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Arkansan of the Year

Arkansan of the Year

January 16, 2013

Vol 39 • No 20

Read the print version

Jeff Long: 2012 Arkansan of the year

It's difficult to fathom an occasion where any other agent of Razorback culture was so frequently cussed or discussed.

Arkansans of the Year: Koch brothers

Charles and David Koch's money helps Arkansas Republicans gain legislative majority.

Other Arkies of the Year

They also stood out.

Beebe downplays differences; hints at big project; says no one to be thrown out of nursing homes

Gov. Mike Beebe addressed the joint legislative session this morning, his 14th as legislator or governor.

911 delay reported in fatal accident response

The Little Rock Police Department has announced suspension of a police communications officer because of a failure in immediately sending emergency responders to a report of a car that slid off an icy road in western Little Rock yesterday and submerged in a pond.

Look who wants to legislate drug testing

Sen. Jeremy "Gator Bait" Hutchinson has revealed some of his apparent plans for rehabilitating his tarnished image.

'The Metal Children' continues at the Weekend Theater

Also, the ASO at Pulaski Heights Methodist Church.

Piling on the reps

Last week I promised in 2013 to give only serious consideration to serious topics in this space. OK, I've got the serious topic — contempt for Congress. Not contempt of Congress, which you can go to prison for. Contempt for, an American given, held steadily, resolutely, justifiably for more than 200 years.

No debate on debt ceiling

Perhaps because I rarely visit Washington, I'm persuaded that the budgetary hostage crisis currently obsessing the nation's capital holds little fascination for the general public. Wasn't that what last month's "fiscal cliff" deal was all about? Government by televised melodrama appears to be losing its ability to hold the nation in thrall.

Walton money

The Walton family heirs, Alice Walton in particular, have received several mentions during the past year for their philanthropy. Specifically, there was a lot of press about the Crystal Bridges art museum, which cost over $1 billion and is free to the public. Northwest Arkansas is certainly better for this donation.


The Observer, as you may have heard by now, will be making the trip to Washington, this week for the presidential inauguration, accompanied by our ol' pal, Arkansas Times resident shutterstud extraordinaire, Brian Chilson.

Christmas again at Secretary of State's office

Secretary of State Mark Martin has revived a tradition of sending the government's best wishes for a Merry Christmas to the legislature, Congress, Capitol employees and others.

General Lee and MLK read the Dem-Gaz

It was a good week for Asa! Hutchinson

It was also a good week for bipartisanship, Walmart, Rep. Darrin Williams and citizen legislation. It was a bad week for Rep. Tom Cotton.

How to think about Medicaid expansion in Arkansas and the national debt

One argument we're hearing from Republicans against Medicaid expansion is that we can't afford to add to the federal debt. After all, even if it's a good deal for the fiscal bottom line in Arkansas to accept more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending, that money is coming from deficit spending on the national level.

'Marwencol' at Argenta Film Series

Also, the Delta Exhibition at the Arts Center, the Trevor Ware Fundraiser Art Show, Monster Jam at Verizon Arena, Rally for Reproductive Justice at the Arkansas State Capitol, Elliot Lipp at Discovery and Shannon Wurst at Tales of the South.

Jimbo Mathus' Arkansas connections

The 'Arkansas Son-in-Law' celebrates new record, "White Buffalo," with White Water concert.

North Arkansas hospital signs up to SHARE

It's a first in state medical care.

Filling a gap at Crystal Bridges

Arts Center lends works on paper for show about 20th century abstraction.

Filling a gap at Crystal Bridges

Arts Center lends works on paper for show about 20th century abstraction.

Barth: What Dustin McDaniel should have said

Instead of immediately returning to campaign mode, the attorney general should have announced that he was putting his campaign on the backburner — while not withdrawing entirely — to focus on getting his personal and professional life in order.

Big week for school choice

Arkansas's public school system could be upended by events this week.

Debating the coin

Cheap, authentic, good

Eliella offers wide range of Mexican street food in SWLR

Blue moot of Kentucky

"Is Ashley Judd going from Hollywood to Capitol Hill? The media sure hope so. Otherwise Mitch McConnell's reelection race will be deadly dull. The well-known actress was mooted as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate from Kentucky last month in what merely seemed to be a light-hearted post-election story."

Arkansas GOP trapped between far right, what's right

Can we spare a moment to commiserate with the Republican Party? Not so much the poor national party, so in thrall to its extremist wing that it may sacrifice the nation's wellbeing by welshing on its debt to drive home the point that the country has been going to hell for 77 years.

The torture debate

'Zero Dark Thirty' presents it as dehumanizing, but necessary.


In the familiar saying, only death and taxes are certain, but in Arkansas, it's equally sure that bills to reduce taxes will be introduced in the Arkansas legislature, no matter how inappropriate.

Good ideas

Arkansas hasn't always lived up to its motto, Regnat Populus (The People Rule), but there's a group of reformers who'd like to. The group calls itself, deservedly enough, Regnat Populus, and its goals are not only noble but well thought-out, which is not always a strong point with reformers.

The Medicaid hole, revisited

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

More minutes for Haydar

The crowd loves Kikko Haydar, and it is a justified appreciation.

New era

Davy Carter, speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, and Sen. Michael Lamoureux meet with the media last week to discuss the legislative session.

The delayed morning report

Most schools and governments will have a late start today so that roads may clear.

Loganberry, you're hot and you're cold...

Loganberry is another of the many frozen yogurt shops that's sprung up over the years. It also offers a handful of handmade hot chocolates during the winter months.

Thank God for Louisiana; but we could be next

Bad as things look, they could be worse. You could living in Louisiana, where a creation-science encouraging measure is the law of the land.

Chi's Too can't quite break through

West Markham Chinese place doesn't distinguish itself.

Today's list: Little Rock a bad place to work

Another day, another dismal ranking for the home team. This one purports to list the five happiest and unhappiest cities in which to work.

Special consideration for pay of judges, prosecutors removed from bill

The Joint Budget Committee today acted to separate pay of judges and prosecutors from the legislation covering pay of elected state officials — also including legislators and the statewide officers.

Thursday To-Do: 55th Annual Delta Exhibition

The Arkansas Arts Center hosts a preview of the 55th Annual Delta Exhibition Thursday.

Thursday To-Do: Argenta Film Series: 'Marwencol'

Argenta Community Theater screens "Marwencol" Thursday.

Central students lead state on AP testing

Nice piece of news on two members of last year's Arkansas Times Academic All-star Team.

A solid majority supports Roe v. Wade

The faith-based crowd won't be deterred by the facts, but yet another national poll underscores a finding that has been repeated down through the years (clip and save to pass around legislative committee meetings when Jason Rapert steps forward to force women to undergo vaginal probes against their will as part of his anti-abortion, even anti-contraception crusade): A solid majority in the U.S. do NOT favor repeal of Roe v. Wade, which preserved a woman's right to choose an abortion.

Obama announces plan to address gun violence

President Obama went on national TV this morning to talk about his plans to tighten regulation of guns.

Pettaway design wins 2nd architecture award

Honor Award goes to "Rock Street Pocket Housing" design.

Arts Center works at Crystal Bridges, Laman Library

"Abstractions on Paper: From Abstract Expressionism to Postminimalism" and "Images from the South."

Gov. Beebe willing to follow on end of death penalty

Twitter bursts quote Gov. Mike Beebe at Political Animals Club appearance today: ‏@johnlyon09Gov. Beebe on death penalty: If the Legislature sent me a bill to repeal it, I would sign it.

Wednesday: The Eastern Sea at Stickyz, Signs of Iris at Juanita's

The Eastern Sea plays at Stickyz tonight.

Womack appointment seen as 2014 indicator

Stephens Media reported yesterday that U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, a military veteran himself, was appointed to the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees defense spending.

Maloch files bill to curb misuse of campaign money

As promised. Sen. Bruce Maloch has filed a simple one-paragraph amendment to existing law to bring a screeching halt to a growing abuse of campaign finance rules.

Thea visual arts scholarship deadline: TODAY

Attention all high school seniors and juniors.

Thursday: ASO's Intimate Neighborhood Concert, Jab Jab Suckerpunch and more

Justin Bischof performs at Pulaski Heights Methodist Church Thursday.

Check out trailer for Jeff Nichols' 'Mud'

The Arkansas-set film looks really, really good.

Download Bonnie Montgomery's 'Cruel' single for free and check out a new Gossip track while you're at it

Bonnie Montgomery's 'Cruel' single is available free now.

The secession and Mud and hoax open line

Over the hump. Finishing up: * LET THEM GO, MR. PRESIDENT: President Obama politely turned back secessionist petitions from Texas with a brief and thoughtful analysis.

Gov. Beebe: partial expansion idea not dead yet

Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters today that the new rules on co-pays released by the feds on Monday “indicated some willingness to grant some flexibility.”

Former state senator lands state agency job

One door closes for a term-limited legislator, another door opens. And it comes with a taxpayer paycheck and state retirement benefits in this case.

Sewer business transparency

The Little Rock Sanitary Sewer Committee tonight ca,e out of an executive session with three requests of Wastewater Utility CEO Reggie Corbitt: Do a better job communicating utility business to the committee, provide the committee with a job description and give the committee a firm timeline for when he plans to retire.

The gun 'debate;' Mr. President, Mt. View must not go hungry

The reaction to President Obama's call for a range of reactions to gun violence has been about as thoughtful from the gun nut side as I figured.

City gets closure order on SWLR apartments

A Little Rock news release says the city has moved to close an apartment complex on Baseline Road as a threat to health and safety.

Friday To-Do: Trevor Ware Fundraiser Art Show

White Water Tavern hosts a benefit for Trevor Ware Friday.

Friday and Saturday To-Do: Monster Jam

Grave Digger will be at Monster Jam at Verizon Arena this weekend.

Supreme Court denies rehearing in school funding case

Unsurprisingly, the Arkansas Supreme Court today denied a rehearing in the split decision, hotly debated, that allows some lucky school districts from the legislature's clear intention to put a 25-mill property tax assessment on all school districts to go toward the state fund for public education support.

Surprise: Beebe appoints old, politically connected white guy to Highway Commission

Gov. Mike Beebe announced an appointment to the powerful, money-rich Arkansas Highway Commission this morning.

3 Fridays @ FAC: Carole Katchen, Rena Wren & Co.

Katchen's talk: "What to do When Your Pastel Painting is a Disaster."

The Great Fast Food French Fry Showdown

Which fast food restaurant does fries right? Here we break them all down and crown a king in the great fast food French fry showdown.

Mike Huckabee bids farewell to his Lab, Jet

Mike Huckabee pays tribute to his faithful Lab, Jet, in a web post. The dog, a 1998 anniversary gift from his wife, Janet, died Tuesday at 14.

STS9, Black Crowes, Snoop Lion, Gogol Bordello and more to Wakarusa

Wakarusa announced the third installment of its 2013 lineup this morning.

Loving "I Love Big Books"

North Little Rock High School students are getting lots of thumbs up on You Tube (nearly 6,000 at this writing) for their video, "I Like Big Books," which they released Jan. 7 as part of a literacy project.

The end of school districts

Sen. Johnny Key, who's sponsor of legislation to effectively remove any barriers to student transfers among school districts, posted this Twitter this morning.

Friday: Brown Soul Shoes, 'The Metal Children' and more

Brown Soul Shoes plays at Stickyz Friday.

Nate Powell's Harlan Records catalog is now available at your fingertips

Nate Powell is putting his Harlan Records discography online.

Arkansas Repertory Theatre to host auditions for 'Death of a Salesman'

The Rep holds auditions for "Death of a Salesman" Feb. 10.

Lee Fields & The Expressions to Juanita's

Lee Fields & The Expressions will play at Juanita's March 24.

Judge keeps state in desegregation case; rules against Little Rock School District's fight against charter schools

A federal judge rejected claims Thursday by the Little Rock School District that the growth of open enrollment charter schools violates the 1989 state settlement agreement in the long running Pulaski County school desegregation case.

Billionaires' bill filed to strip state Education Board of charter school review

The long-expected bill originating from the Billionaire Boys Club to strip the state Board of Education of its oversight of charter school applications and performance was filed today.

Cheers and more cheers: The Thursday line is open

Open to your comments. Closing out: * DRINK UP, BENTON COUNTY: Legal beer sales began in Benton County today.

Ouachita County judge indicted

Ouachita County Judge James Michael Hesterly has been charged in a federal indictment with awarding a federally financed disaster relief contract to a Bearden man in return for a campaign finance contribution in 2010.

Lawyer vows lawsuit on unemployment drug testing bill

Defense lawyer John Wesley Hall writes a blog on 4th Amendment (protection against unreasonable search and seizure) issues and here he threatens a lawsuit if the Arkansas legislature passes the Republican-loved proposal by Sen. Jeremy "Gator Bait" Hutchinson to drug test applicants for unemployment benefits and random test recipients.

Little Rock School District closes down discussion on school guards

Interesting. A reader told me last night about a new discussion on the Little Rock School District Facebook page about Superintendent Morris Holmes' proposal to put an armed security guard (not police officer) in every district school not already served by one of 18 armed police officers and to add 10 guards to the district's overall security force.

McDaniel throws in with gun nuts

It's not too surprising, but disheartening just the same that the state's top legal officer, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, has thrown in with the demagogues and dishonest Republicans who suggest, without giving any specifics, that any reaction to making guns safer is an assault on the Second Amendment.

Saturday To-Do: Rally for Reproductive Justice

The Rally for Reproductive Justice is Saturday at the Arkansas State Capitol.

Republicans move to strangle government

You know about the frog in the pot of slowly heating water? I'm reminded of the metaphor by House Republican Leader Bruce Westerman's bill, filed yesterday and with a herd of Republican co-sponsors, to arbitrarily cap state spending increases by 3 percent a year, or, if the three-year average has been less than 3 percent, that lower figure.

Saturday: Sarah Hughes, Music of the Movement and more

Sarah Hughes plays at Cajun's Wharf Saturday.

What, exactly, is wrong with the state Board of Education?

The mention of charter schools in the last item reminded me: I mentioned before that the Billionaire Boys Club bill to strip the state Board of Education of its power to approve and regulate charter schools had been introduced by Republican Rep. Mark "Bourbon and Bacon" Biviano.

Taking the temperature of the Medicaid expansion debate

Will the legislature approve Medicaid expansion? Introducing the Expand-o-meter, our guesstimate of the state of the debate, which we’ll update frequently as new developments come along. Today’s chances of passing expansion: 51%

Saturday To-Do: Eliot Lipp

Eliot Lipp performs Saturday at Discovery.

CBM sends Tait, AAC sends Rivera abroad

Loans to the to the Louvre and the Complesso del Vittoriano.

Republican rule: The beginning of history

Hot tweet of the morning is Republican interest in doing away with, or at least easing, term limits.

Food Feedback Friday

You eat, you share. That's the name of the game on Food Feedback Friday.

Highway Department announces route for Fayetteville-Rogers corridor

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has announced a route for a new north-south highway corridor linking Fayetteville and Rogers along the eastern edges of the cities.

More on Mark Darr for U.S. Senate

No, the headline is not a joke. I mentioned Wednesday the talk I'd heard about a potential race for U.S. Senate in 2014 by Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, still trying to dig out of debt from his last race for state office and with a few personal issues to work around.

Delta Grand Prize winner: Mark Lewis

Arkansas artists bring home a Delta Award and an Honorary Mention.

Roger Ebert: Four stars for 'West of Memphis'

Roger Ebert gives a strong review to 'West of Memphis,' on the West Memphis Three murder case.

Indicted judge allegedly made threats

The feds asked today that indicted Ouachita County Judge Mike Hesterly remain in jail pending a bond hearing because he threatened witnesses and an FBI agent, the blog of the El Dorado News-Times reports.

Unemployment rate rises in Arkansas in December

The pool of jobless in Arkansas grew slightly in December, with the unemployment rate rising to 7.1 percent in December from 7 percent the month before.

HHS: partial Medicaid expansion still not on the table

Republican lawmakers continue to hold out hope that “partial expansion” might be an avenue to get the generous federal match rates authorized by the Affordable Care Act without having to offer the full coverage stipulated by the law.

End of an era on state Parole Board

Gov. Mike Beebe made a batch of gubernatorial appointees today. He didn't footnote one of them, but I will.

The Doom and Gloom Edition

All sorts of big legal and legislative developments that could dramatically alter public education in the state, gun craziness, terrible bills in the General Assembly and the latest on the U.S. Senate race—all covered on this week's podcast.

Sykes at Thea, anniversary show at Thompson, "Ovolution"

In downtown North Little Rock tonight.

Recycling the open line

It's Friday, thank goodness, and the line is open. That video up there?

Conway schools appear to stack deck on religion in schools

The blog reported yesterday about a complaint by the Freedom from Religion Foundation about the broad access religious groups have enjoyed in Conway public schools at lunch and other free time.

Calling the Hogs in Blytheville

Nice piece of sportts history in Sporting Life Arkansas by Evan Demirel pegged to today's Razorback basketball game with Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss. In 1960 and 1962, the Hogs played Ole Miss at Blytheville.

The political mood is sour

New York Times polling shows President Obama holds a 51 percent approval rating, about his election margin.

Open line

Gone to see Lincoln. May be back.

UPDATE: An inaugural morning line

The morning roundup: * I LOVE A PARADE: President Obama takes the oath today for a second term, though formal inaugural activities are tomorrow.

The hypocrisy beat: Huckabee edition

Media Matters nails Mike Huckabee for a familiar happenstance — noting a speck in an opponent's eye while ignoring the log in his own.

Message from Gun Appreciation Day — Duck

Yesterday was Gun Appreciation Day across this exceptional land and it produced a fair amount of gun-related news: * GUNS: APPRECIATE WITH CARE:In case you missed it, five people were injured at three accidental shootings at Gun Appreciation Day events nationwide.

David Koon: On the Obama Inaugural road trip

Report from David Koon, riding with the M.K. King Commission to the Obama inaugural: BLACKSBURG, VIRGINIA — A bus at night is no place to be — black hallway where the minutes shuffle, punctuated by the pained little noises of sleepers and the turbo wine of the big diesel engine out back.

The stick 'em up open line

Lovely day, except maybe if you work in a C-store: LRPD Sgt. Cassandra Davis has been mass-blasting crime reports: * Robbery of Mapco on 65th about 5 a.m.

David Koon: At the Obama inaugural

David Koon checked in late last night from Washington, where he's joined the M.K. King Commission chartered bus caravan of Arkansans attending President Obama's second inauguration.

Obama's 'Big Deal'

Paul Krugman looks back at President Obama's first term and sees a glass more than half full: * A historic piece of health care legislation, far from ideal, but destined to be popular when implemented.

Tuesday To-Do: Tales from the South: Shannon Wurst

Shannon Wurst plays Tales from the South at Starving Artist Cafe Tuesday.

A meal to remember at Ashley's

Dining at Ashley's? Get the duck.

Tort 'reform' — a battle is brewing

Little mentioned in the first legislative week were opening shots in a battle with HUGE significance to the business community — and injured people.

Reception for UALR print exhibit is Friday

"Collecting Prints (1997-2012): Works from UALR Permanent Collection" honors retiring chair Win Bruhl.

President Obama's second inaugural text

Following is the text, provided by the Washington Post:

UPDATE: Andi Davis: No longer attorney on Malvern school case

When the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments last week on the important case over the Arkansas school transfer law, news accounts noted that parents seeking the ability to transfer from Malvern to the whiter Magnet Cove School District were represented primarily by Jess Askew of the Williams and Anderson law firm in Little Rock.

Party like it's Obama's 2nd term open line UPDATE

Slow day if you weren't in Washington, D.C. I'm leaving it up to you, as Dale and Grace once sang.

How low can Republicans go? Check Virginia

A truly breathtaking piece of political chicanery in Virginia yesterday. It was M.L. King Day.

Using tax money to discriminate

The Arkansas legislature is again expected to debate this year a quasi-school voucher program established in several other states in which dollar-for-dollar tax credits are provided for contributions to nonprofit organizations.

Guns: The Arkansas legislative solution

Another mass killing in New Mexico this week sets a good tune for the Arkansas legislature.

How to eat well in the hospital (UAMS)

Where to eat when you are stuck at UAMS? Here we offer some of the best options available around campus.

AT&T buys Little Rock-based wireless carrier

Atlantic Tele-Network, which bought some parts of the former Alltel wireless phone operation, has sold its Little Rock-based Allied Wireless Communications Network to AT&T. The company operated in rural areas of six states (not Arkansas).

Roe v. Wade 40 years after

The Washington Post has assembled an interesting roundup of statistics on abortion since Roe v. Wade made it a legal right 40 years ago.

Shorty Small's stands big and tall for brunch

Finding good brunch in an unlikely place.

Super projects: When economic development is poaching

Arkansas still waits for how much money Gov. Mike Beebe wants from taxpayers to land a super project with many new jobs, said to be almost a certainty.

David Koon: Heading home from the inaugural

From the Arkansas buses heading home after President Obama's second inaugural, David Koon writes: Outside Washington, DC — We're on the bus again, headed west.

Kent Taylor on ACH wing

Design of Arkansas Children's Hospital south wing subject of Architecture and Design Network presentation.

Praise for Pettaway project

Atlantic Cities publication writes about the downtown neighborhood design.

Campus shooting in Texas UPDATE

Three shot, one possibly the instigator, at the Lone Star Community College campus in Houston, Texas.

Arkansas legislative watch

We're nearing the deadline for filing employment related bills. Here's a bill by Rep. Allen Kerr related to deferred retirement option programs that have been popular throughout state government.

Tuesday topics are now open

The line is open. Some final notes: * HOG BASEBALL PLAYERS IN TROUBLE: Fox 16 has report on two baseball players getting arrested for stealing beer and deli items from a Fayetteville Walmart.

UPDATE: The Kochs fight clean water rules in Pulaski County

The Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity isn't through trying to stand in the way of protection of Central Arkansas's water supply.

State board to move against Easter Seals

Joann Coleman, a neighbor to the abandoned Easter Seals center on Lee Avenue that sits on land controlled by the board of the state schools for the blind and deaf, reports from a board meeting on the latest development in that long-running saga.

Conway stands up for people against corporations

Jennifer Pierce reports that the Conway City Council voted 7-0 tonight in favor of a resolution that says corporations are not people.