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Visionary Arkansans

Visionary Arkansans

September 12, 2013

Vol 40 • No 2

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Visionary Arkansans

Twenty-five of the state's creative thinkers.

Tech Park board down to three sites; boots two

Millie Ward, president of the board of directors of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, talked up the Creative Corridor on Main Street as the perfect place to put the Little Rock Technology Park..

Attorney general contests judge's effort to name special prosecutor in Phillips County murder case

The attorney general's office entered the controversy engendered by Circuit Judge L.T. Simes extraordinary decision to deny an effort by Prosecuting Attorney Fletcher Long not to prosecute a murder case and to order instead a special prosecutor handle the matter.

The morale of Hogs' win over Samford — don't look ahead

It was precisely one year ago that War Memorial Stadium was the backdrop for what this column (and much of the sporting public) termed the Hogs' biggest football disaster ever, a pitiful lay-down against Louisiana-Monroe that set in motion nearly three more months of ill feelings about the Arkansas program.

'Riddick' true to form

It's big, dumb and explodey. What did you expect?

Setting tax facts straight

I'd like to thank, and praise, Ernie Dumas for once again shining the cold, hard light of fact on the age-old conservative argument that lower taxes increase general prosperity.

Big secrets

The Observer has been watching with some interest the recent flurry of documents coming out about the NSA's attempts to archive every email, text, phone call, shopping list, fortune cookie slip, mumble, grumble, Freudian slip, mirror glance, poot, belch and letter home to Mom and Dad from summer camp.

Voter I.D. law based on fiction about fraud

It isn't what we don't know that causes us grief, but what we know, that simply isn't true.

Stand up for Bill Maher

'Real Time' comedian coming to Arkansas.

What a difference 10 years make

Regarding the Obama administration and Syria, preliminary thoughts about a rapidly evolving situation.

Spyro Gyra headlines Jazz Eureka Springs Festival

Also, The Kid Carsons and Swampbird at White Water Tavern, Motel Mirrors at White Water Tavern, the Latino Food and Music Festival in Argenta, The Geto Boys at Discovery, Lisa Marie Presley at Juanita's and Hooray for Earth at Stickyz.

'Pal Joey' continues at The Rep

Also, Dumptruck Butterlips at Stickyz.

Executive action

"I'm a longtime supporter of Governor Beebe, but I must say I was disappointed when I saw in the paper 'Beebe lashes Martin, says hiring illegal.' Heaven knows the secretary of state can be annoying, and I wouldn't have minded 'Beebe pinches Martin,' or maybe even 'Beebe coldcocks Martin.' But lashing is just too extreme."

Lunch counter delight

Burger, pork chop are the ticket at K. Hall.

Learning new things

Arkansas fans attempt to "throw the A" Saturday at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Arkansas defeated Samford 31-21.

Ethics gone wild

In 2012, advocates of an initiated act on ethics in Arkansas initially put forward by the grassroots group Regnat Populus worked for months to interest national good government groups like Common Cause to invest in the effort to gain the signatures necessary to place the legislation on the ballot.

Rare bird

Rockefeller Republicans in Arkansas have dwindled like ivory-billed woodpeckers, and are even more sorely missed. Until this week, the only one we knew of was Bob Scott up in Rogers, once an aide to Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, still a loyalist and an idealist after all these years.

Guns in school

No songs

Saline County gave us "The Ballad of Joe Broadway" (not to be confused with Broadway Joe, the quarterback) and "The Official Arkansas Waltz," so designated by the state Senate years ago. Broadway was an outlaw who kept robbing the same bank; the ghastly "Waltz" was written by friends of a senator from Benton who demanded the endorsement of his colleagues. At a minimum, Saline County has done enough for Arkansas musically. We need to get this current Saline County situation resolved before somebody dashes off a "Ballad of Bruce Pennington."

Schools: Winners and losers

I spent some time last week with a political consultant who's part of the growing army of people funded by the Walton family and other wealthy Arkansans to reshape education in the billionaires' image.

Hogs at the trough

Regular Joes have to make payments to the Razorback Foundation in order to get priority seating at University of Arkansas football games, but the state's elected officials have a sweeter deal. The UA as a matter of policy exempts statewide officers, legislators, members of the Higher Education Coordinating Council, UA faculty and staff and Razorback letter winners from making the extra contribution for good seats.

Experts say dilbit could have created pressure swings, hydrogen cracks in Pegasus rupture

In the five months since ExxonMobil's Pegasus oil pipeline burst in Arkansas, two things have become clear. Flawed, 1940s-era welding techniques used when the Pegasus was built set the stage for the rupture, and an internal pipeline inspection failed to spot the problem just weeks before the spill.

It was a good week for Simmons First

It was also a good week for unprecedented agreement, Alice Walton, Arkansas Democrats and Saline County. It was a bad week for the Little Rock Zoo, Pine Bluff and Arkansas Baptist College.

'Pal Joey': a winning revamp

Pal Joey" was a modestly successful Broadway play in 1940 revived on the big screen in 1957. And now it's back more than five decades later — with some major plot revisions — in a world-premiere run to kick off the 38th season at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

The Kochs' and other billionaires' secret political bank: Who's buying your elections?

Politico has a story worth noting: It sheds light on a group that has funneled money from the Koch Bros. immense fortune into campaigns to advance their 

Roll back tax cuts to pay for teacher insurance? Right.

I mentioned yesterday and should comment again on Gov. Mike Beebe's comment that rolling back new tax cuts was one way to pay systemically for the current underfunding of health insurance for state teachers.

Accountability at the University of Arkansas: A discrepancy

A snippet from the ongoing review of whether the University of Arkansas has been honest and transparent in handling questions about From Arkansas Busines, Dec. 3, 2012:

Starlite Diner shines at breakfast

The great American diner. Few establishments have been more influential in the sculpting of the American culinary culture than these humble and beloved restaurants. In North Little Rock, Starlite Diner returns with a vengeance, determined to make this go-round the greatest ever in Starlite history.

Your University of Arkansas at work: Field trips are good

Do tell. Members of the faculty of the Walton-funded school of education "reform" at the University of Arkansas are going to join Alice Walton, creator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, to announce results of as scientific survey that prov

Six things to know about Obamacare premiums in Arkansas

Some time this week or next, the Arkansas Insurance Department will release the plans that will be available on the Health Insurance Marketplace (HIM), the regulated marketplace for private insurance created by Obamacare, which begins enrollment in October.

Simmons bid $53.6 million to buy Metropolitan National Bank

Arkansas Business is covering the bankruptcy court hearing today at which a judge will decide whether to approve Simmons First National Corp.'s high bid for Metropolitan National Bank.

The Little Rock Nine: Paying it forward

The Little Rock Nine Foundation has established a scholarship fund at the University of Arkansas School of Public Service.

*UPDATED: Police decline to investigate shooting death of 107-year-old Pine Bluff man, special prosecutor named

KTHV-11 reports that Arkansas State Police will not investigate the shooting death of Monroe Isadore, the 107-year-old man killed in a shootout with a SWAT team last weekend. 

Democratic Party of Arkansas promotes Candace Martin, brings in Patrick Burgwinkle

The Democratic Party of Arkansas today announced the hiring of a new press secretary, Patrick Burgwinkle.

Win tickets to Bill Maher at Robinson Center

Comedian Bill Maher is bringing his ascerbic wit to Little Rock's Robinson Center Music Hall on Saturday, and we've got tickets.

Arkansas Times digital membership so far

As far as we know, there are no other free weeklies who've put part of their website behind a metered paywall. That's why, when we launched, we framed the introduction of digital membership as a grand experiment. Six weeks after we turned the meter on? So far, so good.

Benton woman arrested on 11th DWI charge

A woman was arrested in Benton and charged on Wednesday afternoon with her 11th DWI since 1995.

Obamacare and employer-sponsored coverage

Our post this morning looked at Obamacare premiums in Arkansas, which we should know soon.

Federal pipeline safety chief tells Exxon and co. regulatory process is "kind of dying"

"Do I think I can hurt a major international corporation with a $2 million civil penalty?

Man in Black Open Line

Johnny Cash of Kingsland, Arkansas, died 10 years ago today. If memory serves, I was at Pizza D's on the day he died.

The Baton Rouge morning line; how the Waltons get richer through estate tax loopholes

As Lindsey mentioned I'm on the road, currently in muggy Baton Rouge, where a morning stroll took me past Huey Long and his monumnent.

Team Gearhart's spin gets a reverse spin in University of Arkansas financial coverup

A quick scan of the morning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is most interesting. The tenor of coverage has changed substantially from the first day, when Team Gearhart, abetted by his lieutenant in the UA System president's office, spun a story of ghastly, unknown mistakes by two falls guys in the advancement division de

FBI will close offices for 10 days in response to sequester

Yikes. From this morning's New York Times:

Food Feedback Friday: Sicilians, shockers, and shrimp

So, whatcha got for is this week? Feedback now or forever hold your peace.

LRFD battles two simultaneous house fires in Hillcrest, Heights

The Little Rock Fire Department had their hands full this morning with two house fires that happened almost simultaneously in Hillcrest and the Heights.

Legislative auditing committee re-opens audit on University of Arkansas

The Joint Auditing Committee is today hearing from Legislative Audit on their report on the U of A's finances.

Gregory Moore, at Mullins Library

Artist works on cast off metal and other detritus.

Come to the Arkansas Times Festival of Ideas

Clear your calendar for Sept. 21. That's when the Second Annual Arkansas Times Festival of Ideas is happening at venues throughout downtown.

Crazy pills: the politics of government shutdown and federal default

A shutdown of the federal government is looming, with the end of the fiscal year coming at the end of this month and no hope for a deal in sight (it might seem like that's plenty of time, but you have to factor in the strict adherence to vacation schedules of the U.S. Congress — there's only five scheduled legislative days left before September 30).

Fatten up your kids for the Little Mr. and Miss State Fair pageants!

Time to get your "Toddlers and Tiaras" on, Arkansas. The Arkansas State Fair announced times and dates their "Little Mr. and Miss Arkansas State Fair" pageants today.

Three arrested on felony Medicaid fraud

The office of Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced the arrest of a three people on charges of felony Medicaid fraud in what a release called a conspiracy to defraud the Arkansas Medicaid Program of nearly $17,000.

Q&A: Georgetown University's Joan Alker on the Arkansas "private option" for Medicaid expansion

You titled a recent blog post “I Support Arkansas’ Effort to Move Forward (But Am Holding My Nose).” Can you explain why?

Attorney General rejects another proposed marijuana ballot measure

For the third time this week Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has rejected a proposed ballot measure related to marijuana legalization due to "ambiguities in the text of the measure."

Bork and beyond: Update

It's trolley time tonight, 5-8 p.m.

Dept. of Health: Two cases of swine flu confirmed

The Arkansas Department of Health said today that two people from Arkansas have been confirmed to be infected with swine flu. The Department of Health and the CDC said that the two patients involved have recovered from the virus, which can spread to those who have frequent contact with hogs, but not through eating or handling pork.

Coming Saturday: Ray Chanslor, Rita Henry, Betsy Emil

"Mapping the Darkness" at Gallery 26.

Judge Wilson sends oil spill-related lawsuit against Exxon back to Faulkner County

U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson today sent a class action lawsuit against ExxonMobil over the Pegasus pipeline spill back to Faulkner County Circuit Court, where it was originally filed. The lawsuit, Duncan et al v ExxonMobil Corporation, also names David L. Raulston, who it describes as an Arkansas-based maintenance and operations technician for the pipeline.

ATF investigating automatic rifles found following Benton road rage arrest

K THV reports that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has entered the investigation of what police say was a road rage incident in which a handgun and an unspecified number of automatic rifles were later found in the suspect's truck following his arrest..

Thea Paves the Way tomorrow

Chalk art event at the Clinton Library returns.

University of Arkansas audit raises questions beyond the allegations of destroying documents

Don't miss Benji Hardy's earlier report on today's Legislative Auditing meeting from earlier today. Hardy follows up with a post over on his Nightwriter Blog at Legislative Digest.

Free Willy Open Line

*FREE TIMMY: Opinions run hot on Obamacare. We get that.

Priorities: The continuing review of athletic spending by Arkansas public schools

Lost in the understandable attention to University of Arkansas misdeeds yesterday at the legislative audit committee was the release of another in a series of ongoing reviews of athletic spending by Arkansas public school districts.

The University of Arkansas: A law unto itself

(9) (a) Files which, if disclosed, would give advantage to competitors or bidders; and (b)(i) records maintained by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission related to any business entity’s planning, site location, expansion, operations, or product development/marketing, unless approval for release of such records is granted by the business entity; (ii) provided, however, this exemption shall not be applicable to any records of expenditures or grants made or administered by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and otherwise disclosable under the provisions of this chapter;

How the Arkansas legislature violates the 1st Amendment and punishes women

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported today a decision that was a foregone conclusion: Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford will bow to anti-abortion legislators and not give a contract to Planned Parenthood to help publicize the state's new subsidized health coverage.

The Saturday morning line; music and food in New Orleans

I'm going to post an open line in the event I, or someone else, can't get back to a keyboard today.

Arkansas: A beacon for Obamacare

I picked up the New Orleans edition of the Baton Rouge-based advocate yesterday and found this letter to editor among the coverag

Guns in Arkansas public schools: An unsettled question

Stephens Media

The Sunday open line

Lindsey, the Davids, Leslie and Co. may check in later as the situation warrants, but I'm leaving this open line as I begin wandering back to Little Rock today.

“Private option” auto-assignment policy aims to enhance competition and keep Arkansas Blue Cross from dominating the market

In the next week, we’ll get a look at the plans, including premium prices, that will be offered on the Health Insurance Marketplace (HIM) — the regulated market for private insurance that begins enrollment next month as part of Obamacare (more on those premiums here).

Money Changers Open Line

Hopefully you're out enjoying this beautiful Sunday, but just in case, here's Open Line Round Two.

Update: Armed school security in place in Clarksville

Max here. Back after a 6 hour, 20-minute drive from St. Charles and Howard in New Orleans to my front door. 

Doctor with sex offense challenges law that prevents him from participating in Medicaid

A lawsuit has been filed challenging a 2013 law that prevents medical care providers who've been convicted of any level of sexual offense from participating in the Medicaid program.

Pea Ridge schools bar students over HIV concerns

The Pea Ridge School District apparently has banned attendance by three local children until they prove they have not tested HIV-positive.

Pulaski Tech set to open culinary institute

Remember the great Pulaski Tech Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute debate? Some city leaders wanted it located on Main Street.

Georgia bans free football tickets for legislators; giveaways continue at University of Arkansas

News report says Georgia will ban free football tickets for state legislators. Arkansas ended giveaway legislative tickets some years ago, but mass corruption continues.

Now it can be revealed: Field trips to Crystal Bridges good for students

We've reported previously that Walton-financed researchers at the Walton-financed University of Arkansas believe they have proven by scientific research that Walmart-fortune-financed field trips to the Walton-financed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville are valuable to students, even poor, minority type student

Eat delicious bacon for a great UAMS cause!

The Rock Town Bacon Throwdown will feature local chefs offering up their best bacon dishes in a cookoff contest next month to benefit patients at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Medical Center.

Jury selection begins in retrial of Josh Hastings

Jury selection began today for the retrial of Josh Hastings, a former Little Rock police officer, for manslaughter in the shooting death of Bobby Moore, 15.

Map pinpoints deficient Arkansas bridges

Perhaps you've seen news coverage today on Arkansas's deficient highway bridges, a figure taken from federal Highway Administration files.

Reports: 13 dead in Navy Yard shootings in D.C.

From CNN: A gunman dressed in all black fired shots today inside the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington, injuring at least 10 people, according to the Navy and a Washington police spokesman.

Little Rock Zoo's black rhino dies at 33

Another report today from the Little Rock Zoo of the death of one of its aging large mammals.

50 50 50: Eddie Kendrick

Self-taught artist's work celebrates Arts Center anniversary.

Sucking up to the Waltons: UA study on Crystal Bridges: UPDATE 2

You've read about this on Max's blog, perhaps, but this can't go unremarked on in Eye Candy. 

University of Arkansas audit discrepancies referred to Fayetteville prosecutor

Roger Norman, director of Arkansas Legislative Audit, has formally notified legislators that he's referred conflicting testimony about handling of University of Arkansas financial records to the prosecuting attorney in Fayetteville to review for potential criminal violations.

Vote for Toast of the Town

Our annual Toast of the Town poll is now open for you to vote for your favorite watering hole, liquor store and beer.

Flying Saucer to host beer expert Stephen Beaumont, host beer-paired dinner

The Flying Saucer, Little Rock's temple to the Great God Hops, is hosting a special, beer-paired dinner with internationally-known beer expert Stephen Beaumont, co-author of the book, "The Pocket Beer Guide: The Essential Handbook to the Very Best Beers in the World," which will be published on Oct. 1.

Former Mount St. Mary teacher jailed for violating order in sex abuse case, probation revoked

Circuit Judge Barry Sims today sent former Mount St. Mary Academy teacher Kelly O'Rourke to jail today for violating a no-contact order he issued when he gave her a probationary sentence for continuing to attempt to c

South on Main announces free music series

The Oxford American's new brick-and-mortar incarnation, South on Main, continues upping the culture quotient of Little Rock with today's announcement that they're launching a new free, Wednesday-night live music series, underwritten by Benton car dealership, Landers Fiat. 

Open line: Plus the search for director of Arkansas Higher Education Department

The line is open. Finishing up:

Nocturnal creatures: Boury, Williams-Smith

The artist and composer collaborate in advance of October exhibition at UALR.

Judsonia man killed after police standoff

The State Police are reporting that officers shot a Judsonia-area man after a long standoff with police in which he fired twice at officers.

Report says millions will benefit from low health insurance costs

USA Today reports: About 6.4 million Americans eligible to buy insurance through the new health exchanges will pay $100 or less a month in premiums because of tax subsidies, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report to be released Tuesday and obtained by USA TODAY.

Dumas: More guns in school mean more danger

More guns in school mean more danger, not less.

Hog farms linked to infections

Still more news of interest in Arkansas from USA Today:

Dustin McDaniel getting into the limousine business

Arkansas Business reports that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and his wife have bought a limousine service, Argenta Limo.

Woo pig! UA researchers discover new organism, give it cheerful name

The University of Arkansas has announced a The UResearchers Discover New Organism Finding will help scientists understand the origins of multicellular life

River City Tea, Coffee and Cream moving, under new ownership

River City Tea, Coffee and Cream, Hillcrest's local Starbucks alternative, is moving a few blocks down the street, and will soon be under new ownership. 

Pea Ridge's HIV issue resolved, superintendent says. But Disability Rights group still wants answers

I wrote Rick Neal, superintendent of the Pea Ridge School District, for more information about the district's decision to bar attendance of three students until they'd been tested for HIV.

Retrial underway in Mount St. Mary sex abuse reporting case

David Koon reports from the county courthouse, where Kathy Griffin, a former Mount St. Mary Academy employee, is being retried on a charge of failing to report sexual abuse of a student by a sometime partner, Kathy O'Rourke, who was also a Mount St. Mary teacher.

The Tuesday line is open; as are the courts

The line is open for your comments. Final notes:

A Cloar on the market

To be auctioned in October by Sotheby's.

For local company, snacking is serious business

During a recent trip to Terry’s Finer Foods, I noticed an unassuming red snack bag behind the check-out counter. “WooHoo!” it read. It touted itself as “an extraordinary crunchy nutty snack.”

UPDATE: Crime, punishment, parole: Come discuss it Saturday

A friend sends a link from Conway about a paroled convict who'd also spent time in the Department of Community Correction's technical violators center.

Morning notes: Oaklawn expansion, school elections, Tim Griffin protest

Items worth noting this morning. * SLOT MACHINE EXPANSION AT OAKLAWN: A business owner's appeal of an expansion plan at the Oaklawn casino in Hot Springs was rejected in a 6-0 vote last night by the Hot Springs Board of Directors.

Welfare 'reform': Cutting food for working poor

NPR reports this morning on the Republican push to cut $40 billion from the federal food stamp program.

Disability Rights Center protests release of student HIV tests to Pea Ridge School District

I reported yesterday that the Pea Ridge School District believed it had resolved a controversy over its decision to bar three foster children in state custodial care from attending until they had submitted HIV test results.