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Heavy Handed

Heavy Handed

April 13, 2017

Vol 43 • No 32

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How the 2017 Arkansas legislature made life worse for you

But it wasn't as bad as it could've been at the Capitol.

Terence Blanchard and Charles Blow at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Also, 'Sunset Boulevard,' Ozark Foothills Film Fest, Southern Avenue, Chris Milam, Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster and more

Facebook launches Spaces beta

Years after their $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality company, Oculus, Facebook has released a beta of their first major foray into VR. Facebook "Spaces" looks to put you and your friends in virtual environments where you can interact with flying photos, take virtual selfies, and even draw in 3D.

Arkansas death penalty FAQ

A primer on the state's execution plan.

Now and then

Almost exactly 10 years before launching a Tomahawk missile strike against a Syrian air base, Donald J. Trump enjoyed a similar triumph in an internationally televised, pay-per-view spectacle called the "Battle of the Billionaires."

Erasing humanity

During law school, when I clerked for my local public defender's office, I was often tasked with getting lunch for defendants during trials. This served two purposes: It kept the defendant near the attorneys during the break instead of down at the jail, and it helped build rapport in what was often a tough relationship.

Hoping to stop executions

Jeff Rosenzweig, lawyer for men sentenced to death next week, talks to the press after Monday's federal court hearing on the use of midazolam in as part of the killing drug cocktail.

And then there were seven

Well-deserved vetoes and football in LR, too.

Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity releases survey

Also, Los Lobos plays Walton Arts.

The chair

The Observer's pal and former colleague, a dedicated Deputy Observer, ran across the following piece of writing while cleaning out an online folder to make room for still more of the snippets and starts and literary flotsam and jetsam that seem to pile up around a writer like snowdrifts.

High-water mark

AETN's 'Dream Land' doc is a celebration and a lament.

Big Room, big mission

At Capitol View Studio.

On 'Race to Kill'

Unfortunately our society works off of a reactive instead of a proactive way. Providing society with an appropriate education, medical/mental health care, health equity (environment) and livable wages significantly impacts criminality.

The end of democracy in LR

The state Board of Education was scheduled to talk this week about the Little Rock School District, under state control for two years because six of its 48 schools failed to meet an arbitrary pass rate on a standardized test.

Baseball's back

Dave Van Horn was authoring the reclamation story of an era throughout the first half of the 2017 baseball season. LSU rudely rejected an initial manuscript over the weekend, but let's not let one painful weekend blemish what's happened so far for the Diamond Hogs.

From crest to trough

An up-and-down experience at Oceans at Arthur's.

Coal is over

The free market's natural search for cheaper and more efficient energy has taken over and even President Trump and a governing party heavily in denial about climate change cannot stop it.


Little Rock school tax opponents to ask for another early polling place

Groups opposing a special election May 9 on adding 14 years of property tax payments on Little Rock School District taxpayers (a new authorization worth $600 million or more) will ask the Pulaski County Election Commission today to reopen the McMath Library on John Barrow Road as an early polling place for the election  beginning May 2, or another early polling place convenient to more voters. Also: More opposition to the tax proposal from Wendell Griffen.

New Yorker: Why the rush on Arkansas executions? And questions for the governor.

The New Yorker joins a long list of prestigious publications around the world raising questions about the rush by Arkansas to execute seven people over a 240-hour period beginning Monday.

Arkansas Supreme Court issues rulings in death cases; for now, no change in schedule

The Arkansas Supreme Court refused one Death Row inmate's procedural petition and granted two others in decisions released today. None altered the schedule of seven executions set to begin Monday.

Damien Echols on returning to Arkansas

Damien Echols doesn't relish the visit, but he'll be in Arkansas Friday to protest coming executions, a punishment he faced for years before being freed in 2011.

Medicaid expansion a boon, not a cost, to states

A new study says the Medicaid expansion was a boon to states, not a harmful cost and that even an increasing percentage of state contributions won't necessarily mean financial hardships.

U.S. drops enormous bomb in Afghanistan

The U.S. today dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan, with the target reportedly  a series of tunnels used by ISIS.

Governor Hutchinson meets the press to talk capital punishment

Since scheduling the executions of eight inmates over the course of 11 days, Governor Hutchinson has said little publicly on the topic. Today, at meeting with press at the Governor's Mansion, Hutchinson acknowledged that it was unlikely he would grant executive clemency to any of the seven men scheduled to die beginning Monday.

Guilty plea to embezzling more than $1 million from Benton County

Former Benton County employee pleads guilty two two counts in embezzling more than $1 million in county funds.

State Board of Education discusses, but doesn't act, on Little Rock School District

The state Board of Education today held a general conversation about the Little Rock School District, but took no action toward returning local control to the state-run district. Nor did it give a hint of when that might happen, despite pleas that it do so.

ARORA Celebrates National Donate Life Month with 3rd “Function @ the Junction”

In celebration of National Donate Life Month, the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) will host its third annual “Function @ the Junction” Bridge Party and Fun Walk on Thursday, April 13th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave., in downtown Little Rock.

Thursday's open line and the video roundup

Here's the open line and daily news roundup.

Jury awards $415,000 in suit against Josh Hastings over suspect's fatal shooting

A federal jury has awarded $415,000 in damages in the civil lawsuit against Josh Hastings, a former Little Rock police officer, in the 2012 slaying of Bobby Moore, a suspect in car burglaries at a West Little Rock apartment complex.

Death row inmates' federal lawsuit, day four

Attorneys and experts ventured deep into the weeds of the available medical literature on the drug midazolam today in federal court, where they are arguing for and against a federal lawsuit brought by Arkansas death row prisoners seeking to make the case that the state's abbreviated execution schedule — which would see seven men executed this month — would violate the Eighth Amendment and their right to effective counsel. Midazolam is a sedative that is the first of a three-drug cocktail the state plans to use to execute seven inmates this month. Today is the final day of four days of hearings in the matter.

Election Commission gives school tax opponents time to find another early polling place

Opponents of a Little Rock School District tax proposal were given the weekend to come up with some ideas for alternative early polling places after the Little Rock School District, through a bond house, scraped original plans to open an early voting place in the John Barrow neighborhood, which is majority black.

Decision on whether hot check court case will proceed coming soon

Federal Judge James Moody Jr. said at the conclusion of a hearing Thursday that he would likely decide by early next week whether to dismiss a class action civil rights lawsuit over Sherwood's hot check court, which plaintiffs have described as an unconstitutional debtor's prison.

State drug dealing at issue as executions near

Drug companies object to use of their drugs in the seven state killings scheduled to begin Monday. The head of the Correction Department is unwilling to say much about the claim as a decision nears on a federal case to stop the executions.

School leadership bullets dodged and undodged in Arkansas

A poorly vetted school principal in Kansas had also been in the hunt for jobs in Arkansas, in searches by a national consulting firm that has a few unfortunate occurrences on its own record.

The potential for botched executions, with a grisly upside

The Washington Post has published a death penalty analysis by authors of a book on the death penalty that notes, among others, the decline in executions nationally, a rising national sentiment against the death penalty (not in Arkan

Deputy stops chase, suspect crashes later

A report from the Pulaski sheriff's office this morning says  that a deputy chasing a suspect on a motorcycle terminated the chase for safety's sake, but the suspect crashed later.

'Mother of all bombs' kills 36 in Afghanistan. One costs $16 million

Afghanistan officials are saying the largest conventional bomb in the U.S. arsenal killed 36 when dropped on a mountainous area with tunnels that protected ISIS fighters.

More on the drugs Arkansas will use to kill seven

As the questioning of Arkansas Department of Correction Director Wendy Kelley continued late into the night at the federal courthouse a host of revelations about the drugs, protocols and people involved in the upcoming seven executions next week were revealed for the first time

A crime victim argues for clemency for Marcel Williams

Here's another deep and engrossing report from The Intercept on the pending executions in Arkansas.

State Supreme Court takes challenge of execution on mental ground

The Arkansas Supreme Court today accepted an appeal by Bruce Ward, scheduled to be killed by the state Monday, of a separate action arguing that mental disabilities should bar his executions.

Legislators call for more polls for May 9 Little Rock School District tax election

Seven state legislators from Little Rock have written Little Rock School Superintendent Michael Poore asking him to add an early voting place in the May 9 special tax election in which voters are being asked to extend 12.4 property tax mills for 14 years at an added cost of $600 million or more.

Death penalty demonstration at Capitol today

The Arkansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty is demonstrating at the Capitol today against the scheduled state killing of seven men beginning Monday. They were met by a demonstrator on the other side of the issue.

Friday. An open line and the Arkansas death watch

The Friday open line and daily news roundup.

Drug distributor says Arkansas deceitful in obtaining execution drug

McKesson Corporation, a major pharmaceutical distributor, issued a news release today saying the Arkansas Department of Correction misled it to obtain one of the drugs to be used in the executions set to begin next week.

The Countdown Edition

The pending executions of seven men, a verdict in the civil rights lawsuit against Josh Hastings and more on the Little Rock School District, the state Board of Education and the upcoming LRSD millage — all covered on this week's podcast.

Judge joins death penalty vigil

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who's heard cases related to the death penalty, is among those demonstrating at the Governor's Mansion tonight against the death penalty.

Arkansas Supreme Court stays execution of Bruce Ward

The Arkansas Supreme Court today stayed the execution of Bruce Ward.

Griffen blocks use of execution drug, throws schedule into doubt. State objects to his hearing case

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen this afternoon issued a temporary restraining order against the state's use of one of three execution drugs on a complaint by McKesson Medical-Surgical that the state had deceived the company to obtain a paralytic drug for execution, rather than health, uses. This decision calls the scheduled six executions into doubt, but the state plans an emergency appeal.

A response from Judge Griffen; but much larger questions linger

Judge Wendell Griffen says he'll respond next week to ethics questions. Meanwhile, bigger questions linger, including what the governor knew about the prison system's dishonest hunt for killing drugs.

City Board will do some pro-tax politicking this week

The city board gets political this week — on a school election and Internet sales tax.

Wendell Griffen's gift to Gov. Asa Hutchinson: Cover for a botched execution process

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen served Gov. Asa Hutchinson and others a gift on a platter yesterday by participating in a death penalty protest outside the Governor's Mansion roughly an hour after he'd approved an order stopping use of one of three drugs used in executions and thus, effectively, halting six executions still scheduled to begin Monday. He provided cover for a state killing spree flawed from start to finish.

Federal Judge Kristine Baker halts Arkansas executions

Federal Judge Kristine Baker has ordered a halt to executions scheduled to begin Monday.

UPDATE: State appeals execution drug ruling, asks removal of Griffen as judge

The attorney general's office today asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to set aside Judge Wendell Griffen's temporary order against the use of a paralytic drug in state executions, an order that would have effectively stopped the killings. A federal judge's order later halted all executions for constitutional reasons.

Police kill robbery suspect in West Memphis, State Police to review

West Memphis police shot a suspected armed robber this morning and the State Police are investigating the case.

Lawsuit on execution drug likely to be dropped because of federal injunction

McKesson Medical-Surgical is asking for dismissal of the lawsuit that led to Judge Wendell Griffen's restraining order against use of one of three execution drugs.

How about a sunny open line

What's not to like about April 15? An open line for you.

Attorney general continues to press for death of inmate with mental issues

Despite the current federal injunction on executions, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge continues to litigate around the clock to keep other doors open to state killing as much as possible.

State files argument to resume executions

The Arkansas attorney general's office this evening filed a 27-page brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking it to lift federal Judge Kristine Baker's temporary injunction against all scheduled executions in Arkansas.

What Asa's Executionpalooza has wrought

Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence this morning in a full page of coverage in the New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of yesterday's flurry of legal filings and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols.

The Easter open line: It's all about death

An open line, including a nun's remonstrance of Arkansas politicians over Executionpalooza.

Inmates file cross-appeal in death case over compressed killing schedule

Death Row inmates have filed a cross-appeal on one point they lost in their case before federal Judge Kristine Baker, who's stayed executions scheduled to begin Monday.

ABC tries to placate operators of gambling machines in Baxter County

The Baxter Bulletin reports on outreach by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to placate operators of gambling machines in nonprofit clubs in Baxter County.

Federal judge denies execution stay for Don Davis but larger stay continues

Don Davis, who's been moved to the killing facility of the state prison for killing tonight at 7 p.m. if a stay of execution is lifted in another federal suit, sought a stay in another federal court Sunday, but the request was denied.

Death Row inmates argue to keep stay of execution in place; urge 8th Circuit not to 'rush' analysis

Early this morning, attorneys for nine Death Row inmates, filed an argument with the 8th United States Court of Appeals contesting the state's effort to override Judge Kristine Baker's order Saturday that halted executions scheduled this month.

French Hill and Tom Cotton set for town hall event this afternoon

U.S. Rep. French Hill and Sen. Tom Cotton will meet the public at a town hall event today at 2 p.m. at the Embassy Suites in west Little Rock.

Deal of the Day: Two tickets to ride the Arkansas Times Blues Bus for $199

Party on the Arkansas Times Blues Bus to the home of the famous "crossroads" in Clarksdale, Mississippi for the culmination of the annual Juke Joint Festival.

ArkansasGives program raises more than $6 million for nonprofits

More than $6 million was raised for nonprofits in the state via ArkansasGives, a one-day online giving event on April 6 sponsored by the Arkansas Community Foundation.

State urges 8th Circuit to override execution stay

This morning, attorneys for the state filed a reply brief to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in response to an argument from attorneys for the men scheduled to be executed over 11 calendar days beginning today. The state wants the Eighth Circuit to override a stay of the executions granted by U.S. Judge Kristine Baker over the weekend.

UPDATE: State Supreme Court has not yet acted Ward execution stay

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected the state's request to lift the stay the Court put on the execution of Bruce Ward, who was scheduled to die today.

Sister Helen Prejean takes Arkansas politicians to task over executions

Sister Helen Prejean tweets truth to power.

Former Gov. Beebe on the "daunting and oppressive and awful responsibility" of death penalty

THV11's Craig O'Neill tracked down former Governor Beebe to get his take on the Hutchinson administration's aggressive effort to execute eight men on death row.

Supreme Court bars Griffen from hearing cases related to executions

The Arkansas Supreme Court has barred Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen from hearing any cases involving the death penalty or the state's execution protocol. The Court said it would reassign cases currently before Griffen.

Chinese pet treat company to open $5 million facility in Danville

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) announced today that a Chinese company will invest $5 million to locate a new pet-treat facility in Danville. The company, Pet Won Pet Products, will create 70 new jobs at the 28,887-square-foot facility, according to ADEC. The facility was formerly home to Petit Jean Poultry.

French Hill-Tom Cotton town hall

Livestream and liveblog of the town hall.

Attorneys for state, inmates propose new execution viewing policy

As directed by U.S. Judge Kristine Baker in her preliminary injunction order, lawyers for the state and for the men scheduled to be executed by the state have proposed a new plan for the lawyers of the condemned men to view the executions should a federal appeals court lift Baker's stay.

Biggest-ever state lottery winner finally claims $177 million win

Eliberto Cantu of Lubbock, Texas finally claimed his $177 million lottery win today after purchasing the winning Mega Millions ticket on March 30.

Goat saves family

On a happier note...

State Supreme Court blocks executions of two inmates

The Arkansas Supreme Court has blocked the executions of the two men who were scheduled to be put to death tonight.

The Monday line and video

All you.

Six arrested for illegal hunting

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission announced today that three White County residents and three Pope County residents have been arrested for illegal hunting in Colorado and Arkansas.

BREAKING: 8th Circuit lifts stay of executions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has granted the state of Arkansas's request to lift a stay of the executions of seven men on death row issued by federal Judge Kristine Baker on Saturday.

Arkansas Supreme Court vacates Griffen's temporary restraining order on execution drug use

The Arkansas Supreme Court has vacated a temporary restraining order issued by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen against the state from using the paralytic vecuronium bromide in its execution protocol.

The sound and the fury

A small group of anti-death penalty protesters, nearly outnumbered at times by the press, gathered this evening at the Arkansas Governor's Mansion in a slow drizzle. Then there was this guy, in a t-shirt with "Trump 45" on the back. Brian Chilson

U.S. Supreme Court denies state's motion to lift stay on Davis execution

In an order not received until after 11:30 p.m., the U.S. Supreme Court denied Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's application to vacate a stay imposed by the Arkansas Supreme Court on the execution of Don Davis. A warrant for Davis' execution had been issued for today. It was to expire at midnight. In preparation for the Court's ruling, the state had moved witnesses into the execution viewing room.

Garner will not try to override governor's veto of "mass picketing" bill

State Sen. Trent Garner told the AP that he will not attempt to override Gov. Hutchinson's veto of his bill that would have criminalized some forms of protest.

ACLU files for stay of execution for Ledell Lee

The ACLU has taken over the representation of death row inmate Ledell Lee, currently scheduled to be executed on Thursday, and today filed for a stay of execution.

Clinton School interview with Tom Cotton to be held at Robinson Center tomorrow

The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will host an event with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton tomorrow at the Robinson Center on W. Markham.

U.S. PIRG: 30 Crossing one of nine worst highway boondoggles

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's plan to widen Interstate 30 is a waste of $632 million in taxpayer dollars, an analysis by public policy and consumer groups says.

Tom Cotton's Obamacare repeal dance

Sen. Tom Cotton still supports Obamacare repeal, but he's squeamish about 300,000 Arkansans losing health insurance.

UPDATE Attorneys for death row inmate Marcel Williams argue execution would violate constitutional rights due physical condition

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker is hearing arguments today from attorneys for Marcel Williams, who contend that due to his physical condition, the lethal injection scheduled for this coming Monday could risk a botched or agonizingly slow and painful execution, in violation of his constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment.

A better way to reduce medical malpractice lawsuits?

Suggested reading for the Arkansas legislature.

New videos from The Wildflower Revue and Couch Jackets

New music videos from The Wildflower Revue and Couch Jackets.

Questions from the French Hill and Tom Cotton town hall

All the questions posed by constituents at the Hill/Cotton town hall Monday – each linked to the corresponding moment in the town hall video.

Rutledge again rejects casino gambling amendment

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge yesterday rejected, once again, a proposed constitutional amendment to expand casino gambling in Arkansas.

Group advocates for living wage at Walmart

Making Change at Walmart, an effort by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union to advocate for the retailer to pay employees a living wage, is kicking off a campaign this month, with Arkansas among the target states.

UPDATE Attorneys for Ledell Lee argue they should be allowed to locate, test DNA evidence collected in 1993 as part of innocence claim

In a hearing this afternoon before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herbert Wright, attorneys for death row inmate Ledell Lee argued that they should be allowed to locate evidence collected prior to his arrest in 1993, including a single hair and a Converse shoe with a pinhead-sized spot of human blood on it, for modern DNA testing. They hope testing can prove Lee's innocence by showing that the African-American hair found at the crime scene belongs to someone other than Lee, and that the speck of blood found on Lee's shoe does not belong to the victim in the case.

Drug supplier McKesson refiles lawsuit to keep state from using one execution drug

McKesson, the drug supplier that provided the Arkansas Department of Correction with vecuronium bromide under the auspices that it was for medical use in the department's health center, refiled a lawsuit in state court seeking to prevent ADC from using the drug in executions.

Tour of India arrives in Conway

Conway has waited a long time for this.

Innocence Project asks Arkansas Supreme Court to grant stay for Stacey Johnson execution

The Innocence Project and Little Rock attorney Jeff Rosenzweig filed an appeal today to the Arkansas Supreme Court requesting a stay in the execution of Stacey Johnson, who is scheduled to be killed Thursday.

The late open line

Over to you.

Battle over future of education in Arkansas far from over, lawmakers say

As expected, the tug of war between school choice advocates and defenders of traditional public schools played out in Arkansas’s 91st General Assembly, which recently concluded its flurry of lawmaking.

Judge Griffen defends granting temporary restraining order in execution drug case, protesting death penalty

On his blog, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen defends granting the drug supplier McKesson's request to issue a temporary restraining order against the Arkansas Department of Correction from using a drug supplied by McKesson in executions. Shortly after granting the temporary restraining order on Friday, Griffen joined an anti-death penalty protest outside the Governor's Mansion.

Clarksville judge pleads guilty to two counts related to January DWI case

Clarksville Circuit Judge William "Bill" Pearson plead guilty to two misdemeanors on Monday, including DWI and reckless driving, relating to a Jan. 20 incident in which he blew through a DWI checkpoint before leading officers on a chase of over a mile near Clarksville.

Innocence Project joins ACLU in requesting stay from state Supreme Court for Ledell Lee

Ledell Lee, scheduled to be executed Thursday night, has asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to stay the execution to allow time to do new DNA evidence that attorneys say could prove his innocence. Attorneys from the ACLU Capital Punishment Project and the Innocence Project joined North Little Rock lawyer Lee Short in the appeal.

Property owners miffed by Hurst decision on historic register bid

In March, Department of Arkansas Heritage Director Stacy Hurst nominated three public housing towers to the National Register of Historic Places so that Little Rock's housing authority would be eligible to receive millions of dollars in state and federal tax credits for the tower's renovations. As Arkansas Business reports, downtown Sharon Welch-Blair and Jill Judy, who rent out residential property downtown, are unhappy that the nomination could soak up most of the available tax credits for historic renovations.

Food Truck Fridays returns: Here's the lineup

Four food trucks are lined up for Food Truck Friday at the intersection of Main Street and Capital Avenue, the Downtown Little Rock Partnership has announced. Here they are, with their menus.

Party in East Village, thanks to DLRP

The East Village — the neighborhood east of Interstate 30 — will be the site of the first Alley Party, a series of festive events organized by the Downtown Little Rock Partnership to celebrate the potential of downtown, on April 27.

@ the corner turns 2, will celebrate Thursday

@ the Corner, at the corner of Scott and Markham streets, celebrates its second year in business from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, with tapas and cocktails. The menu will feature pulled pork and chicken sliders, teriyaki kabobs, sausage dip, house hummus, birthday cupcakes and Birthday Cake Champagne, Jalapeno Beer and Bday Punch. The $20 tickets include two cocktails or mocktails.

Inmates' attorneys ask U.S. Supreme court to block executions

Today, the Arkansas death row prisoners scheduled for execution asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency stay. Attorneys for the inmates also asked the high court to overturn the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit and uphold U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker's preliminary injunction.

LR City Board supports millage extension

The Times' April 20 cover story, to be posted online later, is an overview of the proposed millage extension for Little Rock's public schools and includes interviews with those who support and those who oppose the extension, which Superintendent Mike Poore says will raise $160 million for renovations.

Pushback on City Board vote supporting school millage

After the City Board of Directors voted last night to express support of the proposed extension of millage for the Little Rock School District, Sen. Joyce Elliott took to Facebook to rebut Mayor Mark Stodola's contention that opponents of the extension are confusing state control of the district versus improvements of facilities.

Cotton talks Trump's first 100 days at Clinton School

Appearing with Clinton School for Public Service Dean Skip Rutherford, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton spoke today at a Clinton School event focused on Cotton's assessment of Donald Trump's First 100 days in office. While there were some moments of applause and isolated jeering, the event was much less raucous than the town hall meetings Cotton has been attending of late, though Rutherford's questions pulled no punches in questioning Trump's temperament and agenda.

Louise Halsey chosen 2017 Arkansas Living Treasure

Weaver Louise Halsey of Oark, who creates fine art, rugs and dolls, and whose weavings of houses on fire ignited such admiration that she was included in the 2012 Women to Watch exhibition at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., has been named by the Arkansas Arts Council as the 2017 Arkansas Living Treasure. The annual award goes to a dedicated craftsperson who has helped preserve the craft by teaching to others.

Wednesday's open line

Comments are open.

Stacey Johnson granted stay of execution by the state Supreme Court

In a one page order, the Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution for Stacey Eugene Johnson. The court remanded his case to circuit court for a hearing on his post-conviction DNA testing.

Circuit judge's restraining order on drug blocks all executions for now

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette just put out a Twitter post that Pulaski Circuit Judge Alice Gray has issued a temporary restraining order on the state's use of vecuronium bromide, the paralytic drug used in the state's three-drug execution cocktail. The order effectively blocks all executions scheduled, which Governor Hutchinson ordered to begin Thursday and continue Monday and a week from Thursday.