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A Time of Fear

A Time of Fear

March 30, 2017

Vol 43 • No 30

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Suffer the immigrants

Since the election of Donald Trump, undocumented immigrants and the groups that work with them in Arkansas are dealing with a wave of fear.

The two cities of Little Rock

The Little Rock City Board illustrated the capital city's division again last week.

Arkansas treats children of same-sex couples differently from other kids

With the legislature refusing to correct the law, the fight is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

You will believe

Blasphemy and devotion in Netflix's 'The Most Hated Woman in America.'

Testing, testing

Junior, that peach-fuzzed philosopher of Maple Street, who stands now head and shoulders taller than the mother who birthed him 17 years and change ago and eye to eye with his old man, got his ACT test results in the other day.

Workers lose

The Republicans' House Bill 1405 (on its way to the governor as this is written) would reduce a worker's eligibility to receive unemployment benefits from 20 to 16 weeks.

Hope for Gray

The Arkansas Democratic Party recently elected House Minority Leader Michael John Gray (D-Augusta), a Woodruff County farmer, over Denise Garner, a retired oncology nurse practitioner and founder of Feed Communities of Fayetteville, to replace outgoing chair Vince Insalaco of Little Rock.

Examining the relationships in The Rep's 'Jar the Floor'

It's all love and discord.

Black magic

Women's work in wire, metalpoint, fabric, glass, cut paper at Hearne.

Gladys Knight at Robinson Center

Also, Paul Rucker at Inverse Performance Art Festival, Funkanites kick off Jazz in the Park, Kate Campbell, Sad Daddy and more

Repeal charade

The debacle of the repeal-Obamacare movement left the president and the Republican Congress ruminating about the terrible lessons they had learned from the defeat — mainly that neither ever had a health plan or even a clue about how to frame one.

Never enough for the NRA

Also, execution dates draw near, no justice and more.

Inconsequential News Quiz:Poop Dogg Edition

Play at home, while accepting the horrible fact that the "Beat the Boss" phone in item three is a real thing.

Hawgball prospects

The sting of the "Grifters in Greenville" incident having finally dissipated somewhat, I am prepared to assess Razorback basketball anew.

Never his fault

Unlike his personal hero Vladimir Putin, President Trump can't have his political opponents thrown into prison, shot dead in the street or flung off fourth-floor balconies.

Hail to Forty Two

A vote for the Clinton Center's restaurant.

Bathroom bills and the NCAA. Arkansas might fail the championship event test.

North Carolina may or may not have a "bathroom bill" compromise. Either way, it might not satisfy new rules from the NCAA on ensuring non-discriminatory conditions in places it holds championship events. Arkansas would have a hard time complying.

School vouchers: A tale of resistance in two red states

Texas and Arkansas, two deeply red states, have proved resistant to school voucher bills. That has only increased the pressure from rich lobbies who favor sending public money to private schools.

Internet sales tax bill clears committee

On its fourth try, a bill to require collection of the sales tax on Internet commerce cleared a House committee today.

Another sports group weighs in on gun bill

The Sun Belt Conference, whose members sports teams include Little Rock and Arkansas State, has added its voice to opposition to allowing guns in college sporting events.

Linda Collins-Smith drops bathroom bill for this session

Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, unable to get her bathroom bill out of committee, formally withdrew it Wednesday and it will go to interim study.

Harvard project slams Arkansas plan to execute eight

Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project says Arkansas has "ignored compelling evidence that undermines the constitutionality" of eight executions planned over a 10-day period in April.

Legislature defeats resolution on definition of marriage

The House today defeated SJR 7 urging the U.S. Congress to propose a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the definition of marriage as anything other than the union of one man and one woman.

Thursday's open line

The Thursday open line and daily video.

House approves gun bill amendments despite NRA resistance

The House today approved SB 724, the cleanup of some questions raised following passage of a bill expanding where concealed weapons can be carried in Arkansas.

Amended racial impact study bill clears House committee

An amended version of a bill that would allow for racial impact assessments for certain criminal justice bills advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee Thursday on a 10-7 vote with three members not voting.

Judge orders state to release execution drug info

A judge has ruled the state must reveal some information about execution drugs that the state wants to keep secret.

Campus carry bill creates expensive, bureaucratic maze that seems likely to apply only to major sports, such as Razorback football

The version of Arkansas gun legislation likely to be approved in the Senate today creates a bureautic morass and significant campus expense to keep concealed weapons out of college athletic events. Realistically, the procedure is likely to be followed only for the biggest events, such as Razorback football.

'Dream Land': Don't miss this new documentary from AETN

A new AETN documentary on Little Rock's West Ninth Street black business district of yore is a cinema masterpiece and no period piece. It is achingly relevant today.

One to veto: An anti-1st Amendment bill from Trent Garner

UN experts are speaking out against danger to freedom of assembly in legislation proposed by Sen. Trent Garner in Arkansas and mirrored by Republican legislation in 18 other states.

Another to veto: An anti-consumer bill heading to governor's desk

A nursing home lawsuit appears to be at the root of one of the worst bills of the session — to eliminate class action lawsuits under the deceptive trade practices act. It's heading to the governor, who should veto it.

Senate soundly rejects House speaker's constitutional amendment

The Senate thrashed House Speaker Jeremy Gillam's proposed constitutional amendment on amendments this morning, but it could get another vote.

State objects to order on execution drug

The state filed at the open of business today its request that the Arkansas Supreme Court stay Judge Wendell Griffen's order that the state Correction Department must turn over some manufacturer's information about an execution drug not specifically covered in the law that grants broad secrecy to the execution process.

League of Women Voters undecided so far on LR school tax vote

The League of Women Voters, a traditional supporter of school taxes, says it is undecided on the vote May 9 to extend 12.4 mills of taxes for 14 years in the Little Rock School District to finance various construction projects, at a cost to taxpayers of at least a half-billion dollars.So it will have a debate on the tax at a general meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 10, at the Hall High School media center.

Senate approves amendment to ban guns from college athletics

The Senate today approved SB 724 to provide exemptions from a new expanded concealed weapon bill to allow them to be banned from college athletic events. The vote was 23-7 and the bill goes to the governor.

New highway designations honor Johnny Cash, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Levon Helm and Louis Jordan

HB 2179, a bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Richey (D), designates "portions of various state highways" to honor one of the state's chief assets and cultural exports - its music.

School voucher bill defeated on 43-50 vote

The House today defeated SB 746 to begin a school voucher program to put public money in private schools.

Friday: An open line and the day's news roundup

The open line and daily video.

House rejects racial impact bill

The House today rejected Sen. Joyce Elliott's bill to allow a racial impact statement on certain criminal law changes.

Kevin Duck guilty, sentenced to life in 2011 murder of Hot Springs Village PD dispatcher

A Garland County jury today found Kevin Duck, 33, guilty in the murder of his girlfriend, Dawna Natzke, a Hot Springs Village Police Department dispatcher whose body was found floating a remote pond near Hot Springs Village in December 2011.

Abortion protesters lose lawsuit over arrest for loudspeakers

Federal Judge Kristine Baker today dismissed complaints by abortion protesters who'd been arrested, but acquitted on charges of  violating a noise ordinance for refusing to turn down a loudspeaker during a protest outside an abortion clinic in Little Rock in September 2012.

Resist, persist. A message for the season

A song of resistance and persistence for the season.

Butler, Beasley and Williams-Smith: Non-traditional artists at reception at Hearne

Fabric artist Bisa Butler, collage artist Phoebe Beasley and metalpoint artist Marjorie Williams-Smith will be at a reception at Hearne Fine Art tonight in conjunction with the  exhibition, "Beyond Magic," reviewed here. The reception is from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.; tomorrow, at 2 p.m., the artists will gather for a panel discussion on the show, which features women artists working in non-traditional mediums, including the glass and found art works by Lillian Blades (see image above) and the wire mesh sculptures of Anyta Thomas.

59th annual Delta Exhibition preview: Thanks, Facebook! UPDATES

Pleased as punch artists have been posting on Facebook the good news that their artworks have been accepted into the 59th annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center. Here's a slideshow of works posted by accepted artists.

The End Is Near Edition

The nearly concluded legislative session, the state’s troubled financial picture and more — covered on this week's podcast.

Disparate interests of large, small marijuana business hopefuls on display at public rules hearing

The hearing was not acrimonious, but the substance of the public comment illustrated divergent visions for the heavily regulated industry-to-be. Will Arkansas marijuana be dominated by out-of-state marijuana interests?

Once upon an April opening morning dreary ....

Might Edgar Allen Poe have found his muse in the work of a 19th century Arkansas poet? That's what it says here in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History.

Save Our Schools presses Johnny Key for answers on impact of school closings

Save Our Schools is pressing Education Commissioner Johnny Key to meet about his decision to close Little Rock schools without considering community impact. The broad group makes it pitch while Key is asking for $600 million in new tax authorization from Little Rock voters, who have been without an elected school board for two years.

Legal marijuana creates a real estate bubble

Own a vacant warehouse? It's could be worth more today now that Arkansas has legalized medical marijuana.

Arkansas-sold ticket wins $177 million in MegaMillions drawing

An Arkansan, identity not yet revealed, won $177 million last night with these numbers in the multistate Mega Millions lottery. The win is payable in a lump sum of $107 million.

The good news open line: A new millionaire, fiery Stephanie Flowers and the resurgent manatee

Stephanie Flowers speech, guns, manatee

Caterpillar plant closure in Illinois will add 150 jobs in North Little Rock

Caterpillar announced Friday the closure of an 800-worker plant in Aurora, Ill., and shift of those jobs to other sites, including 150 to North Little Rock.

The Jason Rapert memorial levee: None dare call it welfare.

In case you missed it: Living in the right senatorial district can sometimes produce cash dividends for property owners.

Little Rock leadership misses its fault in tax woes

Members of the Little Rock City Board seem to believe the Internet is the primary cause of lagging tax revenue in the city. There are other factors they've helped create.

Arkansas PSC chair questions Trump climate policy

Arkansas Public Service Commission Chair Ted Thomas is getting attention for calling out Trump administration climate policy. He even acknowledges the role of carbon burning and humans in climate change.

Soggy Sunday open line

The open line.

Resist: A guide for sham congressional town halls UPDATE

Indivisible, the grassroots movement to hold members of Congress accountable in the age of Donald Trump, has produced a guide for those faced with dodging congressmen, such as U.S. Sen. John Boozman and U.S. Rep. French Hill.

Sen. Joyce Elliott urges NO vote on Little Rock school tax

Sen, Joyce Elliott of Little Rock, a public school champion, has posted a message on Facebook urging a NO vote on the Little Rock School District tax election May 9. She says to do otherwise is to endorse taxation without representation and give in to  "tyranny."

Senate 11th-hour funny business afoot

The legislature is meeting to tie up loose ends today and the biggest issue on the calendar thought likely to get a meaningful vote is one last run at a bill aimed at making Internet retailers collect the Arkansas sales tax.

Searching for the big lottery winner: Tax man awaits $50 million of it.

Still no announcement of the $107 million lottery winner in Arkansas. Taxman is a winner too. State and federal treasuries should reap almost $50 million of winning.

Internet sales tax bill defeated in House

The House defeated a bill to collect the sales tax on all Internet commerce, not just that by companies with a physical presence in Arkansas.

It's over. The legislature goes into recess

The Senate went into recess this morning shortly before 11:30 a.m. and, if we're lucky, they'll return May 1 and routinely adjourn sine die, with no further business (until inevitable special sessions.)

Apartments, health clinic among ideas for re-use of Little Rock schools

The Little Rock School District has received seven ideas for using two schools to be closed next year as a result of budget cuts approved by the state, which controls the school district. The ideas include multi-family housing in the Woodruff buildings and community services, including health care, for the Franklin building.

More headlines for Arkansas's eight scheduled executions

Image-conscious Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he must carry out the law, even if it means a 10-day schedule of eight executions this month, barring court interventions.The decision has prompted a torrent of worldwide attention. More today from Columbia Journalism Review.

10th Annual Designers Choice Fashion Preview: A slideshow

Timmons Arts Foundation's 10th Annual Designers Choice Fashion Preview was the last for designer Korto Momolu, who has been involved with the show since its inception.

Gov. Hutchinson: Session 'successful,' but there are loose ends

Gov. Asa Hutchinson pronounced the legislative session a success. Except for maybe highways and the Internet tax and the still lingering question of the Medicaid expansion program.

Monday's open line

An open line and news roundup.

Broadway Bridge ceremony set Thursday; so what about lights?

A formal opening is set for the new Broadway Bridge and so here's another question: Will it be adorned by an LED light show like those on three bridges downstream? Maybe.

How Kim Hendren helped more Arkansans read Howard Zinn

A legislative effort to ban Howard Zinn's books on American history not only failed, it wound up putting more of his books in schools and libraries all over Arkansas.

UPDATE: As predicted, state tax revenue took sharp dip in March

As Gov. Asa Hutchinson had warned several days ago, state tax collections in March were sharply below forecast.

Arkansas's dates with death down through the years

Ernest Dumas takes a walk through history past and present with governors' involvement with the death penalty. He also provides a side note of famly history for another player in the process, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

NCAA 'reluctantly' relents on North Carolina after HB2 repeal

The NCAA board of governors has decided to no longer boycott North Carolina for championship events because of the legislature's recent repeal of HB 2. It said a majority of its board o "reluctantly voted to allow consideration" of cities in the state.

Family shooting is Little Rock's 16th homicide

Little Rock recorded its 16th homicide of 2017 about 10 p.m. Monday at 4300 Bruno Road in Southwest Little Rock.

Hutchinson vetoes bill limiting ABC enforcement

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has vetoed a bill restricting the law enforcement powers of one of his agencies, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. The governor said it infringed on executive power and provided for law officers to ignore law violations.

Riverdale 10 Cinema joins Trump protest with a screening of "1984"

Riverdale 10 Cinema is among the hundreds of independent theaters screening "1984" today in protest of the Trump administration's policies.

Tuesday: An open line plus news and comment. Plus, a J Lo, A Rod sighting

Here's the open line and daily report.

UPDATE: Supreme Court halts Griffen order that state produce execution drug information

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen moved this morning to compel the state Correction Department to produce unredacted drug packaging on potassium chloride purchased for eight executions this month.

Prelude Breakfast Bar the place to go for breakfast anytime

Prelude Breakfast Bar in Fayetteville serves a carefully curated menu of choice breakfast items.

Do it well. Do it cheerfully. Do it now: Arkansas in The Great War

Events commemorating the Arkansas WWI Centennial planned statewide

Appeals court: Civil rights law protects gay people

The tide continues to run against those in Arkansas who want to protect legal discrimination against LGBT people. A federal appeals court says the federal civil rights law extends its protection to gay people.

The carmageddons that didn't happen: Atlanta, LA, Minneapolis, Little Rock

A closed freeway was expected to bring chaos to Atlanta. It didn't. It's not the first unrealized fear of a 'carmageddon'. It ought to make people rethink the conventional imperative for ever-wider freeways, such as envisioned in Little Rock.

The legislature's mixed bag: An assessment from family advocates

A family advocacy group assesses the recent legislative session and finds a mixed bag of good and bad — but also a somewhat ominous view of the future.

Experts indicate Neil Gorsuch a plagiarist

11th-hour news on Neil Gorsuch, the U.S. Supreme Court nominee from Politico:Plagiarist?

Parole Board recommends clemency for Death Row inmate Jason McGehee

Greg Yarbrough of Channel 4 reports that the state Parole Board, following hearings last week, has recommended clemency for Death Row inmate Jason McGehee, but not for Kenneth Williams.

Steve Womack expects 'frustration' over health care legislation

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, who's scheduled a town hall next week in Bentonville, says he expects some frustration from constituents because of the tactics so far in Republican efforts to ditch the Affordable Care Act and come up with something different.

Walmart: Cutting jobs in Arkansas, adding them in California

Walmart is cutting jobs in Arkansas, but adding them in California and India. Haven't they been reading about the amazing pro-job environment Republicans have been creating in Arkaasas.

Wednesday: Your open line and daily report

Wednesday's open line and news and comment.

More Delta news: The artist lineup

The 59th Annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center, to open June 9, will feature 73 works by 57 artists from seven states, the Arts Center announced today. Read the news release here. Of the 57 artists, 41 are from Arkansas.

Governor kills bid for local control of Little Rock schools

An idea to set a date for return of local control in the Little Rock School District seems likely to founder because of resistance from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

New music from Beth Ditto, Sumokem, Pallbearer

A harbinger of former Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto's forthcoming debut solo album, the long-awaited follow-up to Pallbearer's "Foundations of Burden" and a new single from Sumokem.

Visitor finds 7.44-carat diamond at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park

While in southern Arkansas for a baseball tournament, 14-year-old Kalel Langford, of Centerton, Arkansas, fulfilled a longtime dream of visiting Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park. Kalel and his parents arrived at Arkansas’s diamond site on the afternoon of Saturday, March 11. By the end of the day, he had registered the 7th- largest diamond found at the Arkansas State Park since 1972.

2017 Henry Awards presented at Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Arkansas tourism partners from across the state honored the 2017 winners of the annual “Henry Awards” during a luncheon at the 43rd Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism, held March 12-14 in Little Rock. The Henry Awards honor individuals and organizations that have made important contributions to the state’s tourism industry in the preceding year.

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame honor is presented annually to an individual or individuals who have been actively involved in tourism for many years and who have made substantial contributions to the betterment of the industry as a whole.

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas is home to more than 600,000 acres of lakes. Among these are five in Southwest Arkansas collectively known as the Diamond Lakes. These are Lake Ouachita and Lake Hamilton at Hot Springs, Lake Catherine near Malvern, DeGray Lake at Arkadelphia and Lake Greeson between Glenwood and Murfreesboro.