← Back to issues

January 9, 2014

Vol 40 • No 19

Read the print version

Cody Wilson: troll, genius, patriot, provocateur, anarchist, attention whore, gun nut or Second Amendment champion?

The Arkansas-born 25-year-old has been peppered with labels since he started printing his way into the gun debate, and he's clearly earned a few of them.

Delta roots feed James Sallis

'Drive' author travels more than one literary road.

Good Big Ideas

I think Sabine Schmidt presents a great argument for letting permanent residents vote in their area of residency.

The duke himself

As far as I can recall, I never knew that there was a difference between a lawyer and an attorney.

The end of the public school

The Arkansas State Board of Education is the forum this week for another couple of rounds in the ongoing battle over upending the conventional system of public education.


Last week, the Attorney General certified a ballot initiative to increase the Arkansas minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 over a three-year period. If polls are any indication, the group behind the worthy measure shouldn't have trouble gathering the necessary 62,000 signatures required to place the measure before voters this November — some 72 percent of respondents last summer said they believed raising the minimum wage was "just the right thing to do."

Judy Smith comes to Philander

Also, "blu" at Weekend Theater.

Portraits, photographs, film

The line-up for first weeks of 2014.

Blue Christmas

The Observer and Spouse, like everyone still above ground, are getting older, so we've both been waiting for some dastardly medical shoe to drop.

Song cycle with a sad sack

Coens' latest is a gem.

Gas station greatness at Gino's

Deliciously greasy fare at Shell.

It was a good week for Arkansas workers

It was also a good week for another delay from Exxon, frostbite and Charlie Strong. It was a bad week for Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and Gus Malzahn.

Betting on 2014

Another year has wrapped up and we've digested every review and rounded up every notable event. Time to look to the future! What will happen in the year to come?


This is, by the author's own semi-meticulous and possibly accurate numerology, the 100th edition of Pearls About Swine.

Bombay Harambee comes to White Water

Also, opening day at Oaklawn, Brian Chilson at Historic Arkansas Museum, Zodiac: Brownie's Luv Edition at Revolution, 'Shatner's World' at Walton Arts and Skeletonwitch at Revolution.

The do-right rule in Arkansas

To paraphrase Tolstoy, every successful small business shares the same traits. And they all begin with high quality employees. I'm thinking of three local establishments where I've traded for years: an auto repair garage, a dentist's office, and a one-size-fits-all country store where I buy cattle and horse feed.

Obamacare reality means new GOP Rx

New Year's was a new day, too, for that abused two-and-a-half-year-old ragamuffin known familiarly as Obamacare, the milestone marking the end of any chance of its demise.

Arkansas may violate ARRA caveat with dumbed down' residential rules

Homebuilders alter building code.

Slaying a behemoth of beef

It’s the essence of beef. A burger that celebrates the most important component of the entire equation. Well seasoned, cooked perfectly, and juicy. The condiments were simply the proverbial icing on the cake.

Morning report: Pizza boy, schools, judges and more

Should I or shouldn't I drive to the gym this morning? The rain is melting ice on my street, but patches remain.

Stand up for reproductive rights; rally at Capitol Jan. 18

The Arkansas legislature is doing all it can — federal court precedent be damned — to eradicate not only abortion but contraception from Arkansas.

Thursday To-Do: Bombay Harambee

Bombay Harambee plays a record-release show Thursday at White Water Tavern.

Iced in

Don't know about the rest of you, but my always problematic street is only dangerously passable.

Chris Christie fires one and apologizes for political dirty trick

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie set about damage control today for the revelation that his staffers engineered a massive traffic tie-up on an interstate bridge to retaliate against a New Jersey mayor who didn't support Christie.

Little Rock man slain at his front door

Little Rock police report that Gary Fitzgerald, 44, was gunned down this morning when he answered a knock at the door of his apartment in the 1500 block of College Street.

Wakarusa Lineup Round 2: Flaming Lips, Bassnectar, John Butler Trio and more

The Flaming Lips will be one of the headliners at this year's Wakarusa festival, June 5-8.

Republicans play abortion card in special Senate election

The Republicans think they have a winner in their old political warhorse, abortion. Check out their advertising above in the special election next week in Jonesboro for state Senate, featuring the Jon Hubbard-loving teabagger Republican, John Cooper, against mainstream businessman, Steve Rockwell, for the Democrats.

Michael Warrick, David O'Brien for 2nd Friday

"Unusual Portraits" opens; Das Loop provides music.

Friday To-Do: Opening Day at Oaklawn

Opening day for horse racing at Oaklawn is Friday.

Chilson at HAM

"Chasing the Light" opens Friday.

The believe-it-or-not open line

The line is open. Closing out.

Friday To-Do: 'Chasing the Light' Opening

'CHASING THE LIGHT' OPENING 5 p.m. Historic Arkansas Museum.

Friday To-Do: Zodiac: Brownie's Luv Edition


Thursday: Judy Smith, Ashley McBryde and more

Judy Smith speaks at Philander Smith College Thursday night.

Weekend: Salty Dogs, 'blu' at Weekend Theater and more

The Weekend Theater's production of 'blu' opens Friday.

Rhoda's Famous Hot Tamales are a true Delta delight

If you’ve got an opportunity to make the approximately two hour drive down to Lake Village, or perhaps you’ve got a kind friend already making the trip, I encourage you to get your hands on some of these tamales. Rhoda’s “Famous” Hot Tamales are so for good reason—every Arkansan should have the pleasure of sampling some at some time in their life.

CORRECTED: The cost of Little Rock charter school enrollment

Kids aren't deck chairs, but the old cliche seems to fit when the subject becomes moving kids around in search of better education.

Saturday To-Do: 'Shatner's World: We Just Live In It'

William Shatner comes to the Walton Arts Center Saturday.

Saturday: Sleeper-Agent at Revolution

Sleeper/Agent plays at Revolution Saturday night.

Legislature discusses putting more guns in schools

Benji Hardy of the Legislative Digest was on hand for a legislative committee discussing of opening the door to armed staff members in Arkansas public schools.

Gay people get old, too, and a Little Rock support group has formed

A support group for older LGBTQ people has been formed in Little Rock. There's a Facebook page.

State Board quizzes Maumelle charter on failure to meet goals, but it will continue

The state Board of Education is meeting today on charter school applications. Some happenings:

Tom Cotton's demagoguery of health insurance continues

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton is again firmly in the extremist camp by joining hands with the Family Research Council to campaign for a "religious conscience" exemption to mandatory health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Speaking of charter schools: 'Innovative' discipline

Since charter schools are high on my agenda today, here's a relevant article on the general topic from Salon. 

State Board of Education approves Quest charter school for West Little Rock

The state Board of Education today approved the proposed Quester charter middle and high school for western Little Rock.

Let the eagle soar

Asa Hutchinson reports fourth quarter fund-raising.

Monday To-Do: Skeletonwitch

Skeletonwitch plays at George's Majestic Lounge Monday.

Arkansas River bridge lights turned off for two days for repairs, testing tonight

Go downtown this week to get a glimpse of the new decorative lighting on the Junction, Main Street and Clinton Library bridges?

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr to resign Feb. 1, cites politics, family

The pressure became too great. Lt. Gov. Mark Darr released a letter at 6:30 p.m. tonight that said he intended to resign from the office effective Feb. 1.His letter

Food Feedback Friday: restaurant rumors galore

Go on. This Feedback is for you.

Beebe not ready to give plan for Darr's resignation

I got a response late last night from Matt DeCample, Gov. Mike Beebe's spokesman, to the question of whether the governor would immediately declare a vacancy and begin a special election process when Lt. Gov. Mark Darr resigns Feb. 1.His response:'

A charter-public school partnership suggestion for new Quest school in WLR

A proposal to insure diversity and a true education laboratory at Little Rock's new Quest charter school.

The fiery open line

Not much happening. The photo above isn't from Arkansas, but from Tibet

The Beebe legacy: 'Can-do.' Also: taking care of friends

With a year left in his tenure as governor, Mike Beebe sat down with John Lyon of Stephens Media to talk about his legacy.

The Mark Darr Memorial State Checkbook open line

The Sunday line is open. Lovely day, yes?

Winding down the Little Rock desegregation case

NPR has a feature up today timed to the federal court hearing today on the proposal to put an end to the federal desegregation lawsuit in Pulaski County.

Police notes from Hazen, Greene County

A couple of items from police reports around the state: * UNEXPLAINED TRAFFIC STOP IN HAZEN: Fox 16 tells the story of an inexplicable I-40 traffic stop by Hazen police of a black Memphis family.

Republican candidate criticizes GOP nominee in Senate election

The Natural State Report blog shares an e-mail sent by Chad Niell, who finished last in the Republican primary for the special state Senate election in Jonesboro that will be decided tomorrow.

Tuesday: Pallbearer, 'Hello! Dolly'

Pallbearer plays at White Water Tavern Tuesday.

U.S. Supreme Court refuses to allow Arizona's 20-week abortion ban, which Arkansas law parallels

The United States Supreme Court today declined to review a lower court decision that invalidated Arizona's state law prohibiting most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, far in advance of when a fetus can live outside the womb.

UPDATE: Secretary of state legal bill payments for work before court decision

Alex Reed, press spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, got back to me this morning on a question I posed about Blue Hog Reports' note of some $26,000 of outside attorney fees by Martin's office in the last month.

As Bryant turns: More political turmoil surrounds Mayor Jill Dabbs

KATV Tweets that Dennis Edwards has resigned, effective immediately, as finance director in Bryant. You might recall that 

UPDATE: Arkansas Leader: Beebe should ignore Darr vacancy

The Arkansas Leader has a new editorial now that Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has announced his intention to resign Feb. 1.No tears are shed for Darr, an alibier since he won office on a campaign of irrelevancy, but the Leader editorialist (Ernie Dumas, we can reveal)

Pryor starts campaign year with $4.2 million

Sen. Mark Pryor raised $1.1 million for his re-election campaign in the fourth quarter of 2013, which put his total for the year at $5.3 million.

Hutchinson proposes mandatory computer science curriculum

Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson today proposed making computer science a part of the core curriculum of all Arkansas high schools and work for a law to make it a course th

Koch political arm seeks contributions for West Virginia victims

The Tweet shown above from the Arkansas branch of a political lobby group underwritten by the billionaire Koch brothers naturally caught my attention.

UPDATE: Federal judge accepts settlement of Pulaski desegregation case

John Hofheimer of the Arkansas Leader reports that the federal court hearing on a proposed settlement of the Pulaski desegregation case got underway with objections from Sherwood.

The flu season open line

The line is open. I end the day with cautionary words:

Tuesday topics: Abortion, Bryant, Mark Darr, God and cops in Searcy

A quick roundup of odds and ends on the computer this morning: * THE FIGHT AGAINST ABORTION: Rep. Andy Mayberry got back to me late yesterday on his reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to take up a lower court ruling invalidating an Arizona law that essentially prohibits abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, the same as a law 

Republican plays race card in Senate special election

It's hardly surprising that one of the most vociferous supporters of teabagging Republican John Cooper in today's special election in Jonesboro for state Senate is slapping down a race card to inspire Cooper's base to vote today.

Little Rock homicide victim identified; fight over woman sparked shooting

Little Rock police have identified Jermaine Humphrey, 24, as the man found shot to death last night in the 3000 block of Cross Street.

Mom on 'Cheer Perfection' reality show charged with rape of 13-year-old

Pulaski Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley announced today that sexual assault charges had been filed against Andrea Clevenger of Sherwood for having sex with a 13-year-old boy who was a friend of her daughter.

One dead after truck rig overturns and catches fire

Channel 4 reports that one person is dead after a tractor-trailer rig overturned and caught fire on eastbound Interstate 30 at Baseline Road in Southwest Little Rock.

The Clinton chronicles: A new chapter in the murder tales

Ah, the Clinton years. No allegation, however fanciful, to too great to lob at the president from Arkansas.

Darr: Will comply with 'protocols'

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr issued a brief prepared statement today relative to questions related to whether his resignation would be official if he resigned, as he'd said earlier, "to the people," rather than in a formal manner to the governor or in some other fashion.

Beebe rolls out his budget; thank goodness for Obamacare

I hope to have a more detailed version before long, but Gov. Mike Beebe unveiled his budget proposal in legislative committee today, a $105 million increase in spending over current levels in a $5 billion budget.

Guilty pleasures

Confessions of a food writer.

Check out Johnny Cash's 'lost' recording of 'She Used to Love Me a Lot.'

[embed-1]"She Used to Love Me A Lot," is a haunting, beautiful song of lost love, regret and second chances, sung by a Cash at the heig

The Tuesday line: The web, suffering poor, same-sex marriage

The line is open. Final words:

New acquistions at Crystal Bridges

Contemporary work by Julie Mehretu, mid-century work by Harry Bertoia and a 19th century oil by Elihu Vedder.

Republican Cooper heading to win in Senate race in Jonesboro

Early voting is for the special election in Jonesboro for a successor to Democrat Paul Bookout who 

The Republican victory in Jonesboro proves Obama's enduring value in Arkansas

Tea Party Republican John Cooper's victory over Democrat Steve Rockwell in a special state Senate race in the Jonesboro area yesterday — by a decisive 57-43 margin — means many things, none of them good for people on the Democratic side of the political aisle.

Did Asa Hutchinson facilitate drug traffic into the U.S. from Mexico?

If Asa Hutchinson had been a Democratic appointee, this story would have exploded across the Fox/Drudgeosphere long ago, just as the backfired shipment of weapons to Mexico caused Democratic politicians grief.

Spending bill renames White River refuge for Dale Bumpers

Action is expected on a massive spending bill that includes items large and small for the benefit of Arkansas.

UPDATE: Regnat Populus ethics group renews canvassing for initiated ethics law

Regnat Populus, the grassroots group formed to pass stronger public ethics law in Arkansas, announced today that it would resume collecting signatures for an initiated act to ban corporate contributions to campaigns, end gifts by public officials by lobbyists and lengthen the cooling-off period before a public official can become a lobbyist.

Looking ahead: Work begins on a marriage equality measure for 2016

Speaking of initiative campaigns: The Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality is beginning working training canvassers and obtaining signatures on 

Mike Ross claims a record fund-raising year

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross reports raising $550,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013 — about $100,000 more than his leading Republican opponent Asa Hutchinson raised — and starts the year with $2.5 million in the bank.

Got on opinion on Gearhartgate? Call the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees

I'm of a mind that the investigation of financial foulups and a lack of openness at the University of Arkansas under Chancellor David Gearhart's leadership is pretty well at an end at the legislature.

Tom Cotton shuns compromise on federal budget bill

Congress is on the verge of passing a 1,582-page, $1 trillion budget bill, a complex compromise that grows out of a desire on the part of both Republicans and Democrats to avoid budget brinksmanship and government shutdowns.

McDaniel appoints Sybil Hampton to state Ethics Commission

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today announced his appointment of Sybil Hampton to a seat on the state Ethics Commission.

Crystal Bridges moving Frank Lloyd Wright house to Bentonville

The museum rescues an endangered Usonian house.

Crystal Bridges Museum moving Frank Lloyd Wright house to Bentonville

Check out Leslie Peacock's Rock Candy. Fairly amazing acquisition for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.

Enrollees in "private option" for Medicaid expansion lean younger, lowering median age in Arkansas Marketplace

The Arkansas Department of Human Services released demographic information for the first time today on enrollees in the "private option," revealing a much younger population than has thus far been signing up in the federally facilitated Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, which could help to keep premiums lower in the marketplace in coming years*.

The working man's open line, with a hit of pot

The line is open. Close-out:

Schwedhelm, Kindler, blood and guts at UCA

Four new exhibitions open in the Baum Gallery.

Lorenzen at Gallery 26

Collages record her travels,