by Max Brantley
It's open. (And, yes, i jumped the gun in my original headline. Hard to keep track of the days sometimes.) Some odds and ends:
* RASH OF SEX CHARGES IN CLINTON: Channel 4 reports the arrest of a Clinton Junior High coach for having sex with a minor — the third employee to be arrested recently.
* POLITICAL RUMBLINGS: Multiple sources confirm that tension is stirring within the Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus. Whether this is a garden variety personality clash or something rooted in real financial issues, as has been alleged, remains to be seen. Calls have been placed, but no responses from officials so far, except that I've learned the Democratic Party is working on some guidance for all its auxiliary groups about conduct of meetings, sound reporting and organizing to help candidates.
* INNOCENCE PROJECT: I got a note today about a family's effort to persuade courts of the erroneous conviction in a Magnolia murder case. Details here.
* OUT AND PROUD: A salute today to a Republican legislator in Missouri, Zach Wyatt, who announced that he was gay and also issued a powerful statement opposing one of those "Don't Say Gay" bills that would prevent mention of LGBT issues in public schools. He's called on Republican colleagues to join him in opposition. Good man. Any Arkansas Republicans like to send an attaboy?
* WE GET QUESTIONS: Do you think someone should run for high political office in Arkansas if there's a risk someone still possesses a male pinup calendar in which the potential candidate, then in high school, wore something similar to a jockstrap? Would the answer be different if the question concerned a woman politico and a skimpy outfit?
* LIFE WITHOUT MEANS LIFE WITHOUT: Following is a summary of a new attorney general opinion. It hints at the problems — very expensive ones — prisons face as the growing population of lifers reach the final stages of their lives:
Opinion Number: 2012-011 Date Sent: 05/02/201
Requestor: Hobbs, Ray
Director, Arkansas Dept of Correction
QUESTION: Is an inmate who has been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligible for medical parole if s/he is "permanently incapacitated" or "terminally ill" as defined in A.C.A. 12-29- 404(a)(1), without receiving executive clemency reducing the sentence to a term of years?
RESPONSE: In my opinion, an inmate who is under a sentence of death or life imprisonment without parole is not eligible for medical parole under A.C.A. § 12-29-404, regardless of commutation of the sentence to a term of years. See opinion for discussion of the relevant statutes, including A.C.A. 5-4-607; 16-93-604; 16-93-607; 16-93-613; 16-93-614.
Also: You might be interested to note that the a.g. gave some anti-abortion legislators some advice on federal supremacy and the constitution in their ongoing effort to keep birth control pills out of the hands of Arkansas women. Where laws conflict, federal court will provide justice. As when Arkansas tried to prevent a retarded teen raped by her father from obtaining an abortion, as once infamously happened.
And from Fort Smith comes news of a city effort to require a permit before you speak in a public park. Sounds like a Hyde Park Corner session is called for in Fort Baptist. The a.g. ducked this one.