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September 21, 2011

Vol 38 • No 4

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Running the numbers

It's been a rocky two years at the Arkansas Lottery office.

Heavy absentee vote in LR school election UPDATE

I'll check in on school elections tonight. There will be no numbers until 7:30 p.m., when the early voting is released.

Van Buren courthouse shooting on video

Of course it's on video, the gunman's rampage in the Crawford County Courthouse in Van Buren.

Local schools win round in tax fight

Eureka Springs and Fountain Lake have won a preliminary round decision in their lawsuit to avoid turning over to the state excess money generated by the required 25-mill property tax.

The Huckabee grudge calculator

This from The Atlantic is funny. Who does Mike Huckabee hate more — Mitt Romney or Rick Perry?

Little Rock Film Festival expands

Aims for year-round programming.

Brad Neely's 'China, IL' premiers Oct. 2

Plus, the end is nigh for several UALR art exhibits.

True Soul album release party, Zoo Brew and the 2011 Paranormal Expo

Plus, Culture Shock: The '80s, Charlie Daniels Band, Three Dog Night and more.

Joe Klein, The Cleverlys, Chris Hillman

Plus, Kevin Gordon, Arkansas Bo, women's tackle football tryouts and more.

Nobody likes to see her coming

Tax Collector Debra Buckner faces off with delinquents.

Repairs begin on Union Rescue Mission

A city inspection of the Union Rescue Mission at 3000 Confederate Blvd., which the city has purchased for future use as a day resource center for the homeless, has turned up a number of code violations that needed immediate attention, officials confirmed.

Nellums resurfaces

Michael Nellums, the retired Mills High principal and Little Rock School Board member, is back at work. Nellums retired in June after 26 years in the teaching profession just a few steps ahead of completion of a Pulaski County School District investigation into his involvement in a plot to discredit a County School Board member.

Leniency for Lu

Former University of Central Arkansas president Lu Hardin is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Sept. 26 after pleading guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in March.

Justice, Texas-style

Mexican worth the commute

At Taco Mama in Hot Springs.

Capi's closes

Plus, competitive eater Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas and a new Honduran restaurant.

Tea Party nihilists

Put the park at Ray Winder

"City Hall has $22 million worth of leverage plus its zoning powers that can and should be used to influence CATPA to locate the research park at Ray Winder Field rather than disturb a stable neighborhood and further alienate persons of color and the less affluent."

Black humor

One of the two major American political parties has been taken over by its most vicious and reckless element.

Hellions on the border

Unadmirable in the best of times, the Sebastian County legislative delegation has been showing out in particularly repellent fashion.

76 Trombones

Lu Hardin didn't lack for salesmanship. He made friends in politics, press and the community. When his management deficiencies began to surface, his friends did not want to think the worst.

Eye on Arkansas Sept. 21, 2011

Dancers participate in a ceremony celebrating Mexico's 201st Independence Day this past Friday at the Clinton Center Park in Little Rock.

The class warfare debate

When the Republicans accuse President Obama of engaging in "class warfare" by seeking to tax millionaires and corporations that dodge taxes, they frame the coming election in exactly the terms that the president and the Democrats ought to demand.

Can we talk? Can we get anywhere?

Dialogue is good. It would be even better if someone would venture off script every once in a while.

Oh the ginormity

Challis Muniz was vexed to see a made-up word like ginormous used by a member of the state Board of Education in a discussion of academic standards for the public schools.

Good week: City of Little Rock

It was a good week for the City of Little Rock, fall and cinephiles. It was a bad week for: Ernie Passailaigue, Denny Altes and the state's unemployed.

Shaping up

Plus, The Observer checks out Jeff Nichols' latest film "Take Shelter."

Rep's 'Ring of Fire' campy fun

Songs on the money, but wanting for Cash.

Razorbacks struggles with Troy might help prep for Tide

Petrino goes into Bryant-Denny with an 0-3 record.

America is delicious

And we're paying for it.

Full throttle

The L.A. noir would be a stunner if not for all the gore.

Zookeeper resume

Consider this a sort of application and resume.

Spotted in Alaska

Drew Pritt.

The Highway 10 watch

A friend whose made one of his civic pursuits protection of the zoning plan that was supposed to protect the scenic Highway 10 corridor and prevent development of another Rodney Parham Road sends news of neighborhood activity on pending planning matters: * Neighborhood opposition has developed to a proposed development with offices and a Battery Outfitters retail store at 15104 Cantrell.

Judge: Plans no complaint against Altes

Chief Judge Larry Vaught of the Arkansas Court of Appeals says he has no plans to file a complaint with the state Ethics Commission over state Rep. Denny Altes' threatening remarks about holding up budgets on account of his unhappiness over unemployment benefits awarded to a former employee of his son's business.

Lottery execs hope to keep jobs

David Barden and Ernestine Middleton, brought by Ernie Passailaigue from South Carolina for $225,000 jobs with the Arkansas lottery (hefty bumpers from the $133K and $144K they made previously) tell Stephens Media they like it here and hope to stay on despite the departure of their godfather this week.

City Hall gets surprise on homeless center

Taxpayers have just given Little Rock City Hall a half-a-billion dollars (less tens of millions outsourced to the Chamber of Commerce and allies).

Hackers tap Jonesboro Library bank account

The Jonesboro Sun reports today that the Jonesboro Library bank account was hacked and $37,000 stolen.

Another state with charter school problems

First of a two-part report from New Jersey on the often poor performance of charter schools in New Jersey, though they're still being aggressively pushed by the Republican governor.

Wednesday To-Do: True Soul album release party

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center hosts an album release party for "True Soul: Deep Sounds from the Left of Stax."

Poll: GOP edge in legislative races

The latest installment of the Talk Business/Hendrix polling tested 2,100 voters for generic party preferences in state legislative races.

Your 0 to 2-year-old could be the 2011 Little Mr. or Miss Arkansas State Fair

Expectant mothers, get to pushing. Your zero-year-old child could be the next Baby Miss or Mister Arkansas State Fair.

Details on Little Rock Zoo inspection

The commission that accredits zoos last week tabled accreditation of the Little Rock Zoo for a year because of financial concerns.

Thursday To-Do: 'Afrofuturism and the Politics of Possibility: Radical Social Love and the Career of Michael Jackson'


Tonight: Joe Klein, Rwake and Justin Moore

TIME Magazine columnist Joe Klein stops by the Clinton School of Public Service tonight.

Thursday: The Cleverlys and Kevin Gordon

The Cleverlys plays Stickyz Thursday night.

Thursday To-Do: Culture Shock: The '80s

CULTURE SHOCK: THE '80S7 p.m. Arkansas Arts Center.

Walkers give Crystal Bridges $10 million

Program that will bring as many as 14,000 school children to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Thursday To-Do: Zoo Brew

ZOO BREW7 p.m. Little Rock Zoo.

Metta World Peace (AKA Ron Artest) gives to Little Rock nonprofit

Lakers forward Ron Artest, who recently changed his name to Metta World Peace (and got eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars"), has donated $50,000 to Little Rock nonprofit Centers for Youth and Families' UNITY Gang Prevention Program.

Sculpture in the Bernice Garden

Flying aluminum birds and more to be unveiled.

Let 'em die

Talking Points Memo: Ron Paul told TPM on Wednesday that even if there’s a “case or two” that makes Americans uncomfortable, the government should stay out of the health care business.

A plan to fix the State Hospital

The State Hospital has received a consultant's reports on deficiencies at the hospital and recommendations for curing them.

Here are some of the musical acts playing the Arkansas State Fair

Kenny Wayne Shepherd plays opening night at the Arkansas State Fair.

Moon rock found! UPDATE

Remember the stories about the missing moonrock? It's been found in the collection of Bill Clinton gubernatorial papers and memorabilia.

The line is open NEWS UPDATES

Several people have quoted Elizabeth Warren already on her rejoinder to the class warfare clowns, but here's a video.

Impact fee? Don't hold your breath

An article in today's Democrat-Gazette (pay wall) discussed the Little Rock Wasterwater Utility's indisputable need for a rate increase — and soon — to continue corrective work to stop pollution caused by sewer line overflows.

Inside the lottery succession

John Brummett explains how a fight over the Lake Maumelle watershed might play a role in deciding who's the next director of the Arkansas Lottery.

Weekend To-Do: Legends Balloon Rally

Legends Balloon Rally is this weekend at Hot Springs Memorial Field Airport.

Jonathan Barnett to get some free advertising

State Rep. Jonathan Barnett of Siloam Springs is about to have a portion of U.S. Highway 412 named for him by the state Highway Commission.

Searcy hospital to stop hiring smokers

Channel 7 reports that the White County Medical Center in Searcy has announced a new policy not to hire smokers.

Dipped: Juanita's Mexican Cantina

Good dip and some great fries no one even knows about can be found at the recently moved restaurant best known not for its food but for its concerts.

You think reality TV is bad?

Try real life, as lived by former reality TV characters.

Burger joint of the week: Hamburger Barn

Want a burger that tastes like it came off a backyard grill? You need to head to Arkadelphia.

Asphyxia cause of Maumelle hot tub death

The state medical examiner has officially found the manner of death of Dexter Williams of Maumelle "undetermined."

Round About Arkadelphia and Justin Smith

Arkadelphia Arts Center opens Oct. 11, Caddo River Art Guild has a home.

3rd District candidate faults Womack's spending vote

Ken Aden of Russellville, who's announced as a Democratic candidate to oppose Third District Republican Congressman Steve Womack, faces the steepest of hills and longest of odds.

Prosecutor asks State Police review of UCA-Aramark deal

Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland of Conway has asked the State Police to investigate the contract between the University of Central Arkansas and food service supplier Aramark.

Don't forget: Bernice Sculpture Garden event tonight

Party starts at 5:30 p.m.

Wanna watch a bunch of boats race?

There's a boat race on the Arkansas River this evening.

The Thursday night line

Market crashes. President Obama throws in with the Waltons and other billionaires on education.

Ark. GOP calls Boozman-backed measure 'insulting gimmick'

This is funny. But it's also symptomatic of how blindly and bloodily binary political warfare has become.

John Oates to Fayetteville's UARK Bowl Nov. 3

John Oates plays the UARK Bowl in Fayetteville Nov. 3.

Gay soldier booed during Republican debate

Nobody cheered for the death of a terminally ill uninsured person during the televised Republican presidential debate last night.

What's next for Little Rock research park?

The Little Rock sales tax increase included $22 million for a research park, established under legislation guided by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and to be run by the newly appointed Central Arkansas Technology Park Authority.

Pieday: Lemon Meringue at Neal's Cafe

The 67 year old Springdale establishment is best known for its pan-fried chicken. But the pies they turn out are absolutely diner-ific.

Dollar General adds beer sales at 50 Arkansas stores

Stephens Media reports that the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division has approved 50 of 64 applications by Dollar General to sell beer at its retail stores.

Saturday To-Do: World Cheese Dip Championship


Saturday To-Do: 2011 Paranormal Expo

Bigfoot is among the topics that will be discussed at the 2011 Paranormal Expo.

You can now borrow ebooks on Kindle at local libraries

Overdrive, the digital lending system the Central Arkansas Library System and Laman Library both use, now supports Kindle Books.

The End of Ernie P. Edition

The rise and fall of Ernie Passailaigue and the two-year anniversary of the Arkansas Lottery, the continuing fallout surrounding the Aramark contract at UCA and presidential politics are this week's topics.

Walton Foundation gives $1.2 billion to Crystal Bridges

The Walton Family Foundation announced today that it had given an additional $403 million this year to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville for acquisitions, construction costs and other expenses.

They're turning 'True Grit' into a dang porno

Ugh, they're making a porn version of "True Grit."

Drug court group blasts 'Last Shot with Judge Gunn' UPDATES

I got an inquiry from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals several weeks ago, but missed that they'd finally issued a news release critical of the syndicated TV show scheduled to begin Monday featuring former Circuit Judge Mary Ann Gunn of Fayetteville.

How state legislators pad their pensions

Interesting article in USA Today on the ways in which state legislators around the country have found ways to inflate their pensions, often without notice by the taxpaying public.

Tonight: Runaway Planet 10th anniversary show

Runaway Planet celebrates its 10th anniversary tonight at White Water Tavern.

$1.2 billion for Crystal Bridges — in 2010 alone

Here it is again: The Walton Family Foundation reveals that it donated more than $1.2 billion to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in 2010.

Saturday: Big Dam Bridge 100, Finale Fest, "First Farewell"

The Big Dam Bridge 100 bicycle race is Saturday.

The Art Loft opens tonight

New gallery has formal grand opening tonight 6-9 p.m.

TGIF open line

The line is open. I'm closing shop.

Tomorrow: Thea Paves the Way

Chalk art event at the Clinton Presidential Park.

Pervez Musharraf to Clinton School

Pervez Musharraf will be coming to Little Rock next month. The retired four-star general and former president of Pakistan will be at the Clinton School of Public Service Thursday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.

Let yourself go to Clinton Library

Looking for something to do before 2:30 p.m. besides heating up the cheese dip? You might want to consider "The Art of the Brick," a new exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Center featuring Nathan Sawaya's Lego sculptures.

Time magazine: How booze sales saved Conway

Time magazine's Joe Klein passed through Arkansas recently and his stops included a visit in Conway, with produced a post on the Swampland blog.

The prospects for 2012 in Congress

You'd think there'd be ample running room for Democratic congressional candidates in 2012. Republicans would deny disaster victims aids if other worthy programs, including jobs-friendly programs, don't suffer first.

Huckabee shoots the wounded Rick Perry

The right-wing punditocracy has declared Rick Perry's last debate performance a disaster (a declaration that may or may not resonate with the average Tea Party Republican voter).

Dallas Cowboys face sweatshop labor complaint

The Dallas Cowboys (aka Jerry Jones and Co.) has a new merchandising arm to sell clothing with college logos — USC and Ohio State seem to be early examples.

The line is open; Herman Cain wins GOP straw poll

Early start. There are other pressing matters.

Who has the best cheese dip?

Surprise! One of Argenta's newest restaurants will represent Arkansas at the New Orleans Roadfood Festival come March, while a Mexican wrestling-themed team takes home top amateur honors.

Arkansas lottery chief: Home-grown or not?

An age-old Arkansas political debate is about to play out: Should the next director of the Arkansas Lottery come from in-state or out-of state.

Arizona reins in its accent police

Who knew? Arizona has been firing teachers because of heavy Latino accents.

Today's inspiration: Marvin Windows

Meet Marvin Windows and Doors, a privately held company that is refusing to lay off workers in the face of a nasty economic downturn that has hit the building industry particularly hard.

Lake Maumelle land use plan set for hearing UPDATE

The Pulaski County Planning Board will hold a public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m.

Tim Griffin's 'independent' support

The U.S. Supreme Court has blurred lines so much already that controls on campaign finance have become next to meaningless.

The Sunday line

Got anything? Not me, except: * SHERWOOD HOMICIDE: Sherwood police report the discovery of a dead 46-year-old woman in the Links Apartments on Kiehl today.

Sheffield Nelson scores on severance tax argument

Here's a suggestion for Sheffield Nelson, the former gas company executive who's been born again as a tax-and-spend crusader.

Flood victims unhappy with Congress

The New York Times reports on Pennsylvania flood victims unhappy that FEMA disaster aid is running low and replenishment is threatened by Congress.

Chamber of Commerce wants to loosen term limits law

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce is talking about easing the term limits provision of the Arkansas Constitution.

Lu Hardin gets probation for fraud, money laundering

Federal Judge James Moody this morning sentenced Lu Hardin, the former president of the University of Central Arkansas, to five years probation for his guilty plea to wire fraud and money laundering. He declined to impose a 9- to 12-month sentence recommended by federal court sentencing guidelines.

Children's hospitals: Billion-dollar businesses with CEOs to match

Kaiser Health News has begun a series of articles that will be of interest here.

Roger Ailes says Fox News on 'course correction'

Huffington Post has an item on a Roger Ailes interview with Newsweek in which he claims Fox News, which he leads, is on a "course correction."

Trooper Andrew Rhew resigns following Missouri DWI

Remember Andrew Rhew, the state trooper who was reinstated after being fired for failure to run emergency lights and sirens before a high-speed crash killed an Arkansas motorist?

Tonight: Hellzapoppin Sideshow and Iron Tongue at Revolution

It's Monday, but don't let it get you down.

Conway police arrest suspect in toe-sucking overture

Fox 16 reports Michael Wyatt of Vilonia has been arrested on two misdemeanor counts for allegedly asking to suck two women's toes.

Jeff Nichols' 'Take Shelter' a movie for our time, says NY Mag

New York magazine critic David Edelstein is way high on Jeff Nichols' new one, tentatively slated to open in Arkansas on Oct. 28.

Public Law Center files suit over legislative expenses

The Arkansas Public Law Center, a fairly new nonprofit group, filed suit today in Circuit Court challenging the Arkansas legislative reimbursement scheme.

Arkansas trial courts face financial crisis

The state courts are suddenly facing a financial crisis and the state judges will meet Friday to try to figure out ways to deal with it.

The Monday line

The line is open. You're up.

Jeff Nichols adds Michael Shannon, Ray McKinnon, Sam Shepard and other famous faces to 'MUD' cast

Whoa. Little Rock director Jeff Nichols has added some serious weight to the cast of "MUD," which, as we've said, started shooting on Monday.

Little Rock, flush with money, bucks trend

The New York Times today reports gloomy news for the nation's cities, battered by declining property values (source of property taxes) and also sales tax revenues hit by the Internet and the recession.

Wealthy push Chris Christie for GOP nomination

The sorry state of the Republican presidential field is cable shoutfest buzz of the day.

UCA audit committee stops work

An audit committee appointed by the University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees to review negotiations between UCA and Aramark on a new food service contract voted today to halt its review in light of the local prosecutor's referral of the issue to the State Police.

The truth about health care: Obamacare is working

Ernest Dumas explains again this week how the health care reform law is already producing benefits and how Republicans have nothing to say in rebuttal, except lies.

Votes scheduled on judicial nominees

Glenn Sugamelli, who follows federal judicial nominations for Judging the Environment, sends word that some of the U.S. Senate logjam on judicial confirmations has been broken and that this should be good news for Circuit Judge Susan Hickey of El Dorado, who's been recommended for confirmation to a judgeship in the western district of Arkansas.

Draft Mike Huckabee for GOP presidential race

Here's one blogger's solution to the uninspiring presidential candidates — Draft The Huckster. It's being passed around a bit by other Huckabee fans.

Arkansas two-year colleges get $14.7 million

The U.S. Labor Department has granted $14.7 million to Arkansas's two-year colleges to speed up degree and certificate completion and better tailor training to job needs.

Home sales up; prices down in Central, NW Arkansas

Roby Brock passes along an early report on monthly housing sale figures that sales were up in August over August 2010 in the important Central Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas regions, but prices were down.

"Off the Grid: Keliy Anderson-Staley"

Photography show at Arkansas Tech University, Russellville.

What is the quintessential Arkansas sandwich?

Is it the Reuben? The Garden? A cornbread sandwich or what? Weigh in on what you think.

Grant Tennille named acting head of AEDC

Gov. Mike Beebe today named his deputy chief of staff Grant Tennille as interim director of the Arkanas Economic Development Commission, succeeding the late Maria Haley.

Retire the dollar bill for the dollar coin?

Conservative Republicans are stirring up an old battle about replacing the paper dollar bill with a dollar coin, pretty much a flop to date.

Tonight: Electric Six, Elliot Yamin, Caroline Smith & The Goodnight Sleeps and more

Elliot Yamin plays Juanita's tonight.

If you ask me, Alice ...

There are several items being auctioned today and tomorrow in New York that would look good at Crystal Bridges.

Arts Council announces award winners

Vince Insalaco is the winner of the Governor's Lifetime Achievement Award and John Gaudin the winner of the Governor's Arts Community Development Award.

Wednesday To-Do: Richard Buckner

Richard Buckner plays Stickyz Wednesday night.