Chad Griffin The Hope native and strategist behind the successful lawsuit to overturn California's same-sex marriage ban was named president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the country. Under his leadership, HRC raised millions of dollars and won campaigns in Maine, Maryland and Washington to allow same-sex marriage.
Partne Daugherty The fierce defender of the Freedom of Information Act from Jacksonville used the law often in 2012 as a check on the police. Her knowledge of the FOI and computer skills uncovered a police video of Little Rock police actions that cast the disorderly conduct arrest of Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson in an entirely different light — and one very sympathetic to Thompson — than the arrest report. Later, she obtained a video that seems to aid the case of attorney and former congressional candidate Herb Rule against a DWI arrest in Fayetteville. Daugherty also won an appeal with the Arkansas Supreme Court of a lower court ruling that rejected her complaint that Jacksonville officials had violated the Freedom of Information Act in response to her request for records related to her stop for speeding.
The Three Stooges The extreme views of three Republican legislative candidates — Reps. Loy Mauch of Bismarck and Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro and former Rep. Charlie Fuqua of Batesville — gained international attention after the Arkansas Times and other media exposed some of their published writings. Among other highly offensive positions, Mauch compared Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Stalin, Hubbard suggested slavery may have been a "blessing in disguise" for blacks and Fuqua argued that, per God's teachings, parents should be allowed to execute rebellious children. All three lost their races and, if we're lucky, will never be heard from again.
The Arkansas Supreme Court Its contentiously divided 4-3 ruling that school districts can keep property tax dollars that exceed the state's per-student funding minimum revived the long legal and legislative debate over school funding. In his dissent, Chief Justice Jim Hannah wrote, "The state's carefully crafted constitutional system of state-funded public education is obliterated by the majority's decision." Gov. Beebe told reporters decorum prevented him from saying what he thought about the decision. Time — and possibly action by the General Assembly — will tell if this decision upsets the landmark Lakeview school funding case.
Cody Belew The Beebe native made it to the top eight in NBC's "The Voice," outperforming some 45,000 who auditioned. He found a kindred spirit in CeeLo Green, the rapper-turned-crooner who's never met a boa he didn't like. With Green's co-sign, he did bizarre (but killer) renditions on songs as diverse as Dolly Parton's "Jolene," Queen's "Somebody to Love" and Tina Turner's "The Best." For his run on the show, he got 30,000 likes on Facebook, where he describes himself as "a dreaming, coupon redeeming, world takeover scheming, destiny driven artist with a mad mad mission to blow your mind." And promises: "Good things to come."
Mike Ross We wouldn't go so far as to call it "not knowing we had a good thing until it's gone." Especially in recent years, former Rep. Mike Ross cast some terrible votes. For example, in a move that was solely political theater, he joined Republicans in voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Still, in just a couple of weeks, the extremist positions staked out by Rep. Tom Cotton, Ross's Fourth District successor, have us missing Ross mightily.
Gov. Mike Beebe Like last year, he makes this list for nothing in particular. We know, regardless of his successor, we'll miss his always competent leadership.
Bill Clinton He made the case for reelecting President Obama much better than anyone else — including Obama. His Democratic National Convention speech was virtuosic. Maybe he can come explain "arithmetic" to the Arkansas General Assembly.
Jeff Nichols The 33-year-old Little Rock native was the youngest filmmaker in competition at the prestigious Cannes film festival this year. He screened "Mud," an Arkansas-set coming-of-age drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey and drew strong critical praise. The film will debut nationally sometime this year.
Jason Moore The Fayetteville native, who was nominated for a Tony in 2004 for directing the Broadway musical "Avenue Q," made his big screen directing debut with "Pitch Perfect," a comedy about a college a cappella group. It landed on a number of year-end best lists and drew well at the box office, earning $76 million on a budget of just $17 million.
The low-wage workers of Arkansas As a reader suggested, "they do all the thankless work for us in bringing us low food costs, changing our elderly parents dirty diapers, cleaning up the messes we leave in hotel rooms, stocking the shelves at our stores, etc. They do this day-in, day-out for low wages, no medical insurance and no dental insurance. Then the powers that be dump on them as moochers and takers when they have to rely on ERs for medical treatment because the threshold for Medicaid is so low in this state."
Bobby Petrino Let's chalk his motorcycle crash and all the dirty business that followed as a terrible April Fool's joke and vow to never speak of it again, OK?
John L. Smith He led the Hogs in defeats against lowly Louisiana-Monroe (in Little Rock!) and Alabama (52-0!), confused the University of Arkansas with the University of Alabama and told us to "Smile!"