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February 22, 2018

Vol 44 • No 25

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Bitter pill

Arkansas is second in the nation when it comes to opioid prescription rates. Those numbers are edging down, but some say the worst of the epidemic may be yet to come.

French Hill on patriotism

Q&A with Ashlie Atkinson

On 'Black Klansman,' calling the Hogs and the 'Jon Lovitz principle.'

Meanwhile, back in Arkansas

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin got some glowing coverage in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for arranging an award from the national association of secretaries of state for the Little Rock Nine and their brave desegregation of Central High School 60 years ago.

More of the same

There have been far more serious offenses perpetrated by adult staff against juvenile resident than what was detailed here ... regardless, these facilities and programs should have never been allowed to degrade to these conditions in the first place.

Tia wins

Tia Booth emerged from a limousine and into our lives on this year's season of the popular reality show "The Bachelor" to give wife-hunter Arie Luyendyk a little Wiener.

Wakanda for the win

'Black Panther' is thoroughly, joyously, unabashedly black.

Righting Governor's School

Summer program at Hendrix targeted once more.

Playing for seed

Paradoxically, the Arkansas basketball team has cratered at the worst possible time and seemingly is peaking at the perfect time.

Hemp hurdles

Questions raised by Governor Hutchinson about whether regulations for industrial hemp research conflict with federal law and other queries have apparently slowed progress toward the implementation of the Arkansas Industrial Hemp Act.

Head to Hoots

When traveling through Southeast Arkansas.

Russian trump

Read the Russian indictments. It is a civic duty. Likewise, Donald Trump's tweets on the matter.


Amid the shock and horror accompanying yet another mass shooting of schoolchildren in Florida, an anonymous White House official exhibited the sheer moral squalor of Trumpism.


On March 24, 1998, I listened to an answering machine message from my sister that simply said, "Mom is OK. Turn on CNN." I ran to the television and immediately knew my mom was fine because it was her voice coming out of the speaker. There had been a school shooting in Arkansas. In my hometown.

Bonnie Montgomery celebrates the release of her new album at South on Main

And much more.

The Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase returns

Also, CALS Ron Robinson hosts "A Tribute to True Soul Records."

A chance to meet the NRA and win an assault rifle in Jonesboro

Amid the rising movement for gun control, the NRA soldiers on with events around the state including one tonight where a semi-automatic military-style rifle is among the potential prizes in raffle drawings.

Free food for legislators, but they have to drive to Rogers to get it

Free swill tonight for legislators at a Rogers chamber of commerce dinner. It suggests a widening of an already gaping loophole in ethics law.

Trump's prep for victim meetings: 'I hear you'

Donald Trump met with gun victims Thursday and a photographer captured a shot of a card on which wrtten talking points were provided to the president."I hear you," said one suggestion the crib sheet.

Joint Budget OKs voucher program for K-12 private school costs

The Joint Budget Committee this morning approved special language for the treasurer's office appropriation that will enable a tax deduction for contributions to investment funds set up to pay for private school education in grades K-12 as well as college, for which the 529 plans were originally intended. It will exempt earnings on those accounts from taxation, essentially creating a private school voucher system.

Arming teachers? Really? What would Asa do?

Arm teachers to improve school safety? We thinki it's a bad idea. And there was a time when the Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, saw it the same way.

Thursday's open line and the day's headlines

The open line and the daily news roundup.

U.S. attorney announces federal gun, drug charges that involve gangs blamed for Power Ultra Lounge shooting

U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland announced gun and drug charges against 49 people in a series of busts targeting gang activity in Little Rock.

Filing begins at Capitol

The election filing season opened at noon today at the Capitol and a parade of familiar incumbents, including Gov. Hutchinson, passed through the rotunda.

Arming teachers: Part II

Arming teachers is a terrible idea. Here is some more anecdotal evidence.

From Russia with love: A manipulated Arkansas photograph becomes election fake news

The Wall Street Journal reports here on how Russian troll farms have exploited cracks in social media for propaganda purposes, appropriating images for re-use in their disinformation campaigns. Arkansas angle:

The annals of Twitter: Department of Finance and Administration division

Look at what the state's top financial officer rebroadcast on Twitter yesterday. Factual, it wasn't.

What do you think about a football team at UA-Little Rock?

How do you feel about football at UA-Little Rock? You can take a survey that asks that question. From here, it looks like a longshot

Late-session funny business: Panic button spending

What's that smell? It appears to come from an 11th-hour legislative deal to transfer economic money to a private cell phone app that Gov. Asa Hutchinson refused to fund last year.

UA Board studies UAMS financial condition

A committee of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees that is monitoring the financial situation at UAMS is meeting this morning for a monthly review. There's good news and bad news.

Recognizer wins round four of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

And Round 4 of the 2018 Arkansas Times Musician's Showcase goes to: Recognizer! They'll join The Rios, Couch Jackets and Sabine Valley at the finals at The Rev Room on Friday, March 9.

Capitol Avenue hotel project firms up

VCC Construction announced today the details of work already underway on the former Hall and Davidson buildings in the 200 block of Capitol Avenue to convert it to a boutique hotel.

Somebody push the panic button on special interest legislation

Here's another reason that a special deal for a school panic button phone app deserves closer inspection.

Rutledge, Trump throw red meat to CPAC

Leslie Rutledge and Donald Trump dished up heaping servings of anti-immigrant rhetoric at the conservative political action convention in Washington today.

Friday: The open line and the day's news

A soggy week done. Here are an open line and a video news/comment roundup.

No Small Talk Ep 7: Musicians Showcase, Follow the Woolf

We chat this week with Sarah Woolf (of "Follow the Woolf"), the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, and the new Bonnie Montgomery album.

Could the tide be turning on the NRA?

Is the NRA's political might fracturing a bit in the aftermath of another assault rifle massacre? It's not like me to be hopeful, but there are some encouraging signs.

College of Medicine dean steps down

Dr. Pope Moseley, executive vice chancellor at UAMS and dean of the University of Arkansas College of Medicine, has resigned the position to take a faculty position to pursue research.

The Sneaky Voucher Bill Edition

The coming special session, a sneaky voucher bill, a big drug arrest and LR mayoral challengers answer the city's suit — all covered on this week's podcast.

Hearing set on voter ID law challenge; Mark Martin defends law

Circuit Judge Alice Gray has set a hearing March 12 on a lawsuit that asks that she enjoin use of the state's new voter ID law in the May primary elections. Also, Secretary of State Mark Martin has filed a response defending the law.

City to announce stopgap for loss of grocery in central Little Rock

The city of Little Rock has announced a weekly stop of a mobile produce market to fill a hole left by the closure of City Market on 12th Street.

The gun debate: It's time to call the roll on suggestions for gun safety

Lapses in school security are an argument for, not against, gun control measures. It's time to debate them all, from something as simple as more public health research to a ban on assault weapons.

The sodden open line

A rainy open line cheered by corporate rejection of the NRA.

Tom Dillard details problems at Stacy Hurst-run Heritage Department

Tom Dillard, the retired head of special collections at the University of Arkansas and weekly history columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, turned his Sunday colum

Measuring the states on the opioid battle; Arkansas lags on one measure

Vox has a report comparing the states on one measure of the fight against opioid addiction, the ratio of providers of a drug used to treat opioid disorder and the number of opioid deaths in a state. Arkansas fares poorly.

Hitting the gun lobby where it hurts: bank accounts

The corporate backlash to the NRA continues and this development could go beyond the end of deals with rental car companies.

Asa gets gun time with Donald Trump, opens door to arming teachers

The open line and more gun talk, specificaly Gov. Asa Hutchinson's appearance on CBS; his support for more guns in schools, and his plans to talk with Donald Trump about guns this week.

Libertarian Party fields slate of candidates

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas held its nominating convention recently and came up with a slate of 33 candidates for state and local political office.

Medical marijuana madness unfolds Tuesday

The licensing of medical marijuana cultivation facilities begins Tuesday in Arkansas. Chaos, conspiracy theories and legal confusion seem certain to follow.

Alert: Buffalo River power play looming at legislature

The current legislative budget session is fairly hum-drum, but an expected special session immediately after seems likely to be more contentious. Add hog waste and the Buffalo River to an agenda that already includes a fight over the cost of prescription drugs.

A good guy with a gun: Shot by police

A cautionary tale from Amarillo, Texas, about putting more guns in public places, including school classrooms, for safety.

Fake news about 'crisis actors' is old news, see Little Rock 1957

When Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale) joined in the fake Facebook meme about use of "actors" to portray Florida high school students, he was following in a long tradition of baloney, often tinged with bigotry.

Rewritten casino amendment now seems to bring Southland, Oaklawn on board

A group hoping to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2018 to legalize  more casinos in Arkansas and devote tax revenues to highways has submitted an altered proposal to the attorney general's office.A significant change seems to have brought support from the existing casino duopoly at Southland Park in West Memphis and Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.

Democrat announces for Bryan King's Senate seat

Democrat Jim Wallace, a political novice, has announced for Senate District 5, currently held by Republican Sen. Bryan King. King first faces a primary challenge from Rep. Bob Ballinger.

A proud namesake for Florida high school protesters

Read this from Tampa newspaper: A column about the woman for whom Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was named. She'd be standing with the young people, it seems safe to say.

Jan Morgan files for governor in Republican primary

Jan Morgan made it official Monday by filing to oppose Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the Republican primary.

Monday, Monday

Here's the Monday open line, plus headlines and comment.

Governor proposes more spending on charter schools and school vouchers

The squeaky billionaires get the grease. School "choice" ideas favored by the richest people in Arkansas — school vouchers and state money for charter school buildings — are getting additional support from Gov. Asa Hutchinson

42 Bar and Table chefs team up with Historic Arkansas Museum on inaugural dinner series

On Feb. 23, the Historic Arkansas Museum kicked off its first History Is Served dinner, where local chefs create a multi-course meal inspired by traditional Arkansas food culture. First up were Chefs Michael Selig and Gilbert Alaquinez of 42 Bar and Table at the Clinton Center. They did food inspired by Quapaw cooking, including sunflower seed cakes, lima bean succotash, New York strip-style bison topped with sweet potato frites and a flourless chocolate torte.

Rutledge, other Republicans move to kill Affordable Care Act (and some Americans while they're at it)

20 Republican state attorneys general, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, have gone to court to drive a stake through the Affordable Care Act.

In the Ozarks: A look at an African-American monastic community

KUAF's Jacqueline Froelich takes a look at a monastic community in remote Marion County, the Purple People.

Doping the medical marijuana permit winners

Five permits for cultivation of marijuana for medical use are to be awarded today by a state commission. An anonymous group has guessed which ones will win.

Corporations use tax cut for themselves

The Trump tax cut so far is spurring more buybacks of company stock than investments in new ventures.

A victory against gay discrimination in the workplace

This is big news: A 10-3 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that it was impermissible for a New York company to fire a skydiving instructor because he was gay. It is the second such ruling by an appellate court, against one in favor of discrimination in another circuit.

A three-way race for Arkansas Supreme Court

Reliable sources say Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Kenneth Hixson will file for the Arkansas Supreme Court seat held by Justice Courtney Goodson, who has said she'll be seeking re-election.

Farm Bureau push for Buffalo River hog feeding operation continues

Legislative lips remain largely sealed, but environmentalists attempting to protect the Buffalo River from factory hog farm waste say they continue to expect emergence of legislation to override the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and clear continued operation of the C and H Hog Farm in Newton County, whose topical application of hog waste can wash into tributaries of the Buffalo.

Arkansas legislators to talk school safety

Co-chairs of the legislative Joint Performance Review Committee have scheduled a 2:30 p.m. news conference at the Capitol to discuss their plans for improving school safety in the aftermath of the Florida massacre.

Officer-involved shooting reported in western Little Rock

TV reporters are responding to a police call of an "officer-involved shooting" at the Bowman Heights Apartments on Markham Mesas Drive off Mara Lynn in western Little Rock.

Here are your 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase finalists

Congratulations to The Rios, Couch Jackets, Sabine Valley, Recognizer and Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo, the five finalists in the 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

Judge Tim Fox dismisses city of Little Rock's lawsuit over candidate exploratory committees

Circuit Judge Tim Fox has dismissed the city of Little Rock's lawsuit attempting to stop two candidates for mayor for using exploratory committees to raise money in advance of the July 1 starting date in city ordinance for contributions to candidates for city office.

Advocates for medical marijuana gather at the Capitol

Advocates for expanding the recently passed medical marijuana program in Arkansas gathered at the Capitol today to speak to legislators. The 2nd annual "Patients Day" was led by Melissa Fults, a longtime proponent of medical cannabis in Arkansas.

'Standing Figure Knife Edge' appears in peek at new Arts Center: UPDATE

The photograph above is terrible — it was taken in the dark from the side of a room with an iPhone. But it reveals that Henry Moore's "Large Standing Knife Edge" will have a new home: in the renovated and expanded Arkansas Arts Center.

Tuesday: An open line and the daily roundup

The open line, plus news headlines and comment.

State picks 5 winners to cultivate medical marijuana UPDATED

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission meeting to award five cultivation permits starts at 3:30 p.m. today. It will be streamed on the web at this link.

ASU to face Alabama

I happened to notice last night that Arkansas State University will travel to Tuscaloosa Sept. 8 to play a football game. Against Alabama. Which of course brings up .....

Fox 16 anchor announces participation in marijuana application

Donna Terrell, anchor on Fox 16, disclosed on last night's news broadcast that she was one of the members of a group seeking a medical marijuana cultivation permit, apparently the top-ranked application from Natural States Medicinal Cultivation.

How the scoring went on medical marijuana cultivation permits

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has posted the five commissioners' scores of the cultivation permit applications that led to five being chosen for the first round of permits.

Dick's Sporting Goods will end assault rifle sales and sales of all guns to those under 21

The New York Times reports that Dick's Sporting Goods, one of the U.S.'s largest sports retailers, will stop selling assault-style rifles and require gun buyers to be 21

Fort Smith backs off anti-panhandling ordinance

Alex Golden reports for the Times-Record that the Fort Smith City Council has repealed a second attempt to make panhandling illegal.

Hog manure and more hog manure at the legislature UPDATE

The legislature yesterday approved money to study the impact of swine farming on the Buffalo River through 2022. Hmm. Sounds like they believe the factory hog farm isn't going anywhere, permit denial or no.

State attorney general joins another suit to undo Obamacare, including Arkansas Works

Arkansas has joined another federal lawsuit seeking an end to the Affordable Care Act, state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced late Monday afternoon.

Entergy files for rate reductions from tax cut

Entergy files for rate reduction to reflect recent income tax cut.

Police detail LR officer's shooting of intruder at his apartment

The Little Rock police today provide more information about an off-duty officer's shooting yesterday morning of a man reportedly trying to enter his west Little Rock apartment.

Pearls on Swine checks in on new head Hog Chad Morris

The Petit Jean Razorback Club nestled in Conway County is one of the state’s most zealous and active groups of Hog backers. It’s a rite of spring for the Sacred Heart Catholic Church gymnasium to host a Monday night spaghetti supper — and it is accordingly a rite of spring for the attendees to eat way too damn much of the spicy sausage and pasta and consider crash-dieting the rest of the week thereafter — and it’s always a special event when the Hogs’ head football coach gets to fire up a meaningful, and rather well-heeled, pocket of the fan base.

Democrat Mike Lee switches from House to attorney general race

At least one Democrat will challenge Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's re-election bid.

Rock Town to downtown ... SoMa ... in April

The move from 1216 E. Sixth St. in the East Village to 1201 Main St. in SoMa will give Rock Town Distillery lots more room to bend an elbow in: About 10,000 more square feet than its 15,000 SF on Sixth. Expected opening is at theend of April.

Parole officers defeated again

The House again today defeated, by voice vote, a proposal by Sen. Will Bond to add 30 parole officers to the Department of Community Correction.