Cargill, the agri giant, has not attention of backing away from support of a hog feeding operation in the Buffalo River watershed. The company said this in a letter to veteran water chemist Joe Nix, who commented in sharing the letter, "sit back and know how it feels for your state and some of its most valuable resources to be screwed by big business."
A legislative task force next week will talk not only about insurance plans for state and school employees, but also the possibility of merging the two big state retirement systems. It's already raised concerns among teachers.
The Observer doesn't do a lot of movie reviews, but we're going to do one now, for director Richard Linklater's amazing, inspiring, somewhat depressing (depending on how far you are from childhood and parenthood) film "Boyhood."
I'm assuming that Hillary Clinton's running because of how ostentatiously she's not made up her mind. By sitting tight, she basically freezes potential Democratic rivals in place, passively using her lead in opinion polls to prevent others from raising money.
Fans of Arkansas's voter-identification law and similar laws in other states should pay homage to a Tulane University professor who rounded up all the evidence of why such laws are needed, which has been lacking in legislative debates and in courts where the laws are challenged.
Our food blog Eat Arkansas asked the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates for their favorite recipes. We don't know who will win, Democrat Mike Ross or Republican Asa Hutchinson. As they say, results are uncertain: Eat dessert first. It's something both parties agree on.
Recently, two Arkansas legislative committees approved a resolution opposing the proposed EPA carbon pollution standards (the Clean Power Plan), which requires states to develop and implement plans to reduce carbon emissions. I appreciate the Aug. 12 Arkansas Blog post by Benjamin Hardy, which presents facts about the EPA rule proposed in June, and suggests that the committees' resolution was a political stunt. A subsequent blog post by Hardy reported that a leading energy efficiency expert praised Arkansas efforts to develop a state implementation plan to curb carbon emissions.
Two-thirds of the way through what the punditry expects will be another turbulent football season for Arkansas, Pearls has arguably applied a more optimistic sheen to things and projected a 5-3 record heading into November. To recap, we anticipate the Hogs will drop their first three rather brutal conference tilts against Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama, but the slow scrape back toward the middle of the standings begins with a rousing win over Georgia in Little Rock and has the team buoyed for a big finish.
“This looks fun,” said former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as he looked at the press gathered for Romney’s endorsement this morning in North Little Rock of Rep. Tom Cotton, challenging Mark Pryor for U.S. Senate. Why Romney? The main point seemed to be reminding voters of the man who defeated Romney, President Barack Obama, who remains the focal point of Cotton’s campaign.
Nigerian-American artist Victor Ekpuk, whose work in on exhibit in the "12th National Drawing Invitational: Outside the Lines" exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center, will create a drawing on the wall of the Arkansas Arts Center and speak about his work at starting at 6 p.m. tonight.
Yesterday, Sen. Mark Pryor did something that got national attention: he released an ad that actually took credit for the benefits of Obamacare. Cotton's response was surprisingly muted. Could this be the latest sign that the Obamacare attack doesn't pack the punch it once did? One key question of the Arkansas Senate race will be what is more politically potent, the name "Obamacare" (which Cotton will repeat while dodging policy specifics) or the law's more popular component parts (which Pryor is beginning to highlight while avoiding actually naming the law).
A federal judge has ruled Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The nearly unbroken honor roll continues. Time for Arkansas courts — state Supreme and federal district — to get off their duffs and onto the right side of history with Judge Chris Piazza and dozens of others.
The Arkansas Democratic Party today released a summary of polling done for the party by Opinion Research Associates of Little Rock, the veteran opinion research firm. It shows Sen. Mark Pryor with a lead, but within the margin of error, over challenger Tom Cotton and shows Democrat Mike Ross in a dead heat with Republican Asa Hutchinson.
Christian Rudder, the Little Rock native who helped found the OkCupid matchmaking service, has come under fire lately for an experiment to see how unmatched couples might match up. The New Yorker talks to him about it.
A legislative committee is talking this morning about losses by farmers who sold crops to a Brinkley grain dealer but who have not been paid or received checks that bounced. The losses could be in the millions and reach other states.
John Schirmer, editor of the Nashville Leader, provides the final chapter in the story of a Nashville college teacher denied readmission to the U.S. after a mission trip to Central America. She arrives in Little Rock tonight.
The State Police and Monroe County authorities are looking for Dustin Heath Burrow, 29, of Brinkley as a suspect in the shooting death of his father, Carl Lynn Burrow,. 62, and armed robbery of his grandmother, Vaudean Burrow.
So the Obama administration proposes to allow employees of for-profit companies to get access to free contraceptive coverage from insurance companies as a way around the Hobby Lobby ruling that lets private employers refuse to offer such coverage.
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin has suspended Police Chief Mike Yates for 30 days without pay for Facebook comments about a Jonesboro Sun police reporter who's since quit her job because she said she didn't feel safe. The chief has been ordered to apologize, to undergo training, to stay away from social media and to review information release procedures that the Sun complained about.
Here's your open line and the video news headline roundup. Topics from today's blog include the Jonesboro police chief; Brinkley farm woes; death from a hit-and-run; a family crime in Brinkley; the Hobby Lobby workaround, and the Clinton Library birthday.
The passage of a historic civil rights measure in Fayetteville, a surprise about-face at the Little Rock City Board, Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates’ derogatory comments about Jonesboro Sun police reporter Sunshine Crump, Mark Pryor inching towards saying the name that cannot be spoken and a coming legislative meeting on the Arkansas’s biggest retirement systems — all covered on this week's podcast.
According to information previously available online via the Arkansas Insurance Department, carriers have submitted proposed 2015 rates for the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace — the health care exchange created via the Affordable Care Act — to AID for review. The news is good: if the proposed rates are approved, they will lead to an overall decrease in insurance rates on the Marketplace. The information was not intended to be public but was posted online by AID's Rate Review division error. It has now been taken down. Based on the 2014 market share on the exchange, if the proposed rates were approved, the net impact on rates on the Marketplace would be a decrease of 3.5 percent. Given that premiums tend to increase annually, this would be huge news for the Marketplace and for the private option if it comes to pass.
The U.S. attorney in Little Rock says David Patrick Henry Sr., 71, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and two years of supervised release, plus ordered to pay $1.02 million in restitution for stealing from a trust.
The Arkansas Democratic Party will hold it state convention today at Philander Smith College and gather for the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner tonight at the Statehouse Convention Center, with remarks planned by Gov. Mike Beebe and Mike Ross, the candidate for governor, and Mark Pryor, the incumbent senator. A flavor of national politics will be added by the presence of the Hillary Bus.
A special prosecutor is set to investigate whether Rogers City Attorney Ben Lipscomb violated the law by allegedly trying to impersonate a Bentonville police officer to get special treatment at a concert at the amphitheater in Bentonville.
Asa Hutchinson, the Republican candidate for governor, assembled some teachers who support him at the Capitol today. The Democratic Party was quick to remind voters of how Hutchinson insulted thousands of teachers after Democrat Mike Ross won the Arkansas Education Association endorsement in the race.
The proposed rates for the Obamacare Marketplace accidentally leaked by the Arkansas Insurance Department yesterday would represent a 3.5 percent DECLINE next year. If that turns out to be anywhere close to the rates in 2015...that would be a BFD.
The leaked rate filings we reported on yesterday suggested that the rates on the 2015 Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace might be lower than expected. If so, that's very good news for the private option. And the private option itself might deserve credit for lower rates.
Tonight's open line includes news that Arkansas Democrats are rallying around bread-and-butter populist themes — an increase in the minimum wage and support for expansion of health care coverage. (Pssst: That last thing? Just don't call it Obamacare.)
Rogers City Attorney Ben Lipscomb faces an investigation for claiming to be a law officer to get VIP treatment at a concert. Crime or no crime, it's not the first time he's demonstrated poor judgment. A new Arkansas lawyer recounts his experience with Lipscomb and his then-boss, the bumptious U.S. Rep. Steve Womack.
Molly Ball writes in The Atlantic about the massive operation by the Democratic Party to turn out the vote in November to save U.S. Senator Mark Pryor's seat and perhaps propel some more Democrats to victory elsewhere on the ball.
The New York Times reports today on flaws in the Medicare-developed star system of rating nursing homes. Top-rated nursing homes often turn up with serious problems, in part because ratings rely heavily on self-reported data.
Jack Stewart, vice president of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, landed an op-ed in the daily newspaper in Minneapolis, base for Cargill, the agri giant behind a mass hog feeding operation in the Buffalo River watershed.
Mark Darr, who resigned as lieutenant governor Feb. 1 amid controversy over his abuse of state and campaign expenses accounts, still hasn't repaid almost $10,000 in improper expenses he charged to the state. But Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says the check may soon be in the mail.
Crittenden Regional Hospital in West Memphis will close Sept. 7, despite voters' recent approval of a county sales tax to help keep the doors open. The hospital informed its some 400 employees this morning and also said it would accept no new patients after today.
An AP story this weekend filled in some crucial numbers on the volume of highly flammable oil transported across Arkansas by railroad: up to 33 trains per week that use Arkansas rail lines are carrying crude originating in the Bakken shale formation in the Dakotas, according to correspondence between rail operators and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management that was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the AP.
Among other appointments today, Gov. Mike Beebe appointed Kim Davis, director of External Relations and Economic Development at the Northwest Arkansas Council, to succeed Brenda Gullett on the state Board of Education.
Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport confirms a traveler's report that Frontier Airlines is suspending its four-day-a-week flight to Denver effective Oct. 26. On a positive note, the airport said Southwest plans no additional flight reductions at Little Rock in the immediate future.
The Little Rock Marriott has changed the look, menu and name of its restaurant, replacing Pancetta with Heritage Grille Steak and Fin. The dining area now includes a bar — moved from the lobby (where a new bar is in place) — and a larger menu.
An emotional Clarke Tucker, joined by his wife Toni, denounced Republican oppo research involving his four-year-old child at a a press conference this morning at his campaign headquarters in the Heights. The candidate for a District 35 House seat is running against Republican Stacy Hurst, a Little Rock City Director. "My opponent in this campaign for state representative has come after my four-year-old son and my family in a way that is completely unacceptable in a political campaign," Tucker said.
Christopher Craig, 47, has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he prepared fraudulent tax returns while working as a tax preparer in Little Rock. His scheme cost the government more than $1 million, the U.S. attorney said.
Is there a statewide race that commands less attention than the race for state land commissioner? Doesn't mean that Democrat Mark Robertson isn't making a strong bid to challenge incumbent Republican John Thurston, something of a surprise winner four years ago.
The National Bar Association, a network of African-American lawyers and judges, will seek records of police brutality in 25 cities, including Little Rock. The open records request is described as part of an effort to end police misconduct and brutality that leads to death of unarmed people.
Democrats tout equal pay for women on Women's Equality Day. They have plenty to work with — explicit opposition to legal protection for women on the part of such Republican candidates as J. French HIll.
Charlaine Harris has talked to Vulture.com about the last episode of HBO's "True Blood," which saw its season finale on August 24. Numerous spoilers on tap, as well as Harris adorably calling the mysterious Members Only Jacket Guy from the last frames of the "Sopranos" series finale "the guy in the Maker's Mark jacket."
Benji Hardy will be reporting later on the legislative committee meeting this morning on the differences in state employee and school employee health insurance coverage plus the surprise topic of a potential merger of the two big state retirement systems — public employees and teachers.
Insurance companies have proposed a net reduction in premiums of 2 percent next year for the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, the health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act. The Marketplace includes all of the plans used for the private option, the state's unique plan which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for low-income Arkansans.
A delegation from Ghana will be in North Little Rock Thursday for a meeting with people from the Arkansas Delta about sustainable agriculture, economic development and tourism. They'll get a warmer greeting than a group from Ghana turned away from a planned visit to Harrison.
Combining the insurance systems for public school employees and state employees might help teachers with premiums in the short run, but unless it's accompanied by a big infusion of cash it will harm state employees. As for combining retirement systems for teachers and other public workers? Not happening.
Middleweight boxer Jermain Taylor, scheduled for a title fight later this year, was arrested at his estate near Maumelle last night and charged with first-degree domestic battery and aggravated assault in the shooting of his cousin.
Remember the Koch retreat at a fancy California resort that caused Tom Cotton to miss the Pink Tomato Festival in Warren. Shades of Mitt Romney. A tape of the proceedings has emerged. And it includes rich praise for Tom Cotton, particularly his votes against the interests of Arkansas farmers.
States attempting to defend discrimination against gay couples in marriage had a tough time in arguments yesterday before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Commentary from Judge Richard Posner, a Reagan appointee, was particularly sharp. Where are Arkansas judges?
The somewhat seedy saga in the campaign for District 35 state representative between Democrat Clarke Tucker and Republican Stacy Hurst drags on. Now Hurst supporters argue that an email — one of the results of the GOP FOI request — conflicts with the Tuckers' account of what happened. The Tuckers respond that their account was truthful. Does anyone care? You decide, readers. FOI'd emails included for the curious.
This week's singles round-up is a day late since I've been out of town for a week reporting on rare mushrooms in Star City, but I promise it represents the very best of the new Arkansas music you missed in the last several days, with country songs and weed raps and doom metal that doesn't sound anything like doom metal.