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August 14, 2014

Vol 22 • No 25

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Seven reasons why closing late-night clubs early is a bad idea for Little Rock

An ordinance being considered by the City Board would close the city's 5 a.m. clubs at 2 a.m. Here's why that's bad policy for Little Rock.

Little Rock: Where the gold rules and just about everybody is connected

A Little Rock Board decision took a little more space than normal. Plus, it’s a good time for full personal disclosure.

When climate denialists attack

Recently a friend posted a video on Facebook that he asserted would demolish the Godless theory of evolution. On it, a fellow sitting in a pickup and wearing a backward baseball cap smugly explained that Darwinian evolution contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a fundamental principle of physics.

Park drawing interest of local companies, director says; also, a clarification

Brent Birch, the newly hired director of the Little Rock Technology Park, told the board this afternoon that he'd had a "volume of interest" by local companies interested in the park.

Draft Mike Beebe?

We have a feeling he'll be golfing in Searcy, but the one Democratic politician who seems immune to the dead-red tide in Arkansas is Gov. Mike Beebe. A Public Policy Polling survey released last week found Beebe leading Republican Sen. John Boozman in a speculative 2016 Senate matchup 46-40.

Michael Bay strikes again

With mediocrity in a reboot of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.'

Crowding on Kanis

Development too much for two lanes, residents say.

Barth: Ross needs to go for the heart

In recent years, neuroscience has entered the discipline of political science, providing us new insights into what is going on inside citizens' brains as they ponder politics. Among other things, that research has provided clear evidence of what those of us who have been around politics for a long time know well — emotions are more powerful than rationality in molding political attitudes.

Boston plays Walmart AMP

'Indigo Visions' at Hearne Fine Art, Super Circus Heroes at Verizon Arena, Johnny Cash Festival at ASU, Third Friday Artwalk in North Little Rock, Trill Clinton at Sway and Young Jeezy at First Security Amphitheater.

Ristorante Capeo: still tasty after all these years

And thriving in Argenta.

Cotton's 'some folks': Obamacare helps 230,000 Arkansans

A year ago, 22.5 percent of adults were uninsured, one of the highest rates in the country, but the share of uninsured had fallen to 12.4 percent early this summer.

Singing works just fine for me

James Taylor at Verizon Arena last Friday.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Dirty Job's Edition

Somebody's gotta do it. Play at home.

Democrats and poverty

Why do liberals hate the poor? You somehow equate being unwilling to give up American sovereignty and not leaving our southern border unsecured as "Heartless" (Week That Was, Aug. 7).

The key

The Observer has been thinking a lot about guilt and innocence recently, a cerebral by-product of a story I'm working on about a guy who spent a lot of years in the Concrete Hotel for a crime he may well have not committed in the first place, put there partially on the word of a cop who later resigned after admitting he cooked up evidence in a very similar case. Stay tuned for that one in the Arkansas Times soon. I am, in general, a guilty sort. A confession then, after all these long years.

Our House takes on the Bard

Homeless adults do Shakespeare at the Shelter.

Louis Johnson comes to Loony Bin

Kevin Kerby plays The Undercroft.

Razorback football preview, part two

The second phase of the Arkansas football schedule is predictably nasty. When things went sharply south in 2013, it was largely due to a horrid four-game stretch in October that was earmarked by all the customary trappings of a team in the throes of collapse.

Where are the peacemakers in Ferguson, Mo.? A local judge suggests a better strategy

Unrest in Ferguson, Mo. following the police shooting of an unarmed teen hasn't been a shining moment. The law and constitution have been ignored. Police have manhandled reporters. A local judge writes on what would have been a better way for local officials to deal with the situation.

Walmart: Another flat quarter for core U.S. stores

Walmart quarterly earnings continue to reflect flat performance by U.S. Walmart and Sam's club stores.

How low can the Kochs go? How about your local school board?

The billionaire Koch brothers' political influence doesn't stop at Congress or even the Arkansas legislature. They are paying to influence government at the local level, too.

Ross, Hutchinson to meet Saturday with state employees

The major party candidates for governor — Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson — will meet in sequential 30-minute sessions Saturday morning with the Arkansas State Employees Association. State employee health insurance will be on the agenda.

Militarization of city police — in Ferguson, Mo., and Bryant, Ark.

Troops in the Middle East often use less military might for crowd control than on display in Ferguson, Mo., and Bryant, Ark. Concern rises about militarization — or Hollywoodization — of local police forces.

Senators announce effort to abolish office of lieutenant governor

Sens. Keith Ingram of West Memphis, a Democrat, and Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana, a Republican, have announced an effort to abolish the office of lieutenant governor.

Savor the specials at South on Main, etc.

Savor this: $2 off the Blue Plate Lunch special at South on Main, a free one-scoop sundae with your entree at Purple Cow, 20 percent off the appetizers at Sonny Williams's Steak Room (ooh, now you can get the lump crab cakes for about $12!), a 75-cent PBR at Leo's Greek Castle!

Arkansas regulators unconcerned about report on fracking chemicals

An environmental groups reports that a diesel-based fuel has been part of the chemical stew injected underground in Arkansas as part of the fracking process to search for natural gas. Federal rules changed in February and Southwestern Energy said it then stopped using kerosene as an additive.

State Board of Education partners with Rockefeller, Walton foundations to target distressed schools

The state Board of Education today approved a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and Walton Family Foundation aimed at developing a plan to strengthen education by targeting academically distressed schools and districts.

Happy birthday Social Security. Why do Republicans hate you?

It's the 79th birthday of the most popular and successful anti-poverty program ever — Social Security. It's also a political season, a good time for Democratic candidates to remind voters about the opposition to conventional Social Security from the likes of Asa Hutchinson, Tom Cotton, Rick Crawford and J. French Hill.

Amoja 'MoMan' Sumler wins Rocktown Slam, will perform in Phoenix

Four poets competed in the Rocktown Slam Wednesday night at the Arkansas Arts Center for a chance to represent Arkansas at the Individual World Poetry Slam in Phoenix in October.

Progress reported on alcohol, minimum wage petition drives

Progress is being reported on petition drives for Arkansas to vote on statewide retail alcohol sales and an increase in the minimum wage.

Remembering Samantha Olson — and looking for leads in her death

One year ago today, Samantha Olson was killed by a gunshot as she drove at the intersection of JFK and McCain, North Little Rock. Her killer remains unknown and at large and her husband has urged the public to search memories for clues.

Little Rock Zoo welcomes a new penguin

Little Rock Zoo reports hatch of third African penguin.

Efficiency expert says Arkansas leading the nation on planning for EPA carbon rule

Neal Elliott of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says much of Arkansas' compliance with EPA's new carbon guidelines can come from efficiency improvements in homes, businesses and industry, not just shifting to cleaner sources of power.

Missouri governor sends state police to Ferguson

The Missouri governor is sending the state highway patrol to provide security in unsettled Ferguson, Mo. He thinks the "war zone" situation is not acceptable.

A cool open line; gay bias; Little Rock City Board candidates

The open line includes confirmation that July was the coldest on record for the state of Arkansas.

Attorney general approves form of medical marijuana proposal

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has approved the form of a proposal to legalize medical marijuana for consideration in 2016.

The Arkansas Times Saves Late-Night Clubs Or Something Like That Edition

An effort to abolish the office of lieutenant governor, the Little Rock City Board and late-night clubs, the latest sign of trouble among Justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court, a leaked Tea Party memo and a rare admission by Tom Cotton — all covered on this week's podcast.

Gov. Mike Beebe takes the ice bucket challenge

A money-raising gimmick for the ALS Association has gone viral. Celebrities all over rare taking the "ice bucket challenge" — getting a bucket of cold water dumped on them or making a donation to ALS. Add Gov. Mike Beebe to the list.

Audit shortcomings add heat to Bryant mayor's race

A critical state audit has added more heat to a hot race for mayor in Bryant.

There's a Democrat in Alabama — from Arkansas

A Democrat has emerged to challenge for an open congressional seat in a Republican-leaning (aren't' they all?) district in Birmingham, Ala. He's Birmingham-Southern college professor Mark Lester, who happens to be a Little Rock native.

2nd Annual Urban Raw Festival coming to SoMa

Sol Food Catering, along with Pulaski Tech, is holding the 2nd Annual Urban Raw Festival in the South Main neighborhood in September.

Walmart expects to spend $500 million on employee health care this year

Walmart announced that it expects to spend around $500 million for domestic employee health-care costs, up from a previous estimate of $330 million.

Ferguson police identify officer in shooting; police state that Michael Brown was primary suspect in alleged robbery

Ferguson, Mo., police have identified the officer who shot an unarmed teen, a death that set days of protests in motion in Ferguson and nationwide. Police also released an incident report this morning stating that Brown was the primary suspect for an alleged robbery which took place the morning before the shooting.

Tim Griffin is all wet

Rep. Tim Griffin challenges Max Brantley to get soaked.

New video from Kari Faux, 'On The Internet'

Complex premiered the new Kari Faux video yesterday afternoon, a trippy collage of old screensavers and `90s Windows visuals directed by Faux and Little Rock rap video guru Kenneth Bell.

Education Commissioner: Expect new school choice law in 2015

The issue of school choice will be back on the radar in the 2015 session, with all its attendant problems of fairness and legality. In the meantime, a report to the State Board shows the number of students moving in and out of each district under the law, broken down by race/ethnicity.

Arkansas State Police: Pine Bluff police officer shot man in her home early this morning

Pine Bluff police officer Denise Richardson shot a man in the chest after a struggle which took place at her home around 2 a.m. this morning, according the Arkansas State Police. Percy Smith, 44, drove himself to the hospital and is currently in treatment for the gunshot at Jefferson Regional Medical Center.

Dog bowl inventor purchases former Dogpatch land

Arkansas's kitschy-est ghost town has a new owner. Earlier this week, Charles "Bud" Pelsor purchased much of the land that used to be the home of Dogpatch USA. He and partners paid close to $2 million for the 400-acre site in Newton County on Wednesday, the Democrat-Gazette reported this morning. Time to indulge in some nostalgia.

American Bridge releases report on Koch brothers' environmental impacts and layoffs

American Bridge, the liberal PAC formed by David Brock, the former Clinton foe now dedicated to round-the-clock Hillary Clinton defender, is out today with a new report on environmental impacts and layoffs from Koch Industries. The report focuses on the business activities of the Koch brothers — more famous for hundreds of millions in political spending aimed at slashing government services, regulation and taxes — in twelve states, including Arkansas. From the report: "The Kochs' extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors."

Stodola to run unopposed for Little Rock mayor

The noon deadline today for filing as a candidate for Little Rock office has come and gone, and Mayor Mark Stodola did not draw an opponent. He'll be elected to his third four-year term. Benny Johnson, of the Stop the Violence group, has been critical of the mayor for the city's use of police resources in the inner city and had been considering the race. But several Little Rock Directors face opposition.

Another Republican tax cheat? Blue Hog notes Secretary of State Mark Martin's improper homestead tax exemption

Could another Arkansas politician end up in hot water over homestead tax credits? Remember, Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson improperly claimed homestead property tax exemptions in two counties for four years — 2008 through 2011 — though state law limits you to one $350 exemption. The Blue Hog Report blog (which has a history of breaking stories that turn out to be headaches for Arkansas Republicans) has done some digging and it appears that Secretary of State Mark Martin took the homestead exemption on both a house in Rogers and a house in Praire Grove, at least since 2008 and possibly as far back as 2003.

Argenta Artwalk tonight: Claymation, 'Come as You Are' and more

Quirky, terrific ceramist Celia Storey will be shooting a Pinky claymation video tonight at Laman Library Argenta, 420 Main St., and you can join in by taking one of the nine speaking parts. It's part of Argenta ArtWalk, 5-8 p.m. in downtown North Little Rock. She'll also show her work — and bring the scripts.

Hawaiian Music, Sci-fi, Children's Books and Weekend Movie Picks. Plus tiny flies walking in Istanbul.

For a span of two to four years I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii. Who can really say how long it was? It was during my early twenties, anyhow. At some point I moved away, excited to renew my relationship with the mainland and explore new forms of escapism that didn’t involve so much ukulele

Restored Johnny Cash Boyhood Home opens to visitors tomorrow

The Dyess Colony Museum and Johnny Cash's restored boyhood home will be open for visitors tomorrow after a restoration project that began in early 2012.

Bill Clinton on private option and Sunni tribal leaders and genomics and Mike Beebe

Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address at the Southern Governors' Association this afternoon at the Little Rock Marriott. The theme of this year's conference is "Accelerating the American South's R&D Network", which of course Clinton interpreted as free license to riff on everything from welfare reform to the crisis in Ukraine.

A soaking wet open line

Week is out and the line is open with our video roundup on Mark Martin, Dogpatch, the Ferguson shooting, and looming ice-bucket challenges.

Mark Martin's excuse for tax cheating needs a fact-check

Secretary of State Mark Martin, caught cheating on his property taxes, claims he's a victim of a political witch hunt and also claims he's a victim of a mistake easily missed in the mortgage process. A check of original documents in a similar case by Asa Hutchinson disproved the excuse in Asa's case. Time to check Martin's documents.

Uber-Lyft back on Little Rock City Board calendar

The Uber car service and private club closing hours are again on the Little Rock City Board agenda for next week

Financial scandal brewing in Delta

A commodity broker in the Delta may have cost Arkansas farmers millions, House Speaker Davy Carter says.

Beebe: minority of legislature won't run over majority to block private option in 2015

Gov. Mike Beebe hosted a panel this morning on the private option — the state's plan using Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for low-income Arkansans — at the Southern Governors Association meeting in downtown Little Rock. Beebe used the occasion to make a prediction — more bold, aggressive and blunt than we're accustomed to from Beebe, nearing the end of his term. The private option isn't going anywhere, Beebe said, because ultimately the overwhelming majority of the legislature supports it.

UPDATE: Questions on commodity brokering of farm crops

The brokerage firm involved in the commodity contracts breach that Speaker Davy Carter has addressed was identified by farmers we spoke to as Turner Grain in Brinkley, owned by Jason Coleman and Dale Bartlett.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley stumps for Rapert opponent Tyler Pearson

Sen. Jason Rapert is the bogeyman Arkansas Democrats love to hate. Can political newcomer Tyler Pearson take down the incumbent? Pearson discussed pre-k and raising the state minimum wage at a campaign event today featuring Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Keeping up with local military, aka the police

The New York Times published this dandy interactive map tracking the shipment of military weapons and equipment to every county in the United States. Fascinating stuff. Check your county.

The New York open line: Plus a return from journalism to political flackery and a knock on Sen. Boozman

Tonight's open line includes notes on my visit to Cooperstown, N.Y., and a new hand from the TV world joins Asa Hutchinson's campaign.

Southern Governors Association talks private option

Gov. Mike Beebe, as well as governors from Maryland and Kentucky, discussed health care reform and the private option – the unique Arkansas version of Medicaid expansion – at a panel this morning at the Southern Governors Association meeting. Here are a few highlights, including the unique status of Arkansas and Kentucky, the possibility that the private option helped cut disability applications, and why Beebe thinks Arkansas got it right and Louisiana got it wrong.

Little Rock police dog back on duty — on leash

Ammo, the Little Rock police dog who bit two neighbors after escaping from his keeper's fenced enclosure in Saline County, is back on duty the LRPD said in a brief statement last night.

Arkansas native proposes challenge to unopposed Republican senator in Alabama

An Arkansas native, now teaching law in Washington, is mounting a quixotic effort to get on the ballot in Alabama so that Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions won't go unopposed in November. At a minimum, Victor Williams says he hopes to inspire Democrats in Alabama and shine attention on issues such as immigration.

Train derailment in Hoxie kills 2; homes evacuated

Two people were killed with two trains collided near Hwy. 67 early this morning, and State Police are evacuating residents of the southern end of the city while the trains burn. U.S. 67 south of Hoxie and U.S. 63 are closed. The trains were carrying hazardous chemicals.

Southern governors discuss efforts to contain health care costs

In addition to coverage expansion, there was much talk at the Southern Governors Conference on health care payment reform — Gov. Mike Beebe argued that while it has gotten less attention, the state's Payment Improvement Initiative is an equally important development in health care reform in the state. Beebe said he was "more convinced than ever that fee for service was an unsustainable model for the payment of health care in this country."

Ferguson mid-day line

Seems like we could use an open line for developments in Ferguson. It's yours.

Not many bartenders in Arkansas

Which state has the lowest prevalence of bartending in the nation? You'll never guess!

Open line

The line is open. It's yours.

Missouri National Guard deployed in Ferguson

Overnight, the news worsened in Ferguson, Mo., with the call of the National Guard to peacekeeping duty.

Today's news: Minimum wage and Mark Martin

The drive to increase the minimum wage and continuing questions about Secretary of State Mark Martin's double-dipping on a property tax exemption should prompt additional news today.

Capers wins American Culinary Federation award

Local restaurant wins award from national organization of chefs.

Democratic party chair: Mark Martin's response to tax problems "despicable"

Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Vincent Insalaco released a statement today on Secretary of State Mark Martin, who appears to have improperly taken two homestead tax exemptions (only one is allowed) since at least 2008 and perhaps as far back as 2003. Martin blamed his trouble on opponents' "politics of personal destruction." Insalaco said Martin's response was "despicable."

New video from Goon des Garcons, 'DIRTY BOYZ 2K14'

Here's the latest video from Little Rock's Goon des Garcons and the Young Gods of American camp, a clip for "DIRTY BOYZ 2K14" that opens with a solid minute of druggy ambiance and is enough to make you want to quit your job and go nocturnal.

Arkansas unemployment rate fell by 1.5 percentage points over the past year

Arkansas' unemployment rate has achieved parity with that of the US as a whole. The labor force also shrank over the past year, but the number of available jobs grew.

Ethics Commission director: agency needs more staff to do its job

The director of the state Ethics Commission says the agency needs more staff and more money to handle its workload. It should get the raise it needs in order to do its job well.

Hospital system computers hacked; 10 in Arkansas affected: Update

Community Health Systems, which operates 10 hospitals in Arkansas, has announced that is computers have been hacked and data on 4.5 million patients stolen, CNN Money is reporting.

Minimum wage group turns in nearly 70,000 additional signatures

Give Arkansas a Raise Now, the group seeking to qualify a ballot measure to raise the state minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour by 2017, turned in an additional 69,070 signatures to the Arkansas Secretary of State's office today.

NTSB working train crash in Hoxie, names of dead and injured released

The NTSB is on the scene of Sunday's deadly train collision near Hoxie that left two train crew members dead and two injured. Union Pacific also issued the names of those killed and injured in the collision today.

Name that Arkansas artist

The artist who created this work won a prize for it. Name the artist and prize and I'll tell you where you can see it.

Michelle Duggar and the Family Council try to torpedo Fayetteville non-discrimination ordinance with lies

The Arkansas Family Council has enlisted Michelle Duggar to oppose a Fayetteville non-discrimination ordinance with a fear-mongering robocall.

The nothing-to-see-here open line

It's an open line.

Mark Martin fesses up, but excuse on tax double-dip still raises questions

Secretary of State Mark Martin will pay back illegal double dips he took on a homestead property tax exemption back to 2004, but he still blames the problem on a mortgage process that doesn't match up with dates on documents in his case.

Safety investigator says signal apparently not followed before Hoxie crash

Federal regulators say failure for train operators to follow signals apparently contributed to a train collision Sunday near Hoxie.

Beer for dessert with Mylo Coffee Co. and Core Brewing

Beer cake? Really? Oh yes, this is a choice dessert.

Turn, turn, turn: A time to plant, a time to regulate

Suddenly, some in the farming community see some need for regulation.

UPDATE: Fayetteville debates civil rights ordinance — and restrooms — tonight

The Fayetteville City Council is expected to vote tonight on a city civil rights ordinance that is controversial because — among the classes it protects — are LGBT people. As ever, the Religious Right is using bathroom hysteria as a wedge issue.

Electronics gear taken in home invasion robbery

Courtney Martin of 10200 W. 24th St. told police that electronics gear was stolen from her home after it was invaded by robbers about 2 p.m. Monday.

Rights group reports continuing abusive practices at juvenile lockup

The Arkansas Disability Rights Center has issued another report on conditions at the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center in Alexander, operated by a private contractor for the state Youth Services Division. Increasing assaults and uncorrected problems are key findings.

Late Night Dispatches from Midtown, Electric Cowboy and Elevations

For this week’s cover story, three of us from the Times took a post-2 a.m. tour of Midtown, Electric Cowboy and Elevations to get some pictures and shout questions at strangers over the music. Fortunately, it’s easier to cold-start a conversation with someone when they’ve had 3 or 4 (or 9 or 10) drinks inside them. Unfortunately, although the willingness-to-talk curve goes up relative to the amount of alcohol consumed, the coherence-of-conversation curve moves in the opposite direction. Here are a few outtakes from a mostly sober night of inviting drunks to rant about city politics.

Stream Pepperboy's WWII-themed 'Tora-Tora-Tora' EP

To celebrate his birthday yesterday, Little Rock's Pepperboy released a new EP which, like his last tape, "3 Volleys," is largely war-themed. This time, though, it's a period piece.

New savory specials: sweet!

On Saturday, I dropped by ZaZa for a gelato (the Italian yogurt, if you must know, since there was no pistachio to be had). I could have had a large for a $1 off, thanks to Savor the City.

Is Obamacare losing steam as attack ammo?:

Is Obamacare losing steam as campaign material for Republicans in key Senate races? A new analysis shows a sharp drop in its use in TV ads, including in Arkansas. No wonder. Hard to argue with the positive results.

Clinton National Airport proposes $20 million concourse renovation UPDATE

Renovations are planned to the passenger concourse at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

AARP Poll: Voters aged 50-plus give slight edge to Mike Ross

An AARP poll finds older voters worried about finances, in favor of at-home care over nursing homes and narrowly in favor of Mike Ross in the race for governor.

License tag fee would likely have to jump $2.50-$3 to pay for prison expansion, research finds

A new prison could cost $7 to $8 million in financing costs just to build. And it would be built in the face of statistics that indicate more prisons do little to reduce the crime rate.

Police shooting reported in St. Louis

Reports are emerging of a fatal police shooting in St. Louis. Not in Ferguson, Mo., but not many miles away. Details scant at the moment.

Little Rock: It's dangerous out there, but who's counting?

Yet another website highlights Little Rock as a dangerous place. An average citizen has a 1 in 10 chance of being a crime victim, it computes.

Support for Common Core flags nationwide, as Louisiana's Jindal stokes policy chaos

There's disturbing news for supporters of Common Core state standards from a survey published today by the journal Education Next: teachers are increasingly soured on the standards, just as they're being rolled out across the country. Meanwhile, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is being sued over his unilateral withdrawal from Common Core. Arkansas policymakers and educators, take notice.

Tom Cotton and the Republicans get desperate

Tom Cotton and Karl Rove and Co. are growing increasingly desperate and incoherent in attacks on Sen. Mark Pryor, who's proving not so easy to defeat as Republicans once believed.

FERC approves wind power project that includes Arkansas

Talk Business reports on news that Plains and Eastern Clean Line has received federal approval for a project to deliver wind-generated electricity to several states including Arkansas. The installation of power lines to carry the power won't come without controversy.

The open line for a busy evening

Here's an open line plus today's video headline roundup. More coverage coming tonight on the Little Rock City Board votes on competing private club security and early closing ordinances and on the Fayetteville City Council's vote on a civil rights ordinance opposed by religous conservatives who want to be able to continue to discriminate against gay people.

No vote tonight on Little Rock private club ordinances UPDATE

Benji Hardy reports that the Little Rock City Board won't take up private club ordinances tonight after all. Not enough members present.

Vote planned to rescind approval of Murphy Oil station at 12th and University; former backer Kumpuris to make motion UPDATE

The Little Rock City Board will vote in two weeks on rescinding its approval of a controversial Murphy Oil gas station and store at 12th and University. The move by a former supporter, Director Dean Kumpuris, followed continued neighborhood protests.

NLR woman pleads guilty in million-dollar payroll fraud

The U.S. attorney's office announced today that Regina Paff, 53, of North Little Rock, had pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a scheme to defraud her former employer, AGL Corporation in Jacksonville of about $1 million in bogus payroll and expense checks.

Fayetteville Council votes 6-2 for civil rights ordinance that protects gay, transgender people

At 3:20 a.m. today, the Fayetteville City Council voted 6-2 to approve a historic civil rights ordinance that includes LGBT people in its umbrella of employment, housing and accommodation protections. The vote followed 10 hours of comment from 140 people and poignant testimony from gay and transgender people about discrimination they've experienced.

Little Rock City Board again delays Uber discussion

The Little Rock Board of Directors again Tuesday night put off a full discussion of the Uber app-driven car service, perhaps until next week's board agenda meeting.

UA faulted for analysis of charter schools

An education policy group in Colorado has faulted the University of Arkansas's Walton-financed education reform arm for its analysis of the purported superior productivity of charter schools. It cites questionable data and a baseline finding that demographics — poverty, in other words — continue to be destiny in school performance.

Voter ID law: Unneeded and punishing legitimate voters

A billion votes with an absence of fraud prove there's no need for a Voter ID law. And discouragement of Arkansas voters in the recent primary election shows it's harmed legitimate voters. Ernest Dumas writes for this week's Times.

Mitt Romney to campaign for Asa Hutchinson and Tom Cotton; Democrats comment

Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson will be joined by failed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney at an appearance in Northeast Arkansas today.

Another shot at The Fold

After a tepid review a year ago, we revisit The Fold in Riverdale. How will the restaurant fare this time?

New music from Mandy McBryde and The Bridegrooms, 'The Meanest Things'

Here's a new one from Mandy McBryde and The Bridegrooms (formerly the Unholy Ghost), "The Meanest Things," courtesy of Fast Weapons Records.

Jonesboro Sun reporter quits over tension with city police chief; his Facebook comments a factor

The Jonesboro Sun reports that Sunshine Crump resigned as the newspaper's police reporter after a "tense" relationship with Police Chief Mike Yates. The newspaper has hired a lawyer and wants the chief fired.

A surge of millennials builds hope for downtowns such as Kansas City and Little Rock

A surge in downtown Kansas City — population growth, business development and entertainment lures — offers a grander parallel to what's underway in Little Rock's own urban core.

Pat Hays and Mark Pryor go the feel-good route; Pryor even works in Obamacare plug

Well, he's not a millionaire banker using his kids and an old car to play like he's a poor boy, but Democrat Patrick Henry Hays, the 2nd District congressional candidate and former North Little Rock mayor, has some pretty good TV of his own out in his race against Republican J. French Hill. And Mark Pryor has his dad with him talking about fighting cancer and insurance companies. Obamacare, in other words.

Lottery scales back 2015 budget by $3 million net

The legislature's delay — and likely future termination — of an Arkansas Lottery plan to begin quick-draw video games akin to Keno has forced a reduction in the lottery's budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.

New mixtape from Cool Chris, 'Leftover Gram$'

Cool Chris, of Little Rock's Young Gods of America collective, has a new tape out this week, "Leftover Gram$," the follow-up to his April release "Trap Conversations." Local beat-makers BLACK PARTY, Mach Soul and iamNAWF all show up, and Chris mostly takes a mellow, vibe-over-substance approach, letting the production take the front seat.

U.S. Supreme Court stays Virginia marriage equality ruling

Talking Points Memo says the decision is merely procedural and no reflection on the merits, but it is nonetheless not a happy sign that the U.S. Supreme Court has put a halt to enforcement of a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down the ban on same-sex marriage in Virginia.

ASU freshman impaled by shaft of broken golf club at frat party

Gruesome news from Arkansas State University via Fox 16: A freshman sorority member attending a rush party cookout Tuesday night at Kappa Alpha fraternity had the shaft of a broken golf club impaled in her neck in a freak accident.

The midweek line: Declining birth rates and a murder conviction

Today's open line includes the daily video news roundup, a report on the declining teen birth rate, particularly in the South, and a conviction in a Park Plaza mall slaying in 2013.

Bentonville Square to host third annual World Championship Squirrel Cook-off

The Bentonville Square will host the third annual World Championship Squirrel Cook-off at 9 a.m. on Sept. 13.
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