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Readers Choice 2018

Readers Choice 2018

March 15, 2018

Vol 44 • No 28

John Daly's

Taking a drive for meat and potatoes.

Readers Choice 2018 results

Soup to nuts, restaurant-wise.

Best restaurants of Arkansas 2018

It's a tough business, the restaurant industry. Over the 37 years that the Arkansas Times has asked its readers to tell us which restaurants and bakeries, chefs and bartenders, hamburgers and home cookin' and such are the best, even the favorites have come and gone.

Big on Petit & Keet

Readers give it several awards; Keet credits the loyal staff.

Chiquintad meets Spa City

Rolando's Restaurante is Ecuadorian — sort of.

The Griffin

El Dorado's new restaurant showplace is worth the drive.

Faring well

Tomas Bohm's new deli is on its way.


One-size-fits-all FMLA is unrealistic

Five years ago, I worked at a bank to put myself through college. I was simultaneously caring for my terminally ill father. He was diagnosed my freshman year, and he nearly survived up to his goal: to see me graduate.

Pot Rx panel sued

The first lawsuit over the state Medical Marijuana Commission›s scoring of the top five applicants for cultivation permits under the new medical marijuana law was filed Tuesday.

The post-prison license hurdle

Arkansas is trying to make it easier for those released from ADC to get licenses and IDs. But challenges remain.

A gun shift?

This week marks a month since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. To note that anniversary, students planned to walk out of schools across the country to remember the deaths of the 17 students at the Parkland, Fla., high school and to call for an end to gun violence.

Send in the segs

The state Board of Education last week rejected requests from Camden Fairview, Hope, Lafayette County and Junction City to be exempt from the state law requiring students to be able to freely transfer between school districts.

Gunpowder, lead and Pistol Annies

Even so, a more subdued Miranda Lambert at Verizon Arena.

The job

The Observer and Mr. Photographer were headed across town on our way to another press conference the other day when we got to talking about The Job. Newspaperin'.

Tax 'relief'

Stormy Daniels, North Korea and malicious Russians all belong on the back burner. The big political game to watch, because it moves the odds at this year's national elections and affects your wallet, is still the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Republicans passed in December.

Will the congressional blue wave reach Arkansas?

Despite a clear opportunity to make significant gains in the state legislature, the prospects for a Democratic surge at the congressional level in Arkansas are relatively dim.

Tourney time

Since Arkansas essentially peaked as a national basketball brand in the mid-1990s, the program's stumble down to the second or third tier of national relevance has been well documented.

Mark Thiedeman's "Alex in the Morning" screens at CALS Ron Robinson

"Dirty Dancing" goes up at Robinson Center Performance Hall.

Raise a stein

To Fassler Hall.

'Mamma Mia!' goes up at The Rep

Knowing me, knowing you.

March Madness

It would be an exaggeration to say I've been an NCAA basketball junkie all my life.

Susana Raya comes to The Joint

And much more.

A hit job

Also, Arkansas Works appropriation approved, civil rights lawsuit approved and Shepherd to be Speaker.

Inconsequential News Quiz: 'I hope this offends someone' edition&

#10;Play at home, you one-humped dromedary!

Greenbrier paddles students for talking part in National Walkout

Pigheaded resistance to the National Walkout Day helped students make their point about adult intransigence. Such resistance in Greenbrier went viral when a mom reported paddling of 17-year-old walkouts.

The legislature slouches home having done .... what?

The special session ends today. Still searching for the emergency that required this session.

Support kids in nature: Eat at Chipotle on Dickson Street

The Ozark Natural Science Center, tucked away in the woods outside Huntsville, offers programming in Arkansas's flora, fauna and geography to grade-school children on its trail system and in its teaching facility. If you've been to ONSC — maybe to see the Northern Saw-whet owl, the subject of recent research there by a University of Arkansas ornithologist — you know it's a great place, with a cave system, waterfalls, creeks and Ozark uplands, located on the 500-acre Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission Bear Hollow Natural Area.

Supreme Court agrees Jacksonville police chief ineligible to serve

The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision that Geoffrey Herweg was ineligible to be Jacksonville police chief because of a 2002 Texas misdemeanor conviction for failure to report an accident.

Rutledge claims another victory over the environment

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is boasting today that the Trump administration is siding with a lawsuit her office joined with Alabama and other states to override Obama administration rule changes on critical wildlife habitats.

UPDATE: Hutchinson promises 'transformation' of state government in 2019 session, 50 percent reduction in state departments

As I predicted last night, Gov. Asa Hutchinson's big announcement today is a plan to ask the 2019 legislature for a "transformation" of state government that will cut the existing number of state departments in half, to about 20.

Trump budget hits WW II historical effort in Arkansas

The 2019 Trump budget ends a program that has supported historical research in Arkansas about the Japanese-American experience in World War II. Call your congressman

Marijuana permit applicant applauds state effort and scrutiny

Delta Medical Cannabis Company, one of five top scorers in the grading of applicants for cultivation permits by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, says it appreciates the scrutiny being given top applications and appreciates the state's hard work.

Democratic candidate for governor blasts 'back-door voucher' plan

Jared Henderson, the Demoratic candidate for governor, has issued a news release blasting the new legislation that provides a direct taxpayer subsidy for K-12 private school costs, calling it a "backdoor voucher" plan.

The American melting pot: See it in the newly hung galleries at Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has rehung its Early American galleries that Director Rod Bigelow says better reflects "the complexity of the American story —and we look forward to ongoing dialogue and discoveries as new connections with historic American art are revealed.”

News headlines and the open line

The open line and daily news video.

'The Conversation' with Todd Yakoubian

In this week's edition of our breakout new podcast, "The Conversation," host Matt Price interviews KATV Meteorologist Todd Yakoubian. They cover a range of issues including climate change, why the Ozark Mountains are the reason Little Rock doesn't get much snow and fake news in the weather world.

Legislator asks for outside scoring of marijuana applications

State Rep. Scott Baltz of Pocahontas, who'd earlier raised questions about checking of tax deficiencies among applications for medical marijuana cultivation permits, has suggested that outside evaluators be used to re-score the applications.

Clarke Tucker channels Conor Lamb: 'Throw the bums out,' including Pelosi as leader

State Rep. Clarke Tucker of Little Rock, one of four Democratic candidates for 2nd District Congress who hope to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. French Hill, told the New York Times that he likes Conor Lamb's approach in winning a previously Republican seat in Pennsylvania, including running against Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Jan Morgan has won the Republican gubernatorial primary

Jan Morgan has won at least a philosophical victory in the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. She's driven Asa Hutchinson to new depths.

Write your congressmen to support history

When you're busy cutting the federal budget to the bone so that folks wealthier than God don't have to contribute to the Treasury, no program is too small to ax, right?

Dream comes true: Dreamland Ballroom gets big restoration grant

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service will award a $499,668 improvement grant to Dreamland Ballroom in the historic Taborian Hall building at Ninth and State streets, now the home of Little Rock Flag and Banner.

Local immigration activist harassed in Walmart parking lot

A local activist and her family were accosted in the parking lot of the Bryant Walmart. Hint: it's about race.

Speaking of unwieldy government

State government, which Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to reorganize, is a complicated business. See the governor's office itself.

Park Service grant will repair Central High facade

More details on a federal grant to preserve the facade of Little Rock Central High School, a landmark in the civil rights struggle.

ACLU objects to Magnolia schools surveillance system

The ACLU of Arkansas has condemned a new  biometric surveillance system planned at Magnolia junior and senior high schools as "unproven, costly and intrusive."

Judicial watchdog expected to get judgeship

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is expected to announce soon the appointment of Emily White to fill a vacancy as Malvern district judge to succeed Judge Sherry Burnett, who's resigned to go into private practice.

Judge OKs race by state Parole Board member; complainant cries foul

Circuit Judge Chris Carnahan of Conway ruled today that Andy Shock could run for Faulkner County justice of the peace even though he holds a full-time paid state job as a gubernatorial appointee to the state Parole Board.

The Students Make Themselves Heard Edition

Challenges to the state medical marijuana commission’s grading of cultivation applications, the just concluded special session of the legislature, Governor Hutchinson’s politicking, students protesting gun violence and another civil rights lawsuit from Mike Laux targeting the Little Rock Police Department and the city of Little Rock — all covered on this week's podcast.

Friday open line and the day's headlines

Here's the Friday open line, plus the daily roundup of news and comment.

UPDATE: No ruling today on marijuana lawsuit

No decisiion today in lawsuit challenging top scores in competition for medical marijuana cultivation permits.

Abortion is safe, but many states throw up delays and misinformation. See Leslie Rutledge

Abortion is safe, but some states make it less safe with delays and misinformation. Think Arkansas.

Judge ponders holding lobbyist without bail

Federal Magistrate David Rush heard arguments today in Springfield, Mo., on whether former lobbyist and health care agency executive Rusty Cranford should continue to be held without bail pending his trial on charges that he participated in a scheme to divert money from the nonprofit for which he worked to himself and others as well as to  payments to politicians and campaign funds.

It's 3rd Friday Art Walk in Argenta ...

It's Third Friday Art Walk in Argenta, and it's beautiful outdoors. So go.

Hutchinson names Steve Cox to UA Board of Trustees

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named Jonesboro businessman Steve Cox, a former Razorback and NFL punter, to the 

Would-be grower asks judge to 'throw out the entire process' at hearing on marijuana licenses

Griffen, who rejected the state's sovereign immunity defense at the beginning of the hearing, said he expects to have a written decision by Wednesday.

Greenbrier's paddling of student protester goes worldwide

The paddling of Greenbrier High School students who joined in te national school walkout Wednesday has produced headlines worldwide.

A special legislative session leaves questions about pharmacy benefits, public schools

You think the legislature solved the pharmacy benefits problem? I'm not so sure. Beeyond that, the legisaltion was even worse.

Prosecutor says legislator Hank Wilkins took $100,000 in bribes from indicted lobbyist

A federal prosecutor in Missouri said Friday that a former legislator, Henry Wilkins IV of Pine Bluff, had said he'd received $100,000 in bribes as a state legislator from indicted former lobbyist Rusty Cranford. He was not alone on an illicit dole.

Fatal shooting near Boyle Park

Little Rock police say when one man was killed and another wounded about 1 a.m. this morning in the 3100 block of Boyle Park Road, near the park maintenance entrance.

Jefferson County suit filed to end dual election commission service by Stu Soffer

Two residents of Jefferson County have filed a lawsuit seeking to force Stu Soffer, a Republican from White Hall, off the Jefferson County Election Commission.

The Thou Shalt Not open line

The Saturday open line comes with a progress report on the Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol. Resurrection is coming.

Pine Bluff newspaper calls for county judge's resignation over bribery allegation

The Pine Bluff Commercial called in an editorial today for Henry Wilkins to resign as Jefferson County judge over the revelation Friday that he'd told the FBI he'd taken $100,000 in bribes from lobbyist and health copany executive Rusty Cranford when he was a state legislator.

Voter ID laws 'work' at suppressing votes, but they fail the constitution

Another voter suppression law is getting a rough ride in federal court in Kansas. We hope for the same in Arkansas.

The Get-to-work-slackers! open line

The open line comes with a warning for those on the Medicaid insurance coverage provided by Obamacare that they'll soon be required to report regularly to the state on their work habits.

March for Our Lives against violence March 24 spurs opposition

The March for Our Lives March 24 against school shootings has stirred opposition from gun lovers. Which reminds us of a new article delving into the types of people who are stockpiling guns.

A blog friend, Richard Boosey Jr., passes

We learned today of the death of a long-time Arkansas Blog friend, Richard Boosey Jr. of Mount Vermon.

Arkansas voter ID law an impediment to voting, lawsuit argues

Additional pleadings have been filed in the citizen's lawsuit challenging the new Arkansas voter ID law that includes evidence the new law resulted in votes in a recent special election in Russellville not being counted.

Two dead in Oak Street shooting

A man and woman were killed in a shooting Sunday nigth at 21st and Oak.

Records show financial tie between senator and health agency she helped get grant

A state senator's business relationship with a company she helped receive state money.

Jim Carrey painting of press secretary draws Huckster's ire

A Jim Carrey painting and comment on the White House secretary has drawn fire from Mike Huckabee.

That school safety legislation? Give it an asterisk

The House last week passed the STOP School Violence Act and congresmen are spraining arms patting themselves on the back. Education Week dug into the impact and found it small.

Stop the presses: Doubt from UA school 'reformer' about test scores as measure of future success

The leading "school reformer" in Arkansas raises doubts about using school test scores as a measure of students' future success. Wow.

KARK/Fox 16: Henry Wilkins to resign as county judge

Jessi Turnure at KARK/Fox 16 reports that Henry Wilkins plans to resign as Jefferson County judge following allegations that he accepted bribes while a state legislator.

The Arkansaurus dinosaur is officially official

The only dinosaur known to have lived in Arkansas now has official recognition.

Cockfighting busted in Sevier County

Sevier County authorities busted a cockfight Saturday near DeQueen.

Monday: Another week begins with an open line

The Monday open line, plus a video roundup of news and comment.

Cotton appears ready to join Trump on death penalty for drug sellers

Trump has called for the death penalty for drug dealers and Sen. Tom Cotton has answered his call for support.

Democratic Party weighs in on Wilkins' bribery allegation. Poorly.

Democratic Rep. MIchael John Gray has issued a statement on the report that former Democratic legislator Hank Wilkins, soon to resign as Jefferson County judge, had told FBI he'd taken bribes from a lobbyist now under indictment. Wilkins has not been charged. It's regrettably a defense of some other indefensible practices.

Meeting set to replace Wilkins; U.S. attorney provides more details of payments

Jefferson County sets a meeting to replace disgraced county judge and the Pine Bluff Commercial reports more details on the bribe scheme that brought him down.

Baxter County deputy kills tractor driver armed with crossbow

A Baxter County deputy investigating a stolen tractor killed a man driving the tractor. The driver was carrying a crossbow and reportedly fought with the deputy.

Another explosion in Texas

A package exploded in a FedEx facility near San Antonio this morning and officials suspect it could be related to a string of four recent bombings in Austin, Texas.

Survey: UAMS faculty opposed to tenure change proposal

Survey says UAMS faculty aren't happy about a proposed change in University of Arkansas tenure policy.

Four finalists chosen for Walton-funded School of Art at UA

Four finalist candidates to become director of the School of Art at the U of A Fayetteville, created with a $120 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Trust, will give public 30-minute presentations and take part in 30-minute Q&As when they visit campus for interviews this month and in April.

Mississippi's anti-abortion law blocked after one day

A court blocks Mississippi's attempt to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Tuesday: The daily video and open line

Here you go: video roundup and the open line.

State hospital seeking employee, patient who left without permission

Be on the lookout for a State hospital employee and patient who drove away without authorization today, a state news release said. Be on the lookout for who, exactly? Good question.

Austin bombing suspect kills himself as police close in

A suspect in the Austin bombings killed himself with an explosive device in his car as police closed in on him, according to this CNN report.

In the news: Taxes and Razorbacks. No surprises in either case.

Reporting today on state tax policy and the Razorbacks was unsurprising, but still useful. Not that the good advice here is likely to be followed.

Paul Spencer's big-spending economic plan

Paul Spencer, one of the Democratic candidates for 2nd District Congress, proposed an economic plan this week that's big on government investment, a reach in these Republican-majority times.

Hurst names new state archivist, prof from OBU who previously held job

Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, has named Dr. Wendy Richter, a previous state archivist, to succeed Lisa Speer as state historian and director of the state archives.

UPDATES: Judge Griffen enjoins award of marijuana cultivation permits

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen this morning issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the state Medical Marijuana Commission from awarding five permits to companies to cultivate marijuana in the state.

Wednesday: The open line and daily video

The open line, plus a news roundup leading with medical marijuana.

Arkansas cities and counties sue opioid makers

Arkansas cities and counties have joined in a state court lawsuit against opioid makers with the hope of winning damages to address the problem.

The Arkansas Department of Correction's woeful media policies and practices

Since August 2017, the Arkansas Times has requested to interview 15 different inmates incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction — all of those requests have been denied.