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Toast of the Town

Toast of the Town

October 20, 2016

Vol 43 • No 7

Read the print version

Toast of the Town 2016

Pour another glass.

The Arkansas ale trail

There are dozens of breweries to visit, with more on tap.

2016 Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival preview

Make plans to attend Oct. 28.

Two Arkansas craft distilleries plan expansions

Spirits on the move.

Playing catch-up

What with the big, clear-the-decks Road Trip issue last week — which we're sure you stuffed immediately in your motorcar's glove box, turtle hull or catchall, for when you get a hankerin' to gallivant — The Observer has had two glorious weeks to Observe since the last time we conversed.

Trump, Christianity and decency

Considering how many appeals Arkansas's Republican leaders have made to the religion of Christianity over the years, how can they justify continued support of the least Christian person in the presidential race?

Good Weather

Lakewood pop-up gallery makes a home for art in limbo.

Lessons learned

Picture Bret Bielema pole-vaulting for a minute. Then, once the laughter subsides, hear me out with this absurd analogy.

Youth movement

Irvin Camacho, 24, hopes to be the first Latino elected to the Arkansas legislature.

Arkansas 2016: the microclimate election

In the lead-up to the past four Arkansas election cycles, the forecast has been a fairly simple one: strong winds blowing in the GOP direction.

Trumped in Arkansas

After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8

Donald gropes Arkansas

Perfect pizza

DeLuca's is the jewel of Hot Springs.

Down goes the Broadway Bridge

Or at least most of it. A blast on Oct. 15 failed to down the span on the right. A pneumatic ram brought it down later that day.

Ken Bonfield comes to The Joint

Also, Guts Club plays Vino's.

The big loser

So now the big crybaby says he's losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Midway Coronary Edition

Play in the Hall of Industry using a free pen from the Arkansas Rice Board!

White Water hosts a big Mississippi Blues Show

Also, Red Octopus at the Public Theater, Alcee Chriss III at First Presbyterian Church, Harvestfest in Hillcrest, the Arkansas Times Hog Roast, Wildflower Revue at South on Main and Made By Few in Bentonville.

Two ballot questions moot

Also, Asa sticks to Trump, justice for Boeckmann, LR schools bracing for closure and more.

Democrats call for dismissal of secretary of state employee running for office on state time

Democratic Party Chair Vince Insalaco says Secretary of State Mark Martin should fire Deputy Secretary of State Joseph Wood because he's been using state time and office resources to run for county judge in Washington County.

UPDATE: Hutchinson moves to cover himself on cut to War Memorial Stadium

Gov. Asa Hutchinson apparently felt the burn from KARK's exclusive Tuesday night on his plans to cut state support of War Memorial Stadium in half beginning July 1, 2018. He has a so-far secret plan to make the stadium self-sustaining. We bet that doesn't include state support.

Governor announces Chinese garment plant for Little Rock

Governor announces Chinese plans for a garment factory in Little Rock to employ 400.

Reefer Madness continues at the Capitol

The legislature's Joint Performance Review Committee is to hear from Hutchinson administration officials this afternoon about the potential "impact" of the two medical marijuana measures on the Nov. 8 ballot. Expect gloom and doom.

Supreme Court reverses sobriety checkpoint conviction

The Arkansas Supreme Court today reversed a DWI conviction in Sebastian County because the highway sobriety checkpoint was unconstitutionally operated. The decision set a standard for such checkpoints in the future.

Supreme Court orders review of two cases because of tainted evidence

An FBI task force's finding of improper work by a lab technician has led to Arkansas Supreme Court-ordered reviews of two convictions — a capital murder and a rape.

A Q&A with Kate Andersen Brower

Kate Andersen Brower's bestselling book "First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies" is to be made into a television series produced by Reese Witherspoon and Robin Wright, and is the topic of her talk tonight at Ron Robinson Theater.

UALR provost named president of Connecticut college

UALR Provost Zulma Torro was named today president of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. I'd reported earlier this week that she was a finalist for the job.

Arkansas judges express preference for election

The Arkansas Judicial Council, the assembly of all state circuit and appellate judges, voted overwhelmingly last week to oppose any proposal for appointment rather than election of judges.

There Trump goes again, repudiating the democratic process

Widely criticized for steadfastly refusing during the final president debate to say he'd accept the outcome of the election, Donald Trump showed no remorse today. By the way: He lost another debate last night. Big.

Kochs spread money around Arkansas

The Koch Industries PAC spread a lot of money around in September, including significant sums in state legislative races around the country. All politics is local when you have a big polluting industry to look after.

The open line and headlines

Here's the Thursday open line and mid-afternoon news roundup.

Fort Smith mosque vandalized

Fort Smith's Al Salam mosque was vandalized Thursday morning.

A thousand words, at least, inspired by senator's Facebook photo

Confederate flag, Trump, corporate welfare. It's all on offer on the Facebook page of one state senator.

Bart Hester and the myth of self-sustaining public services

The War Memorial Stadium budget debate is full of red herrings from Sen. Bart Hester. Public services are rarely self-sustaining. We pay taxes to support things of public value.

The push for medical marijuana begins

Advertising has begun for Issue 6, the constitutional amendment to allow sale of medically prescribed marijuana through for-profit dispensaries regulated by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

Arkansas unemployment rate rises in September

The Arkansas unemployment rate in September moved up to 4 percent from 3.9 percent the month before, with an overall drop in workforce.

Artisan sandwiches at Kent Walker's

Kent Walker’s Artisan Cheese now offers more than locally crafted cheese and brews: It's grilling sandwiches and serving them up all day. The menu includes a basic house grilled cheese, made up of a blend of Walker cheeses; Melinda’s Pimiento, named for the wholesaler who created the recipe; the Bonta, a blend of house cheeses with Bonta Toscana, Amy Bradley-Hole’s unparalleled tomato sauce; a Not-Your-Mama’s bologna sandwich with house-blend cheeses, spring mix lettuce and tomatoes with a special spread and more.

White Water gets Southern Salted

Lauren McCants, the Southern Salt Co. food truck founder and chef, is now serving food at the White Water Tavern Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday. On the menu: hamburgers and cheeseburgers (of course) as well as deep fried pork tenderloin sandwiches, deep fried chicken sandwiches, a smoked bologna and over-easy egg sandwich (real good, she says), chicken nachos and a special, like coconut curried chicken. There are vegetarian options, as well: Deep-fried tofu sandwiches, prepared with avocado and like a fish taco; and sweet potato and avocado tacos.

Mike Huckabee predicts Donald Trump victory

For the record, Mike Huckabee predicts election victory for Donald Trump. This followed another poor debate performance for Trump.

UCA announces four finalists for presidency

A search committee has chosen four finalists, including one in-state candidate, to succeed Tom Courtway as president of the University of Central Arkansas.

'Would my son have a place in your America?'

The father of a Muslim soldier who died saving U.S. comrades in combat has a question for Donald Trump. We'd ask it, too, of Tom Cotton.

Arkansas among states losing ground on school spending

Interesting statistics in a Washington Post article on education spending.Many states, including Arkansas, are spending less on education since 2008, before the big recession.

States say 'nyet' to Russian election monitors

The Tulsa World has reported that election officials have rejected requests from the Russian consulate in Houston to have Russians observe U.S. voting Nov. 8 in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.

How about cheese dip for lunch Saturday?

Big day in Little Rock tomorrow, what with the Race for the Cure hordes on the street. What's for lunch?How about the World Cheese Dip Championship from noon to 3 p.m. in the River Market Pavilion.

TGIF and the video report

Here's an open line along with the mid-afternoon news and comment.

Good Weather, outdoors and in (Elliott Earls)

If you read this week's Arts and Entertainment feature on Good Weather Gallery, you are probably wanting to know a little bit more about the show opening tomorrow, Oct. 22: Elliott Earls' "Death of a Salesman."

Marijuana backers fault state's cost report UPDATE

David Couch, spokesman for the group backing the amendment,, Issue 6, to allow medical marijuana in Arkansas, has sent a  response to a state report issued this week on the impact of the measure.

Arkansas Times Recommends: Indian Grocers, nerdcore documentaries, "Pepe the Frog" explainers, Anne Carson and more

Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.

Coming to McLeod: Hursley and Simmons, land and dreamscapes

Heads up for Thursday, Oct. 27: Matt McLeod Fine Art Gallery opens "Landscapes/Dreamscapes: At the Crossroads of Observation and Memory," an exhibition of drawings and paintings by Little Rock artists Jeanie Lockeby Hursley and  Dominique Simmons. 

Supreme Court rejects rehearing of decision killing casino amendment

Without comment today, the Arkansas Supreme Court rejected a request for a rehearing of its decision killing a proposed amendment to allow three more casinos in Arkansas because of a flawed ballot title.

The Boeckmann Goes to Jail Edition

The presidential race, the indictment of former district judge Joseph Boeckmann on federal charges, what Governor Hutchinson’s proposal to cut funds for War Memorial Stadium represents and more.

Let the name float begin with Blanche Lincoln

Blanche Lincoln hits a list of potential Clinton Cabinet appointees. I'd say it's too early to be counting chickens.

Five Fun Fall Activities

Autumn temps are perfect for outdoor activities

Boozman goes negative on Conner Eldridge

Hmm. Nice ol' Republican Sen. John Boozman goes negative on upstart Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge? Feeling maybe a tiny bit of heat from Eldridge's attacks on Boozman as a nice guy, underachieving nonentity more interested in globe trotting than leading, not to mention a devoted supporter of Donald Trump?

Formal opposition emerges to Issue 3, the corporate welfare amendment

It became apparent this morning that at least some money would be spent in opposition to Issue 3, a massive corporate welfare proposal to allow the state to pledge unlimited tax money to private projects and to allow local governments to also give money to private business and chamber of commerce lobbyists, a practice that has been ruled unconstitutional currently.

Nasty women rise up against The Deplorable Donald

It had to happen. Donald Trump's debate interjection that Hillary Clinton was a "nasty woman" has become a battle cry among women; a Twitter meme; a Facebook favorite, and, naturally, a marketing opportunity for T-shirt, button and bumper sticker makers.

The arrival of autumn open line

Here's the open line. Harvest Fest still happening in Hillcrest. Hog Roast tomorrow in North Little Rock in perfect weather.

Philosophical differences in LR Ward 4 race between Peck, Yates

Some philosophical differences are at work in the Little Rock Ward 4 race between Capi Peck and Jeff Yates. And word came recently that the Koch organization might have an interest in the race.

Welfare for the wealthy: More reasons to VOTE NO on ISSUE 3

Voices on the left and right are lifted against Issue 3, the corporate welfare amendment to send tax money to private business and corporate lobbyists.

Hog Roast this afternoon in North Little Rock

Nineteen teams are putting the finishing touches at this minute on whole hogs and pork butts in our annual Arkansas Times Hog Roast, which begins at 1 p.m. today at Argenta Plaza on Main Street in downtown North Little Rock.

State Police make arrest after gun pulled

State trooper fires at armed man, makes arrest.

Community group seeks changes in LR School District budget

#StandUp4LR, the grassroots group organized to regain local control of the Little Rock School District, now run by the state has issued a statement today critical of Superintendent Michael Poore's budget process for next year, particularly insufficient community input.  It also recommends a moratorium on new charter school seats in Little Rock because of the damaging impact that has on the School District.

Sunday's open line

Here's the Sunday open line.

The effort to provide on-campus voting

A talk is scheduled at the Clinton School tonight about the success of providing election centers on the Hendrix College campus, a movement that has so far failed at the University of Arkansas.

An Arkie remembered in Washington, D.C.

History note: Washington Post backgrounds readers on the statue of a once-famous Arkansan, Albert Pike, memorialized in a statue in Washington, D.C.

Early voting begins in Arkansas

Early voting has begun in Arkansas. Pulaski County details here.

Political establishment continues fight against pain relief

The well-orchestrated free media campaign to defeat getting medical marijuana in the hands of people who could benefit from it continues today. Ignore it. Vote YES for ISSUES 6 and 7.

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.

Lottery ticket worth $1 million

William Tinzie of Forrest City claimed a $1 million prize with a $20 Golden Ticket purchased at Jordan's Kwik Stop in Wynne.

ACLU files challenge of state anti-loitering law

The ACLU of Arkansas today filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state loitering law, which outlaws asking for money, food or other charity at any time or place.

Oklahoma manhunt follows shooting of two officers and two deaths

Two people are dead and four have been injured as Oklahoma authorities continue a search for the man believed responsible, a recently released convict armed with a semi-automatic rifle.

Three congressmen question refugee resettlement in Arkansas

Three Arkansas congressmen are raising sand because a local agency proposes to welcome as many as 100 refugees to Arkansas. They are afraid of teeorrism.

Actors Jamie Bell and Kate Mara a-Twitter after emergency landing in Little Rock

An American Airlines flight that made an emergency landing in Little Rock Saturday carried actors Jamie Bell and girlfriend Kate Mara, who memorialized the stop on Twitter. It got political

Here's the open line and the daily news roundup

Here's the Monday open line and news and comment.

Jeff Nichols returns to Little Rock for Arkansas premiere of "Loving"

Director Jeff Nichols returns to his hometown Monday, Nov. 14, for the first Arkansas screening of “Loving,” Nichols’ depiction of the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple whose civil rights case resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s invalidation of all race-based legal restrictions on marriage.

Little Rock police kill man downtown

Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.

Belaboring the obvious: Football and cancer

Belaboring the obvious about the cost of Razorback football coaches and fighting cigarette-related cancer.

Governor wants to move War Memorial Stadium under Parks and Tourism

Gov. Asa Hutchinson hopes to put out a political firestorm over War Memorial Stadium by moving the state-owned facility under the wing of the State Parks and Tourism Department.

Governor announces plan to transfer control of War Memorial Stadium. No retreat from spending cut.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced as expected this morning a proposal to transfer control of War Memorial Stadium, currently an independent entity, to the state Parks and Tourism Department.

Sibling Rivalry closes open submission period, selects four manuscripts

Sibling Rivalry Press, a Lambda Literary Award-winning independent press based in Little Rock’s Stifft Station, selected four manuscripts this week following its open submission period, including one from an Arkansas author, Randi Romo, a collection of poetry, short stories and essays called “Distractions of Living.”

No charges yet in fatal shooting

Police have asked for a prosecutor to review whether charges should be filed in the fatal shooting of a man who'd agued with the owner of a Col. Glenn Road detail shop.

Health insurance cost increases: The fuller story

Republicans such as Sen. Tom Cotton are chortling about a "25 percent increase" in health insurance rates. But wait. That's not exactly — not nearly — true.

Former Judge Boeckmann released pending trial in federal case

Federal Magistrate Joe Volpe this morning approved, over the government's objection, the release of former Cross County District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmannwhile awaiting trial on fraud and witness tampering charges.

Tuesday: The open line and video roundup

Here's Tuesday's open line, plus headlines and comment.

Zoo announces death of 22-year-old lion

The Little Rock Zoo announced today the death of Sidney, a 22-year-old female lion. The lion was euthanized after a corneal graft on her eye deteriorated.

From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said

Identity released in Little Rock police shooting

Roy Lee Richards, 46, who lived in apartments on Green Mountain Drive, has been identified by police as the man fatally shot about 12:37 a.m. this morning by officers responding to a disturbance call about a man with a long gun in the 500 block of East 8th Street.

Federal investigation uncovers foster parent's abuse of at least five children

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Elser announced today Clarence Garretson, 65, of Van Burean had pleaded guilty in federal court today to five counts of interstate transportation of a child with intention engage in criminal activity.

No, Obamacare hasn't produced huge increases in everyone's health insurance

I wrote yesterday, but it bears repeating, that the Republican talking point about huge health insurance rate increases under Obamacare is, at best, wildly misleading. Dishonest is more accurate, I believe.

Vote suppression efforts continue in U.S.

This is one to watch in Arkansas. The New York Times reports on incidents nationwide in which Republican-controlled states where voter ID laws have been invalidated in courts have found other ways to make it hard for new voters to get access to the polls.

Hester says state can afford $105 million income tax cut

Sen. Bart Hester, a Republican from Cave Springs who's been endeavoring lately to end state support for the state-owned War Memorial Stadium among other attacks on government spending, distributed a news release today saying he was working on a proposed $105 million income tax cut.

Working Families group buys ads hitting French Hill on vote for bank protection

Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock seems likely to cruise to re-election against largely unfunded opponents, including Libertarian Chris Hayes and Democrat Dianne Curry, but an independent group has entered the fray against Hill with ads  attacking the former banker's votes helpful to big banks.

Court of Appeals gives firefighter's widow another try at disability benefits

In a case that has been winding through the legal system for at least four years, the Arkansas Court of Appeals today granted a new hearing to Jane Sexton in her claim that her late husband, Springdale firefighter Harold "Bud" Planchon, was entitled to duty related disability benefits for his colon cancer.

Garland County ex-aide charged with tens of thousands of personal expenses on county credit card, including dog tuxedo

A former Garland County employee has been charged with using a county credit card for more than $300,000 in personal expenses, including a tuxedo for her dog. Yes, a tuxedo for her dog.

Wednesday: An open line and news and comment

Wednesday's open line and the daily roundup of news and comment.

Rock Candy Ticket Giveaway: Collective Soul

The Stockbridge, Ga. band that penned "Shine," "December" and "The World I Know" is on tour in support of its ninth studio album, "See What You Started by Continuing," and we've got two tickets to give away to a concert this Saturday at Choctaw Casino in Pocola, Okla., 8 p.m.

Cheese dip champs, highest hog roasters: Here are the winners

The city's sages in the secrets of great cheese dip and whole hog roasting showed off last weekend, at the 6th annual World Cheese Dip Championship, held last Saturday, Oct. 22, at the River Market pavilions, and the 4th annual Arkansas Times Whole Hog Roast on Sunday, Oct. 23.

Leg room soon at The Root Cafe

People who love dining at The Root Cafe but shy away because of the crowds will be happy to learn that the new dining area likely will be open by the end of next week. Corri Bristow Sundell, who owns and operates the Root Cafe with her husband, Jack Sundell, said the restaurant is waiting on the city plumbing inspector for the second bathroom the restaurant was required to install when it added three shipping container units.

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Ted Suhl loses another bid for new trial; faces stiff sentencing recommendation

Ted Suhl, the former operator of residential and out-patient mental health services, has lost a second bid to get a new trial on his conviction for paying bribes to influence state Human Services Department policies. Set for sentencing Thursday, Suhl faces a government request for a sentence up to almost 20 years. He argues for no more than 33 months.

Police identify officer in shooting, say he fired to prevent shooting

The Little Rock Police Department said today that Officer Dennis Hutchins had shot Roy Richards, 46, Monday night because he feared Richards was about to shoot his uncle, with whom he'd been arguing.

LR Central student scores perfect on ACT

The Little Rock School District announced yesterday that Karina Bao, a senior at Little Rock Central High School, had scored a perfect 36 composite score on the four-part ACT test, an achievement by less than a tenth of one percent of the 2.1 million who took the test.

New music from Late Romantics, Youth Pastor and The Uh Huhs

New music from Late Romantics and new videos from Youth Pastor (formerly Comfortable Brother) and Arkansas Times Musician's Showcase champions The Uh Huhs.

Arkansas Post National Memorial interprets over 300 years of history

In 2016, the National Park Service celebrates the centennial of the agency’s creation. This Arkansas property of the National Park System celebrates the history of the state before it was even a state.

Pick up free tickets tomorrow morning to hear the ASO in the new Robinson Center

As a thank you to Little Rock voters for approving a bond referendum in 2013 that allowed a portion of the city's 2 percent hospitality tax to be used toward funding the renovation of the Robinson Center Music Hall, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is giving away tickets for a concert in the new space Wednesday, November 30, 7 p.m.