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Arkansas Commitment

Arkansas Commitment

May 31, 2018

Vol 44 • No 39

Read the print version

Committed to achievement

Nonprofit puts young black scholars on path to college and success.

Couch Jackets play Kings in Conway

And more!

Ten Questions with Robert Locke

(Shin) dig it.


We swore last week would be the final graduation story, but permit us one last one, for old-time's sake.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Spiritual Warfare Edition!

Play at home, while tending your ravenous goatherd.

Darkly paid judges

This is the third Arkansas election cycle in a row where corporate interests have used the cover of dark money and semisecret political action committees to try to install cozy appellate judges.

Origin story

'Solo' doesn't quite thread the needle.

The enemy within

We defeated the Redcoats. Outsmarted the Wehrmacht. Stared down the Red Army and humiliated the Imperial Japanese Army.

ARChoices rule blocked

DHS action on home-care program was 'calculated disobedience' of court order, judge says.

Primary thoughts

While results from Arkansas's primary elections last week are still not final, they are cemented enough for some analysis of the numbers.

The World Series of Comedy continues at The Loony Bin

Also, Daikaiju, Spirit Cuntz and Revenge Bodies play EJ's.

Election trends

Items of interest that emerged from primary and "nonpartisan" judicial elections last week.

Friday night at the amphitheater

There was a fireworks display during Tracy Lawrence's concert at RiverFest.

Core comes to SoMa

Another brewpub on the block

Gun safety

The Arkansas School Safety Commission has been discussing important steps that can be taken to keep students safe. It is considering factors like mental health, prevention programs and school infrastructure as part of a comprehensive plan. And while school security can help mitigate the crises we currently face, volunteers at Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America believe the key to preventing gun violence in our schools is to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous histories.

On Philip Roth

The recent death of Philip Roth, America's greatest living novelist, came as shock. Although he was 85, and had written movingly of his failing health, the strength of his voice never faltered. "Old age isn't a battle," Roth wrote in his 2007 novel "Everyman." "Old age is a massacre."

Blow to abortion in Arkansas

Also, Supremes motivate Rutledge and more.

Political wilderness

With primary season coming to a merciful end last week, the sprint to Nov. 6 is officially underway.

Not gonna take it

Some of the best news from last week's primary election was from Arkansas House Minority Leader David Whitaker of Fayetteville, who pointed out that the House Democratic Caucus immediately gained three women after Tippi McCullough, Jamie Scott and Nicole Clowney all defeated their primary opponents and face no GOP opposition in November.

Bill Clinton, James Patterson to talk about novel at UA Little Rock

Former President Bill Clinton and author James Patterson will talk about their novel, "The President is Missing," at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 9, at the Jack Stephens Center at UA Little Rock, a change from the originally scheduled venue.

New study: Voucher students in D.C. lag in math

Another study finds a lack of improvement in test scores of students who moved to private schools under a federal voucher program in Washington, D.C.

Moms Demand speak up on more guns in school

The governor's commission on school safety got an earful yesterday from members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America about the wisdom of putting more guns on school campuses.

Arkansas Teacher Retirement lands in middle of dispute over class action legal fees

The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System has landed in a legal mess over attorney fees in a huge class action lawsuit in which it was a lead plaintiff.

Trump pardons Dinesh D'Souza

Dinesh D'Souza, the hate-mongering felon who made illegal campaign contributions, got a pardon today from Donald Trump.

Monument destroyer acquitted on account of mental disease

Circuit Judge Chris Piazza today found Michael Tate Reed innocent of a first-degree criminal mischief charge for knocking down the new Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds with his car.  The judge cited mental disease or defect for the acquittal.

Good news from Arkansas: A visit to the Innovation Hub

PBS Newshour gave some good exposure to Arkansas last night with an extended piece on the Arkansas Innovation Hub and interview with its new leader, Chris Jones.

Parole officer shoots man in argument

Jarvis Webb, 26, a parole officer on the Community Correction Department's special response team, was taken into custody by Pine Bluff police last Friday after shooting a man he said who drew a gun on him during an argument.

The Thursday open line

Here's the open line. An earlier reference to barbecue and drinks was mispalced from another item, but heck, go ahead.

New candidates for Little Rock City Board

The Little Rock City Board election season gets underway Friday and action is expected.

Farewell to the state ecologist emeritus, Tom Foti

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission has distributed a worthy tribute to its retiring chief ecologist, Tom Foti, who actually retired in 2006 but returned to work "part-time" and has become known as state ecologist emeritus. His legacy is a wealth of protected natural areas.

Unemployment rate continues to fall; Trump leaked news

Strong employment numbers were announced today, with the addition of 223,000 jobs and an 18-year-low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent. Trump put his imprint on the news.

Trump may order purchases from coal-burning power plants

Bloomberg has a bombshell about a potentially unprecedented government intervention in energy markets by Donald Trump.

Peanut butter on European tariff retaliation list

The European Union says peanut butter is on the list of products that could be subject to retaliatory tariffs if a trade war breaks out over Trump's metal duties. No final decision has been made.

Change of plea hearing set for Rusty Cranford

Breaking news today in the case of Rusty Cranford, the former lobbyist accused of bribing Arkansas legislators.

Iowa judge blocks Iowa's attempt to ban abortions at sixth week of pregnancy

A federal judge in Iowa will block a new Iowa law banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, similar to legislation struck down by a federal court in Arkansas.

No Small Talk, Ep. 18: Trust Tree

This week, Omaya Jones and Stephanie Smittle catch you up on a bit of entertainment news and talk with Director of Trust Tree Programs Correne Spero about the organization's summer songwriting camps for girls.

Tainted lettuce caused one Arkansas death

An AP report says that one person died in Arkansas a result of e coli linked to romaine lettuce from Arizona.

Another solar project underway in Arkansas

On a day when news broke of Donald Trump attempting to prop up coal miners with forced buys of coal-produced power comes news of another Arkansas solar energy project.

The Friday finale

The open line and daily video.

The Anti-Abortion Forces Prevail for Now Edition

On this week's episode, Max Brantley and Lindsey Millar discuss the court decision that led Arkansas to be the first state in the country where women can’t get medication abortions, Max’s annual trip to Boys State and a federal court hearing that could determine whether Arkansas can legally resegregate public schools.

In Fort Smith, an echo of Donald Trump

It might be interesting to watch the race for mayor of Fort Smith, with a primary election in August. It has Trumpian overtones.

Special prosecutor to review wire transfer to former senator by nursing home owner

A special prosecutor will be appointed to investigate an $80,000 wire transfer made by a nursing home executive to then-Sen. Jake Files of Fort Smith.

Big Orange: Gun Violence Awareness Day

The mayor of Little Rock and the downtown Arkansas River bridges were among the signs of support for Gun Violence Awareness Day. The NRA was called down for trying to co-opt the event.

The sweltering open line and a political announcement

Hot enough for you? Here's an open line. Also a smattering of political news, including one announcement for mayor and ballot initiative activity.

Promoting religion on public property is costly for New Mexico city

Bloomfield, New Mexico, fought a legal battle for six years to put a 10 Commandments tablet outside a municipal building. Now the bill is coming due, and it's a whopper. Rapert's Folly anyone?

Consider the source of ad supporting French Hill

The Business Roundtable bought an expensive full-page ad in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today praising Republican Rep. French Hill for his work on "tax reform."Two things: 1) consider the source and 2) the Republicans are nervous about Democratic challenger Clarke Tucker, the state representative from Little Rock.

The president can't break the law, sayeth Donald Trump

The wonders of Donald Trump never end, the latest being release, in black-and-white, of his lawyers' argument that the president can't break the law because, effectively, the president IS the law.

Corruption in Arkansas open line

Here's the Sunday open line. And for those of you who have't read enough about the extent of corruption in the Arkansas legislature here's some more detail from the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette enabled by recent federal charges of crooked lawmakers.

ATF cuts slack to gun dealers on violations

The NRA and its fellow travelers frequently say the best gun control law is enforcement of existing laws. If only that applied to the gun industry.

Oklahoma added to California's no-travel list

Because Oklahoma has legalized discrimination against gay people in adoption, California has added it to the list of states to which state-paid travel, with some exceptions, is banned because of sexual orientation and gender discrimination. I still wonder why Arkansas hasn't made the California list.

Bill Clinton's book tour turns to Monica. He gets defensive.

Bill Clinton's book tour with James Patterson on their co-authored presidential thriller is turning into a rehash of the Monica Lewinsky affair. It started on CBS last night, but advanced further on NBC today.  His defensiveness seems likely to make the story bigger.

Supreme Court sides with baker who wouldn't make cake for gay wedding

The U.S. Supreme Court today sided with a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

State tax revenue stays ahead of last year

State tax take in May was up from May of last year, but below forecast, leaving the state with a $44 million surplus after the first 11 months of the year and about $6 billion in gross tax collections.

Last chance for early-bird ticket prices for Pig & Swig

The Arkansas Times second annual Pig and Swig event is just around the corner, from 6-9 p.m. Friday, June 15 at the Heifer Village. So plan accordingly: Clear your calendar. Get a date. Find a friend. And buy your tickets TODAY, June 4, to take advantage of the $20 early-bird ticket price. The ticket price increases beginning tomorrow.

Arkansas in list of states where environment regulators have industry ties

Of course Republicans in Arkansas don't object to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's coziness with pals in the coal industry. That's how we do business, too.

LRPD purchase reflects the times

The announcement on Facebook of a Little Rock Police Department purchase probably needs no elaboration. Bad things can happen.

Rutledge, Cotton cheer gay discrimination ruling

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Sen. Tom Cotton found a reason to cheer the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today on the Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding reception cake for a gay couple.

Monday's open lines and a day of constitutional arguments

Here's the open line. And the video roundup, heavy on court and legal decisions built on who has rights and who doesn't.

Springdale couple charged with conspiring to kill judge

40/29 reports on the arrests of a Springdale couple in a murder-for-hire plot to kill a local judge. An undercover officer posed as a hitman to snare them.

Minimum wage petitions to hit streets this week

A paid canvasser gathering signatures on petitions to expand casino gambling told me Saturday he expected soon to be also working on a petition drive to raise the minimum wage. That's now confirmed.

Election day roundup

It's primary election day in a number of states today and the New York Times has a roundup of races to watch.

Tech announcement set in Little Rock

News today of a Little Rock business development:

O say can you see: The White House as TV show

Donald Trump plans to politicize the military today by employing the Marine band and Army chorus to perform the National Anthem "loudly and proudly" as an in-your-face rebuke of the members of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The problem(s) with Arkansas's new work requirement for Medicaid

Alice Ollstein writes in Talking Points Memo about the many flaws in the politically popular but punitive new work requirement Arkansas has imposed on many of those covered by the Medicaid expansion created by Obamacare.

Miss America contest: Looks no longer matter, swimsuit competition gone

Looks no longer will determine Miss America. Nor swimsuit modeling.

Webb Hubbell: A North Carolina 'influencer'

Webb Hubbell, the former Little Rock politico, has been picked for a North Carolina panel talking about important policy issues in 2018 elections.

'The Conversation' with Rev. Britt Skarda

In this week's episode, host Matt Price interviews Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church Pastor, Britt Skarda. Rev. Skarda talks about the process behind creating a sermon and then they discuss the state of christianity in todays culture and politics.

The open line and daily report

The Tuesday open line. Also, the day's headlines and comment.

Health group to pay $1.7 million over challenged Medicare reimbursements

The Justice Department announced today that Allegiance Health Management and four hospitals it managed, including one in North Little Rock, would pay $1.7 million to settle a claim by the government over excessive charges to Medicare for mental health services.

New Rock the Culture podcast: “Black or African-American?"

In this week’s episode, we provide perspective and conversation on LRPD's response to the proposed ordinance to make marijuana arrests a low priority offense, creation of the Southwest Little Rock Business Alliance, and 2018 Women's to Watch list. We discussed activism and the purpose of the Poor's People Campaign with our guest Dr. Anika Whitfield.

New federal lawsuit challenges Arkansas executions

Eighteen condemned men say in a federal court filing that four recent executions in Arkansas illustrate problems severe enough to be unconstitutional in the state's execution procedure.

Interest grows in race for Little Rock mayor

A couple of more potential candidates for Little Rock mayor have surfaced.

Where's the trickle from Trump tax cuts

The news that expenses will exceed revenue for Medicare sooner than expected comes with an overlooked message related to the failure of the Trump tax cut for the wealthy to produce promised trickle-down benefits. This has some relevance in Arkansas, too.

LR City Board refuses to de-emphasize marijuana enforcement

The Little Rock City Board voted 6-2 Tuesday night against a proposal by City Director Ken Richardson to put a low priority on arrests for marijuana possession. A big crowd turned out to support the idea.

Arrests continue in Poor People's campaign in Arkansas

For the second time, Arkansas Capitol police have arrested demonstrators in the Poor People's campaign.

Court dispute reveals malfunctioning Pulaski drug court

A long-simmering dispute over the drug court in Pulaski circuit court burst into the open this morning in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report on an effort by other judges to work around the problem in Judge Mary McGowan's court.

Obstructionist Tom Cotton laments obstruction

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton had the nerve yesterday to castigate Democrats for obstruction. His criticism was both flawed and hypocritical.

Gun toters object to gun prohibition signs

Jessie Turnure at KARK/Fox 16 reports that some gun toters are unhappy to still be greeted by No Guns signs at city and some state office buildings.

Sabin makes it official

State Rep. Warwick Sabin today made official what he's been doing for months, running for Little Rock mayor.

UCA hires Jeremy Gillam as lobbyist

The University of Central Arkansas, to nobody's surprise, has hired House Speaker Jeremy Gillam as its $130,000-a-year lobbyist, effective next week, and he'll quit the House to take the job.

Feds' punishment of Philadelphia as 'sanctuary city' ruled unconstitutional

Feds' effort to punish "sanctuary city" Philadelphia ruled unconstitutional.

Billionaires club, including Waltons, fails to buy California governor's election

Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, will face John Cox, a Republican, in a runoff for California governor despite a multi-million-dollar investment by charter-school back billionaires (naturally including a Walton) in the candidacy of Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, a charter school backer.

The midweek open line

Over the hump. The open line and the daily video, topped by marijuana news.

Secret document brings drama to medical marijuana permit case

The Arkansas Supreme Court tomorrow will hear oral arguments on Judge Wendell Griffen's decision tossing the award of marijuana cultivation permits. But intrigue surrounds events this week.