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February 2, 2011

Vol 37 • No 22

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The contaminated case against Tim Howard

'Assuming without conceding' that officials 'withheld' DNA evidence, the state attorney general presses for his execution.

Fight to the death

Should we kill on technicalities?

State officers sworn; Beebe sets his agenda

It's done but for Gov. Mike Beebe's inauguration to a second term. Say hello to the 2011-2015 slate of leaders: Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, State Treasurer Martha Shoffner, State Auditor Charlie Daniels and State Land Commissioner John Thurston.

Chipotle coming to Pleasant Ridge

Chipotle Mexican Grill is finally coming to Little Rock. A corporate spokesman said the restaurant, located in the Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center at 11525 Cantrell Road, is scheduled to open sometime in early spring.

Schooling for new legislator

Rep. Tracy Pennartz gives Rep. Loy Mauch a schooling on how to represent a bill in the legislature.

Broker pleads to federal charges

The U.S. attorney's office has announced a guilty plea by Little Rock securities broker Mark Madison to a securities fraud scheme.

What's Cookin', Feb. 2

The Root, the long, long-in-the works local foods cafe, finally has a permanent home — 1500 South Main, the former home of the Sweden Creme dairy bar.

Words, Feb. 2

MaryMac writes: "If Cliff Lee is a star baseball picture, that thing in the square accompanying the article must be a pitcher of said picture."

Tastes like T. Chicken

The art-blues duo take round one; now four more bands line up for round two.

UAF scorns higher-ed reform

Greater central control is 'very, very bad idea,' Gearhart says.

Book Notes, Feb. 2

The big release of the month came earlier this week, when Pantheon released "The Illumination," the latest novel from Little Rock author Kevin Brockmeier.

Such a pity, but we'll take it

State legislators seem quite proud of themselves for ethics legislation unveiled this week. That is altogether pitiful.

Hot diggity dog

The Green Cart Deli upgrades the classic hot dog stand in Conway.

Red Door

We got a chance to head back to Mark Abernathy's Red Door restaurant recently, one of our long-time faves.

Class of 2011

Eye on Arkansas, Feb. 2

The tale of Edie Windsor

You've likely never heard of Edie Windsor. Advocates for changing marriage law in the United States, however, hope that many will come to visualize her when they think about same-sex marriage.

More transparency?

It's hard not think of today as the golden age of government transparency. That is, until we start thinking of counterexamples.

In Brief, Feb. 3-5

The Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase returns with Echo Canyon, The Smittle Band, Year of the Tiger and The Yipps; Faulkner County Library screens Spike Lee's "4 Little Girls;" Elise Davis hosts a singer/songwriter night at Town Pump.

Raffle or crapshoot?

The Arkansas Lottery announced Tuesday that the drawing for the Million Dollar Raffle game will happen on April 7 of this year, rain or shine, meaning whether all the tickets are sold or not.

Short subjects

In recognition that our attention span grows ever shorter ...

Bike elsewhere

In the name of humanity, find these clowns another site and, please, as far away as possible from those who enjoy the simple pleasure of walking.

In the middle of it

Local site offers first-hand account of Egyptian protests.

Love, actually

'Blue Valentine' pokes love, draws blood.

The Observer, Feb. 2

>Even a red-hot Arkansas sports enthusiast like The Observer was unfamiliar with James Rector until T.O. visited the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame last week.

Orval, Feb. 2, 2011

The original singing Montana

This Modern World, Feb. 2, 2011

The To-Do List, Feb. 2-8

Rich Little at UCA, Eliot Lipp at Revolution, David Garrett at Robinson Center Music Hall, Spike Lee at UCA, 'Abie's Irish Rose' at Murry's Dinner Playhouse, Hayes Carll at White Water Tavern.

The Week That Was, Jan. 26-Feb. 4

Good week: good health, human development centers, coming clean, bond dealers, Gary Dunn, judicial romance. Bad week: good health, Fred Smith, State Sen. Bruce Holland.

Race and the Republicans

State Republican Chairman Doyle Webb would have done better suggesting this remedy at the outset.

Helena-West Helena fight continues

Andrew Bagley's blog reports on the continuing shutdown of the Helena-West Helena city government by a budget fight between Mayor Arnell Willis and the City Council, which among other reported objections to the mayor's budget are his proposed 56 percent pay increase for himself and continued hiring of new employees (including some with criminal histories) while claiming the city is bankrupt.

The good suit club school package

Luke Gordy, the former state Education Board member who now lobbies or advocates fulltime for the cashroots groups (Walton/Hussman/Murphy/Stephens money) working to legislate the backes' vision of school reform, has graciously sent along a newsletter outlining his employers' education "reform" package.

Legislating from the bench

Republicans who normally decry legislating judges are loving the Florida federal judge who struck down the entire health care reform law.

Betsey Wright gets library fellowship

The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in the Central Arkansas Library System has created a fellowship to honor the memory of Mahlon Martin, the former Little Rock city manager, state finance director under Bill Clinton and leader of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Triple hit at Gellattes

Now I know why people are raving over this West Little Rock coffee-and-gelato shop.

State revenue holding steady

The report on state tax revenue in January generally continues a pattern of meeting the forecast and running slightly ahead of last year, but barely.

Mitch Mustain busted

The former Hog and USC quarterback has been arrested for selling prescription drugs in Los Angeles, various news outlets are reporting based on a Los Angeles radio station report and a booking record for a 22-year-old Mitchell Mustain.

Must read: Will Oldham interviews R. Kelly

It's the greatest interview ever.

Ethics bill passes committee

Ethics bill passes House Rules Committee

Deadline near: Thom Hall

The deadline to reserve a seat to hear registrar Thom Hall talk before the Fine Arts Club is tomorrow, Feb. 3.

Abortion bill is dramatic change

A family law professor tells Talking Points Memo that — contrary to assertions by anti-abortion forces — a proposal to end Medicaid coverage for abortions in the case of many rape and incest cases would indeed amount to a dramatic change in law with a large impact on minors.

Another Bank of America robbed

A Bank of America branch on University was robbed today, the second BOA branch robbery in two days.

Beebe open to pay limit

Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters today that he was open to an idea — still unspecific — on limiting the 1.86 percent pay raise for state employees, at least for employees in higher pay grades.

Reagan official says health law constitutional

Ronald Reagan's solicitor general says the health care reform law is constitutional. Your witness, Representative Ross and Co.

Hendrix student leaves Egypt

Hendrix College reports that one of its students studying abroad in Egypt has safely left the country.

Facts undercut anti-immigrant case

A Pew study says the immigrant population in the U.S. isn't increasing and that the supposed "anchor baby" trend to establish residency would appear to be a myth.

Little Rock native Christian Rudder sells company to for $50 million

Today, announced that it has acquired, a dating website co-founded by Little Rock native Christian Rudder, for $50 million in cash.

GOP wants primary for House vacancy

The Arkansas Republican Party wants a primary to choose a nominee for the vacant House District 54 seat in Crittenden County, where Democrat Fred Smith resigned after a felony conviction.

UPDATE: Hung jury in Curtis Vance rape trial

TV reporters say the jury has reached a verdict in the trial of convicted killer Curtis Vance on a charge that he raped a Marianna school teacher.

Randy Dixon stepping down from KATV

Randy Dixon, news director at KATV Channel 7, announced today that he is stepping down.

Alice Walton says no to Folk Art Museum

One last shot at Megapython vs. Gatoroid

We've talked more than we'd like to about the SyFy movie Megapython vs. Gatoroid, the horrifically bad reptile-showdown flick directed by Helena native Mary Lambert and starring 80's pop-princesses Tiffany and Debbie Gibson as a crusading park ranger and an whackjob animal rights activist, respectively We couldn't resist posting one more thing, however: this delicious Q&A with Gibson and Tiffany, featuring clips of scenes where they chew the scenery so thoroughly that it was later bagged and sold as garden mulch.

Legislative rundown

A summary of what happened today at the Arkansas legislature.

GOP county chair resigns after racial controversy

Surprise. John Casteel of Newport has resigned as Jackson County Republican chair.

Thursday: joshua-Isaac Alexander, "4 Little Girls"

Thursday night offers up Joshua and Isaac Alexander at White Water Tavern, a screening of Spike Lee's "4 Little Girls" at Faulkner County Library and more.

2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Two: The Yipps

The Yipps play the second round of the Musicians Showcase this Thursday night.

2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Two: Year of the Tiger

Year of the Tiger play the second round of the Musicians Showcase this Thursday night.

2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Two: Echo Canyon

Echo Canyon play the second round of the Musicians Showcase this Thursday night.

Over to you

The line is open. I've been distracted this afternoon by my annual chore of organizing the applications for our annual Academic All-Star Team recognition.

2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Two: The Smittle Band

The Smittle Band plays the second round of the Musicians Showcase this Thursday night.

Mike Huckabee: Exaggerating again

A bipartisan group of mayors in border cities from Texas to California say Mike Huckabee is wrong about border security and that he's exaggerated the security threat in American cities from Mexican gangs.

Redrawing congressional districts UPDATE

John Brummett writes further today about the changed political landscape on redrawing congressional districts to reflect population changes, as is done every 10 years.

Republicans fold on rape proposal

Republicans — and presumably co-sponsor Rep. Mike Ross — have decided not to push forward with a new, more limited definition of rapes for abortions covered by Medicaid.

Hey, Sanders, how about 'apex of moronia'?

A reader provides an entertaining link to a daily feature provided by his Nook reader.

Abortion bill tabled

Approval of a hostile amendment from Rep. Jeff Wardlaw caused tabling today in the House Public Health Committee of SB 113 that would effectively make it impossible for private insurance companies participating in new insurance exchanges from providing abortion coverage.

Committee approves Holmes for judgeship

A Senate committee today approved 11 federal judicial nominations, including that of P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith for a western district of Arkansas judgeship.

Armond White <3 Evanescence

New York Press film critic and notorious troll Armond White professes his love for Evanescence.

Gatrell pleads in murder case

Robert Todd Gatrell, the older of two cousins accused of killing Michael Palmer in Dec. 2009 and then killing Palmer's 23 month old daughter Hannah Grace Dowdie by setting her on fire while she sat strapped into a car seat plead guilty this morning before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza.

Cruisin' for some food

Ever thought about taking a cruise but wondered how the food might be? Check out a visual guide to offerings aboard a Carnival cruiseliner.

Mosaic Templars: "Southern Journey"

An Exhibits USA offering, "Southern Journeys: African American Artists of the South," work by 55 artists, opens today at Mosaic Templars.


What's that you say? Rover, Fluffy or Spot is gone, but you can't bear to part with them?

LRPD takes a bite out of crime

A pizza shop owner quitting a location on account of repeat robberies wasn't exactly an advertisement for Little Rock progress in fighting crime.

Mitch Mustain won't face felony

Arkansas Sports 360 delivers the news that quarterback Mitch Mustain won't be prosecuted on a felony charge that he sold a prescription drug on-line.

No retrial for Curtis Vance

There'll probably be no retrial of Curtis Vance, Anne Pressly's killer, on a charge that he raped a former Marianna school teacher.

Derek Fisher on "Minute to Win It"

Derek Fisher will appear on the game show "Minute to Win It" and donate his winnings to UALR.

Increased support for gun control

Polling finds support in Arizona for stronger gun control laws, much stronger than support nationally.

Not tonight, dear

Fayetteville Underground is under ice, like everything else in NW Arkansas, and has rescheduled tonight's art opening to next Thursday, Feb. 10.

Talk to Tim Griffin

Got a question or three for U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin? Ask them Monday night from 5 to 7:30 p.m. when he meets with constituents at the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce offices.

James Taylor to Verizon

Sweet Baby James is headed to Verizon Arena on Friday, April 29.

Legislative rundown

Hat's off: To Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, D-Warren. Three cents: The House voted to allow the Public Service Commission to charge three cents per month to cell phone users - the fee is currently charged to those who use land lines - to fund equipment that helps the hearing impaired use telephone services.

The line is open

It's the readers' turn. I thought I'd leave you with this clip of a speech Tuesday to Iowa legislators by the son of a lesbian couple.

Burger joint of the week: Burger Mama's

There are few better eat-over-the-sink handpatted burgers out there that rival those outta the joint at Kanis and Shackleford.

Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round Two goes to Year of the Tiger

Year of the Tiger wins the second round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

Friday To-Do: Rich Little

Iconic comedian Rich Little brings his family-friendly mimicry to UCA.

Saturday To-Do: Eliot Lipp

Brooklyn DJ/producer Eliot Lipp comes to Revolution with dubstep diva Ana Sia.

The shameful Correction Department

Death Row inmates are pressing a claim — so far unrefuted — that states including Arkansas have relied on a virtually bootleg (and dubious) source for the chemical used in executions.

Snow predicted today in Little Rock UPDATE

In case you're wondering why schools are closed with clear streets, here's the National Weather Service forecast for Pulaski County today:Snow before noon, then snow and sleet.

Helena blues festival

The culture of incestuous politics and feuding that has been a perpetual blight on Helena-West Helena continues apace.

Prostitution arrests at Paper Moon

Little Rock Police Lt. Terry Hastings reports a vice squad raid last night on the Paper Moon, a Mabelvale Pike strip joint of long standing.

Mississippi judge tosses health care suit

Talking Points Memo notes dismissal of a lawsuit in Mississippi by that state's lieutenant governor challenging the health care reform law on 10th amendment grounds.

Dalai Lama visit set at UA

The University of Arkansas now has a weblink to obtain tickets for the Dalai Lama's visit to the Fayetteville campus May 11.

Did Arkansas squander stimulus money?

The Daily Beast has examined state spending of federal stimulus money for transportation work. A new study shows that most states didn’t end up making the most of the windfall.

Sheffield Nelson: The severance tax again

Sheffield Nelson (does he need an introduction?) plans a "major announcement" at his law office at 10:30 a.m. Gas severance tax is likely topic.

Tricky driving conditions

Scott Miller provided the photo of the aftermath of a wreck on Interstate 40. He warns: Just tried to get to WLR from NLR.

Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round 2: Video recap

A video recap of round two.

Protecting the Sarah Palin brand

You have to get up mighty early in the morning to get ahead of former Ark. governor Mike Huckabee on self-enrichment schemes, but Sarah Palin may be the woman for the job.

Fox gets a Bible lesson

Ever searching for ways to marginalize President Obama, a Fox outlet jumped him recently for misquoting the Bible.

Beebe appoints 41

Gov. Mike Beebe made 41 appointments today. All at the link.

The abortion fight rages on

Anti-abortion Republicans haven't given up the fight to prevent private insurance companies from using private premium dollars to insure limited abortion coverage in Arkansas.

The end of textbooks?

Says here that Georgia is thinking about getting out of the textbook business for public schools and going exclusively to iPads for text delivery.

It's a 5 o'clock world

The whistle has blown early here. The line is open.

The Republican assault on women

In case you missed it: New Republican legislation would let hospitals refuse abortions even to save a woman's life.

Snowy chase for stolen NLR police cruiser

Forbidden Hillcrest, the blog that's a trove of digital delights, both historic and current, Friday night captured about six minutes of North Little Rock police radio traffic following the theft of a police cruiser and the ensuing chase on snowy roads.

Politics and the Supreme Court

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are in a hot race to see which can lend the most discrediit to the impartiality of the court by their overt political activities.

Delectable eats in Eureka Springs

The Grand Taverne's nouveau French-tinged cuisine is the perfect sort of thing for that very special occasion, grand food in a beautiful, not-too-big space.

The line is open

Enjoy the thaw. There's increasing chatter on weather websites of another big snow in Arkansas mid-week.

Fracking and earthquakes

The Sunday New York Times visits Guy, Ark., where the recent earthquake swarm has raised questions about the possible influence of gas drilling in the Fayetteville shale.

Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round 2 Recap

Reaction to round two and the night's winners, Year of the Tiger.

Needed: More child labor

Elwood proudly notes, and gives rights to re-publish, his letter to the editor in this morning's Democrat-Gazette in which he seconds U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin's admiratation of China.

Social conservatives: slow legislative start

John Lyon of Stephens Media rounds up early-session failures on the agenda of what he describes as social conservatives.

So-called ethics reform

John Brummett noted a comment by a putative legislative ethics reformer, Rep. Anne Clemmer, that I also had meant to swat.


It's going to be one of those weeks. Everyone is going to be tuning into weather forecasts for the growing predictions of a snowpocalypse.

Burger cred

Yes, Kat Robinson has eaten a lot of burgers. It's your chance to help fill in the blanks on great burgers she might have missed.

The line is open

Play ball.

Monday To-Do: David Garrett

German superstar violinist David Garrett shreds rock classics at Robinson.

A call for equal rights for women

MIA in legislature so far: A resolution calling for Arkansas ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Beebe opposes open carry bill

One more reason to be happy Mike Beebe was on the ballot for re-election in this year when barely functional human units were elected on the strength of white faces and Rs behind their name: Legislative agenda piece today by Stephens Media says that the governor, in addition to the Arkansas Sheriffs Association, opposes an open carry gun bill scheduled for consideration this week.

The future of news

Big news in the media world is AOL's acquisition of the Huffington Post for $315 million, a deal that will continue Arianna Huffington as news boss of AOL, which will integrate Huffington with Patch, its enormous investment in providing local news in underserved communities across the U.S.

Monday To-Do: Spike Lee

Filmmaker, social commenter and provocateur extraordinaire Spike Lee speaks at UCA.

Chesapeake selling Ark. property

Chesapeake Energy says it hopes to sell all its holdings in the Fayetteville shale plus investments in a couple of drilling-related companies for $5 billion to reduce debt.

Mike Huckabee's pander to Israel

The Washington Post's fact-checker feature was prompted to create a whole new category for assessing politicians in the aftermath of Mike Huckabee's extended pander to conservative Israelis on his recent trip there.


Here's the latest from the National Weather Service on snow expected Wednesday. The commentary: At this point, it appears the heaviest snow will fall in the southwest half of the state.

Mary Lynn Nelson, featured artist

The artists' collaborative gallery Local Colour is putting its spotlight on Mary Lynn Nelson in February.

Nelson promises severance tax initiative

As predicted here Friday, former gas executive and political candidate Sheffield Nelson announced this morning an initiative campaign to put a 7 percent gas severance tax on the 2012 general election ballot.

Tracy Steele going after droopy pants

When a black legislator prepares legislation to make it a state law violation to wear pants that bag sufficiently to expose the wearer's underwear?

Thom Hall talk

I just got back from the Arkansas Arts Center, where Arts Center fixture/registrar Thom Hall gave a terrific talk on the Arts Center collection and how it grew.

If a Democrat had done this ...

... a Republican Party news release probably would have read: " A Democratic legislator has proposed a ONE HUNDRED PERCENT INCREASE in working men and women's car title fees to help provides millions in new money for STATE EMPLOYEE PENSIONS."

Attack launched on Ad and Promo commissions

Roby Brock at Talk Business reports on legislation by Republican Sens. Johnny Key and Jonathan Dismang to cripple advertising and promotion commissions by requiring popular votes on all hamburger taxes and reapproval of such taxes every four years.

Broken Refrigerator

The horrendously-bad Super Bowl halftime show yesterday gave our little gathering a few minutes to talk amongst ourselves.

Open line UPDATE

It's deadly slow at the moment, so I'll open the night's line. Don't quit just yet, though.

Jerry Eckwood's battle with NFL concussions

Here's another update from Tennessee on the health struggles of Jerry Eckwood, the former Razorback and NFL running back, whose continuing health woes are now believed to stem at least in part from concussions as an NFL player.

Death declaration sought for John Glasgow

A petition was filed in probation court last week seeking a death declaration for John Glasgow, the construction company financial officer who's been missing since leaving his home early on the morning of Jan. 28, 2008.

Tuesday To-Do: Hayes Carll

Hayes Carll makes a stop at White Water Tavern.

Little Rock snow forecast

Did race cause rape case mistrial?

John Brummett wades into a sensitive, but important topic today. Add to the question of whether a black person can get a fair trial from white jurors the question of whether a white crime victim can get a fair trial from black jurors weighing a rape case against a black defendant.

Side items star at Pudgy Pig BBQ

Russellville's newest barbecue joint serves up the traditional meats and sauces... but the Cajun coleslaw and two equally good potato salads cannot be missed.

At the legislature

Committees are working this morning. * Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford told a Senate committee he's implementing the health care reform law.

GOP chair quits over 'nuts'

I don't think this fellow is alone. But he's rare in speaking up — and only after his faced a looming defeat in holding onto his position.

Monuments to the living

I admit I've been a little reluctant to plunge into the neighborhood squabble about renaming a street to honor the unsinkable Annie Abrams.

The Little Rock snow forecast

The Weather Service has updated its snowfall prediction map, dropping the amount expected in Little Rock to 4-6 inches from 8-plus.Four to six inches of snow is in the forecast in much of southern and western Arkansas, with lesser amounts in the northeast.

It's not abortion, stupid

Pro-choice Democrats are cooking up a campaign to highlight Republican fixation on abortion. Though the election was supposedly about jobs and the economy, House Republicans have managed to produce nothing much on that pressing issue but THREE anti-abortion bills.

Obama proposes help for states on unemployment

President Obama's budget will include a proposal to help states with big debts on account of unemployment benefit payouts.

Blue Dogs may join Republican cuts

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross is just tickled to be getting a ton of Capitol Hill coverage for the hints he's dropping that the decimated Blue Dog caucus may thrown in with Republicans on spending cuts that would reduce jobs and harm the economy in the name of the Tea Party agenda.

Get 'em clipped

Some fairly big names — Bob Barker and Pamela Anderson — have been on the horn to County Judge Buddy Villines about an upcoming measure that might create a spay/neuter program for Pulaski County.

Epiphany drops "Respect Part 3: The Wait"

Local rapper Epiphany releases "The Wait," the third and final installment of his "Respect" mixtape series.

Here comes the snow — UPDATE

Will it happen? Will it fizzle?

So many hypocrites, so little space

It's easy to pick off these sorts of things in the Arkansas legislature, nonethless it's worth a reminder sometimes to see how loudly held "principles" so often differ from voting records.

The line is open

Put the cheese dip on.

Unreleased demos from The Big Cats

Burt Taggart of The Big Cats is offering 15 unreleased demos recorded for The Big Cats for Haitian charity.

Valley of the Vapors announces 2011 lineup

The Valley of the Vapors festival releases their lineup and schedule for their 2011 festival.