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The guide to Arkansas entertainment

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Eat Arkansas

Leo's Greek Castle

More American than Greek, but still, pretty good.

kBird: Little Rock's gem of a Thai place

kBird feels like your friend's house in college, but with way better food.

Ceci's Chicken and Waffles relocates to Conway

Slightly odd ordering system aside, Ceci's serves mouth-watering food you'll want a regular date with

Dining Review

Give us mo' momo

June 29, 2017
Give us mo' momo
Katmandu Momo serves up crave-worthy Nepalese dumplings. /more/

Dining Search

To-Do List

Mobley at Maxine's

June 28, 2017
Mobley at Maxine's
Also, Pyro Science at Science After Dark, Goatwhore, Dave Rosen Big Band, Ginsu Wives, Arkansas Travelers vs. San Antonio Missions, Live Cinema from Brent Green and Sam Green, Dick Gregory at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Double-talk

A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Obamascare

Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments. /more/

Gene Lyons

Blaming Obama

A couple of months ago, on May 10, President Trump invited two Russian diplomats into the White House to celebrate his firing of FBI Director James Comey. /more/

Movie Reviews

Adieu, 'Silicon Valley'

June 29, 2017
Adieu, 'Silicon Valley'
Hello HBO, for T.J. Miller. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Summer hopes

June 22, 2017
Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere. /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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 16:11:00

Breakthrough: Health Department to issue birth certificates for both same-sex parents

Good news: The state Health Department has decided to do something it could have done months or years ago — issue birth certificates that carry the name of both parents of a same-sex married couple, biological mother or not.

This extends to same-sex couples the same presumption of parentage given to opposite-sex couples. The discriminatory treatment was struck down Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court. But as late as Tuesday afternoon, the attorney general's office was saying further hearings and statements from other parties would be necessary for the Arkansas Supreme Cout, which had upheld the discrimination, to change policy. The news release:

After conferring with the offices of the Governor and the Attorney General, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will now begin issuing birth certificates for same-sex couples who utilized artificial insemination and were married at the time of the birth of their child.

Amended birth certificates will only be issued in cases where the birth mother is listed on the certificate and no one is listed as the father.

This decision was based on the US Supreme Court's order in Pavan v. Smith on Monday, June 26, and ensures equal treatment under the assisted reproduction statute in Arkansas law.

Couples who have left their information with ADH will be contacted.
I've asked what prompted the sudden reversal. I also note that that coverage described doesn't cover all permutations of conception for children born to same-sex married couples. But, it might surprise you to know (as it did me), to learn that male married couples already have the right to both be listed as parents on a birth certificate.

I wrote yesterday about a married woman in a same-sex couple still facing a stonewall — and some brusque treatment — when she tried to obtain a birth certificate with the name of both female parents of her newborn.  No one at the state Health Department or attorney general's office displayed a sense of urgency about the matter. A letter from the attorney general to the Supreme Court was released late in the day Tuesday. It suggested comments from affected parties would be a good idea and expressed support for "gender neutral" birth certificates. That didn't promise speedy action, not only because of the time required for solicitation of comments and scheduling of a hearing, but also because the Supreme Court is about to go on summer vacation. Perhaps the appearance of foot-dragging on compliance with what is now the law of the land troubled someone. Perhaps, though official compassion for LGBT people has been and remains in short supply in Arkansas.

In short: If they could do this today, why didn't they do it Monday?

I've also sought comments from the attorney general and governor about today's decision.

UPDATE: Best I could get from the Health Department spokeswoman, Meg Mirivel:

After further discussion with the AG’s office and the Governor’s office, we were comfortable with making this change prior to the Arkansas Supreme Court issuing a final rule.

Judd Deere, spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge responded:

It's not a change of position. The case is still on remand and the State Supreme Court will need to act.
Uh, ok. Maybe they'll reverse the decision of the Arkansas Health Department, reached in consultation with Deere's boss and others, without Supreme Court guidance. (And, who knows what Justice Jo Hart might decide?)

Leigh Jacobs, who complained about continuing Arkansas resistance to the Supreme Court ruling, said this:

I am thrilled that the Arkansas Department of Health has expedited their implementation of the Supreme Court's ruling. I am happy that our state has moved toward equality for same-sex couples.

 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 15:06:00

Metroplan approves amendment to continue 30 Crossing planning

click to enlarge Susan Chambers, "Induced demand"
  • Susan Chambers, "Induced demand"
The board of directors of Metroplan voted today to approve an amendment to its long-range transportation plan to allow the state highway department to widen Interstate 30 in downtown Little Rock. The highway department still needs to weed through environmental assessments and chose a contractor, but the amendment's passage jumps a bureaucratic hurdle in what has become an acrimonious discussion over the widening of I-30.

The environmental study is scheduled to be completed by early 2018. If there are findings of significant environmental impact, there will be more environmental analysis conducted, but it will not necessarily halt the project.

While the amendment was supported by the Metroplan staff, it was harshly criticized in public meetings. Out of 118 public comments on the amendment, only seven spoke favorably of the amendment. The environmental impact study will require another public meeting. The Regional Planning Advisory Council, which advises Metroplan, also voted 10 to 8 to not support the amendment.

"We're headed down the path of a major widening of an interstate highway that cuts through the middle of our most populous area," said Jarod Varner, executive director of Rock City Metro, and the sole member of the Metroplan board to vote against the amendment. "It's going to lead our cities to design for cars and not people."

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola was the only other member of the board to speak on the amendment, which he defended at length, saying he had to be "pragmatic" while dealing with the "many, many competing issues."

"If we could do this all over again, the highway probably wouldn't be where it is now," he said. "I've got to analyze this in this in terms of, 'Is what we are moving towards better than what we've got now?'"

"I think we've got some opportunities here," Stodola said.

But, there has been a growing disagreement between RPAC — which has repeatedly questioned the expansion of I-30 — and the Metroplan board. Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, a member of RPAC, told the board the "democratic process is something more and more people expect to be a part of." She advised them, while not voicing either approval or disapproval of the amendment, that the opinions of the community and RPAC should not "merely [exist] to check off a federally required box."

"It's very important that the process be inclusive of the fact that there are citizens in the community who care about this and who want to have a voice in this who are not in the Chamber of Commerce and the business community," she told me. "That's a very important acknowledgment: We hear you, we see you, you matter, even though we're making this decision."

Stodola said the fact that so many did weigh in proves that the process was inclusive, even if the decision was to pass the amendment. The amendment does not mean major widening is a certainty, Stodola said. "[It] doesn't preclude some later decision that's a no-go," he said. "There are still many other issues that have to be tackled."

 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 14:59:00

Over the hump. Open line and daily news roundup

Three down, two to go. The open line and news report.l

/more/  

 

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 09:59:00

Hot Springs Documentary Film Fest names interim director

click to enlarge gerber.jpg

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) has named an interim executive director: Jennifer Gerber. Gerber has served as an Assistant Director for the Columbia University Film Festival, Media team Director for the Little Rock Film Festival, Curator of Low Key Arts' Arkansas Shorts film festival since 2014 and as Tech Director and Media Team Director for the HSDFF. She will lead the search for a permanent HSDFF executive director.

Gerber steps into a role formerly occupied by Courtney Pledger, who was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to direct the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) in March of this year.

“We are so grateful that Jen is willing to take the lead on the 2017 HSDFF and keep this transition as smooth as possible,” HSDFF Board Chairman Don Gooch said. “Her experience will help us continue to stage the well-regarded festival that our patrons have come to expect.”

 

Monday, June 26, 2017 - 09:57:00

Tedeschi Trucks Band lands at Robinson Center in September

click to enlarge tedeschi-trucks-band_photo-credit-tedeschi-trucks-band_band-general-2.jpg
The 12-piece, Grammy Award-winning band led by spouses Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks announced this morning that they'd include a stop at Robinson Center on the band's current tour. Greyhounds* open the concert, 7 p.m. Sunday, September 17.

Tickets range from $30-$80, and go on sale this Friday, June 30 at Ticketmaster or by calling 800-745-3000.

Here's a jam from the band's February CD/DVD release, "Live From The Fox Oakland."
*A previous version of this article stated that members of Hot Tuna and The Wood Brothers would join the Tedeschi Trucks Band on this stop, as they have on other stops along the band's "Wheels of Soul" tour.

 

Friday, June 23, 2017 - 09:15:00

Guns 'N' Roses launches SiriusXM channel

unnamed.jpg
Looking to brush up on your Guns 'N' Roses repertoire before Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan descend on War Memorial Stadium August 5th?

From Rolling Stone comes news of a GNR-focused SiriusXM channel devoted to the Los Angeles rockers.
Guns N' Roses Radio will air from July 13th to July 22nd on SiriusXM's channel 41, with the station playing GNR tracks alongside live performances, rarities and songs by artists that inspired Axl Rose and company.

 

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Central Arkansas Bar Guide

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Arkansas Reporter

Beyond repeal of Obamacare

June 29, 2017
Beyond repeal of Obamacare
The proposed Medicaid cuts in the new U.S. Senate bill could impact coverage for 400,000 Arkansas children. /more/
 

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