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June 26, 2014

Vol 22 • No 18

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Jack Wagoner fights for equality

A Facebook post landed Little Rock lawyer Jack Wagoner III in the fight for same-sex marriage in Arkansas. His thoughts on patriotism, Sen. Jason Rapert and why the case for equality should prevail.

Reintroducing Jessica Lea Mayfield

Former folk/alt-country artist goes grunge.

Dumas: Cotton's slogans hide anti-Arkansas votes

The Arkansas Senate race gives political scientists the best laboratory yet for studying the contest between self-interest and appealing slogans for the hearts and minds of voters.

Silence of the Republicans on Hillary 'would be shot' gaffe

A high-ranking Arkansas Republican — nominally a church pastor — told a national reporter that Hillary Clinton probably would be shot at the state line if she ran for president. He says it wasn't meant to be threatening, but it was terminally stupid. And, with tiny exceptions, Republicans haven't moved to disavow the rhetoric or remove the man from his party post.

A historic House meeting will separate sheep and goats on gambling

Some history of the building where the Arkansas House must meet next week, along with some modern day tussling on gambling.

UPDATE: Ted Olson with some advice for Ted Cruz (and Jason Rapert)

Ted Olson, the Republican lawyer who won the case to kill California's Prop. 8 against same-sex marriage, has some reaction to Ted Cruz's remarks about judicial activism in marriage cases. Please copy to Jason Rapert and friends,.

Mike Ross: The education governor

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross goes after education in his latest campaign thrust, an ad that includes a note that Republican Asa Hutchinson has opposed his idea to expand pre-K schooling.

Hillary Clinton and the 39-year-old rape case

The prosecutor in the 1975 rape case in which Hillary Clinton represented the accused rapist says she didn't want to defend the man and tried to get out of the appointment. But she did her duty, as ethics demanded, when she couldn't get released.

More un-lobbying for a state broadband network

FASTERArkansas continues its lobbying push for a change in state law to allow public schools to tap into an existing state broadband network. Fine. But could we get this group to register like everybody else who lobbies for law changes?

U.S. Supreme Court bars cell phone searches in arrests

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that police can't search cellphones for information without a warrant.

Home show: Paulsen to talk about 'Wilmot' photographs

Photographer Susan Paulsen of New York has taken pictures of her cousins' home town of Wilmot many times over the years. More than 70 of those photographs go on exhibit Friday, June 27, in "Susan Paulsen: Wilmot" at the Arkansas Arts Center. She'll give a talk about the show at noon Friday.

Couple of killings today in the metro area

Reports filtering in via Twitter of a couple of unrelated homicides in the Little Rock area today.

More judges for Rapert to impeach: Marriage bans struck down in Indiana and Utah

Same-sex marriage bans were struck down today in Indiana and Utah, on the same ground Judge Chris Piazza cited in striking down the Arkansas law. Jason Rapert is going to be a busy man recalling and/or impeaching all these judicial activists.

The rules: Hillary book tour stop in Little Rock

Walmart has announced the rules for Hillary Clinton's book tour stop Friday in Little Rock. One signed book per customer.

"Tides" going out June 28 from SAAC; last call

The South Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado will host a closing reception for "Tides and Currents: Contemporary Art Along the Gulf Coast" on Saturday, June 28, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Johnny Rhoda, who remarked that Hillary would be shot in Arkansas, resigns from Arkansas Republican Party position

Johnny Rhoda, the 2nd District Republican chairman, has resigned his party position after his widely quoted remark that Hillary Clinton would "probably get shot at the state line" if she ran for president. Except for Tim Griffin, no party leaders denounced the remark. Chair Doyle Webb merely called it a "distraction."

Tea Party meltdown in Mississippi Senate loss

Great story on the Tea Party meltdown over Sen. Thad Cochran's survival in the Mississippi runoff thanks to significant support from black voters, who typically vote Democratic.

Justin Moore has the Biggest Country Song in the Country (Again)

Billboard reports that as of this week, Justin Moore's "Lettin' The Night Roll" has climbed to the No. 1 spot on the Country Airplay charts, the fourth No. 1 hit for the singer born in Poyen, Ark. and now based in Benton (after a decade in the Nashville trenches). "I I love the simplistic nature of where I grew up," as Moore told Taste of Country recently.

Urgent: Bentonville short of money. Send them cash for broadband

Bentonville needs help for school broadband? Bentonville? Home of the charter-school financing Waltons and football facilities worthy of a good college?

Gambling fight unsettled as special session nears

Proponents of a bill to prevent the Arkansas lottery from expanding into video lottery games at multiple outlets haven't given up trying to prove to Gov. Mike Beebe that they have sufficient votes to pass the measure without controversy.

LR wins ArtPlace America Grant for Main Street

The city of Little Rock will receive a $345,000 grant from ArtPlace America to enhance the "Creative Corridor" on Main Street with streetscaping, signage and artwork. The city was one of only 55 communities out of 1,300 that applied for the grants from ArtPlace America, which promotes the "field of creative placemaking."

Today in Arkansas: Oaklawn lobbying hard against expansion of lottery

On today's program: Lobbyists for Oaklawn are pressing state legislators to support a bill that would keep the state lottery from adding video monitor gambling. Johnny Rhoda, the 2nd District chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party, resigned after saying Hillary Clinton wouldn't be well received as a political candidate in Arkansas and would probably be shot at the state line. There are several more judges for Jason Rapert to add to his list of those unfit for the bench. And more.

The open line and an open question on the special session

An open line poses a lingering question for the special session: Can Oaklawn stop a lottery expansion? Plus, bad news for lottery performance and former Arkansas State Police Director John Bailey is named director of the Union Rescue Mission.

Arkansas starts talking about how to address climate change

Earlier this month, the EPA announced a proposed rule that will require a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions produced by power plants, phased in over the coming decades. The feds are setting goals (which will be tailored to individual states), but it’s up to the states themselves to come up with plans that address those targets. On Wednesday morning, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) held a public meeting to solicit preliminary input from stakeholders including utility companies, environmental groups and consumer advocates. Finally, Arkansas is starting to talk about thinking about how to address climate change.

Just a band-aid

Gov. Mike Beebe has called a special session of the Arkansas legislature to shore up the public school employee insurance fund. The fix a majority of lawmakers have already agreed upon in principle will be temporary.

Defining marriage

Regarding state Sen. Jason Rapert's recent guest column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he makes some good points, but I think there are other ways to analyze the matter, irrespective of the merits of the issue. If our president can change his mind on same-sex marriage less than two years ago, surely this is a fair topic for discussion.

Judicial intimidation in Arkansas

Sen. Jason Rapert had his big day last week. The Arkansas Legislative Council adopted his resolution criticizing Circuit Judge Chris Piazza for ruling that the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage was a violation of constitutional equal protection and due process rights.

The 63rd National Square Dance Convention continues at the Statehouse Conventions Center

Also, the 48 Hour Film Project kicks off.

An opportunity amid hard times for Arkansas football

Troubled times lay ahead for Arkansas football if you've already begun digesting the preseason pablum that everyone from Athlon Sports to Cat Fancy churns out in the dog days of summer.

Summer breeze

Wildflowers sway as the sun sets behind the Two Rivers Bridge in Little Rock.

'Think Like A Man Too' a misadventure to miss

Kevin Hart can't save this sequel.

Summer lovin'

Amazon recently cuy some kind of megalobucks deal that allows it to put up a whole passel of HBO shows that The Observer missed out on the first time because we're too cheap to cough up for primo channels, even if we hadn't cut the cable a few years back.

Mike Huckabee: still crazy after all these years

Last week, at a rally to oppose same-sex marriage on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Mike Huckabee gave a profoundly stupid and offensive speech. Expropriating sections of Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail on "just" and "unjust" laws, Huckabee compared opposing same-sex marriage to taking a stand against the Nazis. He also decried the judicial system's role in interpreting law. "The government doesn't give us our rights," he said. "The government only has the responsibility to protect the rights God gave us."

Black Flag comes to Hot Springs

Also, the "56th Annual Delta Exhibition" at the Arts Center, Old 97's at Stickyz, Vanapalooza at Revolution, Kevin Brockmeier at Laman Library and Mara Leveritt at Laman Library.

Only the guilty want closure in West Memphis Three case

Scott Ellington, the prosecuting attorney for Arkansas's Second Judicial District, said in a recent interview that, "There are no ongoing investigations by governmental investigative authorities" concerning the West Memphis Three case. Ellington may be the only person on the planet who believes there is "closure" in my case.

Old State House hosts special session of Arkansas General Assembly

Representatives to meet there for the first time since 1909.

Uptown dining at Omar's in Jonesboro

Having been on both sides of the dining game, we're always hesitant to walk into a place an hour before closing. We have too many memories of late diners in our past life working in a restaurant, which gives us a lot of sympathy for the cooks, servers and cleanup staff who don't always get to have a set time by which they can clock out and get home to their families.

New trail being built through War Memorial Park

Pool skylight fix also debated.

Into the morass

Remember the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush? It happened on Dec. 14, 2008, near the end of the president's second term. Bush had traveled to Baghdad for a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki. The two announced the signing of the U.S.-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement promising that all American soldiers would leave Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.

Chef Shuttle delivers

Chef Shuttle aims to change the way we view our take-out options. They’ve been in operation over the last few months in Little Rock, Maumelle, and North Little Rock and have already begun to gather a loyal following. Chef Shuttle aims to change the way we view our take-out options. They’ve been in operation over the last few months in Little Rock, Maumelle, and North Little Rock and have already begun to gather a loyal following.

A bathroom for the Big Dam bridge — what an idea!

The city of Little Rock will hold a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. today at the Willie Hinton Center at 3805 W. 12th to to talk about partnering with the Big Dam Bridge Foundation and a grant from the state to build restrooms near the Murray Lock and Dam for the crowds that cross the Big Dam Bridge on foot and bike.

Supreme Court rules against Obama on recess appointments

The U.S. Supreme Court today invalidated President Obama's recess appointments to the likes of the National Labor Relations Board because the Senate was not technically in recess.

Place your bets: Gambling battle at legislature ratchets up UPDATE

A legislative supporter of Arkansas lottery expansion is working on a bill to take back Internet gambling from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. It's aimed at countering Oaklawn's opposition to lottery expansion, the aim of a bill it's trying to get on the special session agenda.

Supreme Court upholds one contempt citation in Hastings trial, but reverses nine issued at conclusion

The Arkansas Supreme Court today upheld one, but reversed nine contempt citations Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen had issued against defense attorney Bill James in the manslaughter trial of former Little Rock police officer Josh Hastings.

Supreme Court denies Death Row petition by Terrick Nooner

The Arkansas Supreme Court today denied a last-ditch appeal maneuver by Terrick Nooner, sentenced to death in 1993 for the slaying of Scott Stobaugh in a Little Rock laundromat.

Photographer Paul Caldwell hears Arkansas calling

"The Places in Arkansas That Keep Calling Me Back" is an exhibition of photographs of Paul Caldwell's seven favorite places in Arkansas at Cantrell Gallery. It opens Friday; reception is 6-8 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court declines to shield women from protests, though it does protect itself

The United States Supreme Court today said it was an unconstitutional 1st Amendment violation for Massachusetts to create a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics entrances to protect patients from harassment by abortion protesters. The Supreme Court itself enjoys a much bigger buffer zone.

A pork-lover's paradise by the Fancy Pants Foodie

Time once again for an Eat Arkansas recipe spotlight, where we let chefs, home cooks, and fellow food lovers share their favorite recipes in their own words. In this spotlight: blogger and chef Christie Ison tells us all about a coffee-encrusted pork tenderloin with red-eye gravy that's sure to wake you up and make you happy.

Today in Arkansas: Battle over future of gambling in Arkansas heats up

On today's episode: There's a lot of behind-the-scenes lobbying going on over the future of gambling in Arkansas, the Arkansas Supreme Court makes key rulings, and the city of Little Rock tries to raise private money for restrooms at the Big Dam Bridge. What happened to that big sales tax increase?

Barakat to open new Japanese, seafood restaurant on Kavanaugh

Little Rock restauranteur Jerry Barakat says that he'll open a new upscale Japanese restaurant called Kemuri, at 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd. by late July. The space was previously occupied by Ferneau and Rocket 21.

Supreme Court revives class action case on oil and gas leases in Cleburne County

The Arkansas Supreme Court today revived a class action lawsuit in Cleburne Circuit Court over oil and gas leases allegedly notarized outside the presence of landowners.

New music from SW-MM-NG, 'Some Dreams Come True'

The debut record from SEO-friendly Fayetteville garage pop band SW/MM/NG, "Feel Not Bad," is due out August 29 via Old Flame Records (a label they share with Little Rock's The Coasts), but you can pre-order it now or stream the first single, "Some Dreams Come True," over at Consequence of Sound.

Jack Wagoner answers: Why should Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage be ruled unconstitutional?

Here's the first of a series of interviews we did recently with Jack Wagoner, one of the lawyers who successfully challenged Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage and the subject of a cover profile in our latest issue.

County mulls lease of site MAPCO wants for convenience store

Mike Hutchens, the Pulaski County comptroller, tells me there have been informal discussions in county government about leasing the vacant former bank branch property at Third and Broadway that has been proposed for a controversial Mapco gas station and convenience store.

St. Vincent to cut 157 jobs in health system merger

The CHI St. Vincent hospitals in Arkansas will reduce their workforce by by 157 jobs as a result of the system created by the acquisition of Mercy Hospital in Hot Springs to go along with St. Vincent hospitals in Little Rock, Sherwood and Morrilton.

The line is open; no decision today on Oaklawn bill

Some things are cooking, but I have nothing to offer at this moment but an open line. The governor's office said there'd be no decision today on whether to add the Oaklawn casino-backed bill to prohibit Arkansas lottery gaming expansion.

UPDATE: Arkansas Supreme Court has a new clerk — and a division in the ranks

The Arkansas Supreme Court has hired Stacy Pectol to be the new clerk to succeed long-time clerk Les Steen, who retires Friday. This followed a rancorous division on the court over another choice.

Arkansas: Where the living ain't easy

The New York Times' Upshot has another numbers crunch that uses six measures to identify the hardest places to live in America. The red states, including Arkansas, dominate. Lee County is identified as one of the 10 hardest counties in which to live.

There's gambling; and then there's Oaklawn. Meet the hypocrites

The rest of the media has now learned what we've been saying for days — the Oaklawn casino owners in Hot Springs are behind the fierce push to get a bill on the legislative session agenda to prevent gambling expansion by the Arkansas lottery. Here, we name the hypocrites who think more gambling is OK for Oaklawn but not anybody else.

Sammy Hagar to open restaurant at Southland Park

Former Van Halen frontman to open restaurant at Arkansas' premier destination for watching dogs chase a mechanical rabbit.

Waiting in line for Hillary in Little Rock

Hillary Clinton will be at the Chenal Walmart Supercenter at 11:30 a.m. to sign her book "Hard Choices." A line has already formed, as this shot from Twitter shows.

School superintendents surrender on insurance bill

Richard Abernathy, head of the school administrators lobby, says it won't oppose the school insurance bill in next week's special session because it would be "fruitless."

Mary Steenburgen joining 'Orange is the New Black'

Little Rock's Mary Steenburgen has announced that she'll be joining the third season of "Orange is the New Black," playing the mother of irredeemable crooked prison guard George "Pornstache" Mendez, pictured above. It's been a great year for the Newport native, who stole the show in "Last Vegas' (presumably? I somehow missed "Last Vegas") and was pretty menacing in her three episodes of the most recent season of "Justified."

New music from Pallbearer, 'The Ghost I Used To Be'

Here's the first single, "The Ghost I Used To Be," from Pallbearer's forthcoming album, "Foundations Of Burden," recorded in Portland with producer Billy Anderson (Swans, Eyehategod, Sleep, Neurosis, Red House Painters) and due out August 19 via Profound Lore.

State employees object to school insurance proposal

The Arkansas State Employees Association, which represents roughly 16,000 state employees, has belatedly raised objections to the shape of the school employee insurance legislation that has consensus support at next week's special session. Spouses of state employees now face being forced onto more expensive insurance plans at work because of the legislation.

Splice Microcinema announces upcoming lineup ... in the form of a word search

Any film fans who were at Splice Microcinema's screening of "The Trial" Wednesday night were thrilled to hear that the group would be releasing its screening schedule for the rest of the year. Unfortunately there's a catch, and the catch is that you have to locate them yourself in this arduous word search. According to their Facebook page, the "first person to comment the titles of all 12 films gets one of our limited edition Splice T-shirts."

Maggio settles with state Ethics Commission on excess contributions

Circuit Judge Mike Maggio has reached an agreed settlement with the state Ethics Commission on excessive contributions to his since-abandoned race for state Court of Appeals. He got a letter of caution and paid a $750 fine.

UPDATE: Oaklawn wins again, lottery restriction bill makes the call

Here's the latest on the Oaklawn bill to prohibit the Arkansas Lottery from adding keno-style games. It's a letter from House Democratic leader Eddie Armstrong to members. He wants to know how many would vote for the lottery bill Oaklawn is fighting.

Hard wait in Little Rock for Hillary's 'Hard Choices'

Some 150 people were already in line at 7 a.m. this morning for the 11:30 a.m. book signing by Hillary Clinton at the Chenal Walmart Supercenter. About 1,000 were expected to make it through with a book — one per customer. She was greeted warmly during her two-hour signing stint for her "Hard Choices.'

Bobby Roberts meet David Johnson. Fayetteville library goes big

Good article in the Fayetteville Flyer about Fayetteville library expansion plans. Whether library director David Johnson has been influenced by Little Rock library empire builder Bobby Roberts or not, he thinks on an equally grand scale.

Art for the Heart benefit for CAR at Boswell-Mourot

The 10th annual Corazon auction of heart-themed art work by the Center for Artistic Revolution kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at Boswell-Mourot Fine Art in the Heights.

Jack Wagoner answers: What are your thoughts on Sen. Jason Rapert and the Family Council's opposition to same-sex marriage?

The latest in our video interview series with Jack Wagoner, one of the lawyers who successfully overturned Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage in state court.

Beebe: Who needs transparency? It's expensive.

Gov. Beebe explains: Get enough legislators behind some idea in secret and I'll add it to a special session call. It's efficient and cheap, he claims. Expensive to the public, though.

TGIF open line: Plus, a historic session and a new Supreme Court clerk

The week's done. At top is a photo from the Arkansas House, which will hold its part of next week's three-day special session in the Old State House because of repair work at the Capitol. Also in final news notes: The official announcement of a new Arkansas Supreme Court clerk, a selection that followed internal court bickering, I reported yesterday.

Loblolly Creamery, artisan posters, Hank Williams' granddaughter and a lost Indiana Jones film

A year or two ago I bought my wife a print from the 1200 Posters project. The project consisted of twelve illustrations printed in editions of 100 (thus 1200.) Each amazing illustration incorporated a quote from the text “Turning to One Another” by Margaret Wheatley I purchased a print by Lia Marcoux. It depicts a woman floating in water, surrounded by an enormous wizened eel and many fish. The words “Treasure curiosity more than certainty” are drawn like deep red seaweed into the woman’s hair.

The Sponsored by Oaklawn Special Session Edition

The upcoming special session of the Arkansas General Assembly, the latest on the bid to overturn the state's voter ID law, a split emerging among Arkansas Supreme Court justices and the politics surrounding a proposal to build a Mapco on 3rd and Broadway in downtown Little Rock — all covered on this week's edition.

Food Feedback Friday: Let's get Krafty

And now, Food Feedback Friday...

Today in Arkansas: Hillary visits Little Rock

On today's episode: Gambling and the special session. Hillary visits Little Rock.

Times change: Gays on the bench, women in the legislature

Times change. Look no farther than women in the Arkansas legislature and a gay man recommended for a federal judgeship by Republican senators in Texas.

Yes, the Arkansas Constitution can be unconstitutional

Yes, the Arkansas Constitution can be held to be unconstitutional. A trip back to 1958 and the case over Little Rock school desegregation.

School employees decry the patch on insurance

The legislature may think they've done solomonic work by cobbling up a supposed school insurance "fix" that doesn't require an additional dime of state money and further punishes both school and state employees with no restrictions on coverage. They better think again.

Insurance 'fix' preserves legislators' own insurance, but not other part-timers

Could the reason that public employee part-timers won't lose health insurance under the legislative "fix" to be approved next week be because legislators want to be sure nobody raises any questions about the gold-plated insurance coverage THEY enjoy?

The open line: Plus, when Walmart withdrew board offer to gay executive and another LR homicide

The line is open. We'll close with a couple of items:

Shortcomings found in military hospital system

The New York Times has a massive report today on a review of the performance of the country's military hospital system — not the veterans system. It is not a pretty picture.

More questions about insurance 'fix'

One problem with this agreed-on special legislative sessions is that thousands of people affected by the agreements don't know what they mean until it's too late. See the school health insurance proposal.

Duck, teachers! Here comes the speeding silver bullet of privatization.

Legislators are talking about privatizing school employee health insurance — but not their own cheaper, more richly subsidized plan. Magic math. The same insurance at the same or lower cost for no more state contribution — AFTER a profit for private insurance companies?

The Hucksterism open line; again with the Nazi trope

Mike Huckabee does it again. Reaches for Nazi Germany to make a point about the U.S. Maybe he should move to North Korea.

The Kansas tax cut debacle: 'The enduring power of bad ideas'

Paul Krugman has words of warning — sure to be unheeded by the faithful — of yet another failure of the Laffer curve, trickle-down school of economic theory. The Kansas tax cut miracle is a bust.

Companies act on their own to raise minimum wage

Ikea, the big retailer, has taken a bold step to move all its workers to pay beyond the statutory minimum wage, rather than wait for government to move the level up. A few others have done the same.

Fighting the convenience store on Broadway

I got two reports last night of robocalls urging calls to Little Rock City Board members to vote Tuesday night against the proposal for a MAPCO gas station at the dangerous Third and Broadway intersection, near the heart of the city/county government and convention district.

Supreme Court harms, but doesn't kill, public employee unions

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt public employee unions a setback today in an Illinois case, but didn't end entirely their ability to collect dues from non-members.

U.S. Supreme Court affirms Hobby Lobby's wish to deny contraceptives to women

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling today in the lawsuit by Hobby Lobby to deny coverage of certain types of contraceptives (including the Plan B morning after pill) in its employee health insurance plan.

Look who's raising money for Tom Cotton

Politico reports that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is coming to Fort Smith tonight to help raise money for another like-minded extremist, Republican Tom Cotton, the U.S. Senate candidate.

New video from Cool Chris, 'OGxPurp'

Here's a good, mellow video to start your week off with, the latest from Cool Chris, who is a lonesome soul. The beat is by North Little Rock native and brilliant person IAmNawf and the clip was apparently shot by fellow beatmaker Fresco Grey. If you missed "Trap Conversations," Chris' tape from back in April, now is your chance to catch up.

Kenton Buckner sworn in as Little Rock police chief

Kenton Buckner was sworn in this morning as Little Rock police chief. He succeeds Stuart Thomas, a Little Rock native, who retired after 35 years on the force.

Lieutenant governor's office closes down today; staffer won't reveal where he and others headed

The lieutenant governor's office shuts down today, though its $300,000-a-year staff has had nothing to do for five months, since Mark Darr's resignation. Some will head to other state jobs, though the only staff member we can reach doesn't want to talk about what those jobs are.

Pulaski County jail full again

The Pulaski County jail is full again and will be closed to all but serious crime suspects tomorrow. Help from the state is supposed to be on the way this week.

Republicans mad over Democrats' attack on congressional perks

Republicans decry Democratic congressional candidate "cookie cutter" attacks on congressional perks. They try to flip it into a discussion of Pat Hays' pay raises as North Little Rock mayor.

Temporary ban on lottery games to come out of special session

At this minute, multiple sources tell me this is the deal for the fight over the Oaklawn casino-backed effort to prohibit the Arkansas lottery from beginning electric monitor-provided keno-style games, now set for late September: Legislation to ban the games will pass, but it will include a sunset provision in March 2015.

Hobby Lobby invests in contraceptive makers

Hobby Lobby, which won a Supreme Court ruling that it need not cover certain forms of birth control, invests its retirement money in funds whose holdings include makers of those forms of birth control, as well as insurance companies that cover abortions.

Hillcrest Artisan Meats in dire need of assistance

La Quercia's "Ham Independence" contest is in its last few hours. Let's make a final push to bring porcine glory to the people of Arkansas.

Forest Service extends cave closure for five years

The Forest Service's southern region will extend a closure order for all caves and mines on its lands until 2019 to help present the spread of white-nose syndrome, a disease fatal to many bats.

Motorcyclist dies in wreck with semi

The Little Rock police said a motorcycle rider died about 1 p.m. today when the motorycle struck the cab of a turning truck.

Today in Arkansas: Cotton cheers Hobby Lobby decision

Today on our program: Tom Cotton says he thinks the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling is great. The Arkansas General Assembly appears to have reached a compromise on legislation that will limit the Arkansas lottery from expanding into video-style games. Staffers for the Arkansas lieutenant governor's office end their time doing nothing. And more.

The corporation-rules open line; Strong words from Ginsburg, Clinton and Pryor

The open line begins with quotes from a strong dissent in the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling allow certain corporations not to provide contraceptive coverage to women employees.

New setting, same old legislators UPDATE

The House met briefly this afternoon at the Old State House to being a three-day special session. The Oaklawn bill to limit lottery expansion, amended to have temporary effect until March, cleared House committee without opposition.

Details on the corrections and lottery bills at the special session

Details on talk about funding Department of Corrections overtime back pay, and the keno argument gets punted to the 2015 session.

Tom Cotton and his wife are fully armed, but: Is he afraid to meet the press?

A photo of Tom Cotton and his new wife gun shopping gives rise to the question — is the aggressive Republican congressman afraid to meet the press?

Darr's deadwood finding new public and political teats

Details emerge on the next public teats to be sucked by Darr's Deadwood, the lieutenant governor staff members who kept working at a cost to taxpayers of $25,0000 a month even though they had nothing to do after Mark Darr resigned effective Feb. 1.

Picking through the wreckage of the Hobby Lobby ruling

The impact of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows private corporations not to cover birth control under group health plans won't be fully known for years. A roundup of key issues buried in the bigger ruling.

Shocker: NFIB endorses Tom Cotton

The secret Tom Cotton news conference from which tried — but failed — to exclude the Arkansas Times was for his endorsement by the National Federation of Independent Business. This bunch makes the Chamber of Commerce look liberal and don't be misled when they claim they represent small business.

Robinson Auditorium renovation begins; can a MAPCO be far behind?

Both the mayor and governor were on hand today for a ceremonial closing of Robinson Auditorium, which is to undergo a 26-month, $70 million redo with a bond issue backed by the hamburger tax. But we want to know what's going to happen on the big gas station proposed a few yards down the street.

Big River Steel closes on financing

Big River Steel LLC announced today that it had closed on the financing necessary to build a $1.3 billion steel mill in Mississippi County that supposedly will employ 500.

Missouri's kissing candidate has Arkansas roots

A friend sends a story from the Riverfront Times in St. Louis about the hit made by Natalie Vowell, a Democratic candidate for Missouri legislature, by kissing 50 or so people at a recent gay pride event in St. Louis.

Tom Cotton declines to take stance on state minimum wage and private option

At a press conference today, Rep. Tom Cotton declined to take positions on two big issues likely to get a lot of political attention in Arkansas in the coming months. He wouldn't say where he stood on the state minimum wage hike, saying he was going to focus on "what I can accomplish in Washington for Arkansas families" and continued to dodge questions about his stance on the private option.

Has the Ron Robinson Theater stopped showing films?

Few cultural institutions open with the kind of goodwill and high expectations that the Ron Robinson Theater had leading into its official unveiling in January. Touted as the state’s new premiere cinema venue, with 315 seats, a state-of-the-art digital projector and Dolby 7.1 surround sound – not to mention its promising affiliation with the Little Rock Film Festival – the theater looked like nothing less than the future of local film culture.

Benton police release video of Benton bank robbery

The Benton police released this video of a robbery of a Summit Bank branch in Benton today.

Another ruling for marriage equality in Kentucky UPDATE

A Kentucky judge today struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriages. He'd earlier ruled that the state could not legally discriminate against couples legally married in other states.

Darr's Deadwood Update: One lands with secretary of state

I wrote this morning about Darr's Deadwood, the $25,000/month lieutenant governor's staff that stayed on the taxpayer payroll for five months doing nothing after Mark Darr resigned the office Feb. 1. They closed up shop yesterday

Tom Cotton: 'Global warming is not American warming.'

Extremist Republican Tom Cotton told a receptive Chamber of Commerce today that global warming is not a U.S. or Arkansas warming. Maybe he ought to come home more often and check the crops. And realize the whole world is in this together.

School board filing today; a familiar face surfaces in Little Rock

Joy Springer, a paralegal for civil rights lawyer John Walker, filed documents today for a run for Little Rock School Board. She's been a presence — not always a welcome one — in the district for years.

Talk with Mara Leveritt, Jason Baldwin at NLR library Wednesday

The William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock will host a discussion with author Mara Leveritt and and West Memphis Three defendant Jason Baldwin via Skype at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the library.

Legislature speeds through agenda; midnight finish set

The Senate completed its work quickly today on the insurance-prisons-lottery special session agenda and the House followed not long behind. The chambers were to reconvene shortly after midnight tonight to complete action on the bills and be done.

Idiot of the day — GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is our idiot of the day for saying women use birth control to protect themselves from “recreational behavior,”

The World Cup open line

The line is open as crowds gather on Third Street to watch the World Cup on big-screen TV and Little Rock awaits a hard-fought vote on a giant gas station and C-store in the government/convention corridor on Broadway.

New mixtape from Young Freq, 'Perfection Before Profit'

"Perfection Before Profit," the blockbuster new mixtape from Little Rock's Young Freq, opens with a sample of then-Pulaski County Coroner Steve Nawojczyk from "Bangin' In Little Rock."

State-appropriated funding for Obamacare guides ends; outreach will depend on private funding

Today, the first day of the new fiscal year, marks the end of state-appropriated funding for more than 500 outreach workers known as In-Person Assistant (IPA) guides, charged with education, outreach, and enrollment help for the new insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act. The Arkansas Insurance Department has closed contracts with the 27 organizations tasked with hiring and overseeing 537 guides throughout the state. The change comes because of an amendment to the private option adopted in last year's fiscal session. In some cases, workers will be laid off and those guide positions will simply end; in other cases, organizations may seek private funding to continue the guides' work or may continue to employ the guides themselves, adding the positions within their own scope of work.

UPDATE: LR board vote on MAPCO at 3rd and Broadway delayed for three months

A twist in the planned consideration of a MAPCO is the possibility of a deferral of tonight's vote at the Little Rock City Board meeting.

Doe's vs. Doe's: How does Little Rock's location compare to the original in Greenville, MS?

On a lazy Saturday afternoon, we made the day trip down to Greenville, hopping the mighty Mississippi River and baking in the hot summer sun to see for ourselves if this place was indeed a cut above its sister site in Little Rock. I thought it might be interesting to compare the two locations point-by-point. Here’s how they both fared:

A race for Little Rock School Board

I mentioned yesterday the filing by Joy Springer for Zone 1 on the Little Rock School Board in the September election. Springer's well-known in the district for her work in association with lawyer John Walker on desegregation matters. I heard overnight from Norma Jean Johnson, incumbent in the seat, who says she does intend to seek re-election.

Mark Pryor to serve meals and a message today

U.Sen. Mark Pryor will be out in public today in Fayetteville to press differences between him and opponent Tom Cotton on issues important to older people. Such as Medicare.

Jail seeks underwear donations; and that ain't all in tough times

County jails find ways to cope with short money. Little River County seeks underwear donations. Independence County goes to more beans and cornbread.

UPDATE: Little Rock SWAT officers exchange gunfire in raid

A SWAT raid in Little Rock last night led to an exchange of gunfire but no injuries and one arrest, police say.

Hot Springs to push for downtown development

Hot Springs to suspend residential building permit fees to boost residential development.

Lottery battle at halftime, lottery commissioner Engstrom says

A member of the Lottery Commission and a Family Council spokesman comment on the lottery legislation compromise in the recent special session. The lottery commissioner is more truthful.

Big, fat gay wedding reception planned in Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs is going to throw a "big, fat, gay wedding reception Aug. 2" in honor of marriage equality, with guests of honor including the first couple legally married in Arkansas and others who participated in historic May 10 events in Eureka.

Co-Op flies to Community Bakery; artists celebrate first year

The Co-Op art collaborative has an exhibition at Community Bakery; celebrates anniversary today

Cover up: Contemporary quilts on exhibit at Laman Argenta

“The Sum Of Many Parts: Quiltmakers In Contemporary America" features 15 quilts in a variety of styles that illustrate how modern artists interpret a traditional craft. It's at the Laman Library's Argenta branch.
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