The U.S. Supreme Court delivers a historic win for LGBT equality.
Over the rainbowJuly 2, 2015
Vol 41 • No 43
Delay, delay and then a change of heart.
The Observer has been covering the fight for LGBT rights in this state a long time, sons and daughters. Before it was a thing. All the way back to the days when a sizable percentage of people were perfectly willing to use the word "fag" when speaking to a guy they knew for a fact was writing
It is now Obama's America in ways large and small.
The Arkansas Supreme Court waited until 5:10 p.m. Friday to dump a three-sentence document that brought an ignominious end to its ignoble handling of the lawsuit that challenged the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage.
'Ted 2' can't sort itself out.
This is the time for our end of second-quarter report for Arkansas athletics, and it's a generally glowing one, certainly and refreshingly free of things like sex, lies and motorcycle accidents.
Summer book picks from locals.
Supporters of justice were very pleased the Supreme Court helped advance equality and gay rights. However, some celebrants are applauding in the wrong directions. Many on Facebook, and surely elsewhere, are promoting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are not Supreme Court justices, as leaders who made this happen.
Controversy swirls in Little Rock over Confederate flag.
While right-thinking folks around the country celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, the most extreme conservative voices in Arkansas wallowed in rage and hyperbole. It wasn't pretty.
Whoa Dakota plays Afterthought.
Every word written in the vast collection of judicial opuses in the gay-marriage and Obamacare decisions last Thursday and Friday were penned by the Supreme Court's five bitterly divided Republican justices.
One entertaining aspect of recent dramatic Supreme Court rulings was learning that the Court's high-minded intellectuals can be just as thin-skinned and spiteful as everybody else.
Also, a Daft Punk tribute at Revolution, I Was Afraid and Headcold at Vino's, Pops on the River at First Security Amphitheater, Lushes at Stickyz and the American Taekwondo Association at the Statehouse Convention Center.
Price, ingredients distinguish new eatery.
A view of the Main Street Bridge from North Little Rock on Saturday.
Also, relative moderation from Arkansas officials, rebels without a cause and President Obama and Amazing Grace.
Channel 4 reports of an effort underway to rename Confederate Boulevard, perhaps to the same as its southern extension of Springer Boulevard, after a pioneer family in the Granite Mountain area.
Rep. Nate Bell, who bolted the Republican Party after splitting with the party on moving the 2016 presidential primary election, still has plenty to say about Republican affairs, including a longer time in office for the GOP party chair.
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Little Rock will open its doors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 11, for any same-sex couple to marry. For free. The Unitarians were well out in the lead among churches recognizing same-sex unions, a group joined Wednesday by the Episcopal Church.
Randolph County Clerk Rhonda Blevins is the latest elected public official to indicate resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling establishing a right to marriage by same-sex couples. She says she's waiting on word from God or unidentified others on deciding how to proceed should a same-sex couple appear in her office seeking a license.
Colonial Wines & Spirits is pouring a sample for each stage of the Tour de France. Celebrate French wine at their tasting bar all month long!
The Arkansas Supreme Court, in summer recess, issued an order today again denying a Hughes School District's request to expedite its appeal of a circuit court ruling denying its request to block consolidation of the district with West Memphis.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, July 16, the Arkansas Times, Little Rock PFLAG and Central Arkansas Pridefest will host a special screening of Little Rock director Mark Thiedeman’s "Sacred Hearts, Holy Souls” to benefit Out in Arkansas, the Times’ coming LGBT publication.
The monthly state report on tax revenue shows the state ended its fiscal year June 30 with net revenues of $5.25 billion, or $228.1 million more than the previous year. The state was left with a surplus of $191.6 million, swollen by some $65 million in one-time contributions in June from a major lawsuit settlement ($14 million) and $51 million from the Insurance Department.
Here's a name change idea: End the truncation of Martin Luther King Drive at Interstate 630 and continue it on the same street's path in front of the Capitol.
Senate Republicans have joined the House Republican caucus in demagoguing the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling with empty promises to pass redundant and/or unconstitutional legislation.
While the Arkansas legislature ratchets up the gay hate, the rest of the world is coming to the understanding that divisiveness, hate and exclusion are bad for business. Latest big example: The Exxon Corporation
Benton Mayor David Mattingly rolled out a new city mascot today, named Ben
KATV reports on Jason Satterfield, 44, a work-release inmate serving a forgery sentence, who took off today from a Pine Bluff concrete company with $190 from the cash register in a Ford flatbed truck.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has again refused to certify the language of a proposal to allow the legislature to regulate, but not prohibit, the growth, sale and possession of "industrial hemp" and "medical cannabis."
A Texas TV station reports that two men were arrested Thursday in Temple, Texas as suspects in an exchange of gunfire early Thursday in Little Rock with a Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
Reading suggestions for the long weekend.
The holiday weekend open line. Also, the passing of Buddy Sutton; police chief catches thief; Hot Springs to buy Majestic Hotel site
Here's your holiday weeekend open line, plus today's news roundup by video
OK, it's somewhat of an exaggeration to say it's your last chance to see Stephen Cefalo and Robert Bean's exhibition at Gallery 26, 2601 Kavanaugh, tonight. The show actually goes down July 11. But it's your last chance to enjoy the after-hours Hillcrest Shop 'n' Sip (5-9 p.m.) and see the show.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson today appointed three people to vacancies on the nine-member state Board of Education. They appear to fit the governor's political profile, as you might expect, without the contrasts that sometimes marked Gov. Mike Beebe's appointees.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has added her voice to legislators and other Republicans who are trying to whip up a frenzy by raising the so-far unrealized notion that non-profit religious organizations could lose their tax-exempt status from the IRS if they discriminated against gay people.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has issued a response to Republican legislative caucus intentions to push for even more legislation to aestablish a religious justification for discrimination against gay people, including for county clerks who might not wish to issue marriage licenses.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s appointments to the state Board of Education, Max's behind-the-scenes reporting on the Arkansas Supreme Court and same-sex marriage and more reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court marriage ruling — all covered on this week's early edition podcast.
Alex Cogbill, Harry Loucks and Michael Warrick are the winners of studioMAIN's SoMa Public Art Competition to put sculpture on Main Street between 13th and 16th streets. The project is being funded with a $25,000 grant from the John and Robyn Horn Foundation and a match from the Quapaw Central Business Improvement District No. 5 and Anita Davis, owner of Esse Purse Museum and the Bernice Garden.
For fans of the private option, the good news on cost just keeps on coming: The Department of Human Services released figures today that show the per capita cost of providing health insurance to low-income Arkansans has continued to remain flat throughout 2015. That figure has hovered right around $481 since the beginning of the year and ticked slightly downward this month to $480.67.
It's Gallery Walk tonight, July 3, with some sparkling art as run-up to the Fourth.
A reader asks about changes coming to the look of the River Rail trolley, a jumping off point for me on ideas about improving mass transit in Central Arkansas.
Sen. Jason Rapert has written other senators blasting Gov. Asa Hutchinson for saying yesterday that county clerks had a duty to follow the U.S. Supreme Court ruling by issuing marriage licenses. He said he was offended and the governor had disrespected senators.
City Board to vote on resolution opposing Little Italy incorporation; also a ban on street solicitors
The agenda for Tuesday's Little Rock City Board meeting includes a resolution opposing the proposal to incorporate the community of Little Italy without a commitment to put land in a new city under land use controls. Also on the agenda: A proposal to prohibit people from soliciting donations from cars while standing in the street or medians.
A Hillcrest fire, some research on what Confederate flag supporters know of Southern history and an open line for this holiday.
A reader sends a link to an article in the Christian Post about reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling. It worries about the impact, but also says some response by religious groups has been overblown. Which brings us back to Jason Rapert.
The July 4 weekend will be marked in Arkansas by numerous parades organized by Confederate flag admirers.
Another leaked letter from Sen. Jason Rapert shows he thinks Gov. Asa Hutchinson should be guided in public policy decisions by an Arkansas preacher who is president of the Southern Baptist convention — 'the largest denomination in our state the last time I looked.'
The July 4 open line includes some historical material relevant to current events. Freedom of religion anyone? Maybe fried chicken is a safer proposition these days.
At least three shootings have been reported to Little Rock police on July 4.
A New York Times wrier notes how both Republican politicians and soul mates on the U.S. Supreme Court use fear to stoke resistance to recent court decisions on Obamacare and same-sex marriage.
The open line includes 150 or so Lost Causers waving Rebel flags at cities around Arkansas. Also: Same-sex marriage comes to the society pages of the state's largest newspaper.
A grim experience in Arkansas in 1955 shapes the artistic outlook of a Robert Frank, called by the New York Times "the most influential photographer alive."
Coincidental to a July 4 on which at least six people were shot in the Little Rock area comes a link to a survey that shows Arkansas No. 2 among the states in the percentage of people who own guns.
Those wishing to impose their religion on others through the state have a new rallying point — a Revolutionary War banner with a religious message. A skirmish over the flag has broken out in Arkansas, pitting Sarah Palin against the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
The Washington Post has another big Clinton family financial report — they provide financial help to brothers in need. Good context: Coincidentally a veteran of the Clinton beat reveals rules for covering them — all negative, all the time.
Whose religious freedom is in danger? An article illustrates that those who'd ban same-sex marriage in the name of religion actually want to limit the religious freedom of many others through state action. How American is that?
The Arkansas Democratic Party says it sold out of 1,500 $200 floor seats to the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner July 18 at Verizon Arena featuring presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. So it is opening lower level arena seating to her speech at $15.
The Arkansas Highway and Transporation Department announces a big ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to mark the "near" completion — after six years and $150 million — of a new intersection of Interstates 430 and 630 in west Little Rock. It's the so-called Big Rock Interchange, shown above during the serious construction phase.
John Maddox, a Mena lawyer, has announced on Facebook that he'll be seeking the state House seat now held by Rep. Nate Bell of Mena. Bell, who recently left the Republican Party for independent status, has said he won't run again.
North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith confirmed for me today what a long period of silence and some recent tips indicated: The idea to relocate the Arkansas Arts Center from MacArthur Park to a riverfront location in North Little Rock is, if not dead, "not going to happen anytime soon."
The Department of Arkansas Heritage has submitted construction plans to the Arkansas Building Authority for its new $7 million headquarters at 1100 North St. and hopes to begin work in early September, Melissa Whitfield, communications director, says.
With completion of the legal dispute over same-sex marriage, the Wagoner law firm of Little Rock has renewed its request for attorney fees in the state lawsuit — $95,747 for attorney fees, to be multiplied by 1.5 for prevailing in the civil rights case, and $3,485 in costs.
An open line and video news roundup.
A new lawsuit over Arkansas's judicial retirement age presents some interesting political questions for looming elections.
The Arkansas legislature's desire to put a Ten Commands monument on the Capitol grounds seems ever more likely to force them to confront the meaning of First Amendment freedoms. Add a request for a Hindu monument on the grounds to join an earlier proposal for a Satanist deity.
Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, already burdened with two high-profile cases of murders by people he'd helped free from Arkansas prison, had another one added to his rap sheet yesterday.
Colorado shows the way to a sharp reduction in abortions. Reduce unplanned pregnancies through free, long-acting contraception.
La Hacienda is an Arkansas institution. These tamales are a big reason why.
New studies say the Walton Foundation's push for charter schools gets it all wrong: They lack accountability, harm conventional public schools and falsely suggest that education, as opposed to a rising income, is the key to breaking the poverty cycle.
Crystal Lowery, charged along with her former husband Arron Carter in the abduction and slaying of real estate agent Beverly Carter, pleaded guilty today to a first-degree murder charge and was sentenced by Judge Herb Wright to 30 years in prison.
Joe Woodson, a North Little Rock lawyer, has announced as a Democratic candidate for the state Senate seat currently held by Republican Sen. Jane English, who narrowly defeated then-Rep. Barry Hyde in 2012.
This morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a call to action for faith-based leaders to discuss solutions to two major issues facing the state: the shortage of foster homes for children in Department of Human Services custody, and the lack of services for former prison inmates reentering society. The "Restore Hope Summit" will be held on August 25 and 26 at the Marriott Hotel in Little Rock.
The folks who brought Curry in a Hurry to Little Rock are replacing that venture with Flavor of India, which has its grand opening on Thursday, July 9, in the Valley Village Shopping Center off Rodney Parham Road. Go on opening day before noon and you'll get a $5 gift card; go anytime and get free appetizers and chai.
Work begins on new downtown apartments, Legion Village, with a deal in the works to include a restaurant/entertainment component in the project. We're guessing hipster bowling/beer hall.
One man is dead and another in custody following a fatal shooting this morning on a church parking lot in Oak Grove.
Oklahome Gov. Mary Fallin says the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol will remain despite an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling that it is unconstitutional and should be removed.
The open line and news video. Also: Mayflower oil spill action; Fort Smith adds jobs; lawsuit settled; death in family
Open line and news video. Plus: Jobs added in Fort Smith; state settles a lawsuit over charity scam, and we are sad to report a death in the Arkansas Blog family.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office confirms that the attorney general became engaged over the weekend to Boyce Johnson of Marion.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola says he believes the Arkansas Arts Center will remain in Little Rock and that the city has plans — as yet unspecified — to help the institution build a new or improved facility.
Resistance is reported in the South Carolina House to Senate-passed legislation to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state house and leave its display to a museum.
The 2015 Arkansas Times Hog Roast is next month, and our mouths are already watering.
All United Airlines flights, including those to and from Little Rock, were grounded for a time Wednesday morning because of a computer problem.
The University of Arkansas announced today that the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at UA is taking applications now for bachelor's and master's degree programs delivered wholly on-line.
The United States has sued the estate and trusts of the late Layton P. "Scooter" Stuart, former owner of the bank holding company One Financial and its One Bank, over alleged fraud in obtaining $17.3 million in the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Little Rock police are responding to a report of a homicide at 1217 S. Jackson Street, a spokesman said.
40/29 reports that a Siloam Springs man has been arrested on child pornography charges that cover photos of children having sex with animals.
The Memphis City Council has voted to remove the remains of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from a city park. On a related note, civil rights lawyer John Walker, whose history includes struggles in Forrest City, thinks the city name should be changed because of the taint of the general's name.
The state and the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit that challenged the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage disagree on how to wind up the case now that the U.S. Supreme Court has definitively ended bans on same-sex marriage.
Arkansas Business reports that the state Securities Department has sued former bond salesman Steele Stephens for failure to pay a $20,000 assessed over an investigation of his securities dealing with former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner.
Good news from the Arkansas Public Service Commission: It will allow the Sierra Club to intervene in a pending Entergy rate case. Among others, both Entergy and the Arkansas attorney general's office, now more of an advocate for business interests than ratepayers, had objected.
The state of Arkansas's legal fees for passing an unconstitutional 12-week abortion ban are nearing $100,000.
Pam Bradford, the Van Buren County clerk, circulated this memo to all county clerks announcing her intention to defy the U.S. Supreme Court and have her office refuse to issue marriage licenses. A Christian legal group was prepared to defend her, she said. Later, on advice from an Arkansas lawyer, she changed her tuen.
Open line, news roundup and Duggar doings and a big lottery winner.
A piece of news from New York City bears mention here today, given comments made yesterday by Gov. Asa Hutchinson regarding the current "crisis" state of the Arkansas foster care system, which is overloaded with too many children. A federal class action suit has been filed against the local and state agencies responsible for child welfare in NYC.
Though the original idea was to get the Little Rock Technology Park off the ground without debt, the park authority today heard from board member Dickson Flake that it will need to get financing to buy the properties it wants on Main Street. The park expects to borrow some $30 million, putting up $6.8 million in equity from city sales receipts.
Did you know that July is "Celebrate Ice Cream" month? Celebrate in style with Loblolly Creamery and Art Connection.