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Heights Corner Market (nee Terry's) is open

Heights Corner Market, in the space occupied by Terry's Finer Foods since time immemorial at 5018 Kavanaugh Blvd., is open and selling fresh flowers, produce (including locally grown food), meat, seafood, organic bath and body products and organic pet products from Stella's Barkery.

Ahoy! Blue Sail launches Saturday on Main Street

Blue Sail Coffee Roasters opens its shop Saturday, March 25, in the Little Rock Technology Park, 417 Main St. The grand opening announcement says the shop will be in business at 7 a.m. and stay open until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Arsaga's at The Depot a hit for coffee and breakfast anytime

Fayetteville spot serves up good coffee and a unique menu.

Dining Review

Go North

March 23, 2017
Go North
Park Hill bar gets high marks. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

The Savage truth

March 23, 2017
The Savage truth
Talking Feynman and failure with science champion Adam Savage. /more/

To-Do List

Margot Lee Shetterly speaks at Statehouse Convention Center

March 23, 2017
Margot Lee Shetterly speaks at Statehouse Convention Center
Also, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, 'Dear Black People,' Haydn's 'Emperor,' The Steel Wheels, 'Moving Forward,' Hard Pass, Cedric Burnside Project, Jay Jennings at Argenta Reading Series /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight /more/

Ernest Dumas

Attack the poor

What do Pope Francis and the Republican Party have in common? I'm waiting. Let's make /more/

Gene Lyons

More on pits

Some years ago, I visited the local Boys Club early one morning. There had been a break-in. /more/

Movie Reviews

Wanted: 1991 Magic

March 23, 2017
Wanted: 1991 Magic
'Beauty and the Beast' revamp gets lost in the details. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Foul play

March 23, 2017
This beautiful little ride couldn't have just ended conventionally. That's not the Razorback way. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Eat Arkansas

For food lovers

Eye Candy

On art in Arkansas

Street Jazz

A view from Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 27, 2017 - 13:28:47

Update: Senate committee again rejects birth certificate equity

click to enlarge JANA JACOBS: Asking for equal treatment under the law. - BENJAMIN HARDY
  • BENJAMIN HARDY
  • JANA JACOBS: Asking for equal treatment under the law.

A Senate committee has again rejected Sen. Joyce Elliott's bill — modeled after a suggestion in court proceedings by the attorney general's office — to provide equal treatment of same-sex married couples in issuance of birth certificates. This was the second try to pass the bill through the Senate committee.

When heterosexual couples have children through sperm donation or a surrogate mother, the parents are automatically presumed to be parents and are listed as such on birth certificates. The same presumption is not accorded same-sex married couples. Opponents of the measure have tried to argue it's about biology when, transparently, it is not.

Still to come, most likely, is a lawsuit over Arkansas's denial of equal treatment to same-sex couples, something the U.S. Supreme Court has said is now the law of the land.

Update from Benji, 1 p.m.: Elliott tried to convince the committee today that Senate Bill 580 should be seen as a matter of bringing the state into compliance with federal law — and of simple fairness in treating children of same-sex couples no differently than other children. She said the bill was "family-friendly" and would allow "those families to take responsibility fully, like any of the rest of us should, and ... place the names of the parents on the birth certificates."

Jana Jacobs was among those who spoke for the bill. A mother of two boys with a third child on the way, she said she and her wife have been together for 14 years. They were married in 2010 in Iowa and again in Arkansas in 2014, after a circuit court briefly legalized same-sex unions in the state (a year before the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling made marriage equality the law of nationwide). Jacobs' wife conceived the children via artificial insemination, she said, and it has cost her family time and money to get both parents' names listed on their sons' birth certificate.

Jacobs explained why that was necessary, for reasons both material and not. "I wanted to make sure they had the health care, financial support — any benefits that would arise from my death or disability. I also never wanted my kids to think that there was anyone absent from their life. They were born into the exact family that they were intended to be in. And a birth certificate with both of our names would make that clear not only to them, but to anyone who would require such a document."

Although she has legally adopted the two children, she noted that "having a birth certificate with both intended parents would give families immediate relief without having to worry that their children are being left unprotected for any amount of time. A birth certificate could provide much needed security during our often lengthy and costly process of adoption.

Without the fix in law provided by Elliott's bill, Jacobs said, "the state is unduly illegitimizing my children."

Also speaking for the bill was Allison Koile, a Little Rock lawyer who said she's been hired by five same-gender couples to get both parents' names listed on their children's birth certificates. Not only is this inequitable, she argued, it's also an unnecessary use of legal and court resources. "I've even had judges say that they should be spending their time on other types of cases, rather than having to hold a hearing and produce an order for something that could have been and should have been resolved already," she said. "Regardless of your feelings on same sex marriage, a yes vote for SB 580 is a vote for equal application of the law."

At the time the bill came up, the committee's chair, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock), was out of the room, and Senator Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) was chairing the committee. Collins-Smith asked Koile, "There are other legal ways to make sure that children inherit their family or friends' belongings, isn’t that correct?"

"There is a probate process that can be undertaken, but again, that does occupy the court’s time," Koile replied.

"There are wills and gifting that you can do, so there are other options, correct?" Collins-Smith asked.

Koile acknowledged that was the case: "There are also trusts, but these are all expensive options. ... Inheritance as a right is guaranteed for children that are recognized by the state."

In closing, Elliott said Arkansas was the only state that was openly out of compliance with federal law on this issue. She also pushed back against Collins-Smith's line of questions. "It is absolutely true that there are other ways … so that children have their rights … but neither my child nor your child nor anybody’s child sitting around this table has to do that. Our kids don’t have to do that. But we ask these folks sitting here, this woman sitting here and her family … to have to have the money to go to probate court … and get the same rights that we expect for our kids? ... It is not a law about the morality of marriage of any kind. It’s just simply: Are your kids equal to our kids? Are we willing to say to their kids that they are not equal to our kids?"

In fact, most on the committee seemed unwilling to say anything at all. Sen. Will Bond (D-Little Rock) moved for passage of the bill, but none of the other four senators in attendance (all Republicans) seconded the motion, meaning the motion failed. (Supporters of the bill told me after the meeting that they believed Sen. Hutchinson's absence was not intentional, as he had vocally supported SB 580 when it came up previously.)

Jacobs' full remarks to the committee follow:

My name is Jana Jacobs; I’m from Little Rock, Arkansas. My wife and I have two sons — Yogi, four and a half, and Finch, 21 months, and we’re expecting a little girl this June. We’ve been together for 14 years. We were married in 2010 in Iowa, and when we decided we wanted children we went the same way as so many couples with fertility issues and used artificial insemination.

Our son Yogi was born in 2012, and later, when we were in the process of my adopting him, Arkansas ruled to allow gay marriage, so we rushed down to the courthouse and were married again. Then we went to the vital records office, and they amended his birth certificate right then and there and were very accommodating and polite. We walked out of there with his amended birth certificate, with my name on it. Just over a year later, my son Finch was born, on June 26, 2015, which was the same day that the Supreme Court ruled making all marriages equal under the Fourteenth Amendment. So a few weeks later I went to pick up his birth certificate and was told I would need a court order. Not only was I not allowed on his birth certificate at that time, it turns out that the one we thought we had amended in 2014 existed nowhere in the vital records office. I had the only official copy; it had never been processed, and I was none the wiser for this.

During all this, all I wanted was to take legal responsibility for our kids. I wanted to make sure they had the health care, financial support — any benefits that would arise from my death or disability. I also never wanted my kids to think that there was anyone absent from their life. They were born into the exact family that they were intended to be in. And a birth certificate with both of our names would make that clear not only to them, but to anyone who would require such a document. The long form birth certificate is always going to name an anonymous sperm donor, or a sperm donor, or a surrogate. That’s not going to change, but the certificate that they’re going to present to their school officials … will have both of our names as parents, as they were always intended to be

The bill before you today spells out very clearly how children who were born with assisted reproductive measures are to be viewed with regards to parentage. This is true for my family, and for yours, and for any others. It takes nothing away from heterosexual couples, but not making the amendment impacts families like mine with unnecessary burdens that wouldn’t be expected of any other married couple, and that’s not equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. Without this amendment, my children could lose many of the benefits that are afforded by marriage, such as my social security benefits, inheritance, life insurance benefits, child support, health insurance, the ability for me to make decisions regarding their medical care, and so many more.

Without this amendment, the state is unduly illegitimizing my children. I adopted my sons and I’ll adopt my daughter. But adoptions take time and take money, and having a birth certificate with both intended parents would give families immediate relief without having to worry that their children are being left unprotected for any amount of time. A birth certificate could provide much needed security during our often lengthy and costly process of adoption. We’ve spent thousands of dollars already … and this is a financial burden that wouldn’t be required of any other family.

My children have two parents. They have from conception through today. They will know someday that I share no biology with them; that’s an obvious truth. But they’ll never have to question whether I’m their mother or if they are exactly where they are meant to be.

I implore you to look at this bill as a necessary tool to ensure that all families have their intentions recognized for what they are — a way to make families whole. 

 

Monday, March 27, 2017 - 12:54:00

Little Rock District Judge Alice Lightle plans to resign

click to enlarge ALICE LIGHTLE - LR SOIREE
  • LR Soiree
  • ALICE LIGHTLE
Little Rock District Judge Alice Lightle, who oversees the criminal division of district court, has notified Gov. Asa Hutchinson of her intention to resign the post effective April 30.

Lightle tell she and her spouse, Debbie Wilhite, are moving to Evergreen, Colo. They'd been talking about a move for sometime and hadn't expected it to come so soon, but found a "perfect house" moving to colorado.

evergreen colorado, got a houjse headed to.

it just an opp. debbie and i been talking about.

63 in aspril. may do something out there. ill miss it and miss staff. difficult decision to come to but i feel liek

marreid last summer denver.

other stuff want to do.

28 miles from denver.

we knew looking places go to .

i didnt think going to happen this fast. havent found perfect house would have been longer.

never lived anywhere atlanta and lr . start a new chapter.

debbie 65/ /


Lightle was re-elected to what would have been a third four-year term in 2016. The governor will fill the vacancy until an election to fill the remainder of the term can be held in 2018. Lightle was first appointed to the bench, an environmental court seat, by Gov. Mike Beebe in 2007. She was elected to the criminal court slot in 2008. Her letter, also sent to City Manager Bruce Moore and Chief Justice Dan Kemp:

click to enlarge lightle.jpg
The district judges this year became fully part of the state judicial system, where they operated before mostly under the control of the city. State law sets their pay in range up to about $146,000.

 

Monday, March 27, 2017 - 12:26:00

Lawsuit seeks to halt executions

click to enlarge NEW LAWSUIT: On behalf of eight condemned inmates.
  • NEW LAWSUIT: On behalf of eight condemned inmates.
A federal lawsuit is to be filed today to stop the eight executions of Death Row inmates over a 10-day span in April. It questions the state's ability to handle so many executions without problems in such a short time.

Here's the lawsuit, provided by a representative of the law firm for inmates.

It argues the hurryup scheduled amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, violates the inmates' right to counsel and violates their right to access to the courts during the executions.

The inmates ask for a preliminary injunction to stop the executions so their lawsuit may be heard.

The state can be expected to contest the request.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he wanted to hurry the executions so they could be completed before a current supply of one of the three execution drugs, midazolam. Said the complaint:

“Taking into consideration the complexity of the procedure for each Plaintiff, the added pressure of eight executions in ten days, the lack of time necessary for review, and the lack of experience of those involved at the highest levels—combined with the use of a drug that is insufficient for its intended purpose and that has caused botched executions in the past—there is a substantial and objectively intolerable risk of suffering and harm to Plaintiffs.” 
The lawsuit argues the multiple executions increase the risk for error and point to Oklahoma, where the second of  two executions was scrapped after problems with the first. Missouri limits executions to one a month, the complaint notes.

Access to the courts is also an issue.

When Arizona botched the execution of Joseph Wood using midazolam in 2014, his attorneys were able to call a judge during the nearly 2-hour procedure and hold a telephonic hearing with him. Arizona now explicitly allows a witnessing attorney immediate access to a cell phone. Arkansas has made clear that no phones will be allowed, nor will attorneys be permitted to leave the room and make a call should the execution be unconstitutional. Thus, attorneys can choose between having access to the courts but not the execution, or access to the executions but not the courts.
 The complaint says midazolam has not been proven a sufficient anesthetic to prevent pain during the three-drug process.

Noted a summary of the arguments from the Washington law firm, Squire Patton Boggs,  working on the cae:

Arkansas has not conducted any executions in 12 years. The current Director of the Arkansas Department of Corrections has never overseen an execution. The state has never used midazolam in an execution. Yet the limited protocol information released reveals a lack of a contingency plan in the event that something goes wrong, which is especially troubling given midazolam’s use in executions that lasted 20, 40 and even 120 minutes.

The state’s lethal-injection protocol does not specify how “unconsciousness” will be determined, which is essential to ensure the executions are not torture. It does not specify what will happen if a second dose of midazolam fails to sedate the prisoner. There is no information given about who will be on the “IV team” and whether they will be qualified in case a central IV line is needed, as was the case in the execution of Clayton Lockett. In a clinical setting, a central line is laid with the use of an ultrasound machine, which the prison does not have. There is no information given about who will be on the IV team, but it is known that the chemicals will be injected from a different room than where the prisoner is on the gurney, preventing IV technicians from being able to closely monitor the injection site and the flow of liquid. Finally, the protocol lacks any sort of contingency planning for a botched execution, which is particularly concerning in light of midazolam’s history. 
The suit was brought on behalf of all eight men scheduled to die and a ninth who's currently not scheduled for execution.

NOTED: The

 

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 09:31:00

TheatreSquared asks Fayetteville A&P Commission to match city's $3.1 million commitment

click to enlarge An artist's rendering of the new TheatreSquared facility from ournextstage.org. - KILOGRAPH
  • Kilograph
  • An artist's rendering of the new TheatreSquared facility from ournextstage.org.

The Fayetteville Flyer reports that TheatreSquared Artistic Director Bob Ford and Executive Director Martin Miller met with the Fayetteville Advertising & Promotion Committee Monday morning, asking for a $3.1 million match to the city's pledged funding in the same amount as part of a five-year economic development plan, Fayetteville First.

The funding request is part of T2's attempt to raise $18 million for the construction of a new facility at West Avenue and Spring Streets, across from the Walton Arts Center's Nadine Baum Studios where the nonprofit professional theatre company currently leases space. More specifically, the Walton Family Foundation pledged an amount of $9 million in January for the new facility, contingent upon T2's raising $18 million in a 2-to-1 match. That's in addition to the $3.5 million the Foundation awarded to the company for the new theater's design.

TheatreSquared expects construction to begin later this year, and projects opening in time to hold its 2019 season in the new facility.

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 11:18:00

Arkansas Times Film Series presents 'Bunny Lake Is Missing' tonight

click to enlarge image-w1280.jpg

In concert with Film Quotes Film and Riverdale 10 Cinema, Arkansas Times Film Series presents Otto Preminger's 1965 suspense “Bunny Lake is Missing." Film Quotes Film's Omaya Jones discussed the film in this week's arts and entertainment section.

Shortly after the film begins, Anne Lake (Carol Lynley) goes to pick up her daughter, Bunny, from school. She wonders around the waiting room with a crowd of mothers who are also there waiting to pick up their Bunnys. School ends, the group of mothers dissipate. Only Anne is left, and there is no Bunny. The rest of the film exists in a nightmare state where the viewer is never quite sure of what to make of what is going on — or if Bunny even exists. It’s a terrifying prospect. The only other film that so successfully elicits a sense of total discombobulation is Orson Welles' “The Trial,” adapted from the Kafka story of the same name, and every facet of the camerawork works toward producing this feeling; it’s classical in style, keeping an objective distance, moving subtly in lieu of wild pans and closeups. It almost has the sense of a police procedural. Penelope and John Mortimer adapted the screenplay from a novel by Merriam Modell, thanks to a reprinting of the work from The Feminist Press, a publisher whose “Femme Fatales” line of books is devoted to reprinting pulp novels by women. Modell was a graduate of Cornell University and, after living abroad, settled into life as a writer of short stories and suspense novels under the pen name Evelyn Piper. Many of her stories, Modell’s New York Times obituary reads, “had a common theme: the domestic conflicts faced by American families.” The film moves the setting from New York to London to further heighten the sense of loneliness and isolation Anne feels as she searches for her daughter, in a new place surrounded by strange people who mostly think she’s insane. 
The Arkansas Times Film Series is co-presented by Film Quotes Film, and is accompanied by a set of podcasts exploring the creative and historical contexts of the movies featured. Tonight's screening begins at 7 p.m., and tickets can be purchased in advance at Riverdale 10's website.

click to enlarge bunny-lake-is-missing-3.jpg





 

Friday, March 17, 2017 - 16:07:00

The art of the book, Cuban-style, at UA Little Rock's Ottenheimer Library

click to enlarge On display at the Ottenheimer Library. - CARLY MACHIN, UA LITTLE ROCK COMMUNICATIONS
  • Carly Machin, UA Little Rock Communications
  • On display at the Ottenheimer Library.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Ottenheimer Library has opened an exhibition, "Binding Communities: Cuba's Ediciones Vigia and the Art of the Book and Entrpreneurism," from the handmade collective in Matanzas, Cuba. Book artist Steven Miller of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa will give a talk on the show, which includes works by 71 artists, at 5 p.m. tonight, May March 17, in the Fine Arts Building, Room 161.

Here's some interesting information on the collective from UALR:

Ediciones Vigía (“Lighthouse Editions”) of Matanzas, Cuba, came of age during the so-called Cuban Special Period, a time of economic depression following the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout the 1990s, an extreme shortage of paper and materials – not to mention food, petroleum, medicine, and other basic resources – contributed to difficulties in publishing in Cuba. Vigía responded by seeking out diverse, talented young authors to publish in limited edition artists’ books (each printing is limited to 200 copies). Community members from Matanzas would gather together to assemble these books out of found materials, such as cardboard and fabric scraps, and butcher paper, which was less expensive and more available than bleached white paper. These precious books have quickly earned an artistic cachet that carries prestige for its authors and captivates international scholars and collectors.
Upcoming events related to the show include a talk by UALR professors David Clemons and Dr. Erin Finzer of UALR at 4:30 p.m. March 29 at the Applied Design Studio, University Plaza 300; "Up Close and Personal: Student Presentations of Select Vigia Books," 3 p.m. April 6 in Ottenheimer Library, Room 535; a screening of "Ediciones Vigia: Poetica visual/Visual Poetics" and tour with Finzer, 5 p.m. April 12, Ottenheimer Library, Room 535; and a closing reception and lecture by Vigia scholar and filmmaker Dr. Juanamaria Cordones Cook, 4:30 p.m. April 17, Ottenheimer Library, Room 535.

 

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