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Black (artists) power

Black (artists) power

June 23, 2016

Vol 42 • No 42

Read the print version

The Arts & Science Center puts Pine Bluff on the map of the art world

Find treasure 'Here.'

Coalition building

In 1993 a group of Arkansas grassroots, religious and labor leaders got together to strategize how they could more effectively move positive reforms through our often resistant legislature. The leaders were frustrated that big business interests worked together to win favors and block reforms, while community and worker interests were isolated and often defeated.

Pot, slots and term limits

To sign or not to sign?

Corrupted by money

Most Americans, no matter their political persuasion, agree that we need to do something about the corrosive influence of money in our politics.

Narcissist supreme

An ordinary sociopath would have known to pretend shock and sorrow after the terrible mass murder in Orlando.

PJ Morton comes to South on Main

Also, Dale Watson at Jimmy Doyle Country Club, Steely Dan comes to Verizon and more.

Hutchinson's silence

The response of Gov. Hutchinson and other state elected officials to the massacre at the LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, in the early morning on Sunday, July 12, 2016, has been feckless, hollow, minimal and obfuscating.

Feezi Redd is on the verge

The Little Rock rapper is trying to break out.

I am not them: Big Piph on his "living album"

Little Rock rapper soon to release an interactive app, too.

In memoriam

At a June 21 benefit held at Club Sway in downtown Little Rock, over $8,000 was raised for the victims and families of the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub.

A Q&A with Dale Watson

Pompadoured baritone keeps the country music flame.

You mean there's a school, too?

Well-rested development

'Lady Dynamite' smashes the fourth wall.

Thy lake

The Observer got up to DeGray Lake over the weekend to the beach there, the true Redneck Rivera if there ever was one.

A limit on elders' rights

Petition framed as way to cap attorneys' fees is bid by nursing homes to limit their liability.

A modest proposal for charter schools

It was just a little over a year ago when Baker Kurrus was hired as the superintendent of the Little Rock School District. With new Education Commissioner Johnny Key there was a strong concern that the Little Rock school system would be converted to all charter schools and the entire public education system would disappear.

Gordon Lightfoot plays Eureka Springs

Also, Fret and Worry comes to South on Main.

Wings fly at Chicken King

Number of orders proves their popularity, but catfish is better.

Mansion wars

It has never been as consequential as Versailles, which helped trigger the French Revolution, but the royal palace of Arkansas's First Family has always been an object of political intrigue.

The Razorback Stadium expansion by the numbers

Also, competition for thee not me, Leslie Rutledge defends big oil and more.

UPDATE: Stu Soffer's smoking e-mail. Does it suggest trading votes for a job?

Stu Soffer is a Republican Jefferson County Election Commission official who's prone to get entangled in political intrigue — including when he drew a gun after a commission meeting. Now consider the case of the smoking e-mail.

House Democrats continue sit-in for gun bill votes

Though Republican leadership adjourned the U.S. House of Representatives late last night, Democrats continued a sit-in and speechmaking on the House floor in protest of Republican refusal to allow votes on pending gun control measures. Of course it was a publicity stunt.

Attorneys for man shot by police will press for a new trial of shooter

Attorneys for the family of Bobby Moore, killed in 2012 by a Little Rock police officer investigating car break-ins, will hold a news conference today and call for another attempt to prosecute Josh Hastings in the death, citing a witness never interviewed by police.

Gee, thanks, Exxon. How about spilling more oil on us?

Exxon Mobil got a publicity bonanza yesterday for the darnedest thing — paying part of a court-imposed bill for damage it did to Mayflower in 2013 when a flawed pipeline ruptured and spewed heavy crude over a nice Mayflower neighborhood and nearby wetlands.

Cherokee tribe backs the casino amendment

NOW, I get it. The group circulating petitions for a constitutional amendment to establish casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties reveals that the deal anticipates operation of the casino in Washington County by the Cherokee tribe that now has casino operations in Oklahoma.

Arkansas Supreme Court rejects lethal injection challenge; upholds judicial retirement law

The Arkansas Supreme Court finished up work before its summer recess today with decisions on a challenge to secrecy in the state's lethal injection process for executions and another to the law that all but forces judges to retire.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Texas affirmative action plan

In a 4-3 decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas admission plan that takes race into account.

4-4 Supreme Court split dooms Obama immigration plan

A 4-4 U.S. Supreme Court couldn't decide an appeal of a lower court ruling blocking President Obama's immigration plan, which effectively kills it for the rest of his term.

Bryant police circulate photo of branch bank robbery UPDATE

Good photos obtained this morning during a robbery of a Bank of the Ozarks branch in Bryant.

Homicide reported at Frontier Diner UPDATE

Little Rock police say they are on the scene of a homicide at the Frontier Diner at 10424 Interstate 30 in Southwest Little Rock.

AHTD asks Metroplan to lift six-lane freeway cap

The board of directors of Metroplan has informed the state highway department that it cannot act on the highway department's June 17 request to lift its six-lane freeway cap at the board's June 29 meeting. Consideration of the request should take four months, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher wrote June 22 to highway department Director Scott Bennett.

Thursday: An open line and a busy day in the news

Here's the open line and a video roundup for a busy news day.

Republicans would rather encourage Zika than let Planned Parenthood distribute birth control pills

The Repuiblican-controlled House will provide money to combat Zika, but stipulates that Planned Parenthood, a major women's health care provider, can't get any money to provide birth control pills, which could hold down birth defects caused by Zika.

Four New Members of the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame

Four jazz musicians were inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Capitol Hotel’s ballroom on Monday evening: Junie Cobb, Alex Hill, Ted Ludwig, and Clark Terry.

England swings. Is Brexit an idea worth importing to Arkansas?

Yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court immigration decision, the top headline in the morning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was a big deal and, in its way, not unrelated to the much bigger deal in Great Britan. The vote to leave the European Union prompted my own reverie on secession.

Bernie says he'll vote for Hillary

Bernie Sanders said in a TV interview this morning that he'd vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

Group announces LGBT kiss-in at Sen. Jason Rapert's office

Group announces "kiss-in" at Sen. Jason Rapert's office in Conway to show support for LGBT people after Orlando mass shooting.

The disastrous U.S. Supreme Court ruling on immigration policy

Don't forget: The no-decision on President Obama's immigration proposal is bad for millions of people. Family values anyone? Punishing millions of people also has a negative economic impact, by the way.

Alarm sounded on Highway Commission attendance at Metroplan meeting on wider freeways

Members of the Highway Commission will be on hand at a Metroplan meeting where discussion is to begin on the state highway department's desire to lift the cap on freeway width in Central Arkansas. Will they be pushing for a hurryup rule change? A spokesman says no. A critic says you can't be too careful.

Two arrested in Frontier Diner slaying; another sought

Little Rock police have arrested two men in the slaying of a 78-year-old man about 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Frontier Diner on Interstate 30 in Southwest Little Rock.

A modest proposal: Turn Bentonville over to charter schools

Paul Hewitt, the recently retired Fayetteville school superintendent, has an innovative idea: Turn all schools in a school district over to charter school management companies. No, he's not talking about Little Rock. He thinks the experiment should start on the home turf of the country's biggest backers of charter schools.

UPDATE: Judge rethinking punishment for attorneys in insurance settlement case

Judge P.K. Holmes is rethinking whether lawyers deserve punishment in a class action lawsuit against an insurance company abruptly pulled from his court after pending more than a year and then quickly settled in a state court.

Best news of the day: Currying flavor in the River Market

An Indian food stall is nearing its opening date in the River Market. And that isn't all the good news.

State plans independent study of impact of Buffalo River watershed hog farm

Tom Coulter reports from a meeting of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission that the state WILL hire an independent analyst to check the integrity of waste ponds at the C and H Hog Farm in Mount Judea.

Another week done: An open line and the daily video

Here's the Friday open line and a video roundup of news and comment.

Arkansas Times Recommends: Yeats, the NBA offseason, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Mathes coolers

Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.

Game and Fish Commission adopts rules targeting chronic wasting disease

The state Game and Fish Commission today adopted regulations aimed at addressing the spread of chronic wasting disease in deer and elk.

The Bad Court Rulings Edition

The state Supreme Court, a new wrinkle in the petition drive for a constitutional amendment to establish casinos in Northwest Arkansas, an unlikely publicity windfall for Exxon and Johnny Key’s dispiriting appearance before the Little Rock Board.

Bryant bank robber apparently a traveling man

A bank robber who struck branches in Bryant and Morrilton is apparently on a cross-country bank robbery spree.

Interest light so far in Little Rock City Board elections

Interest seems limited so far for challenging incumbent directors planning to seek re-election this year to the Little Rock Board of Directors.

Quote of the day: Highway engineering

Bill Bryson's latest book, an English travelogue, offers an observation relevant to current events in Little Rock.

Deputies kill man in call to Farmington fire

The State Police today said it was investigation a fatal shooting by Washington County deputies Friday in Farmington.

Saturday open line

Anything on your mind?

Preview: 'Command and Control,' a documentary on 1980 Titan II missile blast in Damascus

Take a look at the trailer for "Command and Control," a documentary retelling the 1980 explosion in a Titan II missile silo in Damascus, Ark. The movie will be in theatrical release in the fall and an airing on PBS is planned.

Tom Cotton for vice president

John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau rounds up some of the recent chatter about Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas as a vice presidential running mate for likely Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Jeff Long, UA athletic director, says he doesn't mind criticism. Really?

University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, in defending his $226 million stadium spending plan, told the Democrat-Gazette he doesn't mind criticism. Our experience suggests otherwise.

All in the GOP family: A party regular to oversee state elections

The naming of a Republican Party employee to be the top employee of the state Election Commission raised some concerns about partisanship from a Democratic commissioner. There's even more to that partisan record than was reported.

Sunday open line

Here is the open line.

Skywalks: An idea whose time is past, except maybe in Little Rock

Skywalks connecting downtown buildings were once a hot idea, particularly in cold climates. But they've fallen out of favor in cities hoping to encourage busy street scenes. Little Rock may be an unfortunate outlier.

Dark money takes over the political process

The Brennan Center for Justice has published a new report on the rising influence of secret money in political campaigns. The influence of Walton money is one angle in the report.

Another voice rises against school duplication in Pulaski County

Add Jerry Guess, superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District, to the voice of Baker Kurrus, outgoing Little Rock superintendent, in questioning the wisdom of creating duplicate school systems in Pulaski County in the form of ever-expanding charter schools.

Kenneth Starr: Today's schadenfreude edition

Mimi Swartz has an op-ed in the New York Times, "Ken Starr's Squalid Second Act," which blisters the self-righteous and pious former Whitewater persecutor for his dereliction as Baylor president during the unfolding scandal of placing athletic success ahead of rape victims.

Supreme Court strikes down Texas anti-abortion law

The U.S. Supreme Court today invalidated the Texas law aimed at restricting abortion by requiring that abortion providers meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

Funky Mr. Potatohead wants you buy ugly veggies

Can a toy end food waste? Of course not, but let's talk about it anyway.

Supreme Court overturns corruption conviction of former Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell

In an 8-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today reversed the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell for taking money and gifts from a company seeking Virginia support.

Huckabee's tab for 'Eye of the Tiger' is $25,000, CNN reports

CNN has an update on how much money former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is out for using the song "Eye of the Tiger" without permission of the copyright owner, Rude Music, at a rally in Kentucky with Kim Davis, the county clerk who wouldn't issue same-sex marriage licenses. The tab is $25,000, plus attorney fees.

Monday's open line, plus the day's news video

Here's Monday's open line and a roundup of news and comment.

Resistance grows nationally to freeway expansions

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has issued a news release about freeway expansion with relevance in Little Rock. It's about wasting money to widen freeways that only create more congestion. Sound familiar?

Evening news brief: Fashion, gay discrimination, crime and punishment

An evening news roundup includes presidential fashion, a ruling for gay rights in Mississippi and lots of crime and punishment.

Facts win on abortion

Linda Greenhouse, the veteran reporter and columnist for the New York Times, provides one of the clearest evaluations of Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down laws in Texas intended to prevent women from obtaining abortions.

Detroit: Another charter school failures raises anew questions about Little Rock

A heavy push for charter schools in Detroit rather than fixing the poor public school system has been a failure. Should Little Rock continue down the same path?

Benghazi! Partisan probe doesn't pan out

The Benghazi probe is at last over. The Republican dream of nailing Hillary Clinton: Dashed.

More anti-abortion laws bite the dust in Mississippi, Wisconsin

The U.S. Supreme Court today let stand lower court rulings that invalidated laws in Mississippi and Wisconsin that required abortion providers to have doctors with hospital admitting privileges.Arkansas has just such a law and it is under challenge in federal court.

When the gentleman from Arkansas did the hoochie coochie

Ernest Dumas' column this week pays tribute to some important new historical study on a former congressman from Arkansas Ezekiel C. "Took" Gathings. Mexican migrants and sex were topics then, in somewhat different fashion than in the Donald Trump campaign.

Walton Foundation pours $250 million more into charter schools, including Little Rock

The Walton Family Foundation announced today that it was going to contribute $250 million to help charter schools in 17 cities around the country, including Little Rock, with facility construction.

In Memory of Barker Gee

Little Rock punk musician Barker Gee passed away last week in Conway.

Bread and curry: Favorites at the River Market

Word comes from River Market Director of Operations Diana Long that Old Mill Bread and a new Indian restaurant are open now in Ottenheimer Hall — just in time for the Taekwondo event at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Tuesday's open line and news roundup

The Tuesday open line.

Last chance to vote in Best of Arkansas

Our annual poll closes at midnight tonight. Cast your ballot today for your favorite restaurants, businesses, people and places.

Ouachita River Bridge knocked out

A Clark County truck accident Tuesday morning left the superstructure of the Ouachita River Bridge on state Highway 51 so damaged that the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has closed the bridge.

Defense for Suhl asks judge to dismiss bribery indictment, citing Supreme Court decision in McDonnell case

Attorneys for the businessman argue that his cash payments to a former deputy director of DHS, Steven Jones, did not constitute corruption. They say prosecutors cannot prove the money was given in exchange for any particular "official act" from Jones.

Child killed in hit-and-run; driver surrenders

Little Rock police said an 8-year-old boy was killed about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday when struck by a Chevy Impala while skateboarding near Meadowcliff Drive and Delrose in Southwest Little Rock.

Texarkana repeals nondiscrimination ordinance

Texarkana voters repealed a city non-discrimination ordinance Tuesday by a vote of 3,409 to 881.

Deadspin disses Donald Trump GOP convention lineup

Deadspin pulls no punches in describing Donald Trump lineup for Republican National Convention. Trump is, however, denying a report that convicted rapist Mike Tyson will be among his sports greats on hand.

Rebel Kettle is more than just great beer

The beer draws praise, but even teetotalers should head to Rebel Kettle because of the food.

Kaleidoscope Film Festival to celebrate LGBTQ films and filmmakers

Dates have been announced for the second annual Kaleidoscope Film Festival, celebrating LGBTQ films and filmmakers.

Nursing home bribery case details suspect judicial fund-raising

Plaintiffs' lawyers made their case today to continue to trial with the civil suit over then-Judge Mike Maggio's reduction of a $5.2 million jury verdict in a nursing home negligence case to $1 million, a reduction he said he made in return for campaign contributions from the nursing home's owner.

The long and winding road: No exception yet for 30 Crossing

The Arkansas highway department's representative on the Metroplan board of directors told the board today that the department is requesting an exception to the planning agency's cap on six lanes for its 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 from six to 10 (and more) lanes.

Wednesday's open line and news roundup

Wednesday: An open line and a video roundup of news and comment.

Advocates sound the alarm about more income tax cuts

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has begun a four-part series on the dangers of another income tax cut, a plan Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Republican majority legislature seems bound to follow.

UALR names John Burgess to Tech Park Board

UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson has named John Burgess to succeed Mary Good in a seat on the Little Rock Technology Authority Board.

Instant (Polaroid) magic at Christ Church gallery

The Blue Eyed Knocker group of photographers pay homage to the Polaroid instant camera with an exhibition, "Last Glimpses of Authentic Polaroid Art," opening Friday, July 1, at Christ Church's gallery. The show includes 36 photographs by fine art photographers Brandon Markin, Darrell Adams, Lynn Frost, Rachel Worthen and Rita Henry.

Graham Gordy's "Quarry" set for September premiere on Cinemax

Variety Magazine names Graham Gordy as one of "10 TV Writers to Watch in 2016," in anticipation of Gordy's eight-episode series "Quarry," to be premiered on Cinemax September 9.

Eat My Catfish surfaces in Little Rock

Eat My Catfish, which has locations in Benton and Conway, held its grand opening Tuesday in a jazzy new spot at 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road.