Dedicated tax will give bus agency flexibility to improve.
Rock our regionFebruary 18, 2016
Vol 42 • No 24
Also, "Jaws" at Ron Robinson, Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase at Stickyz, "Toruk: The First Flight" at Verizon Arena, Rebecca Wells at The Rep, Lanterns! at Wildwood and Watoto Children's Choir at Geyer Springs Baptist Church.
Says Leslie Rutledge.
That's available for lunch, too.
Alas, this is pretty much where I came in. Starting in 1994, when your humble, obedient servant was approached to contribute weekly political columns, I found the behavior of the national political press shocking and alarming.
Also, Scalia and Ginsburg, justice in the barrel and more.
A Christian's first duty is to the hungry, the sick, the oppressed.
Also, Little Rock Laxfest 2016 is at Burns Park.
In District 27, politics makes strange bedfellows.
Is the truth still out there?
As of Feb. 15 it had been 15 years on the dot since The Observer's Dear Old Pa, then only 51 years old, shuffled off his mortal coil and flew away, a moment that made Yours Truly feel like we might not survive it.
Call it "Mississippi Burned." Arkansas took a spin through the Magnolia State, and it ended up being one of the harshest road trips in recent memory, even for a basketball team that's had its share of struggles abroad.
They are right that Antonin Scalia's sudden death nearly a year before Barack Obama is to leave office is an epochal event, but for the loss of the nimble and dazzling old man himself and not because it will produce a major transformation of the U.S. Supreme Court.
I know that many people in Arkansas are dismissive of Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator competing against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. But Arkansans should take a hard look at what Sanders is proposing and what is happening around his campaign.
The White Water Tavern's clientele, with chalk in hand, has made a second-floor wall in the Little Rock establishment a work of art.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe today endorsed Clark Mason for the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Little Rock attorney David Couch says he has initial commitments of $1.5 million to back his efforts to get 85,000 signatures to put his proposal to legalize medical marijuana on the ballot this fall. And Couch is confident voters will approve, telling Talk Business: “I have polled it… I’m at near 70% of the voters. I’m 90% certain we’re going to win.”
Rep. Bob Ballinger of Hindsville is facing foreclosure on his home, the Madison County Record reports.
Sen. Jason Rapert yesterday created a GoFundMe fundraising effort to raise money for a monument to Ten Commandments to be placed at the Arkansas State Capitol.
Remembering an old Arkansas radio ad.
Conner Eldridge and John Boozman spar over whether Senate should consider a nominee for Supreme Court vacancy
Former U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge, who is challenging U.S. Sen. John Boozman, said in a statement yesterday that the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia should be filled. Boozman believes that the Senate should refuse to consider any nominee, regardless of qualifications.
Pope Francis: Donald Trump's platform "not Christian." Trump: When ISIS attacks Vatican, Pope will wish Trump was president.
Pope Francis has sharp words for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Two men were sentenced today in a federal bribery scheme to help a mental health contractor with the state Department of Human Services.
Kind of a funny story from Deadspin today about Chris Barnicle — once an All-American in track for the University of Arkansas — coming in dead last during the recent trails for the U.S. Olympic marathon team in L.A., with a time of 3:45:34, which was apparently the slowest time any runner of either gender has ever clocked in the Olympic trials since 2000.
Members of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously today to name Jeff Crow the agency's new director.
A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center finds that the number of hate groups in the United States rose to 892 in 2015, up from 784 the year before. Twenty-two hate groups were identified in Arkansas, including a number of KKK and neo-Nazi groups.
Okay, the cage match between Donald Trump and Pope Francis is a fun story, but we're all burying the lede here.
A report out today from ABC News details their attempts to track down the only two U.S. mass school shooters walking free today: Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden. In 1998, when Johnson was 13 and Golden 11, they pulled a fire alarm at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro and then gunned down their classmates with high powered rifles as children and teachers emerged from the school, killing four students and a teacher.
A majority of voters in six states with tight senate battles favor criminal justice reform. Don't tell Sen. Tom Cotton, who is trotting out tired "tough on crime" in efforts to block reform efforts in the Senate.
Ethics Commission begins investigation into Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Treasurer Dennis Milligan
Little Rock attorney Matt Campbell, blogger at the Blue Hog Report, says that the Arkansas Ethics Commission has begun an investigation into whether Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Treasurer Dennis Milligan violated state law by campaigning in Iowa for Mike Huckabee's doomed bid for president, the AP reports.
The 17 lawyers involved in a class action case that was moved from federal to state court and led to a settlement that enriched plaintiffs lawyers, but perhaps not so much their clients, appeared at a show-cause hearing before U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III in Fort Smith today, Arkansas Business reports.
The University of Arkansas Press has released its Spring 2016 catalog, and it's a great list, particularly for poetry fans and Arkansas history buffs. There's an oral history of the Arkansas Democrat, a monograph on Bill Clinton's racial politics (blurbed by Cornel West) and a new edition of Waymon Hogue's "Back Yonder: An Ozark Chronicle," edited by Brooks Blevins. "Back Yonder," which will be out in April, was originally published in 1932 and is the first of the press' new Chronicles of the Ozarks series.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has granted a temporary suspension of Garland County Circuit Judge Wade Naramore with pay. The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission voted to recommend the suspension earlier this week.
Over to you.
On Marco Rubio, the "party decides" theory, and the a potential endorsement from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor disagrees with the GOP's faux-principled obstruction on filling a Supreme Court vacancy.
ACLU raises questions about Maumelle High School assembly, for black students only, on gang violence
Maumelle High School had an assembly this week on gang violence, for black students only. The school said it was part of a court-ordered desegregation program but some are families are raising concerns.
Congrats to Vintage Pistol, winner of last night's semi-final round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. They'll join SOULution, Sean Fresh & The Nasty Fresh Crew and The Uh Huhs at the finals, which will be held at Revolution on Friday, Feb. 26.
Justice at Stake, a national organization that monitors judicial election expenditures, yesterday announced that its analysis of Federal Communication Commission filings showed a conservative "dark money" group called the Judicial Crisis Network has bought at least $532,030 in television ad contracts attacking Associate Justice Courtney Goodson.
By a 6-1 vote, the Charter Authorizing Panel approved eStem's plan to open a new high school at the UALR campus and a new elementary and middle school at 400 Shall Street, near the Clinton Library.
Important matters were before the Arkansas Legislative Council this morning. Should lawmakers be allowed to wear jeans or sweatpants to ALC meetings? Sen. Jimmy Hickey (R-Texarkana) said no and proposed that the panel require members to dress "business casual" at meetings. Lawmakers could've been kicked out of meetings for violating the dress code under his plan.
I don't understand Tumblr, and its very existence makes me feel insecure and prematurely aged in only the way that a social media platform you don't understand can do, but today I found a wonderful Tumblr called "70s Sci-Fi Art." (I'm using that word the wrong way, aren't I? Is that how you refer to it, as "a Tumblr"? I'm done for.)
Gov. Hutchinson’s political pitch for maintaining Medicaid expansion, a vote that puts eStem on the expansion path and the latest on money and judicial politics — all covered on this week's podcast.
The charter authorizing panel at the Arkansas Department of Education this afternoon approved by a 7-1 vote the expansion of LISA Academy, a charter operator in West Little Rock.
Over to you.
The state Highway and Transportation Department has published on its webpage explaining the 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 a link, "Know the Facts."
Out-of-state organization supporting Womack, attacking Mason in associate justice race for Supreme Court
The Republican State Leadership Committee, a 527 group based in Washington, is launching ads against Little Rock lawyer Clark Mason, who is running for an Associate Justice position on the Arkansas Supreme Court. The mailers support Mason's opponent, Circuit Judge Shawn Womack, a former Republican legislator from Mountain Home.
In a letter to the state's ACLU chapter, counsel for the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) stated bluntly that singling out black students for an assembly at Maumelle High School on gang violence was wrong and would not happen again.
A special session to consider changes to the state's Medicaid expansion program will begin April 6, and the. Hutchinson is exploring legal avenues for passing Medicaid expansion without 75 percent support.
It's an open line.
Donald Trump, as expected, won easily in the South Carolina primary tonight. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, he has 32.6 percent of the vote, ten points better than Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are separated by less than 1,000 votes at around 22.5 percent.
Interpreting the Democratic caucus results from Nevada.
In a response on Friday, U.S. attorneys urged Judge Brian Miller to reject Mike Maggio's request to withdraw his guilty plea. The request comes only because Maggio broke the terms of that plea deal in January, they say.
Your Sunday open line.
This is Rubio's axiomatic answer to Donald Trump's insistence that he and he alone will Make America Great Again: America is the greatest, always has been.
Add Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam and State Auditor Andrea Lea to the pile of endorsements from Arkansas GOP officeholders for Marco Rubio. Both announced that they were backing presidential hopeful yesterday, when he was in town for a rally in Little Rock.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz will make a campaign stop in Arkansas on Sunday, Feb. 28, two days before the primary on March 1. It's the third visit he's made to Arkansas. The location remains to be determined.
Cara McCollum, a Forrest City native who won the Miss New Jersey pageant and competed for Miss America during a break from attending Princeton, died early this morning, a week after her car spun off a New Jersey highway and crashed into trees. She was 24.
On supermajority thresholds and vote counts: the political future of the private option, and health insurance for more than 250,000 Arkansans, looks increasingly dicey.
The Latino electorate in Arkansas is expected to grow by 28 percent between now and 2020, according to the report, mostly due to an estimated 16,560 youth turning 18 in the coming years.
Good article in the Washington Journal last week from the Kaiser Family Foundation's Drew Atlman on the relatively poor health status in Southern states — Altman notes that for the most part this hasn't come up as an issue in the presidential primary races, even as the battles move south:
Tom Fennell, the architect who proposed that the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and the city of Little Rock consider working toward converting Interstate 30 downtown to a boulevard, is working on a design to help the road agency better envision the plan, which it shot down last week in its efforts to show that only a 10-lane I-30 will answer Little Rock's traffic needs.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio for president today.
While a pseudo-historian whose book on Thomas Jefferson was so full of revisionist holes that his publisher had to pull it from the shelves might not be your first choice when looking for someone to name a new political science program after, don't tell that to Eccelsia College, a tiny evangelical institution up in Springdale. They just announced their new David Barton College of Political Science, which will begin offering courses in the fall semester this year.
Here's an early open line.
The Hillary Clinton campaign in Arkansas announced what it's calling its Leadership Council today. The list includes former Govs. Mike Beebe and Jim Guy Tucker, former U.S. Sens. David and Mark Pryor and a host of former and current movers and shakers in the state Democratic Party.
Citizen journalist Matt Campbell's Blue Hog Report has a new post out about Judge Dan Kemp of Stone County, who is currently running for Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court against Justice Courtney Goodson. Specifically, Campbell is on the trail of a 2014 case in which a Stone County woman reached a plea agreement before Kemp on two drug-related felonies just before her influential parents made a contribution to Kemp's campaign and, later, a public endorsement.
Courtney Goodson is now buying TV ads attacking Dan Kemp for benefiting from special interest-bankrolled TV ads which attacked Goodson for benefiting from campaign donations from special interests. Who's ready to vote?
Hillary Clinton's website has been updated to include a strong push for the public option, promising to use waiver authority under Obamacare to work with individual governors (rather than hoping and praying for a change of heart from Congress).
Donald Trump, a former reality television star with fascistic instincts who is the current GOP frontrunner for president, will hold a rally in Bentonville on Saturday at noon.
I come bearing dark news for the republic.
The Guardian visits Arkansas, finds Confederate flag and political science professor.
Slimy group shows chutzpah in launching attack ad against Clark Mason in race for Arkansas Supreme Court.
Ted Cruz's dirty tricks.
A look at Fourquarter Bar in Argenta, brought to you by the folks behind Midtown Billiards. Beer, barbecue and killer cocktails abound!
To help the unimaginative highway engineers at AHTD — who can blame them? Highways, not liveable cities, are their business — architect Tom Fennell has created "Convertible Plan B," a plan that leaves I-30 in place but brings it to grade level at Second Street and creates bridges to cross the interstate at Third and Fifth streets to connect east to west. Existing bridges at Sixth and Ninth could be decked for a park. The entire scenario is on the jump.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson explains his (tepid) endorsement of Marco Rubio. It's all about electability. Will the backing of the GOP establishment help Rubio notch wins in the blue states which typically end up picking the Republican winner? It won't be easy: Rubio may be the establishment's choice but he's a right-wing ideologue and Donald Trump, of all people, has emerged as the choice of moderate Republican voters.
For the third year in a row, Chef Matthew McClure, of The Hive in the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, has been named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards in the Best Chef: South category.
A sentencing hearing in the federal bribery case of former Conway Circuit Judge Mike Maggio was delayed today.
A new report from the Center for American Progress analyzes states' efforts to reduce poverty. The report tracks 15 indicators that address poverty, such as income inequality and affordable housing. It will come as no surprise that Arkansas fairs poorly on many of the report's metrics.
The establishment continues to scramble to back Rubio in a last-ditch effort to stop Trump.
Republican senators make it official: they will refuse to consider any Obama nominee to replace Scalia on Supreme Court
Talking Points Memo reports that key GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee announced that they are united in a pledge to refuse to consider any nominee from President Barack Obama to replace deceased Justice Antonin Scalia.
Humanists heart Jason Rapert.
Any new Kari Faux is a cause for celebration, and the Little Rock expat recently announced she had a new album finished and forthcoming, "Lost En Los Angeles. " Here's the great first single, produced by longtime collaborator bLAck pARty. I interviewed the two of them a couple of years ago, when they left town — seems like a long time ago now.
The Sierra Club today released the "2016 Arkansas Clean Air Solution," which it called "a common sense and affordable plan to clean up dangerous air pollution from aging coal plants owned by Entergy Arkansas that outlines a solution to meet federal clean-air safeguards."
Sorry GOP establishment, Donald Trump is the heavy favorite to win the Republican nomination for president
Pundits twist themselves in pretzels to stay bullish on Marco Rubio, the newly anointed pick of the establishment. But the delegate math and primary calendar favors the madman Donald Trump.
ACLU thanks school district for response to Maumelle High 'blacks-only' assembly, asks for diversity training
The ACLU suggested that district officials might want to consider diversity training for staff, and that it reach out to parents to promote their involvement in the special desegregation programs.
It's an open line.
At around 10 a.m. this morning, Little Rock PD responded to a report of a shooting at 2816 Summit Street in Little Rock that evidently occurred when two men were playing with a .357 revolver.
Hutchinson on Rubio's biggest accomplishments: national security experience, VA reform, and fighting Obamacare
This morning I emailed Gov. Asa Hutchinson's spokesman to ask what the governor viewed as Marco Rubio's top accomplishment as a public official. Here is the governor's response.
A new study from Pew Charitable Trusts looks at states that have raised their felony theft thresholds. Pew found that raising the felony theft threshold did not lead to more crime.
Chronic wasting disease is caused by a pathological agent called a prion, much like mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. It causes fatal neurological degeneration in deer, elk and moose.
Mitch McConnell says stuff. The results are ugly.
Politico reports that former Little Rock TV and radio personality Alice Stewart has been named the new communications director for Ted Cruz, replacing the fired Rick Tyler.
Mason doesn't mention his opponent by name, but he does go on the offensive.
An group of interested persons — including architect Tom Fennell, Move Arkansas blogger Tim McKuin, principals at StudioMAIN and others, with the help of funds from "couple of small family foundations," have hired a consulting engineer to study the state highway department's reasoning for bumping six-lane Interstate 30 to 10 lanes.
Onward to Super Tuesday.
Trump dominates Nevada.
The Club for Growth goes after Trump.
Big Dog (or at least his bark) comes home.
Good article in Bloomberg on the successful efforts of Republican state legislatures across the country to curtail access to abortion services. Since 2011, at least 162 abortion providers have shut down or stopped offering the procedure .
Like a moth to a flame, let us provide you with the latest update from Sen. Jason Rapert.
Public Policy Polling finds that the strategy of total obstruction on filling the Supreme Court vacancy may hurt a number of Republican incumbent senators in tight races in blue or purple states.
ABC's news release praised Hill for his leadership and said he will lead a "new venture at the college" but was unclear about the nature of that venture.
Raduno Brick Oven & Barrom is serving brunch starting this Sunday. Plans are eventually to expand to Saturday, co-owner Eric Nelson reports.
Boulevard Bread Company will close its River Market location on Thursday, the restaurant announced today.
On why Hillary Clinton is now the runaway favorite for the Democratic nomination — and thoughts on what the Sanders campaign means about the future of the Democratic Party.
Tom Cotton being Tom Cotton.
Obama: "I'm going to do my job."
Rock Region Metro Director Jared Varner went before the Metroplan board today to ask for support for the quarter-cent sales tax that would provide Pulaski County with the dedicated funding it needs to operate a modern bus service. He got a unanimous vote from the Pulaski members of Metroplan; other members were excused from voting because the tax would not affect their counties.
Retired Circuit Judge John Langston will preside over the trial of Garland County Circuit Judge Wade Naramore, charged with negligent homicide in the hot-car death of his toddler son, the AP reports. Narramore faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
Chancellor Dan Rahn notified UAMS staff today that a mechanic performing maintenance on an elevator in the Central Building was killed when the elevator cab descended and trapped him. The cab was in a "normal cycle," Rahn said, rather than free falling.
Even if Hillary Clinton starts building a lead in the next few weeks, Bernie Sanders is likely to stay in the race through the convention.
Marco Rubio is coming back.
Federal agencies find "no significant impact" to hog farm near Buffalo River, alarming environmental groups
A coalition of environmental and community groups is expressing frustration with the "finding of no significant impact" by federal agencies regarding C&H Hog Farm, the 6,500-hog facility located near a major tributary of the Buffalo National River.
Here's your midweek open line.
Governor concerned over outside spending in judicial races, stops short of condemning partisan flavor of ads
Do ads sponsored by the "Republican State Leadership Committee" give voters the impression the Republican Party of Arkansas is sanctioning the ads in a supposedly nonpartisan race?
Hutchinson slams Trump, expresses hope that Rubio will prevail in Arkansas.
Hillary Clinton will campaign in Pine Bluff at UAPB on Sunday.
All your favorite legislators in one place.
And down the stretch they come. News and notes from the GOP circus.