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May 2, 2013

Vol 39 • No 35

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How the private option flipped the Medicaid expansion debate

It took a group of clever and obstinate young Republican legislators who refused to go along with Medicaid expansion but weren't ready to close the door on other ideas. They helped force a crafty veteran Democratic governor who was eager to go forward with expansion to consider alternative approaches. Throw in tireless and creative state health officials who happened to have a cozy relationship with their federal It took a group of clever and obstinate young Republican legislators who refused to go along with Medicaid expansion but weren’t ready to close the door on other ideas. They helped force a crafty veteran Democratic governor who was eager to go forward with expansion to consider alternative approaches. Throw in tireless and creative state health officials who happened to have a cozy relationship with their federal counterparts. Probably some luck. And, among everyone involved, it took a slightly crazy, seemingly unjustified optimism that somehow a solution was possible.

The Body releases 'Master, We Perish' EP, signs to Thrill Jockey

The Body recently signed to the Thrill Jockey record label.

Thursday: Vore, Nancy Pelosi, Preservation Crustaceans

Vore plays at Downtown Music Hall Thursday.

ATF investigating Little Rock church fire

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms announced today it was investigating the fire that destroyed the First Baptist Church of Highland Park last Sunday.

Sierra Club says ExxonMobil far short of accounting for spilled crude

The Sierra Club said today that the ExxonMobil cleanup effort after the pipeline break at Mayflower remains several thousand barrels short of accounting for the estimated 5,000 barrels of heavy crude from Canadian tar sands territory that spilled before the pipeline was shut off.

Thursday: Mark Edgar Stuart at White Water Tavern

Mark Edgar Stuart plays at White Water Tavern Thursday.

State revises tax income estimates upward

The state Finance and Administration Department today issued revised forecasts for state tax revenue through the end of fiscal 2014 (June 30, 2014).

Blake Rutherford moves to McLarty Companies

Blake Rutherford, who's been chief of staff to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, is moving to the McLarty Companies to be a vice president advising on "communications, strategy and social responsibility."

The mid-week line: Bomber sentenced, politics, George Jones

The line is open. Final thoughts: * PERENNIAL CAMPAIGNER: Former state Rep. Bobby Tullis has talked about entering many a political race and even entered some since his days in the legislature. Now it's U.S. Senate.

Find your thrill at Buffalo Grill

Perfect American cuisine for those comfort food needs.

Good grub at Hardin's

Scott outpost serves up barbecue and local edibles.

Strange Cotton

There's an old and morbid joke whose punch line is, "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" It came to mind after U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle recklessly compared President Obama's record for holding off terrorists with that of Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush. Bush's record was practically impeccable, Cotton said, except for 9/11.

Made By Few comes to the Clinton Center

With tech talks that matter.

A Little Rock pig tale

LR resident prepares to fight City Hall — and seemingly contradictory ordinances — for her non-traditional pet.

Queens and usurpers

"Despite the help, Mustain couldn't usurp Barkley, and when Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks, new coach Lane Kiffin stuck with the incumbent."

It was a good week for celebrity visits to Little Rock

Also, de-ducktions. It was a bad week for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, lottery reporting, animal survival in an oiled marsh and breaking into cars.

The fear of terror

More Bell bashing

I am a resident of Massachusetts and the aunt of Lauren Rousseau. You might recognize her name; her body was blown apart by some of the 154 shots of the Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle that Adam Lanza used in his massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. There were 20 innocent children and 5 other adults also murdered that day.

Brantley: Nuts about guns

The Guantanamo problem

Race doesn't fit in a checkbox

Lamentably, the Boston Marathon bombing re-opened some of the most poisonous arguments in American life. Specifically, are the Tsarnaev brothers "white"? It's a meaningless question.

Fleetwood Mac to Verizon

Also, Cinco de Mayo at the Clinton Center, the Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast in Argenta, the KABF Pledge Drive Launch Party at Revolution, Whale Fire at White Water, Titus Andronicus at Stickyz and The Devil Makes Three at Revolution.

Nancy Pelosi at the Clinton School

Plus, Pokey LaFarge at White Water Tavern.

Nichols goes big in the Arkansas-set 'Mud'

The latest from the Arkansas-born directors should be a crowd pleaser.

Dumas: The perils of accommodation for Pryor and Ross

"The hardest thing about any political campaign," Adlai Stevenson said at the end of his last race, "is how to win without proving yourself unworthy of winning."

Which one?

The city of Beebe or Mike Beebe? It's not an easy question. They're both from White County, both have their merits, and their advocates. The town has gained fame for its dead birds; the man as a competent and moderate governor, perhaps the last of his kind.

Mud slinging

"Mud," the third feature-length film from Little Rock native Jeff Nichols, was released in town last Friday. Here's what critics, the film's actors, and Nichols himself are saying.


Spring is upon us at last, it seems, fingers crossed and no takebacksies, Ma Nature. We were beginning to wonder if it would ever get here, seeing as how we had to break out the jacket once again last weekend when a front pushed through and had us rushing to switch back on the heater.

Lost Bayou Ramblers headline Times Heritage Hog Roast

To most Arkansans, Cajun French is a foreign language. But that doesn't mean Arkansans can't relate to the Lost Bayou Ramblers, who will perform at the Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast on May 4.

UAMS hires new CFO

: Chancellor Dan Rahn has told staff that he's hired Bill Bowes, a Connecticut college CFO, to be the UAMS CFO.

Must a GOP candidate be from Northwest Arkansas?

Jay Barth, Hendrix politics prof and Times contributor, offers the following analysis on Republican primary voting patterns and what they could mean for a candidate from outside Northwest Arkansas, the historic GOP base in the state.

Overestimating the gun lobby — and conservatism generally

Here's another look — lengthy and full of multiple poll citations — on the premise that it would NOT have been politically dangerous for the Fearful Four (Democrats Begich, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, Heitkamp, Baucus) to have allowed a vote on universal gun background checks.

Friday: Pokey LaFarge, Mark Chesnutt, 'The Paris Letter' and more

Pokey LaFarge plays at White Water Tavern Friday.

The Turkish Food Fest is sure to be terrific

This Saturday, May 4th, the Raindrop Turkish House presents the 3rd Annual Turkish Food Fest. The event will take place at the Raindrop Turkish House located at 1501 Market St., Little Rock. The event will be from 11 am — 4 pm, admission is free as is parking, and will happen rain or shine.

Feel like praying? Send Huck some bucks

I joked yesterday about how Mike Huckabee ties a commercial pitch to just about every breaking news event, often soliciting Huck PAC contributions tailored to the latest Fox slant on President Obama.

Arkansas tax revenue up sharply in April, but ...

The monthly report on Arkansas tax collections in April was in keeping with the announcement yesterday that the annual forecast was being revised upward because of improving economic conditions.

Arkansas Republicans hate on Nancy Pelosi, in LR today

The Arkansas Republican Party is positively thrilled that Nancy Pelosi is speaking in Little Rock today (noon at Statehouse Convention Center to accommodate an expected large crowd).

About those non-partisan justice system offices

I wasn't much impressed by the legislation to end election of prosecutors through a partisan process.

Toad Suck Daze are here again

Toad Suck Daze is this weekend in downtown Conway.

Snow in forecast for Arkansas

A late spring snow is in the offing for a big part of the Central U.S. and some of those flakes could fall in Arkansas, in the far northwestern corner.

Ben Bell and the Arkansas Sake Society organize tastings

Bell just returned from Japan in late March, where he acquired his Advanced Sake Professional certification from the Sake Education Council. Only 109 people in the world have received this unique certification.

Review: 'Death of a Salesman' at Arkansas Repertory Theatre

The Rep's "Death of a Salesman" runs through May 12.

Local stuff in local boy Jeff Nichols' 'Mud'

The movie's obviously filmed in DeWitt and elsewhere in Southeast Arkansas and stars Yell County's Jacob Lofland. And those who know Lucero, undoubtedly, will recognize a few songs from Jeff's brother Ben Nichols. But you may've missed a few other local connections.

Hear a song from forthcoming Iron Tongue album

"Lioness" is from Iron Tongue's debut full length, "The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown."

Italian fast food chain's first U.S. location: Russellville

From the weird file comes the news that Italian fast food chain SKK Italy plans to open their first U.S. location — in, of all places, Russellville.

Judicial ethics committee discourages TV show based on Hot Springs court

Given the ethical controversy that came with former Judge Mary Ann Gunn's use of her drug court as a springboard to commercial television, you'd think a judge wouldn't even ask.

Exxon pipeline in watershed prompts meeting — Exxon a no-show

Government officials and others came together today in Little Rock to discuss the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline, currently shut down on account of the Mayflower rupture, which runs through 13 miles of the Lake Maumelle watershed.

The open line

Maryland has repealed the death penalty, the 18th state to do so. Same governor, Martin O'Malley, signed legislation to legalize gay marriage.

Expand-o-meter: Signed, sealed, delivered

Chances of expansion passing, final reading: 100 percentSee here for previous entries on the Expand-o-Meter

Morning roundup: Partisan judge, Children's leader

Light start to the day: * PARTISAN JUDGES: I noted yesterday the highly partisan flavor of Appeals Court Judge Rhonda Wood's Twitter feeds, as well as those of colleague Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of Conway.

Saturday To-Do: KABF Pledge Drive Launch Party

Revolution hosts a pledge drive launch party for KABF-FM 88.3 Saturday night.

Saturday To-Do: Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast

The Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast is Saturday in Argenta.

Saturday To-Do: Whale Fire album release show

Whale Fire plays an album release show at White Water Tavern Saturday night.

Marcy Doderer to be new CEO of Arkansas Children's Hospital

Marcy Doderer, an Arkansas native (LR Central High grad) who's been vice president and administrator of the Children's Hospital of San Antonio, will become the CEO of Arkansas Children's Hospital effective July 15, to succeed the retiring Dr. Jonathan Bates.

Saturday To-Do: 15th Annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

The 15th Annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is Saturday at the Clinton Presidential Center.

Who will win the Times' Heritage Hog Roast?

The Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast is coming up on Saturday. Do you have your tickets yet?

Asa Hutchinson on the NRA speakers platform today

Good to be associated with the extremists of the NRA? In Arkansas Republican circles, the answer is a big ja wohl!

Saturday: Old Crow Medicine Show, James McMurtry and more

Old Crow Medicine Show performs at the Arkansas Music Pavilion Saturday.

Fayetteville gets a May snow

As forecast, Northwest Arkansas got a May snow and thanks to Blog reader Charlie Hughes for sending the photo above from Fayetteville.

'Obummer': Maybe that Kenyan ain't so bad after all

Since it's customary to blame President Obama for any and everything unpleasant — see U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (Club for Growth, D.C.) and the Boston bombings — should he also get some credit for positives?

Report questions performance of 'virtual schools,' just expanded in Arkansas

The Arkansas legislature opened a new stream of state money on virtual schools — a scheme in which state money equivalent to that given brick-and-mortar schools with labs, gyms, cafeterias, buses, teachers, etc. is given for home schooled students, largely to the benefit of private management companies that serve the virtual school industry.

Reminder: Matthew Lopas to show "Miller House"

A 360-degree painting.

Rene Hein, Fabio Inverni, Marc Hatfield ...

What is so rare as a day in May when you'll need a coat for Gallery Walk?

The rise of 'dark money' in politics

Money, like water, always finds an outlet. Rulings like Citizens United have aided the flow of unaccountable money into political races, but there are other outlets.

UCA, Hendrix opt out of new campus gun law

The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees voted this morning to opt out of the new state law that allows concealed guns to be carried on campus.

Bill and Hillary Clinton headline airport expansion, renaming

The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport put on a big show today to herald an expansion project and the formal renaming of the airport in honor of the former president and former secretary of state, both on hand for the ceremony.

Philander Smith to build student center, helped by trustee's $1 million gift

A pledge of $1 million from trustee C.J. Duvall and a $10 million federal loan will help Philander Smith College build a student activities building on the 135-year-old campus.

St. Vincent proposal: Run all clinics

When it was first rumored last year that the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences might turn its hospital over to the Catholic-run St. Vincent Health Services, UAMS said no, no, no, that wasn't in the plan.

Food Feedback Friday: getting out and coming up

Lots of great things happening around Arkansas this week. We're here with your weekly update.

Cefalo students to exhibit work

If you pay attention to art at all, you know Stephen Cefalo and his work.

The Do You Remember Robbie Wills Edition

Merger negotiations between St. Vincent and UAMS, non-partisan elections, the race for the Republican nominee for governor and more — all covered on this week's show.

Local Lime goes whole hog for Hog Roast

I asked earlier for folks to speculate on who'll win tomorrow's Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast. One thing is certain, Local Lime's team, The Porkshank Redemption, is winning in the prepping category. Or at least they're winning at plugging their prepping on social media.

TGIF line is open

It's Friday. You're on.

Coming Sunday: Mid-Southern Watercolorists

To Cantrell Gallery, 8206 Cantrell Road, with a reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Don't stop — thinking about the Hog Roast, even if Fleetwood Mac played for the Clintons at Verizon last night

Today, it's the Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast on Main Street in Argenta, North Little Rock's vibrant downtown.

Who wants to be a U.S. senator?

The New York Times reports this morning on the wave of retirements from the U.S. Senate and a lack of clamor from people anxious to join the filibuster-frozen body.

Early morning at the Hog Roast

My Saturday morning ritual of taking my two-year-old by the Argenta Farmer's Market for some fresh eggs made for a nice excuse to check out the progress of the Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast teams. At 7 this morning, the scene had the flavor of an early morning deer camp — booze, coffee, camper chairs and nary a woman in sight. Oh and the mouthwatering smell of fire-roasted pork and smoke.

High on the hog — and guns — open line

Winners in the Hog Roast. Asa Hutchinson speaks to NRA. Gun nuts argue that open carry now legal in Arkansas.

TV producer Bryant Huddleston disinvited as Imboden Ark., high school graduation speaker because he's gay

Our news partner Channel 4 has a news story that deserves repetition in full. More national headlines for the small people of Arkansas should follow directly.

Cold weather doesn't stop Heritage Hog Roast

The weather was strange, but the food was exactly right at this year's Heritage Hog Roast. Take a look at some of our favorite things from the day.

Civil rights in Imboden: A new lesson for Sloan-Hendrix students

Rooting around on the school district website this morning, I noted a link with contact information for the school district, should you like to write the school district or Superintendent Mitch Walton, who reportedly forced the issue.

Feud tourism: If Hatfield-McCoys will sell, how about 'Justified'? or Sweet Willie Wine?

Dark and violent history is always more compelling than the genteel stuff. If you ever find yourself in Melbourne, Australia, for example, be sure to visit its historic jail, full of death masks of desperadoes and lots of stories about that country's violent frontier past.

Imboden superintendent: Disputes accounts on gay graduation speaker, says no outside speakers in future

From Imboden Live this sleepy Sunday comes breaking news over the viral story about TV producer Bryant Huddleston's complaint that a plan to have him speak at graduation of his alma mater, Imboden's Sloan-Hendrix High School, was scrapped because he's gay.

The grilled chicken open line

Not warm yet, but warm enough to cook some beer-can chicken on the ol' Weber kettle.

Monday morning report: 'SWATting,' raw milk, guns, Huckabee and more

Items of interest this Monday morning from all over: * SWATTING ARRIVES IN LITTLE ROCK: Channel 4 reports that the "SWATting" phenomenon — making false 911 reports to draw SWAT teams to home and businesses — was reported recently at a home on Pebble Beach in West Little Rock.

Tuesday To-Do: Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus plays at Stickyz Tuesday.

Do Arkansas Republicans have room for a centrist?

Good article by the AP's Andrew DeMillo on House Speaker Davy Carter's consideration of running for governor.

Charlie Daniels — our Charlie Daniels — to retire

State Auditor Charlie Daniels, a nearly eternal state officeholder, is hanging it up. He won't seek re-election in 2014, he announced today.

Report: Possible double homicide in Little Rock

Fox 16 says the Little Rock police are responding to a possible double homicide at 32nd and Bishop Streets.

School choice: Court asks if the old law is now moot

The Arkansas legislature just passed a new school choice law to replace one contested in federal court in a case that began over students who wanted to transfer from Malvern to whiter schools in Magnet Cove.

Dr. Charles Dunn dies at 67

Dr. Charles Dunn, who retired in 2008 after more than 20 years as president of Henderson State University, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer.

Lawsuit planned over hog farm in Buffalo River watershed

A coalition of conservation groups announced plans today to file a lawsuit over Agriculture Department approval of a major hog feeding operation at the C&H Hog Farm at Mount Judea near a creek that flows six miles away into the Buffalo National River.

Monday night line

Over to you. Some final notes: * DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR SECRETARY OF STATE IS? The Blue Hog Report notes that Arkansas law requires the secretary of state to reside and keep an office in Little Rock and keep the official record of the legislature.

Little Rock Technology Park gets push for University Avenue site

The Little Rock Technology Park soap opera offers another episode Wednesday, with a board meetingat 4 p.m.

A.M. Report: A confederacy of stooges and a money quest

Some other odds and ends that floated in overnight: * JOHN BOOZMAN, STOOGE OF THE NIGHT: I can't find a clip yet, but multiple readers report that U.S. Sen. John Boozman joined Sen. Mark Pryor in David Letterman's pantheon of "stooges of the night" for his vote against broadening background checks for gun purchasers.

Churches choose on guns

Now that the Arkansas legislature has opened the sanctuary doors to guns in churches — if the churches choose — decisions are being made.

Like '42'? Come and listen to a tale of the Cotton States League

The Jackie Robinson movie, '42,' inspires a history lesson from Ernest Dumas this week on breaking the color line in Arkansas minor league baseball, along with a reminder that anybody who believes this a post-racial world should perhaps ask a black person before making any definitive judgments.

Wednesday: The Devil Makes Three

The Devil Makes Three performs at Revolution Wednesday.

On the big screen: The Jim Lindsey story

Word comes in today of completion of a documentary on Jim Lindsey, the Razorback star who became a successful real estate developer and behind-the-scenes political power.

One month after Mayflower, Exxon is upbeat UPDATE: Dustin McDaniel weighs in

Oil company cheerleader Jason Rapert, the senator for the Mayflower oil spill zone, helped get out the ExxonMobil public relations message today by tweeting news of the oil company's report a month after a ruptured pipeline spewed Canadian tar sand crude on a Mayflower neighborhood.

Coming to Boswell-Mourot: Huss, Taylor, Chapman, Bremner, Wilkinson

Opens May 11 with reception.

Flash: Texas grows enlightened on women's issues

Interesting story from Texas on the Texas legislature. Republicans, who control nearly everything in Texas, apparently suffered huge blowback from their war on women in the last legislative session that cut health care to women in the battle to destroy Planned Parenthood.

Tuesday topics

The line is open. Final words: * THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT HAS DESIGNS ON ARKANSAS: Church and State magazine reports on plans by the American Renewal Project, a Religious Right organization, to politically target 12 states including Arkansas in 2014 to "restore America to its Judeo-Christian heritage."

TheatreSquared in northwest Arkansas announces new lineup

Fayetteville’s TheatreSquared last week announced the lineup for its eighth season. The five-play season will feature the world premiere of “The Spiritualist” by Robert Ford; “4,000 Miles” by Amy Herzog, a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize; Charles Dickens’s holiday classic “A Christmas Carol”; “Good People” by David Lindsay-Abaire; and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Five-play packages start at $105.

Summer opera: Puccini, Donizetti, Gilbert and Sullivan

Opera in the Ozarks celebrates its 63rd season at Inspiration Point this summer with alternating performances of "Madama Butterfly," "The Elixir of Love" and "Pirates of Penzance."

UA team wins MIT prize

The Boston Globe reports that a startup enterprise from the University of Arkansas has won $250,000 as the winner of the MIT Clean Energy Prize.

'Powder, lead, walnut, brass and steel': Nate Bell's tribute to weapons

Kind of a nicely written narrative from Rep. Nate Bell of Mena on what he says was a formative episode of his youth, when, he says, a 30-30 rifle gave him the backing he needed to scare a would-be intruder away from his Alabama home.

Escaped teen is sought: Update

A manhunt is underway for Brandon Metcalf, 17, who escaped between 9:15 and 9:30 p.m. last night from the Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center.

Tech Park about to heat up

I wrote this morning about the latest development on the woebegone Little Rock Technology Park — a rump effort to take over the site selection process because of factional divisions.

Has Arkansas deregulated guns or not?

John Lyon of Stephens Media examines at some length today a simmering topic in the gun nut community that is of general interest.

Little Rock records 10th homicide of the year

Little Rock recorded its 10th homicide of 2013 overnight. Kelshawn Mouton, 21, was found shot to death on Black Jack Court in Southwest Little Rock off Stagecoach Road about 11 p.m. last night.