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September 19, 2013

Vol 40 • No 3

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B.B. King, Mavis Staples, Willie Nelson highlight Arkansas fall music schedule

You know that any live music season that starts with Diarrhea Planet and ends with Smoke Up Johnny is going to be a very special one, and so it is with the 2013 fall slate of live music in Arkansas.

New sports series, award-winners make this year's Hot Springs Doc Fest a must-attend

This year's Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Oct. 11-20, features surely the festival's best lineup ever. Multiple award winners from the likes of Sundance and Hot Docs are on the bill. A biographical look at Arkansas-born football legend Bear Bryant called "Mama Called" will make its world premiere.

Rothko before Rothko at Arkansas Arts Center

Also, at Crystal Bridges: Fisk collection.

A 'Wicked' fall theater lineup

Plus, TheatreSquared's '4,000 Miles,' 'Red' at The Rep and more

Arkansas Fall Arts Calendar

Music, theater and events.

Arkansas fall arts guide

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Rothko at the Arts Center and previews of the coming concert and theater slates.

Walton Foundation hires New York charter school leader

The Walton Family Foundation, which is spending tens of millions to promote charter schools, school vouchers and destruction of teacher unions and conventional public school districts that have them, is adding a high-profile New Yorker to its bureaucracy.

Small part of Paul Bookout's spending went to campaign use

The state Ethics Commission released today its investigative file on the case that led to multiple findings of ethics violations by former Sen. Paul Bookout of Jonesboro in handling of money in his last unopposed campaign for state Senate.

University of Arkansas releases Bret Bielema contract: $3.2 million a year plus many benefits and a $12.8 million buyout

The University of Arkansas Athletic Department today released the school's contract with head football coach Bret Bielema.

Hastings jury selection continues

I'll hear from David Koon before long, but I note a KATV Tweet that says 12 jurors have been seated for the retrial of Josh Hastings, a former Little Rock cop, on a manslaughter charge in the death of Bobby Moore, 15.

Arkansas GOP to country: Screw you

Both the Wall Street Journal editorial page and now the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged teabagging House Republicans to give up on the notion of shutting down government rather than allowing the law of the land — the Affordable Care Act — to take effect.

UPDATE: Jury convicts former Mount St. Mary counselor for failure to report sex abuse

David Koon reports that the state has completed its case in the trial of Kathy Griffin, a former Mount St. Mary Academy counselor, for failure to report sexual abuse of a student by her live-in partner and fellow Mount St. Mary teacher Kelly O'Rourke.

Get tickets for the Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival

If you like sampling a wide variety of delicious craft brews, you'll want to jump on getting your ticket for the Second Annual Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival. Tickets sold out last year, and, with 60 percent more brewers participating, we're sure to sell out again.

The Wednesday night line; Moody confirmation hearing set; more equality for gay couples

The Wednesday night line is open. Final words:

Montego Cafe has closed

Downtown eatery closes after only ten months.

Thursday To-Do: Frank Deford

Frank Deford speaks at Little Rock's Embassy Suites Thursday.

Thursday To-Do: Argenta Film Series: 'Searching for Sugar Man'

"Searching for Sugar Man" screens Thursday at Argenta Community Theater.

Thursday: 'Encyclopedia of Arkansas Music' Cocktail Party, Joe Buck Yourself and more

Joe Buck Yourself plays White Water Tavern Thursday.

Dance the night away

The crowd at last Saturday's Latino Food and Music Festival in Argenta dances to music by Cuban band CruzWay.

Same Vesuvio

Just in a bigger, better space.

Ask the Times: Obamacare edition

Obamacare is coming. Enrollment in the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace begins Oct. 1, with coverage set to start in January. But with the law gearing up, many still have questions about what the new coverage options mean for them. And we have answers!

'Wicked' blows into town Sept. 25

Surrender, Dorothy.

Hot Springs' Alliance Rubber Company is the country's biggest rubber band manufacturer

The company turns out 14 to 15 million pounds of rubber bands a year.

UA stamps football top secret

The University of Arkansas just can't quit its bad habits.

Going copless

I was unfamiliar with cop the way the reviewer used it in a British newspaper. A dictionary of British slang says that cop can mean "worth, value." I gather it's most often used in negative constructions, as the reviewer did.

Guns in school increase danger

If there is a good side to tragedies like the massacre of children at the Sandy Hook school, it is that they stir laudable impulses to fix things so that it never happens here.

Running wild

Tom Cotton continues his mad rampage through Washington. How long will it be before security takes him into custody? Confinement of the congressman would actually be best for him, and even better for the rest of us.

Fire at will

The fatal shooting of a 107-year-old man at Pine Bluff brought much attention to Arkansas, and, it's rumored, could earn an "oldest victim" award from the NRA. But the state gunners are not resting on their oars.

Orval's agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A win for diplomacy

Before you make the mistake of taking President Obama's most strident critics regarding the Syrian deal too seriously, ponder this: With few exceptions, those calling the Russian-American agreement to eliminate Bashar al Assad's nerve gas arsenal a capitulation, a sellout, and a shameful retreat also think bombing Damascus wouldn't have been nearly enough.

"Encyclopedia of Arkansas Music" Cocktail Party at the Main Library

Also, Ana Sia at Revolution.

Crystal Bridges research

A recent blog post by Max Brantley wishes to express a variety of negative conclusions about a University of Arkansas study of the educational effect of school field trips to Crystal Bridges.

Mobbed up

Crime farce 'The Family' works, improbably.

It was a good week for tech park progress

It was also a good week for anti-abortion state legislators and spreading woo pig sooie fever. It was a bad week for the University of Arkansas.

Argenta Film Series screens 'Searching for Sugar Man'

Also, Frank Deford at Embassy Suites, Harvestfest in Hillcrest, the Arkansas Times Festival of Ideas, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra at Robinson Auditorium, Vampire Weekend at the Arkansas Music Pavilion and Destruction Unit at Vino's.

The Pearls curse on Brandon Allen

What impeccable timing for Pearls to laud the heady guidance of Brandon Allen last week. The SI Cover Jinx ain't got nothin' on me.

The color of music

University of Arkansas at Little Rock music professor Bob Boury met The Observer at the front door to his home in the Heights neighborhood with a compliment: "What a musical name you have," he said.

School Reform? Check Diane Ravitch's latest take on it

The Waltons' hiring of an unpopular (among parents, if not billionaires) New York school official to continue their assault on conventional public schools put me in touch briefly yesterday with Diane Ravitch, the apostate school reformer who's become a one-woman truth squad against the immense bank accounts of the Billionaire Boys Club.

Republican extremists threaten to hold America hostage

Praise first for U.S. Rep. Steve Womack and Sen. John Boozman. Alone among the Arkansas delegation they reject taking government hostage — whether through refusal to approve a budget or refusal to raise the government borrowing limit — to overturn the law of the land, the Affordable Care Act.

Jimmy Buffett to play Verizon Arena in North Little Rock Dec. 7

Since Rock Candy hasn't rolled out of bed yet, allow me to pass along the news that the Jimmy Buffett tour will reach North Little Rock Dec. 7.Channel 4 has details. Tickets, $48.50 to $159, go on sale Sept. 27.

Friday: All That Remains, Green River Ordinance and more

All That Remains performs at Juanita's Friday.

The Supreme Court takes up Judge Simes' effort to remove prosecutor in murder case

Arkansas Supreme Court today issued two orders related to the controversial 2011 murder case in Phillips County against Tony Bernard Smith.

Ethics: Don't forget tougher penalties for lawmaker violations

In writing yesterday about release of the Ethics Commission investigative file on former Sen. Paul Bookout's illegal spending of campaign contributions, I mentioned discussions underway at the legislature to stiffen ethics laws.

New pope not like the old pope

Last time I wrote something nice about the new pope many of my fellow travelers thought soft words were misplaced.

American Craft Council writes up Arkansas

Magazine focuses on artists all over the state.

Hastings jury selection continues today

Jury selection in the retrial of former LRPD officer Josh Hastings resumes at 9:30 a.m. this morning.

8th Circuit: No constitutional right for Maumelle student to play basketball, but transfer deserved more study

The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today turned gave a partial victory to Teresa Bloodman, who complained because her child had made the basketball team at Maumelle High School, but then was removed from the team after another round of tryouts.

The parking meter cometh to the River Market

The city of Little Rock parking enforcement division has begun installing these Duncan Pay and Display Units in the River Market neighborhood.

The well-funded anti-Obamacare campaign: misleading, getting weird

[embed-1]Behold the worst advertisement ever created.  Starting in October, enrollment begins for the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, the new regulated market for private health insurance created by Obamacare.

Concealed carry showdown — two dead

I'll leave the public safety explanation to the gun fetishists over in Fort Smith, if they can spare time from planning another  defiant strap-on march..

Obamacare plans set to be released on Monday

The plans that will be offered on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, including premium prices, should be released on Monday, Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford testified today before the Joint Public Health committee.

Open line: Somebody tell Tom Cotton his pants are on fire


Call for artists: ArtsFest in Conway

The Marketplace is one of several events starting Sept. 27 in Conway.

The Festival of Ideas events round-up

Clear your calendar for the Festival of Ideas, Digital Members Party, Blues Bus and Craft Beer Festival.

Bernice Garden Sculpture Party and Fall Fest NOW

Winning works for 2013 are unveiled.

Beyond the Beef: A clucking good sandwich at Big Orange

When you are at Big Orange you eat burgers. Or at least that was my general attitude about the place until only recently. I ventured out and braved the perilous poultry.

The unbearable plainness of Panera

A quick look at the culinary equivalent of beige.

Food Feedback Friday: Harvestfest, wings, and other things

You know the drill. Leave us some feedback.

Senate candidate in Jonesboro fined $21,000 by Securities Department

KAIT reports here on a $21,000 fine assessed by the state Securities Department against Republican state Senate candidate Chad Niell, who's apparently spending a considerable personal sum to win the nomination to succeed Paul Bookout.

Legislative Audit's secrets on Martha Shoffner, Lonnie Parker

I note today that lawyers for former state Treasurer Martha Shoffner have filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against Legislative Audit for working papers of an audit of Shoffner's office.

God is the Ouachita sheriff's co-pilot

A reader notes the rear window decal that adorns the Ouachita County sheriff's fleet. I'm aware of a long-simmering movement to plaster the national motto (itself a 1950s response to godless communism) on public buildings), but this is my first occasion to see it on moving public property.

Saturday: Ana Sia, Good Time Ramblers and more

Ana Sia comes to Revolution Saturday night.

The legislature's pork barrel scam pays for park for Mayberry family

Great reporting in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today on how Rep. Andy Mayberry and his wife, Julie, who hopes to succeed him in the legislature, conspired with other Republican legislators from Saline County and nearby to direct spending $120,000 in state money to build a park for handicapped children including the Mayberry's daughter on land currently owned by the Mayberry family.

Saturday To-Do: HarvestFest in Hillcrest


Arkansas man indicted for threatening Arizona congressman

More good publicity for the Land of Opportunity, courtesy of Talking Points Memo: Michael Wayne Cummins of Fort Smith has been indicted by a federal grand jury for threatening to assault Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Barber of Arizona and telling a staff member:

Arkansas unemployment rate unchanged


Central Arkansas Water files intent to sue Exxon

Central Arkansas Water has filed a notice of intent to file a citizen lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Obamacare advertising debate another proxy fight on health care

The Legislative Council will put off until the end of its long agenda today the debate on whether to approve the spending of almost $4 million for advertising to encourage people to sign up in the new health insurance exchanges provided under the Affordable Care Act.

Opening tonight at Greg Thompson: Peters, Dunlap, Linton and more

It's Argenta ArtWalk night tonight in downtown North Little Rock.

Why it's hard to have a conversation about healthcare reform at the Arkansas General Assembly

From yesterday's Joint Public Health Meeting:  "You have a team working hard to deal not on hypotheticals but on reality."

College leaders support immigration reform

Write these names down. Remember them kindly:

Monday: Valient Thorr at Downtown Music Hall

Valient Thorr plays at Downtown Music Hall Monday.

Monday: Eric Schlosser at the Clinton School

Eric Schlosser will speak at the Clinton School of Public Service Monday.

TGIF: Times fest tomorrow; Blue Hog finds another acorn

The Friday night line is open: * ARKANSAS TIMES FESTIVAL OF IDEAS: Tomorrow is the day for our second Festival of Ideas.

The Tedious, Same Ol' Fight Edition

Government shutdown, Obamacare, college leaders for immigration reform, the latest on Democratic congressional challengers, the Exxon oil spill, movement on ethics reform and the UA’s disastrous appearance in front of Legislative Joint Auditing all covered.

Mosaic Templars birthday party Saturday

The museum celebrates its 5th anniversary with music and exhibit "Shades of Greatness: Art Inspired by Negro Leagues Baseball."

Alice Walton: Forbes cover girl

The hypothesis: Crystal Bridges was redemptive.

Legislature gets Westerman's $220,000 welfare study. It's a doozy, with cuts of hundreds of millions from Medicaid to nursing homes

A report inspired by state Rep. Bruce Westerman on state welfare programs finally was released to the public today.

Another big tobacco case heads to trial in Arkansas

Little Rock lawyer Thomas Thrash provides an update on pending class action legislation aimed at winning damages from Phillip Morris for alleged deceptive marketing of Marlboro Light cigarettes as safer and healthier than "regular" cigarettes.

School reformers want democracy, just not for charter schools

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page today lamented, as it often does, the low turnout in school board elections.

A special session on insurance; and maybe ethics, too

Prospects continue to improve for a special session to address teacher health insurance sticker shock.

Our Festival of Ideas starts at 11 a.m. today

One last reminder of the Arkansas Times Festival of Ideas, which starts at 11 a.m. this morning and runs through 5 p.m.

The Saturday open line: Arkansas ideas and gun nuttery on parade

[embed-1] It's a glorious Saturday. Hillcrest Harvest Fest continues as the Arkansas Times wraps up its Festival of Ideas.

New Democratic leader: Go local in 2014 elections

John Lyon of Stephens Media today replays the incoming battle cry of new Arkansas Democratic Chair Vince Insalaco's when he took the job last week — a call to fight the Republicans from again nationalizing state elections.

Beware the crime victim from Camden

A story since it's a slow morning: I went to dinner at the relocated Vesuvio at Breckenridge and Rodney Parham last night.

Money walks — the flight to suburbs and more prosperous regions. Is it tax policy? Or something else?

Here's something fun to noodle with if you have a time. A Jefferson County native was fascinated with this website, How Money Walks, and I agree there's some interesting stuff here.

The Sunday night line: Hillary in 2016

The Sunday line is open. Quiet on the home front as best I can tell.

Explosives found in Jonesboro search

KAIT-TV reports on the search of a probationer's home in Jonesboro that turned up drugs and bomb-making materials.

Health exchange rollout expected today

David Ramsey will be working later today on the expected release of insurance costs on the new health exchanges under the expansion of coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday: Reel Civil Rights Film Festival Commemoration Reception

George Haley will speak at the Reel Civil Rights Film Festival Commemoration Reception Tuesday at Philander Smith College.

House Democrats roll out ethics ideas

Those talks on ethical issues took on more concrete form this morning. The House Democratic Caucus floated its ideas for strengthening ethics laws and invited Republicans to join the movement.

Duck Dynasty's Mountain Man to start Hot Springs parade St. Patrick's Day

Mountain Man, a slow-talking repairman on the popular "Duck Dynasty" reality show, will be the "starter" of Hot Springs' 11th Annual World's Shortest St. Patrirck's Day Parade on March 17.

Insurance Department releases plans for Obamacare marketplace

The Arkansas Insurance Department today released the plans that will be available on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, the regulated marketplace where consumers will buy private health insurance, with enrollment beginning next month. 

Figuring out your Obamacare rates

As we reported earlier today, there will be 71 plans available on the Health Insurance Marketplace (HIM).

Arkansas college enrollment down this fall

Preliminary numbers from the state Higher Education Department indicate that the number of people enrolled in state public colleges and universities this fall is down 2 percent from last fall, thanks to a 6 percent drop in two-year-college enrollment.

Duck Dynasty's 'Mountain Man' starter for 2014 World's Shortest St. Pat's Parade in Hot Springs

[embed-1] Tim Guraedy, known only as "Mountain Man" (see the video above if you don't know who the hell that is) on TLC's big hixplotation hit "Duck Dynasty," will be the official starter of the 2014 Hot Springs' World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17, 2014, organizers announced today.

Monday night open line: Obamacare, teacher insurance, Mark Martin's fight against FOI

The Monday night line is open. Final items:

Butcher & Public announces Kickstarter

Chef Travis McConnell announces fundraising drive for a new temple of carnivorous delights downtown.

Cher to Verizon Arena March 28

Cher will perform at Verizon Arena March 28.

Former Clinton aide targeted for private business development

The New Republic, available only to subscribers, has a new report about the activities of Doug Band, a former key adviser to Bill Clinton's philanthropic activites post-presidency.

Rick Crawford throws in with the Tea Party

Persistent threats of a Tea Party Republican primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford appeared to have had the desired effect.

Let us pray: Just not in government meetings

My thanks to the Baptist Joint Committee, a venerable and unyielding defender of the notion that church and state should be separated, for news of a pending U.S. Supreme Court argument that could have some impact in Arkansas, depending.

Wednesday To-Do: Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend plays at the Arkansas Music Pavilion Wednesday.

Wednesday To-Do: Destruction Unit

Destruction Unit plays at Vino's Wednesday.

Benton man pleads to role in New Jersey mortgage swindle

The Justice Department says a Benton, Ark., man has pleaded guilty to playing a role in a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme involving straw purchases of overdeveloped New Jersey condos.  [pdf-1]

50 50 50: Donald Roller Wilson

Naughty Betty takes center stage in the atrium.

Pulaski judges report jury scam

I've heard from a Pulaski circuit judge about a scam targeting people on circuit court jury panels.

Obamacare: Best sentence I've read today

From an analysis of last-gasp hysterics by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo: But the real fear among Republican strategists is that reform will work and in so doing become an ideological and political defeat of immense proportions for the Conservative movement.

Push begins for Robinson Center expansion

[embed-1] The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau today began in earnest its push for a bond issue to expand the WPA-eara Robinson Center.

Josh Hastings' manslaughter trial — with afternoon update

A jury of 7 women and 5 men, two of them black, has begun hearing testimony in the retrial of former Little Rock cop Josh Hastings in the slaying of Bobby Moore, 15, as Moore was driving from a west Little Rock parking lot.

Clinton, Obama are talking health care

It's 4:36 p.m. and Bill Clinton and President Obama are talking Obamacare at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting.

The Tuesday open line

The line is open. Final notes:

Another day, another federal judge sending a class-action suit against Exxon back to Faulkner County

More than 50 plaintiffs whose suit against ExxonMobil had been removed to federal court will get to present their case to a Faulkner County jury after U.S. District Judge Brian Miller remanded Finton et al v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. back to the home county where Exxon's Pegasus pipeline broke open on March 29.

Bud Walton Arena basketball court damaged by water

Stephens Media reports damage to the basketball court in Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas on account of "infiltration" of water during heavy rains.

Show your spirit with help from Ann Potter Baking

Allow me to introduce Ann Potter Baking. Check them out if you're in need of some stunning themed treats.

NY Times visits Bentonville to sample mood on government shutdown threat

A New York Times reporter visited Yellow Dog Republican Bentonville to sample the mood on Obamacare and the possibility of a government shutdown y Republicans who won't accept the law of the land.

Official secrets: Exxon and the University of Arkansas

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports on a couple of continuing and depressingly familiar themes this morning:

Tonight: Alash Ensemble, masters of Tuvan throat singing, at Pulaski Tech

The Alash Ensemble will perform tonight at Pulaski Tech.

Queens of the Stone Age cancels Arkansas Music Pavilion show

Queens of the Stone Age canceled its concert at the Arkansas Music Pavilion.

Searcy Baptist church dumps Cub Scout pack over scouting's acceptance of gay scouts

Word comes from White County of another Baptist church that will end its sponsorship of a Boy Scout group — in this case a Cub Scout pack — because of the new national Boy Scout policy that, effective Jan. 1, "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

Price of stamp going up to 49 cents

CNN reports the Postal Service plans a three-cent increase in the cost of a first-class stamp, to 49 cents.

Sen. John Boozman blisters Ted Cruz

Credit where due to Sen. John "Dr. No" Boozman. This report from Politico on his dealings with wackjob Canadian Sen. Ted Cruz's antics to shut down government rather than accept the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land.

Surprise! Americans for Prosperity continues to mislead on Obamacare

We’ve already seen that when it comes to Obamacare, Americans for Prosperity has offered up misleading arguments (not to mention bizarre ads).

UPDATE: Hastings jury goes home for the night, resumes tomorrow

David Koon reports from the County Courthouse that defense attorney Bill James rested without putting on any new testimony in the retrial of former Little Rock cop Josh Hastings on a manslaughter charge in the fatal shooting of Bobby Moore III, 15, in August 2012.

UA Fort Smith to invest $15 million into the visual arts

New building to be open for 2015 fall semester.