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No consequences?

No consequences?

May 28, 2015

Vol 41 • No 38

Read the print version

Celebrate the Grape returns to Argenta tonight

Pour another glass.

Celebrate the Grape wine list

Some of the grapes to be celebrated.

A chronology of the Harris adoption, rehoming and aftermath

Months after the rehoming of their adopted daughters was made public, Justin and Marsha Harris have yet to face consequences

Despite public outrage, Justin Harris' status as legislator remains unchanged.

Fun stuff

The first fun thing The Observer did during this year's Riverfest was try and extricate my car Friday afternoon from behind the layers upon layers of near-impenetrable barricades in the River Market district that looked perfectly appropriate for a war zone.

Duggars meet their maker

The Jim Bob Duggar family experienced the downside of celebrity last week

TPP: Corporate takeover

I was very disappointed to see the Arkansas Times fail to step out of the acceptable liberal narrative with its neutral stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The excuse given was something like "Oh dear, it's just so complicated ..." What a cop-out!

Turkish delights

Istanbul hits all the right notes.

Like there's no 'Tomorrowland'

Looks cool, lacks substance.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Quiet riot edition

Play at home!

'Freedom of conscience': Just say you're sorry

Now that the chorus of politicians invoking religious liberty against the president and local governments includes nearly every Republican presidential candidate, it is time to ask whether those who espouse religious liberty the most loudly believe in it least.

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" at Ron Robinson

Also, The Wildflowers play Ron Robinson.

Col. Bruce Hampton plays Stickyz

Also, Charlie Wilson at Verizon, Adam Faucett at White Water Tavern, CALS Con at the Main Library and The Zoltars at Stickyz.

Same story

Contrary to what Jeb Bush said, it wasn't actually too hard to see through the propaganda barrage that led the United States to invade Iraq in 2003. Key aspects of the Bush administration's case for war were transparently false, and would have been comically so if the consequences hadn't been so terrible.

Pop life

A double LP reissue highlights the cult classic Little Rock band Chinese Girls.

Testing the discrimination law

Where we go next on the state's LGBT fairness ordinances.

New toys

Gov. Asa Hutchinson joins Lockheed Martin executives in showing off a prototype of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) parked at the Capitol on Tuesday. U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton were also in attendance.

The Lockheed Martin superproject, by the numbers

Mike Huckabee on Josh Duggar, a prescription for trouble and more.

Rapert undeterred by court invalidation of his anti-abortion bill

Sen. Jason Rapert, who sponsored the anti-abortion bill invalidated yesterday by the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, is unapologetic about the wasted time and money and vows to fight on.

Privatized prisons back on the Arkansas agenda

A private supplier of prison and post-prison services is already lobbying for business from the Arkansas legislature with a lobby firm that employs some well-connected political names.

A vegetarian exploration of downtown eats

With summer upon us, the time for exploring Little Rock's vibrant downtown is here. Dana picks five places with great vegan and vegetarian fare—although folks of any diet persuasion will find a lot to love here, too.

Central Arkansas Water objects to settlement of Exxon pipeline rupture case

Central Arkansas Water has objected sharply to a proposed consent decree to settle a state and federal lawsuit over the rupture of the Exxon Mobil Pegasus pipeline that inundanted a Mayflower neighborhood with heavy crude oil.

New Hendrix College public policy study finds advantage in ward elections in Little Rock

Hendrix College announces the first report from a new Arkansas Policy Program, this one on Little Rock governance. The study concludes ward-only city elections would produce "more vibrant, less expensive and more competitive" city elections.

Cosmopolitan: Why were the Duggars made famous in the first place?

A writer in Cosmopolitan wonders why it took so long for attention to the "disturbingly misogynistic" dimension of the Jim Bob Duggar family.

Defamation lawsuit filed against Treasurer Milligan's chief of staff

David Singer, fired as a state treasurer's office staff member, has sued Treasurer Dennis Milligan's chief of staff, Jim Harris, for allegedly making defamatory comments about him

Arkansas Supreme Court won't hear repeat arguments in same-sex marriage case

In unsigned orders today, the Arkansas Supreme Court said it would not hear another round of oral arguments in the appeal of Judge Chris Piazza's decision invalidating the state bans on same-sex marriage.

Questions raised about prison interview of former trooper in Duggar matter

The state Correction Department says it is looking into circumstances of an interview In Touch weekly reported with Joseph Hutchens, a former state trooper serving 56 years on child pornography charges, about Duggar family molestation allegations. It says media requests for interviews with Hutchens are being denied.

Legislature should finish today on corporate welfare and primary election switch

Final House action should complete the short special session agenda today. The only drama appears to be around whether the House this go-round can put the emergency clause on the legislation to move the 2016 primary elections from May to March to be part of a Southern Republican primary roundup in Southern states.

Justin Harris delivers award at Alma School District, to dismay of some teachers

Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) made an appearance onstage during the the Alma School District's convocation yesterday, to the dismay of many on staff.

Open line: Plus unscheduled Jermain Taylor bout; FOI release on fired budget administrator

Here's the open line, daily video and news on Jermain Taylor arrest warrant.

Voters fractured on Republican presidential field

New polling by Quinnipiac shows no one yet breaking out of the growing pack of contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Jermain Taylor: 'I love my state.'

Boxer Jermain Taylor, in circuit court this morning on a battery charge, had little to say to reporters, KARK reports, except this: "I love my state."

20th anniversary campaign planned for Morgan Nick

A series of activities are planned on the 20th anniversary of the disappearance of Morgan Nick in hopes of encouraging renewed efforts to solve the case.

Celebrate craft beer tomorrow in Hot Springs

Hot Springs hosts its second ever craft beer festival.

Louisiana legislature favoring medical marijuana; that and other questions for Gov. Hutchinson

The Louisiana Senate and a House committee have approved a medical marijuana bill and Gov. Bobby Jindal said he'll sign it if it reaches him. Add this development to questions the press should ask Gov. Hutchinson when he sends $87 million in tax dollars to wealthy Lockheed Martin and upends the 2016 election process to help his favored presidential candidate.

Lawsuit planned against LR police over teen's shooting death

Attorneys said today they expect to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against former Little Rock officer Josh Hastings, the former police chief, Stuart Thomas, and the city of Little Rock over the Aug. 12, 2012 shooting death of Bobby Moore.

High water closed Two Rivers Park, portions of River Trail and Rebsamen Golf Course

The city of Little Rock said the high water of the Arkansas River has forced closure of the Two Rivers Park and portions of the River Trail near there.

New music from Teenagers, DMP, Liquid Skulls, Yuni Wa and more

Here's something new from Fayetteville band Teenagers' new EP "Wheezin' The Juice." I'd love to say something sharp and coherent about it, but nothing comes to mind. To free associate instead: San Diego, Rickenbacker, The Strokes, Capri Sun, longboards, mezcal.

New polling shows majority favors legal abortion, particularly younger people

New poll shows majority labels themselves "pro-choice" and support for legal abortion heavily outpolls those who favor making it illegal. Don't bother to tell the Arkansas legislature.

Gov. Hutchinson signs Lockheed handout and presidential primary move

Gov. Asa Hutchinson invited press to bill signings today for the $87 million corporate welfare handout to Lockheed Martin to aid its bid to win a federal military vehicle contract and other bills from the special legislative session that concluded Thursday.

Judge refuses to dismiss same-sex marriage claims

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen today refused to dismiss a lawsuit by plaintiffs claiming their constitutional rights had been violated by state agencies that refused to treat same-sex couple as married couples.

U.S. appeals court strikes down Idaho's 20-week abortion ban

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down Idaho's ban on abortions after 20 weeks or pregnancy because it prohibits abortions before viability of the fetus, the standard applied by the 8th Circuit this week in striking down Arkansas's 12-week abortion ban.

Atkins superintendent to take No. 2 job at state Education Department

Dr. T. Mark Gotcher, Atkins school superintendent, has been named deputy commissioner of the Education Department effective July 1. Education Commisoiner Johnny Key announced his choice today.

The open line, today's video and news on a school carnival for the lucky and Duggar tales

An open line, news video and a complaint about a school carnival at Pulaski Heights Middle School.

The Corporate Welfare Edition

The special session, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on Arkansas’s ban on 12-week abortions, the latest court news related to Arkansas’s ban on same-sex marriage and other odds and ends — all covered on this week's podcast.

Staff Picks: Sims Bar-B-Q, Korean soap operas, Van Morrison and more

Sims Bar-B-Q — Why had I gone so many years without a visit? How could I forget that spare ribs are richer than back ribs and infinitely better when they have a good bark-like finish and Sims' nonpareil mustard-based sauce, augmented by a healthy squirt of the incendiary house hot sauce (you have to ask). The slaw is fresh. The potato salad, too. And don't forget greens unless you are a vegetarian. Yes, I said unless you are a vegetarian. The pigmeat quotient is high. Don't forget the 40's. Budweiser. None of that craft crapola here. Dinner and plenty of beer for six ran $75. Recommended. — Max Brantley

School carnival update: Parent says all children could attend

More on a middle school carnival where confusion arose about whether students had to pay to attend. Efforts were being made to insure that all kids could go, whether they'd paid or not, a parent says.

Supply side theory fails in Kansas; GOP debating which taxes to raise

Yes, we love telling and retelling the Kansas 'Miracle.' It's no surprise at all that Gov. Sam Brownback's massive tax cut has been an utter failure, producing a giant budget deficit so threatening to essential services that the Republican legislature is no longer debating the idea of tax increases, only which taxes to increase.

Duggars go to Fox News to tell Megyn Kelly their story

Fox News has announced that Megyn Kelly has an "exclusive sit-down interview" with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar that will be broadcast sometime next week.

UPDATED: Blue Hog Report: How lobbyist Eric Munson landed high-paying state job with questionable qualifications

Blue Hog Report has another find from the state bureaucracy: It details how long-time lobbyist Eric Munson was hired for a recently enhanced salary to be director of the Governor's Developmental Disabilities Council, a job for which he has no subject-related qualifications.

An open line. By the way: Read about a plan for dying

The Saturday open line includes a recommendation about important reporting on a program to counsel people about end of life medical care.

'I could have been a Duggar wife:' An account from inside that religious milieu

Brooke Arnold, writing in Salon, provides a personal look at life according to the teachings of a religious organization that has been influential with the Duggar family. She argues it cultivates a culture where women are more vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse.

Tom Cotton goes both ways on government handouts

John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau highlights Sen. Tom Cotton's ability to be malleable on principle when circumstances suit — this time on the $87 million in Arkansas corporate welfare for Lockheed Martin to subsidize its bid to build a military vehicle in Camden.

In the Name of the Lord — Sunday's open line

Tonight's open line includes flooding and a jaw-dropping story about a patriarchal church's reaction when faced with a missionary couple that included a husband addicted to child porn

Report: Witness differs with former state trooper on report of Duggar molestation

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported over the weekend, though the Little Rock edition did not, that it had interviewed an unnamed church elder about Jim Bob and Josh Duggar's meeting with then-State Trooper Joseph Hutchens to report Josh Duggar's improper contact with girls in the Duggar household.

Milligan moving to correct campaign filings

State Treasurer Dennis Milligan filed a batch of amended campaign contribution and expenditure reports late last week for his general election run for the office. They appear aimed at cleaning up questions that have arisen about the accuracy of his original reports.

Libertarians say they'll qualify for ballot access in 2016

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas says it will present signatures Tuesday to the secretary of state's office sufficient to qualify the party for the ballot in Arkansas in 2016. The party has been active of late in comment on ongoing political matters. Party chair Michael Pako and Frank Gilbert, the party's candidate for governor in 2014, will speak Tuesday at a news conference. Gilbert got 1.9 percent of the vote last year.

Herschel Cleveland to depart from state computer agency

Former House Speaker Herschel Cleveland, resigned as deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Information Systems Friday, effective July 1, the agency announced in a news release.

State announces plant expansion in Newport to add 100 jobs

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission announced today that Southwest Steel Procesing would invest $18 million in its railcar and energy industry plant in Newport, and add 100 jobs over the next two years.

Jefferson County GOP Committee calls for Treasurer Dennis Milligan to resign

The Jefferson County Republican Committee has called for the resignation of Republican State Treasurer Dennis Milligan.

In praise of Old Chicago

North Little Rock's Old Chicago pleases mightily with apps and pies.

Caitlyn Jenner debuts on cover of Vanity Fair

Everybody's talking about Caitlyn Jenner, fromerly known as Bruce, and her appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Suit against Josh Hastings and city alleges LRPD's 'custom of acquiescence to police misconduct'

This morning, lawyers filed a federal civil rights lawsuit over the shooting death of Bobby Moore, the African-American teenager killed by former Little Rock Police Department officer Josh Hastings at a West Little Rock apartment complex on August 12, 2012. The suit — brought by Moore's mother, Sylvia Perkins — names as defendants Hastings, former LRPD chief Stuart Thomas and the City of Little Rock.

Don't Mess With Texas: Anti-gay bills beaten in legislature

The Human Rights Campaign cheers the end of a Texas legislative session and the defeat of 23 bills aimed at setting back the cause of LGBT people, including a couple endorsed by the recent Arkansas legislature.

Leader of state tech intitiative named

Anthony Owen, who has been the state Education Department's K-12 math and computer science curriculum specialist, has been named as new coordinator of computer science. He'll begin work July to with with the governor's computer science task force to develop computer science and technology needs.

UPDATE: Bentonville schools again to consider equal employment policy

The Bentonville School Board will meet tonight and a member of the ad hoc Bentonville Bentonville Public Schools Citizens for Equality says the board may vote on an equal employment policy for district employees that includes sexual orientation and gender identity among specifically protected classes.

Judge Pierce refuses to reconsider ruling against city payments to chamber of commerce

Pulaski Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce has refused requests by the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock that he reconsider his ruling that annual payments to chambers of commerce were unconstitutional.

Forever Charlie: Charlie Wilson live at Verizon Arena

Charlie Wilson, one of the greatest R&B artists of all time, came to Verizon Arena last Friday night and performed for a near-sold-out crowd as part of his Forever Charlie Tour with special guests Joe and Kem. Joe opened the show, Kem followed with a great set, and Charlie rocked the house. If you missed it, you missed out on something wonderful.

Monday's open line and daily video; plus, legislative ethics watch

Here's the Monday open line.

Rep. Nate Bell goes independent? Follows intraparty disagreement on primary

The state legislative webpage now lists Rep. Nate Bell of Mena, previously a Republican, as an independent.

Slaying reported on W. 28th Street Monday night

Little Rock police say a woman was found fatally shot shortly before midnight at 7825 W. 28th Street. That's all available for the moment.

UPDATE: Hogs radioman disappears. 'Personnel matter.'

Several have inquired about the absence of Phil Elson as announcer on the broadcast of the Razorbacks' collegiate baseball playoffs win in Stillwater, Okla, So far, I've had no luck getting answers.

Politifact: Finds Huckabee untruthful on Arkansas boast

Politifact knocks down Mike Huckabee's claim of great income growth in Arkansas under his leadership. The state actually fell behind the rest of the country.

Expert questions whether statute of limitations had expired in Duggar case; Fox reveals tack of interview

A legal expert says the statute of limitations had NOT expired when Springdale police dropped an investigation of child molestation in the Jim Bob Duggar home. And evidence emerges that the Duggars will get protective treatment from Fox News in Megyn Kelly's interview tomorrow. Surprise.

State tax collections up in May

The state revenue report for May was encouraging for those banking on revenue growth to cover tax cuts and pay for increased spending, corporate welfare handouts and the like.

Dumas: The corporate takeover of Arkansas and its new debt burden

Ernest Dumas writes this week about the monumental reshaping of constitutional priorities embodied by the actions of the Republican majority legislature this year.

Long looks at the Delta by Norwood Creech, Tim Jacob

Norwood Creech of Lepanto and Tim Jacob of Little Rock both love to paint the Delta, and they do so in long, narrow sweeps that capture the topography and agricultural nature of the area. You can see their work in "The Arkansas Delta Duo: The Art of Tim Jacob and the Art of Norwood Creech" at the Delta Cultural Center in Helena/West Helena.

An early open line and video — Boys State update

I'm off for my annual visit with Boys State, marking its 75th anniversary this year. I expect the customary ovation from a room full of like-minded liberals (joking).

Mike Huckabee jokes about pretending to be trans in gym class to 'shower with the girls'

What better imagery to ridicule the needs of trans people than a high school locker room?

Natural gas pipeline ruptures east of I-30 bridge, closing two miles of Arkansas River

The U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed news that began circulating earlier today: A pipeline carrying natural gas across the Arkansas River ruptured in Little Rock yesterday or over the weekend.

Mike Huckabee said what?

Florida resident Mike Huckabee's penchant for the rhetorical overreach is familiar by now, but attention to his mockery of the difficult issue of transgender people (joking about claiming to be a woman as a teen to shower with girls) provided an occasion for many on the web to remember some of his other bodacious applause lines.

Kurrus clears complaint at Jefferson School

Former Little Rock School Superintendent Dexter Suggs' witch hunt against some staff members at Jefferson Elementary led directly to his abrupt departure from the school district, so here is a worthy postscript — an action in the matter by current Superintendent Baker Kurrus.

Rutledge, Griffin say open carry is the law in Arkansas

KFSM reports that Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and, for good measure, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, believe open carry is now the law of Arkansas.

Allegiant set to begin Little Rock-Los Angeles nonstop air service

A news conference tomorrow at Clinton National Airport will cover details of plans by Allegiant to begin flights to Los Angeles International Airport, currently not reachable by a nonstop flight from Little Rock.

New report lays out specifics on Duggar molestation case

In Touch Weekly, the gossip magazine that broke the story about sexual molestation allegations in the home of Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar, stars of the "19 Kids and Counting" reality show and propoentns of the theory that gay people are risks to molest children, has obtained another police report on the allegations.

Homicide suspect Cory Brooks arrested in Little Rock

Fox 16 reports that Cory Brooks, suspected in the slaying of his girl friend Monday night, has been taken into custody by Little Rock police. A SWAT raid on a west Little Rock apartment overnight in search of Brooks came up empty.

Terry Hartwick moving from NLR Chamber to city Parks and Rec post

Arkansas Business reports that Terry Hartwick, a former North Little Rock mayor who's been heading the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, is to become head of the City Parks and Recreation Department to Bob Rhodes when he retires at the end of 2015.

Child abuse: What about the victims?

A guest writer in the Arkansas Times, a victim of child sexual abuse, says Arkansas sends a message that it condones abuse by a lack of consequences for the Harrises and Duggars.

Arkansas gave Lockheed $87 million handout for nothing

Milwaukee newspaper reports that Lockheed Martin didn't need an $87 million handout from Arkansas to build a military vehicle here. Really.

Arkansas River pipeline blowout occurred on Sunday morning, cause still unknown

Based on eyewitness accounts, it appears the rupture of the auxiliary Texas Eastern Pipeline used to transport natural gas across the Arkansas River occurred around 9:40 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, May 31. Mike Metzler, a captain with Harbor Services, is convinced the pipeline exploded.

The Wednesday open and line and news roundup: Plus identity theft

The Wednesday open line and news roundup.

Mike Huckabee meets media, save banned Ark. Times, defends self, Milligan

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas politician who lives in income-tax-free Florida, held a news conference in Little Rock today to which local media, save the Arkansas Times, was invited. Who knew we were so mighty as to be a potential impediment to his candidacy?

Vikings are coming, and they're bringing beer

Announcements of breweries in planning stages around Arkansas in the last year has become pretty common, but the latest group to declare intentions is anything but the norm.