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December 14, 2011

Vol 38 • No 16

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The 13th hole

Brett Overman has a knack for turning bad luck into folding cash. A story of determination, success and the power of golf.

Farm Bureau, environmentalists align on Lake Maumelle land use rules

I have been highly sympathetic to the group working for tough land use rules in the Lake Maumelle watershed and share their belief that the proposed ordinance before the Quorum Court next week was written too permissively to benefit major landowner Deltic Timber.

The Huckabees are in residence

My Blue Mountain, Fla., beach bureau provides another photo of Mike Huckabee's new beachfront home near Destin.

Let the Republican spin begin

Actually, it's already begun. House Republicans passsed their version of an extension of payroll tax reductions, an extortionate piece of legislation that illustrates their utter disdain for the environment.

Global warming is real

At the expense of being tedious, from a climatological perspective, 2011 was a real killer — both figuratively and literally.

Nichols talks 'Mud,' more

A Q&A with the Little Rock director.

Liberals have a lobby

It's the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.

Tim Griffin's photo op

Seventeen words from my congressman, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin of Little Rock, sent me into orbit last week.

Curry in a Hurry shows promise

The NLR Indian restaurant is authentic and friendly.

New fraud: Regulation is bad

In the catalog of imagined horrors inflicted upon the nation by a merciless government, none is more enduring, at least in the minds of big business and the Republican right, than regulation.

Saved by the Court

It was the one percent against the 99 percent when the legislature took up "tort reform" in 2003, and the one percent prevailed easily. Since then, the Arkansas Supreme Court has been knocking holes in this unjust and unwise statute. We see again that the separation of powers is a wonderful thing.

Flying a little longer

The North Little Rock city council and mayor Pat Hays agreed to postpone a controlled goose hunt in Burns Park that was scheduled for next week. The mayor is seeking alternatives to thin the amount of geese causing issues at the park.

A Christmas Carol

It was beginning to feel a bit like Christmas when, on a crisp crystalline night, I went to the Rep and was completely charmed into the season by its fresh and moving "A Christmas Carol, The Musical."

White Wives to Downtown Music

Plus Hurt, Chris Milam and more.

Goose hunt a man thing

The Arkansas Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the 106 lucky people who won the lottery to be allowed to kill two geese in Burns Park Dec. 20-22 as part of a sanctioned hunt to reduce the population of Canada geese in the park.

Christmas changes

Santa Claus has turned Republican, I understand, and plans to make some big changes in the Christmas ritual.

'The Sitter': one crazy night done mostly right

Jonah Hill salvages it.

As the coaching carousel turns in Fayetteville

One of the markers of a football program's relative progress is that the concept of "season" will naturally expand.

An open letter to Mark Martin

When you entered office at the Capitol, you immediately changed the news channel on the public television in the Capitol Rotunda to Fox News.

South in a handbasket

"Where did the expression 'going south' come from? There's a big debate here."

Tropical Smoothie headed to old YMCA Building

And Lombardi closes.

Tell the bees

Driving in to the office one day last week, we heard a report on NPR about beekeepers, those hearty souls who ride herd over the bugs that make the honey.

Orval gets polled

Brave Combo to Stickyz

Also Hamboy Jukes Band at Stickyz, the Victorian Christmas Magic Lantern Show at the Old State House, Whale Fire and Phantom Limb at White Water, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's 'Happy Holidays' at Robinson, a huge-ass local show at White Water, Trampled By Turtles at Juanita's and The See at White Water.

Thanks, but no thanks

Opponents to a land use plan for the Lake Maumelle watershed, scheduled for a Pulaski Quorum Court vote last week have grown frantic in opposition. The latest development is a "compromise" plan with some controls, but far less than the ordinance would provide.

Riding the Christmas Lights Trail

t was the Duchess of Windsor who said "You can never be too rich or too thin." Was it Jennings Osborne who said "You can never have too many Christmas lights"? Whoever, the thought is surely appropriate in Arkansas today. Sixty-six communities are adazzle in this year's version of what the state Parks and Tourism Department calls the Trail of Holiday Lights.

Big money for lawyers

It's known that the lawyers got $185 million in legal fees. It's not known how much money their clients got. The lawyers won't say, and a Texarkana circuit judge turned down a request from an opposing attorney that he require disclosure of the amount.

Fun facts about Newt Gingrich

Good week for the Burns Park geese

Also for hypocrisy and payoffs. It was a bad week for equality, the business lobby and Kevin Lewis.

Little Rock continues tax subsidy for Chamber

The Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that there were no objections to the tax-swollen Little Rock budget.

Arkansas State hires Gus Malzahn

Let's give a big Red Wolf welcome to Gus Malzahn — and his lovely wife Kristi — who are heading to Jonesboro as the new head coach of Arkansas State University, continuing a tradition of highly religious head coaches.

Goose hunt delay: Baiting concern? UPDATE

This is thoroughly unsubstantiated. But ......

Tougher Lake Maumelle land use plan approved in committee

Big news on the land use plans for the Lake Maumelle watershed. The two ordinances were considered by separate Pulaski Quorum Court committees last night.

Homework for Ark. Bd. of Education and legislators

Required reading for the Arkansas Board of Education, Arkansas legislators and anyone interested in "school reform": It's a major investigation by the New York Times into on-line schools, "virtual charter schools" or however you want to style them.

Wednesday To-Do: Hamboy Jukes Band

Hamboy Jukes Band plays a benefit for the Amboy Community Food Pantry Wednesday at Stickyz.

Wednesday To-Do: Victorian Christmas Magic Lantern Show

The Old State House Museum will present a magic lantern Christmas show Wednesday.

Scottie Pippen has lots of money

Basketball great and Arkansas native Scottie Pippen is suing all sorts of on-line publications for falsely intimating that he had filed for bankruptcy.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers to Verizon Arena April 21

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers will play Verizon Arena April 21.

Blue Dogs to endorse Clark Hall for Congress

I'll try not to hold this against Rep. Clark Hall: U.S. Congressman Mike Ross of Prescott will host a conference call with reporters on today’s announcement by the Blue Dog Coalition to endorse Clark Hall for Congress in Arkansas’s First Congressional District.

Broadway Bridge design winners announced

Metroplan today announced that Bob Dahms and Randy Murphy had tied in the design competition for a replacement for the Broadway Bridge.

Cirque de Soleil's 'Dralion' dazzles

“Dralion’s” most cohesive quality is that of absurdity on display, set against eastern percussions, operatic soundscapes and new age melodies. Wobbly dragon-lion fusion creatures traverse lengthy seesaws, rolling giant balls underfoot. An acrobat unfurls from the sky in a breathless free fall of red ribbon and spin, and later, the stage becomes a glowing magical lantern of fragile, fantastic silhouettes.

Applied design school sale today

UALR craftsmen's auction and sale.

Thursday To-Do: Brave Combo

Brave Combo plays Stickyz Thursday night.

Thursday To-Do: Whale Fire and Phantom Limb

Whale Fire plays with Phantom Limb at White Water Tavern Thursday.

Highway Commission reneges on redistricting promise

The Arkansas Highway Commission voted 5-0 today to renege on its promise to withdraw the highway districts each commissioner represents to equalize population.

Over the hump

The Wednesday night line is open. Closing out: * EASTER SEALS AND THE BLIND SCHOOL: The Board for the Arkansas Schools for the Blind and Deaf met last night and heard further from Doug Martin on his proposal to buy Blind School land at the east end of Lee Avenue for a single-family residence.

The technology park: inspiring "misery merchants"?

City Director Ken Richardson, who represents Ward 2, where the Little Rock Technology Park could be built, told the park Authority this afternoon that unless it acts swiftly to identify where it will build "misery merchants" will prey on unsuspecting residents to get them to sell their homes.

Thursday: White Wives, Nick Flora, The Manhattan Transfer and more

White Wives plays Downtown Music Hall Thursday.

Church and state in Arkansas

Is the state of Arkansas ever going to do anything about Bible instruction in state-funded preschools operated by two Republican legislators — Rep. Justin Harris of West Fork and Sen. Johnny Key of Mountain Home?

War in Iraq declared over

So how was it for you?

Republican takeover of federal courts

Linda Greenhouse writes here to lament the defeat of yet another supremely quailfied — and non-ideological — appointee to a federal appeals court.

What's wrong with Iowa?

Heard about a recent controversy in Iowa? A long-time journalism professor there wrote a long piece about Iowa that listed quite a few unflattering stereotypes.

Friday To-Do: ASO's 'Happy Holidays'

ASO's 'Happy Holidays' kicks off Friday.

Burger joint of the week: Sushi Cafe

A sushi place that does burgers? Really?

Friday To-Do: Huge-ass local show

Brother Andy is but one of a cot-dang boatload of performers playing White Water Friday.

Beebe absent on Democratic governors' unemployment plea

Sixteen Democratic governors, not including Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas, have written congressional leaders urging the full renewal of extended unemployment benefits Jan. 1, along with payroll tax cuts.

Supreme Court overturns Frank Williams' death sentence

The Arkansas Supreme Court today overturned the death sentence of Frank Williams in Lafayette County and ordered a new sentencing.

Friday To-Do: Trampled by Turtles

Trampled by Turtles plays Juanita's Friday night.

New WM3 doc to play in Nashville Jan. 26

The Nashville Scene reports that "West of Memphis," the new documentary feature about the West Memphis Three case, will play at Nashville's Belcourt Theater on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

Merry XXL-Mas from Chunky Pam

Here's a bit of Christmas fun from a few years back featuring Arkansas actress Ashlie Atkinson (lip-syncing over vocals by Meredith DiMenna) as New Jersey hip-hop diva "Chunky Pam."

Arkansas State finally reveals some details on Malzahn contract UPDATE

Since Arkansas State University has hired a former Razorback assistant, Gus Malzahn, as new head football coach, it appears they're going to adopt Hog-style press tactics.

Send a message to Lowe's over ad cancellation

Jon Stewart, typically, did the best job yet on the Religious Right wacko who mounted a campaign against the TV show about American Muslims because it presented them (accurately) as normal people, as opposed to terrorists.

Thea on Friday: ALA winners

The best of the best, plus a book release.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Huckabee

Just when you're thinking how reasonable Mike Huckabee is capable of being, the other, darker Huck emerges and you remember all the reasons that his presidential candidacy, on balance, would be a very bad thing.

Appeals court denies Weiner school appeal

The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today affirmed federal Judge Jim Moody's dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the consolidation of the Weiner School District with the Harrisburg School District because Weiner's enrollment fell below the state minimum.

Thursday night line

Your comments welcome. Final notes: * WRONGWAY ESCAPE: Channel 4 reports the arrest of a Department of Community Corrections inmate sneaking back INTO a North Little Rock work detail.

Pulaski Tech delays vote on downtown culinary school

After days of lobbying by the Little Rock business establishment and an impassioned pitch by Mayor Mark Stodola, the Pulaski Tech Board of Trustees delayed a decision this afternoon on whether to build a new facility for its growing culinary and hospitality school on the grounds of its Southwest Little Rock campus on Interstate 30 near the Saline County line.

Libras return to WWT

A late line-up shift at White Water brings super-cover band The Libras to White Water Tavern on Saturday.

Reese Witherspoon to star in 'Devil's Knot'

Mara Leveritt sends news. Variety reports that Reese Witherspoon will star in the film version of Leveritt's book "Devil's Knot" about the West Memphis Three case.

Christopher Buckley on Christopher Hitchens

A remarkable tribute to the late Christopher Hitchens from his friend Christopher Buckley at the New Yorker website.

Pizza D'Struction

Special thanks to Pizza D'Action's Josh Doering for the following photographs of destruction wrought at the Stifft Station watering hole and restaurant by a hit-and-run driver early yesterday morning.

Ketz tonight: Sulac

Twenty new works by the whimsical painter.

Horn, Justus at Thompson Fine Art

Reception tonight.

Pieday: Buttermilk at O'Henry's

There are two ways to make a buttermilk pie — make it fluffy or make it creamy. O'Henry's is the fluffiest I've found at any Arkansas restaurant.

Here are the rules for Monday's Clinton book-signing event

President Bill Clinton will be in town Monday for a book-signing.

UPDATE: Ethics Commission won't require disclosure on campaigns

The state Ethics Commission today dismissed Times editor Max Brantley's complaint that the Little rock sales tax committee hadn't adequately disclosed spending on its campaign.

And speaking of lobbying; money talks against clean water

Kathy Wells of the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods reports on a new development in the campaign to beat a land use ordinance to protect the Lake Maumelle watershed.

Gus Malzahn stands by his woman

Thanks to Alabama press, we have some comments from Arkansas State University's new head football coach, Gus Malzahn, about his wife's Internet-viral video appearance and how it might have figured into his decision to leave a $1.3 million SEC assistant's job for much lower pay at a much smaller school.

Saturday art-do: Jill Storthz

Woodcuts by California artist.

State Hospital: Things getting no better, rights group says

The State Hospital, perpetually running afoul of care and safety rules

Weekend: Hurt, Dreamfast, Michael Burks and more

Dreamfast plays Juanita's Saturday night.

Saturday: DJ Jeremy Word

Dallas DJ Jeremy Word returns to Discovery Saturday night.

Tom Courtway named UCA president

Fox 16's David Goins reports that Tom Courtway has been named president of the University of Central Arkansas.

The night is young, the line is open

But I'm not so young. I leave you with a suggestion.

Citzens group pushes improved Lake Maumelle ordinances

Development in the Lake Maumelle watershed protection debate: Citizens Protecting Maumelle Watershed, a voluntary group of environmentally conscious and dedicated citizens, has said it supports a land use plan heading to a vote at the Quorum Court Tuesday night.

Perception v. facts on income inequality

Facts don't lie. The middle class is shrinking.

The melting permafrost and the greenhouse gas below

Today's we-are-doomed story in the New York Times is about the melting permafrost in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions and the methane gas created by decaying organic matter below.

Police disciplinary files open, attorney general says

Missed this yesterday. It's an official attorney general's opinion, in response to a question posed by Little Rock Officer Joshua Hastings, about a decision by the department to open investigative files that led to Hastings' suspension.

Walton Foundation finances pro-charter government agency

A new wrinkle in the effort by the Walton billionaires to take over public education.

Good night all

It looked kind of crazy out there today, the last major shopping Saturday before Christmas, so after a brief venture out, I retreated.

War is over

The departure of troops from Iraq is all over the news and commentary this morning.

Washington: gridlock continues

The Senate deal on the payroll tax cut — a two-month punt — appears in trouble with House Republicans.

Get it from Arkansas

Still trying to figure out what to get for that special someone? How about an Arkansas food gift?

The open line

Slacking here. You?

Fox News: Carols first, then Korea

Reuters rounds up network reaction to the death of Kim Jong-Il, the North Korean dictator.

In defense of Maumelle watershed amendments

Kathy Wells, president of the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods, responds to a story in the Democrat-Gazette over the weekend quoting Pulaski County Attorney Karla Burnett raising questions about amendments added to pending land use proposals for the Lake Maumelle watershed.

The House asylum; inmates in charge

It seems pretty simple. The Tea Party is running the U.S. House.

Feeding the hungry; a modest proposal

So I read in the Democrat-Gazette today that gun-happy state Rep. Randy Stewart of Kirby wants to institutionalize taxpayer subsidies to process wild game to give to the hungry.

Poll: Ron Paul leads in Iowa

The Newt bubble seems already to be deflating. NOW will the media cover Ron Paul?

Tuesday To-Do: The See

The See plays White Water Tavern Tuesday night.

Shea Hembrey in NY Times

A feature on the Arkansas native and creator of "Seek."

Eight robberies over weekend; police seek suspects

The Little Rock police have identified three suspects in a string of robberies of businesses and people during the last month.

Mike Ross declares war FOR Christmas

Is there a shallower, more opportunisitic, more demagoguic public official in Arkansas than U.S. Rep. Mike Ross?

Curtis Coleman seeks a state handout

Jason Tolbert reports on an effort by Tea Partyer Curtis Coleman, failed past Senate candidate and potential failed future gubernatorial candidate, to shake down some Arkansas legislators to direct state taxpayer money from General Iimprovement Funds to his so-called Institute on Constitutional Policy.

Jesus visits Saturday Night Live

And He suggests that Tim Tebow take it down a notch before He heads off to decide a beauty pageant.

Worst person in the world: Paul Northcut

Thanks to a reader for a clip from The Courier in Russellville for a worthy nominee for Worst Person in the World.

Clinton in LR for the book signing season

Fox 16's Hubert Tate posts a Twitterpic of the line forming outside Barnes and Noble for the autograph session with former President Bill Clinton.

Monday night line

You're on. I'm off.

Open on Christmas Day

As you might have guessed, most Central Arkansas restaurants are going to be closed on Christmas Day.

The wing's the thing

I was indeed surprised to see that Arkansas has an entry in USA Today's list of the top 10 places to find Buffalo wings.

Benton passes tax on alcohol; mayor declines pay raise

The Benton City Council passed a 5 percent tax on alcohol sales (meaning "private club" sales) last night.

U.S. House schedules Tea Party today UPDATE

Driven by the Tea Party contingent, the Republican-controlled House today will vote down a bipartisan Senate extension of the payroll tax cut.

Thieves turn to pecan orchards UPDATE

New York Times, in Georgia, reports on the rise in pecan thefts. Yes, pecan thefts.

Morning Wake-Up: Stroud's Diner

There's always a crowd at Stroud's Diner. Want to know why? Start with big portions and go on from there.

Huckabee 'uncomfortable' with Gingrich idea to arrest judges

OK, it wasn't particularly hard. But credit Mike Huckabee nonetheless for moderate remarks on Newt Gingrich's idea that Congress should arrest judges who deliver decisions it doesn't like.

Arkansas unemployment rate drops in November

The unemployment rate in Arkansas was 8.0 in November, down from 8.2 percent the month before and the total workforce increased by 6,700 jobs.

The Republicans' push to end Medicare

Republicans are making much of the fact that Politifact is calling "the lie of the year" ads by Democrats that said Republicans had voted to end Medicare.

GOP legislators go after Beebe on Forestry shortfall UPDATE

Robert Araiza, the fiscal officer who said he repeatedly was ignored when he tried to tell his superior of declining money at the Arkansas Forestry Commissionm is telling a panel of legislators today that he was told to shut up about it until after the 2010 elections, on orders he traced to Gov. Mike Beebe.

Little Rock Airport opens expanded security checkpoint

The Little Rock National Airport opened its expanded security checkpoint today, a $1.7 million, 3,000-square-foot addition that includes more room for waiting lines, an added ticket checkpoint and an added screening lane, plus a couple of those advanced imaging machines.

Best person in the world: Nick Patel

I told you yesterday about Paul Northcut, an alleged minister who sits on the Russellville City Council, and his crusade against a gay nightclub and a Hispanic nightclub in the city.

Pulaski Tech decides against downtown culinary school

The Pulaski Tech Board of Trustees decided today they couldn't make the numbers work to locate a new facility for its growing culinary and hotel management curriculum downtown, rather than on its South campus as planned.

Tuesday: Midwest Caravan, Isaac Alexander, Mandy McBryde and more

Mandy McBryde plays at Maxine's tonight.

There is still time to enter the 2012 Musicians Showcase

As the Dec. 31 deadline approaches, your trusty Times staff will continue to beat the old showcase drum.

Tuesday talk

The line is open. Final words: * IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE EDITION: The market soared today, with the Dow up more than 300 on positive housing news.