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February 14, 2013

Vol 39 • No 24

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The fight to desegregate the Arkansas Capitol cafeteria

It took protests and the court to make the Capitol follow law.

Rep. John Walker is back at work after cancer treatment

State Rep. John Walker of Little Rock made a couple of appearances at the Capitol this week, at both a Black Caucus meeting and a Judiciary Committee meeting, after losing a couple of weeks to hospital treatment.

Conway School Board protects church visits; speech for parents not so much

The Conway School Board tonight adopted a policy crafted by a conservative religious organization meant to continue to facilitate regular lunchtime visits to schools by youth ministers.

Walton money samples Northwest Arkansas opinion; finds people happy

The Walton billions are now being used by the Walton Family Foundation to gauge the mood in Northwest Arkansas.

Rapert abortion bill is forever

It occurred to me in the middle of the night what the game may be on Sen. Jason Rapert's unconstitutional bill to ban abortions from 12 weeks of a pregnancy on.

Mitch Bettis new publisher at Arkansas Business

The Arkansas Business Publishing Group has announced that Mitch Bettis, a regional publisher for Gatehouse Media in Arkansas and Louisiana, will be the general manager of the publishing group and publisher of Arkansas Business.

Unlocking the mysteries of olive oil at Strippaggio

Like wine, coffee, or tea, olive oil varies in flavor. You can now find your perfect fit.

Former Hog coach John Smith under scrutiny for contract in bankruptcy court

USA Today reports: Former Arkansas football coach John L. Smith has been accused of using his employment contracts with the Razorbacks to defraud several of his creditors, according to two complaints filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Here it is: Oxford American Editor Roger Hodge on The Colbert Report

Oxford American Editor Roger Hodge was on The Colbert Report last night.

Will Republicans boycott Walmart now? Walton Foundation acknowledges climate change

Climate change hasn't come up at the Guns and Fetuses Session of the Arkansas legislature.

How best to improve schools

How best to improve schools? The Billionaire Boys Club way, by tearing down real public schools and creating dozens or even hundreds of individual school districts in the form of charter schools, virtual schools and private schools powered by public vouchers?

UPDATE: UA taps athletic fund-raiser for Advancement Division

Well, sure. Without football, the University of Arkansas couldn't raise any money.

UPDATE: Guns and fetuses — abortion ban approved by Senate committee today

The Guns and Fetuses session of the Arkansas legislature continues today. Word is that Rep. Andy Mayberry will amend his abortion ban beginning with the 20th week of pregnancy to allow for abortions in cases of rape and incest.

UPDATE: Ethics bill will combine with legislative pay, term limits expansion

Regnat Populus, the organization pushing a ballot initiative for stronger ethics laws in Arkansas, says a "comprehensive" ethics reform bill is expected to be filed today.

Thursday To-Do: Winston Family Orchestra

Winston Family Orchestra plays at White Water Tavern Thursday.

Thursday: The Dirty Heads, 'Til Beth Do Us Part' and more

The Dirty Heads play at Juanita's Thursday night.

We're over the hump in God, Guns and Fetuses Session, Week 5

The midweek line commences. Finishing up: * MARCO RUBIO AND THE BIG GULP: Forget the water, Rubio's message was the same old claptrap, writes Talking Points Memo.

Tech Park talk underway

Leslie Newell Peacock is covering the meeting of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority. Kelly Dudzik of Fox 16 supplied the photo above via Twitter of a good crowd gathered as the board discusses finalists for a site, all of them unsuitable in the eyes of a hired-gun consultant operating under the sway of tech park godfather Dickson Flake.

The vote suppression forecast — clearly a chance of disenfranchisement

Republican Sen. Bryan King told Roby Brock he'll seek approval Thursday of his bill to suppress the vote of elderly, minority and other Democratic friendly constituencies in Arkansas.

Tech park board meets; no progress

Little Rock Technology Park Authority's board chair Mary Good opened today's meeting with a statement she'd told the Times on Monday: "There is still a misunderstanding," she said, "of the vision of the park."

Safe house

The Dirty Heads at Juanita's

Also, "Project 1927: The Lynching of John Carter" at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

Decide on Medicaid already

The Republican Party, newly in charge of the Arkansas legislature, isn't wearing the crown easily.

NW Arkansas's turn for gubernatorial candidate?

Community leaders in Northwest Arkansas are quite conscious that, despite its growing economic power and population, the region has yet to elect one of its own as governor in the contemporary era.

Still amazed

I am writing this with a heavy vagina, in response to the "War on Women" (Feb. 6) article.

Today's crisis

The cover story of this issue of the Arkansas Times reminds us of another day when zealots tried to hold themselves above the law. Then it was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that they didn't want to comply with, and the practice of racial discrimination that they sought to defend.

One road win a year for Hogs

At some point during or after the telecast of Arkansas's listless, unspeakably awful performance Saturday at Vanderbilt, one of the commentators who had to make smirking reference to the production as the "SEC Game of the Week" unleashed this tidbit: The Razorbacks have won 12 SEC road games in the last 10 years.

Sumac to go

Jon Nichols posted this photo of a robin landing on sumac to our Eye On Arkansas Flickr group. Last week's Where in Arkansas winner was Jacob Brock, who correctly guessed our photo was taken at the grotto at Petit Jean State Park on the Seven Hollows Trail.

On black history

If you're going to devote an entire month to appreciating the history of a color, it might as well be the color black.

Professor Droney

In defense of cats

Sitting on my front porch a while back, I was watching two bald eagles perched on a cypress limb overlooking the bayou while hummingbirds swooped and buzzed around my ears — an everyday event around here in summer. Struck by simultaneous sightings of the largest and smallest birds in North America, I wondered if I was in danger of becoming a Bird Nut.

Flat, rote and dopey

'Identity Thief' steals McCarthy's comedic talent.


Ten months ago my wife and I learned that she was pregnant, and we couldn't have been more excited. We made a baby budget, bought parenting books and paid careful attention to everything she ate.

Seeing demons

Demonize is the hot verb in political discourse these days.

It was a good week for gubernatorial race jockeying

It was also a good week for delaying and a tort reform battle. It was a bad week for secrecy and bookbag snatchers.

Revolutioners in the air

Little Rock quintet wins on showmanship, hard rockin' riffs.

The case for taxes

An old friend who worked harder and smarter than I did in my fecund years and has much more to show for it treated me to lunch and upbraided me in what I thought was an unusually gentlemanly way for having thrown my lot with the utopian socialist Barack Obama.

Great sandwiches, pasta at the Milford Track

It's a trek, but well worth it.

Jimbo Mathus at White Water Tavern

Also, Winston Family Orchestra at White Water, the 18th Annual Custom Knife Show at Robinson Center Exhibition Hall, Suzanne Vega at Juanita's, Lacuna Coil and Sevendust at Revolution, Mushroomhead at Juanita's and Old 97's at Revolution

The inconsequential news quiz: the Chelsea Clinton edition

Play at home.

No rights for tenants in Arkansas

Study panel wants landlords to fix properties, end retaliatory eviction.

Republicans fight to preserve doctor pay

And then there was Irvin, the senator from Mountain View whose air of entitlement has begun to rankle even some of her Republican colleagues.

Morning matters — the God, Guns and Fetuses legislature

Morning notes from the mail and more: * THE GUNS AND FETUSES LEGISLATURE: The City Wire notes how Republican campaign season rhetoric that focused on the economy, jobs, taxes and such has been supplanted in the first month of the legislature with a laser-like focus on the womb and guns.

Friday To-Do: Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition album release show

Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition play at White Water Tavern Friday.

Blacks punished more often in schools

A new report out from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. It's a familiar story for anyone who's followed desegregation lawsuits in Pulaski County, the reports by advocates for ending corporal punishment in schools and just about any statistical measure you can find (not every district is the same, a key finding in this report): Black students in Arkansas schools are more likely to be suspended and receive corporal punishment than their white counterparts, according to a new report from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF).

God, Guns and Fetuses: Now it's the taxpayer-subsidized religious organization bill

Now comes extremist Republican (but I repeat myself) Rep. Randy Alexander with constitutionally flawed legislation to protect legislators like Rep. Justin Harris who want to promote religion in their state-funded daycare programs.

Chew on this: Chocolate salame from The Pantry

Chocolate salame you say? What is this seemingly unnatural creation? It's actually one of the best things you can stuff in your mouth this Valentine's Day.

God help the working man, Guns and Fetuses Session

The House Public Health Committee (John Burris, prop.) today rejected Rep. Jim Nickels' modest bill to add a week, from 25 to 26, to unemployment benefit payments.If he'd testified that there were a number of Republican doctors on unemployment, he might have done better.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4: Miles Rattz

Miles Rattz plays Round 4 of the Showcase, Thursday at Stickyz.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4: Peckerwolf

Peckerwolf plays Round 4 of the Showcase, Thursday at Stickyz.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4: Terminus

Terminus plays Round 4 of the Showcase, Thursday at Stickyz.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4: Tom and Hebron

Tom and Hebron play Round 4 of the Showcase, Thursday at Stickyz.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4: This Holy House

This Holy House plays Round 4 of the Showcase, Thursday at Stickyz.

Halter slams lottery scholarship bill

This train has left the station en route to passage, but gubernatorial candidate Bill Halter, who led creation of the Arkansas Lottery, says legislation to alter scholarship amounts will inevitably reduce the number going to college, the opposite of the lottery's aim.

2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase: Round 4 is tonight

Round 4 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase is Thursday night at Stickyz.

Weekend: Calle Soul, Govinda, AMSOIL Arenacross and more

The Big John Miller Band plays at The Afterthought Friday.

Justice Goodson's vacation in Italy; Tyson boat ride included

Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson's recent disclosure that she received a gift of a $50,000 trip to Italy last year from Fayetteville lawyer W.H. Taylor continues to stir talk that prompted me to pose a series of questions to various parties.

Scenes from The Butcher & Public pig roast

It's the latest from our web video series collaboration with Camp Friday Films on food and music.

State Rep. John Hutchison before Ethics Commission

The state Ethics Commission has found probable cause that freshman Republican Rep. John Hutchison of Harrisburg violated campaign finance laws in some of the money he drew from campaign funds to pay for personal expenses during the campaign.

City signs contract for storm debris pickup

Almost two months after the winter storm that left piles of tree debris mounded on city streets, the city has signed a contract to begin the cleanup.

The open line

The line is open. Closing out: * EQUAL RIGHTS?

Proposed land deal between CAW and Planning chair stirs controversy

A possible conservation easement deal with the chairman of the Pulaski County Planning Board has angered a group of Lake Maumelle Watershed landowners, who lodged complaints about a perceived conflict of interest this afternoon at the Central Arkansas Water board meeting.

Top of the morning — new library, abortion, schools, rails to trails

Odds and ends: * CHILDREN'S LIBRARY TO OPEN: I've marveled at the beautiful building as it rose along Jonesboro Drive on the south side of Interstate 630 across the freeway from the Little Rock Zoo and now comes word that the Central Arkansas Library System's Children's Library will open Saturday, March 16.

Saturday and Sunday To-Do: 18th Annual Arkansas C

The 18th Annual Arkansas Custom Knife Show is this weekend at Robinson Center Exhibition Hall.

Why is Tim Griffin pushing Keystone Pipeline so hard? Things go better with Kochs

U.S. Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin of Traskwood built his 2012 re-election campaign around advocacy of construction of the Keystone Pipeline, a potential environmental disaster that's about moving Canadian energy to Gulf Coast refineries for shipment of finished products overseas.

Homeland Security blamed for cooler crackdown

The Hogosphere has been buzzing with the news, first reported in the UA newspaper, that searches will be conducted on all bags and coolers taken to baseball games at the Baum Stadium on the UA campus in Fayetteville.

Texarkana auto dealer appointed to Game and Fish Commission

The appointee WAS from Texarkana as I predicted. And he is a well-to-do white guy.

Food Feedback Friday: Jerks, Shrimps, and Stalkers

Food Feedback Friday, people! I'm sure you've been waiting all week for this. Your time has come.

Dr. Timothy Cloyd stepping down as president of Hendrix College

This just in from Hendrix College: CONWAY, Ark. (February 15, 2013) — Dr. J. Timothy Cloyd today is stepping down as President of Hendrix College after 12 years in that position.

House approves bill to permit guns on college campuses

The House this morning approved 70-11, with one abstention, the bill by Republican Rep. Charlie Collins of Fayetteville to allow guns on college campuses.

Westerman government strangler delayed UPDATE

Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman's HB 1041, to put an arbitary 3 percent cap on annual state spending increases was at the top of the House agenda this morning but passed over.

Sunday To-Do: Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega plays at Juanita's Sunday night.

Fayetteville's Terminus takes Round 4 of the 2013 AT Musicians Showcase

Terminus won Round 4 of the Times Musicians Showcase.

Sunday To-Do: Lacuna Coil, Sevendust

Lacuna Coil plays at Revolution Sunday night.

State Health Department director departing

Dr. Paul Halverson, director of the Arkansas Department of Health since May 2005, will leave the state this spring to be founding dean of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis.

William Dunlap, Doug Norton, John Watson and more

Galleries open 5-8 p.m. tonight.

CALS now offering free music downloads through Freegal

The Central Arkansas Library System announced today that patrons will be able to download up to three free songs per week through the music download site Freegal.

Here's Gossip's new video for 'Get a Job'

Gossip released the video for "Get a Job" today.

The God, Guns and Fetuses Edition

The latest on the reduction in the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery rewards to students, voter ID, the abortion bans, the grand ethics bargain, the professor carry bill, the hiccup for the spending cap legislation, Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson's high-flying disclosures and the tech park — all covered on this week's edition.

Friday night lines

The line is open. Finishing up: * ETHICS COMMISSION FINES REPUBLICAN LAWMAKER: Freshman Republican State Rep. John Hutchison of Harrisburg failed to convince the state Ethics Commission Friday that he'd broken a bright letter rule against use of campaign money to pay for rent and utilities in a family members's house.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4 roundup: Miles Rattz

Miles Rattz played Round 4 of the Showcase.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4 roundup: This Holy House

This Holy House played Round 4 of the Showcase.

"&*!?@$#" at Hearne Fine Art

The full name of the exhibition of shoe polish and ink artwork by self-taught artist Frank Frazier at Hearne Fine Art is: "This &*!?@$# Struggle: History Unfolds."

Two plead guilty to theft from photo archives

The U.S. attorney's office late this evening announced guilty pleas from two men who stole archival photos worth millions and used them to sells tens of thousands of dollars worth of prints.

Highway Department has hand out for more money

Legislative skulduggery is afoot that should enrage the Tea Party if a number 'baggers (aka Republicans) weren't in on the scam.

Morning madness: Notes from all over

Some morning mail musings: * THE UNIVERSITY OF MONEY: The University of Arkansas yesterday folded on fighting release of documents about multi-million-dollar overspending in its Advancement Division.

Studies: High tax rates don't drive people away; low rates don't attract

Quick: Somebody call out the Stepford Arkansas Republican Caucus to seize all copies of the New York Times and burn the, like a bunch of frat boys angry over a campus newspaper expose.

Arkansas Times graffiti

Post it here.

Movie Monday: Tiny civil rights pioneers

Here's a Monday lunch break movie worth checking out: At noon Monday at the Friday Courtroom of the UALR Bowen Law School by MacArthur Park, the Black Law Students Association and the Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service will screen "The Memphis 13: the Story of the Civil Rights Movement’s Smallest Pioneers."

Little Rock School Board meets Monday to pick superintendent finalists

The Little Rock School Board meets Monday afternoon to narrow applicants for the school superintendent's job to to finalists.

The nullification open line

Lovely day until I went to "Lincoln". It was a bit slow but the downer was the scene about call to postpone the vote on sending the 13th amendment to the states.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4 roundup: Peckerwolf

Peckerwolf played Round 4 of the Showcase.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4 roundup: Tom and Hebron

Tom and Hebron played Round 4 of the Showcase.

2013 AT Showcase Round 4 roundup: Terminus

Terminus won Round 4 of the Times Musicians Showcase.

Mindy McCrready dies of self-inflicted gunshot wound

Mindy McCready, the country singer, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at her home near Heber Springs Sunday afternoon.

God, guns and fetuses — or else

Last week was something. The Arkansas Republican legislative majority made progress on putting the Bible in public school, guns in church and the government smack in the middle of women's wombs.

Raising the minimum wage makes sense

The Arkansas minimum wage is $6.25 an hour. A full-time worker can gross $250 a week ($13,000 a year with no vacations) at that rate.

Tuesday To-Do: Mushroomhead

Mushroomhead plays at Juanita's Tuesday.

Arkansans doing good around the world

Jimmy Bryant, director of the archives at the University of Central Arkansas, sent me a recent addition to his growing collection.

Tuesday: Dangerous Idiots album release at White Water Tavern

The Dangerous Idiots play at White Water Tavern Tuesday.

Beware Republicans bearing gifts

On the Stepford Republican Caucus' legislative schedule is a bill seemingly meant to enhance the difficulties on use of eminent domain to take private property for other private uses.

Another gouge from Comcast UPDATE

Mara Leveritt writes with a word of warning about another one of the ways that Comcast plans to extract money from the unwitting cable TV customer: Watch out for a new Comcast charge.

Beware of Republicans who don't like alcohol

Here's another one to watch. The "drys" thought they'd preserved their no-alcohol zones through Lu Hardin's effort to put a ridiculously high requirement to petition for alcohol sales election.

A sensible Republican lives?

Everybody's talking about House Speaker Davy Carter's chat with Roby Brock. On the one hand, it's unremarkable.

The legislature rolls on: Westerman effort to clean up revenue cap fails

Rep. Bruce Westerman tried unsuccessfully to amend his government-strangngling HB 1041 to place an arbitrary cap on state spending growth.

Chris Cranford photo wins award

Filmaker gets first place in the 15th International Krappy Kamera competition.

Shawn James covers John Legend's "Who Did That to You"

Here's folk/rock singer-songwriter Shawn James of Fayetteville and his band The Shapeshifters doing a barn-burning cover of John Legend's "Who Did That to You" from the "Django Unchained" soundtrack during a recent appearance at UA's KUAF.

George Washington's open line

Hey, that was a good line about George Washington's picture in the British outhouse in "Lincoln."

Salty and rude, with a chance of chicken and fish

Shark's Chicken and Fish gets friendly with the salt shaker, but not much else.

Utopia Restaurant and Lounge now open on Center St.

Utopia Restaurant and Lounge, a new American-style eatery, opened today at 521 Center Street. You can check out their Facebook page here.

UPDATE: Former Hendrix president in armed encounter in home

KTHV reports that Dr. Timothy Cloyd, who announced last Friday he would resigning and going on sabbatical immediately, faced down an intruder at his home last December.

Four finalists for Little Rock superintendent

A reader keeping watch tells me four finalists have been chosen to interview to be the next Little Rock school superintendent.

Al Gore gives fiery talk at Clinton Presidential Library

Former Vice-president Al Gore gave a talk discussing his new book this evening at an invitation-only event at the Clinton Presidential Library, with students of the Clinton School of Public Service and a who’s who of local politcos in attendance, including David Pryor, Dale Bumpers, and Mack McLarty.

Bottom of the morning

Rounding up the overnight notes: * PINE BLUFF: COULD BE WORSE: Fox 16 reports on a British newspaper report that calls Pine Bluff the most crime-ridden little town in the U.S. Crime data puts its crime rate behind only Detroit, thanks to 18 homicides in the city of 49,000 in 2012.

Medicaid noise leads to inevitable conclusion — expansion won't pass in Arkansas

I mentioned yesterday the topic explored by Stephens Media at more length here in which Republican legislators, led by Majority Leader Bruce Westerman plan to hire a consultant to evaluate Medicaid and Medicaid expansion.

Wednesday To-Do: The Old 97's

The Old 97's play at Revolution Wednesday.

A frank conversation on hot dogs, brats, and sausages

Our list of some of the finest sausages, brats, and dogs around central Arkansas. Get em' while their hot.

Blind partisanship: It's not new, but the current version is worse

Ernie Dumas this week provides a little historical perspective on the rigid partisanship that defines debate in Washington and Little Rock.

Lottery math: Halter says the money is meeting projections, not demand

A small point on the article in the Democrat-Gazette this morning on the monthly Arkansas lottery revenue report.

Act fast and you can get yourself a Riverfest pass for only $10

Riverfest is offering $10 tickets for a limited time.

NLR talks about the Big Rock Quarry

A discussion is planned in North Little Rock on the city's Big Rock Quarry property, a parcel briefly targeted last year for an apartment development.

Medicaid co-pays produce little but pain

I said this morning and still believe that all the talk about Medicaid is a waste because Republicans won't go for it.

Walmart 'freaking out' about the economy

From The Washington Post's Wonkblog: “Well, we just had one of those weeks here at Walmart U.S. Where are all the customers?

High-flying Hogs

I got a tip the other day that Jeff Long, University of Arkansas athletic director, wants the Razorback Foundation to buy a new jet.

Capital Hotel pastry chef is semifinalist

Tandra Watkins is up for a James Beard Award.

Seniors, vets blast Republicans in Congress for taking a hike with budget cuts coming

The Arkansas Democratic Party ripped U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, Tom Cotton and Tiny Tim Griffin for leaving Washington — for a "personal spring break" — rather than deal with the cuts coming through the budget sequester.

Gun permits as official secrets

The vote was 84-3 in the House today to close the records of concealed carry permit holders from the state Freedom of Information Act.

Rapert abortion bill comes out of committee amid vote dispute UPDATE

David Goins reports that Sen. Jason Rapert's unconstitutional bill to ban most abortions at the 12th week of pregnancy was approved in the House Public Health Committee today on a voice vote.

Bill filed to raise judicial pay

The state's judges may get a pay raise after all. An effort to increase judicial pay was included in session-opening legislation, then removed for discussion later.

The Tuesday line

Another day done. The line is open.