forms for free lunches because they've been offered as a matter of course at schools where all the kids come from low-income backgrounds.

The Walton assault continues unabated. In addition to supporting some 1,200 new charter seats for lower grades in two schools to open next year, it is pushing the growth of eStem High School on the UA-Little Rock campus from 400 to 1,200 students. The high school has been a disaster for the university. Pickup and drop-off traffic, an overtaxed food facility (college students who've bought food plans can't get fed), lack of additional classroom space, library pressure and rambunctious 15-year-olds running around among 26-year-old graduate students have created a situation the UA-Little Rock Faculty Senate has unanimously suggested is a problem. Waltons care? Think again. What they care about is deconstructing the Little Rock School District by any means possible. It will build trails, cooking schools and other amenities up in Northwest Arkansas.

UA-Little Rock attraction coming to River Market this year

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 05:14 AM PST

UA-Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson
says he's aiming for a June opening of a facility going in the Central Arkansas Library System's newish parking deck and office building on Clinton Avenue, immediately north of the main library.

The exciting thing, to me, is that the opening will bring with it public display of a treasure owned by the school and in storage for 27 years. Leslie Newell Peacock told this story for the Times several years ago:

For the past 27 years, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has stored a fragile mural by social realist painter Joe Jones, after then-UALR archivist (and now Central Arkansas Library Director) Bobby Roberts rescued it from oblivion in 1984. Painted for Commonwealth College in Mena in 1935, "The Struggle of the South" portrays the miseries of sharecropping, a lynching and the plight of coal miners. Jones was a Missourian who said "I'm not interested in painting pretty pictures to match pink and blue walls. I want to paint things that knock holes in walls."

It's a heckuva tale. Rescued by Roberts for $500 when destruction was planned for a Fort Smith structure in which it was used as building material, it had one panel restored for display by a St. Louis art museum. This was a controversial lynching scene, likely to still stir emotions. Some $500,000 in restoration was done with grant money. The work, now worth an estimated $4.5 million remains in controlled storage in Texas. And, at last, Rogerson thinks he'll have a great place to display it.

He was downtown yesterday talking to architects about design of the new space and I talked with him at lunch afterward about many things. (You do know, don't you, that Little Rock has a university, a recognized research institution that is doing great things in many disciplines, including those that matter to Sen. Bart Hester?)

Rogerson had many things to say on topics great and small that will work their way into future conversations. But I was happy to hear plans about a new arrival to the neighborhood near my office.

It was announced last year that the library system and UA-Little Rock had struck a deal for use of space on the first floor of the parking deck as a place for meetings and events. Rogerson envisions lectures, classes and something of a recruiting office for prospective students. He has a lot of ideas about attracting young brainy people to Little Rock and thinks a reputation as a university city should be a part of that. An outpost in the heart of a downtown with a lot of entertainment, residential and cultural activity couldn't hurt.

The Babe Bracket gets political; Asa backs off an endorsement, Democrat calls him down

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 03:31 PM PST

Austin Kellerman, news director of our news partner KARK/Fox 16, has stirred up a hornets' nest of male privilege and chauvinism by calling on the morning show at The Buzz — Tommy Smith, David Bazzell and other cohorts — to end the "Babe Bracket."

To the uninitiated, this is an event tied for 20 years to the March NCAA basketball tournament. The hosts chose local female TV journalists to fill the bracket and then call on listeners, mostly men, to vote until a final winner is reached. Kellerman wrote eloquently that it was time for this sexist relic to end — objectifying professional women by ranking them on looks.

Oh, sure. The sniggering juveniles at The Buzz insist this is a showcase for the women's journalistic talents and interests, not a beauty pageant. It rings a little hollow from a host who spent one morning show speculating on a prominent civil rights activist's pubic hair. The lingerie shop sponsorship is a fairly good tell. (Yes, we accept lingerie shop advertising. But not tied to a vote on the comeliness of women journalists.)

It's gotten ugly. Men don't like being called down and some of The Buzz crew and their fans have gotten nasty about it. True, some women have said they don't mind. Some are in a job where to do so might upset bosses, however.

All this is a runup to the "news" that Gov. Asa Hutchinson dropped by The Buzz this morning and gave the snickering sexists a sound bite endorsing their shtick. You should have heard the good ol' boys yukking it up.

As Jacob Kauffman reported on KUAR:

"Y'all have some fun and everybody enjoys it. We have to be carefull not to be too politically correct. I think everybody knows the good spirit that it is in," Hutchinson said to the radio hosts audibly enthused delight.
Yee haw. Whaddya think about Susan Hutchinson on a 1-10 scale, guv? Just having some good fun here.

Maybe somebody suggested that yukking it up with a bunch of Trump-loving sexists on the same day the Trump White House was lying for a repeat wife beater wasn't such a good look.

Hutchinson later issued a clarifying statement:

I'm a big sports fan and am an occasional guest on The Buzz. Today I quipped that the program was certainly under a lot of fire—including from national sources. My point was simple—I believe the hosts of the show are well-intentioned and their long-running contest was always done without any malicious intent. My comment this morning wasn't an endorsement of any contest that is based upon looks. All women should be treated with respect, and any measurement of workplace success should be based upon talent and performance."
Can't wait to hear what Jan Morgan, Hutchinson's primary opponent, has to say about this PC crawfishing. Who cares? The governor still fell into the Trump trap of excusing behavior by men that many women might find offensive. Whether they are well-intentioned or mean no harm or not is, besides doubtful, something for the objects of their salivating to decide.

Jared Henderson, the announced Democratic candidate for governor, decided to be heard. Here's his statement:

Asa Hutchinson is stuck in the past defending the Babe Bracket. We know radio shows have to be entertaining, but in 2018 it's time to draw a principled line in the sand to oppose sexist sentiments like this one being communicated in the workplace, on the radio or anywhere. The governor was wrong to defend the show and as governor I will set a better example for our state. We should aim high in how we treat women in our state and not encourage lowest common denominator behavior.

Gerard Matthews dumped on this stupid little boys trick several years ago for the Times.

Men are slow learners. But they can learn. Long ago, we had a sex symbol category (male and female) in our Best of contest. We asked for votes on best "weatherman" relying unthinkingly on a formulation of our youth that was insulting to female meteorologists. Over at The Buzz, they still need some remedial education.

A good lesson would be for the TV women of Arkansas to call in the Buzz hotline this year and say, "Include me out of the Babe Bracket, thank you kindly."

But TV people live and die by ratings as much as radio. The Buzz is playing to a predominantly male audience in a state that probably would still give 63 percent of its vote to a proud pussy grabber accused by at least 18 women of sexual abuse.

It's all good fun. Locker room talk. Anybody who says otherwise is just a spoilsport and PC. A loser!

UPDATE: AP quote from Jan Morgan:

Jan Morgan on "babe bracket" flap: "I'm focusing my time and attention on issues that hard working Arkansans actually care about, instead of weighing in on a senseless and sophomoric radio contest like this one."

Vote Jan

The Dancin' with Bart Hester Edition

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 03:09 PM PST

A new lawsuit challenging the state's photo ID law, Bart Hester vs. the humanities, signs of a threat to governors school, big bills for the state Supreme Court and Clarke Tucker making a run for Congress — all covered on this week's podcast.

Subscribe via iTunes.


Supreme Court legal fees in Griffen case run up to $975 an hour

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 02:55 PM PST

Stacey Pectol, the clerk of the Arkansas Supreme Court, reconsidered my request yesterday that her office not redact hourly rates of lawyers employed by justices to represent them in Judge Wendell Griffen's civil rights suit over removal from all death penalty cases. She has provided those figures.

As indicated by the totals reported earlier, the rates generally are cheaper the closer the lawyers live to the Justice Building.

I'll give you the full memo on billing, but in short:

The Supreme Court has incurred $160,000 in legal bills so far, only about $25,000 paid. It has asked for spending authority from the legislature to pay $135,000 outstanding and for authority to spend up to $500,000 over two years for future bills, if necessary.

* Cooper and Kirk, a Washington law firm, represents Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson. Its bills so far: $86.610. 10 lawyers from the firm have worked varying amounts on the case at rates from $550 to $975 an hour by David Thompson (who dropped his rate to $550 in the second round of billing.)

* Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shreck, a Denver law firm, represents Justice Rhonda Wood: Its bill so far: $39,862.26. The three lawyers billed from $330 to $595 an hour.

* The Barber Law Firm of Little Rock represents Justice Josephine Hart. Its bills: $1,150, at $250 an hour. Hart also was represented by Murphy, Thompson, Skinner, Arnold and Castleberry of Batesville, which charged $19,176.65 at rates of $250 an hour. That put her total charges at $20,326.65

* The Center for Constitutional Litigation, based in New York, represents the court as a whole and Justices Kemp, Robin Wynne and Shawn Womack. Its billings so far: $11,798.21. It's billed at a rate of $250 an hour.

* Tim Dudley, a Little Rock lawyer, represents Justice Karen Baker. His billing so far: $2,140 at $350 an hour.

The full specifics that were released. Several pages of information are redacted in the name of attorney-client privilege. By Arkansas Supreme Court precedent in at least two cases, attorney-client privilege is not an FOI exemption for public records. There is, however, protection for Supreme Court "working papers" and correspondence in the law.

Another week done

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 02:52 PM PST

Here's the open line. Also the daily news roundup.

No Small Talk Ep. 5: Dazz and Brie talk Musicians Showcase

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 02:27 PM PST

No Small Talk is continuing our coverage of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. This week, we chat with Dazz and Brie — who won last year's showcase and are judging for us this year. (Go check out some of their music!)

This is the 26th year of the Musicians Showcase. If you're interested, this old article from Billboard that discusses its creation — with tons of stuff on the legendary Chris Maxwell — is now on Google Books.

Stephanie couldn't make it this week, so Omaya and I tried our best to fill in. Here are some links to follow along with the show:

* Recap of Round 2 of the Musicians Showcase

* Then There Was Joe directed by Justin Warren

* Phantom of the Opera from Arkansas Cinema Society

* All the Quincy Jones news you need

* Sophia Kennedy's self-titled album, including the track "William by the Windowsill"

* Our weekly To-Do list, with a special shout out to Shannon McNally