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November 11, 2010

Vol 37 • No 10

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Baker's dozen

Baker Kurrus assesses 12 years in the "belly of the beast" -- on board of the Little Rock School District.

Police make arrest in cat case

Police Lt. Terry Hastings said police detectives are now talking to a man as a potential suspect in the reported wave of disappearing cats in the Stifft Station/Capitol View neighborhood.

Strong medicine on the federal budget

The White House fiscal commission — co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson — released its recommendations today.

Wednesday: School Boy Humor, Jeff Kinney, Nuclear Power Pants

Little Rock is packed with events tonight, including a homecoming show for teenpoppers-done-good School Boy Humor at The Village, author Jeff Kinney at the Statehouse Convention Center and grown up punks from Belfast and London at White Water Tavern.

Last night: State Champion

State Champion, from Louisville, KY, played an intimate house show last night in North Little Rock.

Last night: Ben Kweller @ Juanita's

Rock Candy was at Juanita's last night for a solo engagement from Gen-Y cult singer/songwriter Ben Kweller.

President Huckabee

Mike Huckabee's numbers look better overall for a 2012 presidential run than any other Republican, according to some new poll numbers.

We're over the hump

And the line is open for your thought. I'd like to call attention to some items in this week's paper, now on-line: * Baker Kurrus has a cry of the heart and a call for community attention to the Little Rock School District, which he served as a board member for 12 years.

The Televisionist, Nov. 11

On 'Conan,' 'Hollywood Treasure' and 'Sarah Palin's Alaska.'

The Week That Was, Nov. 3-9, 2010

Good week: West Memphis Three, Republicans, Gov. Mike Beebe, State Board of Education, tax talk. Bad week: Mayor Mark Stodola,

What's Cookin, Nov. 11

Ryan Hamra, owner of Central Arkansas's Blue Coast Burrito franchises, has opened a coffee and gelato cafe called Gelattes in the rear of the Blue Coast on Cantrell Road.

Words, Nov. 11

It appears that language, like government, has fallen into the hands of extremists. Pluralization runs rampant, unchecked and unnecessary. Any day now we'll see discussion of caps and trades, torts reforms and budgets deficits.

Out of the woods

Hearne makes history with 19th century landscapes.

A&E News, Nov. 11

The Arkansas Times Musician's Showcase returns, Mediums Art Gallery reemerges on Center St., Bonnie Montgomery's much anticipated folk opera debuts soon.

The South shall rise again

New state rep: Confederate flag 'a symbol of Jesus Christ.'

What next for WM3?

Key ruling will require much more time.

Making sausage

Luke Gordy, a hired lobbyist for the Billionaires Boys Club, will tell you that their legislative agenda includes improvement to teacher certification procedures. But the real push is for a bill to take the cap off charter schools allowed in Arkansas.

An idea for our newly muscular GOP

Some might call these lemons, meaning these new caucuses of 44 Republicans in the 100-member House and 15 Republicans in the 35-member Senate. But lemons provide lemonade.

Upscale comfort in Conway

Oak Street Bistro serves it up rich and tasty.

Carlos Bar & Grill

Here's hoping the newest addition to Southwest's treasure trove of south-of-the-border authenticity only has a few "new restaurant" kinks and scrapes to attend to.

The villain Pelosi

Somewhere in America, maybe even in Arkansas, there was a Republican candidate for something, justice of the peace maybe, who did not run against Nancy Pelosi or at least take her name in vain.

Not his brand

Somebody asked what former Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller would do if he could look down from heaven and see so many fellow Republicans winning elections in Arkansas. He'd likely cry.

Eye on Arkansas, Nov. 11

In Brief, Nov. 11-13

Andrew Anderson, "Hamlet," "Wicked," Michael Carenbauer, Robert Spring, Brown Soul Shoes and more.

Walmart to Riverdale

We hear that Walmart has firmed up plans to put a Supercenter in the Riverdale shopping center. A new Target on University; a new Kroger in Hillcrest; the new Food Giant at Cantrell and Mississippi and now this. Sounds like competition.

Biased

Up until recently I have been a fan of your paper; but, your recent article on the Arkansas Senate race has me doubting the wisdom of that. You are just as biased as all the other press and media in the state.

New tune at Laman

Music's not a loan, but yours to own, free from library.

Vincent Gallo with RRIICCEE

Nov. 5, Juanita's

The Observer, Nov. 11

To the young man we saw six days after the first full day of autumn at the corner of Cumberland and Third: Where are you going in such a hurry, all of 19, and already so frustrated at nine in the morning?

Orval, Nov. 11, 2010

The politics of judicial elections

Judicial elections are becoming a hot topic since conservative, anti-gay groups funded a campaign to remove three Iowa Supreme Court justices from the bench last week because of their decision allowing same-sex marriage in Iowa.

Hogs surprise by being themselves

Our football coach doesn't play favorites, and he's really careful about it. It pays off when his team performs the way it did last Saturday night. Leaders emerge over the season, but new stars are born every week.

'Wicked'

Nov. 5, Robinson Center Music Hall

This Modern World, Nov. 11, 2010

The To-Do List, Nov. 11-17

Mountain View Bluegrass Festival, Soul Nite: "North vs. South" Edition, AC Slater, David Allan Coe, The Felice Brothers, Bill Bryson, "Boeing Boeing," 'One Man Star Wars'

Thursday: Andrew Anderson, Michael Carenbauer, 'Hamlet'

Thursday night brings alt-country from Andrew Anderson to Maxine's, Michael Carenbauer's classical guitar to Laman Library and the final weekend of both "Hamlet" and "Wicked" at The Rep and Robinson Center Music Hall, respectively.

Thursday To-Do: Mountain View Bluegrass Festival

The Mountain View Bluegrass Festival returns with another three-day weekend of traditional hill music from their always choice lineup.

Enumerated rights — hunting, fishing, frying

John Brummett riffs this morning on the landslide adoption of the Right to Hunt and Fish amendment (I think one liberal precinct in Fayetteville voted against it.)

Thursday To-Do: Soul Nite - "North vs. South" Edition

The all-too-rare Soul Nite dance parties at White Water Tavern return with DJ Seth Baldy spinning choice Southern soul tracks and Times writer John Tarpley handling deep cuts of Northern soul.

Balancing the federal budget

Here's the New York Times report on the draft ideas from a bipartisan commission to bring government spending in line with revenue.

Walmart's free shipping offer

Walmart is rolling out what the New York Times as another knockout punch to small retailers: Free shipping on Internet orders.

Growth in AP participation

Here's a new report from the Southern Regional Education Board on increasing participation in Advanced Placement courses and, to a lesser degree, in success rates of students taking those courses at reaching college-level proficiency.

The 2nd district anomaly

I mentioned this on the blog previously, but somebody expressed surprise last night when I said that, despite a landslide Republican win in the 2nd Congressional District, the old formula that elected U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder still seemed to have potential application in the 2nd District.

Obama caves on taxes UPDATE

The millionaires will get their tax cuts, too, from the lame duck Democratic majority. Is the end of the estate tax next?

Mike Huckabee: The silver-tongued devil

Jason Tolbert set off a chain reaction yesterday by noting that Mike Huckabee was being touted as a headliner for a coming Religious Right event in Iowa as a "pastor not a politician."

Supreme Court takes SWEPCO questions

The state Supreme Court today outlined the questions it will answer, as suggested by a federal court, on what state law requires as the federal court considers a lawsuit seeking to block construction of SWEPCO's coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County.

How much does John Boozman hate earmarks?

Hypocrite watch: John Boozman is against earmarks. Except, maybe, when he's for them.

That didn't take long

A dangerous wackjob named as future chief of staff of a teabagger Republican headed to Congress has already quit.

Palin plans LR stop

Sarah Palin's Nov. 23-Dec. 3 tour for her new book will avoid the major coastal cities for stops in the heartland.

The line is open

Your comments welcome. In honor of Sarah Palin, only real Americans, please.

Weekend: Sweet Eagle, "Dog Sees God," Brown Soul Shoes

The weekend brings Sweet Eagle and Wicked Good to White Water, "Dog Sees God" back for its second weekend at The Weekend Theater and Brown Soul Shoes to Markham Street Grill and Pub.

Friday To-Do: AC Slater

Dubstep sensation AC Slater raves on in The Village when he DJs his electro-heavy brand of dance music this Friday.

Deficit commission's shortcomings

Paul Krugman says the deficit-commission was sticked rightward from the start and the results show, with tax cuts for the wealthy and tax increases (though the loss of such popular deductions as home mortgage interest) for the middle class.

Texas' war on the poor

Texas Republicans are more serious than ever about getting out of Medicaid, the federal health coverage program for the poor, and similarly compassionate thinkers in other states are getting on the bandwagon.

Saturday To-Do: David Allan Coe

David Allan Coe, the Outlaw country icon, returns to Arkansas for a show at Hog's Breath Grill.

Sunday To-Do: The Felice Brothers

Sticky Fingers hosts a hugely-anticipated show from Americana heroes from Upstate New York, The Felice Brothers.

Lottery before Audit committee UPDATE

Legislative Audit presented its review of the Arkansas Lottery Commission this morning. The full report is here.

Will good government happen?

Ethics reform won't go far if it counts on Gov. Mike Beebe, the lobbyists' friend, writes John Brummett in a blog post today.

Gays in the military: No harm UPDATES

The New York Times reports that a draft of the Pentagon report on lifting the ban on open gay service would not harm the military and any disruptions would be temporary, but mitigated by "effective leadership."

Pelosi quacks

She may be a lame duck leader, but Nancy Pelosi isn't going out quietly. She says she won't back extendiing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Bill Cosby to film at UAPB

Bill Cosby coming to UAPB to film a new, Jell-O sponsored web series.

2nd Friday Art Night: Hearne, HAM, ASI

Faulkner County Film Society spotlights David Lynch

The Faulkner County Film Society spotlights surrealist auteur David Lynch with a double feature screening of "The Elephant Man" and "Dune" on November 20.

Airport chief boosts child's school

$40,000 deal for LR Christian.

The transcript

Football expense avoided by Mathieu.

Airport scandal

Leslie Newell Peacock is working on a mountain of information about airport operations, but the tip of the iceberg would cripple the Titanic. It certainly rips a hole in airport executive director Ron Mathieu's image.

Airport boss helps child's school

Ron Mathieu, executive director of Little Rock National Airport, directed $40,000 in the public airport's money to his son's private Christian school to help pay for a new football field. It's justified as advertising.

Eleanor Dickinson

Little Rock artist opens a show tomorrow night at Boswell-Mourot.

The eagle is flying

Here's the Friday open line. Note for news junkies: * Stephens Media has a new boss.

Airport's 11th-hour response lacking UPDATE

The Little Rock National Airport finally responded to our questions about director Ron Mathieu's expenditure of $40,000 wiith his son's private Christian school by calling in the rest of the press corps after we left the office to say our story was "innuendo and untruths." He listed no factual errors but said it would have been unfair to him to forego the unique opportunity of sponsoring the new football field at his son's school.

Confused John Boozman

It would be funny if ... John Brummett makes sport of John Boozman — the scourge of earmarks — now not fully certain what do since his own party, from whom he takes all his orders, is split on the wisdom of doing away with member-designated federal spending projects that help the home folks.

Mark Martin targets Spanish speakers

Rep. Mark Martin, the expense-account padding extremist Republican from Northwest Arkansas who was elected secretary of state, has much zaniness in store for Arkansas.

Les Wyatt surfaces

Les Wyatt, the former ASU president who's making $150,000 a year though living in Dallas and not teaching, has finally responded to one of Doug Smith's inquiry about his name turning up as head of an outfit marketing on-line courses for colleges and universities.

You are on

Nothing new here. Line is open.

Hot runoff in Sherwood

Some municipal runoff elections still face state voters. A hot one, apparently, is underway in Sherwood where opponents of Mayor Virginia Hillman have put up a punchy website on her stewardship.

Must we pay for better ethics?

John Brummett today follows up on a couple of topics — the apparent non-starter of an idea to move Sebastian County into Mike Ross' Fourth District and Republican House leader John Burris flotation of an idea to couple a legislative pay raise with an end to the petty lobbyist bribery on which many legislators have come to depend for food, drink and entertainment.

Will the system continue to favor the super rich?

Frank Rich poses THE question for coming weeks and it's not simply whether Congress will continue windfall tax breaks for the wealthy: The bigger issue is whether the country can afford the systemic damage being done by the ever-growing income inequality between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, whether poor, middle class or even rich.

Arkansas prison reform

State Rep. Kathy Webb of Little Rock, who'll be Joint Budget co-chair in 2011, talked recently to the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods about Gov. Mike Beebe's coming corrections reform initiative, supported by a Pew study.

Sunday thread

Thoughts?

Monday To-Do: Bill Bryson

Beloved travel writer Bill Bryson spends an evening at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.

Joan Adcock rips airport

At least one city official, City Director Joan Adcock, sn't reticent about criticizing Little Rock National Airport Director Ron Mathieu's decision to put $40,000 into a new football turf project at his son's school, Little Rock Christian Academy, in return for a 7-by-10 sideline ad for the airport.

Meet the new Yellow Dogs

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today profiled Republican John Thurston, the Agape Church maintenance and security worker recently elected state land commissioner.

Rejoice: you could live in Oklahoma

However downcast you might be about elections, rejoice that you don't live in Oklahoma, where the most extreme sort of Republican won from governor on down.

The Rangel debacle

I always liked Charlie Rangel. But I believe he's well past his sell-by date.

C.S. Lewis tops library vote

The Central Arkansas Library System celebrated its centennial Saturday night with fireworks and a party in the newly completed fifth floor reading room at the downtown library.

Food trucks everywhere: Green Cuisine opens near Vino's

Green Cuisine, the mobile food trailer we told you about back in August, has opened in a vacant lot at Sixth and Chester.

Nerdcore: Clark Duke and Michael Cera rap with Too $hort

Arkansas native Clark Duke, easily one of the nerdiest actors of his generation, raps on stage with Too $hort, easily one of filthiest rappers of his generation, in LA recently.

On the cat beat

Fox 16's David Goins reports that an additional theft charge has been added on the apparently disturbed person arrested last week for a scuffle with a man in the Capitol View/Hillcrest neighborhood over a cat.

Tax work not wealth

Rep. Ed Garner, the Republican sales and income tax deadbeat from Maumelle, grabs a headline by getting to the front of the legislation-filign queue with another run at completely exempting capital gains from sales tax.

California court rules for immigrants

The California Supreme Court has upheld in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants. You'll recall that Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Joyce Elliott and other compassionate souls have argued for in-state tuition rates for graduates of Arkansas high schools, notwithstanding that they may have entered the country without proper documents with their parents years ago.

Clinton cameos, Girl Talk reloads, Tina Fey quips

Bill Clinton will appear in "The Hangover 2," Girl Talk debuts free new album today, watch Tina Fey accept Mark Train Prize and Velvet Kente shake it on down at White Water Tavern.

Grade inflation rule may go

Garry Hoffmann of Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's office tells me that a legislative joint subcommittee today voted to jettison a grade inflation rule — not yet in effect — that would require both a 2.5 GPA and a 19 ACT score, rather than one or the other, to qualify for a lottery scholarship if a student graduated from a high schools judged to be inflating grades.

Earmarks begone

When Mitch McConnell announced he had caved on earmarks, you knew robovotingSen.-elect John Boozman is would follow closely behind.

Dailey criticizes Airport expenditure

Airport Commissioner Jim Dailey has told Fox 16 that Little Rock National Airport director Ron Mathieu's decision to spend $40,000 on sponsorship of the football field at his son's school, Little Rock Christian Academy, was a "bad judgment call."

The line is open

The readers take over. But this tidbit: * Amid all the noise about earmarks and such, it's worth noting that polling continues to show the public at large just isn't that concerned about deficits or the national debt.

Tuesday To-Do: 'Boeing Boeing'

Murry's Dinner Playhouse brings in 'Boeing Boeing,' the manic comedy about a French architect struggling to juggle three fiancees.

Eureka! Domestic partner coverage

I got an e-mail last night that said Eureka Springs had become the first city in the state to provide city employee health insurance coverage or domestic partners of the workers — same sex or different sex.

The worm turns at LR Airport

Ron Mathieu, director of the Little Rock National Airport, has changed his tune. Now, he concedes, that $40,000 sponsorship of the football field at Little Rock Christian , where his son attends school, might not have been a good idea.

What's the money for ?

A new report from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families says most Arkansas school districts don't spend all the money they get for programs aimed at closing education gaps for poor children, instead letting surpluses roll over from year to year.

Commission slaps Mathieu's wrist

The Little Rock National Airport Commission has accepted director Ron Mathieu's apology for a $40,000 airport expenditure on the football field at his child's private christian school. The commission said it was a serious error in judgment, but took no other action against Mathieu.

Rangel guilty of ethics violations

A House subcommittee has found Rep. Charles Rangel guilty of 11 violations of House ethics rules.

The new GOP leadership

The Political Animals Club heard from the three newly elected Republican statewide officers. Larry, Moe and Curly — make that Mark Darr, Mark Martin and John Thurston — talked at the Governors Mansion.

Invasion of the body scanners

Much has been written lately about new security pat-downs and scanning machines at the nation's airports.

Mark Martin takes the spotlight

We broke the news about some ill-advised Facebook posting on rising Secretary of State Mark "Moonbeam" Martin's page.

How to build more highways

The blue ribbon panel on highway construction has come up with five ideas to keep highway contractors working.

The line is open

We're done here: Noted: * Despite Airport Chairman Bob East's promise of new open and transparent relations with media, I still have yet to receive a direct response to a single question I've sent to Tiajuana Williams, the Little Rock National Airport's $96,000-a-year media relations manager.

Wednesday To-Do: 'One Man Star Wars'

Actor/comedian Charles Ross translates his obsession with "Star Wars" into a one-man re-enactment of the entirety of "A New Hope."

The lying liars at work

Thomas Friedman is the latest to debunk the wingnut myth that President Obama's trip to India cost $200 million a day, more than the war in the Middle East.

Note to Bobby East

Day 5 without a direct response from the Little Rock National Airport's $96,000-a-year media manager.

Vic Snyder: 'Never say never'

Michael Leahy, a former Democrat-Gazette writer who's been at the Washington Post a number of years, wrote a feature today on outgoing U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, who explained how family demands led to his retirement decision.

Redband trailer for new David Gordon Green movie drops

The new, NSFW-ish trailer for "Your Highness" hits the internet. The medieval stoner fantasy/comedy is directed by the Little Rock-born David Gordon Green.

Sitting Bull: Hero or villain?

Our many history buffs should like this story. President Obama has apparently stirred up Fox News and similar by including Sitting Bull among an eclectic group of 13 people to whom he pays tribute for traits he sees in his own children.

True cash for Charles Portis

The remake of the movie "True Grit," based on Arkansan Charles Portis' novel, is expected to set off another run of sales of the classic book.

Pelosi continues in leadership role

Nobody is much surprised that Nancy Pelosi will remain House Democratic leader. The vote was 150-43.
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