← Back to issues
2014 Academic All-Stars

2014 Academic All-Stars

April 24, 2014

Vol 22 • No 9

Read the print version

All-Star nominees

Here are the students nominated to be academic all-stars. They are listed by their hometowns, as indicated by mailing addresses.

2014 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team

The 20th top 20.

Arkansas Times Academic All-Star alumni are scattered around the world, still succeeding

A look back on the 20th anniversary of the first class.

Academic All-Star Finalists

These 10 students made the final round of judging for the 2014 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team.

The right's new Obamaploy: Common Core

Sonny Perdue, the veterinarian who marched the Republican Party to power in Georgia, defined American politics in 2014 better than the political scientists. "It's the two P's," he said the other day, "polarization and paranoia."

Mike Maggio isn't alone

A backhanded defense follows for Circuit Judge Mike Maggio, who resigned a Court of Appeals race amid multiple ethics investigations.

Don't pass Southern Salt

Food truck fuses Southern fare with international flavors.

Long Live the Arkansas Literary Festival

Little Rock's festival of books returns bigger than ever.

Q&A with outgoing Little Rock Police Department Chief Stuart Thomas

Arkansas Times reporter David Koon sat down with retiring Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas, who ends his 35-year career with the LRPD on June 27, to talk about his career.

At ease, congressman

The 2014 U.S. Senate race has already produced its share of campaign advertisement "celebrities," with more to certainly join them through their omnipresence on Arkansas television screens: Tom Cotton's mother, Mark Pryor's Bible and America for Prosperity's "Wanda" and "Jerry." They were joined this week by another as Tom Cotton's U.S. Senate campaign released its second ad emphasizing the congressman's military service.

Real ranchers

One thing about that mangy posse of anti-government crackpots camped out at Cliven Bundy's place in the Nevada desert: Most don't know a thing about cattle ranching.

Gone fishin'

The Observer is seriously thinking of chuckin' it all, putting a sign on the door, and going fishing. No, not just saying we're going fishing and going home to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and watch old episodes of the "Andy Griffith Show" in our boxer shorts like we usually do when we say we're going fishing. This time we mean it: rod, reel, floppy hat, folding chair, umbrella, hooks, bobbers, ice chest full of tall boys and a squeaking cardboard tube full of terrified crickets. The woiks.

Fault lines

The proposed Diamond pipeline transporting Bakken Shale oil from Cushing, Okla., to Memphis, Tenn., spans three natural faults in eastern Oklahoma. These faults had been inactive for hundreds of years until that state started fracking. They have since become active and their seismic activity has increased.

Who's exasperated?

Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.

The beauty of 'Bears'

Disneynature's latest captures it.

Too many voters

To contemporary Republicans, there can never be too much money in an election, but there can be too many voters.

It was a good week for Chelsea Clinton

It was also a good week for a big find, Arkansas voters and health care coverage. It was a bad week for Sen. John Boozman, Little Rock's homicide rate and Rep. Tom Cotton.

Ballet Arkansas premiers 'Momentum'

Also, Diarrhea Planet comes to Stickyz.

Spring green

Fresh leaves on the trees surrounding the capitol dome.

The private option by the numbers

Earlier this week, the Department of Human Services released the latest enrollment numbers on the private option, the state's unique plan that uses Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for low-income Arkansans. Through March 31, 155,567 Arkansans have been deemed eligible and gained coverage.

Future Islands play Stickyz

Also, Chris Tucker at the Loony Bin, Doug Stanhope at Juanita's, Kevin Gates at Juanita's, Pub or Perish at Stickyz, 'Masculin Feminin' at Vino's, "Neurosis: A Sun That Never Sets" at Market Street and The Second City at the Arkansas Rep.

FDA plans to regulate electronic cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration will announce today proposed rules to regulate electronic cigarettes and extend coverage to pipe tobacco and cigars.

South racially polarized along political lines

The New York Times' Upshot blog writes that white preference for Republicans in the South is so dominant that it overcomes the national coalition that Obama seemed to build for an ongoing Democratic majority.

Meet the 2014 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star team

This week's Arkansas Times contains our Academic All-Star Team, our 20th. If the records compiled by past winners are any indication, this year's team has a bright future.

Supreme Court denies rehearing on Risperdal case

The Arkansas Supreme Court today declined a petition to reconsider its decision that gutted a $1.2 billion-dollar Medicaid fraud judgment against pharmaceutical companies for off-label use of the anti-psychotic medication Risperdal. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel blasted the ruling as results-oriented and potentially catastrophic for lawyers.

Texas state judge strikes down same-sex marriage curbs

A Texas judge has ruled it's unconstitutional for that state to discriminate against same-sex couples by preventing divorce. It's the latest in a string of rulings in favor of marriage equality as an Arkansas court nears a decision on a similar lawsuit.

Caws on "Modern Art Cookbook" tonight at AAC

Matisse, Picasso, Hockney — they may not have been from the same period, but they all painted still lifes of food. CUNY professor Mary Ann Caws talks about artists and the art of food.

Bruce Westerman works with Koch-affiliated strategists

Mother Jones reports on the association of 4th District Republican congressional candidate Bruce Westerman with a consulting firm affiliated with the billionaire Koch brothers, Aegis Strategic. The firm aims to "groom" free-market-minded candidates, the article says.

Taziki's Mediterranean coming to McCain Mall

A new location of Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe will be coming to McCain Mall in North Little Rock in early Fall, the mall announced today. A press release says it'll be located next to the Regal McCain 12 movie theater, and will feature an outdoor patio.

Appeals court upholds refusal to dismiss suit over Faulkner County jailers' use of force

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court's refusal to dismiss a lawsuit against Faulkner County sheriff's employees for alleged use of excessive forced in quelling a jail disturbance Oct. 24, 2010. Inmates said they were shot with beanbag guns, kicked and harmed by a flash-bang grenade after they'd submitted to officers.

City opens new water play area in Riverfront Park

Mayor Mark Stodola and City Director Dean Kumpuris were among those on hand this morning when the city invited kids to inaugurate the new splash pad in Riverfront Park behind the Marriott Hotel.

State DFA takes over Board of Psychology because of budget disarray

The Department of Finance and Administration has had to step in to straighten things out at the Arkansas Psychology Board, which is in apparent disarray.

"Baby Bear" illustrator at Hearne tonight

Award-winning author/illustrator Kadir Nelson, in town for the Arkansas Literary Festival, will be at Hearne Fine Art at 5:30 p.m. tonight to talk about his work, which is on exhibit there.

The Arkansas Literary Festival begins

Today at noon, the Arkansas Literary Festival started things off with a talk by longtime L.A. Times rock critic Robert Hilburn at the Oxford American Annex, moderated by Oxford American associate editor Maxwell George. HIlburn is the author, most recently, of "Johnny Cash: A Life," and so was there to tell Cash stories: playing Folsom Prison (a concert Hilburn actually attended, though as a freelancer not, he stressed, a prisoner), stealing horn riffs from Bob Moore, having an affair with his wife's sister, recording a novelty song called "The Chicken in Black"

Judge Tim Fox strikes down Arkansas Voter ID law

Fox has struck down the 2013 Voter ID law because it unconstitutionally adds additional requirements to be eligible to vote, specifically production of approved forms of ID.

The Academic All-Star open line

We had another great Arkansas Times Academic All-Star ceremony this afternoon at UALR. Great students, happy parents.

Southern Poverty Law Center targets writing by Star City teacher

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Watch webpage has posted an article about the writings of Philip Holthoff, a Star City social studies teacher. It accuses him of racist remarks, written under a pseudonym, on Stormfront, described as a hotbed of white supremacist viewpoints.

Bryant picks Education Director Tom Kimbrell as new school superintendent

The Bryant School Board has picked current state Education Department Director Tom Kimbrell to be its school superintendent, beginning July 1. KARK has the details

At least four carriers will sell statewide on Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015 (plus more data on 2014 Marketplace enrollment)

All four carriers currently offering health insurance on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace are planning to sell statewide in 2015, the Arkansas Insurance Department announced today at a meeting of the Joint Public Health Committee. In 2014, only Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield and the national BCBS sold statewide. The expansion of Qualchoice and Ambetter means more competition and more choices in rural areas of the state. More carrier competition could mean lower premiums in the long run — which is also good news for the private option.

McClellan teachers complain about principal

KARK reports on teachers from McClellan High School who complained to the Little Rock School Board Thursday night about intimidation by school principal Henry Anderson.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis plans visit to Romine Elementary

Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights giant who'll be in Little Rock this weekend as part of the Arkansas Literary Festival, has an unrelated stop planned at Romine Elementary.

Food Feedback Friday: Sky, Swan, and Seattle

Time for another fabulous addition of Food Feedback Friday. We always love hearing from you all. You folks always give us the most wonderful suggestions on where to make out next meal. Let's keep that going this week.

Senate poll results in Arkansas continue to bug Republicans

Add Karl Rove to the list of Republicans trying to discount recent New York Times/Kaiser polling in U.S. Senate races in the South, particularly the 10-point lead found for Sen. Mark Pryor over Republican opponent Tom Cotton.

UA provost: Enrollment growth came short on planning

Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas, is a finalist for president of University of Memphis and the subject of UA growth came up during interviews in Memphis Monday. She suggested planning for the growth had been lacking.

Curbside Couture Sunday at Clinton Presidential Center

The top scholarship winners in the Fashion Design Scholarship competition hosted by the THEA Foundation will be among the student designers showcased at Sunday's Curbside Couture.

Ashley's closes for remodeling, hopes to revamp image

The powers that be behind Ashley's in Little Rock's historic Capital Hotel saw the growing food revolution in Little Rock and felt that things were passing them by. 

A Q&A with Brian Walter, director of 'Stay More: The World of Donald Harington'

Donald Harington, the late Arkansas novelist labeled an "Ozark Surrealist" by the New York Times, was born in Little Rock in 1935 and would go on to teach art history at the University of Arkansas for 22 years. When he died in 2009, he left behind a series of deeply idiosyncratic novels set in a fictional Arkansas town called Stay More, which, as William Grimes noted in his obituary for the Times, "drew the inevitable comparisons to William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County." Grimes also quotes from an interview with the poet Fred Chappell: "Don Harington is not an underappreciated novelist. He is an undiscovered continent."

Police have suspect in Thursday shooting death

Little Rock police have identified Martin Henderson, 38, as the man found fatally wounded when they responded to a shooting at 5224 Rinke Road about 3:15 p.m. Thursday.

No dancing allowed in Lassis Inn, the catfish mecca of Little Rock

Owner Elihue Washington, Jr. talks about the history of Lassis Inn, one of Arkansas's oldest (and best) restaurants, in our latest Eat Arkansas video collaboration with Greg Spradlin and Camp Friday Films.

UPDATE: Arkansas Education Association to endorse Mark Pryor. And, boy, did he go after Cotton today on Medicare, Social Security

Sen. Mark Pryor's campaign has announced he'll join teachers and leaders of the Arkansas Education Association at Central High Saturday to receive the AEA endorsement in his Senate race against Tom Cotton.

Air permit approved for Big River Steel

The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission today approved the air quality permit for the Big River Steel mill, the state-subsidized project near Osceola.

1st District Dem Jackie McPherson makes strong pitch in NE Ark.

1st District Democratic congressional candidate Jackie McPherson demonstrated in a speech today that he's got a well-honed list of popular campaign points that explain enthusiasm among Democrats about his candidacy.

Hans Feyerabend, Rod Mcgehee, Michael Warrick at Boswell-Mourot

Boswell-Mourot Fine Art will host a reception 6-9 p.m. Saturday for an exhibition of new works by painters Rod Mcgehee and Hans Feyerabend and sculptor Michael Warrick.

Blue Hog questions eligibility of Pulaski County election commissioner; he resigns

Blue Hog Report raises questions today about the eligibility of Alex Reed, who works for Secretary of State Mark Martin, to serve as the Republican Party representative on the Pulaski County Election Commission. The problem: he apparently participates in the campaign of a candidate on the ballot in Pulaski County, which the law seems to prohibit. Several hours later, he resigned from the Commission.

Photos: Ballet Arkansas, 'Momentum'

Times photographer Brian Chilson went to a dress rehearsal of Ballet Arkansas' new production "Momentum," which opens tonight at 7:30 p.m., and brought back these photos. The show will run through Sunday, April 27 (Sunday's show is at 2 p.m.). Tickets are $30-$35.

UPDATE: Star City teacher accused of racial web posts has been suspended

More today on Philip Holthoff, a Star City social studies teacher whose writing, under a pseudonym, reportedly appears on a white supremacist website, according to an article on the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Watch website.

After giving Tim Fox the key to invalidate the voter ID law, Republicans now want him off the case

Martha Adcock, general counsel for Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin, wrote Circuit Judge Tim Fox today and asked him to recuse from a second lawsuit pending over the state Voter ID law.

Ozark Society and Arkansas Public Policy Panel pushing rule to ban new large swine farms in Buffalo River watershed

The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission today granted petitions to begin the rulemaking process to prohibit new controlled animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in the Buffalo National River Watershed. The petitions were brought by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Ozark Society, and would prohibit the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality from issuing new permits to swine operations in the watershed with 750 or more swing weighing 55 pounds or more, or 3,000 or more swine weighing less than 55 pounds.

Mark Martin seeks to pry into private lives of Voter ID plaintiffs

Filings in the pending lawsuit challenging the Voter ID law shows that Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin wants to pry into the private lives of plaintffs in the lawsuit. Their lawyer is seeking to block the requests. It's an astounding and irrelevant invasion of privacy.

Stage Dives and Skeleton Heads: Diarrhea Planet with Mad Nomad live at Stickyz

“It’s quiet in here. Really quiet.” This declaration from the frontman of local favorites (and this year's Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase victors) Mad Nomad last night at Stickyz was, as I heard it, a gauntlet thrown, a provocation, an incitement to the twenty or so assembled to leave the cozy confines of their votive-lit tables and come forth to get visceral — to shimmy, sweat or at the very least stand in front of stage. There was a hopeful pause. Alas, instead of some reassuring hollering or an obliging congregation of receptive fans who just needed to gulp down a few more before getting loose, there was a silence that one could stretch out and nap in. It was cringe-inducing.

The sweet tea open line

The Friday night line is open. Let's leave it on an Upworthy note, thanks to Jan Cottingham, for altering me to a great poetry performance by a young man who moved from Philadelphia to El Dorado. There's other news, too, including the death of saxophonist and composer Ren Smith.

The Unconstitutional Arkansas Laws Keep Falling Edition

Judge Tim Fox striking down the 2013 voter id law, Mark Pryor holding tough in polls, Republican primary candidates running hard to the right, Democratic candidate Jackie McPherson running tough in the 1st District, money in judicial elections and more — all covered on this week's edition.

Campaign diary: Tom Cotton meets constituents in Rison

On paper, Tom Cotton should be winning, but he seems stuck in the polls. Just why that’s so is a matter of debate among the chattering classes, but one theory is that he hasn’t been able to translate that resume into the sort of human being that voters can relate to. At a recent event in Rison, Cotton met with around 30 constituents. Here's our report.

LRPD: three wounded in Baseline car wash shootout

The Little Rock Police Department says that a shootout at the Splash carwash on Baseline Rd. has left three wounded, with one in critical condition. Police say that around 4 p.m. Friday, a suspect went to the car wash at 8020 Baseline Rd, where he encountered two people who he'd previously had an unspecified "disturbance" with. Police said the man pulled a handgun and began firing at the two, who pulled out handguns of their own and returned fire. All three were wounded in the ensuing shootout

New York Times focuses on Walton fortune investment in charter, voucher schools; filling in some missing parts

The New York Times takes a deep look at the Walton fortune's promotion of charter schools and school vouchers. The article was so deep, the Democrat-Gazette couldn't reprint it all. And there just wasn't room to mention all the Walton influence, some of debatable value, in the small state of Arkansas.

Real people and real discrimination in gay marriage bans

An Iowa veteran is denied the right to bury her life partner in the same veterans cemetery because state law prohibited the women from marrying. This is precisely the sort of rule under attack in Arkansas courts.

Democratic candidate Lynette Bryant talks education

Surprise Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lynette Bryant sat down for an interview with the Office of Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. You can watch it on a YouTube clip posted here.

LRPD: Homicide just after 2 p.m.

Lt. Sidney Allen, spokesman for the Little Rock Police Department, reports another homicide today on Longcoy St., the 10th death investigated as a homicide in the city so far in April. UPDATE: An arrest has been made.

The planting season open line

Eternally optimistic, I stuck some Better Boy tomato plants in the ground today. How about you? The Saturday line is open.

Can gun money carry the Republican primary for attorney general?

Why is a shadowy out-of-state rightwing group pouring big money into a Republican primary race for attorney general? What little is known about the corporate roots of the organization suggests it's about more than one candidate's support for a Stand Your Ground law. But that's bad enough. And the spending is big.

Human Rights Campaign targets Arkansas in effort for equality in the South

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's leading lobby for equal rights for LGBT people, is targeting three Southern states, including Arkansas, in an effort to bring equality to the South. HRC head Chad Griffin is from Arkansas, so that probably helps explain the focus here. Plus need, as evidenced by the Arkansas legislature.

Hillary goes to preaching before Methodist women

Hillary Clinton put her Methodist faith on display in a speech Saturday before Methodist women in Kentucky in a speech with plenty of metaphorical overtones for politics.

Dead man found in car in Heights

Little Rock police report finding a dead man in a car at R and Pierce Streeets about 8 a.m. in this morning.

What is real? What is art? Sunday musings

Adelaide art critic Peter Drew "takes a sledgehammer" to the art world in six episodes of the Youtube series "Art vs Reality."

Core Brewing's cans mean craft beer anywhere

Beer in cans gets a bad rap, but one taste of Core Brewing's line-up of canned craft beer should make even the staunchest bottle-lover a true believer.

Congressman John Lewis a hit at Literary Festival

Congressman John Lewis drew a big and appreciative crowd Sunday for an appearance as part of the Arkansas Literary Festival.

The Sunday open line: Jewish food, sculpture contest winner

Your comments welcome. Slow day, except for the Arkansas Literary Festival and the Jewish Food Festival at War Memorial Stadium, where falafel and more was on on offer. Little Rock also announced the winner of the annual competition for a commission for a sculpture for Riverfront Park.

Strong tornado — State Police reporting heavy damage in Mayflower, Vilonia

A strong tornado has raked the state tonight, cutting a swath of destruction from Maumelle to Vilonia and beyond. State Police radio chatter points to heavy damage in Mayflower from a tornado that spotters say was a half mile wide when it crossed I-40.

UPDATE: Arkansas death toll at 14 from Sunday night tornado; governor meets reporters

Sixteen people died in Sunday night storms in Central Arkansas. Searches of the disaster areas continue this morning. President Obama acknowledged the disaster during a foreign trip and promised all federal help.

Corporate influence peddling doesn't end with legislators; money also works judges

Corporate money, including from the Koch brothers, is paying for a meeting of state and federal judges on the "crisis" in public pension systems. These judges someday might be hearing court cases arising from the problem.

New Pryor ad hits Tom Cotton on Medicare

Sen. Mark Pryor released a new TV ad today that hits Republican opponent Tom Cotton hard on his voting record on Medicare. In Arkansas today, too, comes a close-to-home reminder of another Tom Cotton vote — against disaster aid for hurricane victims.

KATV drone captures damage from the air

KATV's Brian Emfinger captured storm devastation last night with a drone-mounted video camera. You can watch it on YouTube. And another drone has images from hard-hit Vilonia.

Mapping the tornado's path

Brian Crumpler put together an interactive map of the path of last night's tornado, enhanced by radar images, photos and videos at spots along its path.

Tornado victims: the saved and the unsaved

David Koon is tracking the path of tornado damage and coming across the usual quirks of fate in a tornado in which some people and places are devastated and others are spared.

Where's Alex Reed? The secretary of state's office in lockdown

Alex Reed, who resigned from the Pulaski County Election Commission last week after reports that he'd been working as campaign treasurer for Republican congressional candidate Ann Clemmer, leaves a trail of unanswered questions. He's not in the office today to answer them, which spawns a number of other questions.

UA finalist bypassed in University of Memphis president search

An in-house candidate, rather than the University of Arkansas's Sharon Gaber, has been chosen to be the next president of the University of Memphis.

I-40 traffic report: Slow

Tornado damage has slowed Interstate 40 traffic to a near-standstill. Also noted: A revision in the tornado death toll.

Sen. John Boozman released from hospital

Sen. John Boozman has been released from a Rogers hospital Sunday night following heart surgery April 22.

The messages from Washington on tornado; also a political tempest

Members of Congress from Arkansas naturally have issued words of comfort and promises of help in the aftermath of the deadly tornado. There's a different spirit in some Twitter debate on political positions relevant to disaster response, particularly Tom Cotton's.

UAMS offering enhanced early retirement benefit to pare med school faculty

UAMS — to help, as College of Medicine Dean Richard Smith writes, with "current fiscal restraints' — is offering enhanced early retirement benefits to 80 faculty members, who must make a decision by May 15.

Court expedites appeals on judicial candidate lawsuits

The Arkansas Supreme Court has approved an expedited schedule for appeals in four lawsuits over ballot eligibility in several judicial contests in the May 20 primary/judicial elections.

Open line: The drones take over

The line is open for reader comments. Finishing up:

On the path of the tornado

On the path of the tornado: Inevitably, somebody gets around to saying that it looks like a bomb went off. But it doesn't look like a bomb. A bomb is fire. A bomb is deliberation — a human hand and mind deciding where to plant it or drop it, when to set the timer or light the fuse. This isn't that. This is the worst kind of random. The tornado crossed I-40 just south of Mayflower, wiping cars off the road and sucking wooden posts used to string a guide wire near the freeway out of the ground like rotten teeth. A red Volvo rig lay on its side on the southbound side of the Interstate, an even larger wrecker working to right it. A car, unrecognizable as a car, sat in the median...

City manager narrows Little Rock police chief finalists to three

City Manager Bruce Moore has further reduced a pool of candidates for Little Rock police chief from seven to three, including the current assistant chief of LRPD Eric Higgins. Public meetings with the three are planned in the process for Moore to choose a successor to the retiring Stuart Thomas.

UPDATE: Police trade shots with suspect; no one wounded

Little Rock police traded shots today with a criminal suspect but made the arrest without anyone being shot.

Damage assessments continue with death toll at 15

The death toll remains at 15 from the Sunday night tornado, according to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and there identities have been released Damage assessment continues amid the cleanup of the storm that devastated parts of Pulaski, Faulkner and White counties. John Robinson of the National Weather Service, in his team's assessment, saw hundreds of crumpled cars.

Tradition still strong at Mike’s Place

At Mike's Place, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. The atmosphere is comfortable for everything from a casual meal to a date night. The people have spoken loudly for the last 10 years that this is the best restaurant in Conway and we certainly saw why.

UPDATE: Questions mount on secretary of state employee in campaign controversy

Blue Hog Report adds a number of questions to be answered before everything is sorted out related to the work of an employee of Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin in a congressional campaign now facing a federal inquiry over his activities. And, I learned this morning, the office had dodged a full answer to my questions yesterday about his employment status.

UPDATE: Three justices won't hear appeals on judicial election lawsuits

A records check shows three Supreme Court justices won't participate in appeals of lawsuits over ballot eligibility of four judicial candidates.

Why is Arkansas tornado alley?

The Vox website has an article on the conditions that cause the U.S. to be hit by more tornadoes than other countries and why the midsection of the country is the most-tornado prone. Arkansas is on the edge of the most dangerous parts of the country, cold comfort after the latest killer tornado to run up our own tornado alley.

Polls: Hating on Obamacare still works

Talking Points memo reports on polling in southern states that shows why Republicans are not likely to retreat from using Obamacare as a campaign hammer, no matter how many have signed up and no matter how much the national mood has changed on the value of the program. It FIRES up the base.

Entergy: 3,000 homes damaged in tornado

Entergy just tweeted that 3,000-plus homes in the Vilonia-Mayflower area are "damaged, uninhabitable."

Opponent Susan Inman demands answers from Mark Martin

Susan Inman, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, is putting pressure on November opponent Mark Martin, the Republican secretary of state, to answer questions about the controversial congressional campaign work done by aide Alex Reed, placed on paid leave last Friday.

Faulkner County declared disaster area; congressional delegation approves

Faulkner County has been declared a major disaster area, an expected and necessary step in speeding federal aid to the restoration of damaged homes, businesses and infrastructure. Sen. Mark Pryor commented, "Once again, we're reminded of the importance of supporting disaster relief funding," which readers are free to read as a subtle dig at Republican opponent Tom Cotton.

Le Pops will open store in the Heights this summer

Great news for Little Rockers bracing for the heat and humidity coming our way: Le Pops will be offering up their "gourmet ice lollies" this summer at a new brick and mortar shop in the Heights. The 860-square-foot shop will be at 5501 Kavanaugh, next door to Eggshells Kitchen Co., with an opening targeted for June 1.

Pork, music, and beer: Heritage hog roast this Saturday

It's whole hog time! This Saturday, the Arkansas Times will be hosting our second annual Heritage Hog Roast at the Argenta Farmer's Market at Sixth and Main streets in North Little Rock. The event features pit-roasted heritage-breed hogs raised at Scott Heritage Farm.

The Hill: Extreme Tom Cotton gives Mark Pryor hope

The Hill drops into Arkansas for a report on the Mark Pryor-Tom Cotton race and finds just what everybody else has found. Mark Pryor will be no pushover and "even some Republicans seem concerned about Cotton’s uncompromisingly conservative stances."

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling banned from NBA and fined

It's a start. The NBA has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life and fined him $2.5 million for racist remarks. A ban from civilization might be more appropriate. Or exile to Cliven Bundy's ranch.

El Dorado Promise a winner for city schools; no charters needed

El Dorado had "signing day" Monday for some 300 El Dorado High graduates who'll be heading to college in the fall with scholarships thanks to the El Dorado Promise scholarship underwritten by Murphy Oil for all district graduates. A new study from the University of Arkansas confirms the positive impact the program has had on the district and students. I think it illustrates the antidote to school reformers' single-minded pursuit of charter schools and vouchers.

Another state, another Voter ID law struck down

Now Wisconsin. A federal judge there has followed a state court judge and ruled the state's Voter ID law unconstitutional. It unduly burdens poor and minority voters, the judge ruled.

Reminder: Steve Weisenthal at Arts Center

The Architecture and Design Network's Art of Architecture series features the University of Chicago architect.

2014 Arkansas Living Treasure: Robert Runyan

Log cabin maker from Winslow works with hand tools and three mules.

Open line: A drone's eye view of Vilonia; British royalty headed to Memphis

The open line features drone footage shot for KARK/Fox 16 of the damage done Sunday night in Vilonia — broad swaths of leveled homes and businesses. Also a report on a visit of British royalty — William, Kate and Harry — to Memphis this weekend for a pal's wedding.

Supreme Court stays portion of Voter ID ruling

The Arkansas Supreme Court today issued a split ruling on staying Circuit Judge Tim Fox's ruling last week invalidating the state's new Voter ID law. The effect seems to mean that, barring an uncommonly fast ruling, early voting could begin next week with the Voter ID law in effect.

Prosecutor clears UA administrator for statements about financial problems

A Fayetteville prosecutor has cleared a University of Arkansas administrator, Vice Chancellor Donald Pederson, of allegations that he had been untruthful in denying knowledge of allegations of fraudulent activities in the UA's advancement division.

UPDATE: Another Little Rock homicide

Little Rock police found Jason Harris, 41, in the 1900 block of Sanford Street after a shooting about 7:30 p.m. last night. He died later from gunshot wounds.

Getting tough on crime gets tough on taxpayers

Tougher policies on sentencing of minor criminals and dealing with parole violators are filling county and state lockups to overflowing. Now the politicians are complaining. But will they, and their constituents, pay to do anything about it?

Prepare yourself...Potbelly is coming

Arkansas has whole host of lackluster chain sandwich shops. But there’s one restaurant that, in my opinion, shines far brighter than the rest which doesn’t even exist in Arkansas. But all that is about to change...for within a few months, Potbelly Sandwich Shop will be opening in Little Rock.

Oklahoma botches one execution; stays another

An Oklahoma inmate died of a heart attack 40 minutes after his execution was botched last night. Another execution was stayed as a result and you'd now hope Oklahoma officials will be forced to do some explaining for why they fought so hard in court to go forward with these executions despite questions about the sources of drugs to be used.

Clinton crisis manager helps NBA boss and provides advice for pols

Good story from National Journal on the crisis management advice Doug Sosnik, an adviser to President Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, provided Adam Silver, the NBA boss, in dealing with racist owner Donald Sterling. It provides advice for erring politicians that is worth repeating.

Looting arrests in Vilonia

KARK reports that two men were arrested Tuesday night in Vilonia for trying to steal copper wiring from damaged homes in the tornado-ravaged city.

Latest GOP attorney general ad touches all the base's bases

The newest TV ad from Republican Leslie Rutledge, a candidate for attorney general, touches all the bases. She's a "Christian, pro-life, gun-carryin', conservative woman" and she'll fight the "liberal agenda" of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Obamacare.

Two GOP candidates, two different votes, same mailer message

Two Republican politicians have sent mailers touting their opposition to Obamacare. They share a political firm that does such mailings. Funny thing: One voted for Obamcare and one didn't.

Museum of Discovery's Kevin Delaney to appear on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'

Kevin Delaney, the Museum of Discovery's director of visitor experience, will appear as a guest on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at 10:30 p.m. Monday, May 5, performing scientific demonstrations. Kelley Bass, the museum's CEO, notes, "Kevin demonstrates his unique brand of interactive science to thousands of Arkansas school children each year, so we're thrilled a huge national audience now will be treated to the same kind of exciting science."

Museum of Discovery to get exposure on Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

The Museum of Discovery's Kevin Delaney will do his science education magic in a much bigger venue May 5. He's to appear on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

Surprise: Walton-subsidized UA has another report to support Walton school agenda

The Walton-subsidized University of Arkansas has issued a news release today about a report from a Walton-financed arm of the UA intended to support the notion that more public tax money should go to charter schools, which the Walton heirs are spending hundreds of millions to promote in the United States. There's another way to look at some of this.

Little Rock sets public meetings for police chief candidates

The city of Little Rock has announced the schedule for public meetings with the three finalists for Little Rock police chief to succeed the retiring Stuart Thomas.

Pryor missing as Republicans filibuster federal minimum wage increase

Republicans sustained a filibuster against a federal minimum wage increase in the U.S. Senate today. U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, who has said he opposed the increase, did not vote, which is the same as a vote to sustain the filibuster.

New Arkansas polling: Pryor leads Cotton 43-42; Hutchinson leads Ross 46-38

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic automated polling firm, has new results in key Arkansas races for U.S. Senate and governor and it will be a little hard for Republicans to mount their usual attack on PPP numbers as biased toward Democrats.

Doe's porterhouse...beef at its best

I imagine there’s many facets of the Doe’s experience that could be considered essential dining for the first-timer, but in my opinion the crown jewel of Doe’s is the 3-lb porterhouse. If you have not eaten this supernal slab of beef, make this a priority in your life...ignore work, family, schooling and all other tedious and less important things until this steak is in your mouth.

Barroom remark causes extra precautions at University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas alerted students today about a threatening remark and was taking extra precautions as a result, though the threat was not believed credible.

Thursday night: Bonnie Montgomery and Andy Warr benefit for tornado relief

Tomorrow night, White Water Tavern will host the first in a series of anniversary shows for Little Rock's Thick Syrup Records, this time featuring locals Bonnie Montgomery and Andy Warr. Proceeds will go to benefit ongoing tornado recovery and relief efforts. Other Thick Syrup Anniversary shows on the way include a concert at Stickyz on May 9 featuring Bear Colony and The See and two shows at White Water on May 16 and 17, featuring Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth, Nathan Brown, Bonnie Montgomery, Ginsu Wives, Twelve Tone Elevator and Jumbo Jet.

Faulkner County rape conviction reversed

The Arkansas Court of Appeals today reversed the child rape conviction of Russell Hudson in Faulkner Circuit Court. It said the conviction and 20-year sentence should be dismissed because the lower court should not have granted a continuance in a trial when the victim was not available to testify.

Real estate agent gets 18 months in prison for false loan application

Christian Sanchez of Rogers was sentenced in Fayetteville to 18 months in federal prison and fined $2,500 for falsiying a client's employment information to obtain a home mortgage loan. Sanchez also was ordered to pay restitution of $132,550.

The open line: Bill Clinton coming to town for Mike Ross

The midweek line is open for reader comments. Be careful out there. The homicide count for April alone is now up to 11. Also in the news: Bill Clinton in Little Rock Saturday to raise money for Mike Ross' gubernatorial campaign.

How bad were the tornadoes? Bad, EF4

The National Weather Service released its ratings on the storms that hit Arkansas Sunday night. The worst of five tornadoes was an EF4, producing 166-200 mph winds over a path of 41 miles.

"InCiteful Clay" lecture is Thursday

NYU professor Judith Schwartz was curator of the exhibition of works that speak to social ills.

Green Groceries gives back

One local organization is working to increase the availability of more nutritious foods to the low-income community. Green Groceries is an all-natural food pantry serving these families within the greater Little Rock area.