← Back to issues
A nod to Bob

A nod to Bob

March 21, 2013

Vol 39 • No 29

Read the print version

Nod to Bob

A look back at the weird and wonderful world of Bob Lancaster.

**UPDATED** DHS: extra cost to feds of Arkansas "private option" will be little to none

The Arkansas Department of Human Services told reporters today that the cost of offering folks health coverage through the "private option" in the state will be about 13 to 14 percent higher than offering coverage via traditional Medicaid expansion.

Michael Cannon calls "private option" crony capitalism

As we previewed last week, Michael Cannon — health-care point man for libertarian think tank the Cato Institute — was invited to testify today before the Senate Insurance committee.

Food news round-up: SoMa food truckin' edition

Read all about it.

Morning roundup: Hoops, Israel, airport, pope

Another desultory morning from the jet-lagged Arkansas Blog: Nonetheless: * MARCH MADNESS: The Arkansas House and Senate played a basketball game for charity last night.

Highway contractor bill sweetens city-county kickback to build support

I've ranted before about the greed of the highway contractors lobby. Fresh off a huge tax increase, part of a deal that included a renege by the road-pounding truck lobby on a diesel tax increase, the highway lobby is trying to siphon off general revenue to further enhance the manifest construction destiny of the road building industry.

Thursday To-Do: Hinder

Hinder plays at Juanita's Thursday.

Thursday To-Do: Bless the Mic: Toure

Toure speaks at Philander Smith College Thursday.

Thursday: 'Treasure Island,' WRI Film Forum, Kevin Kerby and more

Kevin Kerby plays at White Water Tavern Thursday.

Doh! Homer's goes down swinging

Homer's West shows room for improvement. It promises comforting, home-style cooking but failed to deliver.

Foreign aid for Arkansas

Anybody else see a tiny bit of irony in the news that UAMS will announce tomorrow continuation of a grant from the Mexican consulate in Little Rock to support the College of Public Health's Ventanillas de Salud Health Windows Program?

The myth about taxes and economic growth

As soon as the Republican legislature gets through with its gun/fetuses orgy (though still more gun and fetus legislation remains in the pipeline), it will get to the business of making Arkansas a jobs magnet by slashing taxes on rich people.

UPDATE II: former NW Ark. developer named in bank fraud charges

40/29 appears to have the early break on big news from Northwest Arkansas. It says: U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge will announce shortly in Fort Smith details about the indictment of former high-flying developer Brandon Barber on bank fraud and money laundering charges.

UPDATE: Legislative update: Nonpartisan prosecutor bill clears House

At the legislature today: * NONPARTISAN PROSECUTORS: The House approved, 63-24, a bill to provide for nonpartisan election of prosecuting attorneys.

Not quite over the hump open line

I'm done. You're on.

Questions to the Tech Board — from the Tech Board UPDATE

Why a divided site on 12 acres instead of contiguous on 30? And so forth.

AFP Arkansas still mulling "private option"

The Arkansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity sent out a tweet today expressing opposition to expansion even under the so-called "private option" that many Republican lawmakers have shown interest in.

NSFR: Not suitable for Republicans working in legislature

Wider circulation on YouTube of Rep. John Walker's powerful remarks on efforts to make it harder to vote in Arkansas, a speech that a white-faced Republican unborn when Walker faced institutional discrimination found inappropriate.

Dark days in Hog-land

A week ago, right here, Pearls dipped its toe into the prognostication waters ever so lightly, projecting a couple of modest year-end benchmarks for a Razorback basketball team that was in another swoon. I suggested that the team would take not one, but two games in Nashville, then march into the NIT with heads high.

Dumas: GOP now aids the rich

For nine weeks, the legislature has been finding ways to increase the government's dominion over people's lives: limiting the number of days after a woman gets pregnant before her body becomes government property; requiring the poor, elderly and disabled to get a photo ID from the government before exercising their right to vote; putting more government doings and data out of the reach of the citizenry; prescribing the tattoos the government will permit people to sketch onto their skin, lifting people's protections from gun marauders and vigilantes — make your own list.

Out of step

Republican legislators as a group favor deregulation of corporations and strict regulation of individuals. They would free a company from all zoning laws, and deny a woman any authority over her own body. The right to bear arms is the only individual right they care for.


Rick Crawford, who represents one of the poorest congressional districts in America, voted against an increase in the minimum wage at about the same time a whiny millionaires clique was criticizing him for being too liberal.

'Treasure Island' continues

Nappy Roots come to Revolution.

Hinder at Juanita's

Also, Bless the Mic with Toure, the Little Rock Horror Picture Show, the 'Stop the War on Women' march, Pinback, Lee Fields and the Expressions and JFK: 50 Years Later.

Diagnosing the GOP

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has famously stated that the Republican Party has to stop being "the Stupid Party." I don't think "the Stupid Party" is going to change or be replaced by another more reality-based party any time soon, so we need to figure out what makes its members the way they are.


The Observer has watched the 89th Arkansas General Assembly like a high-speed wreck between an armored car full of money and a loaded manure spreader shown in slow motion. This state, mostly pragmatic and caring, managed to stave off the Teabagger Tide much longer than most, but now it's come and we find ourselves being rapidly flushed back to the caves with the rest of the South.

Ten years later

Possibly you remember "Shock and Awe." No, that's not the title of a Rolling Stones concert tour, but of the United States' bombs-over-Baghdad campaign that began exactly 10 years ago. American soldiers went pounding into Iraq accompanied by scores of "embedded" journalists seemingly eager to prove their patriotism and courage.

Almost magic

'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone' is all mixed up.

In bloom

It's beginning to look a lot like spring at the state Capitol.

M.F. Metal turns Bryant up to 11

Fledgling record store aspires to be a hang-out spot.

Legislative term limits revisited in Arkansas

But the proposed adjustments are small.

Access Arkansas

Brantley: Back to the train wreck

A vacation took me from Arkansas for three weeks, but the Great Legislative Train Wreck of 2013 was as close as our iPad while we ogled wombats and wallabies and other wonders of New Zealand and Australia.

Oh my particle

I've read articles, or tried to, about the Higgs Boson, which is "The subatomic particle scientists say gives everything in the universe mass."

It was a good week for expansion projections

It was also a good week for not being the worst and a big idea. It was a bad week for class action plaintiffs; raw milk; a red, white and blue bridge, and history education.

Mystery date

The inconsequential news quiz: the politics is local edition

Play at home.

Spa city, New Orleans-style

Despite some bumps, Andrews impresses.

Now come the tax cuts

The legislature is close to rolling out the final outline of the tax cut parade.

Friday: Lucie's Place fundraiser, Big Silver and more

Winston Family Orchestra plays a benefit for Lucie's Place Friday night.

Words for a new age at UAMS

Why not dig into the Deepak Chopra playbook for the UAMS move to consolidate with St. Vincent Infirmary?

Nucor steps up opposition to steel mill subsidies UPDATE

Nucor, the big steel producer with a mill in Mississippi County, is increasing its attack on the state proposal to give tens of millions in subsidies to a startup competitor run by a former Nucor executive.

Speaking of tax cuts for the rich

Rep. Charlie Collins is doing his part for the wealthy with state income tax relief.

Coming Friday: Ron Meyers

With his "Potter's Menagerie."

Win a pair of tickets to see Pink Floyd tribute Brit Floyd at Verizon Arena

Brit Floyd plays at Verizon Arena April 30.

Notes on CBMAA: Warhol, Judd acquisitions

The Art Newspaper's Judith Dobrzynski today revealed two new acquisitions by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, including an Andy Warhol serigraph on canvas, "Hammer and Sickle."

The legislature today — highway money, damage suits, body arts

Lots happening on many fronts at the Capitol today — body art, school choice and water quality, among others.

Luella and the Sun deliver "Sign of the Judgement"

The latest installment of "Live at Fellowship Hall Sound," our video series collaboration with Greg Spradlin and Camp Friday Films, spotlights a band that seems destined for fame in the future — Nashville's Luella and the Sun

Friday-Sunday To-Do: Little Rock Horror Picture Show

The Little Rock Horror Picture Show is Friday through Sunday.

County attorney finds flaws in watershed measure

County Attorney Karla Burnett has analyzed the surprise amendment by Pulaski Justice of the Peace Tyler Denton that may torpedo the land use ordinances aimed at protecting the Lake Maumelle watershed.

UPDATE: Shooting reported in Woodlands Edge

Fox 16 reports a police officer has fired at a suspect near Brodie Creek Road and Bowman Trail in western Little Rock.

Fatal wreck diverts I-40 traffic all day

A wreck shortly before 8 a.m. this morning on Interstate 40 near the White River bridge and mile marker 200 caused a death and forced diversion of traffic from the freeway in both directions, a condition that was expected to last until at least 4:30 p.m. today.

Arts education bill: Talk it up

State Rep. James McLean of Batesville has filed HB 1689 that THEA hopes will implement the Arkansas A+ in 15 pilot schools.

The gubernatorial race open line

The line is open. Finishing up: * VOTING RIGHTS: Now that the legislature has approved a bill to make it harder to vote in Arkansas, it's a good time for reading the Encyclopedia of Arkansas's new entry on voting rights in Arkansas.

Protest tomorrow on legislature's assault on women's rights

A reminder of the social media-driven rally at the Capitol at 3 p.m. Saturday over the legislature's unprecedented and unconstitutional infringement on women's medical rights.

UPDATE: City director alleges taco truck harassment

My attention was called to the waning minutes of the Little Rock Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, when Director Ken Richardson took the mike to ask for a reminder for the board about a policy directive concerning contact by directors and city departments.

Corporate welfare: Let's review all as carefully as steel mill

The careful review of a major taxpayer investment in the proposed Big River steel mill is nothing but a good thing and there's no debate we can thank the new Republican legislative majority for the oversight.

Saturday To-Do: 'Stop the War on Women'

The "Stop the War on Women" protest is Saturday at the Arkansas State Capitol.

The question: Could Arkansas be a tech magnet?

Could Arkansas be Silicon Valley? Would tech moguls want to relocate here after reading about the Arkansas legislature?

Saturday: SEC Gymnastics Championship, Air Review and more

Air Review plays at Maxine's Saturday night.

Saturday To-Do: Pinback

Pinback plays at Revolution Saturday.

Gay discrimination endorsed in House committee

I've mentioned previously the curious absence of gay bashing by the new Republican legislative majority.

Food Feedback Friday: SoMa, Sundaes, and Superdan

Food Feedback Friday. You know the drill, people. Tell us what's tickling your tongue this week.

A fairer tax cut from Democrats

Rep. Warwick Sabin says he's amended his income tax realignment proposal, HB 1926, to eliminate a new 7.5 percent top rate for the highest income taxpayers.

Sunday To-Do: Lee Fields & The Expressions

Lee Fields performs at Juanita's Sunday night.

The gordita of variable price

The cost depends, but the flavor is great.

The legislature today

Senate didn't meet today and the House mostly deal with minor matters. Among them, from Fox 16: By a 76-8 vote, the House approved a bill to ban The Arkansas House has voted to prohibit minors from having or buying e-cigarettes.

Fire on Cantrell Road

Fox 16 supplies the photo of a fire in a house on the south side of Cantrell Road, across the road from the Packet House.

There Rapert goes again: Liberals = Taliban, Nazis

One is tempted to suggest that the fiddlin' demagogue stick a vaginal probe in it.

Expand-o-meter: chances of expansion getting higher and higher

Today’s chances of passing expansion: 82%Last week’s chances: 75%See here for previous entries on the Expand-o-Meter It’s getting down to the wire and the Expand-o-meter remains bullish.

Still no numbers behind DHS “private option” study, plus another clarification

The Department of Human Services this week sent me another clarification about the new “private option” study.

The Max is Back, But Depleted Edition

The private option, tax cuts, school choice, voter ID, Big River Steel, the political impact of a Republican majority in the legislature, the governor's race, the tech park and delay tactics in the Lake Maumelle watershed — all covered this week.

Friday night line

The evening line is open. Finishing up: * DATE GONE WRONG: ABC reports on a KAIT story about a Jonesboro man who arranged a fake assault during date with a woman at Crowley's Ridge State Park so as to impress her.

Gun nuttery and the race for U.S. Senate

The gun nuts are spoiling to go after U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor. No surprise.

Your Congress at 'work' with meaningless political votes

An all-night session by the U.S. Senate last night included votes on dozens of budget amendments with no chance of becoming law, but proposed to score political points.

Stand up for women today at the Capitol

A reminder of the rally at the Capitol at 3 p.m. Saturday over the legislature's unprecedented and unconstitutional infringement on women's medical rights.

Opening March 23: Robin Hazard-Bishop, Hans Feyerabend

Boswell-Mourot Fine Art opens an exhibition today of pastels by Robin Hazard-Bishop and paintings by Hans Feyerabend in a show called "Looking Out."

The women's rights open line

A two-week grassroots campaign on social media brought maybe 500 people to the Capitol on a cold, rainy day Saturday to protest the legislature's attack on women's medical rights (and speakers invoked a range of other liberty-infringing efforts by the legislature).

Gun control from the Ethics Commission

I hesitate to call attention to this news story from Northeast Arkansas, where the state Ethics Commission waded — properly — into (mis)use of public office so some local cops could get special treatment on purchase of high-powered special guns.

The fight for equal rights: Too early to celebrate

The Sunday papers are full of news related to the struggle for gay rights. Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a couple of potentially landmark cases — a ban on gay marriage in California and a challenge of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to discriminate against those legally married elsewhere.

Plans for "private option" legislation begin to emerge

Great roundup yesterday from Roby Brock of where things stand politically with the healthcare "private option" — including the first hints of legislation.

Monday: Soul Asylum at Revolution

Soul Asylum plays at Revolution Monday.

Sunday open line

Here's an open line. Also: * VOTER INITIATIVES: Here's an article by Paul Jacob, a North Little Rock native who was an important foot soldier in the national campaign to pass term limits.

Good morning — what's good about it?

The news is slow today, but what bubbles up is mostly more potentially alarming legislative news.

Study: Halfway houses no cure for recidivism

Oops. Arkansas has joined the national movement to push more criminal offenders into drug courts and community-based punishment, both to cut the cost of expensive prisons and because of the idea that community-based re-entry is a better way to discourage repeat offenses.

Monday-Saturday To-Do: 'JFK 50 Years Later

The exhibit "JFK: 50 Years Later" opens Monday in Argenta.

'Tort reform' proposal alters balance of power

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the businesses it represent are pushing hard for a "tort reform" constitutional amendment to overturn the Arkansas Supreme Court's continued insistence that damaged people are entitled to a fair day in court.; Businesses, tired of a level playing field, propose nothing less than a radical reshaping of the balance of government.

Opening today: "JFK 50 Years Later"

Eight venues in Argenta open a six-day exhibit today of archival photographs of President John F. Kennedy from the John Rogers collection.

Tuesday: Jim Gaffigan at Robinson, Doug Stanhope at UARK Bowl

Comedian Jim Gaffigan performs at Robinson Center Music Hall Tuesday.

UA vs. ASU in football

Doc Harper writes for Sporting Life Arkansas on just about every angle for and against a football matchup between the University of Arkansas Razorbacks and Arkansas State University Red Wolves, an issue on the fringes of the 2013 Legislative Train Wreck.

Make your nominations for 2013 Governor's Arts Awards

The Arkansas Arts Council is accepting nominations until April 26 for the 2013 Governor’s Arts Awards, which recognize Arkansas artists, arts patrons and corporations for their contributions to the arts community.

Republicans oppose tax increases except when they don't

Good item from Michael Cook at Talk Business. It would appear that legislation sponsored in the Senate by Republican Sen. Jonathan Dismang will raised taxes on cell phone users by $20 million to pay for expansion of broadband service in rural areas and improve 911.

No Republican dare call it Medicaid expansion, but it is

I quibbled with some Republican shills last night on Twitter about their bodacious spinning on the growing Republican support for taking federal Medicaid expansion dollars for Arkansas, but doing so through private insurance rather than a government-run program.

The legislature rolls on

I hope to check in later as joint House-Senate committees discuss the increasingly controversial plan to provide state subsidies for a new steel mill in Mississippi County.

Missy Irvin's body art bill amended to remove unreasonable bans

On Thursday, an amendment to SB387 — Sen. Missy Irvin’s body modification bill — removed the ban on scarification and clarified the definitions regarding implants.

Gov. Mike Beebe vetoes Voter ID bill

Gov. Mike Beebe has vetoed SB 2, the Republican-backed Voter ID bill.

The Monday night line

Open to you. Final notes: * QUICK CASH: The Arkansas Lottery said Linda Newsom of Mayflower won $2 million on a $20 “Lucky Lottery Ticket” purchased at the Mayflower Quick Mart.

Questions about the UAMS-St. Vincent merger

Leslie Newell Peacock's continued probing behind the scenes of work on a potential combination of UAMS and St. Vincent Infirmary continues to turn up cautionary remarks within UAMS.

U.S. Supreme Court takes up gay rights

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today and tomorrow on two landmark civil rights cases — the challenge to California's ban on same-sex marriage and, Wednesday, a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Hmmmm. Tone change on analysis of tort reform

Funny. I wrote yesterday about a sharp analysis of the legal impact of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce's proposed constitutional amendment on "tort reform," which would strip the Arkansas Supreme Court of rule-making authority in damage lawsuits.

Wonderland by night: Arkansas River bridges?

Mayor Mark Stodola delivers a State of the City address today. I've asked he'll mention a hot rumor — that Entergy is prepared to announce a $1 million grant to the city to light up the brid

Arkansas legislature is poised to ratify Obamacare

Ernie Dumas' column this week is particularly timely to me since it bears on a little Twitter debate I had this morning with Fiddlin' Sen. Jason Rapert.

UPDATE: Taxes take center stage in House committee

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee takes up income tax measures today. * RELIEF FOR POOR WORKERS: The committee rejected, by a Republican motion to table, HB 1240 by Rep. Fred Love to give state income taxpayers a credit equal to 5 percent of the federal earned income tax credit.

Chew on this: Boulevard's breakfast sandwich

Waking up to a beautiful sandwich at Boulevard Bread. This dainty little number is definitely worth waking up for.

North Dakota takes the lead in the war on women

A sad day for Jason Rapert, who's luxuriating in attention over his leadership of the war on women's medical rights.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Collective Soul, Little Big Town and more to Magic Springs

Collective Soul plays at Magic Springs May 25.

Win a pair of tickets to see 'Monty Python's Spamalot' at Robinson Center Music Hall

"Monty Python's Spamalot" comes to Robinson Center Music Hall April 1-2.

Legislature at work — gun worship, alimony, body art

The House has approved HB 2025 allowing concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns into liquor stores.

Stealth tax cut for the wealthy sprung on committee

On adjournment, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee assembled to rubber stamp Speaker Davy Carter's proposed capital gains tax cut bill.

The open line

Your thoughts here. My last ones: * MARKET HIGH: The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record today.

UPDATE: National groups raise questions about UAMS-St. Vincent combine

We've gotten another memo under the FOI from UAMS related to talks about a combination of certain services with St. Vincent Infimary.

A little bit more on Warhol, etc.

Eye Candy has been swamped with other duties at the Times and so is a bit late posting this news about the five acquisitions Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art recently announced.

Changes coming for Vieux Carre

Chef David Bennett will be departing Vieux Carre April 1.

A compromise delay on Lake Maumelle protection

JP Tyler Denton, under deserved fire for throwing in with the bad guys and joining Republican members of the Pulaski Quorum Court to delay watershed protection ordinances for the Maumelle watershed for four years, backed a compromise delay last night.

The capital gains tax cut myth

Any notion that House Speaker Davy Carter was a Democratic thinking man's Republican went out the window yesterday with his surreptitiously handled cramdown of legislation that only Ed Garner could love.

West Memphis 3 case back in court

A hearing is underway today on the continuing effort to get access to evidence in the closed West Memphis 3 murder case under the Freedom of Information Act.

Quit passing by El Palenque

El Palenque is a bit hidden from view but it's food is anything but subtle. Big flavors and small prices are what you'll find at this wonderful Little Rock taqueria

Birch Tree Communities sale at Temple B'Nai Israel

The "EXPRESSIONS Art Show and Sale" is so successful it has outgrown the Governor's Mansion ballroom, Birch Tree Communities has announced.

Democrats find a populist issue?

Is the Democratic Party finally coalescing around a message? It wouldn't be hard.

UA architects wins collaborative award

And another award for the Pettaway Pocket Neighborhood.

Expansion likely leads to feds paying for tax cuts in Arkansas

In pushing for his tax cut yesterday, Rep. Charlie Collins mentioned the possible healthcare expansion deal.

Today's gay rights case: DOMA in trouble

Jeffrey Toobin provides the early word on arguments today at the U.S. Supreme Court on a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Cell phone photos lead to arrest

Fox 16 has a piece of amusing cop beat news: A fellow brought police to his door by sending out photos of himself on a stolen cell phone.

UCA hires Kelley Erstine as chief of staff

Big hire announced at the University of Central Arkansas: University of Central Arkansas President Tom Courtway announced today that Kelley Erstine will join the UCA executive staff, effective July 1, 2013 as Chief of Staff.

Beebe appoints Cliff Gibson to the University of Arkansas Board

Charles "Cliff" Gibson III, 58, a Monticello lawyer, is Gov. Mike Beebe's latest appointment to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

Legislature today — gay rights, environment, football and steel

From the Capitol today: * BIG RIVER STEEL: Roby Brock at Talk Business reports that details have now been added to the bill to provide $75 million in grants and $50 million in loans to the startup Big River Steel project in Mississippi County.

We have a winner for our Brit Floyd ticket giveaway

Kim Gibson won two tickets to see Brit Floyd, April 30 at Verizon Arena.

We're over the hump — vote suppression rules

The mid-week line commences. Closing out: * FLY LIT TO ORLANDO: Allegiant Airlines announced today twice-weekly flights from Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport to Orlando, effective June 6.

Shooter hits Parkview bus with airgun pellets; one injured

LRSD tells parents that shooter armed with airgun fired on bus carrying Parkview High School students this afternoon.

Republicans target existing Medicaid program

One of the key appeals of the "private option" to Republican lawmakers is that it moves significant populations that now get coverage under Medicaid out of the public program and onto subsidized private insurance.