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Bang for bucks

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A peripatetic River Market denizen ran into a producer for the HGTV cable show on homes, gardening and decorating this week. The show “What You Get With the Money,” which compares real estate prices in towns across the country, is putting together a show on what you can get for $1 million. In Little Rock, that would be the luxury 14th floor condos in the First Security Bancorp building at Clinton Avenue and Sherman Street.

Don Winton, chief operating officer of Crews and Associates, a First Security subsidiary, declined to give out details because he needed to get an OK; the OK didn’t come before our deadline. But according to the show’s producer, the crew filmed the penthouse home of Diane Bray and Tom Dalton.

The show runs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on the HGTV Channel, Comcast Ch. 49.



A chamber for music

A local organization is trying to create a venue for chamber music in downtown Little Rock.

The plans are tentative, because they depend on negotiations to purchase a building for about $80,000. If that deal goes through, the group — called Bechstein Hall — will need at least $200,000 for renovations. They want to create an intimate performance hall with no more than 250 seats.

Although some money has been raised, the supporters want to finalize the deal on the location before mounting a public fund-raising campaign.



Will judges speak?

The Arkansas Family Council, a conservative religious lobby that has compiled surveys of political candidates for years, has added a new wrinkle this year.

It is adding judicial candidates to its voters guide and posing questions to the candidates. The Family Council is asking judicial candidates which of several former presidents (Kennedy, Carter, Reagan, Bush I) “best represents your political philosophy?” The same question is posed for several Supreme Court justices (Rehnquist, Roberts, Stevens, O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito).

Candidates are asked to rate their “judicial philosophy” on a 1-10 scale from 1 for “living document approach” to 10 for “strict constitutionalist.”

The questionnaire asks candidates about affiliations in the last 10 years with a long list of political and special interest organizations including the ACLU, NOW, Sierra Club, Handgun Control, Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family and churches. Candidates are also asked to submit a 100-word essay on “the proper role of the judicial branch.”

Contested judicial races on the ballot in May include two Supreme Court races and five circuit court races. The candidates’ answers, if any, will be included in the guides distributed shortly before the election, often at conservative churches.

Judicial ethical canons impose some general limits on speech by judges and candidates for judgeships, though one Supreme Court candidate, Judge Wendell Griffen, has argued strenuously, and successfully in court, that the First Amendment gives broad protection to political utterances by judges. Another Supreme Court candidate, Maumelle Judge Roger Harrod, has already been quoted as speaking disapprovingly of the state Supreme Court’s Lake View ruling, which pends before the court on which he seeks to serve. Harrod is opposing incumbent Justice Donald Corbin.



Scrambling

Rod Bryan, who’s been working for months on an independent candidacy for governor, is telling supporters he needs help fast. He says he has 5,100 signatures on ballot petitions and needs 4,900 more by April 30 to qualify.

He suggests that volunteers take petitions to Wal-Mart parking lots because “the Wal-Mart lot is always full and security doesn’t seem to mind us being there.”

Bryan, a music store owner who’s done much campaigning by bicycle, notes that he’ll be campaigning in the weeks ahead in a 1984 Mercedes diesel converted to run on waste vegetable oil.




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