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Given the bleak election outlook, liberals have a good reason to turn to drink. If you'd like to do that in company of like-minded folks, Little Rock has an affiliate of Drinking Liberally, an informal social group where progressives get together periodically to talk and commiserate and plot for better days. It meets at 6 p.m. the second Thursday of each month (that's Sept. 9) at Khalil's at 110 S. Shackleford. Go to livingliberally.org for more information and a place to sign up for notices of Arkansas-specific meetings.

Easy exit

Little Rock National Airport has made it easier to leave the airport. It has installed machines in the terminal that allow you to pay for parking in airport lots before you get in your car. In theory, this should speed your way out of the parking lots and avoid being trapped in payment lines at ticket booths.

The Exit Express service allows payment by credit card when you insert your parking ticket. There are two locations – one across from Bag Belt 5 and the other near the escalators at the end of baggage claim.

Judge Mary Ann? Canceled.

Circuit Judge Mary Ann Gunn of Fayetteville has become something of a local TV celebrity by broadcasting her drug court on local public access channels. It apparently drew the attention of a commercial broadcaster in California interested in broadcasting the court nationally. Gunn sought advice from the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee and got quite a surprise.

The committee, two retired judges and a law professor, said not only was a tie-in with a for-profit company for national broadcast a bad idea, it also had many reservations about her existing broadcasts. Drug court is supposed to divert offenders — many youthful — from criminal proceedings, but the committee noted records of their court appearance are preserved forever on film. Once in that setting, the committee said, defendants and witnesses are reluctant to exercise their right to object to cameras. Wrote the committee in a 3-0 decision: "Does the taping, releasing to the general media and televising of drug court proceedings involving troubled and unfortunate individuals in a 'number one' ranked television show promote public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary? We think that the answer is that it does not." Gunn said she "respected" the advisory opinion. At press time, she was still weighing whether to continue the local broadcasts. Drug court next meets Sept. 13.

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