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June 13, 2013

Vol 39 • No 41

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Will Dawna Natzke's killer ever be brought to justice?

More than a year and a half later, the murder of a Hot Springs Village police dispatcher still has residents puzzled.

Attorney General gives okay on "private option" referendum

Who’s ready to debate the “private option” all over again? Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today approved the popular name and ballot title for a proposed referendum on the healthcare legislation passed by a super-majority in the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Mike Beebe last April.

Obamacare navigator contract with Planned Parenthood delayed

Let the grandstanding begin. We mentioned a while back that the navigators and guides that will be hired in Arkansas as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would likely be a political lightning rod for Republicans.

Thursday-Sunday To-Do: Eureka Springs Blues Weekend

Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges plays Friday night as part of Eureka Springs Blues Weekend.

Thursday To-Do: Jeff Deck

Jeff Deck will speak at CALS Main Library Thursday evening.

Exhibit on 19th century black legislators

At Lakeport Plantation.

How will Pryor vote on immigration reform?

Jonathan Chait notes that Republicans aren't using the filibuster to block the immigration reform bill in the Senate and speculates that the lack of procedural resistance bodes well for eventual passage.

Echols in Salon: Teaching meditation

Damien Echols writes in an article published in Salon today that his meditation practice kept him sane in prison and was, though he didn't know it, preparing him for his life after Death Row ("sometimes I thought I was just getting ready to die," he writes).

Suspected arson in Leawood takes two lives

Donna Grady-Creer, 57, executive director of the Magnet Review Committee office in North Little Rock and a member of the Broadcasters Hall of Fame for her work in gospel music radio programming, and her husband, Donald, 50, died in a suspicious fire at their Leawood home early this morning.

Shots fired in Walmart lot; suspect surrenders

A man who barricaded himself in a van in the parking lot of a Springdale Walmart has surrendered to police, KFSM, Ch. 5, reports

Shell station robbed; thief gets cash register

A gunman stole a cash register containing $7,000 and other cash from the Shell/Maxmart station at 19500 Cantrell Road just after midnight, Little Rock police report.

Thursday: Red Octopus Theater, Samantha Crain, "Oliver!" and more

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre's "Oliver!" runs Thursday and Saturday at UCA.

Competition, the private option, and an under-the-radar policy decision

My talking head chats with Roby Brock about the "private option" and carrier competition on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace (HIM).

Pryor campaign pushes back against the latest lame ad from Super Pac

Super Pac puts out forgettable ad. Pryor campaign says we don't need no stinking outsiders.

The 3 Best: Cookies

Cookies are ubiquitous across Arkansas; everyone has their favorite variety and many restaurants and shops carry their specialty item. But a few do it better than anyone else, adding a unique twist on an old classic or simply coming darn near perfection with a timeless recipe. Grab a glass of cold milk, here’s the 3 best cookies around central Arkansas.

Police: Teen beaten in Earle while mother of aggressor eggs it on.

WREG 3 News in Memphis has the shocking story of a brawl between two teenage girls in Earle in which, police say, the mother of the aggressor accompanied her daughter to the fight and then egged her on as the girl held her rival down and punched her in the head.

The steep climb for the "private option" referendum (enter AFP?)

An item in this morning's paper led me to the blog of Glenn Gallas, the Tea Party activist leading the charge to get a referendum on the healthcare expansion on the ballot in 2014.

Bloomberg v. Pryor, round 2

Critics of the recent Mayors Against Illegal Guns ad buy taking on Sen. Mark Pryor and other Democratic senators for votes against background checks for gun buyers clearly haven't gotten through to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the primary financier of the ads.

The birds and Jen Bielema farm-to-table open line

A belated open line.

Tech Park deconstruction, round 3

The board of the Little Rock Technology Park, which two years ago thought that by now it would be demolishing 30 acres of neighborhood between the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, talked today about getting something small up and running quickly to take advantage of what board chair Mary Good called start-up "momentum in Central Arkansas."

'Purged' commentary

Not much to dystopian fantasy.

Pryor and the politics of provincialism

Provincialism — that sense that Arkansans have limited use for the world beyond Arkansas's borders — has been a defining characteristic of the state's politics and society for its entire existence.

Regnat Populus

hat Democracy is rule by the people was once considered self-evident in this country, but that changed with the Supreme Court's disastrous ruling in the Citizens United case.

Eureka Springs Blues Weekend

Also, Jeff Deck at the Central Arkansas Library System's Main Library, Undying Luv: The Bushy Memorial Party at Revolution, Meet and Greet with Brooks Robinson at Lamar Porter Field, Tinkerfest at the Museum of Discovery and John McAteer and the Gentlemen Firesnakes.


Arkansas Xtra's Eli Nelson sheds a tackle Saturday during the semi-professional Elite League championship game at J.A. Fair. Austin topped Arkansas 42-26.

Inconsequential News Quiz: The police blotter edition

Play at home.

It's the end of the world and they feel high

'This is the End' deserves place in stoner-movie pantheon.

Oxford House support

Read your article about Oxford House in Little Rock with considerable interest. My wife and I opened the first Oxford House in Arkansas back in March of 2008 — very similar reaction from most of the community up here at that time.

Hysteria over leaks

Spy work holds deep allure for many people. My own career as a secret agent began as an outgrowth of training beagle hunting dogs. See, I needed new antennas for the little radio transmitters in the animals' collars — which combined with a directional antenna and multi-channel receiver helped me bring the little rascals home alive at day's end.

Loose talk

Somebody wants to talk about football coaches and "thugs," do they? Well, let's talk. What would you call a head football coach at a major state university who physically attacks a player on the other team during a nationally televised game?

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre continues

Also, Cory Branan at White Water.

Windy City import

Lynn's Italian beef a sandwich work seeking out.

Mosaic Templars grows Juneteenth

Music, theater highlight weekend festivities.

Rabies on the ground

Reports in Pulaski County are first in 30 years.

Rembrandt, and more slo-art

Arts Center shows the sumptuous and masterful from Kenwood House.

To Of and Of Not

Elaine Scott spotted what she tactfully calls "an unfortunate juxtaposition" in the May 23 Arkansas Times. Sitting right next to the "Words" column was an ad that said, "Thank you to all of our sponsors, audiences and volunteers for an amazing 7th Annual LRFF! We couldn't of done it without you!"

It was a good week for 'games of skill'

It was also a good week for wine lovers, a protest, campaign announcements and a delay. It was a bad week for the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton.

Tom Cotton mania!

Busted knuckles

Junior, who is shaping up to be quite a geek at the ripe old age of 13, recently informed Ma and Pa of his summertime ambition: to build his own gaming computer, with the terabytes and the rams and the overclocks and the gibbety-flibblety bits that will apparently make it into a cross between the WOPR supercomputer in "WarGames" and the supercharged desktop Anthony Michael Hall used to bring Kelly LeBrock to life in "Weird Science."

Morning Notes: Trent Franks on pregnancy and rape, Baptists condemn Scouts, Medicaid debates

*AKINISM: I thought GOPs had been trained up not to talk about rape but apparently Trent Franks, the Republican Congressman out of Arizona, didn't get the memo.

Lucero Family Picnic to Little Rock in 2013

The 2013 Lucero Family Picnic will be Aug. 10 at First Security Amphitheatre.

Friday To-Do: Undying Luv: The Bushy Memorial Party

Undying Luv: The Bushy Memorial Party is Friday at Revolution.

McDaniel and U.S. Attorney to hold 11 a.m. presser at ADEQ

Arkansas Attorney Gen. Dustin McDaniel has scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. today at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, with ADEQ Director Theresa Marks and U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer in attendance.

2nd Friday lineup adds The Edge

New gallery on Clinton Avenue.

Insurance commissioner: eventual approval for Planned Parenthood guide contract likely

Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford anticipates that Planned Parenthood will eventually be approved to provide outreach workers to help people newly eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act navigate the system and get enrolled.

State, feds file lawsuit against ExxonMobil

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer have filed a joint complaint against ExxonMobil seeking civil penalties.

Friday: Cory Branan, 'Much Ado About Nothing' and Arkansas New Play Festival

Cory Branan plays at White Water Tavern Friday.

Check out some photos from last weekend's Thunder on the Mountain

Here are some photos from Thunder on the Mountain, which is about as different from Wakarusa as one could imagine.

Political fallout if the "private option' referendum makes it onto the ballot

We wondered yesterday whether Americans for Prosperity would get involved with the effort to bring a referendum on the "private option" for Medicaid expansion to the ballot in 2014.

Meeks: Planned Parenthood contract "unacceptable"

Less than an hour after this morning's post on the contract for Planned Parenthood to hire outreach guides for the healthcare exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act — in which Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford expressed confidence that approval would come if the contract was "perfected" to define a "clear scope of work" — Rep. David Meeks tweeted in response: "unacceptable."

Review: 'Avenue Q' at Arkansas Repertory Theatre

"Avenue Q" runs through June 30 at Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

221 opens Gino Hollander Gallery

Gallery 221, in the Pyramid Place at Second and Center streets, has opened a new gallery on the second floor, the Gino Hollander Gallery.

Arkansas Made gallery debuts tomorrow

A sampler stitched in 1828 by a young Cherokee girl at Dwight Mission is one of the objects going on exhibit.

Poll finds support for immigration bill

A survey by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C, found support among a majority of Arkansans for the immigration bill now being debated in the U.S. Senate.

Open Line

The line is open. Closing out...

UAMS' poses alternative to St. Vincent collaboration

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has reworked its proposal for an affiliation with St. Vincent Infirmary that would create a new entity for shared services but drop the single management structure.

Wes Bentley cast in Ryan Murphy HBO pilot

Arkansas actor Wes Bentley has been cast in the starring role in the HBO pilot "Open" that Ryan Murphy ("Glee," "American Horror Story") is executive producing.

Obamacare guides hot topic at PEER subcommittee

The Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) joint subcommittee met earlier today, with a good chunk of attention devoted to the outreach workers that will be hired as part of the Affordable Care Act, known as “guides.” One thing is clear: Republican lawmakers opposed to the ACA are going to raise a fuss about the guides every chance they get.

Pryor leaning toward support of immigration reform bill

Sen. Mark Pryor is still being relatively cagey, natch, but he told the Wall Street Journal that his "inclination is to vote for the [immigration reform] legislation."

Saturday: Twista at Discovery

Twista performs at Discovery Nightclub Saturday.

The NRA has Mark Pryor's back; Bloomberg group keeps up pressure

The National Rifle Association will run 60-second radio ads over the next two weeks defending Sen. Mark Pryor against the ads from New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg criticizing Pryor for being weak on gun control.

Food Feedback Friday: cross-eyed, clearing out, and couscous

Feedback with us and tell us where you're eating this week.

Saturday To-Do: John McAteer and The Gentlemen Firesnakes

John McAteer and The Gentlemen Firesnakes play Saturday at Vino's.

Saturday To-Do: Meet and Greet with Brooks Robinson

Lamar Porter Field hosts MLB Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson Saturday.

Arkansas Cooks at the Bernice Garden

Arkansas Cooks sits down with Liz Sanders of the Bernice Garden to talk farmers markets, local growers, and community.

Saturday To-Do: Tinkerfest

Tinkerfest is Saturday at the Museum of Discovery.

Saturday To-Do: Project Pat

Project Pat performs at Juanita's Saturday night.

Sue Evers pleads not guilty in singer impersonation case

Larry Henry, the managing editor at KFSM 5News in Ft. Smith, tweeted this morning that Sue Evers, the woman police accuse of impersonating the bluegrass singer Alison Krauss as part of a scheme to bilk a lonely 75-year-old Northwest Arkansas man out of money and property, pled not guilty this morning in Washington County Circuit Court.

Saturday: TobyMac, South Main Vintage Market and more

TobyMac performs at Magic Springs Saturday.

Jerry Phillips at Butler Center

"Get a Simple Landscape" includes drawings about landscape as metaphor.

Sheriff deputy arrested for prostitution deal

A Garland County sheriff's deputy was arrested last night on a federal warrant for enticing an individual to engage in prostitution, the U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge and the FBI just announced.

Aj Smith, Marjorie Williams-Smith

Their silverpoint drawings help Hearne Fine Art celebrate its silver anniversary.

Coalition holds immigration reform vigil tonight

The Arkansas United Community Coalition will hold a vigil at First United Methodist downtown on Friday evening, 7 p.m.

Arkansas League of Artists-2nd Friday round up

All the stops on tonight's gallery walk/trolley tour.

ExxonMobil responded to Mayflower spill slower than federally required

ExxonMobil claims that it shut down its Pegasus pipeline 16 minutes after it ruptured in Mayflower on March 29. That timeline is still under investigation, but even if ExxonMobil's contention is verified, it would still fall short of what a federally approved Emergency Response Plan required. The difference between how ExxonMobil responded and what was required could've meant as many as 10,000 more barrels (some 420,000 gallons) spilled

4 no votes for women from Arkansas delegation

Motion would have given victims of sexual abuse an optional route to justice.

The Exxon's Negligence Exposed Edition

The latest in the Mayflower oil spill story; Mark Pryor, guns and immigration; a new petition to overturn the private option in Arkansas, and Arkansas Republican’s love affair with hating on Planned Parenthood — all covered on this week's edition.

Friday line

Have at it.

Work on River Trail gap starts Monday

A reader asks when the city Parks Department will fix the River Trail washout behind The Cliffs condominiums.

UPDATED Ross and Burkhalter endorse each other

Democratic candidate for governor Mike Ross and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor John Burkhalter will make a joint announcement at 4 p.m. "about the future of Arkansas."

Juneteenth at Mosaic Templars

Just heard some great singing from Butterfly & Irie Soul at Mosaic Templars' celebration of Juneteenth.

Open Line

*PROJECT LOON: Internet-beaming, giant helium balloons: Google's plan to get the entire planet online. *DARR FOR THE COURSE: Our current lieutenant governor joins candidate Dianne Curry (that's two n's) in condemning John Burkhalter for not attending the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival.

Arkansas Democrats raise money, expand on jobs theme

Arkansas Democrats gathered Saturday night for their annual Jefferson-Jackson Day event. They raised $600,000 and heard former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm expand on the jobs theme candidates Mike Ross and John Burkhalter pushed earlier in the day.

Monday: Bob Dorough at The Afterthought

Bob Dorough plays at The Afterthought Monday.

Strawberry fields forever; then I read the paper

i'm slowly turning toward home and, now that I'm in London and no longer restricted by cruise ship Interet limitations, able to catch up on mail and newspapers.

Father's day line

Open line

An unexpected treat at the Crown Shop

Little Rock continues to surprise with its wonderful hidden gems, and the fudge shop inside the Crown Shop is no exception. It’s a small shop that’s probably not on most people’s radar for delightful sweet treats, but I’d definitely check them out next time you’ve got a hankering for fudge.

DCC director called in to Beebe office: UPDATE

Gov. Mike Beebe summoned Department of Community Corrections Director David Eberhard to his office this morning after an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story outlined the outrageous failure, with tragic results, to jail felon and parole absconder Darrell Dennis, who is being held in the May 10 kidnapping and murder of an 18-year-old Fayetteville man.

Republicans continue attacks on Planned Parenthood

Hiring "navigators" and Planned Parenthood to help spend more of our Grandkid's money. #Obamacare #selfish— Jim Hendren (@JimHendren1) June 16, 2013 There is plenty of political profit for Republicans in slamming Planned Parenthood, so expect more of the above.

Planned Parenthood comments on Obamacare guides contract

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland — which serves patients in Arkansas as well as Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Iowa — sent the following responses to our questions on the Affordable Care Act's guides program.

Employees sue state Veterans Affairs department

Employees and former employees of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs have filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court alleging wage and hour violations at the now-closed Little Rock Veterans Home and the incident-plagued Fayetteville Veterans Home.

ACLU's session report: Good and bad

The ACLU of Arkansas has issued its 2013 legislative session summary, and it's not all bad, though bad bills were so bad that the good didn't really rise to the surface to buoy spirits.

Monday line

Rep. Andrea Lea (R-Russellville) says she'll run for state auditor. Benton's Ken Yang is also running for the Republican nomination.

June 19 episode of SyFy's 'Ghost Hunters' set in Little Rock

The June 19 episode of "Ghost Hunters" will include a house in Little Rock.

J. Gumbo's is a spicy success

A new Cajun/Creole restaurant in WLR serves up delightful stews and gumbos. It's a spicy, saucy success.

Forrest City native Cara McCollum wins Miss New Jersey

Princeton student Cara McCollum, a Forrest City native, won the Miss New Jersey pageant over the weekend. She'll compete for the Miss America crown in September. McCollum's platform, youth literacy, isn't one that she arrived at overnight.

Robbery at the Kappa Sig house

A man with a gun robbed one of three students sitting in front of the Kappa Sigma fraternity house at UALR last night, campus police report.

Josh Duggar named Exec. Dir. of Family Research Council's lobbying arm in D.C.

Josh Duggar — the eldest child of Michelle and Jim Bob — announced last night on Twitter that he's taken a job as the Executive Director of FRC Action, the Family Research Council's lobbying arm.

Mark Darr: "looks like they've done a good job" on Mayflower cleanup

KUAR reports on Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr's visit to Mayflower, where he toured cleanup efforts with Mayor Randy Holland.

Huff Post on CBM's Judd

Don Bacigalupi has written a come-hither piece about the minimalist acquisition.

David Sanders: Planned Parenthood contract "not going to happen"

We noted yesterday that, as Republicans lob attacks on Planned Parenthood, Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford met with an official from the group on Friday to discuss their application to participate in the Affordable Care Act's "guides" program.

Curry: Darr's Mayflower comments are "shameful" and "wrong"

Little Rock School Board member Dianne Curry, who is running for lieutenant governor, said that current Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr was "using the misery of the people, the residents of Mayflower, Arkansas, to garner feel good press."

Jury in Hastings trial seated

The jury has been seated in the trial of Josh Hastings, the former Little Rock Police Department officer charged with manslaughter for the August 2012 shooting death of a 15-year-old boy during a burglary call at a West Little Rock apartment complex.

Open line

Open line

Thursday: Companion, Shining Rae and more

Companion plays at Juanita's Thursday.

Thursday To-Do: "The New 22"

The MacArthur Museum of Military History hosts "The New 22" Thursday.

Thursday To-Do: The Body

The Body plays at White Water Tavern Thursday.

Friday: Bluesboy Jag, Ryan Cabrera and more

Bluesboy Jag & The Jukejoint Zombies play at The Tavern Friday.

Saturday: Canopy Climbers, Slaid Cleaves and more

Canopy Climbers play at Revolution Saturday night.

Sunday: Old Crow Medicine Show at Arkansas Music Pavilion

Old Crow Medicine Show plays at Arkansas Music Pavilion Sunday