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Blood Bias

Blood Bias

October 29, 2015

Vol 42 • No 8

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Arkansas's child welfare system discriminates against relatives of neglectful or abusive parents

When parents fail their children, relatives often want to step up. But Kimberlee Herring and Karisa Hardy say the system shut them out, and instead placed three kids into a home where they were abused.

True adventures in the Little Rock paranormal

Ghost Hunting 101.

Cash rules everything

The Observer's friend Mr. Photographer got over to Dyess a while back to shoot some pictures of the restored childhood home of the late singer Johnny Cash. It's a beaut now, restored back to the way it looked when the Cash family first moved in during the darkest days of the Great Depression, complete with period furnishings inside.

Not enough love for Leon

From the preview write-up of Leon Russell (To-Do List, Oct. 22), who graced our city with a visit last week, you wouldn't know the author was talking about one of the great rock 'n' roll musical talents. Whatever one thinks of Russell's voice or "style," or "the '70s," for that matter, the man deserves more respect.

STOP I-30 widening

The Interstate 30 bridge may need to be replaced. The south and north terminal interchanges could use improvement. But the city doesn't need a wider Berlin Wall between east and west in our city.

Speak of the devil

Michael Fassbender stars in "Steve Jobs."


It's difficult to categorize the kind of catharsis that Arkansas rightly earned Saturday in its four-overtime, 54-46 win over Auburn, but that's what we'll endeavor to do here.

Tax cuts: They still don't help

Brookings Institution economists have taken a fresh look at the effect that tax cuts for high earners have on economic growth and jobs, 35 years after Jude Wanniski and Arthur Laffer persuaded Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp that it would be nothing short of spectacular.

Letdown at Lulu's

South American restaurant needs tweaks.

AHTD's Bennett trashes Little Rock in Tweet

Also, Hillary stands tall, state Supreme Court stays executions, unsportsmanlike conduct from Elkins' football coach, same-sex marriage equals marriage and more.

Twenty problems with '20/20' show on Justin Harris

ABC's news magazine's hour on the 'rehoming' scandal leaves out half the facts.

Arkansas Times Recommends: Halloween edition

Arkansas Times Recommends is a weekly series on our Rock Candy blog in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying lately. This edition is all about Halloween.

"An Evening in the Park with Hot Air Balloons and Mac-O-Lanterns" at MacArthur Park

Also, Tulsa Music Showcase at South on Main.

Pallbearer performs at Vino's

Also, Rick Springfield at Reynolds Performance Hall, 'Gone with the Wind' at Ron Robinson, 5th Annual World Cheese Dip Championship at Bernice Garden, Halloween, Dia De 'Lost' Muertos at Lost Forty and Babes in Toyland at Juanita's.

Treasurer Milligan expands state office to education

State Treasurer Dennis Milligan has entered a $450,000 contract with a Washington firm to provide on-line financial education to elementary school children. One question: Can he do that?

Batesville police arming officers with fully automatic rifles

KARK reports that the Batesville police department is spending $57,000 to arm the force with fully automatic rifles.

Another Republican debate; no Trump card

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz stood out in the Republican debate last night on CNBC, particularly Rubio with his putdown of Jeb Bush when Bush challenged him on his absenteeism from Senate votes.

Gym politics: A Supreme Court race, I-30 resistance

Gossip from the gym: New clues emerge that Judge John Dan Kemp will challenge Justice Courtney Goodson to be chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Also, some potent arguments emerge against the I-30 widening project, including racial discrimination. The state Highway Department has been clueless.

I Love Juice Bar is great for healthy food

There's more than just juice at I Love Juice Bar. Spring rolls, salads and soups round out a healthy menu full of local goodies and delicious flavors.

The best justice money can buy; dark money TV ads do it

Nonpartisan groups interested in money spent in judicial elections says the 2014 Supreme Court race in which dark money helped elect Justice Robin Wynne to the Arkansas Supreme Court over Tim Cullen was the first since 2000 in which outside money went into TV ads.

Four dead in Russellville plane crash

Four people are reported dead in the crash of a small plane on Crow Mountain in Russellville, KTHV is reporting. It apparently crashed into the yard of a home after taking off from the local airport.

Dorothy Hall, Sheridan Democrat, to take another crack at House seat

Dorothy Hall Dorothy Hall kicked off her campaign today for Arkansas House of Representatives District 10.

No moratorium on I-30, Bennett says

Highway Department Scott Bennett, who seems to be a prickly sort who really doesn't like Little Rock, judging by his weekend Twitter posts and today's quoted remarks

UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit challenging Little Rock School takeover

The Arkansas Supreme Court today agreed with the state Education Department that it was immune from lawsuit over the takeover of the Little Rock School District.

Proposal to rename Lake Village's Confederate Street draws opposition

Lake Village held a public hearing last night to change the name of Confederate Street to Sgt. Thomas Armour Jr. Street. for a Lake Village resident who lost his legs while serving in the Army in Vietnam. As with similar debates in Little Rock and elsewhere, the idea has drawn opposition.

Hospitals, Blue Cross create Shared Services corporation

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Baptist Health, St. Bernards Healthcare, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Washington Regional Medical System announced today that they have formed a "shared services organization," named The Partnership for a Healthy Arkansas.

Open line. Plus: Child found dead in washing machine; government religion in El Dorado

Today's open line and video roundup, plus investigation of a child's death in Hampton and El Dorado city government promoting religion on its Facebook pages, despite complaints.

Senate approves budget deal

The U.S. Senate voted 64-35 early this morning to approve a budget bill that avoided a government default.

UPDATE: Republican candidates plan debate revolt; a suggested new format

Republican presidential candidates are plotting ways to make the televised debates more to their liking. Here's a model for a new direction: The Benghazi hearing.

Highway engineer suggests 'limited build' on I-30 work

A retired Iowa engineer says a nearly identical project in Des Moines shows a better way to proceed on the proposed Interstate 30 project in Little Rock.

Re-thinking pink: A pushback on October's breast cancer awareness push

Here's one of those on-the-other-hand stories as another breast cancer awareness month comes to a close, a mid a rising tide of "pink" corporate strategies as well as the big races for the cure and other activities.

Cheese Dip Festival moves, Milford Track moving, Dia de "Lost" Muertos, Whole Hog Roast and more

Dia de Los Muertos Beer and Bicycle Event is Sunday, November 1st from 2-5:30 at Lost 40.

Wider roads don't solve traffic congestion

If you build more roads, more cars will come and thus congestion won't be eliminated by widening freeways. Students of I-30 plans, take note.

The law according to Bart Hester and them: Legal discrimination against gay people

In Missouri, a court says a person legally can be harassed at work for being gay. Arkansas law is no different, even if a court hasnj't ruled on a specific case yet.

Warrick, Hussey tapped for La. Purchase sculpture

Michael Warrick, professor of sculpture at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the creator of several public sculptures in Little Rock, and Louisiana sculptor Aaron Hussey have been commissioned to create a piece commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. The work, "Straight Lines on a Round World," will be 20 feet tall and installed in front of the Statehouse Convention Center.

Lawyer announces challenge to sitting judge, Alice Gray

LaTonya Austin, a Little Rock lawyer, said today that she intends to challenge incumbent Circuit Judge Alice Gray for the 12th Division seat Gray has held since 1993.

Feds tout rates on health insurance marketplace

The federal Health and Human Services Department released today a report on cost and choices in the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace. More choices and more tax credits will be available next year.

Open line. Plus, Cheese Dip Championship moves

The Friday open line, video roundup and news of a change of location Saturday for the World Cheese Dip Championship.

Baptist Health, Innovation Hub join in project to encourage health-related startups

Baptist Health and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub announced a project today to encourage development of startup companies that focus on heatlh care.

Staff Picks: Walmart, the Smell of Death, Streetcar Parties and more

So here's a Halloween thing to do: Listen to an Arkansas Tech University professor of psychology talk about the smell of death! Ilan Shrira was a guest on NPR's "Science Friday" today, talking about putrescine, a compound found in decaying corpses. You know you want to hear it, so go to their website and hear him talk about his experiments on campus. (Guess what he discovered! People run from the smell of death of rotting corpses!)

Legal Aid wins injunction on Medicaid eligibility challenge

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction in behalf of a Lee County woman who experienced a nightmarish attempt to get certified for Medicaid by the state Human Services Department.

Hendrix education department chair James Jennings dies at 60

Jennings was a beloved figure at the college, where he had taught since 1992. He was 60.

The Great Highway Debate Edition

The escalation of pushback against the state Highway and Transportation department’s plan to expand I-30 in downtown Little Rock, the third Republican presidential debate, "20/20’s" coverage of the Justin Harris rehoming scandal and Treasurer Dennis Milligan getting into the education business — all covered on this week's podcast.

UPDATE: City Board moves meeting for I-30 discussion

The Little Rock City Board will meet two places Tuesday night — at 5 p.m. at City Hall for the normal meeting and then at 7 p.m. at the Clinton Presidential Center to hear Arkansas Highway Director Scott Bennett discuss the controversial plan to expand Interstate 30 through Little Rock. We offer some additional questions.

Huckabee to join state GOP at fund-raiser next week; also, fact-checking Ben Carson

The Arkansas Republican Party has a fund-raising rally at 6 p.m. Monday for a headquarters expansion project that will include an appearance by former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Gov. Asa Hutchinson will be there, too.

Cheese Dip Championship is still on today in River Market

A reminder: The World Cheese Dip Championship is still on today from noon to 3 p.m., but under roof in the River Market east pavilion. See you there.

Thanks to private option, Arkansas outlier in the South in reducing uninsured rate

Cool interactive map from the folks at New York Times Upshot blog tracking the uninsured rate since the enactment of Obamacare. The maps show the uninsured rate by county in 2013, then 2014 and 2015 after the major coverage provisions of the health care law were enacted (the darker purple equals higher uninsured rates). It offers a stark picture of how far we've come and how far we still have to go, particularly in the South, where most states have refused to expand Medicaid.  Guess who's an extreme outlier in Dixie?

Darrell Brown dies. He was first black Razorback

Darrell Brown, a Little Rock lawyer, has died. He is most famous, probably, as a walk-on Razorback football player in 1965. That made him the first black Razorback, a rough experience

An early open line, plus cheese dip

The open line includes a report from the Cheese Dip Championship.

Question raised on funding for I-30 project with failure of grant application

Move Arkansas, a blog devoted to planning issues, notes that the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department failed to win $200 million it had sought for the Interstate 30 project in the federal Tiger funding for transportation projects.

Study faults on-line charter schools

A new study suggests on-line charter school students don't do as well as students in conventional brick-and-mortar schools. Arkansas has been moving aggressively to more on-line charter schools, so be aware.

The Sunday open line. Plus: Four deaths in Halloween crash

Sunday open line and news of a Halloween night crash that killed four young women.

Another hint on federal probe of political corruption

Conduit for Action, a conservative political organization that hopes to oust several Republican legislators who voted for the private option expansion of Medicaid, claims to have a scrap of information about the ongoing federal investigation of public corruption that has so far produced guilty pleas from one former judge and one former legislator.

Many flagged by Medicaid consultant as "out of state" are likely eligible in-state residents

The Health Reform Legislative Task Force consultant flagged more than 40,000 Medicaid beneficiaries with a record of an out-of-state address. But many of these may actually be in-state residents who are eligible for the program. There is no evidence at this point that the Stephen Group uncovered an unusually high number of ineligible beneficiaries. Their Medicaid scrub offered ready-made headlines, but it's unclear whether it has any value for the state in developing cost-effective strategies for program integrity.

Filing begins at Capitol; Huck among early candidates

Political filing began today at the state Capitol with presidential Mike Huckabee among the first in line.

Scenes from the 2015 Cheese Dip Championship

The World Cheese Dip Championship didn't let a little rain keep them down.

Martha Shoffner's prison sentence begins today

Martha Shoffner, the former Arkansas treasurer, was supposed to report by 2 p.m. today to a federal prison in Fort Worth to begin a 30-month sentence for taking cash from a securities salesman to whom she'd steered state investment business.  AP reports.

The Brasher and Rowe Monster Manual, first edition

Just a few days after Halloween: the Brasher and Rowe Monster Manual. To truly understand a monster, you have to empathize with it. You have to, like Roky Erickson said, “Walk with a zombie,” and not merely away from it. So prepare for an article that is an emotional journey, replete with disturbing references and all the juvenile hostility you crave.

The week opening open line

Here's the Monday open line and daily video roundup of news and comment.

Little Rock Port adopts growth plan

The board of the Little Rock Port Authority today adopted what it called its first comprehensive strategic growth plan, devised by Boyette Strategic Advisors. Coincidentally, we've also learned of progress on a memorandum of understanding with the Quapaw Tribe about land it has acquired near the port.

Tech Park: Yes to Mays' appraisal for Main Street property: Clarification

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority board voted this afternoon to offer Richard Mays $845,000, the sum his appraiser reached for his building at 415 Main St., while concurrently preparing to file a condemnation lawsuit. Mays has until noon Nov. 16 to agree to the offer; otherwise, the board will proceeds with a lawsuit.

Keystone pipeline company seeks delay

A delay has been requested in government review of the Keystone pipeline route, apparently in hopes a coming presidential administration will be friendlier. Meanwhile, it's worth a review of the hypocrisy of Arkansas politicians on the project.

Libel suit arising from Senate race dismissed in Saline County

A libel suit that arose from 2010 Benton newspaper coverage of a Republican Senate primary race between Dan Greenberg and ultimate winner, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, has ended in dismissal of Greenberg's lawsuit.

Warren Stephens honored for $25 million in giving to Virginia college

Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., has named the brick walk beneath its historic colonnade for Warren Stephens of Little Rock, CEO of Stephens Inc., in honor of the family's contribution of some $25 million to the university.

Questions raised about cost-benefit estimate on Interstate 30 project

MoveArkansas, a blog that focuses on urban planning and design, has raised questions about the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's cost-benefit analysis for the $600 ion Interstate 30 expansion project through downtown Little Rock.

Another poll puts Ben Carson on top

Another national poll, this one by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, puts Ben Carson at the top of the Repulbican presidential field with 29 percent support to Donald Trump's 23. Then comes Marco Rubio at 11, Ted Cruz at 10 and Jeb Bush at 8. Mike Huckawho?

State tax revenue continues upward

The state tax revenue report for October continues to show income higher than last year and the forecast.

England cop charged in false shooting report

The State Police say David Houser, 50, of Scott has been charged with falsely claiming he was shot Oct. 24 while working as an England police officer.

UA architects win award for CAW's Maumelle design

The design for Central Arkansas Water's $3 million Trailhead Complex on Highway 10, a project to reforest the former Winrock Grass Farm to help protect the Lake Maumelle watershed, has won a 2015 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

Taxpayer suit filed in Pope County over fire district fees

A long bubbling dispute in Pope County has turned into a lawsuit that could have some political implications for a current state senator.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's revisionist history on the Medicaid purge

The governor tries to bamboozle us.

Harvest food and fun coming to St. Joseph's

The St. Joseph Center is holding their fall harvest festival Nov. 7, and you're all invited.

Plane crashes on street in Fayetteville, former Walmart exec Bill Simon the pilot

A private plane made a crash landing on M.L. King Boulevard in Fayetteville today near Fayetteville High School. Three people were injured, none seriously, according to news reports. The pilot was former Walmart CEO Bill Simon.

Huckabee pheasant hunt in Iowa draws fire

Mike Huckabee and other Republican candidates have been showing off their gun skills lately on Iowa pheasant hunts. But were these truly hunts, or canned shots?

State Rep. Mary Bentley threatens Game and Fish funding in encounter with wildlife officer

State Rep. Mary Bentley of Perryville made a veiled threat about Game and Fish Commission funding to a wildlife officer who accompanied a Forest Service officer talking to Bentley's husband, Ted, about  violation of rules on baiting wildlife and ATV use in the Ouachita National Forest.

Watch a teaser for Graham Gordy's 'Quarry'

We first wrote about Graham Gordy's forthcoming Cinemax show "Quarry" in April 2013 — shooting was set to begin that summer, and the Times noted, "2013 might just turn out to be Graham Gordy's year." As it turned out, things took a little longer than we predicted, but now that production has wrapped (as of August) and a teaser trailer has arrived, I think we can say with even greater confidence: 2016 might just turn out to be Graham Gordy's year.

Open line. Plus, charter school worker arrested in assault; straight talk on LR schools

The open line, today's video and news of sexual assault charges against a former employee of a Little Rock private school.

Trevor Bennett exhibition opens tonight at Boswell Mourot

Since I got a date wrong in this item when I posted it previously, here goes again! Boswell Mourot Fine Art is hosting an opening reception tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 3) for its new exhibit of charcoals by Trevor Bennett, "Drawing Value." The reception is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Federal judge sides with Sierra Club on haze reduction lawsuit

Federal Judge Leon Holmes today ruled for the Sierra Club in its suit to require a haze reduction plan for Arkansas. He ordered a final notice of rulemaking by Aug. 31.

City goes with United Healthcare

Representatives of city uniformed and non-uniformed employees were emphatic before the City Board tonight that the city should abandon the health plan offered by the Arkansas Municipal League and go with United Healthcare, and that is exactly what the board voted to do. A consultant to the city had recommended the city drop the Municipal League.

Busy night: Big crowd on freeway hearing; Kentucky elects an Obamacare foe

A freeway hearing in Little Rock, a new Republican governor in Kentucky and voting in Houston on a city civil rights ordinance make for a newsy Tuesday night.

Neighborhood group fights Interstate 30 plan

Neighborhood voices are speaking up about ill consequences, unintended or not, on the $600 million plan for the Interstate 30 corridor through Little Rock.

Did Rep. Mary Bentley violate ethics standard in Game and Fish officer encounter?

State Rep. Mary Bentley isn't responding to other media that have raised questions about her making threats to a Game and Fish Commission wildlife officer who was with a Forest Service officer at her home in an investigation of wildlife and national forest regulation violations by her husband Ted.

Could newly elected anti-Obamcare governor in Kentucky follow the lead of Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas?

Matt Bevin, Kentucky's newly elected governor, ran against Obamacare and has threatened to dismantle the state's popular Medicaid expansion. But lately he has started to hedge, and now he's talking about seeking a Medicaid waiver to reform the program. Sound familiar?

Number of the beast — judicial edition

A little devilment found in judicial pay raises in Arkansas.

A rough election includes a school decision nearby

Mississippi voters Tuesday turned down a proposal to give court review of inadequate legislative spending on education. Ominous.

Cornbread Festival returns to SoMa

The 2015 Arkansas Cornbread Festival is coming up.

School performance can't be measured on test scores alone

Here's news of another report on student achievement that shows that, when you consider demographic factors, schools are not as bad as many want you to think.

2015 Arkansas Poll: A conservative state and feeling good about it

The 2015 Arkansas Poll depicts a state worried about the economy, though happy with the direction the state is taking and uniformly conservative on politics and social issues, though they do like medical marijuana.

10-lane fans: Hines and Kumpuris

The state Highway and Transportation Department is all ears, it told the City Board last night at its special hearing at the Clinton Presidential Center, attended by around 300 people by my rough estimate. All options will be considered. But, they insist, the only option that does what they want it to do — that is, cure congestion, enhance safety, be functional, which they describe as "needs" — is the 10-lane design, which Connection Arkansas Program head and Garver engineer Jerry Holder amazingly described as not really 10 lanes. It's just six — plus four collector-distributor lanes. Got that?

Hutchinson puts John Parke over Medicaid "payment integrity"

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has moved another Republican regular into a top state position. John Parke, who's been an officer in his family's Little Rock printing business and made a couple of unsuccessful races for legislature, has been named to lead the Department of Human Services' 

Send us your Big Ideas for Arkansas

It's the time of year again when we solicit suggestions for our annual Big Ideas issue. As in year's past, we're searching for specific, potentially transformative suggestions for making Arkansas a better place to live. We're open to practical, wacky and everything in between. Also, this year we're devoting a section of the issue to ideas to make the child welfare system work better.

Our top pics for Asian cuisine in Little Rock

A look at some of the best Asian dishes in town, from sushi to dumplings and more.

Poll suggests a timely effort for medical marijuana

A poll finds growing support for medical marijuana in Arkansas and, as it happens, a medical marijuana constitutional amendment is in the works.

No decision yet in suit for tapes on Hot Springs child death call

Special Circuit Judge Sam Bird heard arguments today in Matt Campbell's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit attempting to force the Hot Springs police to turn over tapes of 911 calls about the death of 18-month-old Thomas Naramore, who died of heat-related causes in July. No decision today

Check out our new online store

Just 50 days until Christmas, y'all. And what better way to treat yourself to a from-me-to-me present or find a stocking stuffer for your loved ones than by buying some Arkansas Times goods? We've just launched a new online store, Catfish & Co. Our early selection is limited — many more T-shirts and apparel coming soon — but nonetheless filled with treasure. Like the vintage George Fisher T-shirt we found a hidden stock of in storage (available as a button, too!).

A bold new plan from the Highway Department for Little Rock

To eliminate congestion!

Hutchinson throws in with voodoo highway economics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson apparently said explicitly today that he favored revenue neutrality in any plan to pay for road construction. That is, any increases in taxes for highways must be offset by spending cuts somewhere else. So who suffers?

Wednesday's open line

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

Clean Line project gets positive environmental assessment

The Energy Department has issued an environmental impact statement supportive of the Clean Line project to transpot wind-generated industry across several states including Arkansas.

Metroplan committee considers domino effect of widened I-30

Jim McKenzie, executive director of Metroplan, presented a couple of graphics to Metroplan's Regional Planning Advisory Council today that show impacts of widened highways. He said that highway departments, present only the first order of impacts: You widen the road, you reduce delay, and because that reduces stop and go traffic, drivers save money.Compared to doing nothing, the first order looks bad: If you accept congestion on your roads, you increase delays and cost of operating vehicles.