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Who watches the watchmen?

Who watches the watchmen?

October 12, 2017

Vol 44 • No 6

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Thorn in the LRPD's side

Civil rights attorney Mike Laux has spent years taking on the LRPD over fatal shootings of suspects. He isn't done yet.

'The School For Lies' next up at The Rep

The remix of Moliere's 'The Misanthrope' promises 'bawdy, sexy fun.'

Gun debate

If not now, then when?

I remember asking that question after 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook. Surely, this tragedy would wake us up--get us working to end our gun violence epidemic.

NBA Season

Arkansas will never have an NBA team.

The end is near

It has fast become gospel around here that if Bielema's staring at a smaller number on the scoreboard as he saunters into the locker room at the midway point of a game, there's no credible reason for Arkansas to take the field for the last 30 minutes of action.

GIF gone

Also, the case against executing Jack Greene, former judge pleads guilty and more.

Pork barrel III

Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.

Arkansas State Fair opens the midway

and much more.

Three Fold improved

The noodle and dumpling co. moves to Main Street and a good thing gets better.

DHS rule change threatens disabled care

ARChoices algorithm inspires state and federal lawsuits.

Jimmie Vaughan performs at CHARTS

Also, Isaac Alexander plays Maxine's in Hot Springs.

Conspiracy theories

Hardly anybody today believes that once unsettling events like solar eclipses are caused by wolves or demons eating the sun. But when it comes to all-too-frequent eruptions of what Philip Roth calls "the indigenous American berserk," many retreat into superstition, or worse.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Big Bed Bug Bux Edition

Play on your way to Yellowstone

Trust and obey

This past week marked an anniversary of sorts for the country. A year ago, the Access Hollywood audiotape of then-candidate Donald Trump claiming to get away with sexually assaulting women finally exposed the truth about man the GOP had chosen as the nominee.

How a Sheridan native started with soda can purses and landed at the top of the handbag industry

Christopher Belt won three titles at the 11th annual Independent Handbag Designer Awards.

City attorney makes it official: LR incumbents are protected on campaign carryover

Blogger Russ Racop has received a formal rejection from Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter of his complaint that Mayor Mark Stodola is in "flagrant" violation of a city ordinance by keeping $78,000 in carryover money from his last uncontested election campaign for use in the 2018 election.

State Fair opens today; here's a preview of midway food

The Arkansas State Fair opens today and, as ever, the food vendors are plunging weird and sometimes wonderful stuff into bubbling vats of hot oil.

The day the earth stood still: Agreement with Limbaugh

It's about authoritarianism, stupid. Even Rush Limbaugh gets what's wrong with Donald Trump's attack on NFL players, not to mention the U.S. Constitution.

Houston Nutt sues Ole Miss for breach of contract

The latest wrinkle in Houston Nutt's ongoing dispute with Ole Miss, which once employed him as football coach, is a new breach of contract lawsuit filed in state court in Mississippi.  An earlier complaint was filed in federal court, which said it lacked jurisdiction.

Walmart ups its college recruiting game, but it carries homestate baggage

Walmart, the retailing behemoth is moving aggressively to catch up and surpass Amazon and others in digital commerce. One potential problem: Arkansas.

Trump on Puerto Rico: Moron is too kind

Donald Trump today indicates he's tired of helping Puerto Rico, as inadequate as the U.S. response to devastation to the U.S. citizens there has been.

Trump attacks Obamacare with executive order

Donald Trump today signed an executive order aimed at providing ways around Affordable Care Act rules.

Boo at the Zoo brings fun and frights to fall festivities

Autumn is officially here, with its pumpkin patches, hay rides and a sampling of seasonal events, including the state’s biggest fall festival: Boo at the Zoo.

About $1 million left unspent after GIF lawsuit; some earmarked for state business lobby

A state Supreme Court ruling end pork barrel spending of state General Improvement Fund money left $1 million in limbo with a Central Arkansas agency. We have the list of those who won't be seeing that money after all.

Thursday: Open line and the daily roundup

Here's your open line. Also news and comment, from Trump to neo-Nazis.

Lucas Ferguson named to succeed Cody Hiland as prosecutor in Conway

Gov. Asa Hutchinson today appointed Lucas Ferguson to succeed Cody Hiland as prosecuting attorney of the judicial circuit based in Conway.  Hiland this week became U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Slain real estate agent's family sues her employer

The family of Beverly Carter has sued Crye-Leike, the real estate company for which she worked, for not training her adequately to keep her safe.

UPDATE: Friday rap concert canceled after police complaint about security

Police Chief Kenton Buckner has notified Little Rock city officials about concerns about a rap show scheduled Friday night in Little Rock. This evening the concert was canceled.

Rap show uproar raises questions about police management, 1st Amendment

Some additional bits on the dispute that flared up yesterday over a rap concert scheduled at the Metroplex by MoneyBagg Yo, whose past concerts included two at which people were shot. One subject worth discussion: The First Amendment.

Dover public schools closed on account of unspecified threat

Dover Public Schools are closed today because of an unspecified threat and a decision is to be made later today on whether a Friday night football game will be played.

Trump's two-pronged attack on Obamacare

After an executive order on health care earlier in the day, Donald Trump announced later Thursday that he would scrap federal subsidies to insurance companies to help pay the cost of coverage for low-income people.

John Boozman takes a new view of executive orders

John Boozman, who often saw Barack Obama's executive orders as overreach, seems to like it when Donald Trump pulls out the executive order pen.

8th Circuit allows injunction against new anti-abortion law to stay in effect

Surprise from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It's going to allow a district judge's injunction against a new Arkansas anti-abortion law to remain in effect while Planned Parenthood seeks a U.S. Supreme Court review of whether Act 577 of 2015 is constitutional.

Friday: The open line and today's news roundup

The TGIF open line and daily news/comment roundup.

State Rep. Charles Blake blasts city push to shut down rap show

State Rep. Charles Blake of Little Rock has spoken forcefully on Mayor Mark Stodola's successful push to shut down a rap concert that had been planned tonight at the Metroplex.

The First Amendment, Yo Edition

The latest in the legal fight to stop a law that would prevent Planned Parenthood from performing abortions in Arkansas, the cancellation of a rap show in Little Rock and its First Amendment implications, a stunning investigative report on drug court defendants being forced to work for free for Arkansas poultry companies and bellicose Tom Cotton — all covered on this week's podcast.

Mayoral candidate Frank Scott joins criticism of Stodola over rap show cancellation

Now comes Frank Scott Jr., one of Mayor Mark Stodola's re-election challengers, with more criticism of the mayor's influence in events that led to cancellation of the Metroplex show by Money Bagg Yo.

Josh Duggar loses lawsuit over tabloid story on molestation

A federal judge in Fayetteville Thursday dismissed Josh Duggar's invasion of privacy lawsuit against In Touch Weekly for its article that revealed he'd been investigated for molesting his younger sisters.

French Hill votes against disaster aid to Puerto Rico

Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill alone among Arkansas's House delegation voted last week against a measure that provided $36.5 billion in disaster aid, a portion  for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico as well as money for wildfire response and to support the flood insurance program.

No plane drop of turkeys at Yellville festival — so far

The Baxter Bulletin reports that the opening day Friday of the annual Yellville Turkey Trot festival included no airplane drop of live turkeys, though four were released from buildings for those in the crowd to capture.

Arkies, get your gun permits. Campus carry rules have been drawn up.

The State Police are making progress on the program to provide an advanced concealed carry permit that would allow permit holders to take their guns onto college campuses.

The looming health care crisis? Where's Asa? And Arkansans in Congress?

Donald Trump's moves to single-handedly wreck Obamacare with executive orders and an end to federal subsidies to help lower-income people pay for health care is already coming home to roost.

The open line. Plus animal cruelty continues at Yellville Turkey Trot

Saturday's open line

Mayor Stodola responds to critics of effort to squelch rap show

Mayor Mark Stodola responds to criticism of his opposition to a rap show that was canceled last week

Trump punishes his base (Arkansas, in other words) with health coverage decision

Here's further details on how Donald Trump's decision to end federal subsidies for health care coverage of lower income people hits hardest in the state's that gave him his electoral college win, such as Arkansas.

The fall open line: Talking turkey, Yellville Turkey Trot style

The Sunday open line includes a report and photos from an animal rescuer's report on the Yellville Turkey Trot, a festival at which live domestic turkeys are tossed from buildings and an airplane.

Fort Smith legislator paid almost $700,000 on port concept. A waste, says one evaluation.

Here's an economic development project that has produced economic benefits for at least one person — Republican state Rep. Mat Pitsch of Fort Smith.

Tom Cotton to CIA?

Speculation that another Donald Trump cabinet shakeup could send Sen. Tom Cotton to head the CIA continues, here in Axios.

Trump wisdom: Pence could be worse

Substantive objections to Donald Trump as president are numerous, but this New Yorker account of his own assessment of vice president Mike Pence illustrates the downside — Pence could be worse. He'd almost certainly be more effective working with Congress, another point against ousting Trump to get Pence

Poultry industry pushing Trump for less inspection time

Donald Trump could win friends in the board rooms of the poultry industry, if not on the slaughterhouse floor, with approval of a poultry industry push to move chicken lines faster. Critics say this could have ill effects.

Hilton opens Garden Inn in River Market District, rooftop bar on tap

The Hilton Garden Inn is open at 322 Rock Street in the River Market district. It's one of six hotels in the chain that opened nationally this fall.

Jason Aldean at Verizon Arena: A Review

Just 12 days after his performance at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas ended in tragedy, Aldean played to a crowd of 10,222 at Verizon Arena Friday night.

UA-Little Rock picks firm to study football

UA-Little Rock said today it had chosen a Texas firm to study the feasbility of adding football to the schools' intercollegiate athletics.

Monday. Again

Monday. The open line. The daily news roundup.

Judge orders state to provide information, legislative testimony in Fayetteville civil rights suit

Circuit Judge Doug Martin of Fayetteville has issued a formal order that quashes a state effort to block requests for information and sworn testimony from legislators and other state officials about the motivation behind the state law that prohibits cities from enacting local ordinances that extend civil rights protection to gay people.

ACLU joins review of 'rehabilitation' agency's treatment of poultry workers

ACLU chapters in Oklahoma and Arkansas have joined the review of an Oklahoma agency that has put drug court defendants to work at poultry companies in conditions described in an investigative report as virtual slave labor.

Judge objects to trainer's references to Black Lives Matter

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has written a letter to the Administrative Office of the Courts objecting to what his staff said were derogatory references to Black Lives Matter by the leader of a session on court security.

State tallies 323 applications to grow or sell medical marijuana

The state Department of Finance and Administration Department released this evening a tally of total applications to either cultivate (95) or dispense (228) marijuana under the new medical marijuana law.

Governor to talk about health care, highway funding

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will entertain media questions at a 9:30 a.m. session today that is said to cover health care and highway funding. Questions need to be asked about impact on people, not just the state budget, from recent insurance premium increeases and Donald Trump's cut of federal subsidies.

Tax-cut deficits OK. Help for Puerto Rico? Not for French HIll and them

Vox points out the towering hypocrisy in the vote by 69 Republican members of the U.S. House, including Rep. French Hill of Little Rock, against a disaster aid package for Puerto Rico and other parts of the U.S.

Vogelpohl jumps from attorney general to big business campaign to squelch lawsuits

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced this morning that Carl Vogelpohl was departing as her chief of staff and Cory Cox would be replacing him.

David Dunn, former legislator and election integrity commission member, died Monday

David Dunn, a former state representative from Forrest City and lobbyist who'd been in the news this year as a member of Donald Trump's Commission on Election Integrity, died Monday.

James Lee Witt corrects Trump on grade for Puerto Rico relief effort

Donald Trump twice yesterday used James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton's widely hailed FEMA director and now in the private business of assisting in disasters, as a reference on the work he's done responding to hurricanes this year. Media, particularly on the conservative end, have echoed the Trump remarks.But hold on: Witt wasn't talking about Puerto Rico.

Hutchinson opposes diversion of general revenue to highways

Gov. Asa Hutchinson called reporters to the Capitol to say that he would "vigorously oppose" any potential highway funding plans that tap general revenue funds.

Guest Playlist: Flap Jones of "Not Necessarily Nashville" schools us on real country music

"Not Necessarily Nashville," which airs on KUAR-FM 89.1 every Saturday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., celebrates three decades of the "best of the rest of country music" Saturday, October 21 at the White Water Tavern with Brad Williams of The Salty Dogs & The Creek Rocks, and we asked host Flap Jones to curate a playlist for us ahead of that anniversary celebration.

Tuesday: Open line, news roundup

The open line, plus the day's news roundup.

Bipartisan deal to continue subsidies Trump ended. But ...

Everyone's reporting that Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander have struck a bipartisan deal on to continue federal subsidies for health coverage that Donald Trump cut off.

Governor promises Arkansas Works will remain stable despite Trump executive order

Governor Hutchinson told reporters Tuesday that Arkansas Works, the state’s privatized approach to Medicaid expansion, would be able to fully offset the cost of a sharp rise in private health insurance premiums in the coming year by decreasing another type of payment the state makes to insurance carriers.

The 'Me, too' movement spreads to state legislatures

The Harvey Weinstein case and the "Me, too" ripple effect, which now has spread to state legislatures Arkansas, anyone?

Trump sabotage of health coverage brings unintended benefit

Donald Trump's effort to sabotage the insurance market actually has some unexpected upsides, the New York Times reports.

Ole Miss apologizes to Houston Nutt, settles his lawsuit

Tom Mars, attorney for Houston Nutt, the former Arkansas and Ole Miss football coach, called my attention this morning to news that Nutt had settled his lawsuit against Ole Miss officials for speaking negatively about him despite a no-disparagement agreement with the school following his departure as head coach.

State offers cash incentive for high score on computer science Advanced Placement test

The state Education Department is embellishing' Gov. Asa Hutchinson's computer education push with cash incentives for high scores on an Advanced Placement test in computer science.

Little Rock to reveal bid for Amazon headquarters

Thursday is the deadline for cities to make a pitch for Amazon's second headquarters and Little Rock will unveil its proposal at a 10:30 a.m. news conference Thursday in the Venture Center in the city's Technology Park development on Main Street.

Environmental group finds agricultural chemicals in Arkansas drinking water

The Environmental Working Group released a report this week that asserts that the drinking water for about 200,000 Arkansans contains unsafe levels of chemicals related to industrial agriculture. Another environmental group has used the occasion to call for Tyson Foods to do something about it.

Mississippi school will replace Jefferson Davis with Barack Obama

The Jackson, Miss., School Board has decided to rename an elementary school named for Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, for Barack Obama. That inspires an idea for Little Rock.

Trump a loser as NFL anthem policy maker

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL will not adopt a rule forcing players to stand for the National Anthem.Trump had demanded such a rule. Sad!

Wednesday: The open line and the day's news and comment

We're over the hump. Here are an open line. Also the day's roundup of news and comment.

Little Rock police charge second, 'initial' shooter in Power Ultra Lounge shootings

Little Rock police today say they'd filed charges against a second person, Tyler Jackson, 19, in the Power Ultra Lounge shootings July 1.

Additional allegations against pediatrician in sexual assault case

KATV reports that police have increased the number of allegations of sexual assault against Dr. James Nesmith, a former pediatrician at Arkansas Children's Hospital and a staff member at UAMS.

Pulaski Tech says 'Boo!' with art at CHARTS

The Halloween mood set in sometime last November for lots of us. But Pulaski Technical College's Center for the Humanities and the Arts is adding a soothing artistic touch to the scary season with its "Boo! Images of the Macabre," a show coming from "the darkest corners of the vault of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts," the school has announced.