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July 11, 2013

Vol 39 • No 45

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Head Start cuts hit Arkansas programs

Parents (and research) say that early childhood education pays huge dividends for years to come, but funding challenges loom

UPDATE: Proposal submitted for new state veterans home

I note the Stephens Media report that three dozen proposals were filed on a possible location for a new state veterans home to replace the closed facility in Little Rock.

Immigration reform would be good for the economy

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families cites the benefits of immigration reform that would legalize more of the people already at work and building families in the U.S. With fiscal costs and benefits figuring large in the immigration reform debate, a new analysis estimates that undocumented immigrants are already paying $10.6 billion a year in state and local taxes nationwide, including the $72.4 million they pay in Arkansas.

Turnover at lieutenant governor's office: Nothing to see here

Several people wrote to inquire about multiple staff changes at Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's office.

UPDATE: Nate Steel announces for attorney general

State Rep. Nate Steel of Nashville announced today as a Democratic candidate for attorney general this morning on the lawn of the courthouse in his hometown.

UPDATE: Police shooting reported in Little Rock

LRPD is investigating an officer involved shooting. PD says a man @ 1 Southaven was "acting threatening."

UPDATE Dustin McDaniel calls for state discussion on "broken" death penalty process

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel spoke to the state's sheriffs in Fort Smith this morning and dipped his toe into a potentially huge and emotional topic — the death penalty.

UPDATE: Report on ruptured pipeline received, but not released

KUAR's Michael Hibblen reports that a federal regulatory agency has received a metallurgical report that was due today on the Pegasus pipeline that ruptured and spewed tar sands on a Mayflower neighborhood.

Democrats rap Rick Crawford for favoring a split farm bill

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro has thrown in with his reactionary House Republican colleagues in a divide-and-conquer strategy on the farm bill.

The Big Orange open line

I won't bore you with where I've been, but I had to stay away from the keyboard most of the afternoon.

AFP makes misleading attacks on “private option” for Medicaid expansion

As Cass Sunstein has pointed out, for some Obamacare critics, “the real lesson of essentially every development in health-care reform” is “OBAMACARE IS A DEBACLE.” So it should come as no surprise that groups like Americans for Prosperity are busy twisting the facts on the “private option” policy for Medicaid expansion passed by super-majority in the legislature last April.

"Bump" on new Arkansas Made website

[embed-1] The Arkansas Historic Museum has created a new website, "Arkansas Made," about the museum's ongoing work to locate and document Arkansas-made furniture, silver, quilts, pottery, fine art and other objects.

David "Bud" Bell at Curran Hall

Historic Curran Hall, the antebellum home and gardens at 615 E. Capitol that serves as Little Rock's Visitor Center and mayor's reception hall, will host Second Friday Art Night with a festive open house.featuring a bonanza of prizes, food and drink.

We're going to Carolina

A New York Times editorial summarizes what's befallen somewhat progressive North Carolina since Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branch.

New Ark. GOP broom, same dirt

The Arkansas Republican Party made great sport as the minority party of chronicling Democratic Party cronyism and corruption.

Stick to the point

"Beamish said he has read some of the message-board comments from fans questioning his ability. 'They'd say, who is he? Is he that good? I've never heard of him before.' At one point and time I wanted people to know that's Horace Beamish and he makes plays."

Buffalo Dick

It was a good week for Hillary Clinton

It was also a good week for House Speaker Davy Carter, the fight for equality and Grant Tennille. It was a bad week for Hewlett-Packard employees and gun zealots.

A window into Martin-Zimmerman trial

Twenty years ago, I wrote a book called "Widow's Web" about two politically charged, media-driven murder cases. The subject was all anybody in Arkansas talked about for a couple of years.

Summer lovin'

When the summer months come around, The Observer is a rambling man. There is something about the heat that makes a body want to get a move on. We know others take a different approach, settling deeper in to the couch as the air gets muggier, but that's never been our way.

GOP gets PR boost with Obamacare reprieve

The Obama administration's decision to give big employers another year before they are taxed for not providing health insurance for their workers looked like the opening Republicans had been waiting for. As they had been saying, Obamacare just doesn't work and now the administration is admitting it.

An alternative Catholic perspective

As a regular reader and advertiser, I value the more progressive perspective of the Arkansas Times. We believe that you reach some of the people we want to reach. So, I thought you might be interested in the news that, in the wake of conservative reaction against last week's Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and California Prop. 8, there is at least one alternative Catholic perspective in our community.

Mad Nomad at Stickyz

Also, Krafty Kuts at Disco.

Inconsequential News Quiz: The God hates Canadian bacon edition

Play at home.

Wild West dud

'Lone Ranger's' time has come and gone.

More deja vu

To Republican politicians in Arkansas, it is 1954 all over again. Back then, the U.S Supreme Court had just ordered an end to segregation in the schools, and ambitious demagogues across the South were vowing defiance of a race-mixing federal government. They didn't have time to talk about other problems — low wages, lack of health care, deficient education — even if they'd wanted to.

Money and judicial elections in Arkansas

There was an article in the June 30 edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that unveiled the plans of the Arkansas Republican Party to create a political action committee (PAC) called Americans for Judicial Excellence that would operate independently from the state Republican Party. Yeah, right!

Summer book picks

Short stories, sexy killers and 'Sisters Brothers.'

Gus's chicken is 'special'

River Market district eatery lives up to reputation.

Library namesake

Hillary Clinton reads "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to the crowd gathered for the naming of the new children's library in her honor.

'Spamalot' at Weekend Theater

'Legally Blonde: The Musical' at the Public Theatre, the Eureka Springs Fat Tire Festival, Royal Thunder and Adam Faucett at White Water, Gary Allan at Magic Springs and A Mid Summer Night's Jam at Stickyz.

Rich Nagel reflects

On successes and new battles AEA must fight in the legislature.

A call in the Arkansas Capitol for marriage equality

AEDC director says state should lead the way.

The kids are all right

Still befuddled about my own sexuality, my first awareness that being gay was a matter of public debate came in 1977. That was when orange juice hawker Anita Bryant led a high-profile campaign to overturn a Dade County, Fla., ordinance barring job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by vote of the people.

Attracting young entrepreneurs

New York Times reports on the relocation of a married male couple, one a millionaire Facebook founder, so one of them can make a run for Congress from New York.

The 3 Best: Donuts

The Arkansas donut scene is grossly behind some other American cities that have heartily embraced the potential of fried dough. But that’s not to say there isn’t some wonderful breakfast pastry out there for those willing to look a little harder. You may have to pass by a half dozen Shipley’s to find these places, but here at some shops worth savoring—the 3 best donuts in central Arkansas.

When clinics aren't available, women turn to flea market abortions

Here's the reality of the Republican war on women's reproductive rights: At an open-air flea market outside McAllen, Texas, near the Mexican border, shoppers can buy a goat and get their car windows tinted.

Thursday: Green Corner Store's fourth birthday, Mad Nomad, Collin Vs. Adam and more

Collin Vs. Adam plays at The Joint Thursday night.

Fracking: Good for energy companies, good for earthquakes

Arkansas is already familiar with this story, but it bears mention. Mother Jones reports on new evidence of linkage of practices in fracking for gas and oil with earthquakes, here along the Wilzetta fault in Oklahoma.

Tom Cotton: His way on immigration reform or no way

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, the Club for Growth's house boy in Arkansas, continues to have his Senate campaign flogged by the Fox/Murdoch/Club for Growth/corporate lobby forces.

Sam Walls retires from Arkansas Capital Corp.

This is news of interest mostly to a fairly small number of business insiders, I'd guess, but noteworthy.

Survey rates health facilities on treatment of LGBT patients

The Human Rights Campaign has released its annual Healthcare Equality Index, a survey-based recognition of health care facilities that pledge to provide equal treatment to LGBT patients.

Friday To-Do: 'Monty Python's Spamalot' at The Weekend Theater

David Weatherly (kneeling) and Josh Sigal star in The Weekend Theater's production of "Monty Python's Spamalot," which opens Friday.

Friday To-Do: 'Legally Blonde: The Musical' at The Public Theatre

Community Theatre of Little Rock's production of "Legally Blonde: The Musical" opens Friday.

Friday-Sunday To-Do: Eureka Springs Fat Tire Festival

The Eureka Springs Fat Tire Festival kicks off Friday.

Friday To-Do: Royal Thunder, Adam Faucett & The Tall Grass Buffalo

Royal Thunder plays at White Water Tavern Friday.

Judge Mike Maggio reduces unanimous jury verdict in nursing home death by 81 percent

Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of Conway, who hopes to rise to the state Court of Appeals, has sent signals throughout his career and, since he announced for higher office, that he's a right-thinking Republican judge, conservative and no activist.

Driggs gets $468,000 for radios. Yes, Driggs

A reader calls to my attention the joint announcement by budget hawk Dr. No Boozman and Sen. Mark Pryor that the Homeland Security Department had made a $468,000 grant to Driggs, Ark., so the local rural fire department could buy portable and mobile radios for the volunteer firefighters.

Friday: Joey Farr, Kentucky Knife Fight and more

Joey Farr plays at Midtown Friday night.

Thursday: Rebirth Brass Band at Revolution

Rebirth Brass Band plays at Revolution Thursday.

Arkansas House Republicans join passage of farm bill opposed by farm groups, without food aid

All four Arkansas Republican members of the House — Tom Cotton, Tim Griffin, Steve Womack and Rick Crawford — joined in the narrow House passage today of a farm bill stripped of nutrition (food stamp) aid.

Legislators hear testimony on problems in parole system: UPDATE

Leslie Newell Peacock will be back before long with a report from the legislative committee hearing on the state parole system.

The Thursday night line

I'm tired of being tired. The line is open.

The Edge, with sangria

The Edge Gallery at 301B President Clinton Ave. will be serving up sangria and new artwork for 2nd Friday Art Night tomorrow night from 5-8 p.m. Now in the gallery along with work by owner Avila (Fernando Gomez) and Eric Freeman: Glass artist James Hayes, painter-photographer Jerry Colburn, S. Joseph Thomason and Stephen Drive. 

More Republican resistance to 1st Amendment

I've observed before that it's not enough for Republican to prevail on legislative votes, they also want to silence critics.

Saline sheriff's actions night of arrest worse than originally reported

Faulkner County Prosecutor Cody HIland, the special prosecutor in Saline County on the public intoxication arrest of Saline Sheriff Bruce Pennington, took the unusual step yesterday of releasing further information from the Benton police file related to Pennington's arrest, though not the police video evidence.

Saturday To-Do: Gary Allan

Gary Allan performs at Magic Springs' Timberwood Amphitheater Saturday.

Saturday To-Do: A Mid Summer Night's Jam IV

Interstate Buffalo plays at Stickyz Saturday night.

Blanche Lincoln going out on her own in D.C. lobbying

Lincoln and Holified are going out on their own. Holifield, an Arkansas State grad who also worked previously on Lincoln's staff, said in a letter that was passed along to me: For the last two years I have had the honor and pleasure of working with the incredible team at Alston and Bird.

Franke, Smith, LeCrone: 2nd Friday art

Ten venues, three hours: a busy schedule for tonight's art walk/trolley tour.

Thick Syrup releases David Markey & Heavy Friends' 'Volume Infinite'

Thick Syrup Records just released "Volume Infinite" by David Markey & Heavy Friends.

The Dangerous Idiots will record a live album-DVD at White Water Tavern

The Dangerous Idiots will record a live album/DVD at White Water Tavern July 20.

Labor plugging Bill Halter for governor

The underlying action has been known for several weeks, but a new announcement from labor about support for Democrat Bill Halter's gubernatorial candidacy perhaps is a hint that he's staying put in the governor's race and not responding to Democratic Party entreaties to switch to a race for 2nd District Congress against Republican Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin.

Gun nuttery, Georgia-style: Required gun ownership

Good story here about the lawsuit by a gun control group, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, against Nelson, Ga., which adopted a "family protection" ordinance in April requiring gun and ammo ownership by the head of every household in the 1,300-population town.

LRPD makes arrest in murders in which victims were burned

The Little Rock Police Department has arrested a man in connection with two June homicides in which the victims' bodies were later burned.

Ex-lottery employee cashes $478 K in illicit winnings, loses it on lottery

Arkansas Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said during a Friday afternoon news conference

The Friday night line is open

It's yours. Sorry to all the breathless millions.

Food Feedback Friday: birthdays, beans, burritos

Go forth and feedback

UPDATE: Feds move to seize $17.6 life insurance proceeds on banker Layton Stuart, detail money laundering scheme, raise questions about death

A 46-page federal court filing Friday outlines a vast money laundering scheme by the late Layton "Scooter" Stuart, former CEO and owner of One Bank and Trust.

The Rep firms up plans for Arkansas Building addition

More news on the Creative Corridor on Main Street: Bob Hupp, the producing artistic director of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, gave the Times a tour today of The Rep's future educational space in the Arkansas building, the historic building catercornered from the Rep at 6th and Main that is being renovated by Scott Reed for lease as performance and living space.

Prediction: Slowing of Medicaid spending will drive renewed push for repeal of soft drink tax

Good news yesterday from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The program ended the budget year June 30 with a $62 million cushion in the Medicaid trust fund thanks to the slowest growth of spending in the program in years.

Mugs Cafe brings caffeinated class to Argenta

New coffee shop in Argenta pairs good service with good coffee in a classy setting.

Body of missing Garland County man found, suspects in custody

The Garland County sheriff's office reports that the body of Dan Roberson, 71, was found in a remote wooded area of the county near the Perry County line.

The Saturday night line is open: UPDATE — Zimmerman acquitted

You have anything to report? I can report grilled salmon, corn on the cob, heirloom tomatoes, Arkansas peaches.

The Rep expands its footing on Main Street

In case you missed it: Leslie Peacock talked with Bob Hupp last week for an article on Rock Candy about the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's work to create new educational space in the historic former retail building on the northwest corner of Sixth and Main (the Rep is on the southeast corner).

Shooting victim found in street at Roosevelt and Arch

In the in-box this morning from Sgt. Cassandra Davis of the Little Rock Police Department: At 9:27pm on July 13, 2013, officers were dispatched to the intersection of Roosevelt and Arch to a subject down.

State wants refund of corporate incentive payments

Another reason to appreciate Grant Tennille, the director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Tennille made headlines last week for making — as Democrat-Gazette columnist Philip Martin observed smartly today — "common sensical" remarks that it would be good for Arkansas to be seen as a welcoming place by repealing law that discriminages against gay people.

Ann Wagner on Rembrandt: Reminder

Curator of drawings' talk is Sunday.

Starving Artist's Paula Morrell wins Governor's Award

Paula Morrell, the owner of Starving Artist Cafe, whose weekly radio show "Tales from the South" features Arkansas storytellers and writers, has won the Folklife Award, part of the 2013 Governor's Arts Awards, and Rep director Robert Hupp won the Individual Artist Award.

Sunday night line: A triple slaying and Trayvon Martin in the news

The Sunday night line is open. Some items to note; * TRIPLE SLAYING IN PIKE COUNTY: State Police say three people are were fatally shot following what was described as a domestic disturbance Saturday night at a home on Highway 301, southwest of Delight.

Krugman offers a lesson on food stamps to Tom Cotton

All four Republicans House members from Arkansas voted to strip food stamps from the farm bill, but U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, the Club for Growth's visiting congressman in the state, has wangled TV invite after TV invite to brag about his work to strangle nutrition aid to the poor and has said he'd do it again happily.

Arkansas's food stamp story: Small support to poor working people

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton wants you to believe a bunch of SUV-driving, iPhone-waving, steak-eating welfare cheaters are dining out on lobster and caviar in the federal nutrition assistance program known colloquially as food stamps.

Recent Arkansas Music Pavilion additions: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Easton Corbin

The Walton Arts Center's Arkansas Music Pavilion continues to fill out its 2013 season (the final season that the venue will be located in Fayetteville) with two recent concert announcements.

Black Caucus to hold vigil in response to Trayvon Martin verdict

In response to the Trayvon Martin verdict, the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus will hold a Vigil for Justice at 8:30 p.m. tonight at the Capitol.

Mark Pryor reports $4 million on hand for Senate election

Lots of these will be coming in today. U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor’s reelection campaign released its Federal Election Commission fundraising report Monday.

Eagle watching at 2nd and Victory

I'd noticed some Tweets this morning from George Hopkins at Teacher Retirement, who spied bald eagles flying around the agency's building at Third and Victory.

Crowdfunding goal reached in Mayflower project

We've entered the home stretch of Muckraking the Mayflower Oil Spill, our crowdfunding project with InsideClimate News.

Nate Silver: U.S. Senate a tossup in 2014

I became a big fan of Nate Silver, the New York Times' number cruncher and political analyst, during the 2012 presidential election, so I'm obligated to report the bad news he issues.

Exxon payday for Tim Griffin in latest finance report; this year a refund

Nice timing. Republican U.S. Rep. Tim "Pipeline" Griffin made a point of trumpeting his visit out to Oil City, Ark., today (otherwise known as Mayflower.)

Charter schools and increasing segregation

The U.S. Supreme Court has pretty well decided this is a post-racial world and things like school assignments that resegregate public schools or admission policies that favor whites are no longer constitutional concerns.

Mike Ross reports almost $2 million in gubernatorial campaign report

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross reported today that he's already raised almost $2 million for his campaign.

Federal lawsuit challenges Arkansas same-sex marriage ban

A second lawsuit was filed today — this one in federal court — challenging the state's constitutional and statutory bans on marriage by people of the same sex.

Fatal police shooting followed by angry protests as crowd gathers

Details are sketchy at the moment, but Fox 16 reports a suspect has been killed by police gunfire near 12th and Jefferson Streets.

Momentous Monday — an open line for all you 1 percenters

Busy day and still not done, with some campaign reports still outstanding. But I'm opening up the line all the same.

Hundreds at Capitol vigil for Trayvon Martin case

Hundreds of people turned out at the Arkansas Capitol Monday for a vigil sponsored by the Arkansas Black Legislative Caucus as a response to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case.

When legislators go too far, sometimes voters get it

Might there be an object lesson for the Arkansas Republican Party in this public opinion polling from North Carolina, where right-wing Republican control has, as in Arkansas, produced a steady diet of hard-right legislation straight from the party playbook.

Wednesday: Movies in the Park: 'Big'

Movies in the Park will screen "Big" Wednesday night.

Gov. Beebe responds to lawsuit on state's gay marriage ban

I asked Gov. Mike Beebe's office yesterday for a response to the federal lawsuit that argues that the Arkansas constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution's equal rights and due process protections.

Welfare queens, young bucks, T-bones and Tom Cotton

Ernie Dumas provides another useful analysis today tying historic political events — Ronald Reagan's racially incendiary use of "welfare queens" and "young bucks" dining on T-bones as a metaphor to rouse the Southern base — to current events.

Paul Ryan for Arkansas? No thanks

Thanks to Lt. Gov. Mark Darr for alerting me via the Twitter photograph above of Rep. Paul Ryan's visit to Arkansas on behalf of U.S. Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin of Kochville.

Arkansas: Generous college help, particularly if need doesn't count

Benji Hardy at the Arkansas Legislative Digest blog has mined some interesting data from a national study on support for college students' costs.

UA offical seeking Iowa post

This just in from the University of Iowa: John N. Diamond, associate vice chancellor for university relations at the University of Arkansas [since 2010], will visit the University of Iowa campus Wednesday, July 17 as the third of three finalists for the UI vice president for strategic communication position.

Baptist Health laying off 170 workers statewide

Baptist Health has announced the layoff of 170 workers, about 2.5 percent of its 7,300-worker force, statewide.

Little Rock police release report on shooting, identify officer

The Little Rock Police Department has released the initial incident report on the fatal police shooting yesterday of Deon Williams, 26.

Mayor Stodola asks board to drop his pay raise

Breaking news from Channel 4's Drew Petrimoulx: At request of LR Mayor Stodola, Director Cazort withdraws ordinance to boost mayor pay.

Bruno's looking at late August

Gio Bruno says he'll open Bruno's Little Italy in the Mann Lofts in late August.

Tuesday night open line

I"ve been driven from my office by Internet problems and from my home by workman pounding on my bird-ravaged back wall.

Hospital merger seen as driving higher costs

Here's an interesting story from the New York Times. It's about the merger of two hospital systems, one including a medical school.

Nonprofit hires former education commissioner Ken James

Ken James, who served stints as Little Rock school superintendent and state Education Department director before heading into the private educational world, has been hired to lead the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science, which works to improve Advanced Placement test performance in math, science and English.

Little Rock call center to add 200 jobs

Roby Brock at Talk Business reports on plans to add 200 jobs to call center operations at Fidelity National Information Services in western Little Rock.

Harrison lawyer Ken Reeves appointed to Game and Fish Commission

As predicted here yesterday, a Harrison lawyer was appointed today to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, keeping intact the powerful commission's all-white male composition.

Thursday To-Do: Natural Child

Natural Child plays at Stickyz Thursday.

Friday To-Do: Cruz Way

Cruz Way will perform at Juanita's Friday night.