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October 12, 2011

Vol 38 • No 7

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Kevin Williams is the best athlete from Arkansas in pro sports

The Minnesota Viking lets his play speak for itself on the field.

Sculptor Mac Hornecker dies

Henderson State University professor.


Our feature presentation today is a rant about crazy hairy ants, and it's coming up, but a few short subjects first.

Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival: It's on

110 films and a sigh of relief.

Second City makes annual pilgrimage to Little Rock

Chicago comedy troupe opens Wednesday at The Rep.

Barnet, metal artists pair up

Masters of angularity at AAC.

Highlights from the premiere of “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”

Plus, Evanescence drops a new album.

The Dem-Gaz's failed quest for objectivity

Last week, in a column on the Democrat-Gazette's Voices page, deputy editor Frank Fellone offered a logical fallacy posing as an affirmation of a core journalistic value: He argued that the newsgathering part of the paper is unbiased.

GOP lies on taxes

Voters, or enough of them, will take fancy over fact if it is delivered convincingly and habitually.

Occupy Little Rock

Marchers will gather at 9 a.m. at Riverfest Amphitheatre near the River Market, with the march scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

War Memorial growth

With sale of its three-acre portion of the old Ray Winder Field to UAMS finally complete, the city of Little Rock has gone to work on replacing the lost War Memorial Park land.

With growth comes problems

College's neighbors chafe at noise, cars, behavior.

Hogs take the judicious path

Auburn -- not so much.

The Moon is a mythical river

Night at the Speakeasy, Arkansas State Fair, Todd Snider

Plus, Hayes Carll, Chili Fights in the Heights, Hillcrest HarvestFest and more

Runaway Planet, Kill Devil Hill, Bombay Black

Plus, Arkansas Chamber Singers, DJ Icey, Telegraph Canyon and more

Bigmouth burgers

And Tex-Mex, too, at Hamburger Barn in restaurant-light Clark County.

Restaurant shuffling going on at River Market

What do these Wall Street protesters want, anyway?

Si, se puede

Let us now praise a newly famous school teacher — Andrea Morales McKenna, who teaches English as a second language to sixth- and seventh-graders at J.O. Kelly Middle School in Springdale.

The choice not taken

The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is subsidized by $200,000 annually in city tax dollars, continues its work to tear down the best hope for a vibrant community — its public school district.

Eye on Arkansas Oct. 12, 2011


Friday was slow at the office and the day too pretty to stay cooped up inside, so on our lunch hour, we decided to take a stroll down to the Clinton Presidential Center to check out the new pedestrian bridge.

Capitol View says no

The Capitol View Stifft Station Neighborhood Association plans to protest proposed new Little Rock ward boundaries because they don't want to move from Ward 3, represented by Stacy Hurst, to Ward 1, represented by Erma Hendrix.

A short history of public protest in Arkansas

'Ides of March' doesn't go far enough

But provides a compelling pol in George Clooney.

Proving their point

Good week: turkeys

It was a good week for turkeys, Darrell Brown and free speech. It was a bad week for Marissa Wright, Ernestine Middleton and Mark Darr

Troubled by controversy at Tech

"As a proud alumnus of Arkansas Tech University, I would like to thank you for the attention you have given on the Arkansas Blog to the matter of the theater department having lost its rehearsal and performance space."

Gone to the DoG

We're now longer carrying John Brummett's column in this space.

Occupy Kappa Sigma

The Drew Wilson photo above went viral last night — at least in Arkansas e-mail and social media users — after the Fayetteville Flyer posted it in coverage of an Occupy Northwest Arkansas demonstration in Fayetteville.

Romney breaks away from Republican field

Rick Perry's Arkansas regiment, commanded by Col. David Sanders, notwithstanding, it's starting to look like a runaway for Mitt Romney.

Hillcrest vs. Heights for your weekend attention

Chili and cheese dip go hand in hand in the heart of Little Rock this weekend, as the Heights and Hillcrest present dueling weekend food events.

The big Steffey's challenge

The guts and the glory. We're not talking about just football here — we're talking about a challenge that will pit Lavaca's football team against the team from Charleston in an epic battle — over a dinner table at Steffey's Pizza.

The most complete Arkansas State Fair food preview you can find

Want to know about all sorts of foods available at this year's Arkansas State Fair? Here's where you'll find the most accurate and detailed list.

New Orleans 'miracle': Charter school math

Another charter school miracle, this one the New Orleans Recovery School District, where charter schools staffed by bright and committed Teach for America teachers have taken over serving inner city kids.

Gun law sponsor arrested — DUI and packing

A Tennessee lawmaker pushing legislation to allow guns in bars was arrested Tuesday for DUI and possession of a handgun while "under the influence."

Wednesday To-Do: Night at the Speakeasy

Night at the Speakeasy will benefit the restoration of Dreamland Ballroom.

Thursday To-Do: Harvest Music Festival

Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival kicks off Thursday.

Photos of last night's Lucinda Williams show

Lucinda Williams played Juanita's Tuesday night.

Planning board chair recuses from Maumelle debate

Ray Vogelpohl, who owns the Diamond TR Ranch near the Pulaski-Perry line and is chairman of the Pulaski County Planning Board, has recused from the board's consideration of land use rules for the Lake Maumelle watershed because of objections that he has a conflict of interest as a horse ranch operator in the watershed.

Will Barnet: A quick review

A link to this week's art news in Art Notes.

Griffin sets jobs conference

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin has scheduled a jobs conference next Wednesday in Little Rock. It provides an illusion of constructive activity while the Republican majority House and filibuster-controlled Senate block jobs legislation and tax increases for the wealthy to narrow deficits.

Steve Griffith paintings at auction for hospital

Online auction raising money for Women's Health Center.

Operation Delta Blues continues

I've been picking up a scrap or two of continuing buzz about Operation Delta Blues, the massive federal operation that produced 70 drug and police corruption indictments yesterday.

Sneak peek: "Home Plate Heroes" at Thea

Online auction starts tomorrow to benefit Good Sport Fund.

New Johnny Cash: 'Bootleg 3 — Live Around the World'

Columbia/Legacy put out more unreleased Johnny Cash yesterday with the third volume of its "Bootleg" series.

Second City starts Wed. at The Rep

The Second City starts tonight at The Rep.

Zoo gets $223,000 from former docent

The Little Rock Zoo today announced it had received a bequest of $223,632 from the estate of Lynn French, a former docent at the zoo who died last September.

Lottery VP fired for loss of 'confidence'

The Arkansas Lottery Commission today released documents that show Ernestine Middleton was fired as vice president of administration because interim lottery director Julie Baldridge told her in a brief memo she had "lost confidence in her ability to perform to the level this agency will need going forward."

Bruno's closed; but reopening planned

Bruno's Little Italy, one of Little Rock's oldest restaurants, closed after Saturday night dinnner, but owner Scott Wallace said a sale is in the works that should lead to remodeling and reopening.

Thursday: Runaway Planet, Kill Devil Hill, Glittercore and "Tasting at Twilight"

Kill Devil Hill plays Downtown Music Hall Thursday night.

The line is open

The Wednesday night line begins. Final words: * U.S. REP. STEVE WOMACK (R-WALMART): Not surprising that Steve Womack of Rogers is a sponsor of legislation to allow states to collect sales taxes from on-line merchants.

Bruno's closed; return promised

Hey, Arkansas Blog has news of the closure Saturday of Bruno's Little Italy, one of the two or three longest continuing operating restuarants in Little Rock.

Senate confirms Hickey to Arkansas judgeship UPDATE

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote this morning on the president's nomination of Circuit Judge Susan Hickey of El Dorado to a federal district court vacancy for the western district of Arkansas.

Easter Seals working with Hillcrest group

A followup to a note last night on an Easter Seals plan to sell its former facility at the eastern end of Lee Avenue for business offices.

A Perry hardliner looks at Mitt Romney

You remember Nate Bell, don't you? He's the Republican legislator and Mena chicken farmer who found a quote attributed to Adolf Hitler that he liked so much he posted it on his Facebook page.

Campaign finance laws crumble

Led by a Democrat, U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, campaigns next year seem likely to further erode the fiction of indepenbdent, uncoordinated expenditures by big money groups, including political parties, on behalf of candidates.

Friday To-Do: Kenny Wayne Shepherd at the Arkansas State Fair

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

Burger joint of the week: Dairy Shack

Have you ever been unsure of where exactly you are? Yeah, this happened to me last week.

Republican theme: Rich taxed enough, not the middle class

The emerging Republican campaign theme, that only the rich pay enough in taxes and more than half the country needs to pay more, is simply stunning.

Little Rock ward proposal redrawn

Little Rock city officials have redrawn a proposed new ward map for the city. It responds, particularly, to complaints from the Capitol View/Stifft Station neighborhood, which wanted to remain in Ward 3 rather than shift to Ward 1, and to Ward 1 City Director Erma Hendrix, who wanted more territory north of I-630.

Friday To-Do: Todd Snider

Todd Snider plays Juanita's Friday night.

Lady Gaga to go 'meatless' for Clinton Foundation bash

Lady Gaga, Usher and Bono to headline William J. Clinton Foundation anniversary party in L.A.

Alice Walton arrested in Texas for DWI UPDATE

Alice Walton was arrested Friday night in Texas for driving under the influence on Interstate 20 in Weatherford, Texas, west of Fort Worth.

Thieves smash grocery, grab beer and smokes

Two men in a stolen Tundra smashed the front door of the Col. Glenn Grocery at 17500 Col. Glenn about 4 a.m. this morning and made off with about eight to 10 24-packs of beer and about a carton worth of cigarettes.

Yahoo drops Chamber of Commerce membership

Yahoo has joined a growing list of major corporations, including Apple, that have dropped membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Rhonda Wood seeking Court of Appeals again UPDATE

Circuit Judge Rhonda Wood of Conway has announced that she'll try again this year to win a seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals. Judge Mitch Cash of Marshall is also a candidate.

Work arriving for Sculpture at the River Market

At 3 p.m. today you'll see a crane lifting a large sculpture into the River Market for the fifth annual Sculpture in the River Market show.

Sureme Court reverses life sentences in child rape case

The Arkansas Supreme Court made new law today when it reversed three consecutive life sentences given in a child rape case in Greene County and ordered Ira Gene Vankirk to be resentenced.

Last night: Second City at The Rep

This can be a hard world to live in for those of us with a narrow sense of humor.

It's the open line

Mark Pryor has a job plan. Jobs for Helena-West Helena are coming. Republicans don't care about jobs, but they do care about abortion.

Committee spent $203,000 to pass LR sales tax

The Committee for Little Rock's Future filed its post-election report today on its money-raising in the campaign for the penny worth of sales tax increases approved by Little Rock voters Sept. 13.

Close to the earth

You've certainly heard of Dinner on the Grounds... or even Dinner on the Farm. How about Dinner in the Field? Chef Lee Richardson and Scott Heritage Farm's Jody Hardin and Barbara Armstrong join forces for a unique event.

Plan would allow huge city in Maumelle watershed

The Central Arkansas Water Commission reacted cautiously yesterday to a draft land use plan for the watershed of its chief water supply, Lake Maumelle.

Pieday: Old Fashioned Chocolate Fried at Batten's Bakery

57 years is a long time to be in business. Takes a certain amount of dedication and perseverance, sure — but it also takes great products like a certain one-of-a-kind chocolate pie.

Website urges Draft Mike Huckabee

It may be only a fervent fan's personal witness to the current unhappiness within Republican ranks about the presidential field.

The myth of the tax deadbeats

I continue to stand in awe of Republican campaign strategize to demonize the poor and insist that they should pay more taxes rather than the rich.

Walmart Foundation names new leader

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, currently president of global development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will become president of the Walmart Foundation in 2012.

Clinton does Letterman; reveals playlist

The former president hit the late-night circuit this week to talk up a 65th birthday concert tomorrow night.

Saturday To-Do: Hayes Carll

Hayes Carll plays Revolution Saturday night.

Niehues, Harding, Arkansas Pastel Society

The Butler Center has three new exhibits opening for tonight's 2nd Friday Art Night event.

Damien Echols writing memoir, may have role in 'The Hobbit'

Damien Echols is writing a memoir for Penguin, scheduled for publication September 2012 AND may have a small role in "The Hobbit," which director and major WM3 benefactor Peter Jackson is currently shooting in New Zealand, according to Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman.

Love blooms on Death Row for Damien Echols

The New York Times magazine this week has a huge feature, available now on the web, about the relationship that developed on Death Row between the West Memphis 3's Damien Echols and Lorri Davis, the New York architect who'd become his advocate and wife.

"Kelly Edwards and Friends" pottery

Reception tonight at Canvas Gallery.

Teacher merit pay fails to prove value

The Education Commission of the States has issued a new report on teacher merit pay.

Search continues for missing UALR student

UALR is distributing this flyer in the search for Paula Guardado, missing since Wednesday. She left home for school that morning and has not been seen by anyone since.

Saturday To-Do: Chili Fights in the Heights

Chili Fights in the Heights kicks off Saturday afternoon.

Batter up, for Jim Elder fund

Home Plate Heroes online bidding has begun

Pryor lays out jobs plan

Here's U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor's six-point job plan. Until Republicans are willing to stop filibusters in the Senate or change direction from obstruction and tax breaks as their House economic strategy, it has to be viewed mostly theoretically, though Pryor adopts some of the same talking points.

Thornhill, Rogers, Villegas, Volkert

HAM's 2nd Friday lineup.

Audit finds state employee a no-show

Interesting report released to the Legislative Joint Audit Committee today on the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Commission.It reported that Aaron Black, executive director of the agency, didn't accurately report work absences from January 2010 through August 2011.

Saturday art: Feyerabend, Loucks, Ashley

At Boswell-Mourot.

Saturday: Hillcrest HarvestFest

Mulehead plays Hillcrest HarvestFest Saturday night.

Weekend: Arkansas Chamber Singers, Yo Gotti, Telegraph Canyon

Red Octopus Theater presents "Night of the Living Freaks!" at The Public Theatre.

The Operation Delta Blues Edition

Operation Delta Blues, Mitt Romney's Arkansas problem and campaign finance disclosure laws are up for discussion in this week's episode.

The eagle is flying

And the Friday night line is open. Final words: * KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Perhaps inspired by the Occupy Wall Street and similar demonstrations, the ACLU of Arkansas has prepared materials to arm those about to embark on free speech, assembly and demonstration of grievances.

Indignant legislators deplore buyouts

Can't resist. Just saw the Stephens report on indignant legislators waxing wroth on buyouts of college presidents at the University of Central Arkansas.

Family values

Speaks for itself.

The Republican double standard

Michael Wickline's reporting on the case of Aaron Black, the former Tobacco Settlement Commission director who didn't spend much time in his office, shines an unflattering light on Republican Reps. John Burris, Bill Pritchard and Allen Kerr (scourge of double-dippers, even state employees who legally retire from one job and take another at a different agency).

Charter school study in Ohio

Interesting reporting project underway in Ohio by local media and NPR on charter schools, which number in the hundreds there.

Another secret part of LR sales tax campaign

I reported Thursday that the committee to pass the Little Rock sales tax increase had reported $203,000 in spending Thursday, but had failed to disclose how the money was spent.

Occupy Little Rock marches this morning

No UA football today, so you can get your protest on. Occupy Little Rock will march from the River Market to the Capitol starting at 9 a.m. today.

Healthy at the Fair

Some options to choose that aren't deep fried, battered or chocolate covered for you to choose from when you go out there this year.

4th District's Cotton lines up wealthy backers

Quarterly congressional fund-raising reports are now appearing on-line and, as expected, 4th District Republican candidate Tom Cotton raked in a lot of his $343,000 from Beltway and eastern associates from his school and work time spent far away from Arkansas.

Open line

Here's to you.

Rankin campaign cash

I mentioned yesterday the quarterly campaign finance report by Tom Cotton, a Republican seeking the 4th District congressional nomination.

Occupy the world

Demonstrations attended by thousands in 900 cities worldwide yesterday, not to mention Little Rock and Fayetteville.

Herman Cain is a Koch proxy

A warm reception for a coming appearance by Herman Cain in Northwest Arkansas is no surprise given that it is a hotbed of support for the Koch brothers' movement to corporatize U.S. goverment.

Crystal Bridges book published

A book on the masterworks that the public will see at the museum's opening.

The Faded Rose to close West Little Rock restaurant

The Faded Rose is closing in West Little Rock.

It's new, how about that?

This here is a Cherry Covered Chocolate. It's a Fried Oreo that's been dipped in a Cherry Kool-Aid batter before frying.

When you're hot ...

... you're hot. Light it up.

Herman Cain: Shocking

The pizza man twice called for an electric fence to electrocute illegal immigrants. When pressed on national TV, he said he was just joking.

Clinton for vice president — Bill Clinton

For a slow morning: An opinion piece in Politico makes the case for an Obama-Bill Clinton ticket in 2012.

Clark Hall announces for 1st District Congress

Talk Business says State Rep. Clark Hall of Marvell today will make official his long-expected Democratic candidacy for 1st District Congress.

Motorcycle driver critically injured

The morning Little Rock police roundup includes a motorcyclist critically injured in a wreck Sunday afternoon on Rodney Parham Road.

No sales boost from tax holiday

State says back-to-school sales tax holiday didn't produce an economic boost. Not too surprising.

How public relations helped free the West Memphis 3

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports on the role a public relations pro, Lonnie Soury, played in building public support for release of the West Memphis 3, a factor, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington admits, in his decision to strike a bargain with the convicts that set them free.

Body of missing UALR student found in pond UPDATE

The sheriff's office reports the body of a woman was found floating in a pond near Sweet Home off Highway 365 about midday Sunday. It's apparently that of a UALR student missing since last week.

Video of Occupy Little Rock march

More from Saturday's protest from Gabe Gentry, a local filmmaker who works with video production company Mindful Media Productions.

Job expansions announced in Helena

A variety of businesses are announcing news or expanded operations in Helena-West Helena, which can use the shot in the arm.

Ellison family sues over Little Rock police shooting

The sons of Eugene Ellison, 67, who was killed by Little Rock police in his apartment last year, have filed a federal lawsuit alleging their father's civil rights were violated.

Koch heads routed in Jonesboro

I highly recommend this YouTube video posted by the Arkansas branch of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, a Tea Party cheering squad aimed at lowering corporate taxes and regulation.

Murder charge filed in death of Sherwood woman

Sherwood police today announced a murder charge in the abduction and slaying of Katherine Cleary, 74, whose body was found in August near the Galloway exit of Interstate 40.

Silver thread

The Monday line is open. Not much else to say, except thanks to John Barton (proprietor of a cycling blog), who responded (above) to my call yesterday for a photo of the monarch butterflies making their annual migration southward.

See a slideshow of the Box Turtle Fashion Show

Nobody hustles like Times photographer Brian Chilson. After shooting the Occupy Little Rock protests on Saturday, he turned up at Hillcrest Harvest Fest, where Box Turtle once again put on an impressive fashion show featuring designs from Amber Taylor, Lauren Kemp, Punkee Monkee, Linda Thomas, Trisha Timmerman, Erin Lorenzen, Missy Lipps and Korto Momolu.

Sean Penn, Ted Danson and more in Clinton Foundation spoof; Lady Gaga serenades 'Billary'

Sean Penn, Jack Black, Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig and Kevin Spacey also appear in the video, which was played during the Clinton Foundation celebration over the weekend.

Where's the outrage about the Kochs?

There's a growing awareness of the misplaced outrage by those who've been tools of the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, organization, which serves as a Tea Party cheerleading arm for the Republican Party.

Dumas exposes Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan

Herman Cain is the hot Republican candidate at the moment, so Ernest Dumas' examination of some of his ideas is timely.

If big banks won't help, maybe Starbucks will

Joe Nocera in New York Times writes about a Starbucks idea to encourage contributions from customers (it's also kicking in $5 million and costs) to funnel into community development banks that make microloans to small businesses.

Arkansas lottery in no rush to replace director

The Arkansas Lottery seems to be running just fine without its founding director, Ernie Passailaigue, and a couple of high-priced vice presidents he brought with him from South Carolina for the lottery startup.

McAlmont switching ends in stabbing

Too sad. From the Pulaski County sheriff's office: Setting: McAlmont (that's a neighborhood outside the eastern boundary of North Little Rock on the Old Jacksonville Highway).

Shoog Radio hosts a 'Grunge Party' at WWT, Ballyhoo comes to Stickyz

Shoog Radio hosts a grunge night at White Water Tavern. Ballyhoo! brings sunny pop-rock to Stickyz.

Drug indictment in Texarkana names 66

Another major federal drug bust — this one unveiled today in Texarkana. An indictment names 66 people on 190 drug and firearms charges.

A tour with Safdie

CBMAA called ambitious but "never overbearing."

UA throws secrecy over Coke deal

The University of Central Arkansas' attempt to wring some presidential home renovation money out of Aramark, its food service vendor, has earned deserved attention.

Jason Willett's bad night in D.C.

Jason Willett of Jonesboro, the former Arkansas Democratic Party chair, has sued a Washington, D.C. Hyatt for having him arrested last year following an argument over a bar tab.

Gene Gessow to leave Medicaid director's job

Gene Gessow, the state Medicaid director, has informed Human Services officials that he'll be resigning soon and moving for family reasons.

Brockmeier the pioneer

Little Rock author/fabulist Kevin Brockmeier gets a shout-out in a new article in The Atlantic that discusses the 21st century, genre-bending shift in "serious fiction" from strict realism to literature-quality novels that deal with everything from time travel to zombie plagues.

UA unveils $300 million sports facilities plan

The University of Arkansas is rolling out its $300 million athletic facilities master plan today.

Rep. Ed Garner: Baking the books

Republican Rep. Ed Garner of Maumelle is a big-business conservative. Fiscal accountability and all that.

Dassault Falcon extends lease at Little Rock Airport

Little Rock National Airport announced today that it had extended its lease agreement with Dassault Falcon, for its aircraft finishing operation, through 2040, with an option to extend.

The line is open

* DOUBLE DIPPING JUDGES: Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, looking to make a little hay from the double-dipping topic, has joined with Rep. David Sanders to call for a review of state judges who retire and then seek district judgeships, typically municipal or county courts.