CeeLo, fireworks, dogs doing interesting things highlight this year's Riverfest.
Riverfest 2014May 22, 2014
Vol 22 • No 13
From Goose to Surfer Blood.
Don't bring laser pointers. Or dogs.
The Family Council, the leading proponent of discrimination against gay people in Arkansas, has announced a rally of preachers at the Capitol tomorrow to stand up against same-sex marriage. Fronting the assembly will be a black Baptist preacher from North Little Rock, Derick Easter.
Talking Points Memo has talked to Holly Dickson, attorney for the Arkansas ACLU, about the departure from law experienced by voters statewide as election officials applied the new Voter ID law.
Alcohol is one of the most heavily regulated commodities sold in the United States, with each state setting up its own regulatory system. In some states — known as alcoholic beverage control states — the state itself is the only wholesaler. Arkansas instead uses a semi-privatized "three-tier system." The impetus for a new beer coming into the state could come from any of the tiers. A brewery might decide it wants to enter the market and try to find a wholesaler to distribute the beer, either statewide or in a given area. But sometimes it doesn't make economic sense for a brewery.
A nonprofit group that promotes impartial courts has calculated that a shadowy out-of-state group spent at least $318,000 — and probably more — aimed at helping Robin Wynne defeat Tim Cullen in a race for Arkansas Supreme Court. It was a big leap in Arkansas TV spending on a court race. Wynne won.
Here's an open line. But there's news. Democratic congressional candidate Pat Hays rips Obama on problems at the VA and the Arkansas Lottery tries to make a buck. Who can blame them?
The board of directors for Little Rock's future technology park chose six applicants for the park director's job from the 15 submitted
Alcohol is one of the most heavily regulated commodities sold in the United States, with each state setting up its own regulatory system. In some states — known as alcoholic beverage control states — the state itself is the only wholesaler
House of Three project undermined by bureaucracy, according to owner.
Starting with Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's initial ruling at 4:51 p.m. on Friday, May 9, and ending with the state Supreme Court's succinct stay of his ruling at 4:30 p.m. the following Friday, Arkansas experienced marriage equality.
Recently Arkansas saw a whirlwind of same sex couples rushing to courthouses around the state in an effort to enter into the bonds of matrimony with their significant other. Afraid that the courts would stay the issuance of marriage licenses, couples have had to hurry their weddings with little or no time to bring together their family and friends.
Short films showcase Arts Council craft honorees.
On a recent Saturday morning, The Observer decided to buy a car, and so looked up the directions to a pre-owned vehicle dealership and secured a ride from my girlfriend, who wasn't busy.
Even though I have lived away from Arkansas since 2001, I have diligently followed the Arkansas Times on Facebook. Your reporting always represents our state in a way that makes me very proud, and as a gay man, I have never been more proud of the Arkansas Times than I have been over the last several days. Growing up gay in the Delta was a difficult challenge for me, and there is a real catharsis in seeing the cover image and headline of this week's paper.
Morphic resonance: seaforms, flowers.
Happy day. Unless there's a runoff somewhere out in the state, judicial elections are over for another year.
It's a largely successful revival.
Fiddlin' Billy Matthews plays the Ozark Folk Center.
News on the health care front lately seemed heaven-sent for Republican politicians who found themselves on the defensive in this week's primary for having implemented one of the two big features of Obamacare — actually both of them.
Supposedly, students at some of our most prestigious universities find themselves confronted with existential challenges. Some are required to read books and watch films that could conceivably upset them emotionally.
A sculpture on display at this past weekend's Little Rock Film Festival Artisan Street Fair.
Riverdale restaurant hits all the right marks.
Also, Lucero at George's in Fayetteville, Bobby Bare Jr. at White Water Tavern, Stickyz Riverfest Stage, Spa City Metalfest, Notorious BIG Birthday Tribute at 521 Southern Cafe and Devin the Dude at Club Elevations.
Most food enthusiasts in Arkansas can feel it — there's a lot of good going on in the Central Arkansas dining scene. There's a lot to be celebrated, many improvements being made. People are genuinely excited about what they are eating. Several Arkansas establishments are gaining national attention. Some might consider this a "turning point" for Arkansas food, a renaissance, of sorts. Are we eating at the edge of greatness? In 10 years, is Little Rock positioned to become the food world's next Austin, Portland or Nashville?
Truthful Tuesday beat the Family Council to the punch with a Capitol gathering of clergy talking about same-sex marriage. This group, however, supports equality for LGBTQ people, unlike the anti-gay Family Council.
The New York Times notes the spread in Southern states, including neighboring Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, of laws aimed at requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. The laws are under challenge. If allowed to stand they will, as designed, wipe out the availability of abortion in broad swaths of the country.
Webb Hubbell will talk about his new legal thriller, "When Men Betray," in a session from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the William F. Laman Library at 2801 Orange Street, North Little Rock.
The Voter ID law is working just as Republicans intended. It is suppressing votes. The Forrest City Times Herald reports that the ID requirement in the new law caused 83 of 102 mail absentee ballots to be disqualified. Republicans are showing little concern about that or rampant confusion about implementation of the law at the polls. The ACLU sees many problems.
Leroy Patterson of Roland died of injuries suffered about 1:15 p.m. in a head-on collision on Highway 10 (Cantrell Road) near Johnson Ranch Road.
The lieutenant governor's office finally responded to an FOI request. The records show little work is being done there and that Mark Darr still owes the state almost $10,000 in improper expense reimbursements.
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican challenger Tom Cotton will engage in at least two televised debates, according to a news release today from the Cotton campaign.
The Pulaski County Election Commission met today and it appears 63 of 634, or just about 10 per cent of mail absentee ballots cast in the county were disqualified for lack of a proper ID. That's better than the 80 percent in St. Francis County, but still a big number.
Takeaways from the May 20 primary election results (including that few people care enough to vote), problems with the state's new voter ID law and the latest on former Lieutenant Gov. Mark Darr — all covered on this week's podcast.
Prehistoric mounds, the Central High Neighborhood Historic District and downtown Hot Springs are the focus of this year's list of the most endangered historic sites in Arkansas.
So the gay bashers at the Family Council slapped down their promised race card today, gathering black preachers with Bro. Jason Rapert to oppose same-sex marriage. They love LGBTQ sinners, the assembly insisted, just so long as they don't have equal rights. Smell the irony?
Hot Springs Mayor Ruth Carney figures in TMZ report of custody dispute with Disney star Tiffany Thornton
Hot Springs Mayor Ruth Carney is accused by her son of helping his wife, a Disney TV star, take their children away from him. Religion figures in this volatile mix in Los Angeles, just as it does back home in Arkansas.
The Quest charter middle school, set back recently on a new location, will return to the originally approved site on Rahling Road in Chenal Valley.
Leslie Rutledge, the leader in the Republican primary race for attorney general, has announced that she's being supported by Patricia Nation, who finished third in the three-way race with David Sterling.
Marci Manley of KARK reports here on some of the real people whose vote didn't count in Tuesday's primary election because they didn't comply with the 2013 law requirement that an ID be included with mailed absentee ballots. She talked with an older black couple, a demographic that I suspect figured prominently in the 80 percent disqualification rate in St. Francis County (just as Republicans hoped in passing the law.)
A couple of graphs illustrate the country's inevitable movement toward support for legal same-sex marriage.
Mother Jones reports on a $1.5 million TV ad buy in Arkansas to help extremist Republican Tom Cotton defeat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. Whose money? Good question.
Education Week reports on debate about a recent book by Illinois researchers that concludes public schools outperform private schools when you compare results of similar groups of students. Conventional schools also did as well or better than charter schools. The findings have engendered a debate that, naturally, pulls in the Walton-financed choice promotion unit at the University of Arkansas.
Arkansas Business reports a $14 million anonymous gift to add to $58 million and property already pledged to establish a school of osteopathic medicine in Fort Smith.
The Pulaski County School District has proposed to commit $10 million to an academy aimed at closing the achievement gap between black and white students, to be jointly administered by UALR and Philander Smith College.
This afternoon I spent exactly ten minutes on the phone with Kenny Loggins. I was offered the interview as an opportunity to promote his appearance at the Verizon Arena in June (as part of "Night of the Proms") and said "okay." Our conversation is below.
Judge Tim Fox issues injunction against Voter ID law; stayed for now but that could change, with votes in the balance
Circuit Judge Tim Fox today issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the state Voter ID law. He's stayed it for now, but plaintiffs are expected to move quickly to lift the stay so that votes in the recent primary election can be counted.
I'm getting out of here and let the Riverfest revelers take over the neighborhood. Maybe I'll run into somebody canvassing for signatures to allow beer sales statewide. Sign me up.
Now let's get to feedback. Where're you eating this most American of weekends?
'Arkansas Times Recommends' is a weekly series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying (or, in Max's case, not enjoying) this week.
City Board to consider break for car services, $73 million in bonds. Not yet for review of bad convenience store idea
What's on the city board agenda next week? A $73 million bond issue and a proposal to let car services keep their town cars in service two years long. But no sign yet of the abysmal idea to plunk a Mapco gas and store operation at Third and Broadway.
Should be another big day for Riverfest. Music, food and drink will be on offer, plus other entertainment. Brian Chilson last night provided a couple of food photos. Vegetables? I think I'd go for the meat on a stick.
Critics of Sen. Jason Rapert have organized an on-line petition effort to protest his attack on a judge doing no more than upholding his duties to rule on the constitutionality of challenged laws.
Paul Barton of Gannett News Service looked at campaign finance figures and found that Republican Rep. Tom Cotton is leading U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor in the share of personal campaign money coming from out-of-state sources — 65 percent to 53 percent.
The Jesse White Tumblers made their annual appearance at Riverfest today. The weather was cooperating and big crowds seem likely for tonight's events including closing Saturday headliner Celo. And then there's Sunday. Consider this an open line. And don't forget to sign a petition supporting impeachment of Jason Rapert.
The LA Times has been dramatically reduced by the downturn in the newspaper industry, but it still looks like a good source for the mass shootings in Santa Barbara County that have left seven, including the apparently disturbed killer, dead.
John Lyon of Stephens Media writes about a little-noticed factor of Arkansas's many laws discriminating against gay people. Those who've been legally married in other states are prevented from obtaining divorces in courts in Arkansas where they reside. This presents complications on all the things that courts settle for other married couples — debts, property, child custody.
The Los Angeles Times' coverage of the mass slaying in Southern California includes an extract of a manifesto left behind y suspected killer Elliott Rodger. It's the work of a disturbed young man, though rational enough to plot in detail, forecast his actions in YouTube videos and cause no alarm when law officers checked on him once.
The Arkansas River's illuminated bridges presented a fine photo opportunity for the Times' Brian Chilson last night as he covered Riverfest. You can see lots more of his photos of the crowd, performers and other sights at his Facebook page. Great stuff.
The line is open. While waiting for Riverfest fireworks, some reading recommended by Mara Leveritt — an account of a bike ride from Little Rock to South Carolina this month by Rev. Thompson Murray of Quapaw United Methodist Church. It was a journey of more than physical dimensions. In the news: fireworks caused a fire in Maumelle.
If silence on social media and news media are any indication, Riverfest ended with only the bang of fireworks last night and nothing more unsettling. Brian Chilson continued his monumental cataloguing of the three-day event on the Arkansas River with the traditional fireworks shot, enhanced this year by the bridge lighting project. Don't know yet how crowds compared, but they appeared healthy.
An employee of UAMS wrote me last week out of frustration after the University of Arkansas System extended — and then took back — insurance benefits for same-sex married couples. She and her partner had acted during the week when all couples in Arkansas briefly could taste rights denied by Arkansas's legalized discrimination against same-sex couples. It is just one more illustration of a struggle by real people with real families denied fruits that others take for granted. These newlyweds, in addition to ongoing discrimination, are among 1,200 people who face uncertainty about their status on account of action they took, out of love, that momentous week.
Excuse me to barbecue chicken. I'll close with the Riverfest police report.
Riverfest is withholding full payment of its contract with headliner CeeLo Green because it believes he didn't fulfill the contract's obligation on the length of his show.
The week begins slowly. But I have heard Little Rock will learn City Manager Bruce Moore's pick of a new police chief this week. There are three finalists, including Eric Higgins from in-house to succeed the retiring Chief Stuart Thomas. Also a prediction on the City Hall beat: The City Board will easily defeat the Dickson Flake-pushed proposal to install a B-grade convenience store/gas pumper at the problematic Third and Broadway intersection in the middle of a government/visitor core far better served by other uses.
Joe Nocera in the New York Times, prompted by another killing spree, draws from a new book on the 2nd Amendment to explain how the NRA and politicians have bent the amendment all out of shape of what the founding fathers intended — a tool to guarantee a "well-regulated militia." It was not, he writes, intended to allow an individual right to trump the public good.
A recent trip to the Faded Rose has us wondering just exactly what the hype is all about. Does the restaurant live up to its reputation and price point? Not hardly.
Yet another branch bank robbery this morning, this one a First Security branch at 4936 W. Markham.
All is not exactly well in the world of Riverfest, with ticket sales reportedly down and CeeLo likely getting angrier by the second, but it was a perfectly memorable, crowded and strange weekend, and the Times' own Brian Chilson was there on the ground documenting it. Relive the thing from the safety of your own home / phone, far from the heat, the Jägermeister t-shirts and the chicken-on-a-stick.
KATV announced today that it, KHBS/KHOG in Fayetteville and KAIT in Jonesoboro will air a televised gubernatorial candidate debate between Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7. Two other candidates for governor are not included.
Event honors Charles Witsell and Gordon Wittenberg, "Architects of Little Rock 1833-1950."
The U.S. Supreme Court today said West Memphis police were within their rights in a two-state chase in July 2004 that ended with the death of two people.
Mother Jones reports that Sonic and Chili's outlets in Texas refused to knuckle under to intimidation tactics of open carry gun advocates. Growing backlash at the intimidation tactics appears to have backed the gun toters down.
The state of Arkansas has filed its appeal of Judge Susan Webber Wright's finding that the 2013 law prohibiting most abortions after 12 weeks' gestation is unconstitutional. You wonder how McDaniel and his staff sleep at night filing this kind of balderdash.
Using a rise in homicides in Little Rock this year as a jumping off point (he quoted the daily newspaper), Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson called in the press to get some free media today for his ideas on crime.
Market Street Cinema owner Matt Smith told the Times today that they will be closing their current location and reopening at Riverdale 10, the 10-screen, 35,000 square ft. theater on Cantrell Road that closed in December. "The big change that the customers will see is we’re going to be installing new Barco digital projectors and Dolby digital sound," he said over the phone this morning (before, both theaters used 35mm film and analog sound).
Introducing a new Rock Candy columnist: Harold Ott is the founder and primary researcher of Psych of the South, a record label dedicated to unearthing rare Arkansas pop history.
As of 11:25 a.m., as I write this post, there were 19 hours and 35 minutes left to sign up for the Little Rock Gran Fondo bike ride that starts at 8 a.m.
Yesterday, we reported that Riverfest had a contractual dispute with headliner CeeLo Green over the length of his set Saturday night at the First Security Amphitheatre, and would not pay him anything beyond their initial deposit: "Most entertainers require a 10-50% deposit, and CeeLo's was on the higher end of the deposit range," said board spokesperson Cheddy Wigginton. This morning, in a statement to THV, CeeLo's manager denied that the festival had withheld payment, saying that "despite reports, they were given a check after his performance for the full amount discussed."
The open line begins with a discussion of my annual trip to Boys State. Attitudes are softening on gay marriage, I detected. Legal marijuana, you ask? Pass the doobie, brother.
According to testimony today from the Arkansas Department of Human Services, 170,033 people through the end of April have been deemed eligible and gained coverage under the private option, the state's unique plan using Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for low-income Arkansans. This likely means that the policy has already made a significant reduction in the rate of uninsurance in the state. The private option has also made the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace as a whole significantly younger, which could help lead to lower premiums in the future.
The Market Street Cinema is moving to a vacant theater in the Riverdale shopping center — good news on several fronts for movie fans. Rock Candy, which had this news yesterday, also has an update on the Riverfest/CeeLo Green fee dispute.
Maya Angelou, who spent important childhood years in the small South Arkansas town of Stamps, has died at age 86.
The Little Rock police count of activities during Riverfest reflects mostly minor law infractions, many involving minors and alcohol.
Republican Senate candidate Tom Cotton has another biographical ad emphasizing his Dardanelle roots and his new wife, Anna. Better than talking about his support for the Paul Ryan budget.
Kenton Buckner, currently the assistant police chief in Louisville, Ky., is going to be Little Rock's next police chief. The official announcement came about an hour after we were tipped to the news. Buckner goes to work June 30 on City Manager Bruce Moore's belief that he'll excel at "citizen engagement."