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Downtown Looking Up

Downtown Looking Up

January 22, 2015

Vol 41 • No 20

Read the print version

Lot's going up in downtown Little Rock

Wave of Main Street development lifts boats on Center Street as well.

What's cooking in SoMa

Dinner at the Root, pizza too.

Architects putting in two bits on 'Financial Quarter'

Designs on downtown.

The Rep confronts history in 'The Whipping Man'

Matthew Lopez's post-bellum drama opens Jan. 23.

'Whipping Man' panel discussion

'Raiders of the Lost of Ark' at Ron Robinson.

Hero study

'Sniper' doesn't delve into character.

Judges bought, juries sold out

Judge Mike Maggio gave Faulkner County, the judiciary and the nursing home industry a bad name by taking bribes to knock 81 percent off a $5.2 million jury award to the family of a woman who died of neglect in a Conway nursing home, but let's be fair. Maggio did not start this stinking business of buying and selling public policy and judicial decisions.

Publish the cartoon

In last week's issue (Jan. 15), The Observer commented, "... And so we can do nothing more than to write the names of the dead."

Women's rights under attack

Surprise. A group of Republican congresswomen, led by Rep. Renee Ellerbee of North Carolina, expressed concerns last week about a pending bill to attempt to ban abortion at 20 weeks, well before fetal viability.

Little Rock School District faces takeover

State board will decide Jan. 28.

BFFs

The Observer and friend go way back. Like way, way back. Like when you could ride the bus downtown for so little we can't even remember what it cost and then go to the movies for less than a dollar.

Drone fence me in

Also, the book on Hillary Clinton, Charlie Collins tries again on guns on campus, Asa's tax cut, Shawn Womack's ridiculous case for more pay for judges and the "Muslim" free shooting range in Hot Springs.

Blame Mike Anderson

Arkansas basketball is by all rights worthy of being a ranked team and an NCAA Tournament lock, maybe even a second-weekend type of feel-good story, but it continues to flounder right after it soars.

Florida Georgia Line at Verizon

Also, "Mozart's Magic Flute" at the Albert Pike Memorial Temple, "Pigskin Peanuts" at the Clinton Center, 'Lightbulb Club' book release in Fayetteville and a KABF tribute to Tom Petty at White Water Tavern

Live and local

Amyjo Savannah performs at the White Water Tavern Saturday, Jan. 17, for the Shoog Radio fundraiser for KABF.

Choleric about love in our time

For a guy who watches maybe 250 ballgames a year, I've always taken an interest in what was once called the women's page. After studying the sports section every morning, it's the next thing I turn to.

Ore in Argenta

On the short strip of North Little Rock's downtown — Argenta — news is always being made. A new restaurant, a new gallery, a new tech enterprise: The revitalization of this area continued apace in 2014, and there's already something new to look forward to in 2015. Not included here but worthy: new restaurant Mugs Cafe at 515 Main St. and a new acoustic music festival at The Joint.

Apple Blossom's special

Fayetteville brewpub does everything right.

Many flaws in experimental drug bill

A Senate committee yesterday approved Sen. John Cooper's bill to allow terminally ill patients to seek out experimental drugs for last-ditch treatment. It's flavor-of-the-day conservative legislation with lots of flaws.

Huckabee revives Faubus' idea of nullification UPDATE

Mike Huckabee's theory that the state could nullify a Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage leads to a discussion of state-by-state differences on a range of issues and, in theory, a dissolution of the Union.

The Big Swill: Dinner on your own

Here's today's Big Swill — where lawmakers get free eats today.

Resistance to punitive abortion legislation in Washington, not Arkansas

Republican opposition scuttled a planned House vote on a 20-week abortion ban. This was a ban that all the male Republicans in Arkansas were saying confidently at last Sunday's anti-abortion march would be passed this week.

Developer Brandon Barber gets break on restitution in federal court

Brandon Barber, the former high-flying Northwest Arkansas developer now serving a prison sentence for fraud, got cut a break on restitution yesterday in Fort Smith.

Poll: Voters aren't ready for the return of Mitt, Huckabee

New poll shows little enthusiam for a Mitt Romney candidacy. Less for a certain familiar figure from Arkansas.

Del Frisco's Grille coming to Promenade

High-end steakhouse chain Del Frisco's Grille is coming to Little Rock's Promenade Shopping Center.

Little Rock School lawyer lays out case for preserving local control

Chris Heller, lawyer for the Little Rock School District, has prepared a memo outlining for the state Board of Education what the district intends to do to correct academic deficiencies at six schools and, not incidentally, preserve local control of the district.

Hutchinson pitches continuation of the program formerly known as the private option

Gov. Asa Hutchinson recommends continuation of private option through at least 2016 and in the meanwhile study a reshaping of entire Medicaid program.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson asks legislature to fund Arkansas private option for Medicaid expansion through end of 2016

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has asked the legislature to continue funding the private option through 2016. He'll set up a task force to examine future policy changes in 2017 and beyond. Here's all the liveblog notes and analysis.

ASU faculty raises questions about on-line doctorate

Faculty members at Arkansas State University are complaining that their input was ignored in the school's decision to begin offering an education doctorate in education leadership as an on-line course.

Superior Bathhouse has its brew on tap at last

After delays, difficulties, and red tape, Superior Bathhouse in Hot Springs announces that they are pouring their own beer at long last.

The message machine: Private option ended

Here comes the Republican message machine: Asa Hutchinson has ended the private option, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin says. Er, not exactly.

Supreme Court silence continues today on same-sex marriage case

Another Thursday release of Arkansas Supreme Court rulings and another week passes with no word from the court on the status of the appeal of Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling striking down the state ban on same-sex marriage.

Razorbacks hire Dan Enos as offensive coordinator

Dan Enos has been hired as offensive coordinator for the Razorback football team. The former head coach at Central Michigan will be paid $550,000.

Feds encouraging about possible private option tweaks, but Hutchinson not seeking immediate changes

One surprise in Gov. Asa Hutchinson's speech today on the private option: While he's setting up a task force to look at major changes to the design of the health care coverage expansion in 2017, he's not going to to be seeking immediate tweaks or additional "conservative reform" wrinkles.

Change of address for Gilbert Baker

Gilbert Baker submitted a change of address today on his new lobbying venture after my report yesterday that he claimed the same address as that of another Republican lobbying outfit.

John Waters, Rick Bragg and more announced for 2015 Arkansas Lit Fest

At a press conference at the Ron Robinson Theater this afternoon, Arkansas Literary Festival chair Brad Mooy announced the lineup for the 2015 event, due to be held April 23-26. The list includes filmmaker and author John Waters, Pulitzer Winner Rick Bragg, Ya-Ya Sisterhood series author Rebecca Wells, novelists Megan Abbott, Benjamin Percy, Brock Clarke and Jamaica Kincaid and "Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl" creator Issa Rae.

Ron Robinson Theater announces winter/spring film lineup

The Ron Robinson Theater announced more details about its Winter/Spring 2015 film programming this afternoon, explaining that they will be dividing their screenings into three categories: "The Classics," "The Rewind" (aimed at "young adults") and "Kid Flix."

Hutchinson tax bill passes Senate

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's tax bill — tax cuts for many taxpayers, tax increases for others — passed the Senate today 30-3.

Thursday's open line and video roundup — Asa!

Here's your open line and my take on the day's events. Asa!

The daily bill filings: AsaCare leads the list.

Sen. Jim Hendren files the bill to continue the private option (which they hope to call the Health Care Independence Act.) Hendren hated this with a passion in 2013. Now his uncle is governor.

Former Medicaid director and private option architect Andy Allison takes job with McKinsey

Andy Allison, the former Arkansas Medicaid director who served as the principal policy architect and manager of the private option, has taken a job as a Senior Expert with McKinsey & Company, the prominent multinational consulting firm. Allison began last week, a little over six months after he left his post at the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Reactions to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's private option speech

Asa Hutchinson has made his pitch on the private option. What are lawmakers saying?

Little Rock School Board unanimously approves facilities plan, millage campaign

At its regularly scheduled meeting tonight, the Little Rock School District (LRSD) board approved a major facilities plan for the district. It's previously been a point of major contention within the LRSD.

Arkansas lags in LGBT protection

The Human Rights Campaign has released a survey of states on protections, such as from employment discrimination, provided for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Arkansas lags.

Mike Huckabee's entry to 2016 campaign brings back Wayne Dumond

Mike Huckabee's entry into the 2016 presidential campaign has renewed some familiar themes from his 2008 run, including reminders of his record on granting executive clemency and his work in behalf of the release from prison of rapist Wayne Dumond, who went on to murder in Missouri, where he died in prison.

Hutchinson's private option plan would nix cost-sharing and savings accounts below poverty line

The bill to advance Asa Hutchinson's health care task force also includes two policy tweaks to the existing private option.

Top 5 ways to improve your diet in 2015

Have your New Year's resolutions fallen by the wayside? We've got advice to help you eat healthy without sacrificing taste.

The case for the Little Rock School District

As the Little Rock School District fights to preserve its autonomy, it's worth thinking about some underlying factors that contribute to the district's situation.

And speaking of schools: A cheer for teachers

An education blog endeavors to inject some sanity into discussions of schools and so-called education reform. There ARE good teachers, the blog notes.

Tom Cruise in talks for 'Mena' film, about Arkansas drug smuggler Barry Seal

Deadline Hollywood reports that Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity," "Edge of Tomorrow") are "in talks" to make the film, based on a script by Gary Spinelli.

Mary Steenburgen joins new Fox comedy, 'Last Man on Earth'

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Little Rock's Mary Steenburgen has joined the cast of a new Fox series called "Last Man on Earth," created by and starring former SNL cast member Will Forte. The show, a single-camera post-apocalyptic comedy about the survivor of a "viral epidemic," also stars Kristen Schall, Mel Rodriguez and January Jones, and will be directed and produced by writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller ("The Lego Movie," "21 Jump Street").

Judge gives $1.25 million award over defamatory comments on Thedirty.com

Judge Leon Holmes has awarded $1.25 million in damages in a default judgment against a company doing business as thedirty.com, a gossip website operated by Nik Richie. The company that operates the website later said the Little Rock attorney sued the wrong company.

BJ's Brewhouse struggles to compete

After an initial good impression, BJ's Brewhouse slides down the scale in terms of food and service. Can it compete with local options?

Arkansas Advocates: Hutchinson tax plan omits poorest workers

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has praise for parts of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's tax cut proposal, but objects to the omission of lowest paid workers from benefits.

Tyson Foods makes $1 million donation for downtown Springdale

40/29 reports that Tyson Foods has given $1 million to the Downtown Springdale Alliance to revitalize downtown, with infrastructure and green space improvements.

Report: Funeral home to give up license under settlement proposal

Marci Manley of Fox 16/KARK reports today from the hearing of the state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors of a proposed settlement of a case over Arkansas Funeral Care in Jacksonville, where bodies were found stacking up like cord wood.

Attorney General Rutledge asks for new arguments in same-sex marriage case

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she'd asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to have a second round of oral arguments in the state's appeal of Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling striking down the state ban on same-sex marriage.

Flyway Brewing Company finds a home in North Little Rock

After nearly a year of searching for a location, Flyway Brewing Company has found a space to open Central Arkansas's first mid-sized brewery — significantly bigger than the likes of Stone's Throw and Vino's, but smaller than big dogs like Lost Forty and Diamond Bear.

Ethics Commission dismisses campaign complaint against Leslie Rutledge

The Arkansas Ethics Commission decided 4-0 today there was no probable cause to go ahead with a complaint that $400,000 in TV ads run to help elect Leslie Rutledge attorney general amounted to illegal campaign contributions.

Thank goodness. An open line and video roundup

Here's the open line and Today in Arkansas news summary.

The Asacare Edition

Asa Hutchinson’s endorsement of the private option (now Asacare), Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s request to the Arkansas Supreme Court to reargue the state’s appeal in the same-sex marriage case, the Ethics Commission’s surprise decision in a complaint against Rutledge and the Little Rock School District facing state takeover.

Tangerine Dream, art theft, 'Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me' and more

Edgar Froese, the founder and only consistent member of the band Tangerine Dream, died on Tuesday, though it wasn't until today that the news really spread. Froese accomplished a lot of incredible and implausible things in his life — this is a man who both studied with Salvador Dali and recorded the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto V. He also helped invent and legitimize Krautrock, electronic music and New Age, scored films by Fassbender, William Friedkin, Ridley Scott and Michael Mann, and was the only consistent member of a genuinely innovative band for several decades.

Applicants in for Higher Education director

The application period closed today to replace Shane Broadway as director of the Arkansas Department of HIgher Education. He's taking a job to lobby for Arkansas State University.

Legislators' outside income: New York case spurs a thought

Big news in New York this week with the indictment of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on bribery charges. His law firm earnings were just a cloak for bribes, prosecutors say. Which raises a question about outside work by Arkansas lawyer legislators and others.

Diamond pipeline opposition continues with lawsuit

A lawsuit challenges eminent domain power for a proposed pipeline to carry crude oil across Arkansas from Oklahoma to a Memphis refinery without any public use in Arkansas.

Judge strikes down Alabama same-sex marriage ban

Alabama gets marriage equality under a federal judge's ruling. In Arkansas, the Supreme Court continues to dither, delaying justice for both sides of the issue.

Popeye's and appointments on City Board agenda

Popeye's and an Airport Commission appointment could be on the menu for the Little Rock City Board this week.

Legislators' parking spaces often seen in public places

The cellphone snaps and moves onto TV news when a state legislator's car is spotted in a handicapped parking space.

League of Women Voters: Give LR School Board a chance

The League of Women Voters of Pulaski County says the Little Rock School Board should be given more time to fix academically distressed schools before the radical step of ending democratic control of the district.

Saturday night's all right for an open line — and a Palin candidacy

The Saturday night open line. How about it? Sarah Palin for president.

Two shot in SWLR during attempted gun purchase

One dead and another wounded in a shooting Saturday night on Baseline Road during a gun sale set up on Facebook.

Hutchinson's tax cut: Still seeking answer on omission of working poor

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's balanced tax policy omits specific benefits for the poorest workers. So far, it's been hard to get a specific answer why.

Police reviewing officer's use of gay epithet on Facebook

Anti-gay epithets termed up on the Facebook page of a Little Rock police officer and the department is investigating, a spokesman said.

Baxter County fights lawsuit over exclusion of humanists from courthouse Christmas display

Baxter County apparently will fight to the death, at whatever legal cost, to prevent humanists from putting a banner on the county courthouse lawn at Christmastime, where a Nativity scene currently has the monopoly on holiday displays.

School Board president responds to LR Chamber attack

Little Rock School Board President Greg Adams has distributed a response to a widely circulated message from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce urging a state takeover of the Little Rock School District. The state Board of Education takes up the issue Wednesday.

Dismang: Senate to open proceedings to live streaming

Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang made some good news Sunday appearing with Roby Brock on Talk Business and Politics: He said Senate debate soon will be live streamed on the web, as the House has been for several years. He also predicted passage of AsaCare, Gov. Hutchinson's reshaping and continuation of the private option health insurance plan.

Sunday's open line

The Sunday open line.

One dead in Arkadelphia robbery; State Police seeks suspects

The Arkansas State Police have distributed photos of an early morning robbery this morning in Arkadelphia in which a store employee was killed.

National Review takes down Huckabee presidential candidacy with 'reality check'

Quin Hilyer, a former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial writer, writes for National Review a good summary of all the reasons Mike Huckabee makes a poor 2016 presidential candidate. A "reality check," he calls it.

Will Little Rock Board fail again on street ordinance?

Arkansas Outside, a website devoted to outdoor sports, offers reporting on the Little Rock City Board's recent failure to adopt a "complete streets" ordinance. Progressive planning policy has rarely been a hallmark of Little Rock city leaders.

The Big Swill: Hot Springs entertainment or pizza and prayer

Hot Springs-style hospitality or pizza and prayer are available on the legislative freebie list tonight.

Live Review: Florida-Georgia Line at Verizon

While serving as hosts for the inaugural American Country Countdown Awards in December, Florida Georgia Line – the twosome of Brian Kelley from the Sunshine State and Tyler Hubbard, pride of the Peach State – turned the two-hour televised show into a party.

Gilbert Baker adds tobacco company to lobbying portfolio

Gilbert Baker, the former Republican senator and campaign contribution bagman for the nursing home industry and others, continues to attract major lobbying clients despite his involvement in the Mike Maggio scandal.

A Q&A with Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli appeared in Little Rock in November to give a lecture as part of Philander Smith College's Bless the Mic series. Times contributor James Murray spoke to him afterward to get his thoughts on voting, racism and current trends in hip-hop.

Crime in the Times' 'hood: Thefts at Marriott, Gus's

Thefts were reported Saturday by a Marriott hotel guest and Gus's Fried Chicken.

One dead in crash after attempted theft

The sheriff's office said Larry Gene Simpson, 61, of Jacksonville was found dead at the scene of a wreck where a GMC pickup hit a utility pole and tree about 4:25 a.m. Sunday on Cleland Road near Cabot.

Arkansas: Easiest state to be a 1 percenter

A new state-by-state rank of how much annual income is necessary to be in the top 1 percent shows Arkansas at the bottom of the heap. Or top, depending on your point of view.

They rush for bread and milk in New York, too

New York city grocery stores get a snow rush just like Arkansas stores, do.

New sculpture at 2nd and Main

The city of Little Rock and the Sculpture at the River Market Committee installed a new sculpture at Second and Main this morning.

House pushes back on capital gains tax repeal

House Republicans want to hang on to at least some of the capital gains tax cut that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proposed to repeal. House Democrats want more budget numbers before cutting taxes.

Bill filed to encourage telemedicine, a subject the governor has also endorsed — except for abortion

Telemedicine is shaping up as a big issue in this legisaltive session — with one bill to encourage it, a governor speaking highly of it and one bill to prevent its use for women seeking to end a pregnancy.

Miranda Lambert, Justin Moore to Verizon

Reigning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year and critical darling Miranda Lambert returns to Verizon Arena at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27. She's supported by Poyen (Grant County) native Justin Moore, RaeLynn and Jukebox Mafia.

The legislative hopper: A tax on vaping; health care 'deform' from self-dealing legislator: UPDATE

A bill filed today would put an excise tax on e-cigarettes. Another would attack a key health care reform from the Beebe years.

City bans Luke Skrable from all city buildings

The city of Little Rock issued an order today banning Luke Skrable from all city buildings.

Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace report examines 1332 waivers, potential tool for future reform

The Times has acquired via FOI request a draft of a report for the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace on 1332 waivers, which could be key to the future of health care reform in the state.

Small amount of uranium taken from home of deceased Fayetteville professor

Readers in Northwest Arkansas alerted us today to a report filed by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding the discovery of a small quantity of uranium-235 in a private residence in Fayetteville. U-235 can be used as fuel in a power plant, or in a weapon.

Open line, news headlines and Hutchinson appointments

Open line, news video and gubernatorial appointments.

Blue Canoe makes the case for nanobreweries

Small breweries can still rock big flavors. Blue Canoe is the latest local brewery we love.

Kochs plan to spend $889 million in 2016 campaign

Breathaking. The political organization backed by the Koch brothers plans to spend almost a billion dollars in the 2016 campaign cycle.

Architectural arts firm uncovering faux marble at Capitol

Not scandal at the state Capitol, scagliola. That's the method of creating a marble look on plaster that the builders of the Capitol used in place of real marble columns. In this video released by the Secretary of State's office, Capitol historian David Ware talks about the restoration project.

Gay Alabama legislator threatens to out adulterous straight colleagues

Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd, who's gay, says she'll out straight adulterous legislative colleagues who talk about family values when they oppose same-sex marriage.

Pat's Place in Stuttgart is small town dining done right

Stuttgart beats Little Rock two ways: onion rings and Four Layer Delight.

Questions about North Little Rock High football coach Brad Bolding

Rumors swirl about North Little Rock High football Coach Brad Bolding. Given a chance to clear things up, district administrators said they could not respond.

Over 150 turn out for community forum against state takeover of LRSD

There's a large crowd at the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Center tonight for a community forum titled "Protect Our Little Rock Schools." It's in advance of Wednesday's big meeting before the State Board of Education, which is contemplating a takeover of the Little Rock School District.

State late on fee for same-sex marriage ruling appeal

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that the state of Arkansas should explain why its appeal of the same-sex marriage ban ruling should not be dropped for failure to pay a $505 docketing fee.

Only in Little Rock: Ceremony for gas station

KARK reports a "groundbreaking ceremony" this morning for a Murphy Oil convenience store and 24-pump gas station at Highway 10 and Taylor Loop Road.

The Senate hard core on tax bill — same lineup on private option?

Don't you reckon that the six senators who tried to recall Sen. Jonathan Dismang's tax bill in the Senate yesterday also will be reliable votes against any form of continuation of the private option?

The Big Swill: Lots to eat. And its sounds like per diem abuse to continue

Plenty of opportunities for legislators to grab free meals and drinks today, despite Amendment 94's ban of gifts to legislators.

Will Doyle Webb sue Asa Hutchinson over office papers?

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is going to take job applications for Economic Development director in his office so they don't have to be publicly revealed. Remember when the Republican Party filed a lawsuit over Gov. Mike Beebe keeping secret papers about job applications in his administration?

Arkansas unemployment rate continues to drop

The Arkansas workforce grew by 8,500 jobs in December as the unemployment rate dropped from 5.8 percent in November 5.7 percent.

Arrest made in Facebook gun deal homicide

Police said a 16-year-old has been charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting Saturday of one of two men who were shot and robbed after meeting men on Baseline Road to purchase a gun in a deal that had been set up through a Facebook contact. His identity was not released.

Hutchinson's budget unveiled

Many state agencies will see 1 percent budget cuts under Gov. Asa Hutchinson's spending plan, but corrections and education and human services will get more.

Discredited historian headlines church 'Summit' in Northwest Arkansas

A blogger on religion calls down Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd for having the ofen-criticized 'historian' David Barton speak at his Summit program in Bentonville this week.

House committee amends Hutchinson's tax bill to reinstate capital gains tax cut

A House committee today amended Gov. Asa Hutchinson's income tax bill to reinstate a capital gains tax cut he proposed to repeal, money on which he based his earlier budget presentation.

A tribute to Mike Huckabee and Asa Hutchinson, the health governors

Some kind words from the left end of the spectrum for Republican Goernors Huckabee and Hutchinson and their work on universal health care.

Lee-King holiday bill amended to placate foes

An amendment has been added to placate foes to ending the observance of the birthday of Robert E. Lee as part of the state holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Boneheads eyes February opening date in Promenade

Chain restaurant Boneheads grill eyes mid-February opening date in the Promenade at Chenal.

Plaintiffs object to new arguments in same-sex marriage case

Attorneys for plaintiffs in the case that resulted in Judge Chris Piazza's order striking down the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage, have objected to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's request for a second round of oral arguments in the case.

Art magic: Guy Bell and the levitating pyramid

Guy Bell will unveil his levitating pyramid sculpture at the Thea Foundation on Feb. 6 when his exhibition, "Fourteen Minutes and Fifty-Nine Seconds" opens as part of Thea's The Art Department series highlighting young artists.

Health evaluation ordered for Jermain Taylor

Fox 16 reports that a judge today ordered both physical and mental evaluations for boxer Jermain Taylor, who faces criminal charges in two separate firearm assault cases.

Native Nectar provides much needed restoration

Fayetteville's Native Nectar makes delicious juice — but they also helped restore this writer in his time of need.

Huckabee laments 'F-bomb' use by women in New York

Mike Huckabee says Fox-y ladies in New York cuss at work. And he's disgusted. Nobody would cuss like that in Iowa, he says.

Today's legislation: Hairy

Hair braiding, drunken boat operation and fit firefighters are among the topics addressed in new legislation filed today.

Tuesday: An open line and video roundup

The open line and daily video news summary.

House leaders ask lobbyists for 'tweaks' to ethics amendment. Who needs ethics reform?

A memo from a lobbyist says House leaders are asking lobbyists for "tweaks" to brand-new ethics rules in a voter-approved amendment. Have the press, ethics groups or citizens been consulted? Tweaks, you may be sure, mean loopholes.

Private option per-person costs flat in new year, now well below federal budget caps

The latest private option news: costs are well below budget for 2015.

Former McDaniel aide works ref in Little Rock school hearing

A former aide to Attorey General Dustin McDaniel is working the refs in behalf of a state takeover of the Little Rock School District. His legal analysis is suspect and there's much more to the story than he lets in. Money and politics, mainly.

On eve of state takeover decision, more voices for and against; former LRSD board member Jody Carreiro in latter camp

Tomorrow is the Little Rock School District's big day before the State Board of Education. Here are few other voices in the community urging the state authorities to intervene or asking them to keep governance of the LRSD local. Among those advocating against takeover: Jody Carreiro, former board member from Zone 5.

State politician pay checks appear to be heading up

Stat elected officials seem likely to get a big pay raise from the commission working on the subject. Some of them are undeserving, however, particularly in a poor state.

The Big Swill: Rules facilitate secret lobbyist fetes for smaller legislative groups

The Big Swill. Legislators not only are getting lots of free meals and drinks, they are facilitating private committee gatherings with lobbyists in a way the public can't know about them.

Lies, damn lies, statistics and Little Rock schools

Some thoughts on the Little Rock School District and the disingenuous arguments of its critics in advance of today's state Board of Education meeting.

Obamacare wins a round in the Senate

Sen. Jim Hendren's bill to implement AsaCare, his uncle, Gov. Asa Hutchinson's, continuation of the private option Medicaid expansion under Obamacare and to study restructure of health services in Arkanass, was approved in a Senate committee today. The teabaggers' bill to end the private option, by lead 'bagger Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, was defeated.

Little Rock school hearing underway

The state Board of Education has begun what promises to be a lengthy hearing on what to do about the six Little Rock School District schools in academic distress.

Live blogging the LRSD takeover meeting

Notes from the this morning's State Board of Education meeting to determine the fate of the Little Rock School District. The state has the option of taking over the entire district or taking some less drastic step.

Let Rose's 'Lost Highway' lead you to Hot Springs

"The Lost Highway," David Rose's scale models of the motor courts and other businesses that thrived in the pre-interstate days along Route 66, goes on exhibit today, Jan. 28, at the National Park Community College library at 101 College, Hot Springs.

Table Mesa presents a fresh fusion menu

A fusion menu makes this writer skeptical. Can Table Mesa tacos put a smile on Michael's picky face?

Thirty-four years of Readers Choice

Check out all of the Arkansas Times Readers Choice award winners in our Best Overall and Best New categories since 1981. And don't forget to vote in this year's poll. The first round closes soon.

The charge of the Lee brigade on change in Lee/King holiday law; bill defeated

Rep. Nate Bell's bill to end inclusion of Robert E. Lee in the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is before committee this morning.

State Board of Education takes over Little Rock School District

With Board chair Sam Ledbetter breaking a 4-4 tie, the state Board of Education today voted to take over the entire Little Rock School District for the academic distress of six of the district's schools.

The Wednesday open line and daily video

It's an open line, plus the daily video.

$5,000 reward announced in murder of LR musician TC Edwards

The best friend of Little Rock musician TC Edwards, who was killed on December 7 in Little Rock, said that $5,000 in donations left over after Edwards' funeral service and burial have been put toward a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Edwards' killer.

A Q&A with Aaron Sarlo of Duckstronaut

With a name like Duckstronaut your brain may not want to take this band seriously but when you sink your ears into their debut album, "Tabanid Camisade," you'll quickly get it over it. This Little Rock four-piece has the rhythmic attack of The Talking Heads, hooks and dynamics reminiscent of The Pixies, and the biting wit and humor of Primus or Frank Zappa. The album plays like a lingering dreamscape in a post-apocalyptic world. They have originality and honesty.

Higher Education Commission names three to be interviewed for director's job

A search committee has narrowed to three the candidates it will interview to succeed Shane Broadway as director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

The North Little Rock football mystery; Bolding looking for work

Arpreps.com reports that Brad Bolding, football coach last season at North Little Rock High School, is among the applicants for the football coaching job at Nashville, a small school but a traditional football power.

Who runs the LRSD now?

The LR school board is dissolved, leaving now-interim Superintendent Dexter Suggs to run the district with direction from ADE and Education Commissioner Tony Wood. What next?
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