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April 2, 2009

Vol 7 • No 12

Building on state history

Twelve years ago, when the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies convinced the legislature that Arkansas history should be a required subject in public school, more than a few of the teachers the Times interviewed were annoyed.

First things first

Legislators met today to recommend three constitutional amendments for the 2010 ballot. Thank goodness they acted first on Sen. Steve Faris' NRA propaganda piece, the amendment to guarantee a right to hunt.

Condom watch

A tipster has provided me a copy of an amendment drafted for inclusion (at the 11th hour) as special language in a state Education Department appropriation bill.

No climate change at Capitol

The utility companies are still running things. Energy efficiency and conservation legislation got squashed today.

The line is open

And I'm heading for the door.

What's cooking, April 2

Mark your calendar: The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Auxiliary at UAMS will host its annual Cooks Tour from 1-4 p.m. on April 19 in the Sologne neighborhood of Chenal Valley.

The televisionist

You’ve gotta feel for the one-hit wonders.

Public be damned

Abraham Lincoln may have been the last as well as the first member of his party to believe in government of, by and for the people.

A ‘Corpse’ exhumed

The University of Central Arkansas, which adopted the struggling Oxford American magazine, has welcomed yet another homeless journal and added more literary cache to Conway.

Sis boom bah

What’s news? What do readers want?

Babe Bracket buzz

Arkansas is an old boys club, or a good ol’ boy network, whatever you want to call it.

Supreme race

State Appeals Court Judge Courtney Henry of Fayetteville, just elected last year to her seat, is telling friends that she’s alreadly looking to move up.

Monsters and gender

The film company Dreamworks will continue to fail as long as it insists on making kids movies with adults in mind.

Bye-bye, bird biologist

A decision by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission not to fill one of only two ornithology jobs at the agency has non-agency conservationists wondering: What’s the agency’s commitment to its non-game programs added in exchange for collecting a sales tax from all Arkansans?

March 25-31, 2009

It was a GOOD week for … REPRESSION. Arkansas Tech University, historically averse to free speech, has modified its speech policy to allow use of an indoor auditorium for free speech two hours a week.

What about choice?

Congratulations to columnist John Brummett. He managed to write an entire column criticizing the proposed Employee Free Choice Act without ever mentioning the words, employee free choice.

Turkish delight?

Istanbul Mediterranean Cuisine opened March 19 in a small space in the Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center.

Words, April 2

In the March 19 column, I remarked uncritically on the legislature’s designation of the pecan as the official state nut. H. Mayo Smith now remarks on my remarks. Critically.

Runway redux

After last year’s inaugural event drew 1,000 people, the Designers Choice Fashion Preview returns on Saturday with more designers and new celebrity hosts.

A&E news, April 2

Better be busy whittlin’ or working that jigsaw.

Editorial cartoon, April 2

Earth’s dark fate

We can be pretty sure that the new government will fix the economy in a few years or it will fix itself, but the outlook for the Earth at the birth of spring 2009 is grim in the extreme.

This modern world, April 2

Arkansas New Play Festival

TheatreSquared took a break from its regular season to hold its first — but hopefully not its last — Arkansas New Play Festival.

Orval, April 2

Street fight, round two

It’s extra innings for a battle between the residents of a West Little Rock neighborhood and real estate developer Deltic Timber.

A&E news, April 2

Better be busy whittlin’ or working that jigsaw.

Yonder Mountain String Band

You had to give this to the Yonder Mountain String Band before they plucked a single note: It’s not every band that can nearly pack the Rev Room on a Monday night, let alone at 20 bucks a head.

The Observer, April 2

Over the weekend, The Observer trekked to Conway to help our friends Gerry and Jeff shoot a movie.

Smart talk, April 2

At press time this week, the Senate was preparing to take up the bill to close the record of holders of concealed weapons permits. The legislation was prompted by the Arkansas Times’ publication of the list on-line.

Coping tips

I have a long experience with living in semi-want and wretched squalor, and I’ve got some money-saving tips for those of you who are new to the condition, thanks to this Great Depression Jr.

To-do list, April 2

The Reds / An Orangutan / Midwest Caravan, Blake Lewis, Brooks Williams, 'Truth! Reconcilliation?', Haydn's 'Harmony Mass' and 'Te Deum', Reckless Kelly and Music as a Weapon IV offer a few options to entertain ourselves this week.

Blame the child

I’m still on this bill to allow children brought here by undocumented adults to get in-state college tuition if they spend three years in Arkansas high schools, graduate and otherwise qualify.

Designer’s Choice Preview

This year’s Designers Choice Preview proved to be a strong follow-up to last year’s hit inaugural event.

The Gazette remembered

Veteran newspaperman Roy Reed knows, thank goodness, how to dig for those oft concealed, quickly uttered gems that come in long, mostly boring interviews.

What’s happening in April.

Unless indicated, event is a reading and/or book signing. Call the location for details.

Lu's money

Brummett digs further into the belated discovery that former UCA President Lu Hardin spent discretionary scholarship money on athletes.

Reading between the lines

Perusing the Democrat-Gazette's reporting this morning on how the governor and legisalture will split up the state surplus, I had an urge to ring Mike Wilson up in Jacksonville.

The tax shoe drops

Uh oh. The March revenue report is in and it does not look good.

The coming bonanza

Critics of the state lottery said one problem is that, as lotteries age, interest wanes and states must invent ever more creative (and sometimes insidious) ways to get people to gamble more.

Local boy makes good

How about this? Warwick Sabin, publisher of the Oxford American and a former associate editor of the Arkansas Times, has made the 2009 Folio: 40.

Thursday To-Do: The Reds - An Orangtuan - Midwest Caravan

The Reds. THE REDS / AN ORANGUTAN / MIDWEST CARAVAN9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz.

607 makes sweet music with Brit Brit

In his latest remix, 607 inserts himself in Britney Spears' mid-tempo drunken hook-up anthem "Blur."

Travel to serve

Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford passes on a link to a travel website article about the invention of a Clinton school student.

David Cook almost sold-out

Better jump on it, fans of "American Idol" alumni. I hear there are only a few tickets remaining for David Cook's April 29 performance at Revolution.

Family planning

More on the great contraceptive debate. Sen. Gilbert Baker says that a potential controversy I outlined yesterday seems to have been settled by Joint Budget's special language subcommittee this morning.

Four LR shows to clear your calendar for

1. Man Man, Thursday, April 23, Revolution.

Riding in Cars with Boys

As a young girl, I would fanaticize of romantic getaways, travel, with a male partner.

Vote for open gun records

A Senate committee this morning gave a do-pass to an amended bill concerning records of concealed weapon permit holders.

And then there's our guy Mark

Another report from Think Progress: Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) told The Hill yesterday that "he intends to approach Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) on the Senate floor this week to see" if they can craft an alternative to the Employee Free Choice Act, which Specter effectively blocked last week.

Blind Derek steers "The Mystery Train"

Call it another reason Fayetteville rules. Before he moves to Canada, the homie Derek Jenkins (the king of the video promo) is resurrecting his "Mystery Train" radio show for DJ sets at the Smoke and Barrel in Fayetteville at 8 p.m. on the first and last Sundays in April (so this Sunday).

Thursday: Nova, Notion, Bluesboy Jag, Kevin Kerby and more

At Revolution, Sony Records' Nova blends prog-rock and post-grunge, with supporting help from local alt-rockers Wishtribe, 8 p.m., $5-$10.

Wally Watch: March 31, 2009

Wally Watch: Where we read Wally Hall so you don't have to. March 31, 2009: TV deal gives SEC basketball a rebound shot Primary Theme: The SEC's recent television deal with ESPN will help raise the conference's sagging basketball efforts.

Cuba, si

U.S. Rep. Marion Berry joined a group today advocating new legislation to lift the ban on most travel to Cuba.

Live, from the House

John Williams files this dispatch: Slight drama going on right now with the AG's ethics bill, the one to prevent absentee lobbying (SB867).

LR deseg case decided UPDATE

LRSD Board President Dianne Curry speaks to the press. Big news.

LR deseg case decided UPDATE

LRSD Board President Dianne Curry speaks to the press. Big news.

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There he goes again

The Huckster, campaigning for a Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, suggests that supporters let the air out of opponents' tires to keep them from voting.

There he goes again

The Huckster, campaigning for a Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, suggests that supporters let the air out of opponents' tires to keep them from voting.

Trailer Gazing: "Bruno"

Sadly, nothing obviously taken from Fort Smith or Texarkana in this just-released red-band trailer (definitely NSFW).

Free Candy: Download local

It's easy to get caught up in the mp3 blogosphere. Every day a new one pops up.

Open line

Sorry. Cooking for some friends in town for UAMS treatment.

States rights now, states rights forever

An item here about the nutty states rights resolution that cleared committee the other day, and the support a couple of Democrats gave to this Republican propaganda tool, was mailed around in NW Ark. It drew a response from state Rep. Uvalde Lindsey, who'd told an election campaign audience that he was socially liberal.

Prison pics; the Gazette remembered

Photographs made at the Arkansas penitentiary in the early part of the 20th century and lifted by Bruce Jackson, a professor at SUNY at Buffalo, from a drawer there are the best reason to buy “Pictures from a Drawer: Prison and the Art of Portraiture” (Temple University Press, paperback, $34.95).

Spotted: The Huckster

We were out grabbing a beer and a philly-chicken at one of our favorite North Little Rock hangouts, Rocky's Pub, when who should walk through the door?  Former Governor Mike Huckabee, that's who.  The Huck was decked out in sweats and accompanied by his wife and another couple.  Of note: no beers for the Fox News host and the Rocky's crowd, while surely noting the former governor's presence, let the Hucks eat in peace.  I would say that it's time to pick a new favorite restaurant, but those sandwiches are just sooo good. 

Follow the money

Argenta News does a little more analysis of Arkansas Traveler baseball team financial matters and repayments to North Little Rock for money advanced to build the stadium.

Why they leave

The Little Rock School Board has taken an interest in the reasons parents leave the public schools. Follow the link for results of a survey of parents -- those the district was able to locate for questions -- who left the district for charter and private schools in 2008.

Funny money

The legislature is going to put Speaker Robbie Wills' constitutional amendment on the ballot to reduce the minimum project size for issuing taxpayer-financed bonds to provide corporate welfare payments to lure industrial prospects.

The upper chamber

The House continues to merrily approve tax cuts the state can't afford. House members, making cheap plays for points with constituents, knows the Senate will clean up its mess.

Blanche's Billionaire Bailout UPDATE

PLEASE NOTE LAST UPDATE: Mark Pryor threw in Thursday with Blanche Lincoln to bail out billionaires.

Blanche's Billionaire Bailout UPDATE

PLEASE NOTE LAST UPDATE: Mark Pryor threw in Thursday with Blanche Lincoln to bail out billionaires.

Goodbye Pulaski Bank

Hello IBERIABANK fsb. Name change to take place May 4.

Marriage ban unconstitutional

Add Iowa to the list of states where the Supreme Court has ruled that aban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional -- a violation of due process and equal protection rights.

Friday To-Do: Haydn's 'Harmony Mass' and 'Te Deum'

HAYDN'S ‘HARMONY MASS' AND ‘TE DEUM'7:30 p.m., St. James United Methodist Church. $10-$15.In its penultimate performance of the season, the Arkansas Chamber Singers return to familiar territory.

Weekend To-Do: 'Truth! Reconciliation?'

‘TRUTH! RECONCILIATION?'7:30 p.m., Weekend Theater.

Friday To-Do: Reckless Kelly

RECKLESS KELLY8:30 p.m., Revolution. $10-$12.Fronted by brothers Willy (vocals, guitar) and Cody Braun (vocals, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica), Reckless Kelly got its start in Bend, Ore., in the late '90s, before relocating to Austin, Texas.

Friday To-Do: Brooks Williams

BROOKS WILLIAMSUUCLR, 7:30 p.m., $10, free ages 12 and under.If powerful acoustic and resonator slide guitars suit your tastes, an evening with Brooks Williams should make for a full-course musical dinner.

Friday To-Do: Blake Lewis

BLAKE LEWIS8 p.m., Village. $22-$50.Famous for beat boxing through Bon Jovi's “You Give Love a Bad Name” and finishing second to Jordin Sparks on “American Idol” the season before last, Blake Lewis continues to run against the tide of “Idol” alumni.

Brakes applied on 'virtual' payday

I've just been to the Capitol to film Arkansas Week. I ran into Sen. Jim Luker who had a piece of good news.

Today's mass shooting

Upstate New York. 13 dead. more wounded. many hostages.

The union stands

Rep. Debra Hobbs (of course she's a Republican) failed today in her effort to get the legislature to assert states rights against the federal government.

Sen. Lincoln: 'Wanker'

Duncan Black awards his uncoveted Wanker of the Day prize on his hugely popular Eschaton blog to none other than U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Beth Ditto continues quest to appear on every magazine ever

This time in Out. Several items of note:1.

Romper room

The kiddies in the House keep throwing the Jell-o around. They know the adults in the Senate will clean up the mess.

The next Bob Johnson

Roby Brock says these are the contenders to be president pro tem of the Senate in 2011: Paul Bookout, Percy Malone, Mary Anne Salmon and Ruth Whitaker.

The Weekend: Cool Kids, Eggshibition, Runaway Planet and more

FRIDAY 4/3You don't necessarily need to be a cool kid to catch the throwback rappers the Cool Kids at Hendrix at the brick pit, but you need one to get you in.

Saturday To-Do: Music as a Weapon IV

MUSIC AS A WEAPON IV2 p.m., Riverfest Amphitheatre, $29.50-$49.50.Here's a day for getting the lead out.

Toy gun bill defeated

A Senate committee dispatched the effort to regulate toy guns that look like the real thing.


Abode, the monthly shelter insert in the Times, is in this week's issue. Make sure you check it out (in print only).

Make a film about gardening or recycling or hemp, win $750

Plant, water, watch grow, cut, print and the $750 is totally yours. Sustainable Alternatives, the advocacy group that operates out of the Big Green House off Markham, across from Pizza D, where it hosts pot-lucks, spoken word nights, film screenings, work-shops and maybe some other stuff, is teaming with the Little Rock Film Fest to present the Sustainable Short Film Competition.

Art tumblr

Set your bookmarks: Our resident art expert Leslie Peacock now has a tumblr page, where she's posting all sorts of local arts-related video and pictures.Associate editor Gerard Matthews has one, too, with a broader focus.

Help for teachers

Gov. Beebe has come up with $15 million for teachers' health insurance, maybe two-thirds or so of recent premium increases.

Caution: Texan on premises

WHAT'LL YOU HAVE: Texan would have been more welcome here. A Splendora, Texas woman arrived at a Magnolia church with beer can in hand for a family funeral visitation.

Looks like David Gordon Green getting medieval for his next film

James Franco is in final talks to join David Gordon Green's "Your Highness," a comedy, co-written by Ben Best and Danny McBride ("East Bound and Down"), about a lazy, asshole-ish prince (McBride), who has to go one a quest to save his father's kingdom.

Dittoheads from Searcy

You got to click over to Lindsey Millar's Rock Candy for a report on the latest Beth Ditto article and reminiscences by the punk singer and by LIndsey, a stalwart son of Searcy, about their former hometown. The banning of MTV for a time, repressive literature selections, etc.

No prosecution on Saline hospital deal

Saline County Prosecutor Ken Casady has concluded there's nothing to prosecute in the recent discovery, subject of a fair amount of press coverage, that the Saline Memorial Hospital got a sweetheart deal on sewer rates.

How weak is Lincoln?

Weak enough that she's begun full-scale pandering to the gun lobby. Senator Blanche Lincoln announced today that she'll seek to enact into law a Bush administration rule that has been challenged in court -- allowing carrying of concealed weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges.


Weekend Must-Do: Finish your pinewood derby car

Seriously. It's going to nice this weekend.

Huck chomps another loafer

Mike Huckabee's mouth is full of shoe again. Now he's being widely quoted for dumping on the work ethic and values of Northern Virginia voters.


Of course, I'm referring to the creature from whence the appetizer came, Igibon's Tako Sunomono ($4.95).  This light combination of delicately sliced octopus and cucumber in vinegar sauce isn't just tasty and refreshing, it's also a conversation starter.


An open line. Sorry.

About the 'right' to hunt

To borrow his phrase, John Brummett does a Cheney on the thoroughly unnecessary and empty "right to hunt" amendment that will take up some of the limited ballot space for constitutional amendments in 2010.

Walk in the park

Looks like a good day for the Clinton Library's annual Easter egg hunt. 100,000 eggs.

Help for teachers

Some inside legislative baseball from House Speaker Robbie Wills on the development of the plan that will put an additional $300 this year into the hands of every participant in teachers health insurance.

Gun beat

TV news tonight was all guns all the time. Three policemen dead and two wounded in Pittsburgh by shots from man with an AK 47.

And by the way

A fesh stretch of thread.

Mad about Maddie's

Grace Anderson writes with a question I can't immediately answer and a glowing report on Maddie's in Riverdale, where she loved the special scallop dish pictured above.

On beating Blanche

John Brummett checks in with Republican Chair Doyle Webb on the GOP's elevated hopes that U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln is vulnerable in 2010.

Smoking: it will cost you

I spent some time Saturday morning at a regional conference of the Society of Professional Journalists, heavily attended by student members.

How universities stonewall

Another item of legal interest arose during my visit yesterday to the Societ of Professional Journalists meeting, where I was on a panel with UALR law professor Rick Peltz, a Freedom of Information expert, on the furor stirred up by my publication of the list of concealed weapon permit holders in Arkansas.

Speaking of freedom of information

UALR Law prof Rick Peltz also solved a small mystery for me. I mentioned to him my curiosity about a couple of recent attorney general opinion requests concerning the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

Milk and Mustaches

Reading a television blog, I found out the newest episode of the TBS comedy My Boys had a subplot that involved a mustache growing contest.  Have you ever seen guys do this?  I have.  I met two guys at a party who were two weeks into just such a competition, and the results were fairly skeevy looking.  Then again, if you’re the kind of guy who’s willing to competitively grow facial hair, I’m guessing you’re not terribly vain.  I found the look distracting, but I talked to them both anyway because I found what they were doing completely fascinating.

Pork on parade

Thanks to CS, for noting that Rep. Steve Harrelson's Under the Dome blog yesterday provided a handy link to this year's General Improvement Funding spending.

Let the four winds blow

And the heathens rage. The line is open.

NLR slowdown

Argenta News reports a delay in Rockwater, the big mixed use neighborhood redevelopment planned along River Road in the Baring Cross neighborhood.

Obama in London

Brummett writes that the president did well. George Bush, not meaning to insult, with better articulation and without the swagger.

Careful what you say

Interesting lawsuit. A former candidate for Fayetteville City Council spoke ill of real estate developers.

All-comers Pinewood Derby

You need not be a kid or Cub Scout to join in Thursday night's inaugural Rock Candy 500, the Times-sponsored all-ages Pinewood Derby contest at the River Market.

Heartland values

Pundits have rushed to declare last week's Iowa Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriages as a boon to conservative political candidates.

Beware of Broadways bearing gifts

Interesting rundown by Rep. Steve Harrelson on the final choice of an amendment for the 2010 ballot.

Beware of Broadways bearing gifts

Interesting rundown by Rep. Steve Harrelson on the final choice of an amendment for the 2010 ballot.

Tone Loc, still alive, ready to open for the symphony at Riverfest

Yep, Tone Loc, the 43-year-old rapper behind hits like "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina," will perform, on Sunday at Riverfest, before the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which will perform before the grown-up version of New Edition, Heads of State (Bobby Brown, yo).See the nearly complete list of headliners coming to Riverfest here.ALSO: Rob Bell, who heads the Arkansas Tent, tells us that he's got Friday booked: Impressive R&B diva Gina Gee, backed by a live band, groove-oriented instrumental act Eclipse Glasses and a special Riverfest edition of Cool Shoes.More details to come...

Law judge dies

Garry Brewer, a long-time Social Security administrative law judge, died Saturday at 67. On the jump, I pass along an obituary written by Ernest Dumas.

LR native architect dies

It's a day for deaths of note. Comes word now of the death of Jack Tucker, 70, a Little Rock native and UA-educated architect, credited with revival of downtown Memphis, beginning with the first condo conversion of a former cotton warehouse.

Go easy on grass

Students at the University of Arkansas are voting today through Thursday on a resolution calling on university officials to treat marijuana use violations the same as alcohol use violations.

School law preserved

Despite a plea to be able to count seasonal increases in students from migrant farm workers, the Senate Education Committee was unmoved today.

Nate Powell, podcasted

From 'Swallow Me Whole' Inkstuds hosts an in-depth audio interview with Nate Powell, who's graphic novel "Swallow Me Whole" is nominated in the Young Adult category for the LA Times Book Prize.Read it.

Surprise: Lincoln abandons unions

It was always a question of when, not if. But Sen. Blanche Lincoln apparently chose today's appearance before the Political Animals Club to make the unequivocal statement that she would not support the Employee Free Choice Act in its current form.

Half-price Riverfest tickets now on-sale

At participating Affiliated Foods and Big Red Stores, including Cranford's Fresh, City Market and Harvest Foods.

Drill, baby, drill

Cato has devoted himself to Palintology. * How grandbaby daddy Levi says Gov. Sarah knew he and Bristol were shacking up in the Palin abode and probably knew they were, well, you know.

Gun beat

With House approval today, you'll get to vote on a constitutional amendment making hunting, fishing, trapping, etc. a state constitutional "right" -- subject to limitation by the state Game and Fish Commission.

Scuttle the Parrot?

NLR Mayor Pat Hays tells the North Little Rock Times (which also took the photo) that it could cost up to $250,000 to save the Salty Parrot, the floating tavern barge that sunk at its Arkansas River mooring last week.

Go Spartans

And otherwise, the night is over to you.

For Huckabee's defense

John Brummett writes that Mike Huckabee was merely impolitic and unfunny in a couple of remarks that got him in trouble in Virginia the other day.

Fish in a barrel

At both the state and federal level, one man's pork is another man's vital priority. But it's easy business to run through the list of pork barrel projects (you'll find the latest pork barrel list for Arkansas linked here) and dare sponsors to defend their singular priorities as state necessities.

Come on, Jay

State Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford is dancing with the industry that brung him. He's issued a news release lauding the continuing drop in workers compensation costs in Arkansas.

Hazing at UCA

Intriguing release from UCA police on an incident that seems likely to shut down a major campus fraternity event, the "End of the World."

Hazing at UCA

Intriguing release from UCA police on an incident that seems likely to shut down a major campus fraternity event, the "End of the World."

Bend over, consumers UPDATE

Twittering Rep. Duncan Baird says a committee this morning approved HJR 1004. It would be the third constitutional amendment allowed for ballot referral by the legislature.

Last-minute foolishness UPDATE

I mentioned yesterday that rural legislators -- waving the banner of tiny schools -- had held up the Education Department budget because of anger over defeat of the bill to preserve the Weiner school district, smaller than the 350-student minimum on the official reporting date.

LR to LaGuardia

An inveterate local traveler, knowing of my own interest in better ways to get to New York, passes along news of Southwest Airlines' new Little Rock service to LaGuardia Airport in New York, beginning June 28.

Vt. votes for marriage

The Vermont legislature has overridden the governor's veto of a bill to allow same-sex marriage in that state.

Close elections UPDATE

Go-to numbers guru Nate Silver says the Democrat, Murphy, appears to be favored by the origins of the absentee ballots yet to be counted in that squeaker of a New York special congressional race.

More on free choice

Brummett figures Sen. Lincoln has done President Obama (occupied with an unannounced visit to Baghdad today) a favor by effectively taking the Employee Free Choice Act off the table by her opposition to both the bill itself and a vote on the bill.

A Very Simulating Experience

Well, the college basketball season is officially over (of course, for Razorback fans it's been over for a few weeks now, if not longer).

On goes the school case

Was last week's conclusion of the Little Rock desegregation case the beginning of the end?

Carving Out a Better Future

Residents of Colorado, and their lawmakers, are making strides toward a better future as gas exploration there continues.  It seems CO politicians have the political will our leaders lack.  Why can't Arkansas get tough with these companies and make them be responsible corporate citizens?  Because the Arkansas legislature sides with the gas companies over the citizens Every.

LR video on Funny or Die

Straight out of Little Rock, from Actual Cats Productions, it's the pilot for "Bravado and Jones," a short about a washed-up football player and a washed-up martial "artist," who join forces to travel around to small towns fighting crime.

Big bang in Springdale

A bomb squad blew the windows out of a small branch bank in Springdale today as they detonated a suspicious package left there.

Bang bang, the silly season

The gun nuts are always on the lookout for openings. Today, as the session wound down, it was in seeking a vote on a resolution against renewing a federal ban on assault rifles. The idea failed in House Judiciary, which knew empty rhetoric when it saw it.

The way the money goes

The city of Little Rock has announced that Pulaski County has received $2.8 million in federal justice money and that LR will spend its $1.9 million share on planning, evaluation and technology, specifically required upgrades records management software.

NAACP unhappy on judge choices

I believe you heard it here first, that the black community was not happy that U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor had sent nine names to President Obama for consideration for three federal judicial openings in Arkansas and not a single one of them was black.

Service with a Frown.

  I dined with a friend for lunch today, and the topic of bad service came up.  At the time, we were waiting around for a rather prominent ordering mistake to be fixed.  I won't mention the name of the restaurant -- but I will say that the server admitted the mistake, apologized profusely, and did all he could to make up for it.  We both appreciated that.

Open to comments

Click on photo to enlarge I'll kick off tonight's open line with a photo of legislators gathered for a group shot on the Capitol steps.

Big shots

This year’s Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team, another assembly of super achievers.

The top 100 support Lincoln

The New York Times is back again on the estate tax, which Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor desperately want to reduce (they prefer repeal, but it's not currently an option).

Starting them early

A new study, subject of a NY Times report, says the recession may slow the nationwide movement toward pre-K programs, vital early education for at-risk kids.

High interest: the third amendment

After much fussing, the Joint State Agencies Committee today with little discussion endorsed a third constitutional amendment for the 2010 election ballot.

Presidential rumbling UPDATE

Rumor mill is grinding on the race for the next president pro tem of the Senate, to be decided Thursday when the session's work is completed.

Fun with DeHaven's numbers

Did you see that story in the Democrat-Gazette this morning, in which developer Jay DeHaven claims he's invested twice the appraised value of that sod farm acreage in the Lake Maumelle watershed?

A bad Don Henley song no match for Kris Allen's dreaminess

So Don Henley's "All She Wants to Dance" didn't work so hot for Arkansas's hope at pop stardom last night.

Labor on Lincoln

Arkansas AFL-CIO President Alan Hughes makes nice over Sen. Blanche Lincoln's repudiation of her previous support for the union-backed Employee Free Choice Act.

'Fraidy cat banker'

A "risk averse" Warren Stephens, heir to the vast fortune accumulated by his father and uncle, is featured prominently in today's Wall Street Journal as a counterpoint to broad carnage in the financial world.

New look on skyline

-- Brian Chilson photos We reported a few weeks ago that a crowning touch was in store for the renovated historic buildings that make up the new Arkansas Studies Institute across the street from the downtown library.

How expensive are cigarettes?

So expensive that somebody stole a church van and used it twice early yesterday to bust open doors -- at the Exxon convenience store at Markham and Van Burean and Popatop Liquor at 19th and University -- to steal some.

One night's all you need to win the Rock Candy 500

Seriously. I just went to Hobby Lobby to pick up some Treasure Jewel glitter glue, and they've got pre-cut cars, fancy wheels, weights — everything you could possibly need to put together a pinewood derby car on the quick.If the Times office is any indication, lots of tomorrow's participants are all about last minute.Remember, 7-9 p.m., River Market Pavilion.

Come toot our own horn

How about this? BR reports a compilation by the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza on the best political blogs in the 50 states.

Billy Bob Thornton is a musician, dammit

Man. This is hard to watch. This morning, in an interview with Billy Bob Thornton's band the Boxmasters on the Q, a radio show broadcast across Canada, Thornton threw a passive aggressive fit after the interviewer simply mentioned, in his introduction, his film career.

So long Tender Dawg?

UPDATE: Dial Idol knows nothing! Kris Allen can have an off night and still get more love than Anoop on a good night.

Doctor indicted for grenades

Dr. Randeep Mann, 50, of London, who was arrested March 4, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for possession of 98 unregistered grenade found within about 300 yards of his home.

I'm going out

So you saints need to come marching in. (Just to belabor my earlier metaphor.