The Little Rock Board of Directors will soon consider an ordinance to extend protections to our LGBT neighbors. Why it matters.
5 Little WordsMarch 26, 2015
Vol 41 • No 29
South Main pizza joint hits most of the right notes.
Here are a couple of earthshaking developments: It turns out that Hillary Clinton is obsessed with privacy and that across the years former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers detected ethical failings in other politicians, even friends like Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Yours Truly comes from a long line of dudes who cook, juggling the spatula and an unfiltered Camel, frowning something edible into existence from a stack of cans, jars and the occasional splash from a nearby Budweiser.
When the final seconds of an unusually dynamic and impassioned college basketball game ticked away, and a season of restorative value for Arkansas's long-beleaguered program ended, the moment for reflection that a turbulent schedule had delayed finally came.
Crime fiction writer from the Ozarks finds an audience abroad.
Like Tom Cotton, I have served in a war. I have four medals, none terribly important, to show for it. Perhaps he has more.
'It Follows' delivers scares.
Also, Colette Honorable at the Clinton School.
I'm at anchor on a ship lying off Grand Turk Island, and I should have known better than to pick up the digital Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, particularly given the painfully slow download time on the ship's satellite Internet. But I did and began a slow burn.
The manufacture and dissemination of didactic fables pleasing to the viewing audience is what many journalists do. And that's becoming almost as true at MSNBC as at Fox News. Particularly in stories involving race and sex, that is to say, a lot of them.
Lost in a U.S. Supreme Court term that will determine the future of Obamacare and marriage equality is a case that may well destroy the last best hope for combating partisan gerrymandering across the United States.
Also, Justin Harris reemerges to tweet about the wicked and the Lord, a bad bill falls in the General Assembly and the court battle over the Little Rock School District is put on hold.
Neighbor to renovate Third Street manse; cottages get demolition reprieve.
Carolyne Adkins of southeast Arkansas walks away after viewing V.L. Cox's art installation "Doors" on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday, March 24.
Five properties have been added to the 2,551 Arkansas structures whose significance has earned them a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also, Black Milk at Stickyz, Winter Jam at Verizon Arena, Young Buck at IV Corners, Discover the Dinosaurs at the Statehouse Convention Center and Darsombra at White Water Tavern.
Oh dear. Paradigm of conservative cultural authenticity, Phil Robertson, patriarch of A&E's "Duck Dynasty," conjured up a gruesome fantasy of the rape and torture of an atheist family in a speech to the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, later broadcast on the “Trunews” radio program by host Rick Wiles.
Through the end of February, just under 240,000 Arkansans had gained coverage via the private option. As always, worth noting: that's 240,000 folks who would lose their insurance plans if the rump group of Tea Partiers in the legislature got their way and ended the coverage expansion in two years. Here's the demographic breakdown of those 240,000.
I guess the harried pace of lawmaking is getting in the way of wining and dining.
Tippi McCullough, president of the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats, sends along a statement excoriating Arkansas legislators for moving forward on Rep. Bob Ballinger's discriminatory HB 1228. She also notes that Ballinger, who previously said he would debate the merits of HB 1228 in a public forum, hasn't responded to a number of attempts to schedule the debate.
The House committee on Public Health this morning voted to pass a bill that would require the Department of Workforce Services to create a pilot program to drug test people who receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, or TANF.
At a press conference today, Chad Griffin, Arkansas native and president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBT advocacy group, announced that his organization will run a full-page ad (see below) in the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's largest paper, suggesting that Arkansas is closed for business due to HB 1228, the discriminatory, anti-gay measure making its way through the legislature. It could be up for consideration by the Senate today.
Take heed, Arkansas: the same day Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana announced he would sign the state's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" — an anti-LGBT bill with disturbing similarities to Rep. Bob Ballinger's HB 1228 — a $4 billion tech company announced they're pulling up stakes there rather than "require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination." Ouch.
The House of Representatives voted down HB 1197, the bill by Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) that would have ended the practice of sentencing minors convicted of capital murder to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The vote was 29-53 against the legislation.
An ethics bill to require electronic filing of campaign finance reports failed on the House floor on Thursday. Pretty much all of the opposition to the bill came in the form of jokes.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson formally introduced Mike Preston as director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission today. Creating jobs, i.e. doling out corporate welfare, may soon get harder, though, with the likely passage of HB 1228 allowing for "religious" discrimination of gays.
Here's the daily video headlines and an open line.
The Arkansas Senate unanimously passed two bills this afternoon intended to address the issue of "rehoming" adopted children. The legislation was authored in response to the news that Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) and his wife had sent their two adopted daughters to live with another family in 2013, where one was then sexually abused.
Decorated Civil Rights leader Julian Bond has issued a statement condemning Arkansas House Bill 1228, which he said would "cloak discrimination in the guise of religion."
Today, the House advanced to the Senate a bill that could ban California wine from being imported to Arkansas. That represents about 90 percent of all wine sold in Arkansas, a alcohol lobbyist told the AP. The bill is meant to be explicit retribution for a California law, originally approved by voters, that requires all eggs sold in California to come from hens that are able to extend their wings and turn around freely.
In an open letter to "States Considering Imposing Discrimination Laws," the CEO of the recommendations service Yelp pledged to avoid adding or maintaining jobs in states that impose measures like Rep. Bob Ballinger's bill to allow discrimination on "religious" grounds.
On Thursday, the House Education Committee narrowly failed to pass SB 878, a bill by Sen. Jason Rapert that would require high school students to pass a citizenship test from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as a prerequisite to receiving a diploma.
UPDATE: House fails bill to require consultants involved in school takeover to open documents to FOIA
Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) could not convince the House to pass his bill to would apply the Freedom of Information Act to third-party entities who contract with the state for consulting, evaluation or operation of a school following takeover of a school district.
As Friday's open line dawns, we are contemplating the need for bootlegging California hooch, the ways and means of eggs, some Yelp talk — and of course we want your opinions.
A bill which would allow for the installation of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol cleared the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs this morning. It now goes to a vote before the full House.
HB1228, the "Religious Freedom" bill by Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) that would allow Arkansans to discriminate against LGBT people based on their personal interpretation of religion, has passed the state Senate by a vote of 24-7. The bill now heads to the House.
The state of Arkansas dealt another blow to women's health yesterday by sending to the governor SB 569, which denies all state dollars to Planned Parenthood and any social service agency that might refer patients to abortion providers. The bill kills future grants for programs that have nothing to do with abortion.
The Arkansas Public Policy Panel and Citizens First Congress are circulating a petition asking Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto HB 1228, the bill that would allow acts of discrimination in the name of religious freedom. Hutchinson has already said he'll sign the bill.
Little Rock attorney Jeff Rosenzweig has sent a letter to members of the Senate State Agencies Committee, pointing out that the drug-provider secrecy provisions of HB1751, which seeks to tweak the drug cocktail used to execute prisoners in the state, would put the state in breach of an 2013 agreement between Rosenzweig and a former Chief Deputy Attorney General, in which the state — in exchange for Rosenzweig "dropping certain parts of the lethal injection lawsuit" — agreed to provide Rosenzweig with "the relevant information regarding the [execution] drugs," including packing slips that will show where the drugs originated.
Former Judge Michael Maggio cannot be sued in civil court over his handling of the case involving the death of a nursing home patient, Special Judge David Laser ruled this morning in Faulkner County Circuit Court. The ruling did not address fellow defendants Michael Morton and Gilbert Baker.
Apple CEO Tim Cook came out against House Bill 1228 today on Twitter, calling on Gov. Hutchinson to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. Hutchinson has already said he'll sign it into law.
For the first time ever the Times is taking two buses to this year's Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Miss., which calls itself "half blues festival, half small-town fair and all about the Delta." Over 100 blues musicians will perform over the weekend at classic juke joints, blues clubs and small stages — last year's event brought attendees from 46 states and 28 countries. We'll be heading down on April 11 at 9 a.m., and the trip will come complete with live music en route: Blues Boy Jag will play on one bus and Jason Hale on the other. We'll also stop for lunch at the legendary Hollywood Cafe in Tunica.
Staff Picks: An anthem for the legislative session, a history of the Gazette, Edgar G. Ulmer and more
To soothe shattered nerves after the past several weeks of watching the horror show at the Capitol, and in honor of the fact that the 2015 legislative session will be remembered as the moment in the political history of Arkansas when the state finally emerged from the ruined chrysalis of late 20th-century Democratic populism to reveal itself as a carbon copy of our western neighbor, I'll recommend the Yo La Tengo cover of the Kinks' gentle, beautiful "Oklahoma U.S.A." If life's for living, what's living for?
How about we highlight a good, thoughtful bill among all the legislative shenanigans? And from Sen. Jason Rapert no less.
Republican caveman Sen. Bart Hester's bill to prevent advertisements of results of nursing home inspections zipped through the House today 79-2 (Greg Leding and David Whitaker the nays, 19 representatives didn't vote). Blue Hog Report has been on Hester's case about this attempt to keep what are public records from being widely known.
We're tired. Have at it.
Republican Sen. Jason Rapert's bill to regulate transportation network companies that use ride-sharing apps — like Uber and Lyft — passed the House 72 to 1 today (Republican Rep. Sue Scott of Rogers cast the lone no vote).
The week in review podcast by two guests who have no idea how to work a microphone. David Koon and Benji Hardy talk HB 1228 and assorted other legislative news.
It's not news of economic disaster via hate bills or bills to brainwash schoolchildren with bogus history or more restrictions on the rights of women to control their bodies. It's just the weather.
Sen. David Burnett (D-Osceola) said he made a mistake in voting for a bill that would allow legal discrimination against gay people in a Senate committee. He voted against the bill in the full Senate yesterday. Meanwhile, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (D-Little Rock), the governor's nephew and the lone Republican voting against HB 1228, cited Jesus's teaching as the reason he changed his vote.
Fabric artist Bisa Butler will talk at Hearne Fine Art today, March 28, at 2 p.m. See a slideshow of her wonderful work on the gallery website.
The Senate Education committee passed a bill today by Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) that would require non-AP high school and junior high U.S. social studies classes to teach at least four weeks of history concerning "the period of colonization through 1890," regardless of what the rest of the class is about. Proponents of the bill said that its passage would help ensure "freedom."
It's an open line.
Last night on "Saturday Night Live," Tom Cotton, John Boehner and Ted Cruz inspired President Obama to turn into his Incredible Hulk-like alter ego, The Rock Obama.
It's an open line.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook condemned discriminatory legislation emerging from Arkansas, Indiana and elsewhere and pledged to oppose it.
In the face of protest in recent days, Arkansas Republicans have tried a number of feints to mask the true intent of the so-called "religious protection" bill making its way through the Arkansas legislature. When they say it's not about discrimination, it's about discrimination.
The Human Rights Campaign has highlighted the moments when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence ducked and dodged (not clarifying) questions from George Stephanopoulos.
Two Arkansas Presbyterian ministers said the so-called "religious freedom" bill currently under consideration by the Arkansas legislature was discriminatory and anti-religious. They were among a number of speakers at an "emergency meeting" held Sunday night to discuss HB 1228 hosted by the Arkansas branch of the Human Rights Campaign.
There are all sorts of opportunities to protest HB 1228 on Monday.
Some questions for Asa Hutchinson as the legislature nears passage of a bill that demonstrates again that we are a state that believes and practices discrimination.
Pictures from the protests at the governor's mansion at 6:00 this morning, a group led by Rev. Marie Mainard O'Connell.
Professional boxer Jermain Taylor pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated assault and single counts of terroristic threatening and possession of a controlled substance today in Pulaski County Circuit Court.
Great news from the folks at the Rev Room: Hannibal Buress has announced a show there at 8 p.m. April 12. Buress is a stand-up comedian known for roles on "Broad City" and "The Eric Andre Show," jokes about Young Jeezy and apple sauce, specials like "Animal Furnace" and "Live from Chicago" and, oddly and most recently, bringing wider attention to the rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Also he's just widely considered one of the best comedians of his generation. Tickets are on sale now for $25.
Remember when Gov. Asa Hutchinson promised an end to legislative pork barrel spending, the time-honored tradition of splitting up surplus money for legislators' pet projects in their districts via the General Improvement Fund act? Never mind!
A trip to Buffalo Wild Wings is perfectly fine, just don't ask too many questions about the beer.
After a House committee advanced an amended version of a so-called "religious freedom" bill, protesters gathered in the halls of the state Capitol chanted, "Shame on you!" to passing legislators. Rep. Bob Ballinger, the sponsor of HB 1228, said discrimination was not the intent of his bill, but he declined to add a non-discrimination amendment to it.
Governing magazine is sweet on Asa Hutchinson.
Images from photographer Brian Chilson from the 12:30 protest led by the Human Rights Campaign Arkansas at the Capitol. Rep. Bob Ballinger's HB1228 advanced out of committee today as amended and will head to the full House.
The dumbest bill of 2015 dies on the vine.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson comments on the inclusions of pork GIF spending in the budget after his promises to end the practice.
An officer with the Pulaski County Regional Detention Center was arrested on Saturday for, investigators say, bringing prohibited items into the jail.
The federal government and many states afford heightened protection of religious freedoms (12 through court rulings and 20 through state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts). So what's the big deal with Indiana and Arkansas following suit?
Here's an early open line.
The House today passed a bill to prohibit law enforcement officers from violating the rights of citizens to photograph or record public events.
UPDATE: Ed committee rejects bills on charter facilities and civics testing; bill to end PARCC heads to final House vote
The House Education committee failed a bill by Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale) that would have created a "right of access" for charter schools to lease unused or underutilized facilities from a public school district. The committee also rejected a second try by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) to require high school students to pass the United States citizenship test as a prerequisite to graduation, which I wrote about last week.
Exxon-Mobil's Pegasus pipeline ruptured in Mayflower exactly two years ago yesterday, March 29. Homes were lost, ground was tainted and there are still issues to be resolved in court. Could there be a silver lining? An article in Inside Climate News reports that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is "floating what could become a new regulation to address problematic vintage pipe and other obvious risks that were factors in the rupture" of the 70-year-old section of the Pegasus pipeline.
Well, this is just awful. Shanna Tippen, a minimum wage worker at a Pine Bluff hotel, was fired because she spoke to the Washington Post and told the paper that the state's coming minimum wage hike would help her.
Little Rock-based Acxiom, the $1.15 billion data marketing company, has asked Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a so-called "religious freedom" bill.
Sen Jon Woods is back with more ideas on ethics laws. Again, as in 2013, best take a close look.
This afternoon on Twitter, the Cabot Republican wrote, "Respectfully, I would like to publicly encourage the members of the @ArkansasHouse to vote against #HB1228."
A bill by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave to state employees has foundered in the Senate Public Health committee.
In its wisdom, the 90th General Assembly has decided that tax breaks for the rich are more important than the literacy. The legislature has cut state library funding by 18 percent, or around $1 million, to help pay for a state tax break on capital gains from 30 percent to 50 percent (and to zero on gains more than $10 million).
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola's letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson asking him to veto HB1228: "Any piece of legislation that is so divisive cannot possibly be good for the state of Arkansas and its people."
Rep. Donnie Copeland's bill to mislead poor people in the service of a meaningless gesture will get a slight tweak, a little lipstick on his grandstanding pig.
The tipping point.
Yesterday, iconic blue jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co. and known purveyor of jeans Gap Inc. issued a joint statement condemning Arkansas's anti-gay House Bill 1228 and similar legislation recently signed into law in Indiana, saying of the laws "they must be stopped."
Business likes customers. It needs employees. Legislation that looks an awful lot like it's designed to protect discrimination against folks that might be customers or employees...well, that's not so good for business. Belatedly, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce has come out with a statement expressing opposition to HB1228, the so-called "religious conscience" bill from Rep. Bob Ballinger that has been condemned by various companies in and out of the state.
An interview with chef Angela Nix of the Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery. While the focus is often on the beer being brewed, chef Nix has made it her mission to elevate the food at the historic brewpub—and she is succeeding admirably.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has vetoed SB 79, a bill that was intended to "protect the names, voices, signatures, photographs, and likenesses of the citizens of the state from exploitation and unauthorized commercial use without the citizen’s consent." After the bill was sent to the governor's desk, photographers in Arkansas and elsewhere reacted with alarm and requested a veto.
Could a compromise be brewing on HB1228, the so-called "religious conscience" bill that opponents argue would offer additional legal protection for discrimination against gay people? Here's the latest scuttlebutt.
Civil Rights icon on HB1228: 'I refuse to allow discrimination to cloak itself in a shroud of faith.'
A very moving op-ed out today at the Advocate.com from former NAACP chair, Southern Poverty Law Center founder and civil rights leader Dr. Julian Bond, who has been speaking out against so-called "Religious Freedom" bills in Arkansas and Indiana for a few days now. This is a man who knows what it's like to be discriminated against based on proclaimed religious belief. He didn't stand for it in the 1960s, and he's fighting hard against HB1228 now.
The website funnyordie.com has helpfully created a commercial to promote Indiana tourism in the "Religious Freedom" era. Take heed, Arkansas.
Liveblogging the debate over HB 1228.
A surprise announcement from Arkansas Fresh Bakery: They've teamed up with Butcher and Public chef Travis McConnell in order to expand the brand into butchery, charcuterie and a new level of dining.
Yuni Wa is 17-year-old Little Rock native Princeton Coleman, a talented, omnivorous producer who makes beats, frenetic dance music and Paradise Garage-ready disco edits. Watch this space, etc.
There were a few fireworks, but Rep. Bob Ballinger's so-called "religious conscience" bill, HB 1228 — which critics argue would establish additional protections for discrimination against gay people — will head to the governor's desk after the House concurred in Senate amendments.
As we enter the final days of the legislative session, Arkansas finds itself, once again on the wrong side of history, using the power of government to enforce discrimination and division based on religion.
Arkansas State Chamber urges governor and legislature to maintain "business-friendly" reputation — but does not call for HB 1228 veto
The State Chamber is out with a tepid statement on HB 1228. They ask the governor and legislators to ensure that "Arkansas maintains its rightful and hard-earned reputation as a business-friendly place where success is an opportunity available to all." But they don't mention HB 1228 explicitly or take a clear position.
Hundreds of protestors were on hand at the Capitol today to protest HB 1228, which passed out of the House and will head to the governor's desk.
Here's an open line. Tuesday's video is on its way, but between events at the Capitol and getting this week's issue to press, we're a little behind — so, over to you.
On its "Walmart Newsroom" Twitter feed, the world's largest private employer has released an official statement calling on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto HB 1228, the "religious protection" bill just granted final passage by the House that would potentially encourage discrimination against LGBT people in Arkansas.
The Arkansas Citizens First Congress and Public Policy Panel will be delivering their petition against HB 1228 to Gov. Asa Hutchinson tomorrow at noon. They'll be joined by Human Rights Campaign and are inviting anyone and everyone to join them at the Capitol for the delivery of the petition and a continuation of the past few days of rallies
A report from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation gives Arkansas low-to-middling marks in its support of students with unusual academic potential, particularly those from lower-income households.
With the death of 117-year-old Misao Okawa of Osaka, Japan. Gertrude Weaver of Camden, born July 4, 1898, has been officially recognized as the world's oldest living person, at 116 years, 8 months and 28 days old as of today.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson will hold a press conference to discuss a so-called "religious freedom" bill at 10:30 a.m. today.
At a news conference today, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he wanted Arkansas's so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" to more accurately reflect the federal RFRA. He said he had asked legislative leaders to either recall HB 1228 so it can be amended or advance additional legislation that would accomplish changes that would make the law more closely mirror the 1993 federal law.
Local artisan cheesecakes are not only worth trying, they're worth trying again and again. Here's how you can get your hands on these beautiful desserts.
We spoke this morning about the potential impact of HB 1228 with attorney John DiPippa, Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy at William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock. DiPippa joined the faculty in 1983 and became dean of the law school in 2009. He currently teaches constitutional law, interviewing and counseling, legal profession and public service law classes at the law school.
Tippi McCullough of the Stonewall Democratic Caucus announced a petition today drive to ask Gov. Hutchinson to issue an "all-inclusive" executive order that would "dictate freedom and equality for all citizens, including people on account of sexual preference, sexual identity, disabilities and all other classes, and "remove the doubt" — the latest battle cry — and "revive the spirit of Southern Hospitality."
Little Rock Police Department spokesman Lt. Sidney Allen says that an undercover officer with the LRPD sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg today at around 11:20 a.m. Allen said the officer, whose name and gender was not specified, was exiting a car when their weapon discharged, with the bullet nicking the officer's leg but not causing serious injury.
Hutchinson asked the legislature to change HB 1228 — either by recalling the bill itself or by crafting additional legislation — so that it would more closely mirror the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, upon which the bill is based. But hold off on the celebration just yet.
How do you make parting with your hard-earned dollars fun? By creating a giving event, with speakers, food, performances and a toteboard watch party. The Arkansas Community Foundation's ArkansasGives event from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow, April 2, will drum up support for more than 350 Arkansas nonprofits.
The Human Rights Campaign has rounded up dozens of technology company CEOs, who've issued a joint statement condemning anti-gay, so-called "religious freedom" laws being considered in Arkansas and elsewhere.
A bill that will place a monument to the Biblical Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol has passed the House by a vote of 72-7, with one member voting present. Senate Bill 939, known as "The Ten Commandments Monument Display Act," would allow private citizens to fund the creation of a permanent monument to the Biblical Ten Commandments.
In his press conference this morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his son, Seth, was among those who signed a petition calling for him to veto HB 1228. That's inspired a number of reports on the younger Hutchinson, who has all kinds of great things to say.
A freshman senator from Jonesboro bragged to the Jonesboro Sun he was going to kill Sen. Joyce Elliott's bill as "retribution."
The Northwest Arkansas Republican, who served as congressman for the Third District for 26 years, died today in a Springdale hospital at the age of 92.
Here's your open line.
The Senate advanced two identical bills that were amended today to reflect the federal "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," as requested by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the wake of controversy over HB 1228. Not everyone in the GOP is happy with the compromise, which has proceeded in an unusual way.
Unkempt visionary, Squirrel Nut Zippers founder, former sideman for Jim Dickinson and Buddy Guy, self-proclaimed "Arkansas Son-in-Law"— Jimbo Mathus has lived many lifetimes, more than most of us could stomach. This month, by means of a work ethic that can only be described as a punishing, Mathus is back with a new album, "Blue Healer," recorded in Water Valley, Mississippi with Fat Possum & Big Legal Mess producer Bruce Watson.