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Legislation attacks!

Legislation attacks!

May 9, 2013

Vol 39 • No 36

Read the print version

Diamonds in the manure of the Arkansas legislature

Some legislators and legislation shone.

The terrible 10 of the 89th Arkansas General Assembly

They're the worst of the worst.

How the Arkansas legislature has changed your life

For better or for worse.

Weighing the session

Does one massive achievement cancel out dozens of terrible ones?

Win a pair of tickets to see Ben Taylor at Juanita's

Rock Candy is giving away a pair of tickets to see Ben Taylor, May 9 at Juanita's.

The Governor's Culinary Challenge: Who made the grade?

At the Governor's Culinary Challenge, a few chefs really brought their proverbial A-game, doling out some truly spectacular bites, but it was clear that a few of these culinary heavy-weights should rethink their strategy for next year. Here’s our breakdown of who made the grade and who fell a bit flat.

News update: E-mails on Imboden graduation controversy, more

Some late arriving news item: * IMBODEN SUPERINTENDENT DID TALK ABOUT BRYANT HUDDLESTON AS GRADUATION SPEAKER: We've been writing about the complaint by California TV producer and former KAIT anchor Bryant Huddleston that an invitation for to speak to this year's graduating class at Sloan-Hendrix High School in Imboden had been withdrawn because he is gay.

Mayor Mark Stodola blasts new Tech Park site option

Here's the Tech Park leadership development I mentioned last night. Mayor Mark Stodola has written a tough letter to members of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority board with questions about the late arrival of an alternative site on University Avenue consisting of two pieces of property several blocks apart.

A ride of silence for fallen bicyclists

A silent bike ride is scheduled a week from today in Little Rock. Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas (BACA) and the Arkansas Bicycle Club are sponsoring the annual National Ride of Silence to remember those who have been killed or injured while bicycling and to recognize that bicyclists have a right to be on the roads.

Coming soon: A Pint, A Wedge

A Pint, A Wedge is May 18 at Bernice Garden.

Little Rock 'brands' an underpass

Above is a rendering of a project planned by by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau on River Market Avenue between 2nd and 3rd streets.

'Don Jon' to close Little Rock Film Festival

The Little Rock Film Festival has announced that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut, "Don Jon," will close the festival. The film stars Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and Tony Danza. Gordon-Levitt plays Jon, a horndog who's obsessed with porn and Scarlett Johansson. Moore plays another love interest, and Danza plays Jon's dad.

Marcia Ball, Robert Cray, Greg Allman Band to headline King Biscuit Blues

Robert Cray will headline at the King Biscuit Blues Festival, Oct.10-12 in Helena.

Mayflower becomes a powerful symbol

The Mayflower pipeline break that showered Canadian tar sands on a nice neighborhood and adjoining wetlands has had an undeniable political benefit to pipeline skeptics.

Thursday To-Do: Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor plays at Juanita's Thursday night.

Energy transmission agency to open center in Little Rock

Entergy's decision in 2011 to join the Midcontinent Independent System Operator for handling interstate power transmission likely was a factor in a Little Rock development announcement today.

Dallas Bump: Living Treasure

Maker of the Bump Rocker, from his shop in Bear, Ark.

Free workhop on Artist INC Live

A program on the business of art.

"Genre Painting and Everyday Life," "Genre Scenes on Paper" open Saturday

And museum extends Saturday hours for Norman Rockwell exhibit.

One dead in multiple vehicle crash on I-40

From the State Police: Arkansas State Troopers are still on the scene of a six vehicle crash in the eastbound lane of I-40 at the 199 mile marker.

Thursday and Friday To-Do: Thick Syrup Anniversary Shows

White Water Tavern hosts two Thick Syrup Anniversary Shows, on Thursday and Friday.

The midweek, midafternoon open line

Over to you. I have to see a man about some siding.

Back to square one for tech park

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority board of directors had a come-to-Jesus meeting today, its members [most of them anyway] speaking candidly about confusion about what the board's goals are.

Howdy, Chuy's! Welcome to Arkansas

Little Rock welcomes the Texas-based chain, Chuy's, this week. Here's the dish on what to expect from this Tex Mex staple.

'42,' '54 and since

The feel-good movie of the season, unless you are of a certain turn of mind, is "42," the story of Jackie Robinson, whose number is the only one retired by major-league baseball.

Nixes on Exes

"I went to the George Strait concert and heard him sing 'All My Exes Live In Texas.' I knew that was wrong, but I didn't say anything.

The gold still rules in the Arkansas legislature

I try to get excited about the 2014 constitutional amendment proposal forged by the Regnat Populist ethics reform group and the legislature. It's hard.

Groups battling SWEPCO encroachment on Arkansas landmarks

An odd set of corporate, municipal and grassroots bedfellows has coalesced in Northwest Arkansas around opposition to a proposed Southwestern Electric Power Co. power-line project that critics say could encroach on some of the most scenic places in the Ozarks.

Groups battling SWEPCO encroachment on Arkansas landmarks

An odd set of corporate, municipal and grassroots bedfellows has coalesced in Northwest Arkansas around opposition to a proposed Southwestern Electric Power Co. power-line project that critics say could encroach on some of the most scenic places in the Ozarks.

Offbeat at Bentonville's 21c Hotel

New art-obsessed hotel opens with bike tricks and parkour, naturally.

Pizza Cafe West maintains winning formula

The menu hasn't changed, but the new West Little Rock digs are bringing new life to Pizza Cafe.

Buffalo Dick

Semi-tough

The 2013 legislature was protective of gun-carriers and red-light runners, but it came down hard on voters. The first two groups might kill a few people, (or a lot). The third might remove from office a few Republican legislators. This was seen as the greater danger by Republican legislators. Their priorities are different from normal people's.

It was a good week for the Clintons

It was also a good week for a lawsuit, the beginning of the end of an era, a hog roast and an opt out. It was a bad week for the Sloan-Hendrix School District.

Dispatch from Nate Bell-land

I'm writing to tell you how much I enjoy reading the Arkansas Blog. Here in Nate Bell land (Mena), we have no state news coverage in our two newspapers nor on our radio stations. No one really knows what's going on in Little Rock or around the state unless they read it on the Internet. Actually, they do have a weekly column written by Nate Bell in the papers touting his opinions of all the good work he's doing for us. So again, no one really knows what's going on in Little Rock.

Ben Taylor at Juanita's

Also, Thick Syrup Anniversary Shows at White Water Tavern, 'The Main Thing: Wiener Day at the Rollercade' at the Joint, Ola Podrida at Vino's, Arkansas Delta Rockabilly Festival, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra at Robinson Center Music Hall and Kvelertak at Downtown Music.

Football Hogs in transition mode

There isn't any reason to read tea leaves with searing scrutiny when there's a minor mass exodus of football players after spring practice ends, right?

The Sound of the Mountain and Laundry for the Apocalypse at Revolution

Also, Alvin Youngblood Hart at White Water Tavern.

It's not just geography that matters in Arkansas GOP primary

In a blog post last week, I made the case that geography no longer creates a clear barrier to the Republican nomination for a candidate from outside of Northwest Arkansas like House Speaker Davy Carter.

True blood

The Observer was motorvatin' through North Little Rock the other day with particularly weighty reporter issues whirling in our noggin when we spied a city worker with a leaf-blower, using the contraption to swirl leaves off a sidewalk. It says something about where our head was that day that our literal first thought on seeing him was: "I could do that job."

'Death of a Salesman' at the Rep

Robert Walden stars in the theater's first production of the Arthur Miller play.

Pigging out

Around 500 hearty souls braved the wind and the rain on an unseasonably cold May Saturday to attend the first annual Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast in Argenta.

The honorees

Bill and Hillary Clinton walk through the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport on Friday after a ceremony formally announcing the airport's name change.

Behind the scenes of UAMS-St. Vincent merger talks

The unearthing of background discussions between UAMS and St. Vincent Health on combination of their operations in Little Rock continues through Freedom of Information Act requests.

How can Tim Griffin play both sides of pipeline question

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin finds himself in an increasingly untenable position on pipelines. He darn near ran for re-election on pipelines, using every opportunity to depict himself in a yard full of pipeline materials and making the review process on the Keystone XL pipeline very nearly the sole answer to U.S. economic vitality.

Friday and Saturday To-Do: The Main Thing's 'Wiener Day at the Rollercade'

"Wiener Day at the Rollercade" debuts Friday at The Joint.

Thursday: Taste of the Rock, The Sound of the Mountain and more

The Sound of the Mountain plays at Revolution Thursday.

Prosecutor to review shooting for possible charges

New information on a shooting late Tuesday night on Black Jack Court in Southwest Little Rock.

Friday To-Do: Ola Podrida

Ola Podrida plays at Vino's Friday night.

Friday and Saturday To-Do: Arkansas Delta Rockabilly Festival

Wanda Jackson will perform at the 3rd Annual Arkansas Delta Rockabilly Festival.

Former UAMS CFO reportedly out at new job

Melony Goodhand, who left as chief financial officer and vice chancellor after nine years at UAMS, is apparently no longer chief operating officer at Bristol (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center, a job she took in early March.

David Stewart to fill Fayetteville judge seat

David Stewart, retired director of the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission and a former municipal judge in Little Rock, has been appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe to serve as Washington County District Court judge in Fayetteville until a successor can be elected to replace the late Rudy Moore Jr., who died last month.

Friday: Swampbird album release show and more

Swampbird plays an album release show Friday at Stickyz.

Two-year-old dies from handgun shot to head

From Texas, another accidental death of a child from a handgun in a house.

Block that cliche: Beebe on the 2014 race for governor

Channel 4 has posted an interview with Gov. Mike Beebe on the race to succeed him in 2014: Variously, he said: * It will be a "donnybrook."

McDaniel announces air test results in Mayflower oil spill homes

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today announced results of air tests in 14 homes in Mayflower in the area of spill of Canadian tar sands crude from the ruptured ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline.

Praying over gubernatorial candidacy

Yes, please. Hobbs is a Republican backbencher who drew legislative notice mostly for negative reasons.

Thursday roundup: Football, junkets, schools, prayer

Over to you. Finishing up: * DARR TO TAIWAN: It's not Nixon to China, but Lt. Gov. Mark Darr to Taiwan will just have to do.

Jeff Nichols' next feature will be 'Midnight Special' for Warner Bros.

Jeff Nichols will direct "Midnight Special" for Warner Bros.

News updates: Mayoral pay, change at Rockefeller Institute

Couple of late-arriving news items: * MAYOR STODOLA DESERVES MORE MONEY TOO: The Little Rock City Board has begun discussing, at the mayor's suggestion, a pay raise for directors, who've made $12,000 since 1994.

Morning report: Gaming pays

Some odds and ends to start the morning. I'll be traveling today — extra baggage on a law school reunion trip to Charlottesville — so posting will be reduced.

Food Feedback Friday: dumplings, buns, and benedicts

Time, once again, to tell us what you're eating and what you think about it. Food Feedback Friday.

LRPD News: Homicide, traffic death

News from Sgt. Cassandra Davis of Little Rock police: * HOMICIDE (12th of the year in LR): Police are currently working a homicide that occurred at 5:10 this morning.

Alvin Youngblood Hart at White Water Tavern

Alvin Youngblood Hart plays at White Water Tavern Saturday.

Saturday: Osyrus Bolly Birthday Bash, River City Comic Expo and more

Arkansas Bo performs at Utopia Restaurant and Lounge Saturday night.

Saturday and Sunday To-Do: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's 'Cirque de la Symphonie'

"Cirque de la Symphonie" is this weekend at Robinson Center Music Hall.

Sunday: John Two-Hawks Mother's Day Concert, Strawberry Festival at Bernice Garden

John Two-Hawks performs at The Auditorium Sunday.

Huge differences in hospital charges, CMS finds: UPDATE 2

How is it possible that major and small bowel procedures at National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs cost $333,470, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but only $19,740 at St. Bernard’s Medical Center in Jonesboro?

Saturday: Jason Aldean at Verizon Arena

Jason Aldean plays at Verizon Saturday night.

The worst Mother's Day gifts

If by chance, you're calendar ignorant, a head's up: Mother's Day is Sunday. In anticipation, we asked Arkansas Times staff and Facebook followers, the worst Mother's Day present they'd ever given or received.

Petit Porker update

Several readers have written asking for an update on the case of W.P. Sooie, the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig which Little Rock animal control is trying to evict from the city on the contention that the 58-pound pig is "livestock," even though there's a specific exemption for pot-bellied pigs in another section of the municipal code that prohibits keeping hogs in the city.

Detmers, Lykens, Tara-Casciano, Sacran, Hobbs and more

Walk or ride the trolley to tonight's nine venues.

UCA unveils 2013-2014 Public Appearances lineup

Neil deGrasse Tyson will lecture at UCA as part of the Public Appearances series.

Mellow Mushroom shooting for mid-June open in WLR

Mellow Mushroom, the quirky "craft pizza" chain, with outlets in Rogers and Fayetteville, will open a West Little Rock franchise by mid-June.

Doctor who shot at car after Arvest robbery gets deal

The Pine Bluff doctor who decided to play policeman and fire his gun at a getaway car driven by a man who robbed Arvest Bank but hit a different car instead, has surrendered his gun and permit and will make restitution to the (innocent) owner of the damaged car in an arrangement worked out with the Pulaski County prosecutor.

Levon Helm documentary is a Little Rock Film Festival must-see

"Ain't in It for My Health," the new documentary about the late, great Levon Helm, plays the Little Rock Film Festival on Thursday, May 16. It's going to be well-received. I got to see an advance screener of it, and I can all but guarantee anyone with even a passing affinity for Levon will eat it up.

Haters gonna hate

The tweet above, which we're using to inaugurate our new semi-regular blog feature, comes from K. Ryan James, a local Republican political consultant and flack.

The Homeless and Wounded Edition

The tech park's decision to hit the reset button, why Arkansas hospitals charge wildly different rates for the same procedure, the scandal that introduced the country (and me) to the town of Imboden, Arkansas—all covered on this week's edition.

Late open line

Have at it.

18-year-old triple major graduates from University of Arkansas

What had you accomplished when you were 18? Chances are it couldn't touch Raymond Walter's accomplishments. On Saturday, Raymond, 18, will graduate from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, physics and economics, a triple major!

A Blue Ridge morning — politics, pay raises, crime

Greetings from Charlottesville, Va. I'm just down the street from Mr. Jefferson's university and heading to Monticello later this morning.

Reminder: Opening at Boswell-Mourot

New exhibition features sculpture, paintings, ceramics and collaborative pieces.

Saturday open line

Here it is. Sorry for slacking today.

Travel day here

I'm going to be out of pocket most of the day winding my way home.

Meet Blair Graves, a cheesemonger among us

There are few foods in this world as sublime as a fine cheese. Cheese is found in nearly every corner of our culinary infrastructure—appetizers, hors d'oeuvre, entrees, even desserts—you find it enriching nearly every corner of the menu. We catch up with one of Arkansas' most knowledgeable cheese mongers, Blair Graves, and get a glimpse into the mystical world of cheese.

Basin Street Blues open line

Well, I've made it as far as Dallas. I'm going to take advantage of a dying battery to being the open line.

Morning report: Prescription drug watch

The morning again begins slowly. But among others: * MONITORING DOCTORS' PRESCRIPTION PRACTICES: Pro Publica has published with the Washington Post a deep look at doctors' prescription practices under Medicare.

The IRS' Tea Party blunder

I tried to say this the other day, but Ezra Klein at Wonkblog says it better.

Waltons working on school takeover in Massachusetts

The Walton family effort to redesign publicly financed schools in their image — they prefer essentially privatized operations unanswerable to elected school boards and stripped of teacher association representation, preferably with "out-counseling" of difficult students to the remnant real public schools — is familiar by now in Arkansas.

Tuesday To-Do: Kvelertak

Kvelertak plays at Downtown Music Hall Tuesday.

Review: Jason Aldean, May 11 Verizon Arena

Jason Aldean played at Verizon May 11.

University of Arkansas Board to discuss tuition increases for 2013-14

It's spring and that means it's time to increase tuition for the next college year.

Debra Hobbs to enter Republican race for governor

I posted a note the other day that indicated state Rep. Debra Hobbs of Rogers was giving prayerful consideration to a run for governor.

Monday night's Pomp and Circumstance open line

Imboden high school graduation is uneventful after flap over gay speaker.

Here's the schedule for Movies in the Park

The 2013 lineup for Movies in the Park is out today.

Welcome Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Upworthy, a site worth following, posts this on inaugural legislation by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Morning report: Leaks, guns and welfare kings

The morning roundup: * WHEN WILL REP. TOM COTTON PRAISE OBAMA'S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT? Republican mouthpieces are howling about the news that AP reporters' phone records were gathered by the Justice Department in an apparent investigation of leaks about a Yemen-based terrorist plot to bomb an airliner.

Catholic Diocese aims to strengthen religious identity of hospitals

A friend notes a news article in the Arkansas Catholic and the coincidence of timing with discussions about a merger of clinical operations of the public University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and St. Vincent Infirmary.

Benghazi, the new Whitewater

Ernie Dumas this week compares the fulminations about Benghazi, which Republicans are attempting to make an impeachment-worthy scandal of minute differences in post-attack talking points, with the cooked-up Whitewater investigations.

Fact: Speaker Davy Carter made it up as he went along

The media's rapture with House Speaker Davy Carter continues. Latest is a gushing profile of Carter at the top of Talk Business' 10 Best Legislators list.

NTSB recommends lower threshold for DWI

The National Transportation Safety Board has voted to urge the states drop the blood alcohol level necessary for a driving while intoxicated violation from .08 to .05.

Explosion at gunpowder plant in Johnson County

I believe the River Valley Leader had the jump on this explosive news: River Valley Leader has received information that an explosion occurred Tuesday morning at a small gun powder facility in Johnson County.

Quick but mediocre at Slim Chickens

New Little Rock branch of Slim Chickens disappoints.

State gets $5.1 million for Medicaid in settlement over adulterated drugs

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has announced that Arkansas will get $5.1 million, including federal matching funds, for its Medicaid program as part of the $500 million settlement of a lawsuit against Ranbaxy, a drug manufacturer in India that provided subpar generic drugs.

Coalition wants formal disavowal of Tech Park use of neighborhood

The We Shall Not Be Moved Coalition, formed to oppose location of the proposed Little Rock Technology Park in residential neighborhoods north of UALR, has written Mayor Mark Stodola to praise him for asking for a halt to Tech Park development until the board of the city-financed agency can figure out exactly what it thinks a tech park is supposed to be.

Ashlie Atkinson will be in the new Fox series 'Us & Them'

Ashlie Atkinson will be in the upcoming Fox series "Us & Them."

Stop the presses: Cordell's potato and chicken salads are back

A reliable source calls with good food news: Dean Cline is back at work making potato salad and chicken salad according to the recipes of the legendary Cordell's deli.

Cordell's potato and chicken salad are back again — at Terry's in the Heights

A reliable source calls with good food news: Dean Cline is back at work making potato salad and chicken salad according to the recipes of the legendary Cordell's deli.

The Tuesday night line

Finishing up early again today. Some closeout specials: * TAX DELINQUENT LIST TURNS UP FAMILIAR NAME: Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb tied to delinquent tax list.

16 indicted in cocaine conspiracy

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced earlier today that it has indicted 16 people on conspiracy charges, including Idalia Ramos Rangel, aka "Big Momma" or "La Tia," a "high-ranking member of the Gulf Cartel" who directed a drug operation out of Matamoros, Mexico, for distributing "hundreds of kilograms of cocaine" in Arkansas.

Tonight: Roberts and Rowland at Children's Library

“CALS Children’s Library and Learning Center: A New Paradigm.”

UPDATE: Pipeline Safety Office continues shutdown order on entire ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline

Thanks to Arkansas Blog reader Radical Centrist for some crowd sourcing. He gave us a headsup on a May 10 finding by the Office of Pipeline Safety related to its review of the pipeline break at Mayflower March 29 that spilled tar sands crude on a residential neighborhood and nearby wetlands.

Morning report: Sherwood affirms electric deal; end to free parking

Sherwood voters went to the polls in voting concluded today on whether to approve a City Council-approved ordinance to enter a 20-year agreement with North Little Rock as a wholesale supplier of electricity, an arrangement that dates back to 1949.

UAMS art show reception today

Works to hang at the Psychiatric Research Unit.

Now at Dollar Tree: The Mayo of Mayonnaiseness

Thanks to Arkansas Times pal Ashli Ahrens for spotting small jars of Duke's Mayonnaise at the Dollar Tree store in Riverdale and then hipping Yours Truly to their culinary significance via Facebook.

Thursday To-Do: Tom Keifer

Tom Keifer plays at Revolution Thursday.

"J Dilla Changed My Life" tribute

The Joint hosts a tribute to the late J Dilla Thursday night.
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