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January 2, 2014

Vol 40 • No 18

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How to-where to guide to Central Arkansas

From the editors of the Arkansas Times, Dawn Scott, Christina Munoz, Dustin McDaniel, John Walker, 607, David Sanders, John the Beer Snob and more.

Not buying Snowden as savior

Moscow has always been hard on idealists. So it's no surprise to find the world-renowned civil libertarian Edward Snowden feeling shaky midway through his first Russian winter. In a televised Christmas message recorded by Britain's Channel 4, Snowden waxed alternately as grandiose and apocalyptic as a Dostoyevsky character.

State Senate debate on Jonesboro TV today; speculation continues on related probe

Need a political fix. KAIT-TV in Jonesboro is broadcasting a debate at 12:10 p.m. today between the candidates in the special election to complete the state Senate term vacated by Paul Bookout, who remains under investigation for personal conversion of campaign money.

Obama takes gun control actions

President Obama has issued executive orders to make it easier to detect when people with a background of mental illness get a background check for a gun purchase.

Gov. Beebe on public service; getting harder to find good people

Gov. Mike Beebe waxes a bit philosophical in his weekly radio address this week, which begins what he says will be his last year in public office, a stint that begin with the election of 1982.

McDaniel approves name, title for proposal to raise state minimum wage

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has signed off on the popular name and ballot title for a proposed initiated act to raise the state minimum wage. 

Friday night line: Ponzi scheme news

The Friday night line is open. Final notes:

The Bold Predictions Edition

Speculation on Mark Darr's fate, plus bold predictions on what'll happen at the Joint Performance Review Committee hearing on the UA Advancement Division public accountability issues, whether the legislature will reappropriate money for the private option, whether former President Clinton's efforts will matter in Arkansas political races, whether 2014 will be the year that Arkansas ends the ban on same-sex marriage and the fate of several potential ballot initiatives — all covered this week.

Arkansas native Charlie Strong top candidate for Texas job

Reporting varies. Has Batesville native Charlie Strong, who played football at UCA, been tapped to be the new head football coach at Texas?

The religion of modern politics: Republicans preach to conservative Protestant base

Charles Blow of the New York Times looks askance at a growing gap in the ranks of Republican and Democratic voters.

Rocket 21 finishes out of the LR money

Rocket 21, Frank Fletchers' Kavanaugh Boulevard restaurant (formerly Ferneau) named for one of his race horses, has closed.

Broke and bored in Little Rock

This is how you do Little Rock on a budget.

The sky watch line is open

The Saturday line is open. Not much doing.

Free speech vs. 2nd Amendment; gun advocate silenced for departure from industry line

The gun nuts talk a lot about the Constitution and the inviobility of the 2nd Amendment.

The Darr saga: Will he quit? And, if he doesn't, what then?

John Lyon at Stephens Media write about the growing pressure on Lt. Gov. Mark Darr to resign for his admitted misuse of public and campaign money for personal expenses.

Higher wages good for business

The Republican/business talk machine is already gearing up to oppose the initiative to increase Arkansas's tied-for-last minimum wage of $6.25 an hour.

Take a break for bread pudding

A rustic dessert turns out to be more than meets the eye.

Sunday open line: chief state ranger found dead; Mike Ross goes on TV

The Sunday line is open. It appears Little Rock has dodged precipitation if not cold weather.

Huckabee: Again with the Nazis in case of brain-dead teen

Shades of Terri Schiavo. Politicians are again rushing to capitalize on the awful dilemmas facing families with hopeless medical c

Government: The best the Koch Bros. can buy

The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics have analyzed 2011 and 2012 tax filings and concluded the billionaire Koch brothers poured $400 million into political activities in the 2012 election cycle.

University of Arkansas and Chancellor Gearhart back in headlines

Both the Democrat-Gazette and Stephens Media have setup articles today on the legislative hearing Tuesday at which a public airing will finally be given to all key disputants in the controversy over the deficit-ridden University of Arkansas fund-raising division and Chancellor David Gearhart's efforts to, at a min

Metroplan sees positives in economic outlook for Central Arkansas

Metroplan, the council of local governments in the Little Rock metro area, has issued its 2013 Economic Review and Outlook.

Supreme Court stays same-sex marriage ruling in Utah

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay on a district court's decision that allowed same-sex marriage in Utah.

Hog football makes the Top 20

OK, it wasn't a good year for Razorback football. But oh the potential.

Saline County women surrender on charges in fatal dog attack

Channel 4 has the details on two Saline County who turned themselves in to authorities 

Exxon won't restart ruptured Pegasus pipeline anytime soon

In the wake of the Mayflower oil spill, the federal agency that regulates pipelines set conditions for ExxonMobil to meet before it can restart its ruptured Pegasus pipeline. Nine months later, Exxon hasn't gotten very far.

Fate of constitutional amendments ride on Secretary of State Martin

I wasn't there, but I've been related a bit of interesting inside baseball from the Joint State Agencies Committee at the Capitol today.

The Monday line

Over to you. Final words:

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr: Meet-the-press round-robin tomorrow

Word has begun circulating of a public announcement Tuesday by Lt. Gov. Mark Darr. If I had to predict, it would be to predict he'll accede to growing pressure within his own

Inspiration for ABC's 'Scandal' to speak Thursday at Philander Smith

Judy Smith, whose career in politics and PR inspired ABC's "Scandal," will speak at 7 p.m.

Republican finds degrees of law-breaking in Mark Darr case

Some Republicans simply cannot bring themselves to criticize other Republicans. It's evident — again — in the reluctance of many Republican legislators to even comment on Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's misuse of public and campa

Arkansas judicial nominations on Senate Committee agenda Thursday

That batch of federal judicial nominations resubmitted yesterday by President Obama are on the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda Thursday morning.

The Pantry to open second outpost in Hillcrest

The Pantry, the widely beloved Czech/German restaurant in West Little Rock, is branching out. Chef/owner Tomas Bohm confirms in an email to subscribers to his email list what's long been rumored — he's purchased the former home of The House restaurant and is renovating it to serve as a second outpost of The Pantry.

UA review coming in the shadows thanks to secretive Senate

The Legislature's Joint Performance Review Committee meets at 1 p.m. today to discuss the management of money by the fund-raising arm of the University of Arkansas.

Senate advances extension of unemployment benefits

The Senate invoked cloture (defeated filibuster) 60-37 today and that clears the way for a vote on a three-month extension of unemployment benefits.

Nobody ever said Mark Darr was smart; and, no, he won't quit — yet

Say it ain't so. Say that part of Mark Darr's defense won't be that he was targeted by evil Democrats because he opposed Obamacare.

BREAKING: Velveeta shortage. Polar vortex a factor?

Stop the dang presses. This just in from Ad Age:

Darr: Won't resign, blames politics for problems

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr is depicting himself as a victim of political games in findings that he misspent taxpayer and campaign money.

Brad Choate: Says UA 'snookered' legislative auditors. John Diamond describes Gearhart anger and freeze-out of newspaper

The legislature's Joint Performance Review Committee has begun hearing from six University of Arkansas officials and former employees in its review of financial problems in the fund-raising Advancement Division.

Walking on water in Magnolia

Aaron Street, assistant dean for media relations at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, took the photo of ducks carefully negotiating a frozen pond on campus Tuesday morning.

Democratic Chair Vince Insalaco says Mark Darr must resign; and Blue Hog weighs in

Democratic Party Chair Vince Insalaco has responded to Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's announcement that he won't resign because of multiple law violations in misuse of office and campaign money.

UA update: A new Dave Gearhart

Rather than stack too much stuff on a single thread, I'm going to start a new one on the legislative discussion today on the UA Advancement financial mess.

House begins making plans to consider impeachment of Mark Darr

Now that Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has drawn a line in the sand, Democrats, and almost certainly a few Republicans, are prepared to step across.

Another chilly open line

The line is open. If you haven't heard, there's mention of freezing rain in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, though the specifics depending on location remain fluid.

Mark Darr's disdain for the law

I know, everyone's tired of Mark Darr and just wish he would go. But a small point of personal, if essentially public, privilege.

Report: Money for poor students not targeted to them

Stephens Media managed amid a busy day at the Capitol to sit in on a legislative committee that heard a report on how the state's school districts spend almost $200 million in state aid that is provided based on the number of poor children in a school district.

What's wrong with Kansas? And could it happen to Arkansas schools?

Speaking of schools: I viewed with alarm the other day a social media post by an extremist Republican legislator who was propagating a right-wing talking point that education was doing fine in Kansas despite enormous tax cuts by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Complaint alleges housing discrimination against deaf, hard of hearing

The National Fair Housing Alliance says it will announce tomorrow eight complaints against aprtment project owners and managers, including in Little Rock, for discriminating against prospective tenants were are deaf or hard of hearing.

Garden Press is a fresh new way to drink heathy

Juicing up for January? Try Garden Press.

Writer Hope Coulter receives Laman Fellowship; ceremony Friday along with George Fisher exhibit opening

The William F. Laman Public Library System announced this week that Hope Coulter is the recipient of its 2014 Laman Library Writers Fellowship.

Ice causing problems on Central Arkansas roads

Lots of warnings that roads and sidewalkers are treac

Questions raised about new Navy ships that include Little Rock namesake

Do you remember when it was announced with greatfare that 

Bookout repaying contributors

The Jonesboro Sun reports in an article picked up by AP that former Sen. Paul Bookout is voluntarily paying back campaign contributors to his 2012 campaign.

Term limit advocates form group to fight constitutional amendment

A group that supports term limits has formed a ballot question committee to fight a so-called ethics amendment referred to the 2014 ballot by the legislature.

Pit bull drives off owner's attacker in Governor's Mansion neighborhood

The pit bull is overdue for some good press. Here's some from KATV's Katherine Yancey, who reports on what happened when Millie Fiser was jumped by a robber while picking up trash outside her 

Waltons up their investment in school vouchers

It's working. Public school advocates beat back the voucher movement for years.

The Arkansas Leader: Impeach Darr Now

A fine editorial in the Arkansas Leader calls for Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's impeachment. It's a road map to everything that was wrong — caution: it's a long list — with Darr's effort to lay blame for his problems on everything and everyone but himself yesterday.

Neal Harrington at Cantrell Gallery

His linoleum cuts a "Ballad in Relief."

The iced-down open line: Petrino, birth control, Tech Park

As we watch the skies for sleet, I open the line. Final words:

Asa Hutchinson: Do politics or his private security business come first?

Given that guns are holy in Arkansas, this story might not have the impact in Arkansas it might have other places.

No choice on realtor by tech park board

Tie vote means special meeting next week.

The resegregation of American schools; some Little Rock examples

The state Board of Education meets Friday and the agenda includes a couple of issues that bear on nothing less than further erosion of Brown v. Board of education and the end of the public education system as we once knew it.