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The Best of Arkansas

The Best of Arkansas

January 14, 2016

Vol 42 • No 19

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The life and times of Dale Bumpers

Excerpts from an oral history.

'I can move a wall': a last interview with Robert Loyd

A fallen lion in the fight for LGBT rights.

Against brunch

Fallen on tough times recently — old pachinko debts, badly timed investments on the Shanghai Composite, flooding-related losses from our riverside aquaculture holdings — The Observer has had to turn to unconventional streams of revenue.

Trump for prez

Donald Trump deserves to be the Republican nominee for president. For decades now, Republicans have been trying to give tax breaks and investment incentives to guys like Donald Trump by fighting government regulations of corporations.

No laughing matter

All three of the speakers at Sunday's memorial service for former Gov. and Sen. Dale Bumpers in Little Rock highlighted Bumpers' humor as a key to his political success.

The people's Arts Center

The Arkansas Arts Center may no longer be the state's top cultural institution, but it remains the capital city's major cultural hub, despite its manifest needs, including a bigger and better building.

The NRA called

New Year's resolutions we'd like to see kept

It's the start of a whole new year, and that means resolutions.

Trial begins

Deputies lead Arron Lewis out of the Pulaski County Circuit Courtroom after jury selection in Lewis' murder trial for the killing of real estate agent Beverly Carter.

Lulu's leaves us in Cajun lala land

It's the latest Heights restaurant from the Chi family.

Resurgent Hogs

To rejuvenate and inspire a Razorback basketball team that seemed badged with mediocrity, Coach Mike Anderson likely pinpointed the football brethren, a once and past disaster that sprang from the ashes and reversed its course at the turn.

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Arkansas" at Clinton School

Also, Monster Jam.

A bloody fable

Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell star in Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight.'

Keeping government safe from the public

Also, gun rhetoric, the latest abortion battle, members only, tragedy on Kaw Lake, another $1 billion for charter schools and more.

Ira Glass in Fayetteville

Also, 'Jazz: An Evolution of an Art Form" at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, YFN Lucci at Power Ultra Lounge, Legendary Shack Shakers at White Water Tavern, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at UALR and the Wiz Revisited at Revolution.

Fear vs. facts

It's funny how societal fear works (if your humor turns to the morbid).  It can be in inverse proportion to the facts supporting it but in direct proportion to the heat of politics and the proximity of elections.

Not again

This just in: Nothing boosts circulation or enhances ratings like a sex scandal.

Escape room comes to North Little Rock

'Locked room' mystery takes hold.

Huckabee called down in Iowa over Duggar support. He stands firm.

Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign perhaps needs all the publicity it can get. Here's some of the unflattering kind. A woman called him down at an Iowa appearance for hypocrisy — talking family values while defending the Duggar family. Huckabee didn't take kindly to the criticism.

Early arrival for murder suspect Arron Lewis

The trial of Arron Lewis in the 2014 abduction and asphyxiation killing of real estate agent Beverly Carter continues today at the Pulaski County Courthouse.

Opposition to same-sex marriage costs Kentucky $1.1 million

Arkansas got off light, with tiny attorney fee awards in lawsuits successfully challenging the state ban on same-sex marriage. Kentucky must pay more than $1 million.

Make mine a Manhattan

Cold weather is better with a tasty cocktail—especially the rich, velvet-smooth taste of a good Manhattan.

Accidental shooting reported at Harmony Grove school

Media are reporting an accidental shooting at Harmony Grove.

Ted Suhl trial rescheduled for July

The fraud trial of Ted Suhl, who once operated a large residential treatment facility for troubled youth and community counseling facilities around the state, has been rescheduled for July 12 before federal Judge Billy Roy Wilson.

Two candidates with police records in Crawford County

The Press Argus-Courier reports that two Republican candidates for election this year have records of sex-related offenses.

Retired Chief Justice Jim Hannah dies

Jim Hannah, a veteran judge who retired Sept. 1 as chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court because of poor health, died this morning.

Judge hears argument for expansion of Planned Parenthood suit

Federal Judge Kristine Baker heard arguments today from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland to make a class action for all its Medicaid patients in the lawsuit aimed at preventing the state from refusing to cover non-aboriton medical services at the organization's two clinics in the state.

Judge approves Jacksonville school facilities plan

Saying "we must not let the perfect become the enemy of the good," federal Judge Price Marshall today approved a facilities plan for the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District over objections from lawyers for black children who said it would continue substandard elementary schools for black children.

Thursday. An open line, video and report on restraints

The open line and today's news video. Plus, criticism of use of restraints at the Booneville Human Development Center, a residential facility for developmentally disabled people.

Arron Lewis trial, day two

The prosecution continues building its case against Arron Lewis today for the abduction and slaying of realtor Beverly Carter in what they say was a ransom scheme gone bad.

New private club files membership list

An FOI request turns up a list of 132 people who've signed up to be members of a private club planned by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson and others in the historic Packet House on Cantrell Road.

State agency provides employees notice of anti-abortion march

Every employee of the state Workforce Services Department got a notice about absence of parking on the Capitol mall Sunday, a day when nobody works anyway. Was it a subtle way to publicize and encourage participation in an annual anti-abortion demonstration?

Speaker Gillam 'educating' on managed care of Medicaid

A tipster tells me House Speaker Jeremy Gillam is bringing select legislators  into a private meeting next week about the continuation of the private option version of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare with select health care industry officials. Topic: Managed care.

Suit filed in Louisiana over inadequate public defenders

The ACLU has sued Orleans Parish and the Louisiana Public Defender Board over a shortage of public defenders there. It is one of many states, including Arkansas, where questions have been raised about meeting the need for counsel for criminal defendants.

Arron Lewis takes stand in his murder trial

Arron Lewis, accused of abducting and killing real estate agent Beverly Carter, has decided to take the stand in his own defense as his trial moves to a conclusion, perhaps today.

UPDATE: Walmart to close 269 stores, including 11 in Arkansas

Walmart, the Arkansas-based retailer, announced today that it would close 269 stores worldwide, including 154 in the U.S. The main target is smaller stores.

Melissa Stone to lead Disabilities Services division

Melissa Stone, a lawyer and current interim director of the state Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, has been chosen by the Board that oversees the division to become the permanent director.

In Memoriam: C.D. Wright, 1949-2016

C.D. Wright could be two things at once. In her poetry, she was a voice from very far away that spoke directly and intimately to our secret interiors. In her life, she was a venerable genius who shocked younger generations of poets by constantly championing our work and encouraging us to write ferociously on our own terms.

Three justices' statements on Jim Hannah — too little, too late

Three more members of the Arkansas Supreme Court issue individual statements today on retired Chief Justice Jim Hannah, who died yesterday in Searcy at the age of 71.

And now, a belated Supreme Court tribute for Jim Hannah

Now comes the Arkansas Supreme Court with a per curiam order in memory of retired Chief Justice Jim Hannah. It's a nice unsigned tribute but too late to paper over the bickering that led to it.

The open line for Friday

Here's the week-ending open line and today's video news summary.

Staff Picks: Sad songs, Christian songs and Lee Van Cleef

I generally don't love westerns. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the simplistic moralizing, all black hats and white hats and bullshit showdowns. Maybe it’s a consequence of growing up as the geekish asthmatic in a household of competent, muscular men who build houses and drive tractors. Maybe it’s just the fact that watching people squint into the desert sun makes me feel uncomfortably thirsty.

The Second Worst Edition

The Arron Lewis trial, the death of former state Supreme Court chief justice Jim Hannah, the state of the union and Arkansas’s congressional delegation’s response, Metroplan’s presentation before the Little Rock City Board on the flaws of the 30 Crossing plan and some of the dispiriting response from some of the board's members and Dennis Milligan and ethics — all covered on this week's podcast.

Jury finds Arron Lewis guilty of capital murder and kidnapping in the death of Beverly Carter

After deliberating for about an hour this afternoon, a jury found Arron Lewis guilty of capital murder and kidnapping in the death of real estate agent Beverly Carter.

The I-30 project: A history lesson is likely to be unheeded again

The Interstate 30 widening project seems likely to proceed in the most damaging form to downtown. It's a reminder of Little Rock's historic resistance to looking at the facts and unintended consequences of expansion decisions.

The (money) race for Arkansas Supreme Court chief justice

A famous Republican name takes sides in the race for Arkansas Supreme Court.

Why we should not elect judges: Chief justice edition

Electing judges means you get judicial advertising. This year, in the race for chief justice, that means a choice between Arkansas values and prayer.

Open line, plus Tom Cotton's dim view of the Iranian prisoner exchange

The open line plus an opportunity to comment on Sen. Tom Cotton's finding of as dark cloud in the silver lining of release of U.S. prisoners in Iran.

Beverly Carter's son writes a thank-you

Carl Carter Jr. has posted on Facebook a thank-you note to those responsible for the conviction of his mother Beverly Carter's killer, Arron Lewis, in Pulaski Circuit Court last week.

Looking down the barrel of a gun in Popeye's

An encounter with the barrel of a gun in a fast-food restaurant prompts a question for public discussion.

Sunday thoughts?

The readers take over.

A cold King Day in Little Rock, but plenty to do and think about

Something frozen seems to be lightly falling as I await sunrise of the state holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee. The day's events include a "marade," Kingfest at UALR and a speech on voting rights by the head of the national NAACP.

More secrecy for super PACs thanks to law loophole

Eleven super PACs are exploiting a loophole in federal law to delay reporting new megadonors until after the important Iowa and New Hampshire primary contests.

Child welfare system: It could be worse

The Arkansas Times has spent more than a year documenting shortcomings in the Arkansas child welfare system — short of foster homes and case workers, among others. But, again, we have Mississippi to thank for apparently being even worse.

Salt & Pepper Middle Eastern has us gaga for gyros

We tried Salt & Pepper on a whim and did not regret it.

Donnie Ferneau to head restaurant at 1836 Club

The leaders of the 1836 Club, the new private club that Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson and others hope to open in the former Packet House on Cantrell Road, have announced that veteran chef Donnie Ferneau will head the restaurant operation.

And speaking of food: Work begins on Bruno's Deli

It's a little later than hoped, but construction began today on Bruno's Deli, the lunch takeout place to be opened next door to Bruno's Little Italy at 310 Main Street.

Boulevard Bread Co. to open in Baptist Health Medical Center

Boulevard Bread Company plans to open a new location on Feb. 1 in the Baptist Health Medical Center Tower 1 in Little Rock. Boulevard currently sells its soups, salads, sandwiches and bread at locations in the River Market, South Main and in the Heights, at the flagship, which includes full-menu bistro.

Former lottery officials rap no-bid contract extension

Arkansas Business' Mark Friedman has a long look here at the Hutchinson administration's decision to extend a major lottery vendor's contract by 10 years, without taking competitive bids, though the vendor, Scientific Games, was found some years back to have been paid millions more than its original contract called for.

Test scores dismal on PARCC test

Last week, the state Education Department quietly posted school-by-school breakdowns of student scores on the PARCC test, used in 2014-15, that was aligned with Common Core.

Robbery suspect released from hospital, charged in shooting

The Little Rock Police Department said that Joshua Williams, 17, of Cabot was released from a hospital today and then taken to police headquarters for processing on charges of robbery, attempted capital murder, battery and aggravated assault in a robbery and shootout Jan. 9 at the Red Lobster on West Markham Street.

The King Day open line

Here's the Martin Luther King/Robert E. Lee Holiday open line.

Little Rock a big loser on Jeopardy

Arkansas figures in the uncommon outcome of a round of Jeopardy, the TV quiz show.

The Trump-Cruz disaster; columnist offers a GOP alternative; Dumas explains Trump appeal

David Brooks' column this morning is interesting — about the impending disaster for the Republican Party should Donald Trump or Ted Cruz win the presidential nomination.

U.S. Supreme Court refuses review of court ruling overturning Arkansas's 12-week abortion limit

As expected, the U.S. Supreme Court announced today it would not review lower court rulings striking down the Arkansas ban on most abortions at the 12th week of pregnancy.

Seventh-day Adventists sue White Hall over ordinance requiring permits for door-to-door religion messaging

The Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and two members have filed a federal lawsuit alleging First Amendment rights have been violated by the city of White Hall's requirement that they obtain permits to carry religious ideas door to door.

Noise-reduction advocates criticize cops for Arkansas motorcycle rallies

Noise Free America, a nonprofit group based in Chapel Hill, N.C., that says it is devoted to fighting noise, especially from boom cars, car alarms, leaf blowers, barking dogs, and motorcycles, isn't too happy with Fayetteville, Ark., and its annual Bikes, Blues and BBQ motorcycle rally.

UPDATE: Governor to announce his highway spending plan today

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he will announce at 1:30 p.m. today his preferred plan for providing more money to spend on Arkansas highways.

Judicial Commission expands case against Judge Boeckmann

The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission today filed an expanded list of allegations of impropriety against District Judge Joseph Boeckmann of Wynne, who faces a full hearing on the charges later this year.

Group focuses on wasteful highway spending. 30 Crossing, anyone?

Yet another group shows that the driving boom has ended but still highway agencies want to build unneeded new roads and ignore other needs, all the while wasting tax dollars. Sound like Little Rock?

Supreme Court turns down appeal from LR cop in fatal shooting

Among many cases the U.S. Supreme Court routinely declined to consider today was an appeal by Little Rock Police Officer Donna Lesher, who contends she should be immune — for acting in an official capacity — from a civil lawsuit over the fatal shooting of Eugene Ellison.

Benton County sheriff arrested for record tampering

Benton County Sheriff James “Kelly” Cradduck surrendered to State Police this afternoon at the Benton County Jail and was charged with one count of tampering with a public record, a felony, and one misdemeanor count of tampering. A special prosecutor brought the charge.

And still speaking of highways: Highway Department answers questions on 30 Crossing

The Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods has distributed a response it received from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to a series of questions about the 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 through Little Rock. For one thing, a "pedestrian scramble" crossing is being studied for the Cumberland/Markham intersection.

Pine Bluff-area photographer indicted for Internet stalking

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer's office announced today the indictment of Christian Trey Ashcraft, 40, owner of Ashven photography and a former photographer of high school students around Pine Bluff, on a charge of Internet stalking and another of lying to a federal agent.

The Tuesday open line

Here's the evening open line, plus today's video roundup of news and comment.

Governor: Use state budget surplus to patch highway shortfalls

Earlier, Max outlined Gov. Asa Hutchinson's long-awaited plan for highway funding. I was at the press conference, so I'll add a few more details.

Planning for Little Rock's future deferred by city board

After more than an hour of public comment and board debate, City Director Gene Fortson moved that a resolution by Directors Kathy Webb and Ken Richardson asking the state highway department to consider alternatives to widening Interstate 30 be deferred to April and the board quickly adopted the motion, with only Webb, Richardson and Director B.J. Wyrick voting against deferral.

The latest mass killing, this time in Pakistan

At least 22 are dead as a result of militants' attack on a college campus in Pakistan.

Rally for Reproductive Justice Saturday at State Capitol

The sixth Rally for Reproductive Justice, under attack more than ever in Arkansas, will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the State Capitol.

Texarkana passes anti-discrimination ordinance

Friends report that the Texarkana Board of Directors passed an anti-discrimination ordinance last night by a vote of 7-0.

County clerk rips governor's highway plan

By golly, there's still an opposition party in Arkansas, or at least one Democrat with the nerve to call out Gov. Asa Hutchinson's free lunch highway plan — Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane.

Walmart announces second phase of pay increase

Walmart has announced a pay increase for employees.

Quapaws meet resistance at Little Rock Port

Something's up relative to the long-delayed action by the Little Rock Port Authority on a memorandum of understanding with the Quapaw Tribe about use of its land near the port. Looks like that agreement is dead.

Wednesday and another open line, plus video

Here's the open line and daily news video.

Horn, Sell sculpture exhibit to kick off new gallery at Pulaski Tech

Pulaski County Technical College opens its new Center for Humanities and Arts next Tuesday, Feb. 2, and follows that with a public reception for the exhibition, "Merging Form and Surface," the first in the building's new Windgate Gallery, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 3.

AFP launches fight against Rock Region .25 cent

Americans for Prosperity has launched an attack on the quarter-cent tax increase that would provided $18 million a year to improve public transportation in Little Rock. The hang-tag above is being distributed. The tax vote is set for March 1. You can bet no one associated with AFP rides a bus. They may not even drive themselves.

30 Crossing, short and sweet

Last night, there was lots of talk at the Little Rock City Board of Directors meeting about the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's ongoing consideration of alternatives to the 30 Crossing plan to widen seven miles of I-30 for $600 million. Nothing set in stone, Director Dean Kumpuris and Mayor Mark Stodola assured the public that came to speak out against the widening.This image above is from the AHTD's presentation to Metroplan's Regional Planning Advisory Council today. It's an update and schedule for future public meetings. Do you see all the other alternatives they still have in the hopper?

As task force tackles Medicaid reforms, consultant will analyze alternatives to full-risk managed care

The Health Reform Legislative Task Force met today. Get. Excited.

What's next for health reform task force

A look at the timeline for the Health Reform Legislative Task Force as it tackles the future of the private option and major reforms to the Medicaid program. Plus, the Medicaid reform plan will be scored against a baseline of 5 percent growth — is that the right figure to use?

Classic candy and more at Colonial Candy Corner

Hot Springs candy shop is a fun stop for sweets.