Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 13:54:00
It's an important day for efforts to end the ban on same-sex marriage in Arkansas
. A lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court by Searcy lawyer Cheryl Maples
on behalf of a number of gay and lesbian couples seeking to strike down Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage is before Judge Chris Piazza
Maples is ill, so co-counsel Jack Wagoner
, of Little Rock, is arguing for the plaintiffs. Today, he's asking Piazza to grant plaintiffs' request for preliminary injunctive relief to require the state to immediately recognize the marriage of plaintiffs who were married in state's that allow same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the defendants, who include a number of area county clerks and the head of the state Health Department, are arguing that the case be dismissed.
David Koon is in the hearing and will be providing an update.
Max's has boiled down the suit in an earlier post
The immediate issue in the state case is a request for a restraining order to prevent the state from enforcing what plaintiffs believe are discriminatory policies against couples legally married in other states — the so-called full faith and credit argument. There are parents, for example, who are denied the right to both be listed as parents on a child's birth certificate and couples who are prevented from enjoying employment benefits that other legally married couples enjoy in Arkansas. The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Windsor case is widely viewed as giving such plaintiffs strong cases even in Arkansas, which has both statutory and constitutional bars to marriage equality.
Here's one other highly ironic example: Any legally married couple in Arkansas can file with the county clerk to convert their marriage to a covenant marriage, as Mike and Janet Huckabee did some years ago. But under existing law, a county clerk is prohibited from allowing a couple married legally in, say, Massachusetts from converting to covenant marriage status in Arkansas. That is discriminatory on its face under the full-faith-and-credit approach that has always governed how Arkansas viewed legal marriages from other states. Wouldn't it be lovely if Huckabee's covenant marriage law provided a basis for striking down discrimination against gay people?
Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 13:47:00
The Legislative Joint Auditing
committee is meeting now at the Capitol reviewing the annual financial report on the office of Lieutenant Governor. Normally a routine event, it might prove explosive in light of lingering questions about Lt. Gov. Mark Darr
's reimbursements for campaign expenses, gas mileage and other matters. Darr is on hand to testify.
You can read the
The key finding: Darr misused $9,836 in taxpayer money on illegal gas mileage reimbursements, mostly commutes from his home in Springdale to the Capitol (mileage from his residence to his office is not reimbursable). Legislative Audit concludes that this money should be reimbursed.
Darr's official response, included in the report, states that he was unaware of the relevant provisions in the law and says, "I have acknowledged the errors I have committed, and I am endeavoring to make full restitution." Legislative Audit submitted their report to the Prosecuting Attorney.
According to Michael Cook of Talk Business, who was at the meeting, Darr received only a couple of "mild" questions from legislators.
Darr's other issues — evidence suggesting that he used campaign money for personal expenses and may have double-dipped, reimbursing himself twice for the same travel expenses with campaign money and taxpayer money — were outside the purview of this audit, but may come up at the Ethics Commission
hearing on Dec. 18.
Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 12:09:00
A conditional use permit application for a controversial group home
at 20th and Broadway that helps men in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse will be on the Capital Zoning District Commission
agenda at 5:30 p.m. tonight at 410 S. Battery St.
The Muskie Harris Recovery Service,
a 501c3, started operating in the historic Harrod House at the end of October. Because it is a non-profit, it is not required to obtain a privilege license, which is the normal route for the CDZ to learn when businesses locate in the district, which governs planning and development in the city's historic heart downtown. Neighbors noticed the folks coming and going from the house and notified the CDZ.
the executive director of the CZD, said there is "strong opposition" to the group home from neighbors; he's been contacted by "dozens" of folk by email, phone and letters, and opponents have been vocal at meetings of the Mansion Area Advisory Committee and the Downtown Neighborhood Association.
The CZD staff
of the permit as long as it meets state and city zoning laws and verifies that to the CZD on an annual basis, that the property is maintained in good condition, that no persons convicted of illegal manufacture or sale of drugs be housed there and that no use of drugs occur there. The Mansion Area Advisory Committee voted against approval.
The men living at the home have been arrested on substance abuse charges, but as first-time offenders have been given the chance by the courts to complete recovery programs to get their cases discharged. They come to the house from 90-day recovery centers such as Serenity House, Recovery Centers of Arkansas and Hoover House. Federal considers them to be disabled, which allows them to live in group settings as long as the homes meeting local zoning rules, so there is little the CZD could do to stop the permit.
The men at the Muskie Harris Recovery Service home pay anywhere from $700 to $1,000 a month,Harris said, and are required to have a job. Their rent includes three meals a day and transportation to, for example, Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and to doctor and other professional appointments.
We wrote about a similar group home, Oxford House
, earlier this year.
Harris, a former Razorback player and one-time Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said he faced an unfriendly crowd at the Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting where the issue was discussed. "They have the fear we are depreciating their property," and he said he believed some of the comments aimed at the house were racist, saying one man addressed him as "you people."
There is also support from the house, Maher said, from Circuit Judges Chris Piazza
and Barry Sims,
who Harris serves as liaison to rehab centers, and retired Judge Marion Humphrey.
Harris said he obtained his 501c3 status in September.
More Arkansas Blog
Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 09:25:00
Eclectic folk ensemble Harpeth Rising plays a makeup date for the album release show from last weekend, Unitarian Universalist Church, 7:30 p.m., $8-$15.
It's time for the Arkansas Chamber Singers Holiday Concert: Spirit of the Season, with traditional carols and new works by Arkansas composers, Old State House Museum, Dec. 13-14, 7 p.m.; Dec. 15, 3 p.m.
The Afterthought hosts Christmas Karaoke and an Ugly Sweater Contest, 9 p.m., free.
The "Belew Christmas" show with Cody Belew was rescheduled from last weekend to this Friday, 8 p.m. Wildwood Park for the Arts, $20-$50.
The Main Thing's "A Fertle Holiday" Christmas comedy show continues at The Joint, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. through Dec. 28, $20.
Eggnog lovers rejoice, for the 9th Ever Nog-off is upon us, at the Historic Arkansas Museum, 5-8 p.m.
Swampbird and The Winston Family Orchestra will be bringing the rock hedonism to Stickyz, 9 p.m., $5.
Thirst n' Howl hosts a food drive with Blues Boy Jag and Joe Pitts. Be sure to bring canned food donations, 8 p.m., free.
Booyah! Dad, Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth and Adam Faucett & The Tall Grass Buffalo sounds like a pretty dang good evening of fine local rock music, White Water Tavern, 9:30 p.m.
Over at Stickyz, you can get down with the Good Time Ramblers and The Mansion Family, 18-and-older, 9 p.m., $5.
San Antonio's Jared Harville brings some intriguing lo-fi singer/songwriter tunes to Mugs Cafe, 7 p.m.
War Chief plays at The Afterthought, 9 p.m., $7.
Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 08:37:00
ALVIN YOUNGBLOOD HART, VISION CONTROL
10 p.m. White Water Tavern.
For this one, I'll defer to Times
contributor Joe Meazle
, because I think he nailed it on this description: "If you think of Alvin Youngblood Hart
only as a Handy and Grammy award-winning interpreter of roots and blues music of bygone eras (as many seem to continue to try to do), you would be missing the majority of what the multifaceted artist has thus far and continues to create. It would be akin to judging a bowl of gumbo base solely on a single ingredient, a folly to be sure. That fine gumbo has a roots and blues component, sure enough, but there is also R&B, soul, and good ol' fuse-blowing Southern rock 'n' roll, just to name a few of the ingredients."
I can't put it any better than that.
As far as Vision Control
goes, you should know that it's a project of Little Rock native John Pugh
, surely one of the most restless and creative artists this state has produced. He was integral in the '90s LR punk scene, performing in a grip of bands (Uptown Prophets of Armageddon, Crown of Glory, No City No State and Jet Jangua, among many others). He anchored the drumkit for Sacramento-to-Brooklyn dance mavens !!!, providing the driving beat for that band for several years before leaving to focus on the duo Free Blood.
I haven't heard Vision Control yet, but according to press materials, "using only a guitar, a loop pedal and his voice, Pugh creates a minimalist landscape where syncopated pointillist patterns interlock with heavy proto-punk R&B vamps liberally peppered with bursts of no wave dystopia." Sounds intriguing, brainy and sultry all at the same time, which is to say, it sounds like a project from John Pugh.
Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 07:33:00
COOL SHOES: FAREWELL TO DOWNTOWN MUSIC
7 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $10.
As we've noted previously, the countdown to Downtown Music Hall's closing
is nearly done. Cool Shoes
("Little Rock's Notorious Monthly Dance Party") has been throwing shows at Downtown Music for the last five years, so it's only appropriate that they'd get together to have one last blowout before the place closes for good.
The lineup includes Cool Shoes vets Wolf-e-Wolf
, plus GDash
and Andy Chen
and lighting provided by Balance Lighting Systems
. It's an all-ages deal and it starts early so don't dilly-dally and miss it.
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