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May 8, 2014

Vol 22 • No 11

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The faces of health care expansion in Arkansas

The private option has already changed lives.

Fayetteville food truck court sounds awesome

Fayetteville Flyer has news about the latest commitments to set up shop in a new food court on Dickson Street. They include mobile incarnations of two restaurants we've profiled in recent years, Greenhouse Grille and Momma Dean's.

Johnny Key gets lobbying job with University of Arkansas — system

Sen. Johnny Key, who opted not to run for re-election to seek the top lobbying job at the University of Arkanas but wasn't chosen, has a lobbying job with the University of Arkansas after all.

Obama visit to Arkansas: Photo coverage

Benjamin Krain, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's talented photographer, was assigned the local photography spot in the press pool assembled to cover President Obama's visit to Arkansas today. That gave other media access to his photos on the trip, and D-G chief photographer Jeff MItchell, provided a selection of them from the president's three hours on the ground. There's a shot, too, of the security precautions evident during the visit.

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra does "Pan's Midsummer Night's Dream" in Argenta

Also, Tibetan Buddhist author Anam Thubten at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Nuevo Detroit edition

Play at home.

Blooming at the mill

Spring in full effect at the Old Mill in North Little Rock.

Mainstreaming the GOP

Perhaps the greatest threat to the Arkansas Republican Party's continued growth in Arkansas is the selection of nominees unable to appeal to Arkansas's independent voters who are increasingly comfortable voting Republican but with a strong predilection for candidates with a veneer of moderation.


What do Nancy Pelosi, Charles and David Koch, Barack Obama and Harry Reid have in common besides causing loathing at the mere mention of their names?

Sushi staple

It's all good at Igibon.

'This is a job that weighs on you'

Homicide Diary: Pulaski County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson.

Already missing D-Mac

The 2014 race for attorney general makes me appreciate the current officeholder, Dustin McDaniel.

The end of an era

We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.

Off the grid with Matt Werth

The Little Rock roots of Brooklyn's strangest record label.

Reboot man

Spider-Man returns, like you've often seen him before!

It was a good week for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel

It was also a good week for Arkansas voters, Tony Wood and Kevin Delaney. It was a bad week for Arkansas and Mike Ross.

A stand for equality

Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.

Politics and tragedy

At first glance, your Arkansas Blog post "The bipartisan open line: Togetherness in support of tornado relief" [about a bipartisan group of politicians that toured Faulkner County recently] appears to be a great positive piece about coming together for the greater good to help the people of Arkansas.


The Observer seems to have a lot of friends right now who are expecting babies come this summer. Our best to all those of round tummy going into this sweltering season. The Observer smiles upon you with the making of the elaborate gesture of blessing, and all that.

Iris Dement at Ron Robinson

Also, 'Weird Science' at Bernice Garden, Bernie Worrell Orchestra at Revolution, R Kelly at First Security Amphitheater, the Little Rock Film Fest, Primus at First Security Theater and Chuck Mead at White Water Tavern.

Second City slays at The Rep

Historic comedy troupe brings its improv act to Little Rock.

The record contradicts Republican House candidate Bobby Altes' 'pro-family' description

Republican Bobby Altes of Fort Smith is a candidate for House District 76 in Fort Smith, a seat being vacated by term-limited Rep. Denny Altes. Bobby Altes describes himself as pro-family. A pile of court and law enforcement documents, detailed here by Blue Hog Report, and which I also have in my possession, tell an entirely different story.

ExxonMobil plans press event on its disaster contribution

ExxonMobil, whose pipeline showed heavy crude on Mayflower and has more recently been criticized by Gov. Mike Beebe for the nature of its response to another disaster in the area, the recent tornadoes, is going to showcase its contribution to disaster relief at a press event today.

The shoot-first culture gets a test in Montana

Arkansas hasn't yet adopted "castle doctrine" or "stand your ground" laws which provide additional protection to armed people who shoot first and ask questions later about the precise nature of threats that prompted a shooting (sometimes after the only other witness is dead,) A case in Montana highlights the issue.

New song from BLACK PARTY, 'Doomsday'

Malik Flint, the young Little Rock rapper and producer who has been around for years trying things out, recording with a live band (as Flint Eastwood) and under his own name, seems to be coming into his own lately. As a beatmaker, he's contributed heavily to releases by his friends (most notably Kari Faux, but also S.L. Jones, Lo Thraxx and others), and he's also a central figure in the Natural State of Mind crew that organizes the Trill Clinton and Good Vibes showcases, giving Little Rock hip-hop a sense of youthful energy and community it hasn't had for a minute. Now he's changed his named to BLACK PARTY, and has been issuing great stuff in short-form (never over two minutes long).

Whoa, pig! Traffic slow on Interstate 30 in Little Rock

Richard Vanhook of Benton posted this photo on Twitter this morning of a traffic complication on Interstate 30.

No decisions yet on lawsuits on Voter ID and judicial candidates

The Arkansas Supreme Court released its customary Thursday decisions this morning, but no final decisions in major pending cases challenging the state Voter ID law and the qualifications of some judicial candidates. It dealt with some procedural issues on some of those cases and is expected to meet in conference on these expedited matters today.

North Little Rock fire chief to retire

North Little Rock Fire Chief Robert Mauldin will retire July 1, Mayor Joe Smith announced today. Mauldin has served 41 years with the department, the last five as chief. Smith said he'll conduct a nationwide search for a new chief.

Kris Allen to perform in Conway benefit concert Friday night

Friday night at 7, at the Fellowship Bible Church in Conway, Arkansas-native (and "American Idol" season eight winner) Kris Allen will perform a benefit concert with the Vilonia High School Choir, all proceeds of which will go to tornado relief efforts in Vilonia and Mayflower. Tickets, which are $30 each, can be purchased online, and doors will open at 6:30.

State Board of Education denies move of Quest charter school

The state Board of Education today overwhelmingly rejected an application to move the approved Quest charter middle school to a new location on Harding Road, just west of I-430 and Shackleford Road. Testimony included a recitation of the ways representatives of the school have provided misleading or incomplete information to state regulators. A representative of the school said the organizers would now seek to find a location acceptable to all. But it likely will make it difficult for the school, which says it has signed up 180 prospective students, to open by fall.

Footnote: William Martyr 17, 'Four Years Long'

For this week's issue, I talked to Matt Werth, who runs the record label RVNG Intl. and hails originally from Little Rock, where he was an active member of the early and mid-`90s punk scene, the era of Das Yutes a Go-Go and File 13 Records (which he eventually ran for several years). The article covers his own musical output in passing, but in the interest of local history and completism, it's worth mentioning here that, kids or not, his band William Martyr 17 was very much a real thing and even sort of great. It's post-hardcore or it's punk rock or it's whatever you want to call it — it's intense.

Legislative candidate denies allegations about abuse, paying for abortion

Bobby Altes of Fort Smith, a Republican candidate for a legislative seat held by his term-limited father, Denny Altes, has spoken to The City Wire about reports of his past legal troubles and a former wife's allegation that he had forced her to obtain an abortion. He acknowledged allegations that resulted in criminal complaints, but said he'd never been convicted of anything. Altes, who campaigns as a pro-family, anti-abortion candidate, denied involvement in an abortion.

End of an era: A final UA retirement for Frank Broyles

Former University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles, hospitalized this week with a severe foot infection, will be honored next month for his final retirement from official associations with the UA and the athletic program. There's a bit of a back story.

Sen. Bryan King and Rep. Joe Farrer call for new cost projection for the private option

Sen. Bryan King and Rep. Joe Farrer held a press conference at the Capitol today to reiterate the complaints about the private option they've made since the policy's implementation (and dating back to the debates in the legislature to pass and re-authorize the private option), and to call for a new set of cost projections to be developed by a company other than Optumas, the actuarial firm that contracted with the Department of Human Services to develop cost estimates. Farrer also claimed to have a "better plan" which would covered by the private option, but declined to say what this plan is.

Throw 150,000 people off health insurance? No biggie, Asa Hutchinson says

Whew. Cold fish Asa Hutchinson, the Republican gubernatorial favorite, surfaced big time today in an interview posted today by KUAR about what might happen if Republicans do deliver on their promise to kill Obamacare or its private option Medicaid expansion in Arkansas.

Putting a face with the numbers: Tamara Williams, one of 150,000 Arkansans who gained health coverage via the private option

Our cover story this week takes a look at some of the more than 150,000 Arkansans who have gained coverage under the private option, including Tamara Williams, a North Little Rock mother of three working full time and making $11 an hour. If the state had not expanded coverage, people like Williams would fall into a coverage gap (an estimated 5 million Americans are without insurance because of the refusal of 24 states to expand Medicaid). Williams enrolled in a plan with Ambetter via the private option, and was able to get the treatment she needed for high blood pressure, as well as breast cancer, diagnosed shortly after she gained coverage. Her story after the jump.

Stealth PAC pours money into Arkansas Supreme Court race

For perhaps the first time, a stealth out-of-state PAC with a nasty history is spending big money to influence an Arkansas judicial race — the state Supreme Court contest between Appeals Court Judge Robin Wynne and Tim Cullen.

Howzabout an open line?

I'm whupped. Take over. I see something from LRPD about four arrests in a home intrusion out Kanis Road, but no details yet.

Food Feedback Friday: Everyone's at E's

Alright, friends. Time to hear from you this week. Give us all your feedback.

Supreme Court candidate airs response to out-of-state stealth group's attack ad

Tim Cullen, who's opposing Robin Wynne in a race for Arkansas Supreme Court, hurried up production of a response ad last night to the emergence today of a huge attack ad buy against him by a shadowy out-of-state group with a history of intervening in court races around the country without disclosing its financial backing. Cullen has also done a print response slamming the clandestine ad buy, estimated by Cullen's camp at $200,000, and castigating Wynne for not disavowing the attack.

Evidence drives acceptance of evolution; religion can get in the way

An Arkansas native scientist who's long pondered the lack of teaching — and acceptance — of evolution, returns to the subject with research based on attitudes of gifted Arkansas high school students. It's an old story — evidence versus religion.

Dark money is everywhere, including attorney general races

With help from a Republican majority Supreme Court, big business lobbies are buying races around the country for attorney general and appellate courts. The trend is already evident in Arkansas. The aim is to protect business from consumer protection, among other goals.

A party of their own: Kochs plan to spend $125 million to defeat Democrats like Mark Pryor

Speaking of buying elections: Politico has obtained a memo that says the billionaire Koch brothers plan to spend $125 million this year, in part through their Americans for Prosperity front, to elect Republicans. They've already spent $35 million to defeat swing Democratic senators such as Mark Pryor of Arkansas. They have nothing less planned than an independent political party of their own with money that dwarfs the national political parties.

Fort Smith hospital CEO ousted after remark about Hispanics

The City Wire in Fort Smith reports on the abrupt removal of Tim Schmidt, the interim CEO of the Sparks Medical System in Fort Smith after a stupid remark about Latinos.

A confederacy of dunces assembled to tout the Keystone pipeline

Mark, Mark, Mark. We understood when Sen. Mark Pryor rolled over to join the pollution lobby's push for the Keystone XL pipeline, which will imperil water supplies in the Great Plains to move Canadian tar sands to Texas refineries for shipment of processed goods to China. But really. Does he have to associate with a gang like this?

Feds indict Bull Shoals police chief for excess force in an arrest

Daniel Sutterfield, the Bull Shoals police chief, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Harrison for kicking, stomping and tasing a resident in an arrest. He also allegedly struck the resident with the butt of a shotgun while the suspect was handcuffed.

Parties still await news on same-sex marriage lawsuit

One of Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's staff members said Thursday that she thought a release of his decision in the marriage lawsuit was possible by 2 p.m. today. Hasn't happened. Cheryl Maples, attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage and recognition of marriages of couples married legally elsewhere, said the decision will be released at 5 p.m.

Arkansas Times Recommends: 'Dogtooth,' Iris DeMent and DJ DMD

'Arkansas Times Recommends' is a weekly series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying (or, in Max's case, not enjoying) this week.

The marijuana tourism open line

The line is open. I'll have a separate item soon on the same-sex marriage lawsuit. We'll finish here with a marijuana bust in Maumelle and more on that shadowy outfit trying to influence an Arkansas judicial election.

The Obama in Arkansas Edition

President Obama’s visit to Arkansas, the ruling on a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, a PR push for the Keystone pipeline, dark money flooding state political races at all levels, Asa Hutchinson’s thoughts on ending the private option, Frank Broyles getting pushed out at the UA, Johnny Key landing on his feet and Quest Charter School hitting a significant speed bump — all covered on this week's podcast.

The stealth attack in the Supreme Court race draws response

Two developments today in the secretive attack on Arkansas Supreme Court candidate Tim Cullen by a shadowy Virginia outfit that has a history of intervening with secretly financed ads in judicial races. His opponent disavowed a connection and defense lawyers ripped the ads as an attack on the justice system.

Judge Chris Piazza invalidates Arkansas's same-sex marriage ban

Circuit Judge Chris Piazza today invalidated the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage and recognition of marriages legally entered by same-sex couples in other states.

Morning in Arkansas: Tastes like freedom. But will it ring in Eureka this morning?

I'm happy to report that my marriage and family remain intact this morning despite the fact that Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck a ringing blow for equality yesterday by striking down the ban on same sex marriage. For now, I'll stick with my wife. Excuse the snark as Arkansas begins to work through details of his historic ruling, including likely attempts of couples newly empowered to marry today.

UPDATE Eureka Springs deputy clerk refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Unlike most, if not all, cities and counties in the state, the Carroll County Western District Courthouse in Eureka Springs issues marriage licenses on Saturdays. In the wake of Circuit Judge Chris Piazza invalidating the state's constitutional ban of same-sex marriage, same-sex couples lined up this morning in the courthouse only to be told by the deputy county clerk that she wouldn't issue licenses to straight or same-sex couples today because her boss, the county clerk, was out of town.

Marriage licenses issued to first same-sex couples in Arkansas

The first same-sex couples in Arkansas have received marriage licenses in Eureka Springs. They were Kristin Seaton, 27, and Jennifer Rambo, 26, both of Fort Smith.

This is what marriage equality in Arkansas looks like

It's a happy day for same-sex couples who received their marriage licenses in Eureka Springs in the wake of Circuit Judge Chris Piazza overturning Amendment 83, which banned same-sex marriage in Arkansas.

County clerks discuss headaches of marriage order: most seem likely to resist issuing licenses Monday

County clerks and attorneys had their conference call with Association of Arkansas Counties officials this afternoon about complying with Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling invalidating the state Constitution and 1997 statutory bans on same-sex marriage. They're hoping for further court guidance and, ideally, a stay of Piazza's ruling.

The equal rights open line

I'm going to call it quits for the night so I can do my hair to see Iris DeMent. A momentous 24 hours. I leave you with a reminder from the Stonewall Democrats, that happy as the interim news is on marriage equality, there are other bridges to cross. Also, a group that supports gay marriage in Arkansas, will rally at the courthouse for couples seeking marriage licenses. Clergy will be on hand to finish the job.

Same-sex couples move into the mainstream

A friend on the left coast, following Arkansas developments in marriage equality, thought readers might be interested to hear about a marketing development significant enough that the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about it.

Impeach Chris Piazza? Look who's talking

Some elements of the Arkansas legislature Crackpot Caucus emerged Saturday to talk of impeaching Pulaski Circuit Judge Chris Piazza for his ruling striking down the state ban on same-sex marriage. It would be easy to laugh this off as meaningless political posturing except that it comes from towering hypocrites who illustrate oa broad disrespect for the rule of the law in the new Republican majority. If a legislative majority impeaches every judge who issues an unpopular decision, do we really need the judicial branch of government?

The world is watching Arkansas — at least briefly a civil rights leader

Judge Chris Piazza's ruling that struck down the same-sex marriage ban is drawing enormous attention worldwide. A reddening Deep South state the first to see a same-sex couple married within its borders? That's news. Interest is phenomenal and an event Monday morning in Little Rock should get even more attention.

UPDATE: Arkansas State product puts Twitter in mouth

A little rain must fall on Arkies basking in some rare good news on the tolerance front. Here's ESPN on a stupid comment by the Miami Dolphins' Don Jones, who played at Arkansas State University. UPDATE: The team has fined Jones and suspended him from team activities.

The Sunday night line: Forecast on the marriage morrow

The line is open. I have little to add except that, tomorrow, the main focus of news in the developing same-sex marriage story is in Pulaski County, where marriage licenses will be issued until and unless a court stays Judge Chris Piazza's order last week. As I wrote Saturday, after sitting in on a discussion by county clerks, it's doubtful any county in Arkansas will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples except the six that are named defendants in the case before Piazza. But…..a little local wrinkle. ALSO: Great film from Eureka.

Faulkner County: no marriage licenses for same sex couples on Monday

In a press release issued Sunday, Faulkner County attorney David Hogue says that the office of Faulkner County Clerk Melinda Reynolds will refuse to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples this week. According to the press release from Hogue, the basis of Reynolds' refusal is three-fold, including the question of whether Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza has the authority to strike down a statewide law.

The Supreme Court attack ads: The real message

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today got around to running through the basics of the recent flood stealth PAC ads attempting to blow up the race for Arkansas Supreme Court between Robin Wynne and Tim Cullen by making Cullen out to be a defender of child porn (he's merely a defense lawyer who represented an offender). The slimy secret group's history — absent disclosure — leaves the inescapable conclusion that Wynne is the business lobby favorite in this race and they'll stop at nothing to defeat Cullen.

NBC poll gives Mark Pryor 11-point lead over Tom Cotton in race for U.S. Senate; Hutchinson leads Ross

Another poll shows Mark Pryor with a big lead over Tom Cotton in the race for U.S Senate in Arkansas. It also shows Asa Hutchinson leading Mike Ross in the race for governor. Independent voters are the key.

UPDATE: Dozens marry as same-sex marriages begin in Little Rock; now the legal tangle

Same sex marriages, dozens of them, began at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock today and also at the Washington County courthouse in Fayetteville, but most other Arkansas counties ignored the ruling, including four named defendants that adopted a county offcials' strategy developed Saturday to resist until the Supreme Court was heard from. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed for stays before both Judge Chris Piazza and the Arkansas Supreme Court. A Supreme Court stay before a final order from Piazza would be unusual, but the Arkansas Supreme Court is sensitive to political winds and might depart from practice here. No indication yet when it might respond to the McDaniel filing, which plaintiffs will contest.

Pryor, Cotton join hands on Keystone pipeline

The photo by KATV's Elicia Dover says it all. Sen. Mark Pryor and his Republican opponent, Tom Cotton, were all smiles this morning as they joined hands (with U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, too) at an energy-industry backed news conference to tout their support for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Love stories from the dawn of marriage equality in Arkansas

Stories from newlyweds and those who've been waging the fight to overturn Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage.

This is what marriage equality looks like in Little Rock

It's a happy day for dozens of same-sex couples whose marriages were officially recognized at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock on Monday. Arkansas Times photographer Brian Chilson is on hand to capture the scene.

Bank robbery in SWLR

Police said a Bank of America branch at 8200 Geyer Springs Road was robbed about 11 a.m. today by an older white male in his 50s.

Video: 'It's amazing that finally my state will recognize me as an equal person'

Filmmaker Gabe Gentry was on hand at the Pulaski County Courthouse for the Times this morning. He interviewed happy couples and grabbed footage of the wedding of Susan Barr and Shelly Butler, of Dallas, the first same-sex couple to marry in Little Rock.

UPDATE: Arkansas Supreme Court to hear arguments on stay of marriage ruling; meanwhile almost 300 same-sex couples newlyweds

Marriage licenses will continue to be issued to same-sex couples in four counties in Arkansas at least until tomorrow. The Arkansas Supreme Court has responded to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's request of Judge Chris Piazza's ruling overturning the same-sex marriage ban by giving plaintiffs until noon Tuesday to respond. It's uncertain when the Supreme Court will rule. UPDATED with legal developments, marriage count and more.

Benton County voters get voter 'report card,' source anonymous

Interesting story from KNWA about a mailer being received in Benton County that tells recipients of the voting records of their neighbors. Voting records are public records, but people are little unsettled that someone has gathered them up and told neighbors who voted when and in what elections. Particularly since no trace can be found of the Arkansas State Voter Program that mailed the flyers.

John Diamond, ousted at UA, hired at University of Wisconsin

John Diamond, fired as the top public affairs spokesman at the University of Arkansas amid his criticism of Chancellor David Gearhart for trying to cover up financial problems in the UA advancement division, has been hired as a top spokesman for the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

A smelly Supreme Court race gets weirder, with candidate criticism touching a potential colleague

The Arkansas Supreme Court race between Judge Robin Wynne and Tim Cullen, already stinking to high heaven because of a huge stealth expenditure by an out-of-state organization against Cullen, added a funny wrinkle today, gibes by both candidates against sitting Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson.

Catholic bishop says diocese will intervene to support ban on same-sex marriage

There's a new pope who's made some famously friendly remarks toward gay and lesbian people, but the Little Rock Catholic diocese made it clear today that it wants to keep same-sex marriage illegal in Arkansas. It will attempt to intervene in the lawsuit on the side of preserving legal discrimination. Bishop Anthony Taylor did describe what he termed a "third way" course between "marginalization" of homosexuals and "inventing rights" for them. That way, he said, is "supportive of the dignity and human rights of the homosexual person, while at the same time promoting and protecting marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society." The people who married today found little dignity, of course, in being treated as second-class citizens when it comes to forming families.

The Monday night line

I'm slinking out of here. The line is open. But a word also about Mike Huckabee raising money for himself off the issue of the day — today gay marriage.

Arkansas politicians want Keystone pipeline; Canada not so high on the concept

The Arkansas Republican Exxon/Mobil caucus gathered at a Little Rock pipe plan Monday, along with nominal Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, to promote the Keystone XL pipeline.

How low can Karl Rove go? The Hillary attacks continue

From Politico, an early indication of how low the Republicans are prepared to go in derailing a Hillary Clinton candidacy for president. Karl Rove — you may know him as Tim Griffin's mentor in the glory days of Florida vote caging to keep black people from voting — has gone to practicing neurology. He's injected into the public arena the utterly speculative notion that Clinton has suffered brain damage.

Reminder: No guns on Little Rock city property

A reader sends this photo of a new sign at Little Rock City Hall announcing that concealed weapons are not allowed on premises, except when carried by law officers. This is only a restatement of long-standing law, I'm pretty sure. But the sign is new and I've noticed them elsewhere, such as at the fitness center in War Memorial Park.

Saline County drops out of same-sex marriage business

Greg Yarbrough of KARK Tweets this morning that Saline County Clerk Doug Curtis has said the county will no longer issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Yesterday, Saline didn't, then did, issuing a half-dozen or so.

Will approval of the Keystone XL pipeline really generate more jobs for Arkansas?

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline brought together campaign rivals Sen. Mark Pryor and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton this morning at a press conference hosted at Welspun Tubular LLC, the east Little Rock pipe plant, along with U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin and state legislators and business leaders. Because of environmental concerns, the White House is reluctant to approve the Keystone project, which would deliver about 800,000 barrels of carbon-heavy Canadian tar sands oil each day to Gulf Coast refineries and cross hundreds of miles of sensitive lands. Pryor, Cotton and Griffin all urge President Obama to drop objections to the pipeline, which they say are standing in the way of job creation in Arkansas.

Arkansas: Again a pioneer in human rights

Ernie Dumas writes brilliantly this week on Judge Chris Piazza's ruling striking down the state ban on same-sex marriage. He recalls when Arkansas was a trailblazer once before — on ending criminal laws against sodomy. If the Constitution matters, Dumas thinks the Arkansas Supreme Court, though it might stay Piazza's ruling, must eventually continue the march of progress for a sexual minority long pushed into shadows. Until this glorious week. Dumas notes Piazza's was a decision rooted in the 1874 Arkansas Constitution's equal rights provision.

A Q&A with Taylor Feltner, director of 'Man Shot Dead'

Currently based in L.A., the filmmaker Taylor Feltner was born and raised in Arkansas, and his new feature-length documentary "Man Shot Dead" marks a return to his home state in an effort to solve the decades-old mystery of his grandfather's murder.

Coming: Draft beer on tap in retail outlets

Southwest-Times Record has a scoop on a proposed rule change that beer drinkers will love. The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division is considering a rule that will allow draft beer to be sold in refillable jugs at any business with a retail beer permit.

Same-sex marriage suit plaintiffs object to stay of Piazza ruling; counties still issuing down to two

As expected, plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to Judge Chris Piazza's overturning of the same-sex marriage ban in Arkansas, have told the state Supreme Court that they object to a stay of Piazza's ruling. Now the Supreme Court will deliberate. There's no indication when it might rule. ALSO: Now only two counties are still following Piazza's ruling.

Secretary of State Mark Martin adds new burden to voter registration

The Department of Finance and Administration announced today that it was implementing a change in the procedure followed by already-registered voters when they make changes to their registration, such as an address change, at state motor vehicle offices. This comes from Secretary of State Mark Martin and it raises some questions.

Free speech isn't necessarily 'free,' or so a Walmart critic suggests

A Walmart critic has taken note of the Walton and Walmart money that has flowed into the campaign of Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway, mostly recently "distinguishing" himself with invective against gay marriage and anyone who'd enable it. The Walmart 1 Percent, a website that is a watchdog on the retail giant, noted that Rapert had received $3,000 in campaign contributions from Walmart heir Jim Walton and his wife and $2,000 from the Walmart PAC.

Land commissioner enters agreement to protect endangered species

Holy moley. A Republican state official has entered an agreement with a federal agency intended to protect some endangered obscure animal life on islands in the Arkansas River. Where's Missy Irvin and the Greenway posse when you need them?

Hot Springs bath tub thief gets a year in federal lockup

From Hot Springs National Park comes news of a year-long investigation that led to a conviction and one-year sentence of a man who stole five stainless steel bathtubs from Hot Springs bathhouses to sell as scrap.

NAACP says Mark Martin and state have failed to ease burden on voters from Voter ID law

As my updated post shows, I"m getting dead silence from Secretary of State Mark Martin on new requirements he apparently has unilaterally imposed on registered voters because of shortcomings of some new software he's purchased for his office. Now comes criticism from the NAACP for his (poor) work on the state's unconstitutional Voter ID law.

Bank robbery on Kavanaugh in the Heights

KARK reports the robbery of a U.S. Bank branch at 5200 Kavanaugh Boulevard about 1 p.m. today.

Arkansas Republicans at work to criminalize differences of opinion

I got into a lather over the weekend for impeachment talk by Republican legal giants Justin Harris, David Meeks and Jason Rapert. They want to make a high crime out of a ruling on gay marriage they disliked by Circuit Judge Chris Piazza. They want to impeach him. They are not alone in this kind of prosecutorial mindset. There's also Tom Cotton on the president. And also Tim Griffin on the Obama administration.

Circuit Judge Alice Gray cautioned over handling of case in complaint filed by colleague

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission today released a letter it had sent to Pulaski Circuit Judge Alice Gray cautioning her in a complaint brought by her colleague, Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce.

Open line: Tom Cotton scrubs his record on votes against disaster aid. Marriage update

The line is open. What better way to finish than news from Huffington Post that Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, the extremist Club for Growth cutout for U.S. Senate against Mark Pryor, has scrubbed his record of votes against money to fund federal disaster relief — some of it now pouring into tornado-ravaged Arkansas. Also: Update on same-sex marriages today in Arkansas.

Today at UALR: Receptions for Bailin, Raborn and Sell.

Head over to UALR's Fine Arts Building today at 5:30 p.m. to mingle and admire work by David Bailin ("Revision, Missing, Listen, Light, Fly: Drawings by David Bailin") and MA candidates Laura Raborn and Sandra Sell ("Recent Work") at receptions for the artists.

A Q&A with Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos, directors of 'Rich Hill'

Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos are cousins, filmmakers and co-directors of the new documentary "Rich Hill," which won the the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The film follows three kids and their families in a small town in Missourri, Rich Hill (population 1,396). Variety calls it "an open-hearted portrait of impoverished American life," and Indiewire's Kate Walsh writes, "'Rich Hill' is the type of media object that could and should be put in a time capsule for future generations."

The many joys of Maison Terre

North Little Rock is home to one of the best on-line marketplaces for natural foods, culinary spices, and medicinal herbs. Now you can eat local and have it delivered right to your doorstep.