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Big Ideas for Arkansas 2018

Big Ideas for Arkansas 2018

January 25, 2018

Vol 44 • No 21

Read the print version

Big Ideas for Arkansas 2018

Readers and experts suggest ways to change Arkansas for the better.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Cartoons become Life Edition

Play at home, then lie through your teeth about it later!

Court overturns long precedent

Also, Cotton hypocrisy and LR sues mayoral candidates.

Love that deficit

Is 2018 the year that Americans finally learn to love the deficit? It has all the makings for such a phenomenon, at least for one year.

Not dominant

Florida and Ole Miss both exposed the gross deficiency of an Arkansas team that still has NCAA Tournament designs, and yet the Razorbacks managed again to eke out a split of the two games.

Taj Mahal does it right

With a feast of flavors.

Finding solutions

One advantage of the current political climate is an opportunity for a new and more honest conversation about race, gender and many other inequities we too often sweep under the carpet.

The future

On Saturday, thousands of women in Arkansas and millions across the country rallied and marched just as we did last January. In 2017, we marched in anticipation of bad things to come. In 2018, we marched in response. This year, we were louder, we were more unified and we were angrier.

Destroyer of Light come to White Water

The Low Society Blues Band come to Four Quarter.

School choice week

Miss Universe

The Observer has been thinking about cannabis recently, the stuff our grandma called "The Marijuana," and Dear Ol' Pa called "Mary Jane" with the feeling of a man speaking fondly about a remembered former lover.

Q&A with ASO Conductor Philip Mann

Taking the corner.

I, Tonya' depicts an unlikely champion

Bruises and bangs.

Truth in government

Why attempt a coherent theme in today's incoherent political world?

Kristin Key comes to The Loony Bin

And much more.

A spectacle

If the recent brief government shutdown accomplished nothing else, it sent President Trump into hiding for three days, no small blessing.

Rx fees: a range

Under Arkansas's new medical marijuana program, doctors do not prescribe cannabis. Instead, they certify that patients have one or more of the 18 medical conditions that allow them to seek a medical marijuana card from the state Department of Health.

Justice Department probing complaint of LRPD racial bias against white officer

KARK/Fox 16's Mitch McCoy broke an interesting storyyesterday about a federal Justice Department investigation of potential racial bias against a white Little Rock police officer in filling a hit-and-run investigator job in 2016.

From Slate: Tom Cotton's lies make him dangerous as potential CIA director

William Saletan writes in Slate about Sen. Tom Cotton's dishonesty and the alarming prospect that he has been mentioned as potential director of the CIA. For example, if you think Cotton is going soft on immigration, think again.

Supreme Court rejects sovereign immunity argument in illegal exaction court cost award

The Arkansas Supreme Court today refused a request by the state to reconsider its decision awarding court costs to lawyers in the case that successfully challenged spending of surplus state money, the General Improvement Fund, on local projects designated by legislators. In doing so, it rejected a sovereign immunity argument, perhaps significant given recent court events.

Real or The Onion: The Arkie running for Senate in Missouri

We've mentioned before the candidacy of Arkansas native Courtland Sykes as a Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. The latest from him sounds almost like performance art, except I think he's serious (and his campaign work looks like a tryout to be the next Dos Equis man.)

UPDATE: Guard cancels circuses with elephants at armories after complaint

An animal rights activist has written the National Guard to object to use of four armories in Arkansas by a circus that uses elephants. After the complaint, the Guard canceled the use of three of the four armories. One show will go on tonight.

NLR's Dawn McLain wins $25,000 Milken teaching award

Dawn McLain, a sixth-grade math and science teacher at North Little Rock Middle School, is this year's Arkansas winner in the Milken Educator Awards

New Hog boss reaches out to Central Arkansas

It's not the real thing, but the Razorbacks are adding a football game in Little Rock in 2018 in addition to the one SEC game promised at War Memorial Stadium in the fall.

Attorney seeks Justice Department probe of racial message painted on Jacksonville barn

An attorney for Kevyn Fowler said today that he'd written Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking for a Justice Department investigation of racially motivated harassment of Fowler at his Jacksonville home.

The open line and the daily news roundup

Here's the open line. Also a news roundup, from the Supreme Court to the surly Sand Lizard to elephants and a golden toilet for Trump.

Rutledge rejects first try at casino amendment form

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has rejected the form of a proposed constitutonal amendment to allow three casinos in Arkansas and use some of the tax revenue for highways.

Two death row inmates call for state Supreme Court to reconsider mental health evaluation

The Arkansas State Supreme Court today heard arguments from two inmates on why a U.S. Supreme Court rolin

Ex-VA employee indicted for attempting identity theft

A former VA employee has been indicted on identity theft charges.

Nixon's echoes in the age of Fox

The New York Times reported last night that Donald Trump wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but backed down when the White House counsel threatened to quit. Does that, or anything, matter?

A golden throne for Donald Trump

Asked by Donald Trump to loan a Van Gogh painting to the White House, the Guggenheim museum responded through curator Nancy Spector with an offer of the loan of an 18-karat-gold functioning toilet.

Satanic Temple makes headway in Missouri on religious protest of anti-abortion law

The Satanic Temple, a very serious outfit that promises to challenge the Arkansas Ten Commandments monument when it has its next erection on the Arkansas Capitol grounds, seems to be making headway in a challenge of Missouri, which has adopted many of the same anti-abortion laws Arkansas has adopted. Its argument: Religious freedom.

PETA sends thanks — vegan cookies — to Arkansas National Guard

PETA thanks the National Guard for canceling armory rentals for a circus with an elephant act.

A Little Rock Police Department racial slur hat trick: Three bad firing decisions

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports today that a third Little Rock police recruit has been fired for having a social media page with a post in which a racial slur, most likely the word "nigga," appeared.Each decision was an overreaction.

Elections have consequences: Consumer protection

Arkansas has been a winner in protection actions by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which the Trump Administration seems bent on destroying.

Becoming aware of John Marin, at the Arkansas Arts Center

John Marin’s watercolors are so atmospheric that if you have only seem them online or even in a book, they might seem a bit insubstantial, lacking in punch.

No Small Talk Ep. 3: Stories about incarceration in Arkansas

On this week's "No Small Talk," we're discussing the upcoming event "Barred: True Stories of Incarceration," hosted by The Yarn (a storytelling group) and decARcerate (an advocacy group working to reduce Arkansas's prison population).

Introducing The Huddle with Chris Kingsby

In this inaugural episode of The Huddle, Chris speaks with Rep. Vivian Flowers and Public Policy Panel Board Member Barry Haas about a nasty Voter I.D. law that's on the ballot in 2018.

Lawyer discipline committee sets hearing on former parole board member

The Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct, which oversees lawyers and can recommend punishment including loss of license, announced today it would begin a hearing Monday on a grievance by the Arkansas Parole Board against Little Rock lawyer Richard Mays Jr., a former member of the board.

It's done. The Friday open line and video roundup

Here's the Friday open line. And the daily news-and-comment.

The LRPD and the N-word Edition

The Little Rock Police Department's decision to fire a black recruit for using a racial slur in an old social media post, the state of UAMS, a constitutional initiative and Tom Cotton — all covered on this week's podcast.

Micah Neal's tape recorder was running with colleagues

Now you see why so many people who work under the Capitol dome have been nervous.

Sex, politics, the press and Me Too: Steve Wynn/Hillary edition

Steve Wynn paid $7.5 million to settle a claim of unwanted sex by an employee. Hillary Clinton punished but did not fire a campaign worker who have an unsolicited shoulder rub and forehead kiss to another campaigner in 2008. Check the media approach to these stories.

Litle Rock plans to study shootings in city

Noted on the Little Rock City Board agenda Tuesday: A $62,800 contract with UALR to study shootings in the city.

Development group eyes reuse of old VA hospital on Roosevelt Road

A redevelopment proposal is on file with the city of Little Rock to do something with a long neglected city landmark, the former VA hospital at 300 East Roosevelt Road.

Live, it’s Saturday night

The open line.

An adopted Arkie looks at 45 years

Permit me to reminisce about 45 years in the news business in Little Rock.

Marco Rubio fires Arkansan Clint Reed as chief of staff for 'improper conduct'

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, has fired former Arkansas Republican Party director Clint Reed as his chief of staff over allegations of unspecified improper conduct.

The Bobby Roberts Open Line

The open line pays tribute to retired Central Arkansas Library System Director Bobby Roberts, recently honored in the renaming of an affiliate of the system.

Losers may be future winners from Amazon search

Maybe Little Rock should have gone after the Amazon headquarters after all.

Arkansas: Needs remedial work in civics, sample says

Timely this morning: A PR pitch from a marketing firm working with Orbitz about a sample it did of the civics knowledge of people in the U.S. Arkansas finished second-to-last.

The Cannabiz site is now live

Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis is now online.

EPA scales back plan to reduce haze from polluting power plants in Arkansas

In a press release coordinated with Arkansas's Republican governor and other Republican politicians, Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency has announced its approval of a more lenient standard for emissions from Arkansas's coal-burning power plants.

Homicide reported today on Springer Boulevard

Chris Arnold, 17, was found with a fatal gunshot wound to the head about 1 a.m. this morning in the 2500 block of Springer Boulevard, near the intersection with Roosevelt Road.

Some inconvenient Arkansas facts as Senate prepares to vote on 20-week abortion ban

The Senate Republican majority never tires of pushing anti-abortion legislation and so is expected to vote soon — despite more pressing business — on a 20-week abortion ban that isn't likely to overcome a filibuster. The victims will be a handful of families facing awful medical circumstances. The utterlybpolitical vote failed.

Candidate announces for Ward 1, Little Rock City Board

Bryan Frazier, an artist, muiscian and businessman, says he will be a candidate for Ward 1 on the Little Rock City Board, a seat currently held by Erma Hendrix.

C and H Hog Farm owner defends operation, says Buffalo River unharmed

KOLR-10 TV in Springfield/Branson landed a rare interview with Jason Henson, co-owner of the C and H Hog Farm in Mount Judea, which is fighting to keep a permit for its factory hog feeding operation near a major tributary of the Buffalo River.

UAMS hospital CFO resigns

Dan Riley, 59, the CFO of Clinical Integrated Services at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for the past 17 years, resigned Friday. He will stay on until the end of the fiscal year June 30 to allow UAMS to hire his replacement, UAMS spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said. She did not provide information on what prompted the resignation.

More on Tom Cotton's cease and desist letters

When Sen. Tom Cotton finally conceded Donald Trump might have uttered expletives in speaking of immigrants, he indicated he wasn't bothered. He'd been in combat, he said. He's heard "salty" words. His staff apparently is much more sensitive.

Announcing the 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Semifinalists

The competition among submissions for the 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase was stiff, and the semifinalists are.....

Monday: The open line and the daily news roundup

The open line, plus today's news headlines.

Sen. Jake Files pleads guilty to fraud, money laundering charges

State Sen. Jake Files, 45, of Fort Smith, pleaded guilty in federal court today to charges of wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.He's expected to resign from the Senate tomorrow.

Baghdad Bob, by way of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Trump propagandist from Arkansas, gets called down by the Washington Post. The Baghdad Bob of the Trump administration needs a nickname to call her own.

James Comey continues to troll the man who fired him

James Comey continues to use Twitter to troll Donald Trump.

Does Jake Files face prison time and, if so, how much?

Republican Sen. Jake Files is looking at jail time for his guilty plea to fraud and money laundering, but how much depends on the amount of loss he caused and the feelings of the sentencing judge.

Amazon, Buffett, JP Morgan team up on health care

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett) and JP Morgan are creating a health care company aimed at providing quality health care at a reasonable cost. They say they aren't interested in profits.

Freedom of Information no longer free at Little Rock Police Department

The Little Rock Police Department has begun charging a fee for FOI requests.

Suspect hits deputy's car in long pursuit

Pulaski County deputies report a suspect's car hit a patrol car during the course of a long chase south of Little Rock yesterday that ended with the arrest of a man with an outstanding warrant on a firearms charge.

The State of the Union: Unwatchable

Here's all the justification you need to skip the State of the Union speech tonight.

Get your guns; courses soon to begin for enhanced concealed carry permits

The availability of the new enhanced concealed carry permit, with its broader power to be carried into public buildings previously off-limits, is drawing nigh.

Flu update for Arkansas. It's bad. Take precautions.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson joined state health officials to talk about the flu outbreak this year.

Arkansas: Trump country

Oh Arkansas. We love Trump and soverign immunity

The news roundup and open line

News and comment and an open line for readers.

Chinese company announces expansion of Arkansas mill plans

Arkansas Business reports that Shandong Sun Paper intends to increase its investment and permanent employment in a planned pulp mill in Clark County and hopes to break ground this year.

Industrial Hemp Committee holds first meeting; discusses draft regulations for new industry

The Industrial Hemp Committee held its first meeting today, passing draft regulations to the full Plant Board for approval and moving the state nearer to creating a bureaucracy for the new industry in Arkansas.

First Listen: Bonnie Montgomery's "Comets," plus "No More"

We take a first listen at "Comets" from Bonnie Montgomery's February 16 release, "Forever."

Bielema settles severance as Razorback coach for $11.9 million

The Razorback Foundation announced today that fired football coach can be paid up to $11.935 million in severance through 2020, but the amount could be offset dollar for dollar by future earnings beyond $150,000 ayear in the first two years of the deal.

Democrat chastises Rick Crawford on intelligence memo

Democrat calls down Rep. Rick Crawford for one-sided transparency in voting to release Repiblican memo on Russia investigation but not the Democrats'.

The suburban Little Rock police force. Most take-home cars head out of town, driven by white officers

An FOI request indicates the overwhelming number of police cars provided Little Rock officers for free commuting go to homes out of town and are driven by white officers.

Hillary elaborates on handling of harassment complaint in 2008

Hillary Clinton posted on Facebook last night an extended comment on a recent news article about her decision to discipline, but not fire a campaign aide accused of harassing a woman campaigner in 2008.

The State of the Union? Depends on your tribe

Donald Trump got the headlines he wanted for his State of the Union address . His fans loved it. His critics were horrified. Bottom line: He isn't going anywhere.

Police stop bank robbery attempt

Fox 16 reports that police stopped a robbery attempt this morning in Southwest Little Rock.

GOP congressmen from Arkansas in Virginia train wreck, reportedly unhurt

40/29 reports that three Arkansas congressmen were on a train heading to a Republican retreat at the Greenbrier resort when it hit a garbage truck. None was injured, the report said.

Soulful: 'Art in the Age of Black Power' at Crystal Bridges: Update

If you saw the 2017 exhibitions “Here.” at the Arts & Science Center of Southeast Arkansas and “AfriCOBRA NOW” at Hearne Fine Art, shows that highlighted Chicagoans and others working during the height of the civil rights movement, you’ll know right away why “Soul of a Nation” opening Saturday, Feb. 3, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a must-not-miss show. If you didn’t see those exhibitions last year, then you really must not miss “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.”

The fight against Planned Parenthood hits family planning participation

The Associated Press reports that Iowa has experienced a 50 percent drop in family planning program participation after excluding Planned Parenthood and others that also provide abortion from participating.

Cost rising for the Sun Paper mill in Arkadelphia, financing still in progress

News that the proposed Shandong Sun Paper mill in Clark County was changing manufacturing plans and adding 100 jobs to an original projection of 250 jobs inspired a look at some of the attendant public costs of the project.

Blue Hog produces lower FOI costs every day

Blue Hog Report, the blog run by Little Rock lawyer Matt Campbell, appears to have scored another victory in the public interest.

Innovation Hub director Gordon resigns

Joel Gordon, director of Winrock International's Arkansas Innovation Hub in North Little Rock since last May, has resigned.

Wednesday's open line

The State of the Union? Mixed. That's the message on today's roundup of news and comment. Agree or disagree here on the open line.