Fit for hanging
Gov. Mike Huckabee will be hanged in the Capitol on Jan. 9, he joked at the unveiling of his portrait last week. The oil will replace the portrait of Huckabee’s predecessor Jim Guy Tucker over the fireplace in the Governor’s reception area. Huckabee is depicted in a suit and blue tie seated next to a desk; he said he thought that’s how visitors to his office will best remember him. The portrait looks somewhat bigger than the one of Tucker it will replace. Asked if it were, Nancy Harris, the soft-spoken painter of the portrait, said the canvasses were exactly the same — 41 1/2 by 48 1/5 inches. It must be the painting’s dressy frame — its molding is ornately carved wood — that makes it loom larger.
Gay candidates make history
Though voters around the country continue to generally express opposition to same-sex marriage, there’s growing approval of gay candidates. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund says 67 fund-endorsed candidates were elected at the local, state and federal level this year, many of them the first openly gay or lesbian candidates elected in their jurisdictions.
The fund touted 10 “key victories,” including the election of Kathy Webb in Little Rock to a state legislative seat succeeding term-limited Rep. Sam Ledbetter. The Victory Fund said Webb is the first openly gay person elected any office in the state. The key word is “openly.”
Other victories around the country include state legislators in Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Washington and Iowa and a second gay justice on the Oregon Supreme Court.
Enough to live on
Before too long, the city of Little Rock and the Pine Bluff School District may be paying their employees a living wage. ACORN (Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now) says the two are being studied as possible targets for the next “living wage” effort in Arkansas.
Jefferson County ACORN led the movement for adoption of a living-wage ordinance in Pine Bluff. Voters approved the ordinance, 7,629 to 3,469, at the general election Nov. 7.
The ordinance requires that city employees and the employees of contractors who do business with the city be paid a living wage. A living wage, which is more than the legal minimum wage, is supposed to allow workers and their families to meet basic needs — food, shelter, clothing, health care, transportation. The Pine Bluff ordinance establishes a living wage of $9.30 an hour with benefits, and $10.55 an hour without benefits.
No major effort to defeat the Pine Bluff ordinance was made, an ACORN spokesman said, but the Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce announced its opposition to the ordinance and the Pine Bluff Commercial, the city’s daily newspaper, editorialized against it.
Two public employers in Arkansas already pay a living wage — the Central Arkansas Library System and the Hot Springs library system. They adopted the policy voluntarily.