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September 7, 2017

Vol 44 • No 1

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Many Arkansas docs say no to medical marijuana

The legal pot industry is budding, but doctors are declining to OK forms for users.

Kids in isolation: locked away in Dermott

Critics raise concerns about confining kids alone at juvenile facilities. Part two of a two-part series.

Civil rights suit targets LRPD

Also, Rutledge pushing for end to DACA and don't start packin' yet.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak edition

Play at the football game, buck-naked.

Kyle Kinane does stand up at Vino's

Also, PBS NewsHour correspondent Nick Schifrin talks Putin.

Pig & Swig preview

Join us for a celebration of hog and hooch Sept. 21.

Infantile Antifa

Call me unromantic, but I disliked a lot about the fabled Sixties the first time around. Some of the music was good, but otherwise 1968 was among the worst years in American life. The center nearly failed to hold.

The Theo Croker Quintet comes to South on Main

And much more.

Sally Nixon's 'Where's Waldo' for grown-ups

The illustrator makes her debut with a seek-and-find-book for adults.

Tax sham

This week begins another ritual that has become the most celebrated sham of modern times. We always look forward to it, because it will make our country richer and happier and change all our lives for the better. We call it tax reform.


The Observer, an office-bound hermit until we were cast back into the hustle of an open newsroom earlier this year, had forgotten how much we'd missed the camaraderie of being forced into joining conversations with your colleagues.

On to TCU

This opener was never endangered by weather, never in doubt on the scoreboard, and never remotely interesting. But it happened, Arkansas is 1-0 (unlike Baylor, UNLV and — chortle — Texas A&M), and the Hogs lost very little against hapless Florida A&M in a 49-7 walloping that may have been a sendoff to War Memorial Stadium.

Open letter to Rep. Bruce Cozart

I read your response to the Arkansas Times' request for comments about what happened in Charlottesville, Va. It is obvious that you are not well educated on the facts of history surrounding the Civil War.

La Ha forever

The newly spiffed-up Mexican favorite still warms hearts, bellies.

Left behind

Arkansas is getting a lot of attention for our very low unemployment rate. If you look only at that number (3.4 percent), you would think workers here were doing quite well — better than surrounding states and even the nation as a whole. But that seemingly simple rate can hide some huge gaps in prosperity.

Kennedy's last chance

It all goes back over 200 years ago when a state legislative districting map created by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry was criticized for its salamander shape that provided a partisan advantage for Gerry's fellow Democratic-Republicans. The controversy over the redistricting was key to Gerry's defeat by a Federalist opponent in the fall of 1812. Now with high-powered mapping software and gobs of data about voters, "gerrymandering" is more vibrant than ever.

Back to the suburbs

'Tulip Fever: a failed tragedy

May have left its potential on the cutting room floor.

Take a road trip with Rover

If you aren’t planning outdoor activities to take advantage of this Arkansas fall weather, you should be! With the right planning, even your furry best friend won’t be able to take part in the fun. Pack your pup and your gear and and get going.

Trump sides with congressional Democrats on debt ceiling, but strategy unclear

Conservatives are disturbed by Trump's decision to shut out Ryan and McConnell and side with the Democrats, and national media outlets are abuzz with speculation about what game the president is playing, or trying to play.

Cannabis Rx update: More applications come in to commission

As of today, the Medical Marijuana Commission has received a total of 20 applications for licenses from entities interested in the cannabis business: 13 for dispensaries and seven for cultivation. The deadline for applications is 4:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18.

UA gets $2.6 million for electronic vehicle research

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded UA Distinguished Professor Alan Mantooth a portion of a $3.2 million grant for research that will advance the development of lightweight power converters for use in the electrification of trucks and buses. That means more efficient electrical vehicles for the future.

Arkansas to fare worse than most states under Trump tax proposal, report says

Arkansas is among the five states projected to receive the smallest share of the proposed tax cut on a per-capita basis, along with Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky and New Mexico. No surprise: Poorer states tend to fair worse

Hall High students protest decision to end DACA

The Hall students protesting outside the school today weren't uniformly Hispanic, either. The young African-American woman who spoke to THV said she wasn't a DACA recipient, but still felt the need to protest.

Arkansas ACT scores decline due to test being offered to all students, officials say

Arkansas's average composite ACT score fell by almost a full point, from 20.2 for last year's graduating class to 19.4 for the cohort that just graduated in May. But that drop is explained by a 25 percent increase in the number of test takers.

Thursday's headlines and your open line

Arkansas State Supreme Court hears case on using state funds for local projects, Trump accepts offer from Pelosi and Schumer on debt ceiling, how the Trump tax cuts will affect Arkansas and a $2.1 million grant for University of Arkansas to research electric vehicles.

Monsanto urges state not to ban dicamba

In a letter to Governor Hutchinson on Thursday, agriculture giant Monsanto asked the state to reject a state task force's recommendation that Arkansas ban the use of dicamba herbicides after April 15, 2018. The Arkansas Legislative Council previously imposed a 120-day ban on dicamba use effective July 11. Also, Reuters reports the EPA is considering banning the spraying of dicamba after a certain date next year.

LR Police Chief, Mayor, City Manager talk crime at Ron Robinson

The top three leaders of Little Rock turned out to Ron Robinson Theater tonight for a wide-ranging discussion about Little Rock's violent crime rate and what to do about it, with topics eventually including police recruiting and why the city has devoted police cameras and manpower to watch homeless people along the 1100 block of Markham, where a church that feeds the homeless a few times a month operates.  On hand were LRPD Chief Kenton Buckner, Mayor Mark Stodola and City Manager Bruce Moore, with Democrat-Gazette columnist Rex Nelson serving as moderator.

City shuts down bar on Asher Ave, citing unsafe building conditions

Little Rock city officials cut off utilities to Midtown Bar and Grill on Thursday. The business is not to be confused with Midtown Billiards on South Main Street.

Federal judge awards $32.4 million to recipients of Huckabee-voiced robocalls

The calls, which promoted a Christian movie called "Last Ounce of Courage," were unsolicited advertisements that violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the judge ruled in August.

Weather by hand: The art and science of surface analysis maps

A behind the scenes look at the National Weather Service Little Rock and the hand-drawn contour maps they share on Twitter.

Students rally at LR Central High in support of DACA recipients

Little Rock Central High School students held a pre-class protest this morning at the corner of Park Street and Daisy Bates in support of classmates who benefited from the Obama  Administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA shields undocumented immigrants brought to the country prior to their 16th birthday, and allows them to have work permits. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government would stop considering new DACA applications, and the program would be suspended entirely in six months, opening up almost 800,000 DACA recipients for deportation.

Hill, Womack get on board with Democrats to continue funding for Amtrak, Westerman and Crawford attempt to derail

Arkansas Representatives French Hill and Steve Womack joined every Democrat in the House late Wednesday night to kill a Republican-backed amendment that would have slashed all federal funding for Amtrak. Representatives Bruce Westerman and Rick Crawford voted to end funding for the passenger rail service, which includes Amtrak's Texas Eagle that travels a daily route between Chicago and San Antonio, with Arkansas stops in Little Rock, Walnut Ridge, Malvern, Arkadelphia, Hope, and Texarkana,

American Atheists warn Arkansas school superintendents to reject classroom 'In God We Trust' displays

The New Jersey-based American Atheists society has issued a letter to over 260 superintendents across the state, warning them that the group is ready to file suit in federal court if they comply with a new Arkansas law that requires framed copies of the phrase "In God We Trust" to be displayed in every Arkansas public school classroom.

Former chief justice of Arkansas Supreme Court dishes on court dysfunction

Once again, those invested in the ongoing internal dysfunction at the Arkansas Supreme Court have some juicy reading. A pair of oral history interviews with recently retired justices Howard Brill and Cliff Hoofman have been posted to a growing collection of oral histories with retired Arkansas Supreme Court justices.

Another lawsuit filed against ADC officials, former prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

A federal lawsuit filed by an inmate at the McPherson Womens' Unit against ADC officials and the former chaplain Kenneth L. Dewitt, who pleaded guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault, sketches a horrific, and systematic, record of abuse orchestrated by Dewitt and allowed by ADC.

No more mumps in Arkansas, health department says

There were almost 3,000 cases of the disease reported since the outbreak began.

For anti-abortion activists, route to Roe challenge runs through Arkansas and Eighth Circuit

The ultimate goal of anti-abortion activists remains a challenge to Roe, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals — via Arkansas — might be the best route to do that.

Fort Smith state Rep. George McGill to run for mayor in 2018

McGill has served in the General Assembly since 2013.

Lawyer sues ADC for more information on controversial execution drug

A lawyer claims the Arkansas Department of Correction is violating the Freedom of Information Act by not supplying him with the labeling materials from their supply of midazolam.

Friday's headlines and an open line

Atheist group asks Arkansas schools not to put up "In God We Trust" signs and gets a response, Hill and Womack team up with Dems to keep Amtrak on the tracks, DACA protests continue, and a former chief justice dishes on court dysfunction.

The Perfect Candidate Edition

DACA and related fallout, the GIF lawsuit before the Arkansas Supreme Court and various political topics — all covered this week on the podcast with special guest Jay Barth.

Irma forces massive exodus of south Florida

Arkansas Times contributor David Ramsey and his family were among those forced to flee Irma. They're sheltering in Gainesville — well away from the coasts and the deadly storm surge, though the city could still receive hurricane-force winds.

The best Sept. 9 open line

The weather, at least in Little Rock, couldn't be more perfect. By the looks of the TV, it looks just about the same in Fayetteville, too.

LRSD settlement with Walker to include redrawing of high school attendance zones

The district would be required to redraw its high school attendance zones by fall 2020 and would declare a moratorium on new construction projects, including school expansions, until (1) a new high school is completed in Southwest Little Rock and (2) Cloverdale Middle School is replaced.

Former House Speaker Davy Carter speaks out against Trump DACA decision

Former Republican House Speaker Davy Carter made an emotional appearance on KARK's "Capitol View" this morning to talk about the Trump administration's decision to phase out the DACA program. He followed a typically robotic Attorney General Leslie Rutledge who answered most questions with a version of "we are a nation of laws."

The waiting for Irma open line

A Sunday open line.

Youth facilities punish misbehavior by locking kids alone in cells, sometimes for days

Former Division of Youth Services director Ron Angel told reporter David Ramsey that "I should have gone ahead and done away with that concept, because it was prison. ... You can quote me on that — if I could go back in time, I would shut that building down."

Pastors, community leaders to discuss Little Rock violence in two events Thursday

The Thursday evening forum, to be held at Philander Smith College, is cosponsored by the Huffington Post's "Listen to America" bus tour. Earlier in the day, Victory Over Violence is hosting a luncheon for pastors and other church representatives.

Ark. Med Marijuana Assoc. to host symposium; keynote by TV host Montel Williams, who will serve on AMMA board

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association announced today that they will be hosting a half day symposium on Wednesday, September 20, dealing with the medical cannabis industry and regulatory issues. The keynote address of the symposium will be delivered by TV host and medical marijuana advocate Montel Williams, who has also accepted a position on the AMMA's board.

Permit request withdrawn for LGBTQ homeless transitional housing after nonprofit receives threatening letter

Lucie's Place has withdrawn its request for a conditional use permit for a seven-person home in Little Rock's Leawood neighborhood after receiving an email from a neighbor vowing to make the home's location public knowledge.

The games we used to play on road trips

Before iPads, Kindles, and other handheld devices were always inches away, it took more creativity to keep yourself entertained. Here are a few of the games we used to play to keep busy on the road.

Authorities find 14 big cats at Poinsett County business

Acting on a tip, authorities with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission found six lions, seven tigers and a leopard being stored in a Poinsett County workshop near Weiner on Saturday.

Monday's headlines and your open line

LRSD settles racial bias suit, Lucie's Place ends bid for new shelter, Carter condemns Trump's DACA move and Montel Williams joins the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association board.

LRSD's superintendent says settlement of Walker case 'beneficial to all,' touts district progress

Asked specifically whether the district's attendance zone for Central High School will shift, Poore said that "it'll be included in the whole package ... [but] I don't anticipate having major adjustments to the Central boundary."

Blevins superintendent resigns after parent claims he pulled a gun during an agument

Billy Lee, superintendent of Blevins School District, has resigned amid allegations that he pulled a gun during an argument with a parent.

Hey, Jeff Bezos! The mayor says come to LR!

Mayor Mark Stodola must be feeling the re-election campaign heat. He tweeted yesterday that he's going to put Little Rock in the mix for the new $8 billion Amazon headquarters:

Frank Scott 'launches exploratory run' for Little Rock mayor

Scott will face at least two opponents: incumbent Mark Stodola and Democratic state legislator Warwick Sabin.

Craighead County judges want to end a "debtor's prison" system and The Justice Network wants its money

The Marshall Project breaks down a lawsuit by The Justice Network against two Craighead County judges who tried to end the for-profit company's "debtor prison" like system.

K-Lofts revived as Mulberry Flats, new restaurant coming

Moses Tucker Real Estate announced today that K-Lofts apartments, the project at 315 Main St. started by developer Scott Reed seven years ago and which, like the rest of Reed's projects, fizzled out, are now complete, renamed Mulberry Flats and will be available for leasing in October.

State Rep. Clarke Tucker rules out run for Little Rock mayor in 2018

Clarke Tucker won't be joining the field of mayoral candidates in 2018.

Little Rock won't attract Amazon — and maybe that's a good thing

The company's search for a second home will gin up false hopes among many cities, including those (like Little Rock) with little to no hope of ever really being in the running. And whatever city does land Amazon will end up paying for the honor by handing over millions in tax credits and other sweeteners.

Tuesday's headlines and an open line

Updates on the Little Rock mayoral campaigns, Stodola's attempt to woo Amazon, information on the Pig & Swig event on September 21 and K-Lofts gets revived as Mulberry Flats.

Census data shows Arkansas's rate of uninsured cut in half since 2013

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families highlights another remarkable figure in the Census data: "Arkansas’s uninsured rate for children dropped to just 4 percent in 2016, a new record."

Rep. Steve Womack seeking budget chairmanship as threat of intra-party tax fight develops

If the GOP gives Womack the chair, he'll be near the center of Republicans' efforts to wring a legislative victory from the mess that is 2017. That means navigating the party's internal divisions.

Dicamba task force report to Plant Board recommends ban on herbicide after April 15

Some regulatory progress is being made on addressing the damage dicamba has caused to many Arkansas farmers. The report says that almost 1,000 complaints alleging dicamba misuse have been filed with the state plant board as of September 1.

Trump nominates Christopher Caldwell to be Delta Regional Authority co-chair

Trump's proposed budget calls for cutting all funding to the Delta Regional Authority, which is tasked with economic development in a 252-county region of the Mississippi Delta spanning eight states.

Blues Trifecta places a sure bet at UA – Pulaski Tech on September 21

Pulaski Technical College will present Blues Trifecta, an evening of American roots and blues music, film and history, with a presentation of the award- winning documentary film Two Trains Runnin’, a performance by legendary blues artist Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, and a presentation by legendary blues promoter and photographer Dick Waterman.

Former Garland Co. Admin. Asst, dog tuxedo fan, pleads guilty to making $162K in fraudulent credit card charges

A former administrative assistant in the Garland County Judge's office who used part of the $162,598 she put on county credit to buy, among other things, a tuxedo for her Pug, plead guilty yesterday to six felony counts of fraudulent use of a credit card.

Alice Walton creates foundation to promote art sharing

Alice Walton, the Walmart heiress and founder of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, has created a nonprofit foundation, Art Bridges, to promote the collaboration between museums large and small to share art and fund exhibitions.

Alice Walton wants museums to share art

Art Bridges, a new nonprofit created by Crystal Bridges Museum of Art founder Alice Walton, will work to encourage art-sharing by museums large and small, the nonprofit announced today. A post on the Rock Candy blog has more on Walton's latest art-centered venture.

Bernie Sanders' single-payer health care bill attracts support of one-third of Senate Dems

Single payer was once considered a political nonstarter in American politics. Today, Sanders' bill found 15 Democratic co-sponsors, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, all leading voices in the party.

Midweek headlines and an open line

Trump nominates Boozman staffer, Chris Caldwell, for Delta Regional Authority federal co-chair, former Garland Co. Admin. Asst. pleads guilty to making $162K in fraudulent credit card charges, Womack considered favorite for House Budget Committee, Alice Walton creates non-profit to share art between museums and new census data shows Arkansas's rate of uninsured has been cut in half since 2013.

Vote for your favorite bars, beer and booze today!

Now's the time to relay your favorite bars and locally brewed beers from around the state in our annual Toast of the Town survey on local bars, beer and booze.

Time to vote for your favorite bars, beer and booze

Now's the time to relay your favorites in our annual Toast of the Town survey on local bars, beer and booze. The poll is open through Oct. 2.