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Spring Arts 2018

Spring Arts 2018

March 1, 2018

Vol 44 • No 26

Read the print version

Spring Arts 2018 Calendar

Art, music, film and more.

A Q&A with Beth Ditto

'Let that baby fly.'

2018 spring music preview

Steve Earle, Wanda Jackson, Dave Matthews Band and more.

Find the nation's 'Soul' at Crystal Bridges

Spring 2018 fine art preview.

2018 spring film preview

Roll 'em.

2018 spring theater preview

Cue the footlights

2018 Spring Arts guide

A Q&A with Beth Ditto and previews of the upcoming fine arts, film, music and theater events.

Today's news and the open line

Here's the day's roundup of headlines and comment. It is also the open line.

Arming teachers? What about arming the Insurance Department?

Big spending on security at the Arkansas Insurance Department, including lots of guns and ammo and a $39,000 pay increase for the security chief, a former deputy sheriff, over his predecessor, who had a law degree.

Hendrix College won't mark down 'peaceful protesters'

Hendrix College joins the ranks of those colleges saying they won't mark down applicants who've joined "peaceful protests."

Asa, hearing Morgan footsteps, defends Trump tweeting

Jan Morgan has Gov. Asa Hutchinson running scared. This interview with Fox News is a case in point

The Conversation: With Warwick Sabin

Check out the second edition of our new podcast, "The Conversation," where host Matt Price interviews state Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock), who is exploring a run for Little Rock mayor.

33-month sentence for food program fraud

A 16th person has been sentenced for stealing money from a program supposed to help feed poor children.

Another delay in release of medical marijuana applications

The state isn't yet ready to release details on ownership of the five top-scoring applicants to grow medical marijuana in Arkansas, but we've rounded up a few details.

Walmart raises gun sale age to 21

Walmart, known as the country's biggest gun retailer, is joining Dick's Sporting Goods in putting new limits on gun sales. No one under 21 may buy guns and ammo.

Rutledge fighting ACA

Also, she talks about the wall and a big gun arrest.

La Tapatia brings the heat

With authentic Mex.

These kids today

The Observer, that old rabble-rouser, is watching these kids today, these American Daughters and American Sons who've clapped on their helmets and gone off to battle for the people they love and the people they lost to greed and violence and those who love guns more than they love a child, with something approaching a parental level of pride.

Lanterns! at Wildwood

And much more.

Growers named

Natural State Medicinals, Bold Team LLC, Natural State Wellness Enterprises, Osage Creek Cultivation and Delta Medical Cannabis Company Inc. were the five companies awarded permits to grow medical cannabis by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Tuesday.

Gun history

It all seems so urgent yet so pointless, this umpteenth national catharsis over gun slaughter: children and parents wailing for action by Congress and legislatures, followed by hesitant and often laughable ideas from the president and others about how to stop it.

Rebuilding power

If Arkansas joins the red state revolt this November, it will be because the slate of young, first-time Democratic candidates vastly outperformed Hillary Clinton on the ballot.

Henna Roso plays Four Quarter

And Riverdale 10 Cinema screens "The Room."

On the memos

From the GOP perspective, maybe the worst thing about the dueling Nunes/Schiff memos regarding the FBI's Russia investigation is what they revealed about the intelligence of the combatants. Following the Fox News-amplified thunder of the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign, the most striking thing about the Nunes effort was how breathtakingly dumb it was.

Inconsequential News Quiz: When Historians Attack! Edition

Play at home, while not giving your kid an adverse childhood experience!

Sexism everywhere

This past week I was a member of a panel of attorneys addressing discrimination in the practice of law. Just like any field, sexism exists in the legal industry, especially in certain practice areas.

NRA's message

Some thoughts on school shootings

Arm teachers and other school employees? Bad idea. They have more than enough to do as it is.

'Annihilation' is a trippy mindwalk

From director Alex Garland.

All the Hogs

We're still deeply engrossed in the Arkansas men's basketball campaign, but first, Pearls has a word on a couple of other ongoing February sports on the hill.

Insurance Department spends thousands on guns, ammo, Tasers and other equipment to apprehend fraud suspects

Since new head of criminal division was hired in 2016.

Guns: Call the roll

The gun lobby is wrong in thinking law enforcement failures in the Florida massacre are arguments against gun control. They illustrate why we must look harder at the devices that do the mass killing and how they get in hands of people even law officers are reluctant to confront.

Can Democrats catch a wave? At least they're running, including against a turncoat

The Democratic Party is hoping to pick up some legislative seats this year. Odds may be long, but young people like Ryan Carter of Corning at least can ask Republian opponents some uncomfortable questions.

Argument turns heated in Helena-West Helena school meeting

WREG in Memphis reports on a heated argument between Helena-West Helena School Board President Andrew Bagley and Jewel Hamilton, principal of Wahl Elementary.

How tax dollars subsidize small airports, including four in Arkansas

Here's a report on the 40-year-old program of federal tax subsidies for small airports, some serving as few as a dozen passengers a day. Four beneficiaries are in Arkansas.

The state assault on the Little Rock School District continues

In bits and pieces, the Walton-financed agenda to destroy the Little Rock School District continues.

Surprise. Poor people have trouble paying for Medicaid

Requiring premiums for Medicaid coverage isn't working well in Arkansas or other states. Good new: The Affordable Care Act is increasingly popular, except with Republicans like Leslie Rutledge.

Arkansas Supreme Court lifts stay of Bruce Ward's execution

The Arkansas Supreme Court today, in a 5-2 decision, rejected Death Row inmate Bruce Ward's argument that he was entitled to the assistance of an independent psychiatrist in his defense.It lifted a stay of execution issued April 14, the day he was scheduled to die by lethal injection.

Supreme Court dodges clarification on state immunity issue

The Arkansas Supreme Court, despite asking for briefs on the issue, decided not to provide any clarity about its momentous ruling that the state can't be sued.

Supreme Court lifts stay of execution for Don Davis

The Arkansas Supreme Court today also lifted a stay of execution for Don Davis, who'd been granted a stay along with Bruce Ward in April.

Governor creates commission to study school safety in Arkansas. Gun control off table

Governor Hutchinson today signed an executive order to create the Arkansas School Safety Commission, which will produce two reports — the first due Jul. 1 and the second Nov. 30—- to look at mental health, school security plans and how schools partner with local law enforcement. Not on the table for the commission: gun control.

Little Rock reaping $1 million annually from Amazon sales tax collection

A city of Little Rock legal filing indicates the voluntary payments of sales tax on purchases made through Amazon is producing about $1 million a year in sales tax revenue for the city.

Correction Department closes two small prison facilities due to staff vacancies

The Arkansas Department of Correction today announced the closure of two units of its smaller units because of staffing concerns.

Election filings come to a close

Election filing closed today with few surprises, except the surprise decision by a state senator not to seek re-election.

Thursday open line: Election filings, school safety and more

The Thursday open line and daily news roundup: Elections, school safety, guns, marijuana.

Arkansas bishop urges congressmen to consider gun control, knocks NRA (big backer of one of his flock)

Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock has written the Arkansas congressional delegation urging them to back "reasonable, life-saving" regulations on firearms as a response to the Florida school massacre.

Frontier expands Little Rock air service

Frontier Airlines has begun service from Little Rock to Denver and a Clinton National Airport spokesman says demand has proved sufficient to expand the service from three to four days a week.

Dillard's announces $500 million stock buyback

Dillard's the department store chain based in Little Rock, is following others in corporate America in the aftermath of the big federal income tax cut with a stock buyback.

Justice Department seeks to stop drug production at Cantrell Drug over sanitary conditions

The federal Justice Department announced today that it had filed a civil action to stop drug production by Cantrell Drug Company because of unsanitary operations.

PAW PAC celebrates Democratic women candidates

The Progressive Arkansas Women PAC celebrated its candidates on the steps of the state Capitol today at the close of filing for the 2018 elections, with Secretary of State candidate Susan Inman asking, "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

The winners: The applications for medical marijuana cultivation permits

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has just released copies of the applications of the top five scorers in the round of competition for five cultivation facilities.

Huckabee reaps bitter harvest for anti-gay stance; forced to quit Country Music Association board

Mike Huckabee resigned after a day as a member of the Country Music Association Foundation Board after a heated protest of his appointment on account of his anti-LGBT pronouncements.

State tax take continues to run ahead of last year

The monthly state revenue report through February says the state net take was 4.6 percent above the first eight months of the budget year compared with last year, with a surplus so far of $79.6 million more than forecast.

Time for a change in Little Rock city government?

Seeking opinions on changing Little Rock city government to a mayor-council system.

Prediction: Split decison on change in Arkansas Medicaid rules

A Politico tipsheet says the expected visit of a Trump administration Medicaid official in Arkansas Monday will deliver a split decision for changes Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proposed in the Medicaid expansion program financed by Obamacare and offered through private insurers under Arkansas's hybrid plan.

ADC: Inmate, 44, dies from apparent suicide

At 3:13 p.m. yesterday, correctional officers found Danny Ollis "hanging in a locked single-man cell where he was alone," according to an Arkansas Department of Correction press release.

Pine Bluff native coach shuns Colorado recruit, loses job

One note over the line for Texas Wesleyan baseball coach Mike Jeffcoat, a Pine Bluff native

Friday, thank goodness

The week's done. Open line. Plus news video.

LR teachers will get bonus, but Key warns of need for salary plan change

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key signed off today on a $1,000 one-time bonus for Little Rock School District teachers. But he issued an ominious note about a reworking of district salary schedules in the future.

The Cultivation and Hog Slop Edition

The winners of the medical marijuana cultivation permits, the latest from the legislature, including hog slop and a Medicaid wait-and-see, and Governor Hutchison's school safety plan — all included on this week's podcast.

Judge refuses to dismiss corruption case against former Sen. Jon Woods; says FBI agent could face charges for mishandling potential evidence

Federal Judge Timothy Brooks today refused to dismiss charges against former Republican Sen. Jon Woods and other defendants in a case alleging a kickback scheme using public money.

As Little Rock City Hall turns: Exploring candidate, easing up on marijuana, Arts Center bonds

City Hall news: Another exploratory campaign committee; a proposal to go easy on marijuana enforcement, and a coming bond issue.

Cry the beloved country: Trump's America

Trump news and more Trump news. And none of it good.

ASU learns that admission and tuition practices favor 'better-off' families. They are not alone.

A study to help Arkansas State University make more money exposed an ugly fact about higher education in Arkansas — the system favors higher income students.

Mark Martin disappears Libertarian candidates again. They aren't happy.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office on Friday removed all but one Libertarian candidate from the website listing candidates who filed for state office in 2018 elections.

An open line, with a brief Florida miracle on AR-15s

The open line includes a rare, if brief, piece of good gun news from Florida.

The marathon is underway

The Little Rock Marathon is underway.

Donald Trump, president for life

Donald Trump, president for life?

Vietnam. A protest threatened at UA-Little Rock. Why not?

A tribute to Vietnam-era veterans sparks a protest. Perfect, given the history.

Sunday open line

It’s time for your comments.

UPDATE: Feds OK Medicaid work rule; no decision yet on restricting enrollment on income

A decision with life-or-death implications will be announced today concerning the Arkansas Medicaid program.UPDATE: A work requirement was approved; a bigger change that could cut Medicaid for 60,000 people remains under discussion.

Stacy Hurst fires back at criticism of her leadership of the Department of Arkansas Heritage

Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, has sent a note to staff responding to blistering criticism of her management.

New Music from Indy Grotto, Kami Renee, Mark Currey and Brae Leni

New music from Kami Renee of Dazz & Brie and The Emotionalz, Mark Currey, Indy Grotto and Brae Leni.

Jefferson County lands two cannabis cultivation facilities

Natural State Wellness, one of five companies winning a permit from the state to operate a medical cannabis cultivation facility, has chosen to locate in Jefferson County, giving that county two cultivation centers. The company had submitted identical applications, one for Jefferson and one for Jackson County.

Little Rock police chief withdraws from Charleston police chief search

Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner announced today that he'd withdrawn from the competition to choose a new police chief for Charleston, S.C.

Another week begins: The open line

Here's the Monday open line. Also a roundup of news and comment.

Rapper in club shooting strikes plea bargain

Ricky Hampton, the rapper known as Finese 2 Tymes who was performing when shooting broke out July 1 in a downtown club, leaving 25 wounded, entered a negotiated guilty plea in federal court today to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Another critic of Arkansas work rule for Medicaid

More criticism of Arkansas's decision to put a work rule on Medicaid recipients. The impact will be small and will hit some innocent people, says the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Arkansas DHS Director Cindy Gillespie, Governor Asa Hutchinson and CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

Trump administration approves work requirement for Arkansas Works beneficiaries

On Monday, the nation’s top Medicaid official traveled to Little Rock to announce federal approval of a measure long sought by Governor Hutchinson: a work requirement for beneficiaries of Arkansas Works, the program providing health insurance to 285,000 low-income Arkansans under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.

Sign up to protect the Buffalo River

The Arkansas Citizens First Congress has an on-line petition drive fast gaining momentum to oppose industry legislative efforts to protect a factory hog feeding operation in the watershed of the Buffalo River.

A vote for gun control in Florida Senate

Kid power made a difference in the Florida legislature, with passage of meaningful gun control legislation by the Senate. It goes to the House today, where a powerful NRA lobbyist will attempt to replicate past control of the Florida legisalture.

Susan McDougal offers advice to former Trump aide on special counsel with subpoena

The tragicomic farce of the Trump administration added an episode yesterday with former campaign aide Sam Nunberg's declaration that he wouldn't cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller. He later decided maybe he would cooperate after all. Perhaps the lesson of Susan McDougal encouraged his change of hert.

The 'meanness threshold': Ernest Dumas on politics of punishing the poor

There's an argument that the Arkansas legislature should defeat Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Human Services Medicaid budget: It's too mean. But the debate will be about whether it is mean enough. Ernest Dumas explains.

One dead, one wounded in Stuttgart street shooting

The State Police say men opened fire on a vehicle in Stuttgart about 7:30 p.m. Monday, leaving one dead and one wounded.

Reporter's Twitter question leads to leave for Little Rock teacher and a police report

A Little Rock School District coach has been placed on administrative leave over remarks made on his Twitter account. Police were later called about his attempt to 'handle man to man' his complaint about a reporter who put events in motion.

Big River Trail to expand with Walton Family Foundation grant

A $1.186 million grant frrom the Walton Family Foundation will expand the Big River Trail 30 miles, from the southern end of the levee trail in Marianna through downtown Helena-West Helena and westward to the Arkansas Heritage Trail.

Advocates for disabled fault state's progress on advancing workers

Disability Rights Arkansas today issued a report faulting Arkansas for poor progress in moving disabled people who work in sheltered workshops to more "integrated employment."

House defeats bill that included school voucher provision

The House today failed to pass the state treasurer's office appropriation, which included a controversial school voucher provision. The vote was 56-22 and 11 not voting, with 75 needed for passage.

Senate passes continuation of Medicaid expansion 27-2

The Arkansas Senate is debating the state Human Services Department's medical services  appropriation, with its continuation of the Arkansas Works program to expand Medicaid coverage in Arkansas under Obamacare.

Tuesday's open line

The open line and the news roundup.

Mystery: Dark money behind opposition to wind energy project

SWEPCO, the electric utility that serves part of Arkansas, is raising questions about a media campaign against their proposal to meet part of generating needs with a new wind power project., known as the Wind Catcher Energy Connection.

Senate approves Arkansas Works budget

On Tuesday, the state Senate narrowly approved another year of funding for Arkansas Works, the program providing health care coverage to some 285,000 low-income adults through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.

KATV reports on LRPD evaluation of response to mass shooting, mistakes and all

Scott Carroll of KATV has put together an in-depth retelling of the mass shooting July 1 at Power Ultra Lounge in which 25 were struck by gunfire, but none killed.

Getting ready for the new Medicaid work requirement. Legal Aid offers help

Legal Aid of Arkansas has begun putting out the word about the coming work requirement for Medicaid benefits. It will offer help to those who need it to avoid losing coverage.

What's that smell? Is it medical marijuana? Or just burned up applicants?

As the state moves to final approval of medical marijuana cultivation permits, grumbling is growing among the unsuccessful applicants. Does it matter?

City Board will decide March 20 on appeal of campaign finance decision

With advice in hand from the city attorney, the Little Rock Board of Directors will discuss March 20 whether to appeal a judge's ruling against its effort so shut down exploratory committees raising money for cadidates for city office.

Another plea for protecting the Buffalo River

A coalition of environmental and grassroots groups joined in a letter to legislators today to resist a proposal circulating to override a state decision not to grant a new permit for a factory hog feeding operation in the Buffalo River watershed.

House falls vote short of approving public subsidy for private K-12 education

The House of Representatives today fell one vote short of the 75 needed to pass a treasurer's office appropriation that included an amendment to allow tax deductions for money directed to K-12 private school tuition, essentially a voucher program in support of private education.

Wednesday: The line is open

An open line and the daily news video.

Rutledge wins another victory for air pollution

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge proudly announced today another victory for air pollution, a stay of an EPA rule to clean up emissions from coal-burning power plants in Arkansas.

Man inspired by 'Breaking Bad' indicted for possessing ricin

Alexander Joseph Jordan, 21, who was arrested Feb. 27, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for possessing the deadly biological toxin ricin. He is in federal custody.

Departing from years past, state House quickly passes Arkansas Works

On Wednesday, the state House of Representatives voted 77-13 to approve the budget for Arkansas Works, the Medicaid-funded program that provides health insurance to 285,000 Arkansans.

Jonesboro woman buys $1 million lottery ticket

Jonesboro woman is a million-dollar (less taxes) lottery winner.

The NRA can be beaten. Florida did it, Republican legislature and all

How about this? The Florida House today joined the Florida Senate, both bodies with majority Republican membership, in approving some meaningful gun legislation.