Quote of the week
"I'll be working and running point on the coaching search. I've been fortunate over the last 20 years to build a network of people in the college athletics ranks and in football. I'll lean on that network as well as others I've gotten to know in my time here at Arkansas who particularly are interested in finding a coach who fits with our state and fits within our region." — Julia Cromer Peoples, interim University of Arkansas at Fayetteville athletic director, discussing the process for hiring a new Razorback football coach at a press conference Friday evening, shortly after she fired Coach Bret Bielema. Many criticized Peoples and the university for firing Bielema so quickly after a 48-45 loss to Missouri. Some male commentators, including Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Wally Hall, seemed to suggest that a woman wasn't up to the task of selecting the new coach.
Deadline for the state
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox has threatened to shut down the state's birth certificate system Jan. 5 unless the state and plaintiffs in a lawsuit work out an agreement to accommodate same-sex parents.
The state has been dragging its feet, preferring to defer to the legislature. Deference to the legislature was more or less the import of an Arkansas Supreme Court decision that followed the U.S. Supreme Court's summary finding that Arkansas discriminated against same-sex couples. Parenthood is presumed in the issuance of birth certificates to opposite-sex married copies but not to same-sex couples. The state Supreme Court said in a split decision that a circuit court could eliminate words that made the law unconstitutional, but not otherwise change or add words.
Fox, whose rulings have riled the Supreme Court before, said the Arkansas court ruling was wrong. He took the unusual route of apologizing on behalf of the state for those denied equal treatment under the law on account of the state's actions. He also urged Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to personally take part in the ongoing talks. She had said she was busy and assistants could handle it.
All this could have been avoided had the legislature fixed the law in the 2017 legislative session. But resistance continues in the legislature and the attorney general's office to extending equal treatment to LGBT people.
New Little Rock fire chief
City Manager Bruce Moore has chosen Delphone Hubbard, a 22-year veteran of the Memphis Fire Department, to be Little Rock fire chief, succeeding Gregory Summers, who retired in August.
Moore, who interviewed two finalists, said Hubbard was dedicated to fire safety and community involvement. The other finalist was Brian Dunn, fire chief in San Angelo, Texas.
Hubbard rose through the ranks, serving since 2016 as division chief. Along the way, his service included time as an emergency medical technician.
Springfest to continue
Music show economics spelled the end to Riverfest after this year's edition, but Springfest, a family event offshoot that channeled the early days of Riverfest, will continue.
The Museum of Discovery announced this week that it will sponsor the third installment of the free event from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 7, at the River Market pavilions and the First Security Amphitheater.
The museum, just down the street from the River Market on President Clinton Avenue, will add some of its hands-on activities and "Awesome Science" shows to the event. Other elements include the Super Retriever Series, a dog parade, interaction with police, fire and other emergency responders, play attractions such as a giant slide and bounce houses; a construction zone; and performances by dance teams, cheerleaders and bands. Count on food trucks and vendors, too.