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January 9, 2013

Vol 39 • No 19

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Arkansas A+ puts art in academics

Thea Foundation's teaching model puts kids in the mood to learn.

Mel White's 'Angry Birds' lays out feathered facts

Angry Birds, as everyone with an electronic device and time on his hands knows, despise those blinking pigs. They'll hurl themselves at those swine to keep them away from their eggs.

Bent out of shape

Although I am grateful to be included in the yoga community with being so new, I really did not appreciate this comment in the "Yoga yoga yoga" article (Jan. 2): "The only thing about yin, or at least Stacey's yin class, is that it practically ignores the upper body. After class, you're floating from the waist down, and from the waist up, you're still tight as a fiddle."

Follow your legislator

Nearly half of the state legislators who will convene at the State Capitol on Jan. 14 for the start of the 89th General Assembly maintain Twitter accounts. By our count, that includes 53 state representatives and 19 state senators.

He did, she did

"This question may be due to the difference in generations. My 31-year-old friend Cheree says she learned in college that 'she' is now the standard generic pronoun to use."

It was a good week for Arkansas State football

It was also a good week for a mea culpa, the case for Medicaid expansion and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson. It was a bad week for Rep. Tom Cotton.

AG: Not influenced by text messages

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel insisted Tuesday in a field-all-questions news conference that the potential release of personal text messages in a Garland County homicide case didn't prompt his decision to admit to a past affair with Hot Springs lawyer Andi Davis.

Could we agree on ethics?

Two separate Arkansas legislators have spoken to me in recent days about their interest in pushing public ethics legislation.

Getting serious

One of my resolutions for the new year is to fill this space only with serious commentary. No more frivolity here. There's been entirely too much of that for 20 years now.

Feeling safe

Government by crisis (always crashing in the same car)

A fracking feature

Damon's 'Promised Land' avoids polemic.

Shawn James at Maxine's

Also, "The Metal Children" at the Weekend Theater.

Gun nut club loses Jay Dickey and Mike Ross

When gun-industry vassals like Jay Dickey and Mike Ross throw in the towel, you start to think that Congress may finally be ready to try to stop the carnage in schools, churches and public spaces by passing effective controls on mass-murder weaponry.

Stubbornly wrong

Misguided and obstinate, proponents of school vouchers have promised that voucher legislation will be offered in the 2013 session. And with the new Republican majority, the chance of passage is good. Friends of the public schools, and believers in the separation of church and state, should be building their defenses. With bricks.

Competing in the SEC

The closure of another college football season came this week, and again an SEC team (more specifically, those ever-lovable, filthy rogues from Tuscaloosa) claimed the kingdom by way of a 28-point thrashing of Notre Dame that was in no way actually that close. You will read much about the conference's string of seven straight national championships, but this heretofore-unseen dominance is truly a buzzkill like no other. Who wants to sit down on a sleepy Monday night and watch these kinds of slaughters year after year?

He's sorry now

Dustin McDaniel seeks forgiveness at news conference.

High phone charges for Arkansas prisoners, their families

Inmate calls are profitable for the ADC, but FCC beginning to budge.

David Olney and Sergio Webb at White Water Tavern

Also J.R. Martinez at Philander Smith, Justin Bieber at Verizon, "Tchoupitoulas," Opening Day at Oaklawn, Bushy Luv at Revolution and Butcher and Public Whole Hog Roast.

Hair! and a mystery no more

The Observer posed a puzzler in our pre-Christmas column, opening the floor to any old Central High alums who might know the purpose of the round, domed objects — which we called "bells," due to their resemblance to the old fire-bells in our own rinky-dink high school — which are under nearly every seat we saw during a recent visit to the big auditorium at Central. As we figured, some among our smart readers knew the answer.

Cafe Prego still delivers

In a neighborhood that's seen an explosion of sleek, modern restaurants and opulent housing, Cafe Prego is a welcome throwback to a simpler time.

Lyons: The Old South fades

Politically speaking, we live by caricature. Particularly in the age of satellite TV news and Internet fulmination, the temptation is to melodrama. So I wasn't terribly surprised to read a recent article in the online magazine Salon arguing that "even though it's a truism of American public discourse that the Civil War never ended, it's also literally true."


Asa Hutchinson's announcement that he'll run for governor again next year inevitably brought Harold Stassen to mind. Like Hutchinson, Stassen was a frequently unsuccessful political candidate, running for president nine times.

VIDEO: Apologetic McDaniel takes questions on affair, vows to continue race for governor

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is sorry for his extramarital affair and hopeful voters will forgive him as he runs for governor in 2014.

Daily Show rips Tom Cotton and Co.

The Daily Show rips the likes of Tom Cotton for voting against hurricane relief.

Much work to do on Little Rock storm cleanup UPDATE

City Manager Bruce Moore reported to the Little Rock Board of Directors tonight on the city's response to the Christmas snow storm.

Well, the attorney general HAS had diversions

A communication this morning from Paul Spencer, the teacher volunteering as leader of the Regnat Populus movement to improve the state ethics law by curbing corporate contributions and ending freebies for pblic officials from lobbyists.

UPDATE: Morning roundup: Sex, schools, guns

Odds ad ends. * BEWARE SCHOOL REFORMERS: The Walton billionaires, having announced they are prepared to spend MORE than the billion or so they've already devoted to cramming their school agenda down the throats of American legislatures, are busy in Arkansas with front groups aplenty to push a coming roster of education bills.

Walmart: Answers to no one UPDATE

Thanks to Norma for a link to a report on Walmart's refusal of an invitation to join Vice President Joe Biden's meeting on gun violence.

Wednesday To-Do: David Olney & Sergio Webb

David Olney and Sergio Webb play White Water Tavern Wednesday.

Why Medicaid expansion makes sense

Too bad John Brummett wrote his Wednesday Democrat-Gazette column behind the pay wall, where it will be read by only a few thousand on-line subscribers and the print subscribers who occasionally read further on-line.

Strawn's Donuts is worth seeking out

Bryant is home to Strawn's Donuts, one of the rare individually owned donut shops in central Arkansas. Stop by for their fritters and cinnamon rolls.

Leadership change at Judicial Discipline agency

News release reports that David Stewart retired Dec. 31 as executive director of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission after five years on the job.

Thursday To-Do: Bless the Mic: J.R. Martinez

J.R. Martinez speaks Thursday evening at Philander Smith College.

Thursday To-Do: Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber plays at Verizon Arena Thursday.

How extreme is Tom Cotton? Part III

Boy, howdy, is the 4th District's new U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who rents in Arkansas but dwells primarily in the Club for Growth clubhouse in Washington, making a name for himself.

Q: How bad is Arkansas's workers compensation system?

A: Bad enough that Oklahoma Republican legislators are visiting Arkansas to get ideas.

Attorney general certifies ethics petition

How's that for service? (I'm sure the office would say it is only coincidental.)

USGS study finds no groundwater contamination from shale zone wells

Good news for the shale gas industry in a report released today by the U.S. Geological Survey: A study that examined the water quality of 127 shallow domestic wells in the Fayetteville Shale natural gas production area of Arkansas found no groundwater contamination associated with gas production, according to a report released today by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Thursday: Shawn James, Masters of Motown and more

Masters of Motown play at the Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart Thursday.

Darrin Williams to be Southern Bancorp CEO

State Rep. Darrin Williams, the Little Rock Democrat who was in line to be House speaker until the Republican majority came along, has been chosen to be the new CEO of Southern Bancorp., which focuses its activities on communities in need of development.

The death panel and marriage open line

The line is open. Closing out: * DEATH PANEL MYTH WON'T DIE: Great article.

Tech consultant: not crazy about chosen sites

Charles Dilks, the consultant to the Little Rock Technology Park Authority board, has sent the board further evaluation of three locations the board is considering for construction of the park.

Arkansas No. 5 in education ranking; but below curve in achievement

Bound by one of those stupid embargoes some national groups still persist in using that favor dead-tree publications, I couldn't release until this morning Education Week's annual ranking that again puts Arkansas No. 5 among the stats on a group of education measures.

Let's give 'em tortas to talk about

Fantastic tortas await at Mercado San Jose. Cow's head tacos are also top-notch. Don't leave without grabbing some lovely sweets from the panaderia.

UPDATE: Walmart backs state's new idea for covering health costs

Walmart and Gov. Mike Beebe have an announcement coming today on the state's effort to move Medicaid and other insurance to move away from fee-for-service reimbursement for health care.

Morning report: Chicken, pot pie and bleep variety

Some morning moments: * WHY DIDN'T SKIP RUTHERFORD THINK OF THIS? An item in D magazine reports that the director the George W. Bush Presidential Library being built in Dallas is using free chicken pot pie ($4.99 typically) from the Highland Park Cafeteria to lure people to a program on the coming facility.

East Poinsett schools end pre-game prayer after protest

The Jonesboro Sun, behind a solid pay wall sorry to say, reports that the East Poinsett School District in Lepanto has finally acknowledged, grudgingly, the concept of separation of church and state.

Friday To-Do: Opening day at Oaklawn

Opening day at Oaklawn Park is Friday.

Friday: The See, 'Metal Children,' Nicky Parrish with Kemistri and more

The See plays White Water Tavern Friday.

House Speaker Davy Carter leaving bank job UPDATE

Dang. Beaten to the punch again by Roby Brock.

Redbone's Downtown closing (Updated)

River Market Cajun eatery will close this weekend.

Wakarusa 2013 Lineup part two: Umphrey's McGee, Amon Tobin, Calexico, AraabMuzik and more

Wakarusa released the second installment of its 2013 lineup today.

AAC faculty exhibit opens Friday

Work by current and former instructors in a show celebrating Arts Center's 50th anniversary.

Friday: Keller Williams at Revolution

Keller Williams comes to Revolution Friday.

How extreme is Tom Cotton? Part IV

A Washington Monthly reporter joins the ranks of people marveling at the extremist rhetoric that flows from the mouth of Tom Cotton, the Beltway consultant who rented a place in Arkansas to be elected with Club for Growth money to 4th District Congress.

AAC in the black

Deputy Director of Operations Laine Harber says Arts Center has $600,000 in the bank.

History mystery turns up on Craigslist

A book purported to be the 1862 Jefferson County tax ledger, which the person seeking to sell it says includes “many names and their assests [sic] including slaves,” is for sale on Little Rock’s Craigslist for $100,000.

Here's a new video for The Big Cats' 'I Can See the Land'

Noice! A new video from The Big Cats, directed by Bryan Stafford.

UPDATE: Disaster relief for Arkansas farmers: But where's Tom Cotton?

Arkansas gets disaster relief. Tom Cotton doesn't join the news release.

Thursday: Live at Laman hosts Nicky Parrish and Kemistri

Live at Laman hosts standout singer Nicky Parrish and Kemistri, Laman Library, 7 p.m., free.

Open the line

Closing out with Blanche Lincoln, death of a Little Rock Zoo lion, closure of an Arkansas Times used car advertising publication and more.

UPDATE: McClellan faculty protest principal's transfer

On the agenda at today’s Little Rock School Board meeting is the imminent transfer of McClellan Magnet High School's interim principal, Clausey Myton, to Hamilton Learning Academy.

The powerless morning line

Dang * BUDDY CAN YOU SPARE A KILOWATT: my power went out about 11 last night and still out.

Saturday To-Do: Bushy Luv

Friends and family will celebrate the life of Jeff "Bushy" Hudnall Saturday at Revolution.

Food Feedback Friday

Food Feedback Friday brings you the latest and greatest discussions in all things food. Sound off and let us know what you are eating and what's going on in Arkansas.

Saturday: Dikki Du & The Zydeco Krewe, VOV documentary, Whale Fire and more

Saturday night, White Water Tavern screens a documentary about the Valley of the Vapors music festival.

Here are some photos of Justin Bieber at Verizon Arena

Justin Bieber performed at Verizon Arena Thursday.

Nate Bell finds an acorn

I get lots of opportunities to make cracks about right-wing Republican legislator Nate Bell of Mena.

Sports concussions: Bells are rung in Arkansas, too

Of course there's an Arkansas angle to the developing story of the lasting brain damage done in football thanks to inadequate equipment, poor technique and, even with all precautions, the happenstance of punishing blows attendant to high-speed collisions of powerful athletes.

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken coming to Little Rock

Rumors started floating in yesterday in the comment thread of our post on the imminent closure of Redbone's Downtown, but we can now confirm: Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken, a restaurant GQ once called one of the top five in the country, is opening an outlet in Little Rock.

Check in on the contestants in the Root Cafe-Arkansas Times Beard-Growing Contest

Surely you've heard all about the upcoming Root Cafe/Arkansas Times Beard-Growing Contest.

UA: For now, no fee on charitable contributions

Arkansas Business reports that the University of Arkansas, for now, will not take a percentage from its charitable donations to pay for its fund-raising and marketing operations.

Mary Shelton, Sean LeCrone, Rex Deloney, Marty Smith

Those are just some of the artists who'll have work at venues participating in tonight's 2nd Friday Art Night after-hours art event.

Here's a new War Chief song for your Friday music listening

Here's a new song (and a new logo) from Little Rock's War Chief.

"Gurdjieff Tradition in Art" at Gallery 26

Work by followers of spiritual leader.

Lamoureux: coverage hole without expansion “not a good situation”

We’ve written a number of times about the ugly situation that would occur if Medicaid expansion doesn’t happen: folks that make between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be getting government subsidies to buy health insurance, but folks below 100 percent of FPL that don’t qualify for Arkansas’s stingy Medicaid program will be left out in the cold.

Zoinks! Little Rock Horror Picture Show kicks off with some meddling kids

The Little Rock Horror Picture Show announced its opening film today.

Carter skeptical of savings from Medicaid expansion

Incoming House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) spoke at the Clinton School of Public Service today.

Sentencing in Arkansas Tech hazing case

Four men initially charged with second degree battery in an Arkansas Tech hazing case that we reported on in September have pled guilty to a lesser charge of violation of hazing and were sentenced to 90 days probation.

The Friday line

You're on and I'm off. Closing out: * ALABAMA MAY BE NO. 1 BUT THEY'RE STILL LIARS: Sam Eifling has a post up on Deadspin about how Alabama inflates its national title count.

Showcase lineup announcement postponed

Well, today was supposed to be the day for the announcement of the 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, but because of some unforeseen circumstances regarding scheduling, we're going to have to push that back to Monday.

The Tom Cotton WLFITU Edition

Dustin McDaniel's big apology, ethics reform, the coming legislative session, Tom Cotton WLFITU and the latest on the tech park—all covered on this week's edition of the podcast.

Bob Crane at Cantrell Gallery

Head over to Cantrell Gallery tonight to see “ELEMENTAL Copper. Zinc. Clay. Wood. Bone. Stone. Oil. Watercolor.”

UPDATE:LR police kill reported burglary suspect in chase

KATV reports that Little Rock police are on the scene of a reported shooting by a police officer at 14th and Brown about 10 a.m. today.

Gun nuttery has its consequences

Happy news from Tennessee, via Talking Points Memo, a state that doesn't offer much good political news: The state of Tennessee has suspended the handgun carry permit of James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, who recently said he would "start killing people" should President Obama take executive action on gun control.

Merit pay for doctors

If it's good enough for teachers, why not for doctors? Arkansas is moving toward a different scheme of reimbursing health care providers related to a continuum of care and positive results rather than a strict fee-for-service model.

The line is open

I don't think I have anything to add. At this time.

A cool morning report — hit-and-run

Brisk breezes and not much to report, except: * ABOUT LAST NIGHT: An auto complete function (I think) explained a strange headline on last night's open line, which I've now corrected to remove the mystifying words that prompted several comments from readers.

Little Rock proposes to outsource jobs that discriminate on basis of religion

* NO JEWS, ATHEISTS, UNITARIANS, BUDDHISTS, HINDU, MUSLIMS, ETC. NEED APPLY: Robert Johnston, the former state legislator whose civic endeavors include work with homeless people, continues to keep me informed on the glacial progress (six years in the mill) of the city of Little Rock in opening a day center for homeless out on Confederate Boulevard in a shelter in such rough shape the Union Rescue Mission abandoned it for a new facility across the street.

Obama to shoot for comprehensive immigration bill

The New York Times reports today on the Obama administration's work toward comprehensive, rather than piecemeal, immigration legislation.

Sherwood electric customers get pitch to stay with North Little Rock

Sherwood recently signed a new 20-year agreement with the North Little Rock Electric Department to continue to buy power wholesale from NLR.

Sunny Sunday

The line is open.

The legislative morning line

A slow morning except ... * ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE CONVENES: AP has compiled a useful pre-session legislative guide, with a link to some of the top issues on the agenda.

Check out a slideshow from Justin Bieber concert

You're required to scream hysterically while paging throw the slideshow (on the jump).

Lukewarm brunch at B-side disappoints

B-side doesn't quite live up to the hype.

Obama: 'We are not a deadbeat nation'

President Obama talked tough this morning. The debt ceiling must be raised.

Former UCA president Meadors strikes plea bargain

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports on-line that former UCA President Allen Meadors has pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of an FOI violation and received a $250 fine in a case that began as a record tampering misdemeanor charge.

Citizen legislating continues

All politics don't happen under the Capitol dome, though outside events sometimes affect matters within.

Lulav going Italian

Change in menu, looks, prices coming Feb. 6.

Arkansas's share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have.

Commission recommends changes in landlord-tenant law

Anybody who's rented a dwelling Arkansas has reason to know the law is badly slanted in favor of landlords.

UPDATE: And the legislature is off ...

Legislative news begins to simmer .... Republican Rep. Duncan Baird will chair Joint Budget ...

Progress on Sherwood electric rate protest

A group formed to oppose Sherwood's approval of a new wholesale power supply contract with North Little Rock reports that it has gathered enough signatures to refer the ordinance to a vote.

LR 48 Hour Film up for international competition

"Fire Engine Red," one of the short films created in two days for the Little Rock leg of the 2012 48-Hour Film Project, is currently running second in an international film competition, and needs your votes.

New poll gives Asa! big lead over Dustin McDaniel

Public Policy Polling, known as a Democratic organization but generally pretty reliable, has released a poll on a potential race for governor in 2014 between Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Dustin McDaniel, the only announced candidates so far.

LRPD identifies officers in fatal shooting

The Little Rock police say Detective Todd Hurd, a member of the force since 1992, fired the two shots that killed a burglary suspect, Michael Daniel, 25, Friday morning.

Here are the 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase semifinalists

Here are the semifinalists for the 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

The line is open

The line is open. Finishing up: * LEGAL SYSTEM DOWN THE TOILET: The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the constitutional rights of a Faulkner County jail inmate were not violated by the jail policy of giving inmates one roll of toilet paper per week.

Helping the homeless: Christians only allowed in Little Rock

I see the Democrat-Gazette weighed in today at last on an issue long simmering here — the city of Little Rock's decision to funnel additional money to the Union Rescue Mission to operate the six-years-in-the-making homeless center on Confederate Boulevard.

Walmart to make veterans hiring commitment

New York Tines reports that Walmart will announce today a plan to hire every veteran who wants a job.

The new political fight over guns

The New York Times reports here on some of the executive actions President Obama could take — more research on guns and health by the CDC, for example — as a response to national concern about gun violence following the Connecticut school slaughter.

The Beebe channel: speech to joint session

Gov. Mike Beebe addresses the House and Senate at 10 a.m. this morning. We can all get along, he'll likely say.

A serious case of Beatlemania in Arkansas

The Arkansas Republican dilemma on Medicaid

The Capitol is thronged with back-slapping Arkansas Republicans celebrating their ascension to the legislative majority.

Go globetrotting with Forty Two at "Around the World Thursdays"

Diners anxious to get a sample of the culinary offerings from various parts of the globe will find a thrilling opportunity awaits them at Forty Two during their "Around the World Thursdays." This year's dinners include a myriad of diverse international cuisine, showcasing the regional fare of areas such as Limerick, Ireland; Sapporo, Japan; Lillehammer, Norway; and Budapest, Hungary.

UALR names new law dean

Michael Schwartz, currently associate dean of the Washburn Law School in Topeka, Kan., will became dean of the UALR Bowen School of Law July 1.

Another snow disruption

Yes, that would appear to be snow. Federal building has closed on account of weather, KTHV says.

Tamale Factory packing the house in Gregory

Small town Arkansas loves their local joints, and one we're eager to get to is The Tamale Factory in the tiny hamlet of Gregory, a few miles east of Searcy.

Republicans react to Medicaid 'circuit breaker'

I mentioned earlier that even Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer had decided the economic argument in favor of accepting Medicaid expansion was too powerful to ignore.

Arkansas Medicaid program showing early success in curtailing costs

One interesting note from Gov. Mike Beebe in his state of the state today: Beebe said that the state Medicaid program was showing its slowest growth in 25 years, which meant that the Medicaid shortfall was likely to be less than originally thought.

ACLU opposes Little Rock contract with Rescue Mission

The Arkansas affiliate has announced its opposition to a proposed $300,000 contract between the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock and the Union Rescue Mission to operate the city's day center for the homeless, soon to open in a building acquired from Union Rescue on Confederate Boulevard.

Chakaia Booker, Kara Walker and more at UA

From the collection of Darrell Walker.

The snowy line

The Tuesday night line commences. Finishing up: * NO WAY TO SLICE IT/BAD NUMBERS FOR DUSTIN: Public Policy Polling released today the cross-tabs on its 600-person sample of an Asa Hutchinson/Dustin McDaniel gubernatorial matchup.

Review: Keller Williams, Jan. 11 at Revolution

Keller Williams played at Revolution Jan. 11.

Arkansas Republicans, except Crawford, nix Hurricane Sandy aid

Tis an ill wind that will blow Arkansas storm victims no good when their day inevitably arrives for extra government help in the face of disaster.