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May 23, 2013

Vol 39 • No 38

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Ready for Riverfest

Good times start rolling Friday.

Riverfest fast facts

Riverfest 2013 three-day discounted tickets will be available at select Walgreen's locations around the state. These tickets will be sold for $17.50 (while supplies last). Admission at the gates is $35 for a three-day pass, cash only. Online tickets can be purchased for $30.

Live entertainment schedule

The Riverfest calendar.

Cathi Compton also in circuit judge race

We're one day into the official campaign period for judicial offices (the election is May 20, 2014) and we already have a race for circuit judge of the 13th division, covering Pulaski and Perry counties.

Salesman in Shoffner probe resigns from securities firm

Steele Stephens, the securities salesman whose large share of state Treasurer Martha Shoffner's state bond investments triggered a federal investigation that led to a criminal charge against her, yesterday submitted a resignation by fax to his employer, St. Bernard Financial Services, based in Russellville.

Walmart hires Dan Bartlett, former George W. Bush spokesman, as executive VP

Walmart has announced the hiring of Dan Bartlett as executive vice president for corporate affairs.

Thursday To-Do: Flowing on the River

Flowing on the River is Thursday at River Market Pavilions.

Driver charged in Cantrell Road traffic death

Mack Hinson, 36, of Sherwood was charged Monday with negligent homicide in a fatal accident last Oct. 25 on Cantrell Road The State Police said at the time that Hinson apparently hit a curb eastbound in the 12900 block of Cantrell (Highway 10) and then hit another eastbound car, which then crossed the center line and collided with a westbound car driven by Narjis Meti, 60.

Arkansas church makes national news for opposition to gay Scouts

The Boy Scouts of America may decide tomorrow to lift its ban on gay scouts (though not gay scout leaders).

Thursday: 'Steel Magnolias' at Murry's Dinner Playhouse

Murry's Dinner Playhouse just opened its production of the touching yet funny "Steel Magnolias," which runs 6 p.m.Tue.-Sat., 11 a.m.

Loca Luna loses court challenge of parking plan for The Fold

The Arkansas Court of Appeals today affirmed a circuit court ruling upholding a zoning variance given for The Fold, a new restaurant at 3501 Old Cantrell Road, just a few yards from Loca Luna.

Will the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce press a 'tort reform' initiative?

I heard yesterday that the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce is expected to decide in June whether to mount a petition campaign to put a "tort reform" constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2014.

Gov. Beebe says he'll appoint treasurer soon

A replacement for resigned Treasurer Martha Shoffner? In the "next several days," Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters today.

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken gears up for Memorial Day Weekend open

There's a sign on the door of the much, much-anticipated River Market branch of the fried chicken mini-chain that says the restaurant will be serving tonight at 5 p.m.

ExxonMobil has a plan for Lake Maumelle watershed

The line is open. Leslie Newell Peacock hopes to follow directly with a little something about a meeting today of Little Rock, Central Arkansas Water, ExxonMobil and other people over the Pegasus pipeline that runs through 18 miles of CAW's watershed, including along the shore of Lake Maumelle, the region's water supply.

Bauhaus show, symposium Friday at AAC

Photographs, architectural plans, furniture and a talk by design experts.

Gus's Fried Chicken lives up to the hype

Gus's in the River Market brings incredible chicken to Little Rock.

Late news: Arrest in Forrest Abrams slaying; sentencing in West Memphis vote buying

Sorry. We've had administrative computer problems tonight.

Slide into Slim Chickens

Arkansas-born Slim Chickens does wings and tenders fresh and fast.

GOP's new ideas

Mexican streak

From "Kearny's March: The Epic Creation of the American West, 1846-1847" by Winston Groom.

'Steel Magnolias' at Murry's

And the May Festival of Arts in Eureka.

The crash of Martha Shoffner

My overriding emotion about the fate of state Treasurer Martha Shoffner is sadness.

It was a good week for a woman's right to an abortion

Also a good week for adjournment sine die, the Republican Party, attention to a hog farm permit in the Buffalo River Watershed. It was a bad week for Treasurer Martha Shoffner.

Mary Gauthier at White Water Tavern

Also, Flowing on the River at the River Market Pavilions, Mad Nomad at White Water Tavern, 7th Street Underground Festival, Collective Soul at the Timberwood Amphitheater and 'Clockwork Orange' at Vino's.


The Observer was coming out of a department store in North Little Rock last Saturday when we saw him. The guy, who had exited the store just before us, had purchased a can of bug spray, and as The Observer and Spouse walked past in the parking lot, he proceeded to uncap said bug spray and then douse himself in the stuff, writhing around in a dense cloud of chemicals, trying to hose down every square inch of his body while looking as if he was doing an interpretive dance.

Party comes first for Griffin

I just received an email survey from Tim Griffin a couple of days ago wanting my opinion concerning the handling of the Benghazi attack by the Obama administration. The survey comes complete with a video in case I'm not already "appalled" with the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. I'm quite frankly sick of Tim Griffin's attempt at acting like he is working in the best interest of Americans.

Say goodbye

It's kind of piling on, admittedly, but we feel compelled to join the call for state Treasurer Martha Shoffner to resign. Awkwardly compelled, that is. She has not yet been convicted of the criminal charges filed against her, and that's an important point. The presumption of innocence has not been repealed.


There's embarrassment in the young gubernatorial campaign of state Rep. Debra Hobbs of Rogers. Announcing her candidacy last week, Representative Hobbs said "I feel like this is what God wants me to do." But sources close to God say that He gave her no encouragement and was at most indifferent to her campaign.

Stickyz Stage moves to the east side

After a couple of years of local and rising national acts playing in the Stickyz Music Tent underneath the Broadway Bridge, the venue-within-a-venue will make a move east this year from the tent to an outdoor stage near the Clinton Presidential Center.


Firefighters battle a blaze that broke out not long after midnight last Thursday at the Forest Place apartments on North University Avenue. A cause has still not been determined.

Clinton School, all over the map

Nearly every first-year Clinton School for Public Service student will spend this summer working on an International Public Service Project.

Still ripe for reform in Arkansas?

Last February, the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation released a report I authored titled "Ripe for Reform: Arkansas as a Model for Social Change."

Syrian war: Iraq redux

Americans are instinctively wiser than their leaders when it comes to foreign policy, at least until their emotions are manipulated to support mindless war.

Sister who opposed Faubus dies

Bonnie Lou Faubus Salcido publicly called out her brother for blocking the integration of Central High.

Clinton School partners with school to heal Uganda's wounds

Students work with former child soldier Okello Sam at his school and community outreach project Hope North.

More aliens!

New 'Star Trek' needs more space travel, but is otherwise a blast.

Three non-scandals

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when every jackleg news organization in Washington — that is, virtually all of them — was feeding out of Kenneth Starr's soft little hand like a Shetland pony.

Little Rock Film Festival's downtown debut a success

If anyone was skeptical of the Little Rock Film Festival's move away from a cineplex in Riverdale to downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock, surely their doubts were assuaged after this year's fest.

Mineral Springs schools — fiscal distress, but heckuva football field

Thanks to Clinton vet Ben Mays, a former member of the state Board of Education and a long-time critic of Arkansas school districts that spend execessively on athletics, for this nugget.

Tom Cotton's attack on the Constitution

Several people sent links this morning to yet another odd performance by U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, already distinguished by his opposition to replenishing to country's disaster aid money unless it can be taken out of some other recipient's hide.

UPDATE: Intruder arrested on Governor's Mansion grounds

From the State Police: Arkansas State Troopers assigned to the Executive Protection detail arrested an individual on the grounds of the Arkansas Governor’s residence this morning.

Long-dead body on list of complaints about LR apartment building

A gruesome report from Channel 4 about resident complaints concerning the Plaza Towers apartment building on West Markham Street (next door to the Chick-fil-A across from Park Plaza.)

Friday To-Do: Mad Nomad

Mad Nomad plays at White Water Tavern Friday.

Mississippi aims to jail women for stillbirths, miscarriages

As a result of what Dr. Joycelyn Elders once memorably called a "love affair with the fetus," Mississippi has embarked on a path to prosecute some women in cases of stillbirth or miscarriage.

Chew on this: Cuban burrito from Baja Grill

The time commitment required to park yourself at the feet of Baja Grill, it will be well worth your effort. Take a seat on their ample outdoor seating while the weather is still permissive, and bask in the glow of burrito brilliance.

Federal spending cuts to cost Arkansas $18.5 million in education money

The federal sequestration spending cuts that took effect March 1 will cost Arkansas $18.5 million in 2013, says a release from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

Friday: American Guild of Organists benefit recital, Wes Jeans at Denton's and more

Wes Jeans plays at Denton's Trotline Friday night.

Who needs tort reform? Arkansas matches Texas already

If you can't truth the American Legislative Exchange Council, who can you trust, particularly when the subject is what's good for business?

ZZ Top to Fayetteville

ZZ Top will play at the Arkansas Music Pavilion Oct. 4.

Democrats go after Cotton for trying to criminalize family relationship

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going after expected Republican Senate candidate Tom Cotton over his wacky idea to automatically punish relatives of people who violate sanctions on Iran.

Little Rock: Very religious, also fond of pornography

The Little Rock metropolitan area (which includes Conway, Sen. Rapert) is a place with a rich and deep religious tradition.

House begins videos of state representatives

Would you like to spend 2:22 listening to Republican Rep. Doug House of North Little Rock?

UA Board approves slate of reduced tuition increases

More from the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees meeting, courtesy of Fox 16's David Goins on Twitter: The trustees split sharply, but voted 5-4 for the slate of tuition increases for UA campuses as reduced earlier by a board committee.

Whirlpool sued over groundwater pollution near Fort Smith plant

Fort Smith residents have filed a lawsuit over chemical contamination of the groundwater in the neighborhood of Whirlpool's now-closed refrigerator factory in Fort Smith.

Paper, Scissors, Little Rock: coming to River Market district

Do-it-yourself crafting studio, gifts and more.

Supreme Court says 1979 Cornish hen theft makes sheriff ineligible to serve

The Arkansas Supreme Court today reversed a lower court and said Searcy County Sheriff and Collector Kenny Cassell's 1979 conviction on a federal misdemeanor theft charge for stealing Cornish hens from a Tyson's interstate shipment made him ineligible to hold office.

UPDATE: University of Arkansas Board votes to keep guns off campuses

Flash from David Goins at Fox 16: The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees voted to opt out of Republican Rep. Charlie Collins' new law to allow college and university staff to carry concealed weapons on campus.

Historic Preservation Alliance's 2013 list of endangered structures

It's time for the Historic Preservation Alliance's annual list of historic structures in danger of being lost.

Riverfest Eve open line: Democrats rip Tim Griffin; Arkansas Tech joins no-gun list

The line is open. Final words: * TIM 'TAR SANDS PIPELINE' GRIFFIN: It's no surprise that Republican Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin of Alberta, Canada, voted again last night to hurry up the Keystone XL pipeline.

Boy Scouts to allow openly gay scouts

From the New York Times: The Boy Scouts of America on Thursday ended its longstanding policy of forbidding openly gay youths to participate in its activities, a step its chief executive called “compassionate, caring and kind.” 60 percent of 1,400 participating Scout leaders approved the change.

Extras wanted for filming of Brandon Burlsworth movie at War Memorial Stadium

So you want to be in pictures? Here's an opportunity.

Must read: Roy Reed's obituary on Orval Faubus' sister

It's plugged at the top of the page, but don't fail to read Roy Reed's obituary for Orval Faubus' sister, Bonnie Lou Salcido, and the story it tells about Faubus family opposition to his stance that created the constitutional crisis in Little Rock.

Details emerge on Arkansas "private option" for Medicaid expansion

The House and Senate Public Health committees met today to hear updates on the “private option” plan for expanding healthcare coverage.

Vote fraud: Myth-busting in Ohio

This is really important, since the Republican-majority legislature in Arkansas just joined the "vote fraud" brigade with Voter ID legislation designed to depress turnout among traditional Democratic constituencies.

UA prof writes on the 'junk science' of 20-week abortion bans

Here's a valuable piece of writing for Science Progress from the classrooms of the University of Arkansas by Dr. Lisa Corrigan, co-chair of the gender studies program of the Fulbright College.

Neighbors oppose pregnant teen home in old Job Corps center

The Pettaway Neighborhood Association is organizing opposition for a proposal before the Little Rock Planning Commission May 30 to convert the abandoned Job Corps Center building at 20th and Vance along I-30 to a home for pregnant teens.

Food Feedback Friday: going Greek and rocking tacos

Time to feedback on what you've been eating this week. Let us know what's got you drooling.

Saturday To-Do: Collective Soul

Collective Soul plays at Magic Springs Saturday.

Republicans against healthcare expansion now worried about outcome if expansion doesn't happen

At the joint committee hearing on the "private option" plan for healthcare expansion, Rep. David Meeks asked about Plan B. "Are we anticipating what we would do if something happens and we don’t get the private option?"

Saturday To-Do: 7th Street Underground Festival

Jab Jab Suckerpunch plays the 7th Street Underground Festival Saturday.

Saturday: Trout Fishing in America, March Against Monsanto and more

Trout Fishing in America performs Saturday at The Auditorium in Eureka Springs.

Tony Orlando and Yakov Smirnoff endorse Dennis Milligan for state treasurer

That headline is straight from Huffington Post. Top that, Duncan Baird.

Beebe to announce treasurer pick Wednesday

When I went to Conway this morning to film a segment of "Arkansas Week," I asked Matt DeCample of the governor's office whether a decision was coming today on Gov. Mike Beebe's appointment of someone to serve out Martha Shoffner's term as treasurer.

Another state treasurer in corruption probe

Speaking of former Treasurer Martha Shoffner, accused of taking kickbacks for steering huge sums of state bond business to the broker making the payments: Here's another former state treasurer ensnared in a public corruption case, Tim Cahill of Massachusetts.

If only Arkansas had a big beer industry

I heard this on NPR this morning and wondered if Jason Rapert would trade fracking for seven or eight of the world's biggest breweries.

Buddy Flett at White Water Tavern

Here's the latest in our music video series collaboration with Greg Spradlin and Camp Friday Films. It features Buddy Flett, the legendary Louisiana guitarist, live at White Water Tavern.

UPDATE: Gun control group to spend $350,000 against Pryor

Politico reports that the gun control group backed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is following through with plans to buy TV time — $350,000 worth — criticizing U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor for helping defeat some modest gun measures recently, particularly universal background checks.

Multiple deaths in Scott accident

Channel 11 is reporting that three people were killed in an accident today in Scott when a vehicle ran off Old River Road and into a tree.

Walton Arts Center contemplating amphitheater move to Rogers

Interesting story brewing in Northwest Arkansas, where Fayetteville apparently faces the loss of another part of the Walton Arts Center operation.

The Cash Pie Edition

The arrest of State Treasurer Martha Shoffner, Bloomberg versus Pryor, Cotton's wackiest turn yet, stealing Cornish hens and big-time football at the fiscally distressed Mineral Springs School District — all covered on this week's podcast.

Coming soon: Jazz in the Park

Rodney Block will perform at the opening night of Jazz in the Park.

Medicaid payment reform may be reducing costs but legislature delays further implementation

Good news on the Medicaid cost front: in a joint Public Health committee meeting today, Department of Human Services officials testified that for the third straight quarter, cost growth of the program has slowed.


Riverfest. Memorial Day.

Check out this vintage Cate Brothers performance

Here's a great vintage video of The Cate Brothers performing on the BBC's "Old Grey Whistle Test."

Riverfest opens with perfect conditions, Darius Rucker

No arrest in early morning death after altercation

The LRPD's Sgt. Cassandra Davis is up early on Saturday: At 2:51 officers were called to 10800 Legion Hut Road to a disturbance.

How refusing Obamacare hurts the poorest of the poor

David Ramsey illustrated this point yesterday. If Arkansas's adoption of Obamacare through the so-called private option falls apart, the poorest of the state's poor would be left with no health coverage, while some subsidies would be provided for people with higher income.

Viva la open line

The line is open. I close with, at top, Brian Chilson's photo from a rally at the Capitol today by a coalition pressing Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman to vote for pending immigration legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for millions, including many Arkansas residents.

Gay TV producer at center of Imboden controversy to speak in LR

I was happy to get this Facebook note today from Bryant Huddleston, the Imboden native and California TV producer, whose tentative invitation to speak at the Sloan-Hendrix High School graduation fell apart because a couple of School Board members (and many in the community apparently) didn't think it right to have a gay man speak to high school graduates, who included his sister.

Riverfest finale today

The rise in poor in the suburbs; new interest in cities

The Democrat-Gazette today focused on Arkansas figures of a trend found in the 2010 Census and much discussed since — the rising poverty in suburbs, previously seen as the land of milk and honey versus ills of urban areas.

Coming: Behind-the-scenes account of 1980 Titan missile accident in Damascus, Ark.

This sounds worth looking for: Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford notes a September lecture visit by jjournalist Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation") who'll publish in September a new book, "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety," centered on a famous Arkansas happening.

Sunday night and the floor is open

The line is open. It is almost un-American judging by the racks of ribs I saw in shopping carts today, but I am still cooking shrimp.

Riverfest goes out with customary bang

The heart(less) of the Arkansas Republican Party

Stephens Media's John Lyon gathered some good quotes in the course of an article on the future for those seeking General Equivalency Diplomas.

Maybe the Tea Party groups deserved IRS scrutiny for political activities

The IRS imbroglio looks like a winner for the Republican Party. The agency, under the Obama administration, was, at least, disorganized and incompetent in reviewing applications for non-profit status by groups with obvious political orientation.

Catholic hospitals limit women's health services

The New York Times wrote about this earlier and now Daily Kos has expanded on the theme.

Tuesday To-Do: Vino's Picture Show: 'A Clockwork Orange'

Vino's screens "A Clockwork Orange" Tuesday.

Open line: Memorial Day, John Q. Hammons, Riverfest, Oklahoma tornado

The Chamber of Commerce crusade to curtail lawsuits

Another update today, this one from Stephens Media, on the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce's obsession with closing the doors of the courthouse to damage suits, or at least to meaningful damage awards (thus effectively discouraging all lawsuits.)

Gunmakers: Guns are used in crimes? Who knew?

The New York Times has unearthed testimony in past lawsuits that shows just how little gunmakers care about anything but the bottom line.

No takers for Ozarks real estate once envisioned as medieval castle

Remember the failed effort by French investors to recreate a medieval castle in the Ozarks near Lead Hill, a replication of a French tourist attraction.

As the world warms: Arkansas leaders want it hotter

Another good column by Ernie Dumas this week, this based on the lightly reported finding at a weather station in Hawaii of the highest atmospheric readings of carbon dioxide in three million years.

Police reports light from Riverfest

Given an attendance of a quarter-million over three days and beer consumption commensurate with such a crowd, Little Rock police incident reports on the run of Riverfest seem pretty light.

U.S. Supreme Court deals setback to campaign to strip funding from Planned Parenthood

This decision is worthy of note because the same elements in the Arkansas legislature that won't to end a woman's right to choose abortion also want to strip public funding — including that not related to abortion — from Planned Parenthood.

Gov. Beebe tomorrow: New state treasurer, Dassault Falcon announcement

Gov. Mike Beebe will makes some news Wednesday morning. 1) For one thing, he'll appoint someone to serve as state treasurer through 2014.

Celebrate the Grape: Wine, food and jazz June 7 in North Little Rock

The latest Arkansas Times-sponsored celebration of food, fun and music is set from 6 to 9 p.m.

Changes at Taylor's Contemporanea

Ownership change.

NLR photo archives sales irk former Miami newspaper hands

Not everyone is happy about the purchase of newspaper photo archives and resale of those images by John Rogers of North Little Rock.

New acquisitions at Mosaic Templars

"Stirring the Soul of History, Vol. 1" opens Thursday with reception.

Mayor Stodola slated for car allowance increase as well as 12 percent pay raise

The Little Rock Board of Directors will discuss at an agenda meeting today the proposed ordinance to increase Mayor Mark Stodola's pay from $160,000, where it has been fixed since 2008,l to $179,208.

James Hayes at Garvan Gardens

Glass balls, flowers, mushrooms, vines.

The Bloomberg gun control campaign explained: Who cares if it hurts Mark Pryor?

The New Republic has written at some length on the thinking behind the Michael Bloomberg gun control group, highly visible currently in Arkansas with ads pounding Sen. Mark Pryor for preventing a vote on a very modest piece of legislation on gun background checks, as the NRA demanded.

Republican poultry lobbyist considering run for attorney general

Talk Business reports that Arkansas Poultry Federation lobbyist Marvin Childers, a former Republican legislator from Blytheville, is considering a race for attorney general.

Make plans to Celebrate the Grape

Calling all oenophiles, grape nuts and wine lovers. You’ll want to mark Friday, June 7, down in your calendar. That’s when the Arkansas Times Celebrate the Grape is happening in downtown North Little Rock, in the Argenta Farmer’s Market space, at Sixth and Main streets. There’ll be more than 200 wines representing all the major categories and varieties, from buttery chardonnays from Napa to rustic Malbecs from Argentina. Think of it like a liquid buffet — a chance to sample a good slice of what’s on the market for the price of one nice bottle of wine.

Open line: State's Obamacare planning advances

The line is open. Final thoughts: * MORE MONEY FOR OBAMACARE: A legislative committee voted 23-9 today to continue accepting federal money to plan for implementation of federal health care expansion.

Arkansas Music Pavilion says adios to Fayetteville

The Walton Arts Center will move its Arkansas Music Pavilion from Fayetteville to Rogers.