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Documents filed in a lawsuit brought by Rep. Julie Mayberry against the ABC Board regarding their decision to approve a permit for a liquor store within 1000 feet of a school, a violation of state law by the way, indicate that the ABC only wants to adhere to opinions of the Arkansas Attorney General when it benefits them.

ABC staff attorney Mary Robin Casteel questioned the relevance of an opinion made by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Rutledge issued an opinion (prepared by an assistant), Opinion No. 2015-040 which clearly stated that a daycare center, under Arkansas law, was to be considered a schoolhouse in connection with the ABC's 1000 foot requirement. The opinion cited case law that backed up her opinion.

In the ABC's response, Casteel stated that the ABC Board back in 1993 defined what they considered a schoolhouse to be.  The ABC Board's definition is flawed, in fact it is in direct opposition of the case law that Rutledge cited (predating the ABC's definition by some 60 years), and if the ABC is banking on this holding up in court they have lost already.

Casteel also makes an issue that the opinion was issued after the ABC approved the permit in question.  Surely the AG's Office could argue that the same finding would have been made if that opinion had been issued at an earlier date. 

If called as a witness for the Plaintiff, we feel sure that the Assistant Attorney General that drafted the opinion, James Madison "Matt" Barker III, would be able to state that he would have reached the same opinion even if he had made it on a different, earlier date.

ABC Administration Director Bud Roberts lambasted the daycare in a written report and questioned that it offered any type of educational curriculum.  Roberts apparently holds the opinion that a daycare center is nothing more than a babysitter. 


The day care center provides information about their "curriculum":

Heck, another state agency, the Department of Human Services, has recognized and licensed the daycare center in question as a place where early childhood education takes place. Maybe DHS will seek to intervene in the suit to defend the actions of it's Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education.

Clearly Roberts has little knowledge or experience concerning daycare centers and their importance in the early childhood education of the children that attend them.

It is highly amusing that the ABC has relied on opinions of the Attorney General to routinely deny the public information that is usually releasable under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, but in the matter thinks Rutledge's opinion is a bunch of baloney.

We wonder if the Attorney's Generals Office will seek to intervene in the case to defend the opinion issued by Rutledge as it has been attacked by the ABC? They might as well, a circus can never have too many clowns.



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