Deep in the Ozarks, aging idealists still live the dream of a simpler, more environmentally conscious life.
Vol 22 • No 14
Some of the grapes to be celebrated.
Sen. Mark Pryor says opponent Tom Cotton's campaign isn't telling the truth about his record on d veterans health care. He cites the record, suggests Cotton's ambition clouds his judgment.
A Fort Smith resident has surrendered in New Jersey on charges of wire fraud in operation of a company that handled billing for trucking companies. She allegedly shifted freight charges to her own use.
The reader comment line is open. A final news item: The Florida League of Women Voters has a study ripping charter schools in that state in just about every important aspect.
A Fort Smith police officer and his wife have been arrested in Oklahoma on charges of child endangerment and intoxication. And he's resigned after a bout of poor gun handling.
Clearly, Little Rock is no stranger to the mobile hot dog cart...indeed, most cities are quite familiar with the hot dog street vendor in some shape or form. Hot dogs make for one of the most convenient and simplest foods to consume on the go. Now there’s a new face in the hot dog arena and they’ve been popping up around Little Rock for the last few months, reminding people just what a hot dog can do.
'X-Men: Days of Future Past' suggests there's no stopping series.
Arkansas held primary and judicial elections Tuesday, May 20, and none of the major media got the biggest news right.
The Observer spent a good part of last week working on a story that took us out into nature, which we generally hate. Too many ticks, chiggers, snakes, no-see-ums and poison ivy out there, my friend. We'll stick to the paved roads, thanks.
The Jessie White Tumblers perform at Riverfest. For more Riverfest photos, see page 34.
For as flawed as Arkansas's 2014 baseball squad seemed, the Razorbacks had precisely the sort of finish they needed. At no point was this team ever going to draw serious consideration for hosting a regional, but after teetering on the brink of the proverbial bubble for months, the last three weeks have represented a clear breakthrough.
Also, Between the Buried and Me at Stickyz.
When the new (the ninth) congressional investigation of the terrorist attack in Benghazi opens next month, here's an exercise that will put it in perspective: Revisit the spring of 2004 when the Bush White House, yielding to pressure from the commission that was investigating the 9/11 attacks, declassified a single daily presidential security brief, that of Aug. 6, 2001. It brought gasps but no real accounting of how the administration had handled things.
'Sooner or later, you know it's time to leave.'
Our Arkansas constitution guarantees that "no power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage." In other words, voting is a fundamental right.
Also, August Alsina at the Metroplex, Legends of Arkansas Festival at the First Security Amphitheatre, POP on Main on Main Street, Trail Mix Concert at Crystal Bridges, Conway Pride Parade and Festival and Ester Rada at South on Main.
Another week, another disturbed young man, another mass killing spree. It's come to where episodes like Eliot Rodger's murder of four men and two women near the Cal-Santa Barbara campus have become so frequent in America that the crime scene tapes have hardly been removed before people turn them into political symbols.
Food truck grills up a paleo menu.
They call them the Fragile Five: Arkansas landmarks in danger of destruction, whose loss would put a hole in Arkansas history. The Historic Preservation Alliance has announced its annual list of Arkansas's Endangered Places.
We now have proof positive from a chaotic and wildly inconsistent enforcement of the Voter ID law last week that rampant confusion exists on how the law is to be administered.
First up let me give a great big thank-you out to your regular columnist, Gene Lyons, for his excellent article "Trigger warnings" (May 22). And, especially for his more than apt admonishment to those bleating "check your privilege" that they kiss his — well, you know. It is in that spirit of kiss my — you know, that I want to offer some thoughts about our recently passed Memorial Day and some preparatory fire for our next opportunity to wax apoplectically about our very own bloated, big (you know) military.
Welcome to Glitter Rock.
Annual tasting and noshing event in Argenta is June 6.
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Mormon and personally opposed to same-sex marriage, spoke bluntly and sensibly on its legal inevitability during a radio interview yesterday:
Last night won't be the last that word trickles in of telephone polling in Arkansas. Making sense of it is the hard part.Rasmussen, to name one, was calling last night. The Rasmussen poll is out, it shows Tom Cotton with a small lead over Mark Pryor.
The multi-billion-dollar Walton Family Foundation has announced that Dr. Barry Gold will soon join the foundation as leader of its "environmental focus." He's currently director of Marine Conservation at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
Republican Sen. Bryan King is on a tear against the Carroll County Election Commission. The general manager of the local radio station finally had all he could take of King's bullying.
Bro. Jason Rapert got to grandstand at Boys State today about that liberal bully down in Little Rock — me. He might have had the crowd with him on abortion, but I think he might have found a different response on marijuana and Faulkner county beer sales.
Jackie McPherson of Heber Springs, the Democratic candidate for 1st District Congress, has joined a growing list of candidates and officeholders who say Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign over problems in the veterans health care system. Pat Hays, the Democratic candidate for 2nd District, called for this last week. What about Sen. Mark Pryor?
Chuck Dicus, who spent 17 years as head of the Razorback Foundation, has been named president of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation. He'll be in an acting role until he succeeds Steve Smith July 1. Smith will become president emeritus.
Michael Warrick's bronze was commissioned to honor the Main Library centennial.
Not a huge surprise given their success among the downtown lunch crowd: Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken will open a second Little Rock location, offering its hyper-addictive fried chicken in West Little Rock at the space formerly occupied by Buffalo Grill on N. Bowman.
The conventional public school is dead in New Orleans. Public education has been turned over solely to charter schools. Created equal? Not on your life. They discriminate on the basis of race and class, even school officials admit.
I have to drive to NWA. So I'm out of here. The rest of the gang will be on the lookout. I do know Gus's Fried Chicken is opening on Bowman Road in the old Buffalo Grill location; Henderson State is raising tuition 3.8 percent; the National Right to Work group is suing over dues for Pulaski School District bus drivers who don't want to be in the union (the school district says it will happily stop deductions)
The latest on the legal challenge to the state’s voter ID law, Little Rock’s selection of a new police chief, Asa Hutchinson's crime plan, Sen. Jason Rapert’s latest grandstanding and more covered on this week's podcast.
Eligibility verification not complete for nearly 5,000 private option beneficiaries; coverage will end May 31 until process is complete
A technical glitch led to almost 4,798 Arkansans gaining private option coverage prior to fully completing the eligibility verification process. The error was rooted in the way that the federal government submitted data from healthcare.gov to the state. These people have received letters from the Department of Human Services indicating that their private option coverage will end on May 31; in order to regain coverage, they must go back to healthcare.gov and complete the application process.
Lauren French is bringing her pies to the streets of Little Rock with a new truck she’s christened “The Pie Hole.” French’s pie shop will be fully mobile and she expects to make appearances all across town and at most of the already popular food truck gatherings.
Feedback time is now.
Another stealth-financed attack group is again working to help David Sterling win the runoff for the Republican attorney general nomination against Leslie Rutledge, who almost won the primary without a runoff.
Randolph County deputies arrested a naked burglar near Pocahontas. He said he needed to take a shower.
Little Rock Central High students denominated elections at Boys State this week. And a certain blogger apparently scored well in voting by delegates on favorite speakers, Jason Rapert or no Jason Rapert.
The third round of layoffs at Stephens Media's Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith cut deeper into the bone of news reporting and editing employees. The Little Rock-based chain has made other cuts in Arkansas and elsewhere as it copes with changing newspaper landscape.
The Rasmussen polling this week shows Republican Asa Hutchinson with a 48-41 lead over Democrat Mike Ross in the race for governor. 4 percent preferred one of two other candidates in the race; 6 percent were undecided.
Notes from the road: Herman's Ribhouse review and the curious Internet filtering at Ark. Supreme Court
Killing time in Fayetteville this morning, I have a mini-review of the venerable Herman's Ribhouse and a report on some highly suspicious Internet filtering discovered yesterday at the office building that houses the Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
Eric Shinseki resigns as Veterans Affairs secretary; Arkansas angles are political and, for vets, personal
Eric Shinseki resigned today as Veterans Affairs secretary and President Obama accepted the resignation with "regret." Was there really any other alternative?
The Club for Growth released an ad this week going after Sen. Mark Pryor on (what else?) Obamacare. The ad tries to tie Pryor to President Barack Obama’s much-maligned “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” promise. The gimmick is a parrot: Obama is saying stuff, and Pryor is saying the same stuff! It's like he's parroting Obama! The thing is, Pryor didn't actually say what's implied in the ad.
The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees unanimously approved a 3.86 percent increase in tuition and fees for the 2014-2015 school year for undergraduates. Graduate students will only feel a 3.71 percent ding. The increase is small relative to other jumps at Arkansas universities.
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. Read on to find out about two-headed blue birds in Arkansas; the glory of CJ's Butcher Boy Burgers and Herman's Ribhouse, an interesting book called "The Interestings" and music to listen to from the likes of Kenny Loggins, Steve Gunn, Jim Mize and 5th Ward Weebie. Plus eleven short films that will make your day.
Lance Armstrong is coming to ride in the Gran Fondo and maybe eat at POP on Main. Fox 16 thinks that Alex Rodriguez may be in town. If so, he's probably hanging out with Karl Malone and Steve Landers, talking about car dealerships. We expect they'll all end up at Midtown.
Voting in our annual poll is open. Tell us what you like.
Lulav, the W. 6th Street eatery which has gone through a couple of names since being sold by owner J. Matt Lile in 2013, is being relaunched under the name Lulav, with Lile in a consulting role. Lile said the reboot will include old favorites, new menu items, an open wine cellar, more affordable entree options, longer kitchen hours, and a revamped drink menu. They're open now, but they'll have a grand opening next Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Lile said.
Open line with Gaugin, struggling newspapers, Gilbert Baker, Tom Cotton's house and the women of Central High
The line is open. A glimpse of a Gaugin at Crystal Bridges, another cutback in the newspaper industry, more glory for Little Rock Central High and an audit report on former UCA lobbyist Gilbert Baker and comment on Tom Cotton's roots wrap up the evening.
Fox 16 reports on a local veteran who reported a long wait to schedule an appointment to see a doctor at the local VA clinics. It's anecdotal, as was a similar story told to me yesterday about another veteran.
This mailer is going out in Faulkner County. It's meant to discourage voters from signing petitions for an election in November to vote Faulkner County wet. Currently, alcohol is only available in "private clubs." It's a tussle that could go statewide between beer sellers and county line liquor stores
A gang of anti-private option legislators journeyed to Baxter County yesterday to endorse Scott Flippo in the Republican runoff for state Senate.
Sen. Mark Pryor and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey joined in Little Rock today to talk about disaster aid and how Pryor's Republican opponent Tom Cotton had defied the usual bipartisan spirit in disaster funding in Congress. Had Cotton had his way, money would have been short for Arkansas disaster relief. Cotton alibis.
The Saturday night line is open. If you're a fan of North Little Rock's Starving Artist Cafe you better hurry over there for dinner. A post on their Facebook page says this is the last night for the nine-year-old restaurant, which displayed artists' work and also had been the setting for the "Tales from the South" radio show. The radio show says it will move its scheduled Tuesday night show to the Argenta Branch of the Laman Library.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today published a remarkable essay by Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway. I have this to say about that: Publisher Hussman, tear down that (pay) wall!
In addition to challenging the new Voter ID law, the ACLU makes the good case in this article by John Lyon of Stephens Media that Secretary of State Mark Martin's office did a poor job of educating voters about it.
The open line includes David Leiws' great music video "I've Been Everywhere" (in Arkansas), plus news of groundwork for a proposal to make sale of alcohol legal statewide.
Sen. Jason Rapert's lengthy essay in the Democrat-Gazette Sunday was "glaring evidence of his bigotry," writes Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen
Republican runoff candidates for attorney general — David Sterling and Leslie Rutledge — meet on KUAR and eventually get combative.
The record of the trial of the challenge of the Voter ID law was filed at the Arkansas Supreme Court last week and a briefing schedule was set.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich writes here about "Freedom Summer II," an organizing effort nationwide to demonstrate for better pay, benefits and working conditions for Walmart workers.
Here's a good op-ed to add to your consideration as politicians try to make the most of failures in the veterans health care system: It blames House Republicans for creating the crisis in care as part of a drive to reduce the size of government.
Jobs and Opportunity, a group affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association, is providing friendly fire for Mike Ross in his gubernatorial race against Republican Asa Hutchinson.
Vegetables, pastries, and some spicy salsa mix — our farmers markets have it all.
Following their excellent show, I sat down with Jordan Smith (guitar/vocals), Emmett Miller (guitar/vocals), and Brent Toler (guitar/vocals) as they shed some light on the highs and lows of relentless touring, unlikely influences (Prince is in the mix), and imminent world domination.
Even the NRA has a limit on gun foolishness. It has issued a strong statement about the bully boys in the open carry movement who've been making a show of their semi-automatic firepower in Texas chain restaurants. The NRA said gun toters had "crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness" in their restaurant displays. It warned of political backlash.
The Obama administration has proposed an EPA regulation to sharply reduce carbon emissions at coal-burning power plants. It could be transformative, if it survives the legal and legislative process. The rule could affect plants in Arkansas and thus it immediately became political fodder.
One of the four employees on the lieutenant governor's $300,000 payroll who've had little or nothing to do since Mark Darr resigned Feb. 1 has found another job — just down the hallway at the state House of Representatives.
The Optimum Group, a corporate farming operation, will build a rice mill at the Port of Pine Bluff through its Southwind Milling Co. It will open in 2015 and create 25 jobs.
The Arkansas Capitol was built between 1899 and 1915. It was supposed to cost $1 million, but wound up costing more than $2 million. Now, the House is embarking on a $1 million fixup project of the chamber to restore cracked stained glass, the plaster ceiling and the chandelier.
The reader comment line is open. It's also time for colleges to vote again to opt out of allowing employees to carry guns on campus. Pulaski Tech again says no to more guns on campus.
Pulaski Prosecutor Larry Jegley wrote Legislative Auditor Roger Norman today to inform him he'd found no probable cause to take action against University of Arkansas officials over events related to financial problems in the University Advancement Division.
Three things to know in Arkansas today: carbon cap, Rutledge v. Sterling and Griffen's response to Rapert
For those of you who like your news condensed and in video form, check out our inaugural run of what we plan on making regular programming.
The best thing about our next stop on the Grand Tour, Gadwall’s Grill, is that it knows exactly what it is: “of the neighborhood and for the neighborhood.” It’s the kind of place you can take the whole extended family, your baseball team, your college buddies or even a blind date and everyone will leave happy.
Have 9 minutes? Watch this affecting New York Times video on a disappearing island on the coast of Louisiana — a victim of rising sea levels, coastal erosion and stronger storms.
A union-backed group that protests Walmart treatment of workers is planning demonstrations this week as the company prepares for its annual stockholders meeting in Northwest Arkansas.
More newspaper layoffs — this time in Massachusetts, but with an Arkansas angle in partial ownership of the property by the Stephens financial empire. The Massachusetts paper in question was purchased from a Boston billionaire who also happens to have Arkansas roots.
On June 20, Little Rock favorites (and former Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase contestants) Stephen Neeper and The Wild Hearts will play in town, at Midtown Billiards, and it will probably be a better representation of the group's mellow, `70s swamp rock vibe than anything they've ever recorded (the dankness of that place can only add the effect), but you should know anyway that the band has a new album out, called "Southern Truth," and it's a good listen. It's an album best appreciated on a boat, in a denim jacket, on the Fourth of July.
Arkansas is barely ahead of last year in tax take, leaving a small surplus for abundant needs through 11 months of the fiscal year.
Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, the Club for Growth's cutout in the race for U.S. Senate, wants to strangle government. Credit him for being open and outfront about that and for forging ahead with his agenda in an election year. It gives Sen. Mark Pryor many opportunities to point out the differences between the two. Today, the focus is economic development.
Ernest Dumas this week provides Sen. Jason Rapert (and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) with a needed tutorial on what the founding fathers, particularly Alexander Hamilton, wrote about the need for an independent judiciary to protect minority rights.
Simon Mercer's "Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou," the great short film about the Arkansas filmmaker Phil Chambliss that screened at last month's Little Rock Film Festival and which I wrote about for the paper at the time, is now online so you can watch it for free. This is good news for the Internet and for the state of Arkansas. Take fifteen minutes and watch this thing.
A look back at 41 years of lingerie advertising is required on news that Barbara Graves Intimate Fashions is closing.
The second of Mara Leveritt's three books on the West Memphis Three case is now available. "Dark Spell" is the story of Jason Baldwin, 16 when charged with killing three children and now free thanks to a deal that left him officially convicted but proclaiming innocence.
Summertime and the line is open; with runoff politics, carbon emissions and Bill Clinton in the news
The open line begins with news of a hot Senate runoff; cooling words on carbon emissions from Bill Clinton; a Buffalo River drowning, and an update on the log truck accident yesterday near Clinton that killed two and injured 21.
On today's episode, Max also talks briefly about Arkansas tax revenue, the closure of Barbara Graves Intimate Fashions and Mara Leveritt's new book, "Dark Spell."
UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn announced to staff in a memo yesterday evening that Dr. Rick Smith would be stepping down as dean of the College of Medicine at the end of 2014 and help the new dean, who'll be chosen in a national search, in the first three months of 2015.
The NRA has apologized for its statement criticizing invasions of Texas chain restaurants by groups armed with semi-automatic rifles as displays of support for open carry of firearms.
A Walmart critic takes aim in a new report at the charitable record of second-generation heirs to the Walmart fortune. They've contributed little to the Family Foundation, itself an estate-tax avoidance tool, the report contends.
Arkansas Business Publishing Group web designer Brent Birch has been offered the job of park director by the Little Rock Technology Park Authority.
Here's a nice idea from Public Citizen and Common Cause. Political candidates would pledge to oppose outside group spending in their races. If a group did spend money in behalf of a candidate who's taken the pledge, that candidate would donate half the cost of the ad buy to a charity of the opponent's choice. The groups have asked Arkansas candidates to take the pledge.
A coalition of business and education groups is pressing for high-speed broadband access for all schools and using an existing state infrastructure to do it. The problem: A 2011 law aimed at protecting telecommunications companies prohibits a government entity from providing broadband service to schools.
"Tapping the Ozarks," a new film by University of Arkansas students Danny Henkel and Alyssa Becker, focuses on NWA beer culture and the rise of microbreweries in the region.
Rezoning request to allow a hotel and a gas station at 12th and University to go before Planning Commission.
Another report for Walmart shareholders' week, this one from the Americans for Tax Fairness. It focuses, not on the wages and working conditions of low-level Walmart employees, but "excessive pay" for executives, subsidized by taxpayers.
The big crowds that flock to the big show at Walton Arena Friday for Walmart stockholders are scheduled to be greeted by a giant, bloody inflatable pig in a crate as part of a protest aimed at getting Walmart to stop buying pork from producers that confine pigs to small gestation crates.
Kari Faux has a new EP, "Laugh Now, Die Later," on the way later this month, but she released the first single this afternoon, "No Small Talk," which references UGK and reminds me of Maceo's "Nextel Chirp" (maybe the highest compliment I can give anything). It's a great summer anthem, because it's about nothing (except cell phones and self-confidence) and also contains the phrase "rap game Sriracha."
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today approved the ballot title for a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of marijuana. A previous ballot proposal had been approved by McDaniel to legalize the medical use of marijuana.
U.S. Supreme Court — the full court, acting at the request of Justice William Kennedy — has refused to stop same-sex marriages in Oregon.