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November 7, 2013

Vol 40 • No 10

Read the print version

Arkansas's 2nd District post-Tim Griffin

It's shaping up to be a real horserace in 2014.

When the University of Arkansas speaks, people listen — carefully

The culture at the University of Arkansas

The Totino's Throwdown

In celebration of this freezer isle favorite, a group of local foodies participated in, what I have deemed, the “Totino’s Throwdown.” From all over Little Rock, talented home cooks have applied their culinary creativity to create some of the most inventive Totino’s based dishes you’ll ever find.

Democrat vows a fight for 4th District Congress

Janis Percefull, the Hot Springs college teacher who's announced as a Democratic candidate for 4th District Congress, sent me a statement about the entry into the race yesterday of Democrat James Lee Witt, the former FEMA director.

Police arrest two in robbery of McDonald's on Broadway

Alerted by an employee who jumped out a window and used a mobile phone to dial 911, the Little Rock police came upon suspects fleeing an attempted robbery of the McDonald's at 7th and Broadway about 2 a.m. this morning.

Five Colorado counties vote for secession; hmmm, there's an idea

Five rural counties in Colorado backed secession measures yesterday, an outgrowth in part of gun control and environmental legislation.

Mark Pryor goes hunting — and fishing — for votes

Is there a surer sign of election season than an Arkansas politician in full embrace of hunters and fisherpeople?

When trolley and bus collide

A Central Arkansas Transit bus and River Rail trolley collided at the intersection of Markham and Scott around 1:30 p.m.

Green Party qualifies for Arkansas ballot

And then there were four. The secretary of state's office has notified the Green Party that it had gathered more than the necessary 10,000 signatures to qualify the party for a spot on the 2014 general election ballot.

Federal agency finds probable violations by ExxonMobil in Mayflower pipeline break, sets $2.6 million penalties

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in a letter today notified the ExxonMobil Pipeline Company that it had found 

Arkansas State will keep its ROTC program

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor announced that the Defense Department has relented and the ROTC program at Arkansas State University won't be closed.

The Janet Huckabee memorial open line

The midweek line is open. Final items include Janet Huckabee in North Carolina, sparring political party chairs and a White House meeting with Democratic senators.

Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long became million-dollar man days before reports surfaced of Texas' interest

This evening I received from the University of Arkansas what it says it believes is a full response to my FOI request for any documents related to Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long's dalliance with an opening at the University of Texas and the UA's decision to move his $900,000 salary to $1.1 million 

It was a bad week for Big River Steel

It was a good week for a candidate announcement and Hendrix College. It was a bad week for Arkansans receiving federal supplemental nutrition and South Arkansas. Also, former Times, sales executive Karen Leveritt dies.

Judges admit error

Politicians of the executive and legislative breeds have been known to say "I was wrong," but mea culpas are almost unheard of in the high reaches of the judicial branch, where respect for its infallibility is supposed to preserve trust in the courts.

Aide's turn

It's not often that aides to elected officials get to deliver the good lines, but such was the case at Sen. Mark Pryor's office the other day. Reporters asked if the senator would support legislation prohibiting job discrimination against gays.


Arkansas still trails other states in the enactment of modern marijuana laws but not by so much as it once did.

Don't forget Steve Little

I enjoy reading Pearls About Swine. I just had to drop you a note though concerning your recent statement that the current Razorbacks have "the best kicker in program history."

Plum Bayou

The other day, one of The Observer's friends on Dr. Zuckerberg's Fantabulous Electric Book o' Countenances posted a story about how giant Asian carp — bottomfeeders built like zeppelins — have successfully infiltrated the watershed of the Great Lakes. That story got us thinking of something we haven't thought of in a good 15 years, which soon had us laughing.

Where in Arkansas? November edition

Know where this slice of life in Arkansas is? Send along the answer to Times photographer Brian Chilson and win a prize.

Hogs drop six in a row

With Arkansas in the midst of what has become the lengthiest losing streak since its native son launched a bid for the presidency, it seems apropos for the Hogs to adopt some Clintonian resiliency to finish this tortured 2013 season. Bielema's basically undergoing some de facto impeachment proceedings as it is.

A soul adrift

Redford carries 'All Is Lost' alone.

Arkansas Travs rebrand

The Arkansas Travelers recently "re-branded." Their new colors are Travs red, majestic maroon, stone gray and swamp black. They're also now the first minor league team to have their own variety of camouflage.

Bruno's reborn

Popular for good reason.

Media misses full health insurance story

So here's my advice: if you're somebody who's smoking hot about the Big Lie of the Affordable Care Act — you know, how President Obama told everybody that if they liked their current health insurance policy they could keep it — do yourself a favor. Avoid the county fair midway.

The Avett Brothers come to Verizon

Also, Comicon-Way, Nik Turner at Revolution, the Marcus Roberts Trio at South on Main, Kenny Rogers in El Dorado, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's 'Beethoven & Blue Jeans' at Robinson and Damien Echols and Lorri Davis at UCA.

Butch Walker at Revolution

A Pale Horse Named Death at Downtown Music.

607: 'You can't put me in a box!'

Little Rock's favorite rapper releases his 39th album.

Arkansas legislators seek stronger protection of water supplies from oil spills

But they're powerless in the face of federal authority.

ENDA past and future

As I was coming out to myself and to others nearly a quarter century ago, the most pressing gay rights issue was stopping employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. All assumed that protecting gay and lesbian folks in the workplace would eventually be the first major national civil rights victory for a movement then entering the mainstream of political debate.

Keeping score on health care

Republicans see another electoral windfall thanks to the messaging opportunity from the disastrous beginning of full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Spiel on spill

"Is it now accepted that people will use 'spill' for 'spiel'? It drives me batty, but I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle, as 'spill' kinda makes sense in that a bunch of words have got to 'spill' out of your mouth ..."

Morning roundup: Schools and taxes

Some odds and ends to start the day: * A NEW TEACHING JOB FOR TIPPI MCCULLOUGH: There are school administrators happy to employ Tippi McCullough, the long-time teacher at Mount St. Mary Academy who was first to resign after her marriage to her partner Barbara Ma

Republicans look to weed out wackjobs

The New York Times reports that establishment Republicans are looking for ways to reduce the chances of nominating kooks from the extreme fringe of the Republican Party who then are defeated by Democrats.

Supreme Court hears appeal on visitation limit for gay parent

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on a case with potential for new precedent in equal rights for gay people.

Little Rock's counter-offer on settling desegregation lawsuit

Chris Heller, attorney for the Little Rock School District, has sent me a copy of a draft settlement proposal being circulated among parties to the Pulaski County desegregation lawsuit to see if it can form an agreed counter-proposal to what's been offered to date by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

Parent arrested after taking gun to Pulaski Heights Elementary School

Parents at the Pulaski Heights elementary and middle schools got an alert this morning that a parent was arrested for taking a handgun to an assembly at the middle school.

Midday report: Test scores; lottery theft; Republicans at work

Midday news: NAEP scores, lottery thief sentenced, Republicans at work in Alabama and Arkansas.

20-week abortion ban goes national

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has introduced legislation to ban all abortions at 20 weeks — no exceptions no matter how grim the circumstance for mother or fetus.

U.S. Senate passes job protection for LGBT

The U.S. Senate has passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people.

Attorney general approves form of amendment to repeal same-sex marriage ban

Maybe it's just coincidence, but minutes after the U.S. Senate voted for legislation to prohibit workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced approval of the form of a proposed constitutional amendment to repeal Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

The open line: Nude jail photos, moonshine, football, cross-dressers, unisex restrooms

The line is open. I don't think DBI will be mad that I thought of him when I read this item out of Fort Baptist:

Enter the 2014 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

Here we are in early November. Around these parts, that means we're in the gearing-up stages of the annual Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

Pryor signs on to bill to address health insurance plan cancellations

Sen. Mark Pryor today pledged support for a bill sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu and Sen. Joe Manchin that would seek to "grandfather" existing plans on the individual insurance market, thereby potentially allowing people to keep insurance plans that have been cancelled to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

Morning notes: Fracked in Texas, arrested at Walmart, another Legislative Audit witch hunt

Great story from Texas on contamination of water wells by, according to the EPA, tracking activities nearby.

Stop your pouting... poutine has arrived!

If you’ve never had the pleasure of a good poutine, this is a very nice introduction to the dish. Sure, you won’t be enjoying it in The Great White North, but if you play Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” loud enough through the car stereo on your trip home, it’s almost just as good.

New state tax credit program already raising questions

Questions raised about a new state tax credit program.

Little Rock police report charge in death of a child; also, a pedestrian killed by car

Reports this morning from the Little Rock Police Department: * CHILD DEATH:  

'Reflections in Pastels' at Butler galleries

Award winners to be announced tonight.

Pryor fires back at Cotton. But .... it's complicated

Extremist Republican Rep. Tom Cotton has been blasting Sen. Mark Pryor repeatedly on every possible type of medium over the Affordable Care Act.

50 50 50: Bert Long

The Arts Center's atrium piece this week.

Creative Expressions tonight at ASH

Art show and sale of work by patients.

It's unanimous: Arkansas congressmen unhappy about new habitat protection for mussels

I mentioned recently a growing effort to build opposition to federal Fish and Wildlife proposal to designate about 40 percent of the state as critical habitat for two endangered species of mussels.

Food Feedback Friday: Facebook, food trucks, fundraisers

AND…it’s Food Feedback Friday. You know what to do.

The open line: Gov. Mike Beebe says parole correction requires millions for prisons

The line is open early. I have some commitments.

Lindsey's at the In-Laws Edition

Lindsey's off in Indiana, so I filled in this week. Max and I discuss the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Jeff Long getting that paper; strong Democrats in two Congressional districts, so what about the First?; Obamacare's good news, bad news, and a whole lot of shouting;  Max endorses 

Morning roundup: A proud liberal, banker indicted, LGBT advocate at Philander, GOP punishment of poor

Odds and ends to start the day: * FORMER BA

Open line: Hogs winless in SEC but hope springs

The line is open. It was an auspicious day.

Game changer: Campaign attack ads don't count

Read this review by Ezra Klein of what sounds like essential reading for political junkies.

About that Keystone pipeline: Who needs it?

Here's some more serious reading for Sunday, by Elizabeth Douglass of Inside Climate News, who's joined us in our special coverage of the Mayflower oil spill.

Hunting season opens — for candidates bearing guns

I remarked the other day that you can tell the season — political — by the proliferation of photos of politicians with weapons.

Governors like Mike Beebe succeed where Washington fails

The New York Times today writes on the success of a number of the country's governors, including Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas, in a time when Washington politicians have fallen into nearly universal disfavor.

MIA: Doonesbury has a substitute in Democrat-Gazette

A reader complains that the Sunday comics in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette included a "flashback" Doonesbury, a strip that ran previously in 2010.

Chinese buffet, American institution

Guilty pleasure, cheap dinner — the Chinese buffet is all-American.

An open line: And a plug for dense urban core development

The line is open. Finishing up:

Veterans Day: Obituary for a 'common man'

Media are full of Veterans Day statements and tributes today. A coincidental article struck me.

November food blogger round-up

The latest installment of your hot local blog guide.

Coming to Crystal Bridges in 2014: 'State of the Art'

President, curator are traveling the country to choose 100 from 1,000 artists.

Honoring veterans: Deeds, not words, come to mind

As politicians everywhere rush to show how much more appreciative they are of veterans than politicians in the other party, two thoughts on honor for military service:

Democrat-Gazette ditched Doonesbury on account of 'breakfast' rule

I wrote Sunday of reader unhappiness over the subbing of the Sunday "Doonesbury" comic in the Democrat-Gazette with an old strip.

Pulaski school desegregation talks continue

Representatives of parties in the decades-old Pulaski County school desegregation lawsuit met Sunday and are meeting again this afternoon in a continuation of talks to see if a settlement can be reached in time to get legislative review before

Robbery suspect shoots self in leg

Channel 4 reports that a robbery suspect shot himself in the leg and another was arrested after three suspects ran into a house on Trinity Circle after a robbery attempt about 1 p.m. today.

Open carry crowd tries to intimidate moms in Texas

From Talking Points Memo: A small meeting for a gun control group in Texas was disrupted on Saturday by dozens of armed, pro-gun advocates, some of whom were photographed kneeling in a parking lot and brandishing their weapons.

The autumn leaves open line

The Monday line is open. Above is a splendid gingko tree in Fort Smith, captured at the peak of color change, by Lynn Wasson.

Eric Howeler, AIA, at Arts Center on Tuesday

Boston architect will give talk, "Fail Fast."

Morning report: The new pope, graffiti arrest in Benton, Little Rock schools

We span the globe this morning for items of interest: * CATHOLIC PRIORITIES:

Pryor notes Cotton aide's advocacy of Obamacare

The Hill reports that U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor is pushing back against Republican foe Tom Cotton's criticism of Pryor's vote for the Affordable Care Act by noting that Cotton's top political aide, Republican Rep. John Burris, led the fight for adoption of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, alone among the Southern states.

The question for Arkansas 2014 elections: Is government good or bad?

Ernie Dumas this week writes about the stark philosophical divide facing Arkansas voters in 2014 — a choice between Republicans who essentially view government as evil and Democrats who believe government can do good works.

Asa! Hutchinson rolls out an income tax cut plan

Asa Hutchinson, one of three Republican candidates for governor, has called a news conference this morning to elaborate on his gubernatorial agenda.

The joy of a Capital Bar and Grill charcuterie platter

Forgo the typical deli-bought meat tray this year and take inspiration from one of Little Rock's best charcuterie selections to build the better appetizer.

Exxon to demolish third house in Mayflower subdivision

The home at 44 N. Starlite had never been cleared for re-entry by the Mayflower Unified Command and is scheduled to be demolished late morning on Nov. 12.

Bill Clinton says all should be allowed to keep existing health coverage

Bill Clinton gave an interview today that's being madly recirculated. He said the Obama administration should honor its promise that people could keep their existing health insurance, rather than face cancellation.

Mike Ross: My tax cut ideas are better than Asa's

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross fired back at Asa Hutchinson's idea for an income tax cut for middle income people through a statement from spokesman Brad Howard:

Rightwing watch: Extremist blogger endorses extremist Arkansas congressional candidate

Erick Erickerson, the rightwing Red State blogger, has endorsed Tommy Moll for 4th District Congress from Arkansas.

Asa Hutchinson meets the press: tax cuts, still cagey on the "private option"

As Max has noted, Asa Hutchinson debuted his tax plan in the first press conference of his gubernatorial campaign this morning.

University of Arkansas to break ground on $25 million basketball practice building

The University of Arkansas announced that construction will begin officially next month, Dec. 7, on a $25 million building for the men's and women's basketball teams.

Second annual Root Cafe-Arkansas Times Beard Growing Contest!

Start taking your Lance-Armstrong-approved beard-supplements now, kids! It's almost time for that annual test of hairy-cheeked caveman virility: the second-annual Arkansas Times/Root Cafe Beard Growing Competition!

U.S. Supreme Court won't review Oklahoma's invalidated ultrasound abortion law

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review an Oklahoma state court decision that invalidated an Oklahoma law requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound test performed and be shown an image of the fetus.

Former Secret Service agent Bill Carter to give account of days following John F. Kennedy assassasination

Former Secret Service Agent Bill Carter Presents a First-hand Account of the Days Following JFK Assassination at Oxford American Annex

50 50 50: Thomas Hart Benton

In the atrium.

UPDATE: Election night open line

The line is open. Elections tonight on drink sales in dry areas of North Little Rock and nominations for a vacant state Senate seat in Jonesboro.

Little Rock teachers reject contract proposal; vote no confidence in superintendent

About 200 members of the Little Rock Education Associaiton met tonight and voted unanimously to reject a contract proposal from the Little Rock School District

Tokyo House, between terrific and terrible

If you are hunting for truly exceptional sushi in Little Rock, you best keep looking—there’s plenty of passable stuff, maybe even good sushi, but “outstanding?” We have not. Odds are your belly and your pocketbook will leave Tokyo House content with your experience overall—and sometimes, that’s fine enough.

Morning report: Magical Tommy Moll, Asa's mysterious math

Morning report. Not much to shout about:

Thursday To-Do: Bryant Huddleston

Bryant Huddleston will speak at Philander Smith College Thursday.

Thursday: Moon Taxi, Shannon Boshears and more

Moon Taxi plays at Revolution Thursday.

Surprise! Gay marriage isn't catching

The tide does seem to be inexorable, but I'll delay celebrating advances on marriage equality until there's equality for all.

Thursday To-Do: Baauer, AraabMuzik

Baauer performs at Juanita's Thursday night.

Anita Davis, Betsy Davis to show at M2

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF EL ANATSUI: This work on paper by Little Rock artist Betsy Davis is part of a series honoring a Ghana artist.