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March 16, 2011

Vol 37 • No 28

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Container houses steel Pettaway's housing boomlet

A new breed of recycled houses, or "steel box residences," help community renovation.

Aunt Bee, Board Camp, Dalark and Dillweed

Today's Arkansas history lesson is about place names.

A prediction about Charlie Sheen

Is he insane enough to punch his weight as a Fox News anchor?

Laman enters wild world of eBooks

CALS expanding offerings into the digital world.

'Battle: Los Angeles' gets its war on

If there's one thing this alien-invasion movie needs, it's more face time with the aliens

The Observer's son comes to The Fortress of Employment

It's good, we think, to introduce him early to the fast-paced world of international commerce. (That's called "sarcasm," son.)

Orval, March 16, 2011

Legislation to treat gambling addiction

Sen. Sue Madison wants to use $3 million in unclaimed lottery prize money for just that.

Arkansas measures up to Kazakhstan, Mauritania

The Economist pairs every U.S. state with the nearest comparable GDP of a foreign country.

Loooking for a new patch to sew on your rebel uniform?

This Modern World, March 16, 2011

John Corbett of 'Sex and the City' returns to Hot Springs parade

Also, Austin Lucas and John Sinclair at White Water Tavern, Patti LaBelle at the Statehouse Convention Center, 8Ball & MJG at Revolution, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's 'St. Patrick's Day Celebration' at Robinson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at Stickyz.

'Sister Wives' is irresistible trash

And 'This American Life' on TV.

Good week: Hypocrisy

Republican legislators who profess to believe in smaller government lined up time and again behind handouts for corporate Arkansas, making government even more expensive for the little guy.

New restaurant to deliver meals via train

All Aboard will serve fast-casual food with a healthy tilt. Again, by train.


We might have guessed Conwayans or Conwayers, but those are too pedestrian for the Athens of Faulkner County.

VOV Independent Music Festival returns

The seven-day festival celebrates its sixth year

A&E News, March 16: Foo Fighters and Motorhead to Verizon

Also, the final trailer for Hank Williams biopic "The Last Ride" finds its public debut.

Hope for Camden pellet plant dies

Project's promoters charged, one convicted of tax evasion.

Are the courts coddling injured workers?

The Chamber of Commerce thinks so, and wants it stopped.

Republican branding in Bryant City Hall

Mayor Jill Dabbs keeps the political hubbubs coming.

Big government wolves clad as small government sheep

A look at a few of the more than 2,000 new proposals from this session.

Selections at Zin are broad, deep

The new River Market wine bar does it well.

Gino's Pizzeria & Philly Steak

Fine, but not up to the standard of the area's best meatball grinders.

Glenn Beck, meet Coin Harvey

Tea-party madness proves that for every great national agitation, history provides generous lessons if not always solace.

Legislative session devoted to easy living for corporations

The Arkansas legislature seems to think that corporations are better people than you and me.

Spring in the air

At the Wye Mountain Daffodil Festival

Dugan's Pub celebrates St. Patrick's in a big way

Also, Mockingbird Hillbilly Band and The Ugly Stuff play The Afterthought, Big Smith performs and DJ Seth Baldy spins soul sounds at the Dreamland Ballroom.

New mound at Toltec

The possible 19th mound is about 30 feet across and two feet high.

Budget crunchening

Belt tightening is still the order of the day at the UAMS campus.

Crawford ties one on

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford institutes "bow tie Tuesday" for his office.

The morning report

It's dismal. Another morning of reading about corporate control of the political agenda, augmented by the reactionary tools in the movement fomented by the Koch boys. Doug Smith's editorial this week reviews some of the corporate agenda at the Arkansas capitol.

Ark. Nuclear One: 16th in vulnerability ranking

The Daily Beast has compiled a ranking of the relative safety risks of the 65 U.S. nuclear power facilities.

Romany Rye advances in Rolling Stone contest

The Romany Rye is on to round two.

Rep announces 2011-2012 season

The Johnny Cash jukebox musical "Ring of Fire" kicks off the 2011-2012 season at The Rep.

Thing 2: Seuss curator returns

"Secret Art of Dr. Seuss" curator returns for another talk about the show at the Clinton Center.

Expenses questioned by Beebe

The first meeting of the Arkansas Board of Apportionment started off on a somewhat contentious note. Gov. Mike Beebe questioned Secretary of State Mark Martin about $70,000 in expenses that had already been made out of the board’s $200,000 budget. Martin’s office used the funds for a vehicle, a consulting contract and to hire Tim Hutchinson, a Rogers attorney and son of the former U.S. Senator, as the reapportionment coordinator.

Engineer: Replace the Broadway Bridge

As best as I can determine, only about three grumpy old men — John Walker, John Brummett and yours truly — have raised questions about replacing the aging Broadway Bridge with a super-duper new bridge at a time when money is tight.

Revisiting Gina's

Gina's Chinese Kitchen and Sushi Bar stays consistent, continues to serve up great sushi and Asian favorites.

Tax cut for wealthy fails in Senate

Rep. Ed Garner's bill to give a tax cut to the wealthy through a capital gains tax cut on Arkansas property failed in the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee on a voice vote.

Wednesday To-Do: Austin Lucas

The alt-country cult musician comes to White Water Tavern to release not only a full album, but a "Live From White Water Tavern" CD as well.

Here's an airport cell phone lot option

Over Airport Director Ron Mathieu's kicking and screaming, the Little Rock Airport Commission decided yesterday to move ahead with creating a so-called cell phone lot where people can wait for free to pick up people arriving at the airport.

A pox on all the Republican presidential candidates

I had to grin when a national reporter again mentioned yesterday that Mike Huckabee leads most polls on Republican presidential contenders.

Crystal Bridges (formerly known as Crystal Bridges, part 2)

Crystal Bridges' "Excavation at Night" on exhibit in London in show reviewer calls "electrifying."

Tax deal is done by Senate, House

Roby Brock indicates the defeat of the capital gains tax cut for the wealthy this morning in Senate committee set the stage for a workout of House/Senate divisions on the issue.

Report says Arkansas needs tougher gas regs

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel held a press conference at the Capitol today to announce the findings of their latest report, "Model Oil and Gas Laws, Regulations and Ordinances." The report examined how other states with active shale plays regulate the natural gas industry and found - no big surprise here - that most of them have better protections in place than the Natural State. APPP also offered up some recommendations for state legislators and regulators.

Cost-cutting Republicans pad their own pockets

Another nice bit of record sleuthing by Blue Hog Report. He runs through the list of Republican legislators who blocked an appropriation for the Arkansas School for the Deaf yesterday because it contained $6,000 in increased spending.

The Wednesday night line

It's open. Mara Leveritt passes along the shot above, snapped near Stuttgart.

Thursday To-Do: 'The First Ever Eighth Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade'

'Sex and the City' actor John Corbett returns for Hot Springs' biggest annual PR stunt.

Dillard's supports anti-abortion event

For the second time, a Dillard's department store in Houston is helping a fund-raising event for the anti-abortion group Heroic Media, known for controversial anti-abortion billboard campaigns.

Mike Ross: Koch tool

The Koch brothers PAC (just one of many political interests of the Tea Party underwriters) offers a window on their work with this latest round of political contributions.

The problem with Bible instruction in school

Lee Jefferson, who teachers religion at Centre College in Kentucky and blogs for Huffington Post, alerts me to his post on the Arkansas legislation to encourage teaching of the Bible in Arkansas high schools as an "academic" subject.

Thursday To-Do: Patti LaBelle

The R&B diva delivers her "Vegas revue" at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Broadway Bridge design work continues

More on the Broadway Bridge. It would appear the Highway and Transportation Department is hard at work on planning a replacement for the Broadway Bridge — questions about cost and repair v. replacement notwithstanding.

Watch Supreme Court hear adoption law appeal

Suddenly — and felicitously — there's a wealth of public events for watching on the web.

Nothing natural about congressional redistricting

John Brummett echoes the Republican talking point that it is a perverse gerrymander to run a peninsula up to Washington County to capture Fayetteville for the Fourth District.

Charter school woes: Accounting needed

You can't be anything but dismayed about the 200-plus students who had to find a new school to attend this week after the state Board of Education abruptly closed the Little Rock Urban Collegiate Public Charter School this week because of egregious financial mismanagement.

Supreme Court hears Act 1 arguments

Leslie Peacock is on hand for the Arkansas Supreme Court arguments in the case challenging the initiated act that prohibits adoptions and foster parenting by cohabiting couples.

Burger joint of the week: Frostop

I’ve rambled on about my memories of Frostop and how great the root beer is. What I haven’t shared with you is the awesomeness of the Big Daddy Burger.

Tax cut deal cooking

I continue to receive assurances that the House-Senate divide on tax cuts has been resolved.

Hearing set in West Memphis Three case

A spokesman for defendants in the West Memphis Three murder case said Circuit Judge David Laser of Jonesboro has scheduled a hearing beginning Oct. 1 and lasting up to three weeks to consider evidence that the three are entitled to new trials based on DNA evidence and jury misconduct.

Abortion curb defeated

Rep. Andy Mayberry asked approval today of his bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy on the belief that fetuses of that age can feel pain.

State Fair move would cost $190 million

I just don't get it. The State Fair and Livestock Commission keeps studying and talking about moving the state fairgrounds from Little Rock, preferably somewhere along I-40 and I-440 between North Little Rock and Jacksonville.

UALR adds Hispanics to racial survey

Now in its eighth year, the UALR survey on racial attitudes in Pulaski County expanded to cover Hispanics this year.

Happy St. Patty's Day

Old World Pizza goes green for St. Patty's Day.

Get the smelling salts — Mike Ross votes right

The day the earth stood still. U.S. Rep. Mike Ross voted against the House-passed bill to end federal support for National Public Radio.

10 days left to give your heart

The Center for Artistic Revolution is still accepting hearts for its annual fund-raiser "Corazon," this year to be held April 2 at the ACAC.

The line is open

Saggy pants, legal advertising, tax cuts, bird watching, hate crimes

Friday To-Do: 8Ball & MJG

The iconic Memphis rap duo return to Revolution for a special Spring Break throwdown.

Weekend To-Do: ASO's 'St. Patrick's Day Celebration'

Celtic traditionalists Mithril join the Symphony for the two-show stand at Robinson Center Music Hall.

Saturday To-Do: John Sinclair

The beatnik poet, blues scholar and marijuana activist returns to White Water Tavern.

John Daly's ex rips him

Slow morning. Slow enough to pass along a link to a new book, "Teed Off," by one of golfer John Daly's ex-wives, Sherrie Daly.

Sunday To-Do: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

The sunshine pop duo visits Stickyz in the midst of a wave of attention from internet tastemakers.

Arkansas State newspaper targeted

Not long after the Thursday issue of the Arkansas State student newspaper Herald hit racks, hundreds of copies disappeared.

Congressional redistricting: One man, one vote

I had a short discussion yesterday about emerging partisan proposals for congressional redistricting. Surprise, each party has a plan that best suits its interest.

Bargain weekend fun

Time for the weekly reminder from the Arkansas Times of our great half-off deals. Example: Argenta Market: $50 worth of stuff — groceries, deli, whatever — for $25.

Tide turning on gay marriage

Bending toward justice: Washington Post/ABC poll finds a slim majority — 53 percent — now favors legalizing same sex marriage.

Utah leads way on immigration?

Thanks to Jim for sending me a link to an NPR piece on how Utah has taken a pragmatic and more human approach to immigration than Arizona, Jon Hubbard, Steve Womack and similar.

Dermott schools in distress

The state Education Department has notified the Dermott School District that it appears to be in fiscal distress.

Republicans push voter ID

Republican Rep. Bryan King won committee approval this morning for a bill to require a photo ID to vote.

Internet sales tax fairness

A good backgrounder in the Wall Street Journal on the coalition pushing in Arkansas and other states for legislation to force collection of sales taxes by Internet merchants such as Amazon.

Pieday: Cherry at Ed's Custom Bakery in Conway

I’ve talked with you before about Ed’s Custom Bakery, haven’t I? Oh, then I have been remiss.

Benini at Argenta ArtWalk

The former Hot Springs (by way of Italy) painter is having a one-man show at Greg Thompson Gallery; there will be a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight, the Argenta ArtWalk.

Saturday art outing: Simmons, Warren

Gallery 26 will host a reception from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday for its new exhibit of works by Dominique Simmons and David Warren.

When will GOP sue Mark Martin?

Good political sport. The Arkansas Democratic Party is riding the Republican Party over Secretary of State Mark Martin's unauthorized free-spending, including a brand new car, for board of apportionment work.

Tax cut package advances

"This is so much better than last time." Thus did Sen. Gilbert Baker thank the House Revenue and Tax Committee for endorsing his used car sales tax reduction.

Mayor Stodola: Little Rock needs increased sales tax

Many wonderful things have been accomplished, Mayor Mark Stodola said in his state of the city address today, but all is not rosy.

LR Chamber plans school takeover

When the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce sends out a message touting a bill as "fiscally responsible good government" you know it's time to watch your back and grab your wallet.

NLR school chief plans retirement

North Little Rock School Superintendent Ken Kirspel told the School Board last night that the 2012-13 school year would be his last with the district.

Correction! M2's "Fourth Anniversary Show" tonight!

New work by gallery artists on view.

Spring-fed buffalo and cattle, too

I urge you to go pick up the latest issue of Arkansas Wild, just out on newsstands, for a piece on mindful gardening and my article on Ratchford Farms.

The Friday night line

You're turn. Weird day.

New Mexico legislature outlaws corporal punishment

It will most likely be a historic day when the Arkansas legislature votes to ban corporal punishment in schools because we'll be in a race with Mississippi to be the last state in the United States to join the rest of the civilized world.

'Superman' doesn't fly against facts

For the school junkies this weekend, a little more fodder to indicate there is more to debate in the Billionaire Boys Club push for more charter schools, high stakes testing and other "reform" than their publicity machinery likes to acknowledge.

Mapping the congressional districts

Maps have begun floating around for congressional redistricting. The Republicans came out first, with their Destroy the Delta map that moves counties with heavily black (Democratic voters) populations out of the 1st and into the 4th.

Spotlight: Arkansas legislature's pay supplements

The Blue Hog Report made a fine political point the other day by highlighting the Republican bloc that was standing in way of tiny state spending increases, including a piddly $6,000 for the Arkansas School for the Deaf.

French jets over Libya

Allied forces with UN approval are now patrolling the skies of Libya and this New York Times report indicates a Libyan jet has been shot down.

Your thoughts here

The line is open. Graffiti above was captured on the wall of a Cabot store.

Outrage: $700,000 tax money for private organization

John Brummett is sore about legislative approval of a $700,000 appropriation (which may not be funded) for the private Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

The South adjusts to mixed marriages

Was it really only 45 years ago that "mixed race" marriages were still illegal in some places?

The open line

To nice to linger by a computer. The line is open.

Who's writing your laws?

AmericaBlog devotes broader attention to the source of cookie-cutter legislation being used in Wisconsin and elsewhere to destroy public employee unions.

The clean air caucus: Protect shale residents

Extensive interview from KAIT-TV with Rep. Homer Lenderman, who's among those who'll be working for legislation to ensure adequate oversight of clean air and water standards by natural gas producers.

The next Razorback basketball coach is ...

... hell, I don't know. But this Kansas City Star report on the is-it-or-is-it-not-Mike-Anderson story is a pretty good roundup of the craziness over a leader for a bunch of kids who jump around in short pants.

Never hit a child: A school lesson unlearned

News of corporal punishment comes in bunches. * In Mississippi, a federal lawsuit has been filed to end corporal punishment in that state.

Judge cautioned by disciplinary board

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission voted last week to issue an agreed letter of admonishment to Cross County District Judge Joseph Boeckmann of Wynne over a phone call he made to Wynne police about a person stopped in a vehicle registered to Boeckmann's family business.

Publisher Hussman profits on Gazette building sale

George Waldon's real estate column in this week's Arkansas Business reports the sale of the old Arkansas Gazette building at Third and Louisiana to its occupant, the eStem charter school, for $5.3 million.

Rock the Hispanic vote

I just noticed an Arkansas Democratic Party notice of a 3rd District Democratic Hispanic Caucus meeting.

Slouching toward Fayetteville

A report from Roby Brock makes it sound like Rep. Tracy Steele and the Black Legislative Caucus will get behind a congressional redistricting plan to runs the 4th District up to Washington County.

Flaying the legislative hypocrites

How, exactly, does a legislator consult herself, as Rep. Ann Clemmer claims in the bill below.

Monday: Bad Veins, Valient Thorr, Class Actress

"SXAR" continues with blog-buzzed electro-pop at ACAC, tongue-in-cheek metal at Revolution, Valley of the Vapors continuing for a second day in Hot Springs and more.

Narrowing the constitutional amendments

It appears the Joint House-Senate State Agencies committee will have seven proposed constitutional amendments from which to choose a maximum of three to refer to voters.

Drug test bill fails in committee

A bill by Sen. Bill Pritchard, R-Elkins, that would require a drug test before someone could receive unemployment benefits from the state failed in the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee late this morning on a voice vote. Pritchard said he did not call for a voice vote because he "knew where the votes were." Holly Dickson, of ACLU Arkansas, spoke against the bill saying it was unconstitutional.

Republicans pass voter ID

A pet piece of Republican cookie cutter legislation — to require voters to exhibit a photo ID — passed the House today 53-36.

Arkansas's web access increases

Interesting release from Connect Arkansas. A new survey says 68 percent of Arkansans now have high-speed Internet access at home or work, up from 42 percent in 2007.

Three-way race for House seat

The secretary of state announced today that an independent candidate had qualified for the special election to fill the House District 54 seat in Crittenden County vacated after Rep. Fred Smith's conviction of a felony.

The Art Guys at ASU

The dada/camp/performance artists will speak at Bradbury Gallery, where their show "Right Before Your Eyes" runs through April 15.

Post up

The line is open.

There Erma Hendrix goes again

Little Rock City Director Erma Hendrix is on a tear about a proposal to open an office for a social service agency at 200 W. Roosevelt.

The value of school integration

The New York Times' Bob Herbert plunges into a subject mentioned here the other day — the ill effects of segregating students not only by race and ethnicity but by economic class.

More disclosure sought for political ads

Amen to this. A public interest law firm has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to require more disclosure about who pays for political advertising.

The Ark. GOP's senseless health care fight

Here's an early look at Ernest Dumas' column this week. It explains the utter senselessness of the current Republican legislative fight to prevent Arkansas from operating insurance exchanges under the new federal health care law.

What's a gerrymander?

That word "gerrymander" is going to be thrown around a lot this week when Arkansas congressional redistricting plans finally get a full airing.

Little Rock No. 2 on clean cities list

Forbes puts Little Rock at No. 2 on a list of the most environmentally healthy metro areas in the country.

Gas industry fights regulation UPDATE

Gas lobbyists have turned up the pressure this morning as committee consideration begins of legislation to protect landowners and the environment as gas exploration continues in Arkansas.

Your legislature at work

This and that in legislative committees today: * Rep. Jon Hubbard, scourge of otherness, won committee approval this morning for a bill to require that driver's license examination be given only in English.

Sweet 2nd for Brown Sugar Bakeshop

Brown Sugar Bakeshop celebrates two years with free cupcakes... and oh, they have good reason to celebrate.

Huckabee would reimpose gay military ban

Mike Huckabee would work to pass legislation to reimpose a ban on gay military service.

Art scammers hit up registry

Artist Nancy Sadler called today to let me know about the art scammer who is contacting artists whose works appear on the Arkansas Artists Registry and pretending to want to buy work.

Darr seeks corporate welfare for lignite

Ain't it just like a double-talking Republican? Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, in a year when Republicans had to be pressed hard to increase Arkansas School for the Deaf spending by $6,000, is begging for taxpayer moneyy\ to study lignite mining in South Arkansas.

Health care: Federal control or not?

The Beebe administration is preparing to try tomorrow to win Senate committee approval of legislation to enable health insurance programs in Arkansas necessary to implement federal health care law.