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Closing the Gap

Closing the Gap

July 6, 2017

Vol 43 • No 44

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Barbershops, books and boogers

How an expat Hall High graduate is creating an early literacy movement back home.

Stopping the bleeding: police, EMS coordination at Power Ultra

Twenty-eight were injured in the mass shooting; none killed.

Wrasslin' Trump

I first thought the Sunday morning video clip of President Trump wrestling was something from one of the many parody accounts on Twitter.

Wrong people

Power Ultra shooting, Asa on the Senate health plan, Rapert on the media and more.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Visual Learners Edition

Play at home!

Blood on the lot

Blood splatter could be seen in a parking lot across from Power Ultra Lounge at 220 W. Sixth St. after a Saturday morning's shooting.

Spero heads up songwriting camp

Correne Spero heads up a summer songwriting camp for girls.

New and improved Ten Commandments monument!

Bangin' in LR

About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.

Does she know?

Did Kim Walker-Smith, when recording "Throne Room" for her new record "On My Side," truly understand the power of her music? Does she now know that her song was the one that played on the radio as Michael Reed thumped into the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds and brought it on down?

"Baby Driver" a quick-edit car chase mixtape

It's no retread.

Open letter to AG Leslie Rutledge

This letter is in response to your decision to join Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other state legal officials in calling for President Trump to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Greek classic

It's a hit parade at the Terrace Mediterranean Kitchen.

Basketball prospects

While it is a little difficult to prognosticate on anything pertaining to college basketball anymore, short of the blue bloods getting bluer every recruiting season, what has happened to Arkansas since it finished off an accomplished 2016-17 campaign is probably as subtly bewildering as any offseason machinations you'll see.


It is a Fourth of July ritual to appraise where we are in meeting the Declaration of Independence's promise to institute a government that would, unlike King George, secure human rights equally for everyone who sets foot on American soil.

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires

Also, Outlaw Music Festival, Little Tybee, Terminal Nation, Liz Brasher, Architecture and Design Network Talk from Jeff Shannon, Good Foot and more

Stodola says 'sharing' emphasis of governor's plan on law enforcement

Mayor Mark Stodola tells me in an e-mail that an announcement today from Gov. Asa Hutchinson on law enforcement in Central Arkansas will be "more [about] investigative and multi-agency sharing of information.'

Black police officers blast Chief Buckner, ask board for investigation UPDATE

While Police Chief Kenton Buckner heard many encouraging words Wednesday night from the Little Rock City Board (none offered what could be called direct criticism), there's a decidedly different tone among black police officers.

Trump looks after the nursing homes

The Trump administration is preparing to roll back an Obama administration rule that cut off Medicaid payments to nursing homes (Medicaid is the primary supplier of money to nursing homes in Arkansas) that force residents to sign arbitration agreements. This means they can't sue if disputes over care arise.

Paul Caldwell, from California to Cantrell Gallery

Paul Caldwell's highly saturated color photographs go on exhibit today at Cantrell Gallery in the show "Chasing the Light, From Arkansas to California." You can meet the Little Rock nature photographer at tonight's reception, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Health care demonstrators descend on Cotton, Boozman offices

A crowd supporting the continuation of the Affordable Care Act against Republican onslaughts descended on Little Rock offices of U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman today.

Rapert's grip-and-grin for Commandments contribution

Sen. Jason Rapert preened today with a blown-up replica for a check for $25,000 toward a news Ten Commandments monument courtesy of makers of the "God's Not Dead" film series, a third installment of which will be shot in Arkansas next year. A second episode was shot in Arkansas.

Governor announces joint partnership to target Little Rock crime

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a joint effort to fight an increase in violent crime in Little Rock.

Thursday's open line and some thoughts on crime

Today's open line and a news roundup heavy on crime.

Trump meets Putin. What could go wrong?

Donald Trump meets Vladimir Putin. Will Russia win 2017 like it won 2016?

Blue cities in red states have reason to be blue. As in sad.

The New York Times' Upshot reports here on a trend long evident in Arkansas — the penchant of conservatively governed states to take away powers from cities that might be inclined to adopt more liberal policies within their boundaries.

Midtown Billiards is ready for beer, billiards and burgers again

A fan of Midtown Billiards, the Main Street dive bar closed by a fire last September? Its grand reopening is tonight but Brian Chilson has posted a gallery of photos of the new joint from a soft opening last night.

Warwick Sabin considering run for Little Rock mayor UPDATED

State Rep. Warwick Sabin is "exploring" a race for Little Rock mayor in 2018 against incumbent Mayor Mark Stodola.

The information Mark Martin has shared with the world

The voter files Mark Martin turned over to a Trump election integrity commission is a gold mine of personal information. See for yourself. It only costs $2.50.

NLR woman a $1 million lottery winner

Cindy Burton of North Little Rock was a $1 million winner in the Arkansas Lottery's Play It Again Second-Chance Drawing. This is a drawing of losing instant lottery tickets submitted by players.

Suit over Huckabee movie robocalls going to trial

A federal judge in St. Louis has ruled that robocalls using Mike Huckabee were meant to promote a movie, not a political survey, and thus violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Friday. Thank goodness.

The line is open. We finish the news roundups for the week with politics from Russia to City Hall.

The only place to be in July

Unlike giant hotels, the Hilton Garden Inn is small enough to offer every guest personal attention and customized service.

Judge refuses to dismiss suit over discrimination in Little Rock School District

Federal Judge Price Marshall today refused the state's effort to dismiss the lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in the state's operation of the Little Rock School District.

The Power Ultra Fallout Edition

The Power Ultra Lounge shooting and related political fallout, Secretary of State Mark Martin and Trump’s election integrity commission and former circuit judge Mike Maggio — all covered on this week's podcast.

Special counsel named for dueling Griffen, Supreme Court complaints

The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has named special counsel to handle complaints against Circut Judge Wendell Griffen and the Arkansas Supreme Court related to handling of a case involving drugs used in Arkansas executions.

Mission accomplished: A plan to hide the homeless

Surprise: An ad hoc committee stacked with downtown business interests thinks those who want to provide meals for the homeless should do so at a tent outside the city's day homeless shelter more than six miles away, out near Granite Mountain on what used to be known as Confederate Boulevard.

Arkansas alone has supplied voter data to Trump. What data? Mark Martin's own illustrates

Systematic vote purging. Arkansas alone has provided voter info so far in controversial data mining effort. And, since he's assured is it's non-controversial, here's Secretary of State Mark Martin's own voter data.

An open line. Plus a homicide in LR

The open line includes a report of a Little Rock homicide.

Arkansas stands alone on voter data request being challenged in court

The Washington Post reports on the federal lawsuit aimed at preventing collection of state voter data being sought by a commission appointed by Donald Trump. The article notes Arkansas alone has provided any of the data requested.

Boozman listed as resisting GOP's Senate health bill

The New York Times, in reporting on eroding Republican support in the Senate for a bill rewriting the Affordable Care Act, indicates U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas is among apparent obstacles to passage.

Michael Reed, charged with knocking down 10 Commandments monument: 'I just couldn't help myself'

Michael Reed, charged with destroying the Ten Commandments monument on the Arkansas Captiol grounds, says God told him to run down the monument with his car.

Sunday open line, plus LR politics

Got anything to share? An open line includes early start on 2018 mayoral campaign.

State senator working on marijuana facility for Turrell

The name of a Little Rock state senator has popped up in discussions about the potential of tiny Turrell in East Arkansas being the location of one of five cultivation centers allowed under the new state medical marijuana law.

Another candidate for Little Rock House seat

State Rep. Warwick Sabin's announcement that he's planning a race for Little Rock mayor in 2018 has now drawn two Democratic candidates to succeed him in the district, which stretches from downtown to Reservoir Road through HIllcrest.

Coming to KATV: Lots more Boris

Politico reports that Sinclair Broadcasting is tripling the exposure given to former Trump White House official Boris Epshteyn on its growing network of stations, which include KATV in Little Rock.

JP proposes moratorium on concerts that 'promote' violence

The county governing body will consider Tuesday a resolution urging cities to impose a six-month moratorium on concerts featuring performers who encourage violence. It's a response to the mass shooting at a recent rap show at a downtown club.

And speaking of Mark Stodola: You want energy and ideas?

.Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola decided today to expand on a brief remark he made Friday after Warwick Sabin announced he was likely to run for mayor in 2018 against the three-term incumbent.

State says Arkansas students advancing on standardized tests

The Arkansas Education Department said today that Arkansas students had made "significant" improvements on the ACT Aspire tests that measure students in grades 3-10 in reading, math, science and writing skills.

Arkansas Baptist College late with July payroll

A delay in federal student aid prompted a delay in this month's payroll for somewhere near 200 employees of Arkansas Baptist College.

Monday's open line and the daily video

The open line. Plus the video news roundup, from school tests to rap concerts and a knocked-over Ten Commandments in between.

Arkies again arrested protesting health legislation

Facebook video from Be the Change Alliance Ar, which has been organizing campaigns to persuade Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman against their party's Obamacare repeal legislation, shows several arrests of people from Arkansas as a result of Washington protests today.

Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs sold to Little Rock investors

A news release distributed to the Hot Springs Sentinel Record says Hot Springs' historic Arlington Hotel has been sold to the Sky Capital Group LP, an investment group whose properties include the Four Points Sheraton at University Avenue and I-630.

Speaker on Fay Jones at the Arkansas Arts Center

University of Arkansas architecture professor Jeff Shannon, who has edited a collection of essays by colleagues, clients and friends of famed Fayetteville architect Fay Jones, will give a talk about the book Tuesday, July 11, at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Lottery beats annual budget, finishes about the same as last year

The Arkansas Lottery, thanks in part to a good June, finished the state fiscal year that ended June 30 well ahead of budget projections.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders gets rough ride at White House lectern

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank roughs up Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for her unhelpful work.

The blood red impact of Republican health legislation

This New York Times map showing where impact would be felt most from Senate Republican legislation to reduce Medicaid spending puts Arkansas at the bloodiest end of the spectrum. Thus possible resistance from Sen. John Boozman. Sen. Tom Cotton's silence is another matter.

UPDATE: Arkansas claims its voter data, the only submitted, will be 'deleted'

The Donald Trump-appointed commission that's trying to assemble a massive trove of voter information has decided to hold off on asking states for the material while a lawsuit challenging the effort is underway. Too late for Arkansas, though the state learned today it might get a reprieve through deletion of the data.

Arkansas: Where 'pro-life' means anti-woman

Here's a good examination of a new anti-abortion law in Arkansas, already under challenge in federal court, that puts new cruelty on women who want to have an abortion.

Fix Obamacare? It's easy*

Ernest Dumas explains how easy it would be to fix Obamacare. But .....

NLR convenience store zoning hearing delayed

A North Little Rock spokesman says a proposed rezoning for a convenience store/gas station at Waterside and North Hills has been delayed for Planning Commission consideration until at least Aug. 8.

From Russia with love: The Trump administration

So now emerges primary evidence of election skulduggery between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russians to harm Hillary Clinton's campaign. The big question: Do Trump supporters care?

Trump moving on more than one front on vote suppression

The Trump Administration has more than one effort underway to make it harder for people to vote.

Tom Cotton meets the resistance

An Arkansas group working to preserve benefits of the Affordable Care Act say they finally got a meeting with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton in Washington. He listened to their concerns.

Governor names Stan Jones of Walnut Ridge to Game and Fish Commission

Gov. Asa Hutchinsontoday named Stan Jones of Walnut Ridge, a farmer, sports apparel merchant and hunting lodge operator, to the state Game and Fish Commission.

Tuesday's open line and news from Russia to the duck blinds

The open line. Plus the daily news roundup, from Russians to a Game and Fish Commission with a tax-avoiding judge, health care and voter purges in between.

UPDATE: Judge Bobby McCallister faces criminal charges over failure to file tax returns

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced today that formal disciplinary charges had been filed against Saline Circuit Judge Bobby McCallister over information that emerged during his divorce proceeding that he'd failed to file federal and state income tax returns a number of years.

Feeding the homeless: The City Board applauds a new direction

The Little Rock City Board is set to discuss this afternoon an ad hoc commission's recommendation to establish a place for evening meals for the homeless beneath a tent on grounds of the city homeless day center on Springer Boulevard. Opinions are divided.

First Amendment wins a round at Quorum Court

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports robust debate before the Pulaski County Quorum Court, the county governing body, approved last night a neutered resolution by JP Judy Green that had originally urged cities to impose a 180-day moratorium on entertainment that encourages violence.

Russia? Don't let it obscure health care

Bad as it is that the presidency is held by an ally of Russia, a bigger immediate concern to millions of Americans is whether Republicans in the Senate can succeed in passing a bill to wreck health insurance expansion provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Attorney general sides with banks on consumer protection rule

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a news release yesterday complaining about government regulation and pitched it as consumer protection. Not exactly.

Benton Chief Kirk Lane named state drug director

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane as Arkansas Drug Director. He succeeds Denny Altes, the former state representative who resigned without explanation in May.

UA-Little Rock undertaking study of starting a football team

UA-Little Rock is considering starting a football team.

Arkansas Children's gets $11.5 million for pediatric cancer research

The Arkansas Children's Research Institute has received an $11.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop the Center for Translational Pediatric Research to devise new treatment and therapy for children.

Democrats flip two legislative seats in Oklahoma

Democrats captured two Republican state legislative seats in Oklahoma yesterday. Oklahoma is suddenly a little bit OK.

Houston Nutt sues Ole Miss Athletic Foundation for defamation

Houston Nutt, the former football coach at University of Arkansas and Ole Miss, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation alleging it broke its severance agreement with him by making defamatory remarks about him.

Viva Vegan Pop-up at The Green Corner Store

Vegan pop-up draws strong crowd.

Wednesday's open line. Plus news, from football to felonies

Here's the open line. And the daily news roundup.

8Ball & MJG headline benefit concert at Rev Room

Memphis duo 8Ball & MJG are headlining U.N.I.T.Y. (United Neighbors in Touch with Youth), a concert set for Friday, July 14, at the Revolution Music Room organized in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Power Ultra Lounge earlier this month.

Porter Fund Literary Prize awarded to Padma Viswanathan

Padma Viswanathan is the recipient of the 2017 Porter Fund Literary Prize.

Nexus Coffee and Creative opens Saturday

Nexus Coffee and Creative, 301B President Clinton Ave., will open at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 15, becoming the third new downtown coffee house to open in as many months this year.

Kaleidoscope Film Fest to feature Armistead Maupin, Cheryl Dunye, Chef Pink

Armistead Maupin, the author of the “Tales of the City” series and “Babycakes” and subject of the film “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin,” will appear at this summer’s Kaleidoscope Film Festival, the Film Society of Little Rock’s LGBT-focused film event to take place Aug. 11-19 at Argenta Community Theater, South on Main and Flyway Brewing.

Sherwood man arrested on child pornography charges

The U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock announced today the arrest of William Thomas Murry, 60, former owner of the Kawasaki Sports Center on University, on charges of the possession and receipt of child pornography.

Zangna Thai Cuisine in Little Rock

A mostly positive experience.