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Lost in the backlog

Lost in the backlog

September 24, 2015

Vol 42 • No 3

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Lost in the foster care backlog

Families say DHS red tape drives parents away from the foster system, despite state’s urgent needs.

A sweetness worth the stings

My uncle Elzie kept his bee hives in amongst the wrecked cars and other metal debris behind his house on the High­way 160 out­side of Smack­over.

Back in Little Rock

Hillary Clinton made her case to college students at Philander Smith College on Tuesday.

Business is sweet at Dahlem Vineyard

The Dahlem fam­ily has been in the grape busi­ness for over a cen­tury.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Pie Box in Protho Edition

Play at home!

The Constitution demands I set your truck on fire

Also, the latest nadir of Huck, draft Cotton in the works, Clinton at Philander, judge halts state's attack on Planned Parenthood and hogtied in Hogville.

With ForwARd Arkansas, the Walton Family Foundation tones down its policy agenda

Report contains no mention of charter schools, choice or vouchers.

The beginning of the end?

If Toledo triggered a sudden and unanticipated referendum on Bret Bielema, then it's likely the Texas Tech debacle — and we'll make the case herein that it was arguably a worse loss — could have sealed his exit, assuming an equally shocking reversal of fortune isn't imminent.

Marco's moment

Most have deemed Carly Fiorina the winner of last week's CNN-sponsored Republican debate, but the greatest beneficiary is likely to be Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Arnold's and the Zen of catfish

Gone fishin' in Pine Bluff.

Refugees redux

The heartrending pictures and accounts of the rivers of men, women and terrified children who survived the rickety boats of the Aegean and treks through the Balkans to reach the portals of Western Europe brought back old but equally poignant images of the sufferings of war.


Republicans always say nobody respects America anymore. No kidding. Given that CNN International televised last week's GOP presidential debate to a waiting world, it's no wonder.

Lera Lynn comes to South on Main

Also, Lil Durk and Gunplay at Juanita's, 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' at Ron Robinson, the Arkansas Paranormal Expo at MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and Future at Clear Channel.

Depp's performance a bright spot in midnight-dark "Black Mass"

From Jesse James to Cagney in "White Heat" to Tony Soprano, shameless sociopaths who dodge the system to make their American dream a reality at the business end of the gun are among our favorite anti-heroes.

Tony Davis has all the right moves

Nine-time Arkansas State Chess champion fosters chess community.

Swimming with sharks: a Q&A with Lo Thraxx

The Little Rock rapper is one of the city's most consistent and adaptable voices.

Covered in fog

Sadly, a decades-long state newspaper subscription ended with the realization the paper would not publish an article opposed to the Democrat-Gazette's editorial page ideas (Sept. 16) about how to operate public education, especially in Little Rock.


The Observer recently flew for the first time in a little over 16 years, and to Texas, of all places. Spouse's car was getting a little long in the tooth, and the Mobile Observatory even longer of chopper, so we'd been scouting around for a new ride for a while now with very specific criteria: Honda, CR-V, low miles, within our budget, and a color other than grey, silver or the doughy tan that some automakers grandiosely call "champagne."

Profiting from fear, politics

The Associated Press distributed an article with an Ohio dateline over the weekend that deserves more attention in Arkansas.

StudioMAIN Block Party on Thursday

Also, "Puss in Boots" is at the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre.

An idea for Arkansas: Put an end to secret spending in political races

Mother Jones reports on California's effort to further clamp down on "dark money" — the unattributed millions flowing into political races through nonprofits that shield the source of the money. If Arkansas lawmakers believed in open, accountable government, they'd do the same.

Credit union complains about unfair treatment by public agency

The Arkansas Federal Credit Union, having gotten nowhere with complaints to the publicly financed Little Rock Technology Park Authority, has complained to the city board of directors that they were unfairly cut out of a lending consortium for financing of construction in the downtown project because banks don't like credit unions.They are correct.

Guest Mix: Ten High

We are Ten High from Fayetteville, a tone-rich sonic mess with nothing to loose. We love getting down and having fun with our buds from all around. We just released our new EP "Cable Vision," and we have lots more music coming. Come to a show. Bring earplugs!

UA links skyboxes. Trustee John Goodson, with a candidate wife, figures in the decision.

Razorback stadium skybox seats are coveted. And a recent work order change allows more mingling among the wealthy people invited to UA System and Fayetteville campus boxes. It has a political benefit for a political candidate, the wife of UA trustee John Goodson.

Congress gets a papal message not ripped from GOP platform

The pope does it again. Talks to Congress about immigration, the death penalty, racial injustice, the weapons trade.

15-year-old arrested in $225,000 school playground fire

KATV reports the arrest of a 15-year-old, turned in by his parents, who set the fire that caused $225,000 damage to the playground at Franklin Elementary.

Independence County judge switches to Republican Party

The Arkansas Republican Party has announced that Robert Griffin, the Independence County judge, has jumped from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

Share our Strength dinner at South on Main features great Arkansas chefs

I've long been a fan of Share Our Strength's "No Kid Hungry" campaign, and so has Matt Bell at South on Main.

TLC can't quit the Duggars; specials planned on daughters

TLC, the cable channel, has come up with a new way to continue to profit off the Duggar family despite the recent scandals — specials featuring two Duggar daughters.

State Police ordered to turn over ABC enforcement chief's personnel file

Judge Mackie Pierce has ruled that Russ Racop is entitled to see personnel records that indicate why Boyce Hamlet was fired as a State Police trooper 15 years ago.

The open line and today's video. Plus: Another FOI victory

An open line, news video and a development in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Confederate Boulevard name change endorsed

The Little Rock Planning Commission voted unanimously this afternoon to change the name of Confederate Boulevard to Springer Boulevard, the name it carries southward from railroad tracks to Granite Mountain, where the Springer namesake lived.

Income inequality? Don't look around here for a fix

With the pope calling for lifting the world's impoverished, the Arkansas governor and legislature are hard at work looking for ways to further oppress them.

La Terraza Rum and Lounge coming to former Acadia space in Hillcrest

Little Rock is set to get a taste of Venezuela with La Terraza Rum and Lounge, opening in the former Acadia location in Hillcrest.

House Speaker Boehner announces plans to resign

House Speaker John Boehner surprised colleagues today by announcing plans to resign the post in October. Why not speculate that the leadership shuffle could include U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas.

Hillary cheers pope's statements on climate change

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in an essay in the National Catholic Reporter, praises Pope Francis' remarks on stewardship of the earth and climate change.

Governor schedules on-the-job training

Nine months into his term, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is scheduling a training course for state agency heads and their lawyers. Better late than never.

Trial set on Baxter County courthouse nativity scene

The Baxter Bulletin reports federal Judge Timonty Brooks has set a two-day nonjury trial Oct. 15 in Fayetteville on a lawsuit challenging the Nativity scene put up each year on the Baxter County Courthouse lawn in Mountain Home.

State Police releases file on ABC Enforcement chief

The State Police today turned over to Russ Racop materials he'd sought under the Freedom of Information Act about Boyce Hamlet, the ABC Enforcement Division chief. It adds some details, including a polygraph test Hamlet passed, about Hamlet's firing 15 years ago as a State Police recruit over an allegation he'd cheated on a test.

Democrats name new House minority leader

Rep. Michael John Gray of Augusta has been elected leader of the House Democratic Caucus, the minority party. He succeeds Rep. Eddie Armstrong of North Little Rock. He's a farmer and small business owner.

State Insurance Department must repay $1 million to feds on marketplace work

Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr announced today that the state would have to repay $1 million billed to the federal government for expenses not allowed under a grant for a program to set up the health insurance marketplace in the state.

Staff Picks: 'Documentary Now!', Google Cardboard, Daniel Romano, hangovers and more

This week my brother introduced me to the IFC show "Documentary Now!" created by and starring Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Seth Myers. Every episode is a parody of a canonical documentary, is the idea. So far I've only seen one, "The Eye Doesn't Lie," which reimagines Errol Morris' "The Thin Blue Line" so directly and successfully that Morris must be incredibly flattered (or confused).

Collin Raye and the lost anthems of Little Rock

ROWE: Hello Arkansans, this is the second piece from us, Brasher and Rowe, and we are some dudes who communicate with other people by showing them videos on the Internet.

TGIF. Plus, sundown town news; a constitutional claim to freebies; investment in steel mill

Happy it's Friday? I am. Here's the open line. And today's news video. PLUS: Another ugly road sign in Harrison, Ark.; a steel mill expansion, and a bodacious legal bid for unlimited freebies for legislators.

Mike Huckabee is a liar; claims credit before 'values' voters for work of others

Mike Huckabee tells another whopper — this time taking credit for the indictments of Democratic legislators in 1999. "Clinton cronies," he called them. Those indictments actually were the work of a U.S. attorney appointed by Bill Clinton, who worked with a local Democratic prosecutor on an investigation that began after a story in the Arkansas Times.

The Pope Fever Edition

Pope Francis' visit to the U.S., John Boehner’s resignation, Hillary Clinton’s Little Rock stop, the University of Arkansas playing secrecy games again and more — covered on this week's podcast.

Another modest idea for local legislators

Springfield, Mo., apparently has passed an ordinance banning any exposure of the sides or undersides of bare female breasts and any portion of buttocks, male or female. However, and this has feminists hopping mad, the measure was amended to delete a provision forbidding "the showing of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state."

Make plans: Little Rock Pride Fest is Oct. 11

Little Rock Pride Fest, to celebrate and educate about LGBT issues, is set for Oct. 11, with an expanded schedule including educational talks, a beer garden, entertainment and the third pride parade.

Sooie the pig finds a home in North Little Rock

Remember Sooie, the pot-bellied pig at the center of a Little Rock controversy that ultimately led to a city ordinance banning hoofed animals and an ongoing lawsuit challenging the ordinance?Sooie is now a North Little Rock resident and happy as, well, a pig in slop

Big business backing Womack for Supreme Court

Big business lobbies are rounding up money for the Supreme Court campaign of former Republican Sen. Shawn Womack. He's expected to be a reliable vote for their legal outlook.

Saturday night open line

Here's an open line.

Alarm sounded on 'jury duty' telephone scam

The Pulaski sheriff's office and Prosecutor Larry Jegley issued warnings this afternoon about a telephone scam in which a caller claiming to be a deputy claims to have a warrant for the person called for failure to report for jury duty, The caller says the offense can be settled with a "bond" of up to $1,000 payable by prepaid gift card or credit card.

Survey on transgender health care under way in Arkansas

John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau reports this morning on TRANSform Health Arkansas, a collaboration between UAMS and the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition to collect survey data on health care issues facing trans people in the state.

Trump, Carson top new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. Huckawho?

Trump, Carson top new national poll on Republican presidential race. Mike Huckabee? His anti-gay theme isn't reflected in rock bottom poll numbers, 10th in the field.

Surveying the post-Boehner landscape

A review of national commentary on the resignation of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

The blood moon open line

Over to you. Sorry it's late. Don't forget to look at the moon tonight.

Little Rock rally to support Planned Parenthood scheduled for Tuesday

Supporters of Planned Parenthood will be rallying Tuesday, September 29 for national "Pink Out Day" at the health care provider's clinic in Little Rock at University and 12th Street.

Team Huckabee announced in Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina

Sounds like Huckabee isn't quitting anytime soon, though: Talk Business reports this morning that he's announced leadership teams in four Southern states with "SEC primaries" on March 1 of next year. (He'd announced teams in Iowa and South Carolina in August.)

Rebel Kettle adds brewer, aims for open by end of 2015

An update on Rebel Kettle Brewing's construction process, and a sneak peek at some of the beers that will be on tap soon.

WaPo on the flush, faltering campaign of Jeb Bush

Speaking of declining campaigns: the Washington Post reports on the long, slow erosion of confidence in Jeb Bush's 2016 presidential prospects among the GOP donor class.

Chili season is here, and you are invited

There's no excuse not to eat chili in October.

Main Street Food Truck Festival is back October 3

The Main Street Food Truck Festival returns for a fifth year, bigger and better than ever.

U.S. Justice Department to aid Little Rock and West Memphis with violent crime

The U.S. Department of Justice has identified Little Rock and West Memphis as targets for a planned expansion of a federal initiative to combat violent crime in select cities nationwide. The other towns added to the DOJ's "Violence Reduction Network" are Compton, Newark and Flint, Mich.

Dover police brutality case in federal court today

Eva Robinson and Matthew Robinson's suit against the City of Dover Marshal's Office — along with several other entities named as co-defendants — alleges their rights to be free from unlawful search, seizure, undue force and prosecution were violated. They describe a sequence of events so startling that the Arkansas ACLU took up the case.

AG Rutledge says Arkansas will join multistate investigation into VW emission software scandal

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced this morning that she's joined the executive committee of a multistate investigation into Volkswagen. The German automaker is facing legal repercussions and plummeting stock value after revelations that it installed software in millions of its diesel vehicles that is designed to evade emissions standards.

Voter I.D. cards in error; fixed cards mailed

Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane said today that around 800 voters downtown received incorrect Voter I.D. cards in the mail earlier this month, but that corrected cards mailed last Tuesday. Because they were mailed bulk, voters may not have received them yet.

LR shelter Our House produces documentary series on clients' stories

Check out an episode of "Project Voice," a documentary project created by Our House, the shelter for working homeless families in Little Rock on Roosevelt Road.

Monday open line

Slow day. I mean, except for discovering liquid water on Mars.

Inmate scheduled for November execution requests clemency from Gov. Hutchinson

The AP's Claudia Lauer reports that one of the four Arkansas inmates scheduled to die in the next two months has applied for clemency.

Together at last: Hutchinson and Obama on Cuba

Gov. Asa Hutchinson plans to talk to reporters at 10 a.m. this morning from Cuba. An Arkansas Republican and President Obama with similar outreach on the same day.

UPDATE: New airline to offer Little Rock-New Orleans flights

The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport will announce a new carrier to the airport this afternoon

Flavor of India is a standout choice for bold, fresh flavors

Flavor of India is a fresh new addition to the local dining scene in Little Rock.

President Obama on religious freedom

In what many are taking as a statement on the Kim Davis affair, President Obama said Sunday night that religious freedom is not a free pass to deny others' constitutional rights.

The Pantry Crest celebrates first anniversary

The Pantry Crest's first anniversary coincides with HarvestFest, meaning the party is on in Hillcrest.

Arkansas scores rise on SAT, AP tests

The state Education Department today reported increases in Arkansas scores on the SAT college entrance test and on Advanced Placement tests, as well as on the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Hutchinson calls from Cuba; describes trip as "measured" overture

Gov. Asa Hutchinson called home this morning from Cuba. He said he was building a "foundation" for future trade.

Planned Parenthood myth debunked

Planned Parenthood hearings surrounded by Republican myth that a loss of its medical services would be easily replaced. Research says otherwise.

R.I.P. Darnelle Barnes

Darnelle Barnes, a Little Rock native well known as a member of the local rap group DMP, died earlier this morning in a car accident near his home, friends say. DMP's Khaliq Slater said that Barnes lived in the Emerald Mountain neighborhood with his mother, and was driving up a hill around the corner from his house when the accident occurred. He was 18 years old.

Death Row inmates ask to delay executions; cite state secrecy on drugs

As expected, Death Row inmates have asked for a halt to resumption of executions by lethal injection in Arkansas because the state has refused to provide information about the drugs it has obtained for the killing.

Tuesday's open line

Here's the open line and today's video.

Report: Pope met privately with Kim Davis

USA Today reports that Kim Davis, the law-flouting Kentucky clerk, met privately with Pope Francis in Washington at his invitation, according to Davis' attorney, Mat Staver.

Republican debate field may narrow; Huckabee on the bubble

A report from New Jersey says that the Republican National Committee and CNBC are dickering over the format for the next GOP presidential debate Oct. 28, with NBC's Chuck Todd, who leads the network's debate preparation, expressing support for a reduction in the number of candidates on stage. A reduction in participants to the top six candidates would leave a very unhappy Mike Huckabee on the sidelines.

Oklahoma panel votes to remove Ten Commandments monument

The rule of law prevails in Oklahoma. A citizens panel has voted 7-1 to comply with a federal court ruling and remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol grounds. Will Arkansans like Jason Rapert be as respectful of the rule of law when their time comes.

'Educational' football brings Missouri team to Pulaski Academy

A big feature in USA Today provides a little uplift in the story of a Missouri high school football team that came to Little Rock last week for a thrashing by Pulaski Academy but got some education in the process.

City Director Richardson subject of police call

KARK's Drew Petrimoulx reports today on police response to a call that involved City Director Kenneth Richardson, He appeared disoriented, but police sent him home without a license check after concluding he was having seizures, but was not intoxicated.

Little Rock Film Festival says goodbye

According to a brief note posted on their website this morning, the Little Rock Film Festival is no more:

Little Rock Film Festival comes to an end

Sad news for film fans: The Little Rock Film Festival is over.

Group dismisses portion of lawsuit over Fayetteville civil rights ordinance

40/29 TV reports that the group formed to fight the Fayetteville civil rights ordinance has asked to dismiss its lawsuit.

Democrat Victoria Leigh announces for NLR House seat

Victoria Leigh, a lawyer and Democrat, will run for a House seat being vacated by Donnie Copeland, a Republican, who wants to move to the Senate. Her opening news release takes a crack at scandalous legislators..

Digging resumes on Main Street; new lighting going in

What's this? Some of the brand-new landscaping along Main Street being dug up to install new street lights? City planning at work.

UAMS puts physician ratings on-line

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences says it is the first medical center in Arkansas and one of the first in the U.S. to put patient ratings of physicians and comments on its website.

Republican governor loses Planned Parenthood defunding in Utah

A federal judge in Utah has put a stop to that state's effort to cut off Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood.

House leader: Of course Benghazi probe was intended to damage Hillary

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admits the obvious: The Benghazi investigation was intended to damage Hillary Clinton politically and it's worked.

Bill Clinton to join Anne Frank tree ceremony at library

Former President Bill Clinton will be on hand Friday morning to mark the opening of a new permanent installation at the Clinton Presidential Center, the Anne Frank Tree.

A sneak peek of the I Love Juice Bar in Midtown

The new I Love Juice Bar is getting ready to open in the Midtown Shopping Center. We take a look at some of their menu offerings.

Conway cops bust under-age booze sales

Conway police say they sent underage informants into restaurants selling alcohol in the city and nine places were cited for serving despite lack of proper ID. Fines can range from $200 to $500.

The midweek open line

An open line and today's video news roundup.

Planned Parenthood money survives in Congress

The House voted 277-151 today to approve a temporary spending bill that includes continuing government funding for Planned Parenthood medical services. All Arkansans in Congress, save Rep. Steve Womack, opposed the spending measures.

The Lemon Cakery is pure bliss

In the eternal and often epic battle between "cake" and "pie," I normally come down on the pie side of things. The Lemon Cakery puts that rule to the test—deliciously.

Hoppin' John burger at South on Main is a tasty vegetarian option

Eating vegan at South on Main means limited options, but the kitchen's skill leaves us with hope that more offerings will come in the future.

The Rib Cage in Hot Springs is tops for brisket

Barbecue might be subjective, but the Rib Cage in Hot Springs is just downright tasty.

Sitting down with the Faded Rose's David family

The David family have created an institution with their restaurant, The Faded Rose. We talk to them about what it means to be a family business spanning decades.

Tropical Smoothie offers quick, healthy vegetarian lunches

A new vegan-friend chicken substitute makes Tropical Smoothie a good destination for quick, cheap eats on the go.