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More than Central High

More than Central High

February 2, 2017

Vol 43 • No 22

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Beyond Little Rock

A history of school desegregation in Arkansas.


Michael Shaeffer's collection captures queens-in-transition.

Ruby Bridges comes to Searcy

Also, Damin Spritzer, Handmade Moments, Black History Commission Symposium, House of Avalon's Last Dance, The Shook Twins, Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round 2, Capital Hotel Informance, The Salty Dogs, The Toos

A weekend of protests

Actions against women, immigrants bring people to the Capitol.

School choice bill draws criticism from superintendents, governor

HB 1222 creates education savings accounts and tax-credit scholarships to pay for private schools and other education costs.

Only Vienna sausages for you

Steinhaus stellar

Good drink, good grub at Hot Springs beer hall.

Trump's obsession

Is it a only a personality disorder, a deeper character flaw, or just an insecure ego, this obsession of President Trump with settling scores with his predecessor, Barack Obama, and critics of all stripes?

No relief for renters

If you are hoping to see new laws that improve rights for people who rent homes or apartments in Arkansas, you will find disappointing two bills proposed so far this legislative session — SB 25, by Sen. Blake Johnson (R-Corning), and HB 1166, by Rep. Laurie Rushing (R-Hot Springs). Even if both bills become statute, Arkansas would still have the worst landlord tenant laws in the country.

Eula Biss speaks at Hendrix

Also, "Dayveon" screens at Ron Robinson.

Gum for sale

HBO's 'Becoming Warren Buffett' profiles the Oracle of Omaha.

More of the same

Authoritarian? C'mon, folks. The extremes of both sides are completely drowning out the bipartisan middle's take (that maybe I'm just naive enough to still claim exists).

Lyons: Man's best friend

Because crazy people tend to be cunning and tireless, it's important to take reality breaks. So this is a column about my 6-year-old orange tabby, Albert, the most unusual cat I've known.


A deputy Observer and friends recently made the trek to D.C. for the Women's March on Washington, the hugely attended event that bigly showed up the sparse turnout for the inauguration of Dorito Mussolini, his best stab at alternative facts be damned. Sad! Here is a little of what our friend Observed while helping kick open the door on a new age of patriotism and protest.

Skeptical about Anderson

Consider yourselves lucky, Hog fans. Most teams that manage to play about five quality minutes out of 80 in a two-game week don't end up fortunate enough to forge a split like Arkansas did in its latest two road games.

Beware of 'helpers'

After Donald Trump's disaster of an executive order that resulted in green card and visa holders being detained and already approved refugees being denied entry into the United States, I posted on social media about the harmful effects.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Alternative facts edition

Play at home!

Ledge says, 'please sue us'

Also, vets provide cover, new law to reduce waitlist and more.

Cotton promises town halls later this year; Senator's closed-door policy unique among Arkansas congressional delegation

Sen. Tom Cotton — the only member of the Arkansas congressional delegation with an appointment-only policy for constituent visits to field offices — is now promising that he will hold town hall meetings in Arkansas this year.

Hillary Clinton will publish book of personal essays with Simon & Schuster

Publisher Simon & Schuster announced yesterday that Hillary Clinton will publish a new book of personal essays in the fall of 2017 that will include reflections and memoir accounts of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Campus carry bill set for House this afternoon

After sailing through a contentious committee hearing on Tuesday, the House will take up House Bill 1249 this afternoon.

Perfect timing: "End Hate" doors by V.L. Cox headed to Washington

Arkansas artist V.L. Cox, who for the past couple of years has been creating three-dimensional works representing discrimination against women, African Americans, immigrants and LGBT people, is returning her "End Hate" doors to the Lincoln Memorial on Feb. 11. They'll be on exhibit 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the Reflecting Pool steps.

Frederick Douglass finally comes to attention of White House

It just can't go unremarked on the Arkansas Blog that the president of the United States. speaking at a Black History Month gathering, gave praise to Frederick Douglass by saying he "is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice."

Year-to-date state general revenues below forecast

Fiscal-year-to-date net available  general revenues are up 0.7 percent above year-ago levels, the Department of Finance and Administration announced in its January 2017 General Revenue Report. But seven months into the fiscal year, net available revenue is below forecast by nearly 2 percent $57.1 million

Rapert wants legislature to push for amendment to U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage

Sen. Jason Rapert is still bummed about gay marriage.

UPDATE: House passes Charlie Collins' campus carry bill

Carry on my wayward gun.

Stonewall Democrats: Rapert resolution "disrespectful and discriminatory" and "waste of time"

Tippi McCullough, Chair of the Democratic Party of Pulaski County and President of the Stonewall Democratic Caucus of Arkansas, released the following statement about Sen. Jason Rapert's proposed resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Banner celebrating Black History, 'black lives matter' goes up on F'ville's Dickson Street

A banner expressing a commitment to honoring and celebrating Black history, complete with the slogan "Black Lives Matter," recently went up on Dickson Street in Fayetteville as part of a local group's slate of activities for Black History Month.

UCA to host town hall today on campus carry bill

The University of Central Arkansas will host a townhall today on House Bill 1249, the bill from Rep. Charlie Collins that would force public universities and colleges to allow staff members to carry concealed handguns.

Governor tells state agencies cuts could be coming with budget shortfall

Governor Hutchinson told reporters today that he's asking several agencies to prepare for the possibility of budget cuts, the AP reports, including Human Services, Education, and Corrections. And don't forget: the governor's highway plan relies on $48 million annual surpluses. The state is now $57 million below forecast seven months into the fiscal year.

Fayetteville looking for volunteers for 16 board and commission slots

The city of Fayetteville is looking for 16 volunteers to fill empty seats on eight different boards and commissions, including slots on the Advertising the Promotion Commission,  the Civil Service Commission, the Fayetteville Public Library Board of Trustees and the Planning Commission.

Ozark Indivisible protest of Cotton office in Springdale featured on Rachel Maddow show

"We've been focused on the big protests," Maddow said. "But take a look at what is happening in these other, largely unexpected, places."

Tort reform amendment includes legislative bid to seize judicial rule-making authority

In addition to capping damages awarded in civil actions, the measure also give the legislature full power over the rules of pleading, practice, and procedure in the judicial branch, raising questions about the separation of powers in state government.

Proposed constitutional amendments seek to reshape education oversight

Two joint resolutions filed in the Arkansas Senate call for constitutional amendments that would fundamentally alter oversight of the public school system and the balance of powers between the branches of state government. If either is approved by the legislature, it would appear on the 2018 ballot for consideration by voters.

The Thursday line and video roundup

Over to you.

Committee approves bill targeting Sharia law

In other states, such legislation has been introduced based on a theory that's circulated among conspiracy theorists on the right: Sharia, or Islamic law, is secretly infiltrating the American judicial and political systems and must be preempted.

Online sales tax legislation advances

Two bills aimed at raising state revenue through the collection of sales and use tax on online purchases cleared their first hurdles this week.

DeVos big contributor to senators taking up her confirmation

Following the DeVos money trail.

Bryan King aims for referendum on Voter ID constitutional amendment

Sen. Bryan King, a longtime crusader for enacting restrictions for ballot access, filed a senate joint resolution on Wednesday to refer a constitutional amendment to voters that would impose Voter ID.

Files sales tax bill and the Amazon business model

Wall Street watching Arkansas on Amazon tax.

Public hearing on Health Department's marijuana rules to be held March 10

The health department's rules only concern patient registration and the testing and labeling of marijuana. Regulation of the production, distribution and sale of the product, and the licensing of pot-related businesses, falls to Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Medical Marijuana Commission, respectively.

Donald Trump's campaign paid $12.8 million to Trump companies; shenanigans will continue indefinitely

Politico tallied up the Federal Election Commission data and reports that the Donald Trump campaign paid his own companies $12.8 million. The arrangement will continue even now that he's president.

Trumplandia: A tale of two covers

A tale of two cover images in the age of Trump, coming soon to a newsstand near you.

Oral arguments for Maggio appeal set for March 8

Oral arguments in front of a three-judge panel at the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are set for March 8 in the federal bribery case of former Circuit Court Judge Mike Maggio.

Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round 2: 'Girl gang' for the win

A recap of the 25th annual Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, Round 2.

12 Delta National Small Prints winners include Criswell and Fendley

Twelve works in the 21st annual "Delta National Small Prints Exhibition" at Arkansas State University have been purchased for the permanent collection of the Bradbury Art Museum, including two by Arkansans: Warren Criswell of Benton and DebiLynn Fendley of Arkadelphia. Work by four other Arkansas artists was accepted into the show as well.

Final Obama jobs report: 227,000 new jobs, unemployment rate at 4.8 percent

Employers added 227,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department announced today, marking a record 75 straight months of job growth (the previous record was 48).

Benton High student diagnosed with mumps

KATV reports that a student at Benton High has been diagnosed with mumps. The student is no longer contagious, according to Benton School District Superintendent Mike Skelton. The Arkansas Department of Health currently has 2,709 cases of mumps under investigation, deemed an "active outbreak."

Rich Mountain Community College merges with UA System

Rich Mountain Community College of Mena has officially merged with the University of Arkansas System, Arkansas Business reports.

New law gives father, parents standing to stop a woman's abortion

State Rep. Andy Mayberry's HB 1032 bill that makes the safest abortion procedure available to women 12 weeks or more pregnant illegal also allows a husband or parents to seek an injunction to stop the abortion.

The Friday line and video

The Money Problems Edition

Arkansas’s money problems, a wild week at the legislature, Tom Cotton and constituents, Little Rock schools and more — all covered on this week's podcast.

About that massacre in Bowling Green ...

So clever, this response to Kellyanne Conway's defense of her boss' immigration ban, her reference to a massacre by Iraqi terrorists that the press just blew off.Go here to donate, and to enjoy the sweet barb of satire, which I prefer to window-bashing. So far.

State Treasurer Milligan found not liable in wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit

KATV reports that a verdict was reached late last night in the wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit brought by former David Singer, a former Arkansas treasurer's office staffer, against Treasurer Dennis Milligan and his chief of staff Jim Harris. The jury found in favor of Milligan and Harris.

Cotton apologizes to Ozark Indivisible, promises town hall this month

How's that chant go? "This is what democracy looks like."

Your daily dose of Jason Rapert

Sen. Jason Rapert really, really didn't like it when a KATV reporter asked him about the hypocrisy of his political arguments.

Federal judge halts Trump's travel ban

A federal judge yesterday issued a nationwide temporary injunction blocking enforcement of President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban, issued a week ago.

Full moon over Trump Tower

The posterior style in American politics.

Local scientists planning Trump protest in Little Rock to coincide with Earth Day March for Science

Good story from THV11 on local scientists and activists planning a local March for Science in Little Rock set for this April.

Saturday open line

The line is open in the wild, wild world.

Federal appeals court rejects Trump administration's request to reinstate travel ban

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this morning rejected the Trump administration's request for an immediate stay to reinstate the president's ban on refugees and certain visa holders from entering the country, the New York Times reports.

How often should the legislature convene? It would take a constitutional amendment to change.

Here's an idea that has mostly gotten lost in the shuffle in the legislative shenanigans this year: Back in November, Sen. Jim Hendren filed Senate Joint Resolution 1, which would propose a constitutional amendment to eliminate the fiscal session of the legislature. Sounds like a good idea to me! However, we're hearing rumblings that some in the House may want to go the other direction, potentially proposing an amendment to require the legislature to meet in a full, regular session every year instead of every other year.

Rep. Andy Davis floats idea for annual regular sessions of General Assembly

Update to the last post: I've now gotten confirmation from Rep. Andy Davis that the idea of annual regular sessions of the General Assembly is his.

Super open line

Are you ready for some football?

Della Rosa makes case for searchable campaign finance database; slams "tort reform" proposal

Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers) appeared on Talk Business this weekend to make her case for her bill improving transparency and access to campaign finance information. She also firmly argued against the so-called "tort reform" proposal to amend the constitution: "That's essentially the value of a human life. I am staunchly pro-life, and you're never going to find me putting a dollar value on a human life."

The mass movement against Trump

On the effectiveness of the remarkable organizing and protest movements across the country against President Donald Trump and his policies — and what's next.

Review: Eric Church at Verizon Arena

"It's just us. Ain't nobody else coming out."

Sean Spicer: Saturday Night Live is too mean

Spicer says Melissa McCarthy "could dial back" and SNL has "gone from funny to mean."

Moms Demand Action: campus carry is a "solution without a problem"

On Capitol View over the weekend, Rep. Michelle Gray, a backer of Charlie Collins bill to force public universities and colleges to allow staff members to carry concealed handguns, faced off against Austin Bailey, director of the Arkansas Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a citizens group which opposes the bill.

Mike Huckabee attempts joke

Mike Huckabee has never cried. Because he's a boy.

"Amazon tax" passes out of Senate, on to House

Senate Bill 140, the proposal by Sen. Jake Files to require out-of-state sellers who do significant business in Arkansas to collect sales and use tax, passed out of the Senate today.

KARK and Fox16 launch anti-violence initiative

KARK and Fox16, in response to the fatal shootings late last year or two toddlers, are launching an anti-violence campaign.

Paninis & Co., I Love Juice Bar join up

Paninis & Company, a sandwich and salad supplier created by Taziki’s owner Jim Keet, is now providing I Love Juice Bar in the Midtowne Shopping Center with eat-in or take-out meals. The sandwiches use Boar’s Head brand meats and cheeses; vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free paninis will be on the menu as well, and there will be salad offerings, too. All will be made to order, rather than preprepared.

Bill aimed at non-existent problem of Sharia law in American court system passes House

Demagogue Day Afternoon.

The Monday line and video roundup

Over to you.

Hester bill would allow sale of wine in grocery stores

Sen. Bart Hester today filed a bill to allow the sale of wine from any winery in grocery stores.

Politico: White House unhappy with SNL's Spicer roasting

As Trumpworld turns.

House passes measure to block Satanic monument

The House yesterday passed Rep. Kim Hammer's House Bill 1273, which would halt consideration of new monuments on the Capitol grounds unless they're first approved by the legislature. The bill appears to be aimed at the Satanic Temple, a religious group that is unpopular among lawmakers at the Capitol.

Twelve-year-old boy charged with capital murder in Fouke

A 12-year-old boy alleged to have shot a convenience store clerk in Fouke has been charged with capital murder.

Speaker Gillam's bill to gut ethics law sails through House

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam's bill to gut the state's ethics law passed 83-8 in the House yesterday. It's on to the Senate.

Art of Architecture: Steve Luoni talks about Mayflower, Vilonia plans: UPDATE

Tonight's June Freeman lecture series at the Arkansas Arts Center features Steve Luoni of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, who'll talk about recovery plans for Vilonia and Mayflower, towns devastated by tornadoes in 2014.

Anti-immigrant legislation fails in committee; Smith said aim was to stop Arkansas campuses from becoming Berkeley

Rep. Brandt Smith's bill to "prohibit sanctuary policies at state-supported institutions of higher education" failed by a voice vote today in the House Education committee. Smith said he does not plan to run the bill again.

Governor says bills targeting Sharia law and 'sanctuary campuses' are unnecessary

At a press conference this morning to sign his military retiree tax cut into law, Governor Hutchinson gave critical remarks about two pieces of legislation by Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro) that seem to target immigrants.

Davis likely to file proposal for annual sessions but calls it a long shot to be pushed out by the House

As we first reported over the weekend, Rep. Andy Davis is floating the idea of moving from biennial regular sessions of the General Assembly to annual sessions.

Quapaw Quarter Association asks governor not to abolish zoning district

The Quapaw Quarter Association, which since 1968 has worked to preserve downtown Little Rock's historic buildings and character, has written Governor Hutchinson asking for his support of the Capitol Zoning District Commission.

Betsy DeVos confirmed as Education Secretary

The U.S. Senate today confirmed President Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Sen. Tom Cotton aims to lead Trump's charge to curtail legal immigration

Politico reports that Sen. Tom Cotton is angling to be at the forefront of Trump's effort to crack down on legal immigration, including stopping the entry of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world.

Senate Democrats plan another all-nighter, this time to protest Sessions

The Hill reports that Senate Democrats are planning an overnight debate to protest President Trumps nomination for attorney general, Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.

Hutchinson bill to school judges on psych evaluations

A bill that Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson says will reduce jail time for defendants waiting for psychiatric evaluations and preserve their constitutional right not to incriminate themselves will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

NWA Worker's Justice Center: Fort Smith Sen. Jake Files' construction company avoiding $10,000 payment to subcontractor

The Northwest Arkansas Worker's Justice Center, which is representing a subcontractor from Northwest Arkansas, claims that Arkansas Sen. Jake Files (R- Fort Smith) owes the subcontractor they represent almost $10,000 for roofing work done for Files' construction company, FFH Construction. After many attempts to reach Files, they say, he still hasn't paid.

Sales tax collection bill clears House

A bill that would require shoppers to pay Arkansas sales tax on online purchases passed in the House 54-26 Tuesday.

Homeless advocates urge Little Rock City Board to stop evictions of camps

Aaron Reddin of The One, who organized the effort, said the city has posted notices at four camps in the past few weeks demanding that people vacate the premises within five days. When the deadline runs out, code enforcement has in some cases thrown away people's belongings, he stated.

Legislators trolling Facebook? Some UA faculty fear "chilling effect" on political speech

Multiple University of Arkansas at Fayetteville faculty members have told us that they have been warned about legislators monitoring Facebook looking for faculty members who make political posts between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

AG Rutlege requests stay of EPA plan to reduce air pollution

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge continues her efforts to shield utility companies from federal regulations aiming to cut down on emissions that create haze.

Bill would consolidate Arkansas election oversight in secretary of state's office

A bill sponsored by Rep. Michelle Gray (R-Melbourne) would transfer the state Board of Election Commissioners to the secretary of state's office. That's a bad idea, the state board's Republican Party designee says.

Three Fold headed to Main Street

Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co. plans to move from 215 Center St. to 613 Main St. by August, owner Lisa Zhang says.

Speaker's bill to weaken ethics law amended; still chips away at ethics law

The modifications change it from a bill that completely torches ethics law and the original intent behind Amendment 94 to a bill that merely significantly chips away at ethics law.

Sierra Club: "Rutledge never misses an opportunity to fight for dirtier air."

Read the Sierra Club's response to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's attack on clean air plan.

Bill to restrict food stamp purchases fails in Senate committee

The opposition of grocers such as Walmart and other business interests may have helped defeat the measure in the Senate committee today.

Ambassadors coming to downtown

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership plans to employ two people to be Downtown Ambassadors to monitor street cleanliness and safety and offer help to visitors. The ambassadors, who will work in the blocks that are part of the Metrocentre Improvement District, will wear uniforms and will report to DLRP on various repair needs, graffiti and other such things to keep things looking shipshape. Many larger cities have put ambassador programs in place.

LRPD: One killed, three shot during robbery attempt

The Little Rock Police Department today released the report on what witnesses said was a home invasion robbery-turned-shooting in which an 18-year-old man was killed, and three others were shot.

Tech Park gets $50,000 boost from ACH, UALR

Arkansas Children's Hospital and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will increase their contributions to the Little Rock Technology Park by $25,000 each for two years, park Director Brent Birch says.

Campaign finance transparency bill passes committee, heads to House (updated)

The bill would greatly increase transparency in campaign finance in Arkansas by creating a searchable electronic system.

The humpday video and open line

Your turn.

Proposed constitutional amendments pile up on filing deadline: torts, schools, Capitol monuments and more

Today is the deadline for the Arkansas legislature to file joint resolutions — that is, legislatively referred amendments to the state constitution — and the Capitol is seeing a flurry of last-minute filings from members.

Senate committee advances bill to exempt school security from FOIA

SB 12 is hardly the only bill seeking to circumscribe the FOIA. Other legislation proposes exempting records of the Capitol police, litigation involving a public college or university, and dash and body camera footage relevant to a law enforcement investigation.

Ark. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Fayetteville civil rights ordinance (updated)

The state Supreme Court this morning heard oral arguments in the case challenging the legitimacy of Fayetteville's civil rights ordinance providing LGBT people protection from discrimination.

Henri Linton: See his works tonight, hear him tomorrow

Hearne Fine Art is having a reception at 5:30 p.m. tonight for its new exhibition, "Henri Linton: Recent Works on Paper and Canvas." Linton will talk about the work Saturday at noon.

Racing season opens at Oaklawn

Oaklawn is not only Arkansas's only Thoroughbred racing venue, it holds title as one of the top tracks in the nation. The venue, which is located at 2705 Central Avenue, is open year-round for simulcasting and electronic gaming operations and features live racing from January through mid-April. The 57-day live racing season began on January 13 this year.