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January 23, 2013

Vol 39 • No 21

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Controversial frac sand mining comes to Arkansas

Five years into the exploration for natural gas in the Fayetteville Shale, most Arkansans know about the hydraulic fracturing process and its links to environmental havoc, including poisoned wells and radioactive wastewater in various parts of the United States and increased earthquakes here in Arkansas. Now, a mushrooming side industry is beginning to attract national attention.

Here's the schedule for the 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

Round 1 of the 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase is Jan. 24 at Stickyz.

Staff change at Crystal Bridges rumored UPDATE

The rumor is now confirmed: David Houston, director of the curatorial department at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is leaving.

Richardson loses again on tech park ordinance

City Director Ken Richardson's ordinance to prohibit capital improvement sales tax dollars to be transferred to the Little Rock Technology Park Authority to buy homes through the power of eminent domain once again failed to get the approval of the board tonight.

Mr. Dunderbak's gets a second bite at the bratwurst

Return with us, ye mortals, to a time called the early 1970s. A simpler time! No cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet. Just lots of dudes with questionable facial hair, cars that looked like Cleopatra's pleasure barge, iffy fashion choices for both sexes and the stench of Old English cologne.

Did the alien pack?

I've never been drawn to conspiracy theories, but I kinda like this latest one — the one claiming that the recent massacre of school children in Newtown, Conn., never happened.

Terrible bills from the Arkansas legislature

The worst of the worst.

Church goes to school in Conway

An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.

Randy Harsey and the Dangerous Idiots at Vino's

Plus, Augustana Acoustic at Juanita's.

NRA debate tips

Republican majority split on tort reform

With the Republican Party in the Arkansas legislative majority, intraparty squabbles now have higher stakes, not to mention opportunities for outsiders.

True believers

Conceived in a dream of reason, what the Internet too often reveals is mass credulousness and fathomless irrationality.

A solution in search of a problem

So much easier it is to legislate based upon myth and agreeable fancy than upon hard reality. Simple, half-baked remedies serve the former well, but they wreak havoc when they are introduced into the real world.

Easy call

Expansion of Medicaid — that is, providing better health care for more poor people — is exactly the sort of thing that Winthrop Rockefeller espoused in the late 1960s, when he was Arkansas's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase tonight

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, or perhaps a corrupted MP3, this year's passel of showcase entries has once again proven that Arkansas is loaded with talented musicians. We had dozens of entries, and as with previous years, it was tough to winnow them down. But there's only room for 20.

Taking issue

I thought it odd to see this item in the daily paper: "Because the stock markets were closed Tuesday for New Year's Day, there is no business section in today's edition." Odd not because the markets were closed — they do that from time to time — but because a newspaper referred to "today's edition."

Captain Firearm Safety vs. Militia Man

More shut-ins

There are always Arkansas lawmakers who want more guns in circulation, and the Newtown, Conn., massacre only whetted their appetite for additional firepower. Elsewhere, this would seem counterintuitive, like asking for more flu. In Arkansas, though, tightly controlled by the National Rifle Association, it is all too predictable.

The Rep brings "Gee's Bend" to the stage

The play follows a mother and two daughters in an insular Alabama community as they quilt, marry, fight and fight for their dreams.

Jason Baldwin seeks to bring attention to wrongful convictions

With nonprofit 'Proclaim Justice.'

Same artists, different juror

Plus some great new Delta entries.

It was a good week for Dawne Vandiver

Also a good week for Robert Moore, charter schools, ethics and U.S. Rep. Steve Womack. It was a bad week for equity in education and Mike Hesterly.

T.J. Holmes at Philander Smith

Also, Drive-By Truckers at Revolution, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Revolution, Pujol and Diarrhea Planet at Stickyz, Knuckfest at Downtown Music, The Main Thing: 'The Last Night at Orabella's' at The Joint and the ASO at Robinson Center Music Hall.

Hogs short on talent

Let's just lay it out there at the start: this isn't Mike Anderson's fault.

Kroger update needed

Kroger stores in the black and minority communities of Little Rock look like they are in Soweto, South Africa, in the '60s, particularly the one on East Roosevelt, compared to the designer stores on the fairer side of town, the more affluent side, with folks running up to customers with samples to eat.

Cranky are us

With the master of poignant Observers off in Washington, D.C., this Observer grabs the mike to get cranky.

Joe schmo

Mark Wahlberg doesn't bring anything to the bland 'Broken City.'

Buddy's bridge to Dogtown

I mentioned the Quorum Court's discussion last night of Judge Buddy Villines' $20 million proposal go gussy up a replacement Broadway Bridge with a hump of nonfunctional ironwork and a tricolor paint job.

UA poll finds regional, racial, gender splits on president

The Blair Center for Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas and the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock have released results from a new poll on political and other questions.

Wednesday To-Do: Drive-By Truckers

The Drive-By Truckers play at Revolution Wednesday.

Wednesday To-Do: T.J. Holmes

T.J. Holmes speaks at Philander Smith College Wednesday.

How to eat well at the mall

Where to eat at the mall? Here's our guide to surviving the retail jungle.

Backpack notes: OK with guns?

Little Rock School District parents were surprised in a few cases yesterday at notes that came home in elementary student backpacks.

Charges dropped against occupiers

Prosecutor drops charges against Occupy Little Rock four arrested for trespass last May.

Thursday To-Do: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion plays at Revolution Thursday.

A rich Delta

The 55th Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center opened last week in the Rockefeller Gallery with work by artists both familiar — including the Grand Prize winner — and new.

"Partial expansion" ideas keep coming in Medicaid debate

Despite the fact that the feds have said no, “partial expansion” remains an idea we keep hearing from Republican lawmakers as the legislature considers the Medicaid expansion question.

Huckabee backer indicted

Jay Odom, a developer of property in Destin, Fla., where former Gov. Mike Huckabee now lives, surrendered to federal authorities this morning after his indictment on charges that he illegally channeled $23,000 to Huckabee's 2008 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Anti-Hagel group targets Sen. Mark Pryor

Just when you thought you were safe from out-of-state attack ads, here comes a new group, Americans for a Strong Defense (no relation, as far as we know, to those Americans that are for prosperity) with a big ad buy opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel to Secretary of Defense.

Arkansans in House OK debt limit suspension

The House agrees to temporary lift in the debt ceiling.

G & F commissioner arrested

KHTV reports on the arrest last night of Game and Fish Commissioner Rick Watkins for being drunk and disorderly, and the account adds some detail this morning's item in the Democrat-Gazette, including the photo above.

Citizens Protecting Watershed: CAW, county have failed

The Citizens Protecting Maumelle Watershed group has issued a press release about the developer-weakened watershed regulation being considered by the Pulaski County Quorum Court.Numerous protections in the Lake Maumelle Watershed Management Plan have been watered down or outright eliminated.

Breaking news: U.S. to allow women in combat

CNN is reporting that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will announce tomorrow that the U.S. military will allow women to engage in combat.

Boy rescued from sunken car is breathing

And now for some good news: A tweet from KTHV reports that Leo Yang, the 5-year-old who was trapped in a car his mother drove into a lake, has been removed from a ventilator at Arkansas Children's Hospital and is breathing on his own.

Wednesday and Thursday: Psymbionic, Mobley, Brother Andy and more

Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth play White Water Tavern Thursday.

California dreamin' open line

While Max and Lindsey are in lovely San Francisco, here's a few to chew on.

How Republicans learned to stop worrying and love the healthcare exchange

Republican lawmakers pushed a pair of new arguments against Medicaid expansion over the last two days in the House and Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor House committees.

The Gourds' Kevin Russell previews new music

Kevin "Shinyribs" Russell, of the Gourds, does a jig in this video preview from the forthcoming album from his side project, Shinyribs.

Senate Democrats wobbly on guns

The New York Times today focuses on the discomfort felt by Democratic senators, particularly from conservative places like West Virgnia, over President Obama's broad gun safety agenda.

Corporate welfare shell game

Mentioned this earlier, a new report on the billions spent by states to move jobs from one state to another, rather than spending money to create truly new jobs.

Legislative watch

The flow of new legislation reflecting the new dominant legislative culture is, well, choose your adjective.

Sam Brownback's plan for Arkansas

I don't think it's a stretch to predict what Sam Brownback is doing as governor of Kansas will find its way into the Arkansas Republican game plan sooner rather than later.

Friday-Sunday To-Do: Knuck Fest 2013

Living Sacrifice plays Saturday at Downtown Music Hall's Knuck Fest.

Feral hogs: Local assault rifle defense goes national

I gave a plug the other day to Bryan Hendricks, outdoor columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, for his ringing defense of the need for the the semi-automatic military-style assault rifle for its functionality as a tool for controlling feral hog populations.

Guilty plea in Mount St. Mary sex case

Gavin Lesnick at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was on hand this morning when a former Mount St. Mary Academy teacher entered a guilty plea to sexual assault of a student.

1st Amendment prevails on lawyer complaints

In a brief opinion today, the Arkansas Supreme Court modified the rules governing lawyer conduct to explicitly allow complainants to discuss misconduct complaints they've filed against lawyers.

Wesley Clark faces scrutiny on China deals

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark has hit the headlines in an unflattering way. From ABC News: Retired U.S. Army General and former presidential contender Wesley K. Clark was the chairman and public face of a Wall Street investment firm that rode a wave of interest in Chinese stock, and then plunged on reports that much of the profit was hype and many of the companies were outright frauds.

2013 AT Showcase Round 1: Annalisa Nutt

Annalisa Nutt plays Round 1 of the Showcase Thursday at Stickyz.

Chew on this: Sticky Fingerz Sammich

Great bar food is found in the form of a chicken sandwich.

2013 AT Showcase Round 1: Trey Hawkins Band

The Trey Hawkins Band plays Round 1 of the Showcase Thursday at Stickyz.

2013 AT Showcase Round 1: Collin Vs. Adam

Collin Vs. Adam plays Round 1 of the Showcase Thursday at Stickyz.

2013 AT Showcase Round 1: Damn Arkansan

Damn Arkansan plays Round 1 of the Showcase Thursday at Stickyz.

No 'gatoring in court, thanks to Hutchinson

The Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney's Office agreed in December to nol prosse the domestic battery charges against Julie McGee, the ex-girlfriend of state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson who was arrested in September after allegedly striking the legislator with a preserved alligator head, causing his (the legislator's) head to bleed.

The cheating cheaters of the Republican Party

First it was Pennsylvania. Now it's Virginia Republicans with plans to game the electoral college system to end winner-take-all electoral votes so as to game the system for Republicans.

Lock, load and pass the wafers

I see Senate won't vote until next week on the bill to allow guns in church.

2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase kicks off tonight at Stickyz

The 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase starts tonight at Stickyz!

Beebe names agency heads

From the governor's office: Governor Beebe today named Preston Scroggin of Vilonia as Director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and Ricky Belk of Alma as Director of the Arkansas Labor Department.

Friday To-Do: Pujol, Diarrhea Planet

Pujol plays at Stickyz Friday night.

Support from on high for downtown tech park

Rett Tucker and Jimmy Moses are proving to be formidable when it comes to gathering support for the downtown site they're pushing for the Little Rock Technology Park.

Friday: Randy Harsey, Scott H. Biram, Lightnin' Malcolm and more

Scott H. Biram plays at Maxine's Friday.

Thursday open line

File your comments. Some final thoughts: * OKLAHOMA, WHERE THE WIND GOES WHISTLING THROUGH VACANT BRAINS: Gun violence?

Richard Ford, Karen Russell, CD Wright and more to Arkansas Literary Festival

The Arkansas Literary Festival unveiled its 2013 author lineup today.

Lawsuit filed over chamber of commerce spending

THIS IS NOT FOR PUBLICATION YET A taxpayers' lawsuit has been filed challenging expenditure of tax money by the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock — cumulative millions over the last 20 years — to support local chambers of commerce.

Plan ahead

Valentine's Day is just around the corner.

'Chili with a Kick' looking for chili cookers

Chili, kickball, a slate of bands, kids stuff — it all goes down 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Feb. 16 at Dickey-Stephens. $5.

LR School Board says no on armed guards

Channel 4 is reporting the LR School Board voted in favor of putting security guards in each school, but not arm them.

Ethics Commission fines state representative Lowery

The state Ethics Commission has settled a complaint over state House candidate Mark Lowery's failure to file campaign finance reports in a timely manner with an agreed letter of caution and $150 fine.

Takes one to know one: GOP edition

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal made headlines yesterday by criticizing his own party. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called on the Republican Party to “stop being the stupid party” on Thursday as GOP leaders promised fundamental changes to help stave off future losses.

Let's all get a cup for drug testing

Tipster notes an amendment has been filed to SB 38 by Jeremy "Gatorbait" Hutchinson to require drug testing of applicants for unemployment payments, as well as random testing of recipients.

Saturday: Waka Winter Classic, Augustana Acoustic and more

Augustana's acoustic tour stops at Juanita's Saturday.

Charter school rally participant not ready to back law change

I'd mentioned previously the Billionaire Boys Club and their charter school pep rally at the Capitol next week.

Friday and Saturday To-Do: The Main Thing's 'The Last Night at Orabella's'

The Main Thing's production of "The Last Night at Orabella's" opens Friday.

Donnie Ferneau leaves Rocket 21

Chef Donnie Ferneau announces departure.

What's cooking at White Water Tavern

Lots of wonderful eats coming from White Water Tavern. Check out the handicraft of Jonathan Wilkins and witness the magic coming from his kitchen.

Saturday: Kris Allen at Revolution

Kris Allen plays at Revolution Saturday night.

Entergy donates $5 million to climate change efforts

Entergy dares to utter the words "climate change" in announcing a $5 million contribution to honor its retiring chairman by devoting the money to work in climate change, social justice and poverty.

Saturday To-Do: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra: 'Ancient Airs & Dances'

Guillermo Figueroa is guest conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's "Ancient Airs & Dances" program.

Reception for Taimur Cleary at UALR

His "Surface Space (Sundial Face)" opened last week in Gallery II of the Fine Arts Center.

Taking the temperature of the Medicaid expansion debate

Today’s chances of passing expansion: 45%Last week’s chances: 51%See here for previous entries on the Expand-o-Meter

Dustin McDaniel leaves race for Arkansas governor?

A Republican friend (yes a Republic friend) has just e-mailed me to say Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is getting out of the race for governor.

Bill Halter announces Democratic campaign for governor

With Dustin McDaniel's withdrawal from the 2014 race for governor not yet fully official, this e-mail arrives from Bud Jackson, political operative for Bill Halter: Little Rock - Former lieutenant governor Bill Halter will file paperwork next week to establish a campaign committee as the necessary first administrative step towards a campaign for governor in 2014.

McDaniel officially announces he's out of governor's race

The email: Dear Max, I sought public office to serve my fellow Arkansans and to lead on issues that matter to the State that I love.

Food Feedback Friday

By now, you know the drill. Tell us about all the best bites around Arkansas.

McDaniel describes decision; says he'll refund most money

Dustin McDaniel talks with Arkansas Times about his decision to leave the 2014 race for governor.

Little Rock's Charlie Askew impresses on 'American Idol'

Charlie Askew impressed the judges on "American Idol" Thursday night.

"Exodus of Dreams": Cuban artists at Boswell-Mourot

Boswell-Mourot Fine Art opens a new exhibit tomorrow, "Exodus of Dreams — Cuba to America," works by Ernesto Capdevila, Eloy Perera, Maydelina Lezcano and Lourdes Porrata," and will host a reception from 6-9 p.m.

Damn Arkansan wins Round 1 of 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

Damn Arkansan won Round 1 of the 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

2013 Delta Small Prints: UPDATE

Arkansas State University's annual "Delta National Small Prints Exhibition" has opened at the Bradbury Gallery in the Fowler Center.

Legal immigrants and the Medicaid expansion debate

Because of a quirk in the Affordable Care Act, there’s been an odd little story circulating this week about Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to support Medicaid expansion.

TGIF open line UPDATE

Well. I went to San Francisco and all hell broke loose in Arkansas politics.

Tom Cotton still doesn't get women in military

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton of the Club for Growth is backtracking a tiny bit from his earlier chauvinistic remarks about women in combat.

Congress reflects progress for gay people

A New York Times story today reflects welcome progress in acceptance of gay people in society, if not necessarily movement in the battle for legal rights.

Duggar family forms anti-abortion group

The Duggar family, has joined hands with several other groups to form an anti-abortion coalition.

Questions for Jeb Bush on charter schools

When former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush joins the Arkansas Billionaire Boys Club Tuesday for a rally at the Arkansas capitol to promote their charter school expansion agenda, somebody might ask Bush what he thinks of Stanley Smith.

City to run homeless center

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Claudia Lauer reports this morning (pay wall) that the city of Little Rock will operate its long-planned day center for homeless people.

A gubernatorial trial balloon

OK, I'll run it up the flagpole at the suggestion of an early-morning correspondent: What about UA Chancellor David Gearhart as a Democratic candidate for governor?

Thea visual arts scholars named

Alli Wilson of Morrilton High School won the first place, $4,000 Thea Foundation Visual Arts Scholarship, the foundation announced this week.

Halter announces campaign staff

From the Bill Halter campaign: STATEMENT FOM BUD JACKONSpokesperson, Bill Halter “Today I am pleased to announce some of the key team members for Bill Halter’s upcoming campaign for governor.

My heart is in San Francisco open line

You have anything? Around a conference, I had a long walk along the foggy bay this morning.

Matt Owen's design wins for new edition of 'Fahrenheit 451'

Little Rock minimalist designer extraordinare Matt Owen has won a contest by Simon and Schuster to design the book jacket for the 60th anniversary edition of Ray Bradbury's seminal dystopian classic, "Fahrenheit 451."

Sunny Sabbath

It's a travel day for me as well as Sunday. So it likely will be slow here today.

The tall Cotton Sunday line

The line is open. I'll close with more links to the huge national press being ginned up for Club for Growth consul to Arkansas, Tom Cotton: * POLITICAL ADVICE: Cotton offers some to other Repubs.

Yearning to breathe free and equal: Morning notes

Odds and ends for a quiet Monday morning: * IMMIGRATION: Does the presence of Republican senators like Graham, McCain and Rubio provide sufficient cover for others in the GOP to join a bipartisan proposal for immigration reform that reportedly includes a path to citizenship for existing residents of the U.S.?

Police report: Dad leaves 13-month-old alone to hit bar

Sad story of the day from Log Cabin Democrat: Conway mom, at work Friday night, calls cops to says she suspect husband has left their 13-month-old child at home alone.

New at Laman: 'For All the World to See'

Exhibition that tells the story of the fight for racial equality from the 1940s through the 1970s with photographs, television clips, art posters, and historic artifacts, opened today.

Obama's 'liberal' speech — it wasn't

Good analysis in the Washington Post of President Obama's inaugural speech and the notion that it embodied liberalism.

Boy Scouts considering end to ban on gay scouts

NBC News is reporting that the Boy Scouts of America is considering an end to its ban on gay scouts and leaders.

Status of Arkansas women: Better, but ...

Lynette Watts, CEO of the Women's Foundation of Arkansas, is speaking during the noon hour at the Clinton School on a 2013 update to the 1973 report by the Commission on the Status of Women.

10 life skills the arts teach kids

The Washington Post's "The Answer Sheet" picks up Lisa Phillips' argument for why the arts are an important part of educational success.

DHS: "Circuit Breaker" compromise would be legal for Medicaid expansion

When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.

A mighty fortress is our gun

The legislature has decided to relax and enjoy the NRA's liberties with the body politic.

Spread 'em, ladies: Rapert toughens anti-abortion bill

As promised Sen. Jason Rapert and a gang of anti-abortion Republicans in both houses have again introduced a bill to require testing for a fetal hearbeat.

Chew on this, House Hummus Edition

Hummus at the House is a hit

The gubernatorial sweepstakes

Our man David Ramsey tried to get a direct answer today from House Speaker Davy Carter on whether he was considering a race for governor in 2014, as well-placed sources have indicated.

House has nine spouses on payroll

Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.

The Monday line

It's open. Finishing up: * UA TO DEBATE GUNS: Students at UA-Fayetteville are preparing to debate resolutions calling for a change in the current university policy banning guns on campus.

Group formed to answer billionaires' school push

Well, how about this? As you know, the Billionaire Boys Club has a couple of dog-and-pony shows scheduled tomorrow in Little rock at which Jeb Bush, Jim Walton, Walter Hussman, Bill Dillard and Claiborne (Murphy Oil) Deming will sing the praises of school reform by their lights.

Guns at UA — students weigh in

My University of Arkansas correspondent reports that the Residence Interhall Congress, which represents on-campus students, last night defeated a resolution in support of allowing guns on campus in the hands of concealed weapon permit holders.

Violence against women — Senate acts

One to watch, because Arkansas Republicans haven't distinguished themselves on this issue previously. The U.S. Senate will again push for reauthorization of support of programs that help women who've been victims of domestic violence.

Super project day

Gov. Mike Beebe announces this morning a recipient of tens of millions in state taxpayer assistance in return for location of a major manufacturing facility.

Preparing for the big game? Where to grab wings that soar

The big game approaches, and we're thinking wings. Where do you prefer to procure your wings? ZAZA offers up some of the best these lips have tasted.

Free Nate Bell

Rep. Nate Bell of Mena complains on Facebook that has website has gone blank. An "unknown party" has taken control.

The 2nd Amendment: It's about militias and race

A history lesson the 2nd Amendment this week from Ernie Dumas. Not that it will influence any congressional votes, particularly in the South, in favor of any gun control measures supported by a black president.

A sweet hot addition to Arkansas Barbecue

New barbecue coming soon to Arkansas.

UPDATE: The charter school bandwagon arrives

Just in time for the charter school rally to be led this morning by Walmart billionaire Jim Walton and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman, among others, comes a timely news article from, where else, the Democrat-Gazette, on Arkansas's fall in ranking by a charter school advocacy group.

Senate has seven spouses on session payroll

Following up on yesterday's report on legislative family on the legislative session payroll of the House.

$1 billion steel mill announced for Mississippi County

The buzz was right. The super project is a new steel mill in Mississippi County. Gov. Mike Beebe predicts 500 jobs in a $1 billion plant, with state chipping in $75 million direct plus a $50 million loan.

Jeb Bush: Corporate influence peddler on schools

Speaking of Jeb Bush, in Little Rock today promoting the Billionaire Boys Club school privatization agenda: I wish the following news conference had been held this morning.

UPDATE: Hypocrite of the day: Sen. John Boozman

It's time for another BHD Award. The blithering hypocrite today is Sen. John "Dr. No" Boozman.

Home Fresh Burgers opens on Cantrell

In September, we wrote about Home Fresh Burgers's plans to occupy the space on Main Street, across from RAO Video.

Mason Christopher Mauldin, 1981-2013

Mason Mauldin, of Little Rock, died in a plane crash in Louisiana yesterday afternoon.

Beebe forms unholy alliance with Jason Rapert

During the course of a contentious conversation with Sen. Jason Rapert yesterday over his blatantly unconstitutional bill to prohibit abortions when a fetal hearbeat can be detected (as early as five weeks, a good 18 weeks before viability) and in many cases only after an invasive probe of a women's vagina whether she wants it or not, he boasted about his sponsorship of Gov. Mike Beebe's legislation to complete removal of the sales tax on groceries at some future date if various financial circumstances work out.

New deputy director at Old State House Museum

Brendetta Murrell replaces Duncan Jones.

The billionaires tout school 'choice'

David Koon reports from the panel discussions at the Doubletree Hotel being staged by some of the front groups set up by Jim Walton and other inheritors of great wealth to lobby for their ideas of "school reform."

The super project tab — $9 million a year

We know the state has committed to at least $75 million in direct support of a proposed steel mill in Mississippi County and a $50 million loan, all to be paid with a $125 million state bond issue backed by general revenues.

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken coming to River Market

We can now confirm that Gus's Fried Chicken is indeed coming to the River Market in the former space occupied by Redbone's Downtown.