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Whither The Rep

Whither The Rep

May 3, 2018

Vol 44 • No 35

Read the print version

Whither the Rep

Its destiny is not in the stars, but ourselves.

The battle for Hillcrest

Tippi McCullough and Ross Noland square off to represent perhaps the House's most progressive district.

Sky Modern hits all the right notes — and price point

It's a sushi go-to.

Adam and Chris Carroll come to White Water Tavern

Also, the Travs take on the Naturals.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Comic Sans Morgan Edition

Play at home, with the guidance of your outside counsel.

El Dorado amps up the Southern Food and Wine Fest

And much more.

Wilkins pleads

Also, Rapert's rock, voter ID law blocked and more.

A Marvel 'Infinity'

The umpteenth installment of the Avengers.

No collusion

Neighbors

Just across the driveway from the increasingly paint-needy Observatory on Maple Street, there's a rent house that has been a rent house for almost all the long years Yours Truly and Spouse and Junior have lived in Little Rock.

Save The Rep

Having worked all over the U.S. and, in fact, pretty much all over the world in theater, I can say with some authority that the productions at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, both those I have been in and those I have seen, are of the highest quality in every artistic aspect: acting, directing, set, costume and light design, etc.

Home on the range

Another spring, another catastrophic wildfire season in the high plains. This year it was Oklahoma, where wind-driven flames consumed over 350,000 acres of pasture, killing thousands of cows, destroying barns, homes and fences.

Pray for the poor

Praying for the poor was always a harmless offense in the halls of government, as long as you never insinuated that leaders should actually help the downtrodden and infirm. But last week, it got a Jesuit priest fired as the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Unfruitful labor

When 6-year-olds in Arkansas blow out their birthday candles, they might wish for a new toy or a family pet. Thanks to proposed changes to SNAP benefits, their parents might soon wish for a miracle just to keep food on the table.

A Q&A with Low Key Arts' Sonny Kay

How the penny dropped.

As the baseball bounces

A couple of weeks ago, I did what I do best around here: I delivered a hardcore jinx to a then-rolling Arkansas baseball team.

40 days of action

The news of the goings-on in D.C. is almost too much to handle. A steady stream of unqualified and shortsighted men and women rotate in and out of high-level government positions.

Leslie Rutledge and Mark Martin applaud Supreme Court's stay allowing Voter ID to be enforced during primary elections

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Secretary of State Mark Martin both issued statements applauding yesterday's decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court that will allow the Voter ID law to be enforced this month, with early voting in the primaries slated to begin May 7. The underlying question of whether the law violates the constitution remains.

ACLU condemns Leslie Rutledge's attack on program for Dreamers as "extreme anti-immigrant agenda"

Rita Sklar, executive director of ACLU of Arkansas, called Rutledge's gambit "an extreme anti-immigrant agenda" and a "cruel attack on Arkansans and our values."

Sierra Club argues that important data missing from new ADEQ "State of the Air" report

The Sierra Club issued a response yesterday to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's 2017 "State of the Air" report, which was released last week.

Estate gives UAMS $1 million for breast cancer research

The estate of Linda Garner Riggs has made a gift of $1 million to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for breast cancer research.

Clarke Tucker releases new ad

Yet another television ad released this morning by Clarke Tucker, the state representative running for the Second Congressional District. This is the advantage of a big fundraising haul.

Former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer Jennifer Palmieri to speak at Clinton School

Jennifer Palmieri, who served as communications director for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, will speak at the Clinton Presidential Center next week, May 10, at 6 p.m.

Thursday's headlines and your open line

Youth services nonprofit referenced in Wilkins bribery plea hired Sens. Lamoureux and Hutchinson to do legal work, former director says; ACLU condemns Leslie Rutledge’s attack on program for Dreamers as “extreme anti-immigrant agenda”; Estate gives UAMS $1 million for breast cancer research.

Former state senator Jim Argue of Little Rock dies

Argue, 66, was diagnosed recently with kidney cancer.

Governor opposes raising grocery tax but task force priority remains cutting taxes for the rich

The governor tries to put up a stop sign on talk of raising the grocery tax. But Hutchinson and the task force remain committed to a massive tax cut for the rich. The question for the few progressives on the task force: Is there hope left for an earned-income tax credit or similar targeted relief for low-income Arkansans?

Correctional officer and visitor arrested in alleged attempts to bring drugs and contraband into prisons

Arkansas State Police announced that special agents of its criminal investigation devision arrested a correctional officer and a visitor on Wednesday in connection with illegal drugs and other prohibited items being brought into two prisons in East Arkansas.

Justice Courtney Goodson responds to dark money attacks

"Dark money strikes again," Goodson said, "and I want to speak directly to it."

Jared Henderson crows about Hutchinson's letter to task force on grocery tax

As I covered in detail yesterday, Democratic Candidate for Governor Jared Henderson released a statement on Tuesday opposing the state’s Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force’s consideration to raise sales tax on groceries.

Arkansas native Chuck Plunkett resigns as Denver Post editor after taking on paper's corporate owners

Another sad tale from the newspaper business, via the Columbia Journalism Review, this one involving Little Rock native and former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Chuck Punkett, who resigned in protest as editor of the Denver Post yesterday.

Griffen's attorneys say Supreme Court justices' alleged procedural error should prompt default judgment

Laux and the other attorneys also poked the justices for hiring out-of-state counsel at taxpayer expense, citing their "retention of 11 expensive lawyers who have rung up close to $200,000 in legal bills in just a few months."

With no one to take doctor's place, UAMS suspends heart surgery

On top of financial shortfalls that have required UAMS to fire more than 200 employees, its inability to recruit a replacement before cardiac surgeon Dr. Gareth Tobler retired a week ago has meant the hospital has suspended its heart surgery program.

A doctor mourns the suspension of UAMS' cardiac surgery

Janet Cathey, an OB/GYN, trained at UAMS, did her residency there and recently taught there. She had back surgery there two years ago. But it was her experience as a 7-year-old in need of heart surgery that has her so distressed about UAMS' suspension of its heart surgery program.

Arkansas DHS to take over two nursing homes from faltering national chain Skyline

The two facilities are Spring Place Health and Rehab in Hazen (Prairie County) and Dierks Health and Rehab in Dierks (Howard County).

Friday's headlines and your open line

With no one to take doctor's place, UAMS suspends heart surgery; Former state senator Jim Argue of Little Rock dies; Correctional officer and visitor arrested in alleged attempts to bring drugs and contraband into prisons.

Paul Spencer releases new ad in Second Congressional District race

Paul Spencer, a Democratic candidate for the Second Congressional District seat, rolled out the first in a series of ads focusing on policy proposals. "Our ads demonstrate specific policies and how they benefit working families, rather than the vague ideas presented by Rep. Tucker," Reed Brewer, Spencer's spokesperson, stated in an email.

Adoption files will open to adult children on Aug. 1; birth parents may redact information, ADH says

A little-discussed law passed by the Arkansas legislature in 2017 will soon allow adoptees to request their adoption files from ADH once they turn 21. Currently, adult adoptees cannot access those records, which may include their original birth certificates and court documents related to the adoption proceedings.

Grants to The Rep totals $1 million-plus; now to match them

Arkansas arts angel the Windgate Charitable Foundation has awarded the Arkansas Repertory Theater a $1 million challenge grant and the John & Robyn Horn Foundation has approved a $25,000 challenge grant, The Rep announced today.

The GIF Graft-A-Palooza Edition

The Jon Woods corruption trial, the guilty plea of another former state senator, Hank Wilkins, and the Supreme Court allowing voter ID to stand during the primary — all covered on this week's podcast.

Jared Henderson expresses support for earned income tax credit (EITC)

Abby Anderson, communications director for Democratic candidate for governor Jared Henderson, got in touch to make clear that Henderson "strongly  supports...consideration for creating a state earned income tax credit, acknowledging the targeted benefits it would yield for Arkansas families." That conversation, however, should happen entirely separately from the grocery tax, she said.

Johnny Cash's boyhood home added to National Register of Historic Places

Well I don't care if I do Dyess...

What would Ted Cruz do?

Oleaginous blowhard backs Ecclesia Bob.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejects proposed ballot initiative to raise minimum wage to $12

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected a proposed ballot initiative yesterday from David Couch to raise the minimum wage to $12 and allow local governments to set higher minimum wages.

Open line

What's the frequency?

Inmate death at Cummins Unit referred to Arkansas State Police

Another prison death.

Internal consultant's report shows misuse of hundreds of thousands of federal funds at Arkansas Baptist College

The D-G has the scoop this morning on an internal report that states that Arkansas Baptist College misspent $475,000 in federal grant money and may owe the federal Education Department more than $500,000 it spent on financial aid. The report, from a Georgia accounting firm specializing in historically black colleges hired by the school, stated that Arkansas Baptist was "in a serious financial crisis."

New poll shows Clarke Tucker with substantial lead in Democratic primary race for Second Congressional District

A new Talk Business poll is out that shows state Rep. Clarke Tucker with a big lead in the Democratic primary race for the Second Congressional District seat. Tucker is around 30 points ahead of his rivals, but nearly a third of those polled remain undecided.

Open line

Ready, set, go.

State election board refers former Rep. Hank Wilkins to Jefferson Co. prosecutor for actions taken in school board race

On Tuesday, the State Board of Election Commissioners sent a letter to Jefferson County GOP Chairman Peter Smykla notifying him the complaint regarding Wilkins had been referred to the Jefferson County prosecutor.

Nate Bell opines on the Arkansas Times

For whom the Bell tolls.

More outside money pours in judicial race on behalf of David Sterling

And it keeps on coming.

TANF drug-testing program cost Arkansas $32,000 to test five people in 2017

ThinkProgress also notes the changing discourse around drug abuse as a result of the opioid epidemic, which has engendered among some conservative politicians a certain degree of newfound empathy for those struggling with addiction.

Arkansas Blog exclusive sneak peek at the 54th Annual Spring Tour of Homes

The Quapaw Quarter Association will host its 54th Spring Tour on Mother's Day weekend, May 12-13. This year, the Tour will explore the Central High School Neighborhood Historic District, featuring six homes on Schiller, Summit, and Battery Streets.

Work requirement notices going out to first round of AR Works beneficiaries this week, DHS says

DHS will be mailing separate letters to those it presumes will be exempt — for example, the agency knows some households contain dependent children, based on other benefits data — and those it presumes will be subject to the requirement.

Arkansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in medical marijuana case in June

The Arkansas Supreme Court today agreed to hear oral arguments in an appeal of a judge's recent decision to issue a preliminary injunction stopping the state's Medical Marijuana Commission from awarding five permits to companies to cultivate medical marijuana in the state. Arguments will be set for June 7.

Rock Region METRO gets new director

Charles Frazier of Palm Beach County, Fla., will start work as director of Rock Region METRO in June.

Trump's CMS director rejects red states' bid to impose lifetime limits on Medicaid benefits

Administrator Seema Verma indicated CMS found Kansas's proposal — which sought to impose a three-year limit on Medicaid benefits for those individuals deemed capable of working — to be too extreme even for the current administration

Today's headlines and your open line

Your headlines for May 7, 2018: New poll shows Clarke Tucker with substantial lead in Democratic primary race for Second Congressional District; TANF drug-testing program cost Arkansas $32,000 to test five people in 2017; Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejects proposed ballot initiative to raise minimum wage to $12.

Cancer Institute Director Emanuel will leave UAMS

Dr. Peter Emanuel, director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, has resigned from UAMS effective July 31, Chancellor Stephanie  Gardner announced.

Early voting begins today. Bring ID.

The voter ID law passed by the Arkansas legislature last year will be in effect, thanks to a ruling last week from the state Supreme Court.

Attorney general once again rejects proposed ballot initiative to alter redistricting process

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today rejected a proposed ballot initiative brought by David Couch to enact changes to the process by which the state redraws congressional and state legislative districts. It was the third time that Rutledge has rejected the proposal.

Mark Stodola won’t seek re-election as Little Rock mayor

A family matter has prompted Mark Stodola to withdraw from the race for mayor. He is completing his third time and faced two opponents, Warwick Sabin and Frank Scott Jr.

'The Conversation' with Jeston George

In this week's edition of our hit new podcast, "The Conversation," host Matt Price interviews Apptegy CEO and Founder, Jeston George. Jeston tells Matt about how he came up with the idea for Apptegy and talks about how different things are now that they raised a $5.7 million Series A investment.

Supreme Court justices' attorneys admit error in missing deadline in Griffen suit

"The Justices are filing their answer only one week and one day late," attorneys for the seven jurists said in a brief filed Friday, which admitted the failure to meet the procedural deadline was an error.

Preserve Arkansas lists 2018 Most Endangered Places

Preserve Arkansas has announced the 2018 Most Endangered Places in Arkansas.

Rivals issue statements on Stodola's departure, rumor mill begins on new candidates entering race

Rivals respond, plus some idle speculation.

Three sheriff's deputies wounded, man killed, in altercation in Sebastian County

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports on a police shooting of a man in Hackett. Sheriff's deputies responding to a residence were met with a man who shot at them with a shotgun, according to the report. Officers from throughout the county were called in for help and standoff ensued lasting more than two hours. The resident emerged and was shot and killed. Three sheriff's deputies — part of the county's SWAT team — were injured (non-life-threatening).

New Rock the Culture podcast: “You flew here, I grew here”

In this week’s episode, perspective and conversation on the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily allow the implementation of the Voter ID law, City of Little Rock’s issuance of municipal ID cards and Little Rock’s ranking on the most fun cities list. We discussed Little Rock’s entertainment and nightlife scene with our guest Bryan Stewart, founder of B-Level Entertainment. #RockTheCulture

Hell freezes over: A gun safety ad in Arkansas

We found a unicorn.

Tuesday's headlines and your open line

Rivals issue statements on Stodola's departure, rumor mill begins on new candidates entering race; Early voting begins – bring ID; Cancer Institute Director Emanuel will leave UAMS.

Arkansas attorney general candidates release statements on resigned NY attorney general

Incumbent Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and her challenger Mike Lee both issued statements regarding former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned yesterday after allegations of sexual misconduct, including assault, were printed in the New Yorker.

PSC OK's SWEPCO ownership of wind power project

The state Public Service Commission has approved a settlement agreement that will allow Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) and a sister company to buy an Oklahoma wind farm and build a dedicated power line.

Cotton threatens Iran after Trump announces end to nuclear deal

"If the ayatollahs rush toward the bomb, the United States must end the program once and for all," Cotton said.

Rutledge rejects yet another pot proposal

And another one. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today once again rejected a proposed ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state.

Dark money attacks now top $1.5 million, according to Goodson campaign

The Judicial Crisis Network, a right-wing advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., continues to spend big to back David Sterling and take down incumbent Associate Justice Courtney Goodson in a race for the Arkansas Supreme Court. The Goodson campaign states in a press release issued last night that it learned yesterday that the group has purchased more than $700,000 of television advertising in the Little Rock market and more than $500,000 in northwest Arkansas, on top of previous ad buys.

Another one: Leslie Rutledge rejects proposed ballot initiative for casinos in four counties

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge yesterday once again rejected the popular name and ballot title for a proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize the creation of four casinos in Benton, Boone, Miller, and Pulaski counties.

Democratic candidate for governor Jared Henderson goes optimistic in first campaign ad

The 30-second spot strikes an upbeat tone and mentions neither incumbent Republican Asa Hutchinson nor Henderson's primary opponent, Leticia Sanders.

One dead, two wounded in Little Rock shooting Tuesday night

Brandon Brooks, 18, died shortly after being transported to a hospital.

Hell freezes over, part 2: Another candidate for gun safety

Our blog item about House candidate Andrew Collins' open endorsement of gun safety laws should have mentioned that Collins' primary opponent, Annie Depper, has also received the seal of approval from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.

Cathead's Diner's 'love letter to the South' on its way

Cathead's Diner, a "love letter to the South" from chef Donnie Ferneau and baker Kelli Marks, is close to being opened, Marks said today. City inspection is tomorrow; she says if all goes well, those big cathead biscuits will be ready to be served in a couple of weeks.

Another UAMS leader leaving

Richard Nuttall, associate dean of finance for the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is leaving UAMS for a job in Texas.

Hall High teacher arrested on multiple counts of rape, incest

The disposition report says there were two victims, with the alleged crimes occurring between 1985 and 2004.

Jan Morgan gun giveaway cancelled, donations returned, after legal questions raised

The Jan Morgan campaign for governor has officially cancelled its gun giveaway promotion to raise campaign cash, an attorney volunteering with the campaign informs me.

Your midweek headlines and open line

Rutledge rejects yet another pot proposal; Cotton threatens Iran after Trump announces end to nuclear deal; One dead, two wounded in Little Rock shooting Tuesday night.

The Rock of the New: Gallery-goers guide May 10-16:

Here are some things to do that you won't have read about in the print version of the Arkansas Times.

Bob Ballinger and Ecclesia College

There is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing outside of those indicted. Nevertheless, it is only natural that all things Ecclesia are getting a closer look in the wake of the scandal. Here is the story of Bob Ballinger and Ecclesia College.

Jake Files never disclosed the $80,000 he received from nursing home executive

Jake Files never disclosed receiving the $80,000 on his statement of financial interest that he filed as a legislator. If the money was a gift (which would look pretty damning) or a loan, Files is required to disclose it. He did not.

Authorities investigate accusation against Dean Elliott

An accusation has been lodged against Dean Elliott, the Dillard's lobbyist and former state representative who is running for the District 15 seat in the state Senate, by a woman who claims that he was involved in a 2016 hit and run incident on Tennyson Drive in Conway that left her with severe injuries. Through a lawyer, Elliott says the allegation is false and politically motivated.
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