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Time, Blood and Tears

Time, Blood and Tears

November 20, 2014

Vol 41 • No 11

Read the print version

Homicide Diary: blood and asphalt

More voices from the streets of Little Rock. The latest in our series.

The good, the bad and the rubbery

Fantastic China all over the map.

The future of Social Security

I've heard many people lament that Social Security won't be around by the time they need it. Social Security is quite sound and is well run. It has to be tweaked from time to time to keep it that way, and that's where the voters come in.

The opportunity agenda in Arkansas

Arkansas hasn't seen a political realignment like this in our lifetime, with Republicans gaining 64 of 100 seats in the Arkansas House, 23 of 35 seats in the Senate, and every constitutional office in the general election.

Metropolis

About a month ago, The Observer helped a friend move from Fayetteville to Little Rock for work. Said friend is a quiet guy given to solitary activities, fond of cats and weightlifting, and he tends to get ideas in his head that are difficult to shake loose once installed — in this case regarding his new city of residence. Though he grew up in a Memphis suburb, he's lived for over a decade in Conway and Fayetteville, and it was clear his vision of Little Rock was a little skewed. Moving to a real city, he kept saying.

GOP's new Obamacare attack

It was inevitable. The long crusade against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has pivoted from a battle against socialism to a populist war against big business: The program known as Obamacare is now supposed to be merely a feed trough for the captains of industry, not a government program to force health care on the undeserving poor.

French Hill: the pope's man from 2nd District

French Hill, the Republican banker just elected to Congress from the 2nd District, is no Vic Snyder. We knew that, but an article in the latest Arkansas Catholic, news organ of the Diocese of Little Rock, indicates that he's a conservative outlier in his own church.

Dog life

As I write, the love of my life is off to the state penitentiary. I expect her back at the farm in late afternoon. She's a volunteer with "Paws in Prison," an organization that matches homeless dogs with inmate trainers.

Clinton's foreign policy legacy

Left to right, moderator James Bennet of The Atlantic; Sandy Berger, the former national security advisor; retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander; Ambassador Nancy Soderberg; Mara Rudman, former chief of staff of the National Security Council, and Robert Strong, a professor at Washington and Lee University.

"Chardonnay and Cabaret" at The Weekend Theater

Also, South on Main hosts Bonnie Montgomery.

Thollem Electric comes to White Water

Also, Knox Hamilton at Juanita's, John Kilzer at South on Main, Third Friday Argenta Artwalk, The Idle Class release party at Vino's, Arkansas Arts Center museum sale at Clear Channel Metroplex, Big Piph at Ron Robinson and Chase Bryant at Revolution.

Victory

Forgive the beleaguered, moonlighting Hog columnist if he scratches out this week's Pearls About Swine in much the same way Bret Bielema rejoiced Saturday night: a smidge teary-eyed and a bit unshaven, and with a robust, impromptu smooch for the wife.

For the least of these

French Hill and the pope, the killing of a mountain lion, the inequality of Arkansas, preschool v. prisons, senator fighting for inequality threatens University of Arkansas funding and the return of the Huck.

Rediscover Petit Jean

A new guide to the state park's trail system doubles as a digestible science lesson.

The Quapaw return to Arkansas

Casino try a good bet.

Somewhere between terrible and hilarious

A few laughs in 'Dumb and Dumber' sequel.

A new political chapter begins in Arkansas

While there is much more diving into numbers from exit polls and vote tallies from Election 2014 to be done, it is clear that Arkansas's voters went beyond merely turning a page on the state's electoral past and instead created a wholly new chapter. In the process, three distinguishing elements of Arkansas's political tradition — its provincialism, its personalism and its populism — all shifted from the present to past tense in an election that served as the exclamation point for an era of dramatic change in the state's politics.

Gunman wounds three before being killed at Florida State University

Another campus shooting, this one at Florida State University, in the center of campus.

LR City Board should join Al Franken's questions on Uber privacy concerns

Let's slow down the rush to welcome the Uber car service until it answers questions about protection of riders privacy and use of its tracking capability.

Giving to Clinton Foundation almost triples in 2013

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation provided tax documents to the AP's Kelly Kissel that show the foundation's revenue almost tripled in 2013, from $51.5 million in 2012 to $144.4 million in 2012.

Arguments today in lawsuits challenging Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage

Two hearings are scheduled in state and federal court today on separate lawsuits challenging the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and the state's lack of recognition for those married legally in other states.

James Bonner watercolor giclee sale benefits HAM

The Historic Arkansas Museum is selling giclees of a watercolor by James M. Bonner, "December Snow," to raise money for its unique living history program.

Report: Walmart uses loopholes to avoid $1 billion in federal taxes

A new report from the Americans for Tax Fairness concludes that Walmart is avoiding $1 billion in federal income taxes through loopholes and avoiding taxes on $21 billion in profits by holding the money outside the U.S.

Lunatics run the asylum: Jonesboro edition

The Jonesboro City Council put the brakes on a $30,000 grant from a nonprofit organization because several members don't like the politics of a phlanthropist who supports the agency, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Really.

UA has a Rhodes scholarship finalist

Nathanael Franks, a University of Arkansas graduate, has made the final round of interviews in Seattle this Saturday for selection of 32 Rhodes Scholarship winners. The scholarships, won by the likes of Bill Clinton, provide two years of study at Oxford.

Arkansas election results certified

The secretary of state's office announced that Nov. 4 election results had been certified. About 50 percent of the state's 1.7 million registered voters went to the polls.

Thursday's open line: Also, Windstream layoffs

Here's the open line and daily video news summary. Windstream announced job cuts.

Federal judge hears arguments on Arkansas same-sex marriage ban, decision still pending

A hearing is underway in federal court today on a lawsuit to invalidate Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage. It's a separate, but similar, companion to a state court challenge pending before the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Little Rock School Board ratifies custodial contract

The Little Rock School Board tonight unanimously ratified a union contract with the school district's custodial staff, which has been a source of contention between the district and the Little Rock Education Association over the past year.

Thousands in Arkansas helped by Obama immigration plan

Thousands of Arkansas families are touched — and helped — by President Obama's plan to slow deportation and detention of unauthorized immigrants with family members who are citizens.

Arkansans outnumbered among UA freshmen; Texans on the rise

The University of Arkansas's move into online education available anywhere in the world prompts a look at the existing broad appeal of the Fayetteville campus outside the state's borders, particularly in Texas, which now accounts for a quarter of entering freshmen.

The new U.S. immigrants — if facts matter to you

Fivethirtyeight.com rounds up a bunch of stats that don't fit neatly with the anti-immigrant messaging perfected over the last couple of decades by Republican politicians.

Unemployment rate continues to drop in Arkansas

The unemployment rate in Arkansas in October was 6 percent, down from 6.2 percent the month before. The workforce also grew by 9,400 jobs, putting the total working up over the same month a year ago.

Poyen math teacher is Arkansas teacher of the year

Ouida Newton, who's taught math for 34 years, currently at Poyen High School, is the 2015 Arkansas teacher of the year.

Tav Falco on his new Arkansas-set film, 'Urania Descending'

Though he's most often associated with Memphis, Panther Burns frontman Tav Falco grew up in rural Arkansas, out in the country between Gurdon and Whelen Springs. Falco has announced that he'll be releasing a new album, "Command Performance," in February, and a photography book, "Tav Falco's Wild & Exotic World Of Musical Obscurities," as well, but he's also just premiered his new feature film

Election set April 14 to fill Lamoureux's state Senate seat

Gov. Mike Beebe today set April 14 as the date for a special election to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Michael Lamoureux of Russellville to take a position as Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson's chief of staff.

The Hillary Clinton non-campaign campaign

A new video from Correct the Record American Bridge, a super PAC, touts Hillary Clinton's qualifications for higher office. Coincidentally, there's a presidential election in 2016.

Uber emergency clause poses problem for LR Board

City Attorney Tom Carpenter advised the Little Rock Board today on what would be necessary to add an emergency clause to the ordinance that permits Uber to operate its car service in the city. It might prove difficult.

Judicial board censures Judge Doug Martin for campaign comments

The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced today that it had issued a letter of censure to Circuit Judge Doug Martin of Fayetteville for comments he made during his successful election contest with Brian Lester.

Kids: Leding 1, Collins 0 on pre-K help

Rep. Charlie Collins, architect of a giant tax cut for the wealthy, says Arkansas can't afford to bring its support for pre-K education back to 2008 levels. Gee. Wonder why?

#KeepItClassy tag riles Hog fans

Hog fans rushed the field after the Razorback football team beat LSU, a field incursion that triggered a $25,000 SEC fine. To urge fans not to repeat the demonstration, the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Arkansas dreamed up a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #KeepItClasssyArkansas. Hog fans might lack class? The very idea!

TGIF and a video to go on: Plus, food fight, Dustin McDaniel's future

Here's the open line and video roundup. Plus, a big fight at McClellan High School

Ann Patchett, Robert Wyatt, graphic design, poetry and more

My wife Grace recommended Ann Patchett's "State of Wonder" to me. Here is what Grace said on her blog: "This book has everything I like a book to have: an original and complex female character, intrigue, and weird science. Don’t want to give away the plot, so I’ll just say this: Amazon rainforest, hallucinogenic mushrooms, pregnant women."

The As the Legal World Turns Edition

President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, court challenges to Arkansas’s ban on same-sex marriage, a new lawsuit alleging a collaboration and coercion between Gilbert Baker, Mike Maggio and Michael Morton, how Catholicism influences (or doesn’t) French Hill’s politics and the University of Arkansas’s plans for an eVersity — all covered on this week's edition.

The Benghazi bombshell: There is no bombshell

A Republican investigation finds no wrongdoing by CIA, military or Obama administration in Benghazi matter. Quietly released after closing time Friday.

Diocese of Little Rock and others applaud Obama's actions on immigration

The Arkansas United Community Coalition says about 14,000 undocumented adults in Arkansas should be eligible to take advantage of the order and obtain relief from deportation. Another 2,000 youth will also qualify. Other estimates put the number much higher. However, applications won't be available for another 60 - 180 days.

The end of the road for Ted Suhl's Lord's Ranch?

A momentous ruling came after the close of business yesterday from federal Judge Kristine Baker. She declined to issue an injunction to stop Arkansas from cutting off Medicaid payments to two corporations that provide mental health services to youths.

Walmart heiress in nasty divorce fight over prenup

TMZ has the goods on a big divorce fight between a Walmart heiress, Paige Laurie Dubbert and her husband Patrick. He's trying to undo a prenuptial agreement that would pay him $30,000 a month for half the length of their marriage — six years.

Junior League to buy back historic easement to end window debate

A proposal has been placed on the Little Rock City Board's agenda to revoke a historic facade grant easement for the Junior League's headquarters building, the Woman's City Club at 401 Scott. It's the latest round in a debate over historic preservation

Arkansas Lottery and Intralot strike a deal

The Arkansas Lottery has struck a tentative deal on a contract extension with Intralot, the Greek-based vendor that provides about $11 million worth of services annually.

The quit-while-we're-ahead open line

I'll declare an open line with the Hogs clobbering Ole Miss. Don't wake me if anything changes.

Time for Uber to grow up; but don't expect Little Rock to make them

Uber. Great product. But jerks run the company. And we take it and ask for more.

Big gas royalty case brewing in Conway County

John Lyon of Stephens Media reports on a class action lawsuit in Conway County that alleges that SEECO, the biggest operator in the Fayetteville shale, has been shorting royalty owners on payments for gas. The suit alleges excessive deductions from royalty payments and non-payment for gas used in the production process.

Sports memorabilia fraud story spotlights Arkansan

More today from the New York Daily News about the federal investigation of fraud in the sports memorabilia business and the involvement of John Rogers of North Little Rock in the probe.

Legislators seek more security for the state Capitol

Coincidental to the rise of Republicans in political power comes heightened concern about security at the state Capitol. Is it time for open carry?

The working man (and woman) open line; plus Keep Fayettevile Fair

The open line includes a Catholic's thoughts on the religious foundation of paying workers a living wage and why he supported the minimum wage increase. Copy: J. French Hill (R - Gotrocksville).

Search continues for missing Searcy 2-year-old

Searcy police and others are still searching for Malik Drummond, 2, who walked away from his home in Searcy shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday.

The downside of the fracking boom: What Arkansas can learn from North Dakota

A New York Times investigation of the down side of the fracking-inspired energy boom in North Dakota should offer a few lessons for Arkansas, with its Fayetteville shale gas play.

UPDATE: Lottery Commission scraps meeting today on Intralot contract extension

The Arkansas Lottery Commission will meet by conference call this afternoon to consider the proposed three-year extension of the contract with Intralot to provide online lottery ticket sales.

Is the Arkansas surgeon general in?

Speculation about future executive appointments by Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson turned this weekend on Surgeon General Joe Thompson and, by extension, the fate of the private option Medicaid expansion.

Securities Department seeking fine of broker who bribed Shoffner

Arkansas Business reports that the state Securities Department is seeking up to $150,000 in fines and to end the registration of Steele Stephens, the broker who paid cash bribes to Martha Shoffner for state bond business when she was treasurer.

Legislature reports on prison options

Roby Brock at Talk Business reports on ideas to curb prison crowding, ranging from building a new prison (not likely any time soon) to shipping Arkansas prisoners to a private prison operator in Louisiana (cheaper than our current costs, but fraught with problems).

A food bin for Alice Walton's Park Avenue condo

Walmart blundered into a PR debacle when a store put out a charity bin for donations to Walmart's own employees.

Hutchinson names top staff; Duncan Baird is budget director

Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson announced top staff members today. They include outgoing Rep. Duncan Baird, who was House co-chair of Joint Budget, as budget director.

No Laman Writers Fellowship this year

Because of Laman Library's financial straits, the library will not award its yearly writer's fellowshp. Mary Furlough, the interim director at the library, has informed the judges that she hopes to be able to award the fellowship again some time in the future.

Medicaid expansion rolls continue to grow

The monthly report from Arkansas Human Services shows continued growth in enrollment in the Healthcare Independence Program, or private option version of the Medicaid expansion financed by Obamacare.

Monday open line; also, no indictment in Ferguson

The open line and video news roundup.

Little Rock police issue statement after Ferguson decision

The Little Rock Police Department issued a statement following the grand jury decision not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer for killing a shoplifting suspect. The LRPD will enforce the law and constitution, it said. I hope so.

Unrest in Ferguson; a symptom of much bigger problem

Arrests, fires and continuing unrest mark the decision not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer for the shooting death of a shoplifting suspect. Larger issues — racism, police procedures, the need for body cameras — make it a story about a lot more than St. Louis County, Mo.

Little Rock police criticize Mayor Stodola on insurance deal

The Little Rock police union says Mayor Mark Stodola has a conflict in recommending Municipal League health insurance for city employees as an unpaid officer of the Municipal League.

The push to name Ted Thomas head of Arkansas Finance and Administration

The effort by legislators to get former state Rep. Ted Thomas named to head Arkansas's Finance and Administration Department raises several questions. His backers are dubious, for one thing, but a key question is whether he'll continue the accessibility that has distinguished that office.

Joe Thompson confirms Hutchinson plans 'new direction' for surgeon general

Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson confirms this morning that he'd talked with Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson last week and that Hutchinson had informed him he'd be taking the office of surgeon general in a "new direction" and would not need Thompson's services.

Search continues in Searcy for missing 2-year-old

No progress to report this morning on the massive search for Malik Drummond, 2, who was last seen at his home in Searcy shortly before 6 p.m.

Post-election tough at state Capitol for building crew

The Nov. 4 election brought a shakeup in a somewhat unusual place — the building and grounds maintenance crew of the secretary of state's office. The fired employees are mystified, though one sees a political motivation.

More questions on Uber insurance

New questions are raised about the insurance coverage of drivers for ride-sharing services such as Uber. Perhaps somebody on the Little Rock City Board should inquire.

UPDATE: Runoff day: Republicans rally in Bryant; Duggars figure in Fayetteville

Runoff municipal elections in Bryant and Fayetteville hold interest tonight. Republicans have made the nonpartisan mayor's race in Bryant all about the GOP. In Fayetteville, it's a progressive champion, Adella Gray, against a Duggar anti-gay candidate.

Vigil set at Capitol over Ferguson decision

An ad hoc group: Stand With Ferguson: Black Lives Matter is organizing a vigil at 6 p.m. tonight on the Capitol steps as a response to the decision not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., cop for killing Michael Brown.

Homeless woman is Little Rock's 40th homicide victim

Police said Kathryn Pawlak, 48, was found fatally wounded on a parking lot at 3910 S. University shortly before midnight Monday. She was described as homeless and died of gunshot wounds about four hours later.

40-year plea deal in child abuse case in Benton County

A negotiated plea was entered today in the case of a former teacher at a state legislator's pre-school accused of sexually abusing children.

Tuesday and the line is open; plus a study of racial disparities in Arkansas

The open line and video report.

U.S. attorney moves to dismiss remaining charges against Martha Shoffner

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer filed a motion in federal district court today asking to dismiss the remaining charges against former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner.

Federal judge strikes down Arkansas same-sex marriage ban

Federal Judge Kristine Baker has struck down Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage. I'll have the decision for you shortly.

Transitions continue: Pink slips at auditor's office; top hand for attorney general

Transition news comes in: The count on pink slips at the auditor's office and a chief of staff for the attorney general.

LR City Board approves Uber ordinance

Uber is now legit in Little Rock. North Little Rock? Who knows? These guys don't need no stinkin' rules.

About 100 turn out for impromptu 'Stand with Ferguson' rally at Arkansas Capitol

As in other cities across the country, a crowd gathered at the Capitol in Little Rock tonight in response to yesterday evening's news that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri had decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown after a scuffle in August.

No news on child missing since Sunday in Searcy

The search continues today for Malik Drummond, 2, a Searcy child reportedly last seen at his home around 6 p.m. Sunday.

Mike Huckabee's shadow run for president continues to be ignored by Fox News

Media Matters reports on Mike Huckabee's latest huckstering — running for president while not overtly appearing to do so in order to retain his high-dollar gig on Fox News.

The details on the mess at the Department of Information Services

Here's the complete copy of a special audit of the Department of Information Systems that found millions in overbilling and underbilling, improper travel expenses and failures in management in virtually every area reviewed.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Arkies favor 4-layer Delight.

Google tells us the single dish that distinguishes an Arkansas Thanksgiving more than any other. No, not turkey. Hint: It includes Cool Whip.

UPDATE: Judge dismisses remaining charges against Martha Shoffner

Chuck Banks, attorney for Martha Shoffner, speedily supported a motion by the U.S. attorney to dismiss 10 charges remaining against the former Arkansas treasurer and not long after federal Judge Leon Holmes granted the request.

Beebe's latest pardons include man in situation similar to governor's son

The latest round of recommended pardons from Gov. Mike Beebe includes one for a man with a record similar to that of Kyle Beebe, the governor's son. He'd been kept waiting longer than the governor's son, who also is expected to be pardoned for a marijuana offense.

The Thanksgiving eve open line; also Zoo jaguar exhibit reopens

Today's open line and video news roundup.

UALR law professor criticizes LR police chief on post-Ferguson statement

Adjoa A. Aiyetoro, a member of the faculty at the UALR law school who began her legal career as a staff attorney in the civil rights division of the Justice Department, apparently shares my low opinion of the statement issued by Little Rock police via Twitter following the no-indictment decision in Ferguson, Mo.

UPDATE: Duggar-based appeal raises $5,000 for homeless LGBT youth

Disagree with the Duggars on civil rights? A social media campaign has been developed to demonstrate that tangibly with a contribution to Lucie's Place, a Little Rock organization that helps LGBT youths.

Duggars: Their name brings $25,000 for gay kids

A Happy Thanksgiving addendum to my ongoing passion today: The social media campaign to use the anti-gay work of the reality TV show family of Jim Bob Duggar has now attracted attention from a national columnist and the fund-raising total has reached $18,000.

Doug Smith, long-time Arkansas newsman, dies at 74

Doug Smith, a veteran Arkansas journalist who retired in 2013 after 21 years as a reporter, columnist and editorial writer for the Arkansas Times, has died at 74.
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