On June 1, with the blessing of the Trump administration, Arkansas became the first state in the 50-year history of the Medicaid program to impose a work requirement on certain beneficiaries.
WorkloadJune 14, 2018
Vol 44 • No 41
Teach for America's name comes up
The Arkansas Capitol is a fetid swamp of corruption and the bipartisan lack of concern tells you plenty.
Argenta Art Walk and Stifft Station PopUp, too
The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention this week has me thinking about two things that just can't quit each other: politics and religion. Peas and carrots to some. Oil and water to others. Either way, to write on politics in the South is to write on religion in the South.
Votanitas la moreliana looks out of place among the strip malls of the south end of Central Avenue in Hot Springs.
There's a new center in Arkansas politics, and abortion rights, Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, decriminalized marijuana and LGBTQ rights are its defining issues.
And Shannon Boshears at Copper Grill
'Kaala' a revolution unto itself.
If you can, cast your mind back to when you were very young and recall what it felt like to be separated from your mother and father.
Which sounds like the best use of your taxpayer dollars: helping pay for medical care for unemployed people, or bribing and lobbying legislators and other government officials to bestow millions of your tax dollars on a corrupt organization that claims it helps poor people who have drug problems or disabilities?
Now that President Trump has brought us peace in our time, can we all get back to stoning Bill Clinton? Because no Christian doctrine is so universally ignored among the influential tribe of Pundit-Americans as Jesus' admonition against sexual self-righteousness: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7)
During that weird — and frankly, dull — era of college baseball where composite bats were being championed as the universal cure-all for player safety woes, Arkansas went to Omaha with a rather moribund offense but a considerably stout pitching staff.
"Our producing artistic director, Rebekah Scallet, works very hard to give each season a theme," AST Executive Director Mary Ruth Marotte said. "This year it is 'Transformation' — the ways that our experiences shape who we are and who we become through our interactions."
Greg Johnson's Little Rock Boat Builder Supply can make it happen, no experience needed.
Will she stay or will she go?
Pay attention because this has relevance in Arkansas. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says that if a lawsuit strikes down the state's requirement of work to receive Medicaid health coverage he'll end the program, throwing 500,000 people off insurance. What would Asa do in a similar situation?
After a delay in the Washington County prosecutor's office, the State Police yesterday released video and other material related to the May DWI arrest of William Asa Hutchinson III, the governor's son.
Food trucks, live music and beer are headed to the Clinton Presidential Center lawn for the East Village Street Jam on Saturday, June 16.
B-Side gets a new name, Wildwood Feastival is Saturday, Ira's opening set for June 25.
Tickets are now on sale for the third dinner in the Historic Arkansas Museum’s “History is Served” series, set for 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. July 26.
The reality TV presidency today: A lawsuit against the Trump Foundation; the long-awaited report on the FBI's Clinton investigation, and plenty of tweets:
Senate leaders today revealed ideas on ethics rules for the chamber in light of recent revelations about rampant corruption in the Arkansas legislature.
Here's the open line. And news and comment from legislative corruption to Trump stuff.
The Arkansas Bar Association is meeting in Hot Springs and the gathering has stirred the rumor mill about the nomination for a federal eastern district judgeship to succeed Leon Holmes, who took senior status in March. Put short odds on Circuit Judge Troy Braswell of Conway, multiple sources tell me.
Update: State board of education to review Friendship charter's bid for compressed Little Rock start date
The state board has yet to set a date on the review hearing, but it will likely happen quickly — possibly as early as Friday.
Huckstering hits an unprecedented low.
Hendren said he felt confident that members would "step up and do the right thing" despite the difficulty of confronting a fellow member.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck, writing today for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial pages, obliterated alleged lawyer and senator Trent Garner's recent cheerleading for Issue 1. Also yesterday, a Supreme Court justice dove into the fray on Twitter.
So the Arkansas Senate yesterday announced supposed improvements in an ethics code that has been unenforced for the 45 years I've worked in Arkansas. Meanwhile, the Senate, House and governor stand silent on the biggest scandal of the moment — disregard of a massive criminal enterprise from which the prime beneficiary still receives more than $40 million a year in taxpayer money.I refer to the healthcare provider, Preferred Family Healthcare Services, sitting fat thanks to criminal or unethical acts by at least one of its executives and many legislators.My take:
Donald Trump gave Fox and Friends an interview this morning and early reports suggest it was something. Lies were told, of course. Example: Democrats are to blame for jerking children from parents at the border, not his policy. Also: Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to a crime, has been treated unfairly. Also this: Trump continued his warm (and scary) talk about the dictatorial ways of the leader of North Korea, aka Little Rocketman.
The Arkansas unemployment rate in May held steady at 3.8 percent.
Donald Trump is moving ahead with tariffs on China and it has vowed to retaliate. Arkansas could feel it.
High school journalism? Who needs it, the Arkansas Legislature decides.
The Observer (most know him as David Koon) has written powerfully in the Times this week on the Trump- and Sessions-ordered cruelty at U.S. borders. His Bible and heart are more expansive than those of the Trump administration.
The Arkansas Times second annual Pig and Swig event is tonight from 6 - 9p.m. at Heifer Village. Get your tickets before it's too late!
John Troutt, the long-time publisher of the Jonesboro Sun, died Thursday night at 88, his family tells me.
Shepherd would not say whether he'll push for similar changes in the House. "As with anything else, we’ll look to see what if any improvements we can make," he said.
No Small Talk, Ep. 20: Mutants of the Monster, "Unforgiven." This week, Omaya and Stephanie chat with Christopher Terry (C.T.) of Rwake about the upcoming heavy music micro-festival, and take a look at the next film in the Arkansas Times Film Series, "Unforgiven."
Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke today to the Arkansas Bar Association and proposed a couple of small improvements in ethics law. He could have gone further.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp says vote NO on Issue 1. He's right, of course.
Here's the open line. Also today's news and comment.
The decrease was not due to the new work requirement that went into effect for some Arkansas Works recipients this month. Instead, it appears to be the result of DHS' ongoing efforts to remove beneficiaries it says are ineligible.
Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson's mishandling of a lawsuit, subject of an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today, is old news to readers of the Arkansas Blog. A new lawsuit looks a little like rear-covering from here.
The Stifft Station Popup, an experiment in encouraging more pedestrian use in the commercial district at West Markham and Kavanaugh, will bloom with entertainment today.
City Director Erma Hendrix's proposed ordinance to eliminate the three at-large director seats on the 10-member Little Rock City Board has been deferred for consideration until July 2.
Here's the Saturday open line and an item about a modest effort by the city of Little Rock to provide WiFi access in a public area.
A lawyer issues a bounty for anyone who can prove misleading arguments in favor of Issue 1, the corporate amendment to squelch damage lawsuits.
The press is making progress in coping with a serial liar in the White House.
A big pot bust in Little Rock is part of tonight's open line.
An in-depth report here on evidence of segregation in charter schools from the nonpartisan Hechinger Report (also the basis of an NBC TV report last night).
The United States of America is treating families unspeakably at the border as a tactic to discourage asylum seekers. That's bad enough. But cages for children? Trump defenders have responded by playing word games.
The Veterans Health Care Center in Fayetteville has announced the firing of a staff pathologist and also said a patient's death may be linked to a misdiagnosis.
Jared Henderson, the Democratic candidate for governor, today expanded on his call for tougher ethics rules in Arkansas with some new specific ideas.
UPDATE: Federal Judge P.K. Holmes this morning sentenced former Republican Sen. Jake Files to 18 months in prison for scheming to divert state money into his own pocket and his failing construction company.
City Director Erma Hendrix now says she wants to take up her ordinance to abolish three at-large city board seats Tuesday.
The House Democratic caucus has chosen Rep. Charles Blake of Little Rock as the new minority leader, succeeding Rep. David Whittaker of Fayetteville. Rep. LeAnne Burch of Monticello was chosen whip of the group.
The open line and the daily news roundup, beginning with the caged concentration camps operated by the U.S. on our southern border.
The Arkansas Municipal League adopted four resolutions at its convention last week endorsing legislative changes in the state Freedom of Information Act. Some will not be well-received.
Federal Judge Kristine Baker has again temporarily stopped Arkansas from enforcing a law that ended medicial abortions in Arkansas.
40/29 reports that the Fayetteville School Board Monday night ended its contract with Superintendent Matthew Wendt.
Steve Sullivan provides the tip that Clint Conque, once head coach of the UCA football team, has been suspended as coach at Stephen F. Austin University in Texas.
The New York Times today reports on national efforts, including in Little Rock, by the Koch billionaires to kill tax support for public transit.
Arkansas Republicans, including the governor and U.S. Rep. French Hill, remain unmoved by the humanitarian crisis at the border.
For $125,000, you, too, can spend four days at a swanky South Carolina retreat with Leslie Rutledge and other Republican attorneys general.
Tom Cotton has now been heard from on the separation of families at the border. Why it's just a plot by slave traders to sneak criminals into the U.S. He's bonkers.
Driving Arkansas Forward launched its first campaign advertisement today, encouraging Arkansas voters to make sure they can cast their ballots Nov. 6 for a measure that will spur economic growth and create jobs.
More evidence emerged today for the overwhelming case that the state Medical Marijuana Commission must rescore the applications to cultivate cannabis, preferably using an independent contractor such as a national accounting firm.
In this week’s episode, we provide perspective and conversation on the Pulaski County Special School District’s vote against purchasing updated science textbooks, proposal for new charter school in Little Rock, and the Dunbar Community Center Semi-Pro Basketball League. We also discuss the importance and impact of one-on-one mentoring with Chrissy Chatham, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas.
The Huckster mines some Qatari gold.
Open line and news roundup.
The Catholic bishop of Arkansas and a group of faith leaders, Faith Voices Arkansas, have called for an end to the Trump policy of separating children from parents at the border.
Noodle bar and a new Starbucks coming.
The Downtown Little Rock Partnership, which has been throwing parties in alleys downtown as a way to attract people to the neighborhoods, will host a party from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 21, in the alley next to the Museum of Discovery on President Clinton Avenue. The party is on a gravel lot accessible by the bridge to the Witt Stephens Jr. Nature Center.
U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, once one of the heartless in housing immigrant children in Arkansas, indicates even he thinks Trump has gone too far in separating children at the border.
Seung Min Kim, a Washington Post Capitol Hill reporter, Tweets that 13 senators, including Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, have written the Justice Department asking it to temporarily halt the zero tolerance policy that has led to separation of families at the border.
Whoot there it is. Arkansas Republican leader says the Democrats made Donald Trump take children from their parents.
The changes passed the Senate on a voice vote. The only "No" came from Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), who told reporters later that he was concerned the rules were more cosmetic than substantive.
Might this finally convince people of the horror of the Trump decision to separate children from parents?
As expected, the Little Rock City Board Tuesday night defeated Director Erma Hendrix's proposal to refer to voters an ordinance that would eliminate the three at-large city directors on the city board and go to a seven-member, ward-only board.
Steve Womack's budget is bad news for the old, poor and sick. Also: Tax-cut report card shows straight Fs.
Rep. Steve Womack, as chair of the House Budget Committee, took the lead yesterday in introducing a Republican budget plan aimed at fixing growing deficits. "A Brighter Future," the GOP is spinning it. He didn't mention that rising deficits were made worse by the tax cut for the rich he supported. Nor did he mention the pain his budget will cause millions of Americans.
Nine governors — two Republicans and seven Democrats — are refusing to send National Guard troops to "border protection" duty requested by Donald Trump. Gov. Asa Hutchinson is not among them. News of concentration camps for babies might grow the list today.
Protesters heckled Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen when she dined out at a Washington restaurant Tuesday night. Out of all the restaurants in all of D.C., wouldn't you know she chose Mexican.
Salisa Luster Harrison, who now lives in Little Rock, Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit in Louisville, Ky., alleging multiple failures by the Louisville police investigating a sexual assault of her more than 10 years ago.
Clarke Tucker, the Democratic candidate for 2nd District Congress, stepped up his objections to Trump administration immigration policy today with a statement opposing use of Little Rock Air Force Base as a detention facility for children taken from parents at the border.
Because of complaints, the Capitol Zoning District Commission is considering a proposed rule to govern home rentals using such Internet outlets as AirBnB and VRBO.
Trump to fold on family separation, a tacit admission to weeks of lying. But watch out for complications.
Donald Trump has said he will sign an executive order ending the forced separation of children and parents at the border. It won't correct the harm done to children these last few weeks, which has included drugging them, according to a lawsuit.
The lying liar's fold is the lead, of course on today's video. Have at it on the open lnie.
So the heroic Donald Trump proposes a compromise to tearing families apart - jailing them indefinitely.
John Howell, 58, who was serving a life sentence for capital murder in Garland County, died shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday after being found unresponsive on the floor of his barracks at the Cummins Unit, a spokesman said.
Friendship Aspire Academy has withdrawn its request to move up plans to open a charter school in Little Rock by a year to take advantage of a vacant building being remodeled by the Walton Family Foundation for another charter operator that withdrew.
Rachel Maddow reported on MSNBC last night that the Justice Department had requested — and the Defense Department agreed — military lawyers to handle the crush of immigration work on the border. How about adding some Arkies on the temporary duty list?
Gov. Asa Hutchinson revealed yesterday that a second unnamed location, in addition to Little Rock Air Force Base, was being considered for immigrant detention facilities.
Mike Lee, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has criticized Attorney General Leslie Rutledge over recent reports of her participation at private meetings where corporate interests make big contributions to a political group she heads for access to state legal officers.
State Supreme Court reverses Griffen on marijuana growers, allowing commission's licensing awards to stand
The majority opinion cited separation of powers in its conclusion that Griffen erred, stating that the judicial branch should not take it upon itself to review "the day-to-day actions of the executive branch."
The Supreme Court ruled today that internet retailers, even if they have no physical presence in a state, may be required to collect sales taxes. The 5-4 ruling, reported in the The New York Times, which overruled a lower court finding in Quill Corporation v. North Dakota, was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil Gorsuch.
1st District Congressman Rick Crawford's tweet that President Trump's tariffs raised soybean exports 21 percent is getting blasted by his Democratic opponent in the face of a drop in U.S. soybean export prices.
An 18-wheeler traveling west on Frazier Pike this morning hit a Little Rock Port Authority train and a spotter who'd leaped from the back of the train at the armless intersection was crushed when the train tipped over on him, police said.
The Arkansas Repertory Theatre will host an open public forum at 5:30 p.m. on June 26 to hear from audiences, donors and the community.
One big difference between Rohwer and today: The parents kept at Rohwer in World War II weren't separated from their children.
Tomorrow, the U.S. House will vote on a Farm Bill that, like Arkansas Works, stiffens work requirements for recipients.
State Supreme Court reverses Griffen on marijuana growers; Proposed child holding sites in Arkansas; Internet retailers can be required to collect sales taxes.
The gubernatorial candidates each issued statements on the feds tour of Arkansas facilities today to determine whether they could be used to house immigrant families.
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday reversed and dismissed a minimum-wage lawsuit against the state based on a sovereign immunity defense raised by the attorney general's office — even though the state had explicitly stated that it would not assert sovereign immunity when the suit first began.
This week, we sit down with National Book Award-winning comic book artist Nate Powell and talk about his work on the "March" trilogy, 90s-era Little Rock punk and Powell's forthcoming graphic novel, "Come Again."