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Mex for the people

April 19, 2018
Mex for the people
Cantina Cinco de Mayo hits the right notes in downtown LR. /more/

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Ernest Dumas

Week That Was

After the wildest week of the wildest presidency in history, the clouded future suddenly unfolds more clearly and, yes, nearer. That includes the end of the Trump presidency. /more/

Gene Lyons

Trump and Comey

In the Bizarro World of the Trump administration, it's only fitting that the president serves as publicity director for James Comey's big book tour. (In the old Superman comics, Bizarro World was an upside-down reality where wickedness was virtue and vice versa.) Supposedly, Trump's stomping around the White House and various golf courses red-faced with anger, emitting smoke from his ears. /more/

Movie Reviews

'Isle of Dogs' unmistakably Wes Anderson

April 12, 2018
'Isle of Dogs' unmistakably Wes Anderson
The actors deliver their lines drolly, portioning out emotions in pinches rather than with scoops. The stories flirt with magical realism. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Consistency

April 19, 2018
Dave Van Horn has had some fine baseball squads in his tenure as Arkansas's head coach. He took over for the well-regarded Norm DeBriyn in 2003, had his overachieving bunch in Omaha the next spring, and then took the Diamond Hogs back to college baseball's Valhalla three more times over a seven-season span from 2009 to 2015. But what happened in 2016 might well have proved his genuine value to the athletic program at large. /more/

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Friday, April 20, 2018 - 09:34:00

Arkansas's unemployment rate holds steady in March; still slightly below national figure

The Arkansas unemployment rate was unchanged from February to March at 3.8 percent, the state Department of Workforce Services said this morning in its monthly jobs report.

That's slightly below the national figure of 4.1 percent, the agency said.

The state's official jobless rate has been below the 4 percent mark since mid-2016.

Here's the full press release.

 

Friday, April 20, 2018 - 09:05:00

Isaac Henry faces controversy over residency in state House race in North Little Rock

HENRY: Has connections to two homes, one not in the district where he is running.
  • HENRY: Has connections to two homes, one not in the district where he is running.
Speaking of residency disputes in House races KARK reports on some oppo research that has been making the rounds that Isaac Henry, a candidate for House District 37, may actually be a resident of another district. He has connections to two homes, but KARK reports that, at least by outward appearances, he seems to live with his family in a home that is in a neighboring district.

Henry, a former assistant to North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith and the current director of the city's Fit 2 Live program, is facing off in the Democratic primary against Jamie Scott of North Little Rock, the director of youth services for Pulaski County. Current Rep. Eddie Armstrong announced last fall that he would not seek reelection for the seat, which includes parts of North Little Rock, Maumelle, and Jacksonville.

Henry and his family live — at least a good chunk of the time — in a house that his wife Tameka owns in North Little Rock that is located in a neighboring district, District 38. He and his family also spend time, he says, at a house owned by his uncle in District 37, where Henry is registered to vote (however, his voting status is listed as inactive, presumably because he did not return the voter information card sent to that address).

KARK reports that one of the properties seems to be more of a home:
The one in District 37 appears to have no inhabitants, with a blanket stuffing a shattered window and no answer at the door or from neighbors.

The house in District 38 looks like a family lives there, with a basketball hoop sitting in the driveway. After a knock went unanswered, a neighbor answered our question.

"Isaac Henry: great guy, nice guy, family man," said Charles Mitchell, who lives across the street.

However, Mitchell cannot vote for Henry.

"If he ends up moving in the other district, I guess that's where they'll need him at," Mitchell said. "But in the meantime, he's a great neighbor."
While this doesn't prove anything, it is unavoidable in watching the video footage to notice that the District 38 property looks significantly nicer and larger than the District 37 property (see pictures below).

Henry told KARK that both homes are residences, describing an office in the District 37 home as his campaign "war room." He said the family splits time between the two homes, and sleeps in the District 37 home around half the time. Henry gave them a tour of that home: 

A couch and TV furnish the front room, his office takes up the next and behind curtains, are three bedrooms. He filled the first with supplies, the second with a bunk bed and the third with a bed. ...

"I spend the majority of my time here honestly," he said. 
Scott could try to file a lawsuit to get Henry off the ballot, but there has been no indication that she will do so. I suspect that if this was a battle between a Democrat and a Republican, this accusation would wind up in court, but things get stickier when you have an intra-party squabble in a primary. While there is no evidence that Scott or her campaign directly shopped this around, it does seem like someone has concluded that the best way to approach this issue is to litigate in the media rather than the courtroom.

Scott released the following statement to KARK:
This race is about the people who live in House District 37; it is not about me or my opponent. Since the day I announced my candidacy for the House of Representatives, I have focused on running a positive campaign to improve education standards, build up our infrastructure, and bring good-paying jobs to District 37. I take this work seriously. That is why I have filed timely reports and met all legal requirements. I spend every moment I can making calls, knocking on doors, and meeting voters. District 37 is my home and when this campaign is over, I want to represent every resident of the district.
The Arkansas Constitution demands that members of the General Assembly must be residents of their district for at least one year preceding their election. The particulars of Henry's situation do seem to leave room for a legal challenge. The lawsuit that was filed against Rep. Marcus Richmond yesterday, for example, argues that residence has been established by the courts as meaning a permanent home and domicile. The law on voter qualification (a separate but plausibly related issue) states that a person can only have one domicile at a time and "a change in domicile is made only by the act of abandonment, joined with the intent to remain in another place." A lawsuit could argue, as it does in the Richmond challenge, that Henry must sell and abandon the home in District 38 and have no intent to return in order to establish the District 37 property as his residence.

In 2000, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that J.F. Valley was ineligible for the ballot in a Democratic primary in a somewhat similar residency challenge lodged by his opponent, State Rep. Arnell Willis:

"The focus here is on the word “resided.”   In Charisse v. Eldred, 252 Ark. 101, 102-03, 477 S.W.2d 480, 480 (1972), we said that, “[i]n determining qualifications of voters and public officials, the word ‘residence’ has usually been treated as if it were synonymous with ‘domicile’ and dependent to some extent upon the intention of the person involved.”  “The determination of residence is a question of intention, to be ascertained not only by the statements of the person involved, but also from his conduct concerning the matter of residence.”  Phillips v. Melton, 222 Ark. 162, 164, 257 S.W.2d 931, 932 (1953)."
That case ended up hinging on testimony of various utility company representatives and so on. If a lawsuit was filed against Henry, the case would presumably probe his "intention...from his conduct concerning the matter of residence." I'll leave it to the legal experts to parse whether his 50-50 argument splitting time between two homes would fly. I imagine such a lawsuit would include this quote from his neighbor in District 38: "If he ends up moving in the other district, I guess that's where they'll need him at. But in the meantime, he's a great neighbor."

Here's the Henry family's home in District 38:

click to enlarge screen_shot_2018-04-20_at_10.01.24_am.png

Here's the home in District 37 that Henry listed as his residence in his candidate filing:

click to enlarge where_isaac_henry_says_he_lives.jpg

 

Friday, April 20, 2018 - 07:59:00

Residency disputes in House races: GOP seeks to remove Morgan Wiles from ballot, Democrats seek to remove Rep. Marcus Richmond

click to enlarge RICHMOND: Lawsuit alleges he used dog breeding registry business to try to fake residency and sneak into district.
  • RICHMOND: Lawsuit alleges he used dog breeding registry business to try to fake residency and sneak into district.


Disputes over residency are erupting in a few House races, with each party's attorneys bringing a lawsuit this week aiming to try to oust an opposing candidate from the ballot.

The executive director of the state Republican Party filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court to remove Democrat Morgan Wiles from the ballot, alleging that he does not live in the district. Wiles is challenging incumbent Rep. Richard Womack (R-Arkadelphia) for the District 18 seat, which includes parts of Clark, Dallas, Garland and Hot Spring counties.

An attorney for the state Democratic Party, meanwhile, yesterday filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court on behalf of a citizen in District 21, which includes parts of Garland, Montgomery, Perry, Polk, Sebastian, Scott and Yell counties. The suit asks that Rep. Marcus Richmond, the Republican incumbent, be removed from the ballot, alleging that he used the address of a dog breeding registry he's affiliated with to try to sneak into the district when he actually lives in a different district. Richmond, who was recently tapped to be the GOP House Majority Leader, is being challenged by Democrat Stele James of Gravelly.

Election season!

Here's the detective work the oppo squads turned up for the courts: The GOP lawsuit states that Wiles listed his permanent address as a location on 9th St. in Mountain Pine, but his name does not appear on the current property tax records for that address. The current owner is someone named Arvie Wiles, according to the lawsuit, a fact I mention mostly because that is a delightful name. The lawsuit states that on voter registration records, Morgan Wiles' address is listed as a Hot Springs location that is not in the district. That property was purchased by Morfe Properties in 2016.

Wiles is CEO and co-owner of Morfe Properties, the parent company of Morfe Manufacturing, which has a major footprint in Mountain Pine, where Wiles grew up.

The gist of the suit is that Wiles doesn't own the property he listed as his residence (that would be Arvie, presumably a family member), but his company owns a property that was listed as his residence on his previous voter registration. This seems like thin gruel to me, but who knows. Wiles told the D-G he had copies of the lease and utility bills at the Mountain Pine property (where he presumably rents), and that he has lived there off and on for seven years.

The Democratic Party predicted the lawsuit against Wiles will be dismissed. Yesterday, an attorney for the party brought a different lawsuit on behalf of Michael Forrester, a registered voter in Scott County, in District 21, against Rep. Marcus Richmond.

The lawsuit alleges that Richmond has not been a resident of the district but rather resides with his wife at a house which they own together on Lady Bug Lane in Harvey, at an address located in District 74. Richmond has tried to squeeze himself into the district using the address of a dog breeding registry business that he is affiliated with, according to the lawsuit, even as he lives in and pays taxes on his actual family home in another district.

Richmond is registered to vote at an address in Harvey on S & G Circle Lane, which is in the district and which Richmond listed as his address on his candidate filing. But the lawsuit alleges that Yell County land records show that Richmond does not live in or own the land at that address. The S & G circle property instead serves as an office building for America's Pet Registry, the family-owned business where Richmond served as CEO until his wife took over. The property is owned by Sheila and Garry Garner, who are also affiliated with the company. The dog business building, according to the lawsuit, is not Richmond's residence at all.

"The land records prove there is no such residence at 10509 S&G Circle Lane that Marcus Richmond resides in, owns or pays taxes upon as his family home and residence," the lawsuit states. "Instead, Marcus Richmond owns and pays taxes on
his family home in Scott County in District 74."

Further muddying the waters, for his part, Richmond told the D-G that he moved into the district in 2013 to an entirely different location, in Gravelly, where he and his wife live in a house they rent on Highway 28. They periodically go back to the family home they own in District 74 for business purposes because they get better cell reception there, he said. However, Richmond listed the dog business building as his address on his candidate filing with the Secretary of State's office, not the rental property in Gravelly.

The Arkansas Constitution demands that members of the General Assembly must be residents of their district for at least one year preceding their election. The lawsuit against Richmond argues that residence has been established by the courts as meaning a permanent home and domicile. Because the law on voter qualification states that a person can only have one domicile at a time and "a change in domicile is made only by the act of abandonment," the lawsuit argues that, "To have had changed his permanent home and domicile, Marcus Richmond must have had sold and abandoned his District 74 home, and intended to never go back to the District 74 home. ... It is Richmond’s burden to prove he sold and abandoned his family home and never intends or did go back to his family home."

On the topic of Richmond's dog business that the lawsuit alleges was used for a dummy address, readers of this blog will recall that Richmond has used his power in the legislature to fight efforts to regulate dog breeders — what he called "an Animal Rights extremist agenda" (Arkansas of course is well known for horrific puppy mills). Here's more on Richmond's company, which has existed since 1992 to provide a stamp of approval for breeders who don't follow American Kennel Club protocol.

Richmond has also made headlines for his clamorous support of legislation to stop Sharia Law from coming to Arkansas. Though that problem doesn't exist, Richmond said it was worth passing legislation to fight it to stop even the possibility of innocent children being kidnapped out of Arkansas. He also said, "I can assure that in places like Pakistan, places like Saudi Arabia, and many of these other countries, there is nothing there that is civilized," then raged that they were very bad drivers. He's a character.

 

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Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 14:10:00

Revolution to close its restaurant, but music continues

click to enlarge mvimg_20180419_141402.jpg

Owner-operators Chris King and Suzon Awbry announced yesterday that they will close the restaurant portion of Revolution, the live music venue and "Taco & Tequila Lounge" at 300 President Clinton Ave. in downtown Little Rock's River Market area.

The Rev Room music venue will remain open, and for the time being, King told us, "we just operate inside of the actual music venue." The river-facing patio and restaurant side of Revolution had been for sale for a few years, King told us, and a buyer had been found.
 
click to enlarge revolution_logo-colored.png

No word yet on who that buyer is, but we'll update this post when that information becomes available.

King added:
"We are very thankful that we were able to operate in that space for 12 years, and we appreciate all of the love and support. Looking forward to working hard on continuing to bring great concert events to the area."  

 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 15:46:00

Food Truck Friday feeds start this week

click to enlarge retro-food-truck_23-2147530708.jpg
Food Truck Fridays, the Downtown Little Rock Partnership's project to use food to lure folks to enjoy the Creative/Technical Corridor on Main Street, kicks off its season Friday, April 20, at Fifth and Main streets. Hours are 10:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Food trucks will continue to serve at the spot every Friday through May 18.

The DLRP also announced the 2018 Food Truck Festival will be Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and a new food truck event, the East Village Street Food Jam, will be held from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 16 on the lawn of the Clinton Presidential Center.


 

Monday, April 16, 2018 - 14:26:00

Sculptor Kaminsky is new Arkansas Living Treasure

click to enlarge Kaminsky at his "World Peace Prayer" sculpture.
  • Kaminsky at his "World Peace Prayer" sculpture.

Sculptor and jeweler Hank Kaminsky, 79, of Fayetteville, has been named the 2018 Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Arts Council.

Kaminsky is perhaps mostly known for his spherical bronze "The World Peace Prayer" fountain sculpture in front of the Fayetteville Town Center, just off the square.

Kaminsky will be honored at a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 1 at the town center, 15 W. Mountain St. Experience Fayetteville is co-sponsor. Reservations are required; email faye.croy@arkansas.gov or call 501-683-4365 by April 23.

Read more about Kaminsky in the following news release.

/more/  

 

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