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September 26, 2013

Vol 40 • No 4

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Hard work, low pay, no getting ahead: The most the minimum wage in Arkansas promises

If you work a minimum-wage job — $7.25 an hour is the federal rate — for 40 hours a week, your yearly earnings are $15,080. If you support only yourself, that puts you a tad over the federal poverty rate, but under the "living wage" rate for Pulaski County.

Metroplan to study express bus for Conway-Little Rock commute

Go to the jump for details of a Metroplan study on beginning a scheduled express bus service between Conway and Little Rock or North Little Rock.

Restaurant owner Mark Abernathy objects to Robinson renovation tax plan

Restaurant owner/chef Mark Abernathy (Loca Luna, Red Door) is up in arms about the proposal pending before the Little Rock City Board of Directors to call an election on issuing $73 million in bonds to pay for a renovation of Robinson Center.

Petit Jean Bacon Bowl coming to Fayetteville

Get your bacon on in the Ozarks.

Confidentiality agreement with Exxon doesn't mean Central Arkansas Water won't still sue

Exxon agreed to provide CAW documents, but doesn't think it would be "constructive" for anyone other than the federal regulatory agency that's reviewing the Mayflower oil spill to assess the pipeline's condition.

The mid-week open line

The evening line is now open. Finishing up:

Chelsye Garrett on the AAC yarn bombing

The artist coordinator will be at the Arts Center on Oct. 3.

Rock Town Distillery unveils new purple drank

Now you can get Rock Town Distillery's Arkansas Lightning "moonshine" in red hot, apple pie, peach, blackberry and grape flavors.

Thursday-Saturday To-Do: Reel Civil Rights Film Festival

The film "Gideon's Army" screens Thursday at the Historic Arkansas Museum as part of the Reel Civil Rights Film Festival.

Thursday-Sunday To-Do: Hot Springs Horror Film Festival

Eric England's "Contracted" will screen for the first time in Arkansas Thursday at Central Theater in Hot Springs.

Thursday: Bill Cosby, Tav Falco and more

Bill Cosby performs for a sold-out Reynolds Performance Hall Thursday night.

Obamacare subsidies

Plans may cost less than you think.

Orval's life lessons

Arkansas's Four Horsemen v. 500,000

Paraphrasing Grantland Rice: "In dramatic lore, the Four Horsemen are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Crawford, Griffin, Womack and Cotton."

Food stamps, cell phones, and the lingering politics of race in Arkansas

We have reached a point where direct appeals to voters based on race are no longer effective vote-getters. All except the relatively small number of racial extremists recognize that such rhetoric is contrary to the ideal of equality and are repelled by demagoguery of the type that moved voters so powerfully in the middle decades of the last century.

Obamacare rates lower than expected in Arkansas

Some will see rate hikes but situations vary.

Speaking up

Thanks for speaking up for area public schools in your Sept. 12 article "Schools: Winners and losers." At Parkview, National Merit finalists study along with a broad-based group of academically talented high-achievers.

What did you expect from the Razorbacks?

You can love or loathe sports blogger Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage fame — and Arkansas fans who have been the subject of his venom over the years likely fall in the latter category — but last week he authored something of a self-fulfilling prophecy when he posted a long-winded railing against Hog backers.

'Prisoners': locked into a puzzle plot

Thrills, but with a TV-cop-procedural aftertaste.

Elections for thee, not me

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page last Saturday lamented the low turnout in school board elections.

The absurdity of the push to repeal Obamacare

First they lie to you, and then they ask you for money.

In-flight refuel

Jon Nichols shared this photo of a hummingbird with our Eye On Arkansas Flickr group.

Table 28 is a 10 on the dining scale

As they moved into the former Vesuvio Bistro space — in the Best Western Governor's Suites in West Little Rock — the folks behind Table 28 knew they had a tough act to follow.

Arkansas Sounds Festival celebrates state's music

With Dan Hicks, Tav Falco and Collin Raye.

Happy to do it

One felt like cheering when Julie Mayberry cited the generosity of six state legislators, all supporting her plan to build a handicapped-accessible public park in Saline County. Awesome they were, she said.


"The folly of studying, say, English lit has become something of an Internet cliche — the stuff of sneering 'Worst Majors' listicles that seem always to be sponsored by personal-finance websites."

It was a good week for ethics reform

It was also a good week for teachers' insurance, preventing a Mayflower-type spill in Lake Maumelle and the march towards Obamacare. It was a bad week for the Arkansas Razorbacks and free parking in the River Market.

Big Easy dreamin'

The Observer recently spent a weekend way down yonder in New Orleans and — between the soft-shell crab, wailing trombones and Sazerac cocktails — he thought about Little Rock: Could New Orleans offer some guidance to Little Rock, even though culturally we could never claim the gumbo of influences that make New Orleans such a tourist mecca.

Son Volt at Revolution

Also, the Reel Civil Rights Film Festival at the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Hot Springs Horror Film Festival, Diarrhea Planet and the So So Glows at Stickyz, Windhand at White Water Tavern, Richard Buckner at White Water Tavern and Okkervil River at Revolution.

Bill Cosby at UCA

Also, Horatio Sanz and Matt Besser at the University of Arkansas.

When the Club for Growth calls, Tom Cotton will be there

I noticed in the paper this morning that Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton was absent on the vote yesterday to clear the way for the Delta Queen to ply theMississippi River again.

How are women faring in Arkansas? Answer: poorly

The Center for American Progress released a report Wednesday on the status of women, compared on a state-by-state basis.

No solution in sight for teachers insurance sticker shock; UPDATE, or is there?

Roby Brock at Talk Business has rounded up some of the ideas being floated in private meetings with the governor, legislators and school people on finding a solution for big health insurance premium increases set to batter Arkansas public school teachers Jan. 1.Having read his article, I despair of a solution.

Friday To-Do: Diarrhea Planet

Diarrhea Planet plays at Stickyz Friday night.

Friday: Matt Besser, Styx, Conway ArtsFest and more

Matt Besser will perform at the University of Arkansas Friday.

Arkansas Supreme Court rejects unions' appeal of Pulaski School District contract cancellations

The Arkansas Supreme Court today rejected appeals from two employee unions in the Pulaski County Special School District of the state's refusal to recognize their employment contracts after it took over management of the school district in 2011.

Arkansas outpaces country in Advanced Placement test growth

The state Education Department announced today that the percentage growth in both numbers and scores on Advanced Placement tests in Arkansas exceeded the national average for the class of 2012.

Garage gallery gets some pub

Exposure for "Good Weather."

Self-taught artists Hunter, Abraham, etc., at Hearne

Gallery talk scheduled for next week.

World premiere of new Jose Canseco documentary to close Hot Springs Doc Festival

Former Major League Baseball star/steroid user/whistleblower/punchline Jose Canseco will be in attendance at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival for the world premiere of "Jose Canseco: The Truth Hurts" on Oct. 19.

Arkansan with inherited Stephens fortune powers Club for Growth

It's always worth a reminder that a major motive force for the anti-tax Club for Growth PAC is a wealthy Arkansan who made his fortune the old-fashioned way — he inherited it.

Come have a drink with the Arkansas Times

We're having another party for our Arkansas Times Digital Members who live in the area tonight at Cafe 5501, formerly RJ Tao, at 5501 Kavanaugh from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Subsidies will reduce Obamacare premiums for many Arkanansans

Our Big Picture this week looks at how subsidies reduce the price of insurance for lower-income people who will shop on the Health Insurance Marketplace (again, that’s only people who do NOT get health insurance from an employer or a public program like Medicare). 

Chef Travis McConnell teams with Arkansas Times on Farm to Table Dinner Party

It'll be held on the Historic Arkansas Museum grounds on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Farmers Market at the Promenade

Four farms will sell produce on Saturday afternoons.

What Obamacare opponents aren’t telling young people when they suggest not signing up for insurance

I won’t bother trying to correct every misleading argument pumped out by Americans for Prosperity about Obamacare, but this one is important.

Taste of the Town tonight in NLR

Thirty-three food purveyors at Dickey Stephens Park.

Robinson Center renovation: Financing alternatives are limited

I shared yesterday restaurateur Mark Abernathy's critique of a plan for the Little Rock Board of Directors to vote next week on calling a bond issue election to pledge the two-cent hospitality tax to paying up to $73 million for a much-needed renovation of Robinson Center, the WPA-era auditorium/music hall that has been our small theater/performing arts space since forever.

Another hung jury on Hastings manslaughter charge; prosecutor will retry

David Koon is at the courthouse this morning as a jury resumed deliberations in the manslaughter trial of Josh Hastings, a former Little Rock police officer, who fatally shot Bobby Moore III, 15, as he drove a car in a West Little Rock apartment complex parking lot last August.

The Thursday night line

The line is open. Tonight's the night for our monthly Arkansas Times get-together.

Fences, neighbors and the historic Quapaw Quarter

A Tweet from Gabe Holmstrom last night alerts me to the final chapter of a long-running battle over fences in the historic Governor's Mansion neighborhood of the Quapaw Quarter.

Legislative Audit forced to comply with Freedom of Information Act

Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce's clear indication yesterday he wouldn't buy Legislative Audit's excuse for keeping secret working papers on the audit of former Treasurer Martha Shoffner's office prompted the state to fold yesterday in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by her attorneys and agree to provide most of the documents sought 

Food Feedback Friday: beef, bumblebees, and big disappointments

Friday means feedback. Let's hear it.

Judge considering lawsuit over law targeting Hope doctor

The curious case of Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker, a Hope physician targeted by a 2013 law to prevent him from receiving Medicaid reimbursment, was taken up in federal Judge Billy Roy Wilson's court yesterday.

Saturday To-Do: Son Volt

Son Volt performs at Revolution Saturday night.

Fonda Mexican Cuisine: Tex-Mex no more

One thing is clear, the folks in the kitchen at Fonda are confident in their ability to recreate the flavors of Mexico. It’s undoubtedly an improvement on what was being served by prior tenants. One can only hope that Fonda finds its place in a city that is already (seemingly) over-run with Mexican options. But truth be told, only a rare few are as appetizing as Fonda.

Review: Vampire Weekend at Arkansas Music Pavilion

Vampire Weekend performed at the Arkansas Music Pavilion Wednesday night.

In memory of food trucks

With the Main Street Food Truck Festival around the corner, a look at some of the trucks we've lost.

VIDEO: See the new Arkansas state record alligator

[embed-1] Seen above is a video uploaded a few days back which shows the new state record alligator — 13 feet, 9-1/4 inches — which was taken in Lost Lakes, Arkansas.

Police: Warrant issued for F'ville man who threatened to 'shoot up' school.

40/29 News in Ft. Smith reports that a warrant has been issued for a man who made a threat to "shoot up" an elementary school in Fayetteville. 

Conway is Shining On! with ArtsFest 2013

Conway's ArtsFest lineup today: Photography show, caboose yarn bomb, symphony orchestra in Simon Park.

Feds approve Medicaid waiver for "private option"

The feds today approved a waiver of federal Medicaid rules to allow Arkansas to pursue the so-called "private option" plan for Medicaid expansion.

Nedelle Torrisi inaugurates new Christ Episcopal venue

Christ Episcopal Church's upcoming Arts @ Christ Church music series is pretty heavy  

Saturday and Sunday: Hank III, Big Dam Bridge 100 and more

Hank III performs at Revolution Sunday night.

Senate votes to send government funding bill back to the House

As predicted, the Senate voted to send a stopgap spending measure that would keep the federal government open

OSHA cites four companies in connection to fatal Nuclear One crane collapse

Four companies were cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration yesterday in connection with a March crane collapse at the Nuclear One power plant that killed one worker and injured eight.

Ross trumpets endorsements from 56 County Judges

The Mike Ross for Governor camp released a statement today crowing about securing endorsements from 56 of the state's 75 county judges.

Health Department's Mason suggests ill health effects after oil spill could be caused by PTSD

The Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group (FCCAG) has held a town hall meeting each month since the Pegasus pipeline ruptured at the end of March.

The 'no parking' doesn't apply open line

Open line.

Feds cap "private option" spending, state on hook if exceeded

As we noted earlier today, the feds today approved the state's application for a waiver of federal rules to pursue the so-called "private option" for Medicaid expansion.

Clarksville schools' gun policy draws national attention

The New York Times has a major feature today on the successful effort by the Clarksville School District to arm staff members — 16 of them, including a kindergarten teacher.

The annals of gun safety — Flippin edition

Coincidence. I took a look at the Stephens Media website just after posting the article about the movement of school officials to put more guns in schools as a security measure.

Legislative Audit: Again with the secrecy, this time on UA papers

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today updated the Washington County prosecutor's review of the allegation that University of Arkansas Chancellor David Gearhart ordered destruction of documents related to the financial disarray in the  He has said he didn't.Much to come on that, including, maybe, a fascinating suggestion I heard in Fayetteville last night.

Game day in Fayetteville; another UA secret revealed

I'm in Fayetteville this morning. The town's full already of fans excited about this evening's Razorback game with Texas A&M.I thought I'd go to Herman's for old times' sakes.

Extremist House Republicans to try the 'delay' ploy on Obamacare

So now the battle plan is in place. Indications are that House Republicans will vote for the Senate budget only if it s amended to "delay" implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year.

Saturday night fights open line

Here's a place to post.  The House hostage  crisis and rainy Razorback football might call for comment.

Arkansas Republicans vote against sick people, for government shutdown

Don't be confused. U.S. Reps. Tom Cotton, Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack sent two indelible messages yesterday:

Legislative Audit holds itself above the law; defense lawyer sees problems

In Fayetteville Saturday, I ran into Chuck Banks,  criminal defense attorney for former Treasurer Martha Shoffner, and congratulated him on a victory for the Freedom of Information Act in successfully suing Legislative Audit to give up some of the working papers on its Republican-ordered investigation of Shoffner's investment practices.

Ethics Commission presented with lengthy particulars on Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's spending

Matt Campbell of the Blue Hog Report is doing all he can do to help the state Ethics Commission do its job.

Monday To-Do: Windhand

Windhand performs at White Water Tavern Monday.

Monday: Nedelle Torrisi, Gene Chizik

Synth-pop chanteuse Nedelle Torrisi performs at The Undercroft, the new venue at Christ Episcopal Church, 8 p.m., $5.

The Sunday line: GOP takes U.S. hostage; school reform thoughts

The Sunday line is open. Could somebody put in a word somewhere to bring fall?

NFL exports football — but more important, the tailgate — to England

[embed-1] Today's late note: It may not be the golf course at War Memorial Park, but the New York Times has a good feature on the effort to create a tailgating experience at the Vikings-Steelers game at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday.

CNN poll: Republicans would get blame for shutdown

Sadly, public opinion accounts for a lot, not the democratic process. Fully informed voters wouldn't be nearly so upset about the new health care law if not for the hysterical, heavily financed campaign run against it for three years or more.

Tar sands foul Canadian lake

When reading a news article this morning, I naturally thought of Tiny Tim Griffin, the Big Oil champion, and his burning desire to move Canadian tar sands through the U.S. via a new pipeline that will cross sensitive aqufiers in a broad swath of the central United States.

Justice Department targets vote suppression laws

The New York Times reports today that the U.S. Justice Department will sue to challenge new North Carolina legislation aimed at suppressing the vote of Democratic-friendly voting blocs.

Tuesday: Tommy Emmanuel at UCA

Tommy Emmanuel returns to UCA Tuesday.

Harrington wins ACANSA poster contest

Linoleum cut master Neal K. Harrington won the ACANSA Arts Festival poster competition.

Hook 'em Hogs: Texas big factor in growth at University of Arkansas

Recent events at the University of Arkansas have left even some devoted followers of the UA grumbling.

Psst. In case you missed it, the U.S. has some new health insurance options available

A legislative committee will squabble today on whether Arkansas should spend $4 million in federal money to advertise the Arkansas hybrid of Obamacare authorized by the 2013 legislature.

Senate rejects House Republican extortion 54-46

The U.S. Senate has voted 54-46 to resist House Republicans' effort to repeal Obamacare by holding the U.S. budget hostage.

Root Cafe hosts hot pepper eating contest

The Root Cafe will host the second annual Little Rock Hot Pepper Eating Contest on Sunday, Oct. 13 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Will Arkansas advertise Obamacare despite vote today?

I reported earlier that a Tea Party insurrection had carried a Legislative Council vote in opposition to spending $4.5 million to advertise the availability of new insurance options under the Affordable Care Act, whether through the Medicaid expansion or health exchanges.

Superior Brewery hosts Evil Twin Brewing 'Tap Takeover' weekend

Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery on Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs announced today that they will turn over their taps the weekend of Oct. 10-12 for a special event by Evil Twin Brewing of Denmark and Brooklyn.

American Legislative Exchange Council on losing end of Texas battle on open records

Something of a pleasant surprise: The Republican attorney general of Texas has rejected an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council to declare itself exempt from open records law.

In memory of James Street, hero of Arkansas football's worst defeat

James Street was found dead, of an apparent heart attack, in his house in Austin, Texas, this morning. He was 65, according to the calendar, but for fans of both the Razorbacks and the Longhorns, he will always be 21, and he’ll always be dropping back on fourth-and-three, deep in the fourth quarter, to fling a prayer of a pass in the greatest college football game ever played.

A flurry of filings in marriage equality case

A number of filings in Pulaski Circuit Court today in the lawsuit in which a lengthy list of plantiffs are seeking to strike down statutory and constitutional bars to same-sex marriage and equal treatment of same-sex couples married in other states.

The four-man scramble open line

The line is open. I'll close with more from the file of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, facing an Ethics Commission and Legislative Audit review for spending of both official and campaign money since his election in 2010.

KATV: Hastings jury split 11-1 for acquittal

KATV tonight aired an interview with Kenneth Norman, a juror in last week's manslaughter trial of former cop Josh Hastings for the fatal shooting of Bobby Moore III, 15, during his response to a car burglary at an apartment complex last year.

House Republicans continue to force shutdown

Economic terrorists Tiny Tim Griffin and Too Extreme Tom Cotton continue their harmful ways. The House continues to insist on holding the economy hostage unless their demands to repeal the law of the land are met.

Now: the battle to win the government shutdown spin

Extremist Republicans (which is to say all of them from Arkansas, based on roll call votes) have forced a government shutdown rather than accede to continuation of the law of the land — the Affordable Care Act.

Obamacare enrollment begins today

Starting today, Americans who don't get health insurance from an employer or from a public program like Medicare can begin enrolling on the new Health Insurance Marketplace created by the healthcare reform law.

Wednesday To-Do: Richard Buckner

Richard Buckner performs at White Water Tavern Wednesday.

Times sets farm to table dinner Oct. 19 at Historic Arkansas Musuem

The Arkansas Times has organized another farm-to-table dinner, this one featuring Butcher and Public's Travis McConnell, former chef at the Capital Bar and Grill.

Tom Cotton at last being paid what he's worth in U.S. Congress

Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (Club for Growth, 4th District of Ark.) has piled disingenuous B.S. on top of more B.S.  this morning, a pile worthy of a Yell County feed lot.

Wednesday To-Do: Okkervil River

Okkervil River plays at Revolution Wednesday.

Hino to invest $55 million, add 200 jobs in Marion

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission announced today a $55 million expansion at the Hino Motors plant in Marion, an addition said to add 200 jobs.

Demand high for Obamacare details

It is exactly what Republicans feared. People WANT Obamacare.

Meet John Boehner's 'rat pack'

This could explain something. A National Journal article on Republican House Speaker John Boehner's "rat pack" — an inner circle that has his back in tough times — says Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro is among those in the inner circle.

Republicans have already won a budget compromise; big one

Democrats don't compromise. The chart above tells the story graphically.

From Cabot: A libertarian with a printed gun and revolutionary ideas about currency

[embed-1] Attention continues to pile up for Cody Wilson, a Cabot native who dropped out of the University of Texas law school, to pursue revolutionary ideas.

Ozark Folk Festival will feature two live recordings of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour

The 66th Annual Original Ozark Folk Festival, American's longest running annual folk festival, will be held from October 23 - 27 in Eureka Springs.

Submissions open for LR Film Festival

The Little Rock Film Festival opened submissions today for the 8th annual installment, set for May 13-18, 2014.

The good Mike Huckabee: Questions GOP for forcing government shutdown

Every now and then, Mike Huckabee will do or say the unexpected. As quoted here on Stateline :

The Tuesday open line

The Tuesday line is open. Has it occurred to anyone that the Republicans' government shutdown has helped call attention to the Obamacare signup period and the many people flocking to get a piece of insurance coverage they desperately need?

Obamacare, on the ground in Arkansas: Enrollment Kickoff at Clinton School

An open enrollment kickoff event hosted by the Arkansas Insurance Department at the Clinton School drew dozens of Arkansans this morning interested in information on the new Health Insurance Marketplace, which launched today.

Ask the Times: Obamacare questions, asked and answered

Obamacare is here. Enrollment in the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace began today, with coverage set to start in January.

DHS gets massive response on direct mail campaign to enroll people in Medicaid expansion "private option"

The Arkansas Department of Human Services sent out letters to 132,000 households who, based on verified income information as clients of other DHS services, qualify for health insurance under the so-called "private option" for Medicaid.

Food blogger round-up

A look at some of the many food blogs from around this great state of Arkansas.

Jeff Dunham to Verizon Arena Feb. 14

In the history of humankind, has there ever been a more appropriate way to express the limitless, undying romantic love you feel for that special someone in your life than by taking them out on Valentine's Day for an evening on the town highlighted by a performance from noted ventriloquist Jeff Dunham?

Government shutdown: The doctor is in the paper

My friend Dr. Maxwell Sniffingwell called to alert me to a letter to the editor in today's Arkanas Democrat-Gazette from Dr. Johnny Rhoda of Clinton, a member of the Arkansas Republican executivecommittee.

Way open to keno, attorney general indicates

An official attorney general's opinion issued yesterday says essentially that there's no bar to  keno gambling games in Arkansas operated by the Arkansas Lottery Commission, if it chooses to do so.

FOI expert calls for more sunshine at the University of Arkansas

A welcome guest column appeared today in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by John Watkins, emeritus law professor at the University of Arkansas.

Now Republicans love the very national parks they've crippled

It's hard to decide which is more cynical of the terrorist Republicans — using  the national parks or veterans as wedges to force Democrats to forsake the law of the land, the Affordable Care Act, which is now being fully implemented.

Little Rock reports 24th homicide of the year

The LRPD reported the 24th homicide of the year today. Shannon Austin, 36, of Little Rock was found dead about 2 a.m. today in the 5800 block of Fisher Street near Wakefield Park in southwest Little Rock.

Arkanas tax revenues continue upward trend in September

The September report on state tax revenue continues to show a strengthening economy, with revenue up against both last year and the forecast.

Little Rock School District begins FOI page that happens to spotlight John Walker

Interesting. Little Rock School Superintendent Dexter Suggs announces here a new Freedom of Information Act page.

About those Obamacare premiums: what do we value in a health care system?

Here’s a thought experiment. You’re a healthy young man working a good job with benefits.

The Republican-sponsored government shutdown open line

We got nowhere fast today. The line is open.

Ennead architect McClurkan to speak

Architecture and Design Network event at Arkansas Arts Center.