Christian Arkansas Transit Authority | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Christian Arkansas Transit Authority

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 10:24 AM

It would appear the Central Arkansas Transit Authority is going to fight to the death against the atheists. I hope they lose in federal court and pay still more money they can ill afford to lose for this offense to the First Amendment.

You remember that the United Coalition of Reason wanted to put ads on local buses — as they'd done in dozens of other markets — with this message: "Are you good without God? Millions are." CATA's lawyer now calls this benign statement "intentionally inflammatory."

The bus company's ad agent, Lydia Robertson, wanted no part of this advertising, as her emails made clear. Between her pugnacious attorney and a confiscatory damage deposit of $35,000, she did all she could do to discourage the ads. Robertson also badly overstated, according to the account of CATA director Betty Wineland, the handful of incidents involving these ads when they ran in other cities. A couple were defaced with markers and such. CATA's lawyer terms this a "history of terrorism." Which is about like saying bathroom graffiti is terrorism.

Wineland insists the bus company is open to the advertising. That stretches the truth. The latest development is a letter from the bus company's lawyer, Jess Sweere. Oh, sure, the bus company will run the ad. And without a damage deposit. BUT .... they insist on indemnification against damage and require proof of liability insurance (a non-refundable damage deposit by another name). As you can see from e-mails here, the atheists contend the bus company doesn't burden other advertisers with these expensive conditions. I have asked Wineland to demonstrate otherwise. She said the ad agency last week offered a contract identical to those offered others. But the legal coordinator for the bus ad campaign says he's received nothing new and Wineland later said that, while work on a new contract continued, it had not been submitted yet. If financial conditions were applied only to the atheists' ad, it is discrimination based on religious content. Sweere said he would continue to fight the lawsuit (and also negotiate, but CATA's negotiations to date have been primarily of the you-give-we-take variety). For a flavor of negotiations from Robertson's end, try this.

CATA's legal fees are going to exceed any expenses the bus company likely would have faced from the ads. But: you can't be sure that the foot-dragging and discrimination the bus company has engaged in because of pressure, real or perceived, from good Christians won't inspire some nutcase to action thanks to all the publicity. This all could have been avoided — and probably passed without notice — if CATA had simply taken the money and run the damn ads.

UPDATE: I've continued to talk with Betty Wineland and CATA's attorney, Sweere. They say talks with the atheists' local lawyer have continued on a settlement of the issue and they've asked the advertisers what an acceptable set of contract terms would be. Sweere said he remained hopeful.

Tags: ,

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments (29)

Showing 1-29 of 29

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-29 of 29

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Judge won't back effort to stop demolition of bridge at Clarendon

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that a deadline to work out a deal to save the abandoned U.S. 79 bridge at Clarendon had passed with no deal between preservationists and the state. It was no surprise.
    • Jul 19, 2018
  • Batesville schools prepare to arm up

    Batesville is the latest in what is likely to be a long list of school districts opting to put more guns on campus in the hands of staff members who've undergone a state training course. KARK reports.
    • Jul 19, 2018
  • More Republicans feel heat on GOP tax deadbeat

    Three weeks too late, Republican Rep. Charlie Collins has announced that his Republican colleague, Rep. Mickey Gates of Hot Springs, should resign from the House and quit the race for re-election because of six pending counts of felony failure to pay state income taxes. Gates, you remember, hasn't paid state taxes for 15 years and has deadbeat the state on withholding payments, too.
    • Jul 19, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Women's March planned in Arkansas to mark Trump inauguration

    Speaking of Donald Trump and in answer to a reader's question: There will be a women's march in Arkansas on Jan. 21, the day after inauguration, as well as the national march planned in Washington.
    • Dec 30, 2016
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Your daily dose of Jason Rapert

    Sen. Jason Rapert really, really didn't like it when a KATV reporter asked him about the hypocrisy of his political arguments.
    • Feb 4, 2017

Most Viewed

  • Lawsuit seeks halt of Interstate 630 widening work, sees link to 30 Crossing project

    A federal lawsuit was filed today to halt work on an expansion of Interstate 630 between Baptist Medical Center and University Avenue because the Arkansas Department of Transportation didn't perform an environmental assessment of the work. UPDATE: The state refused service of the lawsuit, an unusual happenstance that a federal judge might hear about Thursday.

Most Recent Comments



© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation