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June 8, 2017

Vol 43 • No 40

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Loaves and fishes

A proposed ordinance would limit the ability of charities to feed the homeless in LR city parks. Opponents say it's about keeping the poor out of sight, out of mind.

Say 'no'

I expect better from our elected officials than what we've seen. It's unthinkable to me that the U.S. House of Representatives voted to end Medicaid as we know it.

No longer leading

If you are among the great majority of Americans and even larger share of the global population who share a concern about the future in a heating world, President Trump's announcement that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement left you furious or just deeply sad.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Slim Chocolate Strikes Again Edition

Play at home, while petting your chijuahha, chiwajha, tiny dog!

Trump's weakness

If cosmic justice prevails, Donald J. Trump could live to see the Atlantic Ocean roll through his beloved Mar-a-Lago resort from the sea to the Intracoastal Waterway. His children almost certainly will.

The body electric

At the gym, The Observer understands the utopian optimization of surveillance. Each day, The Observer goes and thinks back to videos consumed on how to move the arm (locked at the elbow) to locate the muscle, and then we do our three sets of 12. Then, like the scientist with his rat, we record the data.

On the 'Vagical Mystery Tour'

'The Daily Show' writer Lizz Winstead is showing up for repro rights.

Central Arkansas Pride hosts trolley party

Also, Mulehead at Four Quarter.

Art outbreak

2nd Friday features Peters, Holl Collection, LGBTQ work; Delta Exhibition opens.

Overacheivers

There are consequences to playing baseball for days on end, well into the wee hours, in stormy weather and chaotic circumstances. Arkansas learned that in the hardest of ways.

Unifying

After months of constant headshaking and wondering how bad things will get, I'll take a gleam of hope anywhere I can find it.

Can you believe ... ?

Potential 2nd District candidates

Also, Cotton on climate, I.D. required in Little Rock and Duggars again.

Super heroine

Patty Jenkins' 'Wonder Woman' shoots the moon.

Separate and unequal

Faced with a solid recommendation by a panel of state employees to revoke the charter of Covenant Keepers charter school in Southwest Little Rock, the state Board of Education voted again last week to forgive the school's poor academic and financial record.

Surefire success at Petit & Keet in WLR

Whether Petit & Keet will go down as these two Arkansas culinary legends' crowning achievement remains to be seen, but it's hard to imagine a better first couple of weeks by all measures.

The Trump administration attack on public education

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hopes to do to the country what she did for Michigan, devastate real public schools in the name of the false allure of "choice."

Gianforte apologizes for assaulting reporter, settles civil claim with $50,000 contribution

Greg Gianforte, the Montana congressman-elect, has apologized for assaulting a reporter as part of settlement of a potential civil claim by the reporter he beat up.

Democrats have potential challenger to Rick Crawford in 1st District

Jim Huff of Wynne, an analyst for St. Jude's hospital in Memphis and former Wynne council member, tells me he's exploring a challenge to 1st District Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford.

Comey day: Can we agree Russians are bad guys?

The Senate Intelligence Committee appearance by fired FBI Director James Comey is underway. It's all about the Russians. And some Arkansans will have roles.

Arkansas Supreme Court affirms murder conviction in Beverly Carter slaying

The Arkansas Supreme Court today upheld the conviction of Aaron Lewis in the 2014 slaying of Beverly Carter.

State GOP throws a supremely good party

State Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood seems to have been spotted in the crowd at an Arkansas Republican Party event this week. Without confirming or denying, Wood, who's frequently been aligned with Republicans, indicates such attendance is OK.

Karen Fuller sues Kansas City station over end of contract

Karen Fuller, an Arkansas native who once anchored KATV newscasts, has sued a Kansas City TV station for terminating her without cause after 12 years at the station. She says it's a case of age and gender discrimination.

Kroger employee foils most of Hillcrest grocery heist

Thieves got the cheese, but little more, in an attempted theft at the Hillcrest Kroger Wednesday morning.

ASO Associate Conductor Geoff Robson makes Carnegie Hall debut tonight

Violinist and conductor Geoffrey Robson, associate conductor of the Arkansas SymphonyOrchestra since 2008, was awarded the first Respighi Prize for Conducting this week, bestowed by the Chamber Orchestra of New York to honor the legacy of Italian composer Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936).

Cinemax cancels "Quarry" after first season

“Quarry,” the eight-episode series based on the work of author Max Allan Collins andco-created by Michael Fuller and Little Rock native Graham Gordy, will not return to Cinemax for a second season.

Supreme Court exacts more payback from Court of Appeals

The Arkansas Supreme Court stuck a knife in the Arkansas Court of Appeals today in what looks like nothing so much as payback for Court of Appeals snark about an earlier decision dumping review of prisoner post-conviction appeals on the Court of Appeals.

The Comey day open line and video report

An open line for Comey day. Also a mid-afternoon news and comment roundup.

Death row inmates create literary project "Spoken Pen"

Death row inmates created a self-directed literary project called "Spoken Pen" to share their stories.

Legislative audit faults relationship between former state tech chief and vendor

Legislative Audit released a blistering report today that sheds light on the abrupt departure of Mark Myers as director of the state Department of Information Systems last November.

Federal judge dismisses lawsuit over Sherwood's hot check court

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed last August against the city of Sherwood over a hot check court attorneys say operated as an unconstitutional "debtor's prison" that trapped poor defendants on a treadmill of debt and incarceration for years and in some cases, decades.

Your weekend getaway just got simpler

The Doubletree in Bentonville has package deals for visitors who want to spend the day taking in the sights and spend the night relaxing in a two-room suite with your choice of a king bed or double queen beds.

Joel Edgerton to direct adaptation of former Arkansan Garrard Conley's memoir about surviving conversion therapy

Actor/director Joel Edgerton ("Loving," "The Gift") has adapted Garrard Conley's memoir, "Boy Erased," and will direct the story of Conley, who grew up in Arkansas and later survived conversion therapy, Deadline reports.

Ten Commandments monument under construction at Arkansas Capitol

Construction has begun on the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds. That means a lawsuit approaches, too.

Religious leaders gather today to support Wendell Griffen

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will lead a news conference and rally at the Capitol at noon today, joined by religious leaders and scholars, to discuss religious freedom and the case of Judge Wendell Griffen.

Rapert called out for anti-Muslim messaging

The Inquisitr rounds up material on a topic we've mentioned previously, a spate of Twitter and Facebook posts by Sen. Jason Rapert spreading the anti-Muslim words and deeds of a British man who goes by the pseudonym Tommy Robinson.

Sardis Shoe Tree coming down Wednesday

A landmark tree in the Sardis community, festooned with shoes, is dead and will be taken down June 14. The county judge promises a suitable memorial.

U.S. House votes to weaken consumer financial protections

The U.S. House voted to repeal much of the Dodd-Frank legislation that placed stricter rules on banks and empowered the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A Democratic PAC uses the vote to tie U.S. Rep. French HIll to the financial industry and the bill's weakening of consumer protection.

Libertarians say they'll make Arkansas ballot again

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas says it will submit sufficient petition signatures Monday to the secretary of state's office to qualify for the Arkansas election ballot as a political party in 2018.

Ethics Commission investigating Republican complaint on Democrat's finance reports

A Republican tipster alerts me to a state Ethics Commission complaint against state Rep. Vivian Flowers of Pine Bluff for late filing and missing details on her statement of financial interest and campaign reports 2014-16.

Medical Board action doesn't end probe of execution drug

The Arkansas State Medical Board Thursday dropped its investigation of a drug obtained by the state Correction Department for executions because it found no licensed physician was involved in the state's acquisition of vercuronium bromide.

Mark Martin tells legislature they're not the boss of him on foreign travel

Legislative Audit says Secretary of State Mark Martin shouldn't have charged a trip he and an aide took to Ghana to taxpayers. Not part of the duties of his office. Martin's office told Legislative Audit they weren't the boss of him.

Thank goodness. The open line

It's Friday. Open line and the daily diatribe.

J. Cole at Clear Channel Metroplex

Also, Sweet Crude, Avery Sunshine, Open Studios Little Rock, 'Spring Awakening,' Funk Fest and more

Mary Robin Casteel made permanent Alcoholic Beverage Control director

Gov. Asa Hutchinson today made Mary Robin Casteel director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, which now has medical marijuana regulation among its duties.

The Nobody Tells Mark Martin What To Do Edition

Jim Comey and Tom Cotton, dirt dredged up by the Arkansas Legislative Audit, a new thoroughly depressing poll from the University of Arkansas and the dismissal of a lawsuit against the city of Sherwood and others over a hot check court plaintiffs described as a "debtors" prison — all covered on this week's podcast.

On-the-job training not working, state audit of small town indicates

The Arkansas News Bureau dug up an item on a legislative audit this week that shows how hard it is to teach old dogs new tricks.

Here comes the Religious Left, with hypocrisy on the Arkansas Religious Right

The New York Times reports today on the rise of the Religious Left, a movement somewhat embodied Friday in Arkansas by a demonstration in support of Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's actions in a case involving the death penalty. A state senator's comment was Biblically fitting, too, if you recall the Pharisees.

Saturday open line

Saturday's open line. The news is mostly good.

Cultures clash as Chinese money pours into U.S.

The New York Times today writes of a clash of cultures where Chinese investors have taken over U.S. manufacturing facilities. The subject is of some interest in Arkansas, also targeted for some major Chinese investments.

Trump's Twittering again

Donald Trump, before another round of golf, takes to Twitter to shore up his sagging base by attacking Democrats and bragging.

The equality open line

The Sunday open line includes photos from the Equality March in Washington, one of several held around the country in support of equal rights for LGBT people and against the policies of Donald Trump.

Corporate sponsors judge 'Julius Caesar' in poor taste for Trump echoes

Weekend news included decisions by Delta Airlines and Bank of America to withdraw sponsorship of the New York Public Theater's production of "Julius Caesar." It only adds more themes for classes to discuss.

Calling Leslie Rutledge: A good suit to join

Here's a national lawsuit for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to join.

Restaurant beating lawsuit against retired cop goes to trial today

The lawsuit arising from the 2011 beating of a customer at a Hillcrest restaurant by Little Rock Police Lt. David Hudson, acting as private security, goes to trial today in federal court.

Prosecutor Martin announces for LR judgeship

Melanie Martin, a senior deputy prosecuting attorney in Pulaski County, has announced as a candidate for First Division Little Rock District Court judge in the election in May 2018.

Supreme Court again delays ruling on Arkansas gay-parent birth certificate case

The U.S. Supreme Court has again held over for further consideration the appeal of an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling denying equal treatment in the issuance of birth certificates to same-sex married couples.

Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte pleads guilty to assaulting reporter

Greg Gianforte, who assaulted a reporter the night before he won election to an open seat for U.S. House in Montana, pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor assault charge in the case.

Monday's open line

An open line and today's roundup of news and comment.

Somebody messed with Texas

Best story on a slow news day. Hundreds, some toting semi-automatic rifles, turned out in Houston Saturday to protect a statue of Sam Houston against a purported move to remove the memorial because Houston was a slave owner.

Architects see challenges for Arts Center redesign

The layout of the Arkansas Arts Center, with its two entrances, confusing connectivity and a crazy quilt of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, presents a number of challenges for its renovation and expansion, architects from the Studio Gang firm told the board of directors today.

Alleged LRPD brutality civil suit in federal court: Day One

Some tense moments in federal court today as attorneys squared off for a federal civil trial sought by a Little Rock man who was pummeled by a Little Rock police lieutenant  in October 2011 outside a restaurant on Kavanaugh Boulevard. As seen in a bystander's video of the incident, Chris Erwin was struck at least 7 times in the face by Little Rock Police Lt. David Hudson outside Hillcrest's Ferneau restaurant on Oct. 29, 2011. Hudson was working off-duty security at the restaurant at the time.

5-year-old found dead in West Memphis daycare van

CNN has news here  on the death of a five-year-old in West Memphis apparently left most of the day in a daycare van.

Democrat announces for 1st District Congress

Mike Nelson, an Arkansas County cattle rancher, farmer and hunting outfitter, says he intends to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford in the 1st Congressional District.

Newport police officer killed in traffic stop; suspect in custody

Newport Police Lt. Patrick Weatherford, 41, was fatally shot while assisting in a traffic stop near Remmel Park about 6:15 p.m. Monday, State Police said.

Election day in Pulaski County School District, Pine Bluff. UPDATE

Special elections today will decide a bond issue for the Pulaski County School District and a sales tax for Pine Bluff betterment. Both appear headed to approval.

Russian election hack attempt broader than previously reported

Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed,

State Crime Lab requests block of subpoena of Williams' execution records

The State Crime Lab says public federal defenders need permission of Williams' estate before receiving full notes from autopsy

Delta Exhibition winners: A slideshow

Dawn Holder's porcelain blades of grass, in "Grass Variation (Mown Path)," won the Grand Award in the Arkansas Arts Center's 59th Delta Exhibition that opened last Friday. The award is worth $2,500; juror Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art, chose the Grand Award and Delta Award winners; members of the Arts Center's Contemporaries group chose the winner for the Contemporaries Award. The Delta Awards were $750; the Contemporaries Award was $250.

Greg Leding will seek vacant Senate seat

Rep. Greg Leding, a Fayetteville Democrat, sent an e-mail to supporters today saying he'd seek the state Senate seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Uvalde Lindsey, who's announced his retirement.

New signs of press crackdown at Capitol

With the U.S. Senate — or at least its Republican majority — rushing to push through a secret health care bill, news of further press restrictions isn't exactly surprising.

Democrat announces for secretary of state

Anthony Bland, a business consultant and library technician for the Little Rock School District, had a Capitol announcement today for his Democratic candidacy for secretary of state.

Tuesday's open line and news roundup

Tuesday's open line and the daily news roundup.

Fort Smith School Board held in violation of open meeting law

No, school board members can't legally trade e-mails about a proposed slate of school board officers.

Circuit judge facing review for failure to pay federal income taxes

Arkansas Business' Mark Friedman reports that Circuit Judge Bobby McCallister of Benton is facing a judicial discipline agency review related to federal income tax issues.

Tom Cotton for the defense

Sen. Tom Cotton is again standing up for the Trump administration in questioning today of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Tuesday To-Do: Kiril Laskarov's "Stradivarius Tuesday" at Wildwood

Wildwood's the move for tonight. Your ears probably need serious rehabilitation after hearing Attorney General Jeff Sessions utter the words "I don't recall" roughly 1,245 times today, so consider the drive westward for an aural detox in the form of the ASO concertmaster playing a super rare violin.

Both sides rest in federal civil suit over 2011 police beating, to the jury tomorrow

Attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant have rested this evening in a federal civil suit by a man who was beaten in October 2011 by an off-duty LRPD Lieutenant outside a restaurant in the Heights. After closing arguments tomorrow morning beginning at 9 a.m., the case will go to the jury.

Two strong votes for taxes; special elections again prove allure

Special elections for targeted tax issues again proved their worth Tuesday, particularly in the Pulaski County School District, where the last two millage votes were defeated by wide margins.

Rutledge boasts of preserving high cost of inmate calls

A federal court rejects an effort to hold down exorbitant charges for inmate phone calls and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge cheers the decision, which punishes inmate families.

Congressman Scalise and others shot on Virginia ballfield

Breaking news: U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, two Capitol police officers and perhaps others were shot Wednesday morning at a congressional baseball game practice field in Alexandria, Va. A man with a semi-automatic rifle fired from behind a dugout.

Feminism in Bentonville, on screen and elsewhere

Amy Nicholson, writing for MTV News, has produced a giant article, starring Geena Davis, on feminism and inclusion generally at Walmart and the Bentonville Film Festival.

Governor plans foreign trade trip

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today a foreign trade trip to Europe and Israel.

Jury clears retired cop in beating during restaurant arrest UPDATED

UPDATE: After slightly less than two hours of deliberation, a federal court jury found retired Police Lt. David Hudson was not liable for damages in a lawsuit brought by a man he punched during a 2011 arrest at a Little Rock restaurant. The verdict about 1:15 p.m. was unanimous.

Little Rock native gets rough ride at judicial confirmation hearing UPDATE

John Bush, the Little Rock-born Louisville lawyer and conservative blogger nominated for a federal judgeship by Donald Trump, had a rough time at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination.

State resists accountability for Department of Information Systems

The state Department of Information Systems is hiding behind a dubious shield to resist release of information about a recent Legislative Audit that raised questions about three contracts worth more than $8 million entered by the agency under the leadership of Mark Myers.

Gandolfo's brings the Dagwood to Chenal

Gandolfo’s New York Deli opens at The Promenade at Chenal on Thursday, June 15. Since this is a deli, you’ll find hero sandwiches like the Dagwood (a whole bunch of meats, cheese, onion, etc.), the Big Apple (cappicola with roast beef, pepper jack, feta, etc.), a Meatball Hero and more.

Agave Grill: Mexican-American fusion in Benton

Agave Grill will feature “Mexican-American fusion” cuisine — that is, it will have Mexican dishes like handmade pork tamales, enchiladas, “street tacos,” fajitas and tortas; American favorites like ribeye and New York strip steaks, ahi tuna and salmon; and the fused: you’ll be able to order a hamburger made with taco seasoning, queso and avocado, for example, or a steak rubbed with ancho chili.

Wednesday's open line and news roundup

Here's the Wednesday open line. Plus the daily news roundup.

Agency admits 'protocol' error in child's hot van death. Also has shigella outbreak.

KARK reports that four staff members at the Ascent Children's Health Services in West Memphis have been fired as a result of the death of a five-year-old left all day in a van.

Mosaïque opens in Conway

Mosaïque offers another option for American dining

Sashimi offered good service but mediocre sushi

While there was nothing terribly wrong with this experience, there wasn't anything truly great, either.
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