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February 5, 2009

Vol 7 • No 4

Mike "Greenie" Ross

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, self-proclaimed environmentalist. sings a veritable Hallelujah Chorus to the coal-fired SWEPCO generating plant in an interview with the Hope Star.

Bomb suspected in W. Memphis blast

UPDATED Dr. Trent Pierce of West Memphis, chairman of the Arkansas Medical Board, was critically injured when his Lexus SUV hybrid exploded in the driveway of his home about 8 a.m. today. The  family practitioner, who was appointed to the Medical Board in 1997, was taken to a Memphis hospital where he was listed in critical condition.  A federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spokesman told Fox 16 (which posted the photo of Pierce) that an explosive device was found in the car. Police say they believe he was outside the car when it blew up as he prepared to go to work.

Shall we ...

... have an open line?

Digital darkness

The Internet has created a way around the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and, best I can tell, few have noticed or care.

Hogs clicking just in time

Even if we admit that Alabama flapped into Bud Walton a lame duck, having lost head coach Mark Gottfried a few days before, the rousing win felt good, not least of all because we seemed to be firing on all cylinders.

Random disclosures

1. I kilt my first bear, in the greenest state in the land of the free, when I was only three years old.

This modern world, Feb. 5

Orval, Feb. 5

Hucksterville, USA

In his new book, “Do the Right Thing” (Sentinel/Penguin Books, $25.95, hardcover) former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee presents a simple fix for all of America’s problems, from higher taxes to big government to drug abuse to c

AC-DC

It’s safe to say that no one, upon starting a rock ’n’ roll band, considers the implications of continuing into old age.

What's cooking, Feb. 5

The Station Grocery and Deli, the new restaurant located in the wedge formed by the intersection of Kavanaugh and Markham streets at Stifft Station, will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 21.

‘Looking Over the President’s Shoulder’

In a collaboration that’s just as winning as it’s been in the past, director Gilbert McCauley (“Fences,” “The Piano Lesson”) and actor Lawrence Hamilton have teamed to bring James Still’s one-man show to the Rep.

Smart talk, Feb. 5

The House last week routinely approved, 92-2 an appropriation of more than $5 million for staff and construction at War Memorial Stadium, which is best known as the home of a couple of University of Arkansas football games each year.

Observer, Feb. 5

It’s soon to be science fair time at Junior’s elementary school, and The Observer is on high alert.

Words, Feb. 5

I recently saw the restaurant chain McDonald’s referred to as the “kingpin” of the hamburger trade. Is this proper usage? I thought a “kingpin” was an individual of great power and influence, not a giant corporation. – Hardleigh DeCase

To-do list, Feb. 5

'Tango Fire,' 'The Fever,' Lanterns, Reel Civil Rights Film Festival, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk and Divine Performing Arts Chinese New Year Spectacular are among this week's entertainment options.

Hot wings

I love airplanes. Back when I was a kid, my dad would sometimes take us all out on hot summer nights and park at the end of the runway at Adams Field and we'd sit there and watch the big jets take off.

In brief, Feb. 5

Satellite Cafe, now open for cocktails and appetizers at night, hosts local folk rock hero Chris Denny, 9 p.m., free.

Nik and Sam

Congrats to Nik and Sam. The twins from Dover took home round two. Barely. Stay tuned for the lowdown on round two.

Dear Mr. Tax Man

This is a form letter to the Internal Revenue Service suitable for enclosure with your forthcoming federal income tax return.

New eStem growth?

The old Federal Reserve Building at 123 W. Third St., a grand 33,600-square-foot affair with marble floors and vaulted ceilings in the lobby, is under contract, realtor John Martin said.

Gas line blues

Beverly Strain-Eads is 70 years old. She’s a great-grandmother and a cattle rancher.

Of slavery and Reagan

Two feel-good resolutions praising modern presidents, one conceptually factual and the other mostly baloney, popped up in the Arkansas legislature in the last week with decidedly different fates.

Arkansas paints Max

Who can picture the 1960s without Peter Max?

Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2009

It was a GOOD week for … The NORTH LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL BOARD. It sued over Mayor Pat Hays’ scheme to divert school property taxes from a couple of new developments downtown for a parking deck. Even if this deal met statutory and constitutional muster, whic

Perfectly calibrated

I knew exactly what I was getting into when I plopped down to watch “Taken,” and — if you’ve seen the ads — so should you.

Boldly backward

Given the option of looking forward or backward, a Little Rock city advisory board didn’t tarry in setting a course for the past.

The Showcase rolls on

Hundreds packed into Sticky Fingerz last Friday for the kickoff of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

Editorial cartoon, Feb. 5

What we’re reading

Here are the top 10 bestsellers from three local bookstores. Data is most recent available.

Setting the agenda, and reporting it

It’s the end of the House Judiciary Committee meeting and I’m waiting on the chair, Rep. Steve Harrelson, for an interview. “Hold on,” he says, “I just have to post what happened.”

What’s Happening in February

Unless otherwise indicated, event is a reading and/or book signing. Call the location for details.

Zoo needs

Regarding “Send in the Elephants” article, I believe that great cities have great zoos.

Black History Month events

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at 501 W. Ninth St., where exhibits focus on the history of African-Americans in Arkansas from 1870 to the present, will host “Cultural Connection,” a series of events through the month of February, in celebration of Bl

What we’re reading

Here are the top 10 bestsellers from three local bookstores. Data is most recent available.

What’s Happening in February

Unless otherwise indicated, event is a reading and/or book signing. Call the location for details.

Book Notes

Ted Parkhurst, who co-founded August House (and sold it in 2005) and currently serves as the publisher of Butler Center Books, has a new publishing venture.

What’s Happening in February

Unless otherwise indicated, event is a reading and/or book signing. Call the location for details.

What we’re reading

Here are the top 10 bestsellers from three local bookstores. Data is most recent available.

We're from FEMA, we're here to help

When it rains, etc. Food kits recently distributed as part of a disaster relief effort in Kentucky and Arkansas may contain peanut butter contaminated with salmonella linked to a nationwide outbreak, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday.

Calling H and R Block

John Brummett indicates he's not too impressed with the Obama administration's parade of tax scofflaws nominated for high government positions.

Executive perks

A New York Times article on the executive perks enjoyed by banking executives, particularly those at banks benefitting from bailout funds, drops an Arkansas angle today.

News in babyjacking case

In case you missed it, this week's Times has news on the case of the mother arrested after her car was stolen, with foster child inside, when she dashed into a daycare to pick up her other child.

Behind the plaque -- UPDATE

Another legislative session, another batch of harmless resolutions honoring this basketball team, that fish, this president, etc. Non-controversial?

TV notes

Roby Brock previews this afternoon's House vote on the tobacco tax, which may be watched locally on Comcast.

Pierce update

Dr. Trent Pierce is in stable condition at The Med hospital in Memphis, Dr. Joseph Beck told the members of the state Medical Board this morning.

How low can it go?

New jobless claims highest in 26 years. The number on unemployment assistance is higher than it's ever been since records started in 1967, but since the workforce is larger, the percentage of unemployed isn't an all-time record.

Ark. Times Musicians Showcase Round 2: Whale Fire

Whale FireFormed: Last summer, initially, but in this current incarnation, in September.From: North Little RockMembers: John Steel (guitar and sing), Clay Grubbs (guitar and sings), Matthew Steel (bass and background vocals) and Will Vick (drums).

Ark. Times Musicians Showcase Round 2: Gina Gee

Gina GeeLocal debut: Early '07.From: Little RockAlbum: In September, she plans to release her debut.

Ark. Times Musicians Showcase Round 2: Nik and Sam

Nik and SamLive debut: At age 11, five years ago.From: Dover, just outside of Russellville.Backing band: Christopher Lee, Jeremy Huddleston, Richard Seitan (the girls' father).Album: The duo, who's signed to a development deal with Warner Bros., has been working on an album, in L.A. and Nashville, since last year.

Ark. Times Musicians Showcase Round 2: Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness MonsterFormed: Way back when as Nessie. Lead singer Sulac, the new ingredient, came on board in early 2007.From: Little RockAlbum: The band's debut, "Eleven Traditional Songs," came out last year on Max Recordings.

Supreme Court news

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today underwent surgery for what has been described as early stage pancreatic cancer.

Thursday To-Do: 'Tango Fire'

The passion. ‘TANGO FIRE'7:30 p.m., Reynolds Performance Hall, UCA, Conway.

Tobacco tax approved

--- Brian Chilson photo DONE: Rep. Greg Reep signals "clincher" on tax passage. The tobacco tax, mostly a 56-cent-a-pack increase on cigarettes, finally came to a vote in the House today.

Thursday: Chris Denny, the Weisenheimers, Parachute Woman and more

Satellite Cafe, now open for cocktails and appetizers at night, hosts local folk rock hero Chris Denny, 9 p.m., free.

ACLU re Family Council

The ACLU opposes Family Council's intervention in challenge of the act limiting adoption and foster parenting.

Relive the magic

Frown Pow'r, live at round 1 of the Musicians Showcase. Photo by Brian Chilson.

Tune In: 'Shotgun Stories' on TV

If you've still somehow managed to miss Jeff Nichols' acclaimed feature film debut, "Shotgun Stories," it's playing on the Sundance Channel for at least the next week or so.

As predicted, local dude sticks around on 'American Idol'

  I was busy watching the Hogs lose devastatingly and didn't catch last night's "American Idol," but as I predicted earlier, UCA's Kris Allen is still hanging around.

School woes

That school choice thing has implications for private schools, too. Remember when the Cathedral School decided to go it alone, continuing its long independence, rather than join in the new lower school at Episcopal Collegiate School, set to open next year?

Oh, no, not again

Another Obama appointee held up by tax arrearage. I'm inclined to say this appointee should not be punished for a $6,400 mistake by her husband's business.  At a minimum, I'd ask Arkansas Republicans to stifle it unless they're willing to be quoted as asking Rep. Ed Garner to resign from the legislature for far more egregious tax sins.

Oh, no, not again

Another Obama appointee held up by tax arrearage. I'm inclined to say this appointee should not be punished for a $6,400 mistake by her husband's business.  At a minimum, I'd ask Arkansas Republicans to stifle it unless they're willing to be quoted as asking Rep. Ed Garner to resign from the legislature for far more egregious tax sins.

Stimulus legislation works!

Mike Huckabee figures out a way to make money off it.

Stimulus legislation works!

Mike Huckabee figures out a way to make money off it.

More newspaper woes

An employee of a Stephens Media newspaper tells me that the company has notified employees that it is "temporarily" suspending company contributions to their 401K retirement plans.

Tough Times Indeed...

Man, it's tough out there.  It's rumored that Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon is about to auction off his entire wine collection through Sotheby's.  The collection is said to include 9,000 bottles and is expected to fetch over $5 million.  The WSJ reports:

Free at last

To say whatever.

Race, related

“Ruled by Race: Black/White Relations in Arkansas from Slavery to the Present” ($34.95, University of Arkansas Press, hardcover), is the latest effort by Grif Stockley to chronicle the history of race relations in Arkansas.

Hucksterville, USA

In his new book, “Do the Right Thing” (Sentinel/Penguin Books, $25.95, hardcover) former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee presents a simple fix for all of America’s problems, from higher taxes to big government to drug abuse to c

Foster mother won’t be prosecuted

A woman whose foster child was removed from her home after a carjacking incident will not be prosecuted, her lawyer said last week.

Straight talk

Fourteen years after President Bill Clinton fired her as surgeon general of the United States for uttering one final impolitic remark, Dr. Joycelyn Elders is long into retirement, but hers is not a repose that the meek would envy or her many old critics w

Toyota in the tank

U.S. automakers are not alone in their suffering.

Happy days ahead in NWA

Economist predicts turnaround. But that's not what caught my eye here.

Swindler's list

I haven't spotted any Arkies yet, but the list is long of those victimized nationwide by the Madoff scam.

Breadwinners and go-get-hers

The collapse of the industrial economy may soon produce a U.S. workforce that is majority female.

What would Paul Robeson say?

A House committee today routinely approved the sanitized version of Rep. Stephanie Flowers' previously controversial resolution of commendation for Barack Obama.

American hero

David Kinkade at The Arkansas Project, too busy looking for swimsuit shots to mess with serious stuff, alerts me to a Washington Post obit on an Arkansas native worth a moment of appreciation.

Katie Couric's favorite rapper to Alltel

Lil Wayne's coming to Alltel on Sat., March 14. Tickets just went on sale, via the Alltel Box Office (501-975-7575) and Ticketmaster.

Wal-Marts deprived of SI?

You might think this is a tawdry effort to stir reader interest, or something, on a slow day.

Nik and Sam take round 2

Ark. Times Musicians Showcase Round 2 winner Nik and Sam (that's opposite of how they're pictured above.

Friday To-Do: 'The Fever'

Alan Douglas stars and directs. ‘THE FEVER'7:30 p.m., Weekend Theater.

Gone to the dogs

Real dogs. In the face of this massive print media crunch, where newspaper all over are losing staff and killing sections left and right, Karen and Philip Martin have a plan to steel the Dem-Gaz's weekly MovieStyle from cuts.

Inside the tobacco vote

House Speaker Robbie Wills continues his informative blogging with some back story on yesterday's passage of the tobacco tax.

Random thoughts

Bob Lancaster's latest about "tagging" the Pope on Facebook inspired Michael Tilley to point me to his own riff on this Facebook pastime.

The Weekend: Shannon Boshears, Big Silver, Zach Holland and more

Shannon Boshears. FRIDAY 2/6“Get Lit.erary,” at the Cox Creative Center, features music by Chris Denny, a sneak peek at the Arkansas Literary Festival lineup and a tour of the new Arkansas Studies Institute.

Saturday To-Do: Lanterns

Somehow, I doubt Wildwood's lanterns will be this huge. LANTERNS5:30 p.m., Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts.

Weekend To-Do: Reel Civil Rights Film Festival

From "Trouble in Water." REEL CIVIL RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL2 p.m., Market Street Cinema.

Saturday To-Do: Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk

IVAN NEVILLE'S DUMPSTAPHUNK8:30 p.m., Revolution. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.Little Rock continues to deliver the funkiest, swampiest Cajun-spiced voodoo grooves Louisiana has to offer, and this week's highlight stems from the royal Neville family, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk.

Ever heard of the WPA? UPDATE

It's a pity that Democrats are caving to the Republican flyspecking of the Obama stimulus bill.

Bishop Allen in Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone has a mini-profile of Bishop Allen online now. The Brooklyn-based band, who've got an album coming out March 10 and a show at Sticky Fingerz a week later, features Little Rock native Christian Rudder on guitar and vocals.

Friday night flight

I'm edging on outta here. You're up.

Disaster declared

In 23 counties so far.

Doctor bombing

Update: Nothing.

NLR watch

A check with Scott Miller's North Little Rock Daily News invariably turns up some news of interest on the north shore.

Political powers

Summing up, John Brummett credits Gov. Beebe's acumen and, even more, House Speaker Robbie Wills, for the notable achievement of corraling 75 House members to vote for a tax increase to support a worthy list of health initiatives.

Checking West Memphis

The New York Times pays a call on West Memphis to talk with residents about the bombing of Dr. Trent Pierce.

Let us pray

They don't call it the Bible Belt for nothing. Gallup polling ranks the most religious states, in order: Mississippi Alabama South Carolina Tennessee Louisiana Arkansas (78 percent say religion is an important part of their daily life; it ranges up to 85 percent in Mississippi.)

Candidate seeks Ark. dough

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be in Arkansas today. His appearance before a Washington County Republican Lincoln Day dinner in Springdale had been announced previously.

Puppy mill watch

Humane organization activists have been buzzing this week about the so-called Freedom to Farm Act.

Itchy Twitter finger

Funny story. Ranking Repub on House Intelligence Committee blows cover on secret trip to Iraq by Twittering his arrival in Baghdad on his Blackberry.

Anybody there?

Good day to be outside. But here's a thread for those who aren't.

Sweet Treat.

Ernestine Ulmer probably has it right.  Her words of wisdom, "Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first" are hardly the sort of thing you should ignore.  Sure, there is a time and place... and though the time is purely up to you , you might consider Cupcakes on Kavanaugh, a cute little cupcake-and-coffee cafe across from Za Za's in the Heights.

Blanche and Tom

Brummett recounts Sen.Blanche Lincoln's defense of Tom Daschle -- at least insofar as a worthy nominee for the Cabinet -- hours before his nomination was pulled.

Don't cry for me, journalista

Don't wait for the Interwebs to become your sole source of news. This morning's Associated Press lineup of the top news on the Yahoo News website lists the 10 most important stories in America.

Don't cry for me, journalista

Don't wait for the Interwebs to become your sole source of news. This morning's Associated Press lineup of the top news on the Yahoo News website lists the 10 most important stories in America.

Man Oh Man

This is getting tough to watch. You have to wonder if this is the kind of defeat that will break the team's spirit.

How big is too big?

The New York Times today takes up the sometimes ticklish question of family size. Figures show a sharp historic decline in big families (more than five kids, say).

Goofing off

Still. Been caught up in a really important actvity -- watching old Best Picture winners on Turner Classic Movies.

The Best Picture Nominees

I finally got around to seeing "The Reader" today.  The film, directed by Stephen Daldry ("The Hours") is an adaptation of a German novel of the same title by Bernhard Schlink.  It stars Kate Winselt, who was nominated for an Oscar for the role, and Ralph Fiennes.

Gambling with the legislature

The lottery is expected to move to center stage at the legislature this week. Also: the bill to repeal the tax on charitable bingo is to come before a committee.

What's stimulus?

Brummett continues the argument that the stimulus bill needs to be stripped of some items not clearly stimulus.

Wish I'd said that

"It's stimulus if the Republicans like what it's being spent on, pork if they don't." Poll indicates GOP is losing spin war.

This year's Grammys upgraded from "abysmal" to just "terrible"

  M.I.A., pregnant and polka-dotted.

Eviction sought at dining legend

This may be, as one person suggests, a complicated financial dispute easily solved. But multiple generations of Arkies, particularly former UA students, will be interested in this story that says an eviction notice has been served on the operators of the legendary Mary Maestri's restaurant in Tontitown.

Scene of the crime

Arkansas Business notes a new real estate listing in Chenal Valley. Only $325,000 for the Chenal Circle property, but it includes the burned-out house in which lawyer Aaron Jones lived and there are some mortgages to be cleared up.

Skeleton in the closet ...

... of Michael Steele, the new GOP national chairman. Campaign finance questions.

Capitol notes

They may try a vote on the tobacco tax in Senate committee this week, Wednesday.

Romantic Robbie

Slow day. And I've been distracted by other work as well.

Monday To-Do: Divine Performing Arts

DIVINE PERFORMING ARTS CHINESE NEW YEAR SPECTACULAR7 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $27.It's the Year of the Ox, y'all.

Monday: Astral Project, Cattle Decapitation

John Vidacovich of the Astral Project. New Orleans' finest return to the Afterthought tonight, 9 p.m., $15.

Sounding the church alarm

OK. Republicans don't think building museums is stimulus, the example of the WPA notwithstanding. But there's at least one Republican who apparently thinks building churches would be just fine.

So much for change

At least in the case of the Obama administration's position on a lawsuit over extreme renditions.  It's for secrecy, just like GWB.

UALR still searching for law dean

The pick to be dean of the UALR Law School has turned down the job.

And here comes the pitch ....

Proposals for use of Ray Winder Field, the former minor league baseball park in War Memorial Park, are headed to the Little Rock Board of Directors, where sentiment is split.

Here comes Grover ...

Think hard of a national figure less likely to sway an Arkansas vote on tobacco than Dick Armey.

Bombing update

Dr. Trent Pierce, the Medical Board chairman critically injured in a bomb blast last week, is improving and may talk by the end of the week, a friend says.

The line is open

Comments here. Obama's stimulus bill was cleared for a vote in the Senate today with three Republicans on board, three better than the House.

From the SI Archives: What Was the Matter with (Ar)Kansas?

For many of us who suffered through Saturday's loss to Mississippi State, the game may have brought back memories of a certain 1991 NCAA Tournament defeat to Kansas.

"LANTERNS" AT WILDWOOD . . .

  Leave it to Cliff Baker, formerly of The Rep, to pull off another stellar Little Rock fund-raiser successfully disguised as an Event!

School troubles

Pat Lynch, who scours local news, notes this item: The Danville School District, which is losing students because of a poultry plant closure, is also losing its school superintendent.

Fine print

It's legislative minutia, but it's important: Legislation to reduce confusion over ballot measures by having a sequential numbering system for the ballot.

Sore winner

John Brummett thinks House Speaker Robbie Wills overreacted in callling down Republicans who did a little hooting during the pro-tobacco-tax debate.

Speaking of petty

I can't help venting on news reports that Andrew Card, Bush's former chief of staff (and others of the Bush era), believes President Obama shows disrespect for the office by sometimes working in the Oval Office without coat or tie.

Lottery takes shape -- badly

House Speaker Robbie Wills yesterday released the outline of lottery legislation. This link takes you to the full memo. And here's a more detailed article in the D-G.

Lottery takes shape -- badly

House Speaker Robbie Wills yesterday released the outline of lottery legislation. This link takes you to the full memo. And here's a more detailed article in the D-G.

Thank God for Mississippi

Buried in news of Toyota woes was the disclosure that the Japanese autoaker has indefinitely postponed the opening of an assembly plant in Tupelo, Miss. It may never open.

Thank God for Mississippi

Buried in news of Toyota woes was the disclosure that the Japanese autoaker has indefinitely postponed the opening of an assembly plant in Tupelo, Miss. It may never open.

Cosmetology protection act

That Rep. Steve Faris is one cagey operator. Check out his bill to prohibit public schools from setting up cosmetology programs in competition with for-profit cosmetology schools.

Clark in new venture

William Clark, whose family's interest in the big CDI construction firm founded by his late father was bought out recently by the Dillard family, has set up a competing firm.

About the housing market

Here's a December and year-end report on Arkansas housing sales. Grim.

Sucker bets

I just happened to receive the monthly report from the state Racing Commission on machine gambling at Oaklawn and Southland Parks.

The tabby tax

More legislative nuttiness. Here's a proposal to put a $3 tax (they call it a fee) on all vet visits for dogs and cats -- not farm-type animals, naturally -- to create a fund for animal shelters.

Abortion bill okayed

Rep. Dawn Creekmore, the leader in the demagogue of the year sweepstakes as measured by emotion-laden legislation of little practical consequence, got her so-called partial birth abortion bill out of committee today.

Tune In: Levon Helm

The most famous person to ever come from Marvell leads his band on Conan tonight.

Woe is Wal-Mart, too UPDATE

The end of the world as we know it. A reported 700 layoffs at Wal-Mart, which has generally run against the tide of declining sales among national retailers. These are home office jobs, a blow in Benton and Washington counties and beyond.

A Slowdown

Falling natty gas prices are slowing down exploration.  Here's a report from a Faulkner County point-of-view.  The Log Cabin has more.

Main Street demolition UPDATE

LOOK NOW: The Kempner building may soon be gone. You read in the Insider Jan. 9 (and the local newspaper caught up this week) that Warren Stephens was thinking of tearing down the buildings he owns on the 400 block of Main Street to build a new office building and parking.

No action on Proctor

Pulaski County circuit judges today voted 10-4 to table a recommendation that Circuit Judge Willard Proctor temporarily not be assigned criminal cases.

The people's lottery

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter released today results of a public opinion poll on state lottery structure.

The people's lottery

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter released today results of a public opinion poll on state lottery structure.

Run, Stormy, run

A potential opponent for La. Republican Sen. David Vitter. She's Stormy Daniels, a Baton Rouge-native porn star.

Anchors away?

Most people in the news business hit media websites a few times a day. It's a horror movie, best glimpsed between fingers ready to close shut at the worst carnage.

Oh the Benevolence...

The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton announced earlier today that a number of companies involved in Fayetteville Shale natural gas exploration donated a combined $100,000 to the Fayetteville Shale scholarship fund, which will help support UACCM's petroleum technology program.  So just remember kids, if you study hard in school and make good grades, then maybe one day you could get a scholarship to go to college, graduate and work for a natural gas company.  You'll be cutting down the natural forests of the state, finding creeks to dump frack water into, and scaring old ladies into signing pipeline contracts in no time!

7,000s, do I hear 6?

Wait, I thought this guy Geithner had so much Street cred that it was vital we overlooked his tax scamming.

Chesapeake's final push

The lobbyists are out in full force.  Rep. John Dismang's bill to limit the ability of gas producers to claim eminent domain in order to build their pipelines comes up before the agriculture committee tomorrow in the House.  You can learn more about the bill here and here, or just read it for yourself.  Chesapeake is sending out robocalls telling locals to call Dismang and express their opposition.  Dismang said he has called each constituent  back and says that once he explained his position and what the bill was really about, they ended up agreeing with him.  "This issue is basically asking the question: which side are our legislators on?  Are they for the big gas companies, or are they for the citizens of Arkansas?"

As Tricky said ...

... you don't have me to kick around any more. Over to you.

Wine and Chocolate.

Looking for a Wednesday Thursday night departure from normal?  Check out the wine and chocolate tasting at The Afterthought.  Bruce Cochran will lead epicures on a delightful four-wine journey that Chef David has paired with chocolates.  The event runs 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the 11th 12th.  It's just $10 a person.  For information and reservations, call (501) 663-1196.  For more on The Afterthought, check out the website.

Kid gloves

Because I write about crime, I am often asked if I've ever been threatened. For years, I've answered no. But last year, after I'd written an article about Pulaski County Circuit Judge Willard Proctor Jr., I received an anonymous call.

Hey, Arkansas--Long Time, No See!

And I'm taking the fact that this blog still exists as an indication that I'm still allowed to post here.  Is that presumptuous?I'm sorry for the long, long absence, and I will try to make up for it in the months to come.  Things have been...well, harsh.  Difficult.  But that's neither here nor there, in the here and now.  I'm back, and I'll try to stay.

Wal-Mart blues

Good coverage in the Morning News of the news that Wal-Mart was laying off more than 5 percent of its Bentonville headquarters work force.

The smoking light is lit

The tobacco tax comes out of Senate committee today.

The smoking light is lit

The tobacco tax comes out of Senate committee today.

Glasgow disappearance in news

The long-awaited article by Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine on John Glasgow, the vanished CFO of the CDI contractors firm, is out.

Tobacco tax approved

The tobacco tax got a do-pass in the Senate committee today -- Steve Faris, John Paul Capps, Paul Miller, Bobby Glover and Larry Teague were the yes votes -- Teague was the swing vote based on pre-meeting comments.

Rolling on the river

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, otherwise known as Commodore Hays' Navy, drew a record 20,017 visitors in 2008, to add to about 22,000 in its first two years of operation.

Lane Kiffin’s Eleven Prong Attack on the SEC

Razorbackexpats' crack team of investigative reporters in Knoxville has uncovered Lane Kiffin's secret plan for picking a fight with every school in the SEC.

The loyal opposition

The Republican leader in the U.S. House apparently is an idiot. Put this "joke" video in the mouth of a Democratic congressional leader, targeting an evangelical lobby with crude stereotyping, and just imagine the ear-splitting outcry.

The loyal opposition

The Republican leader in the U.S. House apparently is an idiot. Put this "joke" video in the mouth of a Democratic congressional leader, targeting an evangelical lobby with crude stereotyping, and just imagine the ear-splitting outcry.

More drivel from The Huckster

Speaking of idiocy: Mike Huckabee's e-mail blast that the stimulus bill was anti-religious has drawn wide attention.

The Italian Couple says arrivederci

The Italian Couple has closed. But Zarina Fornaris, who owns the restaurant with her husband Claudio, says they’re simply transitioning into a new location.

Pipeline bill beaten

That bill to give property owners a little more protection against eminent domain powers that gas producers enjoy even on the lines that feed interstate pipelines failed in committee today.

Pipeline bill beaten

That bill to give property owners a little more protection against eminent domain powers that gas producers enjoy even on the lines that feed interstate pipelines failed in committee today.

Bingo bill beaten back

The House Rules Committee today passed up an opportunity to endorse the bill to allow expansion of so-called charity bingo and end the tax and state regulation of the game.

Charity begins at home

Sen. Tracy Steele's name pops up in this week's Times (second item) for a coy response on whether he'll attempt to shift to the House in 2010 when he's term limited in his Senate seat.

Bow your heads; and check your safeties

The Arkansas House voted 57-42 today to allow concealed weapons in church. Sigh.

Cooper Tire's handout

You'd never get a toadying Arkansas elected official to admit he's been had by a corporate welfare supplicant, but take a look at this account of how Cooper Tire shook down three states, including Arkansas, for $66 million in state and worker gifts to keep three tire plants open.

Cooper Tire's handout

You'd never get a toadying Arkansas elected official to admit he's been had by a corporate welfare supplicant, but take a look at this account of how Cooper Tire shook down three states, including Arkansas, for $66 million in state and worker gifts to keep three tire plants open.

Hustle and flow

So somebody sends me a page from a website with high school yearbook pix. Life's too short to open such e-mail.

Happy days are here again

Agreement reached on stimulus bill, or so this Washington Post story says.

Hold the phone

Senate today passed the bill to prohibit texting while driving and to make a secondary offense of cell phone use by those under 18 and use of other than hands-free devices by those under 21.

Lobby Beats Little Guy

Jonathan Dismang's bill limiting the ability of pipeline companies to claim eminent domain to obtain right of way for their own private lines failed in the House Agriculture Committee this morning.

Arkies on stimulus vote

Paul Barton, a special Times contributor, reports from Washington on the reactions of U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln to the compromise on the stimulus bill.

Justice for Timothy

A Humane Society spokesman reports that justice was done today in Saline District Court in the case of two people accused of running a puppy mill whose resulting horrors included the blinding of the rescued Shih-Tzu, Timothy, who appeared on our cover a few weeks ago.
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