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March 7, 2013

Vol 39 • No 27

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Arkansas doctors explain importance of expanding insurance coverage

Arkansas is an unhealthy state, with mortality rates higher across the board than the nation's.

Arkansas's working poor are hoping the state says yes to expansion

Health care reform in general, and Medicaid expansion in particular, is a complicated issue. There are a lot of moving parts. A lot of numbers, a lot of projections. But it's important to remember that this is an issue that has a real impact on real people

Arkansas hospitals feel pinch of uncompensated care

In states like Arkansas, where many Republican lawmakers campaigned on an anti-Obama-care platform, hospitals are worried about harmful cuts in service — and even fear for their survival — if the legislature says no to expansion of coverage.

Hot Dog Mike retreats from his retreat from Little Rock

If we didn't know better, we'd say that the news that Mike Juiliano — A.K.A. Hot Dog Mike — is returning to Little Rock after last month's tearful farewell is some kind of publicity stunt.

Little Rock School Board names Dexter Suggs new superintendent

Tonight, the LRSD Board voted 6-1 to hire Dr. Dexter Suggs Sr., currently chief of staff for Indianapolis public schools, as its next superintendent.

Wednesday Morning Line

HOG BUBBLE: The Razorbacks continued to struggle on the road, getting destroyed by Mizzou last night.

Review: The Wild Feathers, Juanita's March 5

The Wild Feathers played at Juanita's Monday.

Voter surpression bill up in committee

Sen. Bryan King's voter I.D. bill is up for debate in a House committee this morning after a vote was delayed last week to allow time for a fiscal impact statement to be prepared.

Tom Cotton, statesman

He's celebrating the death of Hugo Chavez.

Review: Mark Edgar Stuart's 'Blues for Lou'

Pine Bluff native Mark Edgar Stuart's debut album is out now.

St. Vincent data — published 2012, redacted 2013?

Joann Coleman, who isn't letting UAMS and St. Vincent off the hook over their redactions in a Deloitte Consulting report on the business benefits of affiliation.

Drunk, pantless and fleeing in a child's ride-on toy in Jonesboro

A Jonesboro woman was placed under arrest last night in after drunkenly trying to flee police in a child's battery-operated "Power Wheels" toy car after crashing her Pontiac into a mobile home and then removing her pants.

Thursday-Saturday To-Do: Arkansas High School Basketball Championships

The Arkansas High School Basketball Championships start Thursday at Barton Coliseum.

Thursday To-Do: Water Liars, The See

Water Liars play at White Water Tavern Thursday.

House overrides veto on Rapert's abortion bill

The House voted 56-33-1 to override Gov. Beebe's veto of SB 134. Sen. Rapert's bill, which bans abortions before 12 weeks, now becomes law.

Thursday To-Do: 'Challenging the Politics of (In)visibility: Modern Mutual Aid Societies, Womanist Politics, and Global Funkstress Janelle Monae'

Professor Lisa Corrigan lectures this week at Philander Smith College and the Unitarian Universalist Church.

SoMa — as cool as San Francisco's? Cooler?

The Stark Insider, which describes itself as "All Things West Coast," published a piece Monday that asks "Does SoMa, Little Rock Out Cool SoMa, San Francisco?"

Senate passes Missy Irvin’s attack on adults making choices she doesn't like

Sen. Missy Irvin believes that part of how body-art professionals make a living is too weird for the government to allow.

Now, Arkansas will be sued

Lawsuit is coming over 12-week abortion ban.

Thursday: 'Treasure Island' panel discussion, Star & Micey and more

The Clinton School of Public Service hosts a panel discussion about the Rep's new "Treasure Island" Thursday.

Betty Lowe, 1934-2013, updated with arrangements

Dr. Betty Lowe, who is credited with transforming Arkansas Children's Hospital from a small, 45-bed hospital, to a hospital of national stature, died yesterday.

Recap: First Annual Scott-Tucker-Scott 'Gentlemen's Race'

The First Annual Scott-Tucker-Scott "Gentlemen's Race" was Sunday.

Twin Peaks busting out in Little Rock?

Misogyny and burgers coming to West Little Rock.

Senate passes bill to end zoning as we know it

The Senate today passed Sen. Jim Hendren's bill to hamstring regulation and zoning by state and local governments.

Open line

Open line.

Jason Rapert isn't finished with his war on women

After the House voted today to override the governor's veto of his blatantly unconstitutional 12-week abortion ban, Sen. Jason Rapert celebrated by filing yet another bill aimed at curbing women's access to care.

Alias Kolkata

Whose hole is the blackest?

Militia Man

It was a good week for expansion

It was also a good week for Walter Hussman, the ascendancy of Jason Rapert and Reynie Rutledge. It was a bad week for women and minimum wage earners.

Pound foolish

You didn't need to be a psychic to anticipate that a consultant hired by two institutions that want to merge would conclude that merger is highly desirable.

The Sound of the Mountain wins it all

Russellville band takes Times Musicians Showcase.

New improved GOP

'Robin Hood in reverse'

The recent budget cuts prove that Regressives are so out of touch with the people that they will sacrifice us for their pig-headed principles.

Mike Anderson and the long game

Whenever this aggravating 2012-13 basketball campaign finally goes into the annals, regardless of the manner in which it concludes, a handful of head-scratching performances will be at the locus of the reflective discussion: Shoulda beaten South Carolina, Vandy, Alabama, etc. In a season of 30 games, give or take a few, the Hogs are most likely NIT-bound instead of NCAA-bound because of about three or four losses that still seem absurd weeks after the fact.

Water Liars at White Water Tavern

Also, the Arkansas High School Basketball Championships at Barton, the Blues Revolution Tour at Stickyz, "Challenging the Politics of (In)visibility: Modern Mutual Aid Societies, Womanist Politics, and Global Funkstress Janelle Monae" at Philander Smith, the Bard Ball at the Argenta Community Theater, Mainland Divide at Downtown Music and Clutch at Juanita's.

A voyage to 'Treasure Island'

Arkansas Rep premieres new musical based on the classic tale.

Bills would limit humane-society activities in Arkansas

After years of contention, the legislature four years ago approved a new law against cruelty to animals, strengthening the penalties for offenders and bringing Arkansas more in line with other states on this issue.

Expansion FAQ

Last week, Gov. Mike Beebe announced that the feds have given Arkansas permission to pursue a unique plan for expanding health coverage, turning the Medicaid expansion debate upside down. Here's your one-stop shop for the basics on the game-changing, name-changing Arkansas healthcare deal

'Jack' doesn't slay

It's an across the board failure.

Cheer the exchange, lament the higher cost

If you followed the tumult over implementing the part of health insurance reform that covers Arkansas's poor working people, the big Republican victory last week must have you fighting contrary impulses, whether to weep or cheer.

FOCAL used book sale returns

Also, Mountain Sprout at Stickyz.

Born free

Strolling through the River Market in the dawn toward the desk the other day, The Observer saw it lying in the street in front of the Main Library: a rain-colored brassiere, adorned with a spray of tiny crystals.

A civil rights sequel

Maybe you read the article here about the battle to integrate the state Capitol cafeteria. That was in 1964. These days, we shake our heads at state officials who believed, even then, that a public facility inside the state Capitol could stay segregated forever.

Lyons: Centrist enablers

Republican strategy during the sequestration fight depends upon two political givens: widespread public ignorance, and the extreme reluctance of the traditional Washington news media to exhibit "liberal bias" by stressing inconvenient facts.

Where in Arkansas, March

Know where this slice of life in Arkansas is? Send along the answer to Times photographer Brian Chilson and win a prize. Once a month in this space, we'll post a shot from a relatively obscure spot in Arkansas for Times readers to identify. We also invite photographers to contribute submissions of both mystery and other pictures to our eyeonarkansas Flickr group. Write to to guess this week's photo or for more information.

Fishboat does fish sandwich right

Mouthful of a name, menu.

13-hour morning line

We're not normally fans of U.S. Senator Rand Paul, but props for that rarest of events last night: the righteous use of the filibuster.Does this count as a one-man filibuster since he had help from Wyden, Cruz and company?

Friday: FOCAL book sale, Mountain Sprout, Sun Belt Basketball Championship and more

Mountain Sprout plays at Stickyz Friday.

Pitching the Medicaid deal: e-mails hint at strategy

For those interested in the political ins and outs of the Medicaid deal, don't miss Charlie Frago's juicy story (paywall) in the D-G this morning.

Missy Irvin's anti-freedom bill heads to House committee

scarification, dermal implants, nanny state, Missy Irvin, Misty Forsberg

Chew on this: Sensuous sandwiches from Vieux Carre

Beautiful sandwiches await at this Southern bistro. Vieux Carre takes its place among the many great sandwich options in town.

Idaho's 20-week abortion ban struck down

Idaho's law that, like Arkansas's new law introduced by Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Right Hand of God, bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, has been struck down in federal court.

Pharoah Sanders to be honored Friday at Peabody Hotel

Pharoah Sanders will be honored at the Peabody Hotel Friday.

Rounding up potential Arkansas congressional candidates

Roll Call speculates on Arkansas congressional races, wrongly, I think, calling all of Arkansas four districts safe for incumbents.

Water line break at Children's Hospital

Water line break fills Children's Hospital building basement with 2-3 feet of water, shuts down telecommunications.

JP Tyler Denton concerned about Senate bill to strangle regulation

Sen. Jim Hendren's bill to squash the ability of local and state governments to create regulatory or zoning laws would likely spell the death of a land-use ordinance in the Lake Maumelle watershed to protect the drinking water.

UPDATE Crash blocks I-40 near Crystal Hill

State Police spokesman Bill Sadler says he's gotten reports that a vehicle, probably a tanker-trailer, exploded in the westbound lane of I-40 at 12:30 this afternoon near the Crystal Hill overpass.

Jennifer Egan at UCA

Last week, as part of UCA’s writer-in-residence series, over 100 people gathered in Conway for a reading and Q&A session with Pulitzer Prize winning author Jennifer Egan.

Gallery 26 open late tonight

It's First Thursday in Hillcrest, the evening when high society walks around the neighborhood, glasses of wine in hand, listening to music and dropping in on places like Gallery 26.

Missy Irvin's anti-freedom bill delayed, opposition mounting

Sen. Missy Irvin's bill to ban certain body-modification techniques was passed over in committee today.

Daniel Coston at Cantrell Gallery

New acrylics.

Sculptors: The Bernice Garden wants you

Deadline is April 15.

"Jazz: Through the Eyes of Herman Leonard"

Forty original black and white images.

Open line

Open line

Burris: not selling an expansion deal, special session may be needed

Rep. John Burris, chairman of the Public Health committee, began the committee meeting this morning by addressing members about Charlie Frago's D-G article this morning, which uses internal e-mails to paint an inside picture of some of the communication between Burris and administration officials about the new "private option" deal for expanding health care.

Hundreds rally for expansion of health coverage

The AR HEALTH + AR JOBS Coalition, a group of various organizations involved in the healthcare debate, held a rally this morning on the Capitol steps.

Saturday: Butch Walker, Two Cow Garage and more

Butch Walker plays at Revolution Saturday.

Saturday To-Do: Blues Revolution Tour

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band plays at Stickyz Saturday.

Saturday To-Do: Bard Ball 2013: 'Taming of the Brew'

Arkansas Shakespeare Thetre's Bard Ball 2013 is Saturday at Argenta Community Theater.

Will the "private option" lead to higher premiums on exchange?

The pool of people that stand to gain coverage under expansion are, by definition, low-income folks.

Bill Clinton: DOMA needs to die

The always-insightful Bill Clinton took to the Washington Post yesterday with an impassioned editorial calling on the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed in 1996.

Frank Frazier at Hearne Fine Art

An artist who works in shoepolish.

Central Arkansas Twitter's Best Food-Related Feeds

Here are the best food related Twitter feeds in Central Arkansas. Follow them or go hungry.

HAM opens door to Blue-Eyed Knocker club

Work by 11 photographers.

Hole opens in Cantrell viaduct

Soon to be repaired.

Craft brewery seals deal on Superior Bathhouse in Hot Springs

I just got off the phone with Rose Cranson, owner and president of Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery, a company which was officially known as Vapor Valley Spirits until earlier this week, when they officially signed a lease with the National Parks Service that will allow them to renovate and retrofit the old Superior Bathhouse into a microbrewery and beer tasting room.

Monday To-Do: Mainland Divide, Guardian Alien, Zs, Fister

Guardian Alien performs at Downtown Music Hall Monday.

Almost there? Expand-o-meter keeps rising...

After the emergence of the "private option" last week, things continue to look sunny for the prospects of expanding health coverage.

The most controversial bill of the General Assembly

I heard today through the grapevine that a Republican legislator has promised to introduce a bill this legislator predicted would be more controversial than anything that's come before.

Monday To-Do: Clutch

Clutch plays at Juanita's Monday.

"Private option" likely to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions a year more than Medicaid expansion

That's a flashy headline but this is going to be a nerdy post. All of the empirical and theoretical evidence suggests that expanding coverage via private health insurance instead of Medicaid will cost more.

Barnett cuts through knife regulations, ends city and county sales tax

Rep. Jonathan Barnett wants to end all regulation of knives in Arkansas. As a consequence, city and county sales tax would be repealed.

Food Feedback Friday: pitiful pizza, luxurious lobster

Eat, drink, feedback. We do it weekly, and we do it well. Tell us what your chompin' on.

Art Group Maumelle

Elisha Alexander-Smith is the featured painter for tonight's 2nd Friday Art Night at the Courtyard Marriott, where The ArtGroup Maumelle shows.

Voter ID may be stalled

Because it would require amending the constitution, which requires a supermajority in both chambers.

The Good, the Bad and the Weird Edition

The good, the bad and the weird at the General Assembly—scarification, knife regulation, minimum wage, the end of zoning, abortion, expansion—it's all covered on this week's edition.

Weekend line

Talk, talk.

Saturday Morning Line

Top of the morning. *HEAR THEIR STORIES: I hope y'all will read the feature story in this week's issue that focuses on telling the stories of the working poor that stand to gain coverage under healthcare expansion.

Hot, cheap, and plentiful onion rings at Cheddar's

Low price, huge portion, and crisp-battered.

"Cuts" to existing Medicaid under "private option" are not cuts in service

You may have heard talk about "cuts to the existing Medicaid program" as a cost-saving feature of the "private option."

Guess who wrote that anti-regulation bill that would stop zoning rules in Lake Maumelle watershed?

We reported last week on the bill to make any form of regulation or zoning impossible in practice for state or local governments.

Correction & Open Line

CORRECTION: Our item on 3/6 misidentified the fiddle-playing lawmaker who has made national waves for his effort to get attention with SB 134.

Ballinger: Feds can't regulate Arkansas guns

In the race to file the most unconstitutional bill of the General Assembly that most were concede to Sen. Jason Rapert, Rep. Bob Ballinger, Republican of Hindsville, has emerged as a late challenger.

Maybe the Medicaid expansion "private option" is legal but it sure looks fishy

When you ask state officials and lawmakers about the legality of the “private option” alternative to Medicaid, you always hear the same thing.

"Private option" is good fiscal deal for state — just like Medicaid expansion was

The new “private option” approach is going to cost a lot more money. I’ve explained at length why it’s still going to be a good deal for the state.

Elliott files bill to close tuition gap for undocumented students

As promised, Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) has filed a bill that would allow undocumented students — many of whom, as David Koon described in a recent cover story, were brought here as small children and know no other country — an opportunity to receive in-state tuition rates at state colleges.

Board votes to close Weiner High

State board votes to close Weiner High School.

Monday food news: Spring is sprung edition

The food news you crave, served up fresh.

The ultimate Obamacare irony? Guessing at why HHS okayed expensive "private option"

The big mystery at the center of the “private option” is cost. The feds have okayed a plan for Arkansas that is going to expand coverage with a higher price tag.

Procastinators' day at the Legislature OPEN LINE

Today is the last day to file bills at the Ledge, which means we can expect to see THE GOOD, THE BAD, and the THE WEIRD.

And now, birth control, in vitro restrictions, from David Meeks

Arkansas women, used now to being slapped around by the Arkansas Legislature, which has embarrassed the state nationally with its anti-woman bills, are greeting with deep sighs state Rep. David Meeks' new bill, HB1898, the "Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act," that would allow doctors and hospitals not to provide the following treatments if they ran counter to their "moral" principles.

Speaker Davy Carter says he will not switch parties in the future

Blog comments, e-mail tipsters and stray tweets have speculated at length on the political future of House Speaker Davy Carter.

Manic Monday open line

VOTER ID TO RULES COMMITTEE: House Speaker Davy Carter plans to send it to Rules tomorrow.

Bell bill: Something there is that does not love a fence: Correction height rule

The Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled last October that the Capitol Zoning District Commission correctly enforced a rule that prohibits front yard fences from being higher than 40 inches.

Those booms from Camp Robinson

That you may have been hearing are just what they sound like: mortar fire. A reader this morning sends this explanation.

OMR! Arkansas in the New York Times!

The Arkansas state Senator on a mission to get His name in the paper had a big coup yesterday with a report in the the nation's paper of record.

Haute Donuts Now!

Who's got the hottest donuts in town? We're talking about fried food that's way beyond your average glazed.

Sen. King: We don't need no stinking art education: Update

Brian King would enhance arts education by cutting it in half in elementary schools.

UPDATE State lawmakers: 1 in four did not darken doors of college

Study finds Arkansas legislature leads nation in lack of college education.

Bruno's brings Little Italy to Main Street

We got wind of this a couple of weeks ago, and now it's official: Bruno's Little Italy will rise again, this time on the ground floor of the Mann on Main annex, the Mann Lofts, at 310 Main.

Ethics reforms rejected in Senate committee

Two reform proposals from Rep. Bruch Maloch were rejected by a voice vote in the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committe this morning.

Busy bee open line

Busy day over here. Turning it over to you to discuss Paul Ryan, the people's game, Florida angling for the Arkansas plan for Medicaid expansion, lingering comments from the one million bills filed yesterday, and...what else?