Monica Potts

Monica Potts is an Arkansas-based writer, currently writing a book about the women of her rural hometown.

Recent Articles

Big Mess

A lawsuit against a Utah polygamy law is a nightmare for liberals and conservatives alike.

(AP Photo/TLC, Bryant Livingston, File)
Last year, at the end of the first season of Sister Wives , a reality show about a polygamist family in Utah, Kody Brown took a fourth wife, Robyn. Rain threatened to cancel the religious ceremony. Meri, Brown's first wife and the only one to whom he is legally married, commented on the gloomy sky, "That's how my heart felt." Before then, Brown, a 43-year-old ad salesman, his three wives, and their 13 children had achieved an equilibrium of sorts. Robyn and her three kids threw this off balance, but welcoming Robyn was a nonnegotiable duty for the other women. "At that time, it really establishes itself as a patriarchal relationship," says Felice Batlan, a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and a fan of the show. Bringing in a new wife did more than disrupt the family's peace. It made the Browns the target of a criminal investigation under the anti-bigamy law that Utah had to adopt in order to enter the union. As far as the state is concerned, Meri is Brown's only wife, but...

(Not) Talking Taxes in New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's high popularity has meant that he hasn't had to court the Democratic base, so he has chosen to target public-sector unions.

Andrew Cuomo had many potential lines of attack when he decided to run for governor of New York last year, but he eschewed most of them. Cuomo--then the state's attorney general--chose not to rail against the state Legislature, where a number of rogue politicians had mucked up the works term after term. He did not follow in the footsteps of another former attorney general turned governor, Eliot Spitzer, who had portrayed himself as a champion of the people, touting his record of taking down big financial players who'd abused the system. Nor, despite the state's progressive history and largely progressive electorate, did Cuomo--a former housing secretary in the Clinton administration and the son of legendary Gov. Mario Cuomo--make a case for closing the state's budget gap by enacting a more progressive tax code as well as spending cuts the way that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the state next door, Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, did. But Cuomo's victory, unlike Malloy's, was...

Talking Taxes in Connecticut

The state's current governor, Dannel Malloy, has taken it upon himself to make Connecticut's taxes more progressive.

The state's current governor, Dannel Malloy, has taken it upon himself to make Connecticut's taxes more progressive.
There are two Connecticuts. One is made up of port cities and working-class burgs so decimated by deindustrialization they could be mistaken for parts of the Rust Belt. The other is the one that more commonly springs to mind: the old-money land of yachts, weekend homes, luxury cars, and faux-quaint small towns. In the battle for resources, the old money (or just plain big money) usually wins. The state didn't have an income tax at all until 1991, when one-term Gov. Lowell Weicker fulfilled a campaign promise by establishing one. But even that tax provided a loophole for wealthy denizens of the state's southwestern corner, from which many residents commute to banking and other high-paying jobs in New York City. So, it may seem surprising that Connecticut's current governor, Dannel Malloy, has taken it upon himself to make the state's taxes more progressive. As mayor for 14 years of the suburban city of Stamford in the wealthiest corner of lower Fairfield County, home to some of the...

Ever the Accused

Few cases start off as clear-cut as the one against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the newly resigned International Monetary Fund chief who is now facing rape charges in Manhattan. A cleaning woman told police that Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her when she walked into his hotel suite at Sofitel New York on the afternoon of May 14. She fled and told fellow employees, who called 911. But the clarity was quickly muddied. Strauss-Kahn's attorney indicated that his client would claim any sex act was consensual. The press began to question the accuser's honesty: Strauss-Kahn, who was the front-runner for the Socialist Party's nomination for president in his home country of France, floated the idea that there was a plot to bring him down, and the press here and in France happily ran with it. Indeed, the French treated the whole case with a dismissive attitude. Jack Lang, former French President Francois Mitterrand's minister of culture, called it "overblown": "Really, nobody died in that hotel...

A Change in the Pecking Order

The Department of Justice's lawsuit against a Shenandoah Valley chicken company fulfills half a government promise.

Adult chickens at a farm in Missoula, Montana. Flickr/Katie Brady.
Mike Weaver, a chicken farmer who runs a local farmers' association in West Virginia, knows about 120 chicken farmers in the Shenandoah Valley who could lose their farms. Earlier this month, the Big Ag company they contract with, Tyson, sold its chicken processing-plant to George's Family Farms, Incorporated, bringing the number of chicken processing plants there down from three to two. To smooth the deal, George's offered an extended contract to all of Tyson's farmers, but the sale leaves George's with control over nearly half the area's chicken market. Six months from now, George's could decide to slash costs and sever contracts with farmers. It could cut farmers' pay, demand higher productivity, or change the terms of the contracts. Since George's is now one of only two plants in the valley, and the other, Pilgrim's Pride in West Virginia, is operating at full capacity, the farmers would be out of luck. That scenario is what prompted the Department of Justice to file an antitrust...

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