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Best of Arkansas 2014

Best of Arkansas 2014

July 31, 2014

Vol 22 • No 23

Read the print version

Best of Arkansas 2014 readers' poll

The people have their say.

A survey of the best pie in Central Arkansas

As nominated by Times readers and staff.

2014 editors' picks

What's good, according to the Times staff.

Discovering science at the Museum of Discovery

Readers pick for top museum.

Getting way-high at Altitude Trampoline Park

But only one at a time.

Don's Weaponry, small gun shop since 1986

Rose City for life.

Chainwheel powers cyclists for 42 years

Owner Pat Barron recommends styles for every type of rider.

Extreme makeover for the Arkansas Times

Larry West gives us tips on redecorating our office.

From civil rights to slime molds, the Encyclopedia of Arkansas has all of Arkansas covered

With more than 3,600 entries.

Best of Arkansas 2014

There are so many bests in Arkansas that the Arkansas Times has to put out this issue every year to cover them all.

Young Gods of America will have their revenge

Little Rock's best new rap collective aims to define the Arkansas sound.

Summer color

Newly planted wildflowers in front of the state Capitol.


You can't read or listen to a news report today without noting the mention of some nation or group within a nation being involved in negotiations over a ceasefire.

Quiz for Dustin McDaniel

In light of the state attorney general's recent, successful arguments against paying Gyronne Buckley the $460,000 that the Arkansas State Claims Commission said Buckley deserved because he'd spent more than 11 years in prison due to a conviction obtained by bad behavior on the part of state officials, we think an exercise parsing Dustin McDaniel's logic may help him think a bit straighter.

Malcolm Holcombe returns to White Water

Also, Rebecca Gaye Howell at the Oxford American Annex, KUHS FM, 97.9 fundraiser at Maxine's in Hot Springs, Stone Throw's Birthday Bash, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell at the Walmart AMP and Cary Hudson at White Water Tavern.

LRPD radio frequency encryption could staunch the flow of local news

Beginning Aug. 1.

Landry at Loony Bin

Also, Zine Night at Dunbar.

Landry at Loony Bin

Also, Zine Night at Dunbar.

Exterminating the Palestinians

If Secretary of State John Kerry has failed to bring about a cease fire to end the bloodbath in Gaza, then so has everybody else.

Fisherman's Wharf keeps on keeping on

It's a Hot Springs classic.

Standing invitation to Tom Cotton

As the campaign teams of incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and challenger Rep. Tom Cotton continue the tedious election cycle tradition of debating over the format of debates, the Times continues its offer to have Cotton and Pryor join our unedited, free-form weekly podcasts.

Hypocrite of the week: John Correnti, state welfare king

John Correnti, leader of the Big River Steel project, says government should "stay out" of private sector projects. What a hypocrite. Without government handouts, he wouldn't have a steel company.

Q&A: Senator moves to state job. But is it an 'office'?

A reader asks about a constitutional prohibition against legislators taking state office during their legislative terms. A quick review suggests the UA's hiring of Johnny Key doesn't run afoul of this. That doesn't make it praiseworthy, however.

Arkansas congressmen join suit against president

Arkansas Republicans fell in lockstep on a House vote to sue President Obama for not enforcing a health care act they hate. Commentators think it's doomed to fail.

Zach Hocker gets NFL initiation

Zach Hocker, the former Razorback kicking for a Washington NFL team, gets a haircut.

Little Rock's nannies target clubbing

Some shift workers don't knock off work until 11 p.m. A night of fun that ends at 11 p.m. for someone who had a 5 p.m. quitting time would end at 5 a.m. for the shift worker who gets off at 11 p.m. Entertainment in those hours, after Waffle House and EZ Mart, is limited. And it will soon be more limited if some city directors have their way.

The past is never dead

As a political scientist who likes his data equal parts words and numbers, I've been treated to the arrival of insightful examples of both in recent days: the newest book by political historian and journalist Rick Perlstein and the latest incarnation of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press' Political Typology.

A god among bad movies

Set your expectations low and 'Hercules' will hurdle 'em.

Among the makers

The Observer has printed a document or two in our days as a wordsmith, and our finest creations lie flat, cast in ink. Until last week, we'd never had the privilege to witness the "printing," so they call it, of three-dimensional sculptures, let alone those digitally crafted with some of the most powerful processors in the world — the minds of 10-year-olds.

Local option booze news

Today's the deadline for canvassers to turn in additional signatures to get local option alcohol sales measures on the ballot in Craighead and Saline Counties. A leader of a statewide alcohol option campaign also reports favorable poll numbers on the effort.

Polling the alcohol question — and the U.S. Senate race

New polling from the campaign to legalize alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties shows support for the measure and, in an added question, a two-point lead for Mark Pryor in the race for U.S. Senate.

No special election for Johnny Key's Senate seat

As expected, Gov. Mike Beebe will not call a special election to fill any of the time remaining on the term of Sen. Johnny Key, who's leaving office today to take a lobbying job with the University of Arkansas System.

Organizers target McDonald's workers in Little Rock

A demonstration is planned Friday in Little Rock to press McDonald's to pay workers more and not stand in the way of unions even at franchised stores, which make up 90 percent of the fast food chain's outlets.

The open line, today's video and the Koch Watch

The open line, video roundup and news of the annual Things Go Better With Koch legislative strategy session in Dallas.

Booze UPDATE: Local option drives dropped in Faulkner and Craighead counties; Saline target met

A Walmart-funded campaign to put local option alcohol measures on three ballots is dropping its effort in Faulkner and Craighead counties, but hoping for a ballot spot in Saline County.

New congressional polls: Republicans with big leads except in 2nd District

New congressional polling shows Republicans with big leads in three congressional districts but a near tie in the 2nd Congressional district for an open seat.

McPherson to hit Crawford on vote against veterans bill

Heber Springs Mayor Jackie McPherson, the Democratic candidate for 1st District Congress, will be joined by veterans today to criticize Republican Rep. Rick Crawford for being one of only five House members to oppose legislation to beef up medical services for veterans.

Bad idea: Outsourcing prisoners

Fox 16 reports that parole board member Jimmy Wallace thinks Arkansas should consider shipping prisoners out of state to reduce costs. A legislator is leery.

Heber Springs gym operator pleads to child porn charge

The U.S. attorney's office says Matthew Tinkle, 27, who had owned Tinkle's Tumblers, a gymnastics business in Heber Springs, pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography.

Poll: Voters in Arkansas support medical marijuana

An automated poll Tuesday of 850 Arkansas voters found support for medical marijuana, but not for allowing people to grow their own. No measure is on the ballot this fall, but advocates are working already toward 2016.

Little Rock police radio goes silent to the public today

Little Rock police radios go silent to the public today, a bad day for transparent city government.

Russia cracks down on bloggers

Russia cracks down on bloggers. Thank goodness I'm not in Russia.

Democrats hit Asa, but Asa might be right

Is a Democratic Party pitch that Mike Ross is friendlier to the corporate lobby than Asa Hutchinson a vote mover? I'm skeptical of the vote value of corporate welfare.

New mixtape from Kari Faux, 'Laugh Now, Die Later'

Happy Friday! Here is a new tape from Little Rock's young legend Kari Faux, who has been having an amazing year (her first tape, "Spontaneous Generation," came out in February — taken together, they're probably the best debut of the year). She is a true role model. Houston's Fat Tony shows up, as does her frequent collaborator BLACK PARTY.

New apartments going up on Capitol Avenue in River Market district

The Markham Commons apartment project is now under construction on the site of the former Arkla headquarters in the River Market district.

Turkey rustling reported at Gaston's

A turkey rustler riding a modern muscle car stole a bird from the sanctuary at Gaston's White River Resort.

OK, so I was wrong about Local Lime

Two visits a year apart bring different results. Sometimes it pays to go back and try things again.

Hangar change for historic Command-Aire plane

Shane Carter of the Little Rock Airport Commission supplies this photo of the move of a historic Command-Aire airplane, made in Little Rock, from the former Aerospace Education Center, due for demolition, to hangar space at the Clinton National Airport.

Protest: McDonald's workers deserve a break

As promised, a group demonstrated outside the McDonald's on University as part of a national effort to press the corporate owner to use its influence to raise pay at its mostly franchisee-operated restaurant.

Ghost of the Mariel boatlift — Bart Hester raises alarm about immigrants coming to Arkansas

A Republican legislator wants to know if Gov. Mike Beebe knows of any federal plans to put Central American immigrants in Arkansas. Answer: No.

Another take on the Pryor-Cotton race

Another writer, Jon Swaine from The Guardian, takes a crack at profiling the race between Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican challenger Tom Cotton.

An open line, with the floor to Justice Ruth Ginsburg

The open line includes an interview with Justice Ruth Ginsburg that touches on her tenure, the Hobby Lobby decision and same-sex marriage.

The Gilbert Baker Is a Slimeball Edition

New political polls, Gilbert Baker and newly released ethics commission investigative files on campaign contributions to Mike Maggio, the hypocrisy of Big River Steel’s John Correnti, the LRPD’s move to encrypt its radio broadcasts, a Little Rock City Board proposal to rollback closing time for private clubs and the Little Rock Planning Commission once again going against professional staff recommendations — all covered on this week's edition.

Guilty plea in Forest Place arsons

Lacy Rae Moore has pleaded guilty to two counts of arson, a plea that included starting a fire that destroyed the north building of Forest Place Apartments on University Avenue.

Planning Commission cares, really. But bring on the C-stores!

Another convenience store approved by the Planning Commendation over broad objections, including from the city planning staff, is on the City Board agenda Tuesday night.

Jason Rapert's man in Uganda

Will Sen. Jason Rapert call on a man he admires, the presider of Uganda, to swear off attempting to sentence homosexuals to life in prison?

Deport 'em all, House Republicans say

The Arkansas Republicans in the U.S. House join an immigration strategy that boils down to this: Deport them all. It is cynical and, as Rep. John Lewis suggested, soulless.

Thank Arkansas for wealthiest people in three states

An Arkansas fortune counts for the richest single person in three states. Guess which fortune.

The Stone's Throw Block Party open line

Stone's Throw Brewing is throwing a block party, and we're throwing an open line.

The open line: Jason Rapert hits a new low

The open line. And Sen. Jason Rapert hits a new low.

Jessieville school superintendent offers resignation after DWI charge

Andrew Curry resigned as superintendent of Jessieville School District Saturday night, Fox 16 reports. He'd been arrested last week in Texas for DWI.

Topless Texas twosome take on gun toters

Topless women flummox open carry demonstrators in Austin, Texas. Their message? "Boobs for peace."

Hundreds turn out for Big Gay Wedding Reception in Eureka Springs

Kat Robinson reports that several hundred were on hand Saturday in Eureka Springs for the Big Gay Wedding Reception thrown to honor those who became the first same-sex couples to marry in Arkansas when Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's marriage equality ruling was briefly in force.

Diamond Bear's blonde in a can is great

Diamond Bear's Southern Blonde is an excellent summertime brew, and in a can, it's more portable than ever.

The open line: Plus an obituary footnote on John Norman Harkey

The Sunday open line includes a remembrance of John Norman Harkey, a Rockefeller era reformer who died Friday.

UPDATE: Ethics Commission to review complaint against Democratic treasurer candidate

A supporter of Republican Dennis Milligan, nominee for state treasurer, distributes information that indicates his complaint about Democratic candidate Karen Garcia's campaign reports have touched off a state Ethics Commission review.

Pryor campaign cries foul on Tom Cotton immigration ad

The Pryor campaign said the Tom Cotton campaign has aired an ad that is "astonishingly misleading" about Pryor's statements on border security. A roll of the tape supports the criticism.

UAPB student arrested in triple murder in Dallas

A report from Channel 11 says a UAPB student, Justin Pharez 'J Dawg' Smith, 21, has been arrested for killing three people in a Dallas house and trying to kill two others.

University of Arkansas-Fayetteville hits fund-raising goal with $113.3 million haul

The University of Arkansas's Fayetteville campus said it raised $113 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, which exceeded the $108 million goal and was the fourth consecutive year of $100 million-plus giving to the school.

State opens the year flat on tax revenue

The state opens a new fiscal year with net tax revenue below last year and the forecast.

The peril for UALR in the "eVersity"

A UALR faculty study has examined the idea of increasing on-line university courses at UA and its impact on the Little Rock campus.

Lance Hines to file for re-election today

Lance Hines, the Ward 5 member of the Little Rock City Board of Directors, said he will file for re-election this afternoon.

The conservative 'Ponzi schemes' in Washington

A former Republican congressman tears into conservative lobbies that resist compromise to promote their own self-interest.

Pryor goes after Tom Cotton staffer's 'intellectual' remark

Pryor campaign goes after Cotton campaign for arrogant crack by Cotton aide. There's a vein of superiority there, no doubt, but the fundamental policy differences are reason enough to get exercised.

Bacon bowl returns for a second year

Petit Jean Meats announces the 2nd Annual Bacon Bowl in Bentonville.

Attorneys in same-sex marriage case seek Supreme Court recusals

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriages filed a motion today asking any Supreme Court justice who expects to seek election again to recuse from the case on account of legislative retaliation threatened against judges who might

It's unanimous: All leading Ark. politicians oppose a reduction of air pollution in the state

Asa Hutchinson, the Republican candidate for governor, called a news conference today to say he'd fight proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules that would require anti-pollution improvements to Arkansas's coal-burning power plants.

Monday's open line, plus a note on Rockefeller regulators

Here's an open line, plus today's video headline roundup and a tribute to John Norman Harkey.

WPS: Woo Pig, secrecy

When the Razorbacks practice football, reporters are not invited. Accounts of the workout come from official Razorback sources, though the SEC Network film crews are also allowed inside.

In political universes far from Arkansas: Moderation on social issues gains favor

Democrats find an advantage in social issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and marijuana. Move along. They are not talking about Arkansas.

Mike Ross helps fund-raisers that target two GOP legislators

Mike Ross is to be a guest at fund-raisers to help Democratic legislative candidates challenging a couple of the most conservative Republicans in the legislature.

Bull Shoals police chief to resign to avoid prosecution

The Baxter Bulletin reports today that the feds have agreed not to prosecute Bull Shoals Police Chief Daniel Sutterfield again on a police brutality charge in return for his resignation from the job and a promise never to work in law enforcement again.

New polling shows Republican leads in Arkansas, but in tossup range for U.S. Senate

New polling by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic organization, shows the U.S. Senate race in a statistical dead heat, many many undecideds. But the overall results in Arkansas trend uniformly Republican.

Little Rock police dog confined to quarters after biting neighbors

The Little Rock Police Department reports that one of its K-9 "officers" a dog known as Ammo, has been restricted to home quarters after escaping his pen and biting two neighbors.

New ad highlights Tom Cotton vote against Children's Hospital research funding

I predicted back in January that you could expect ads highlighting Rep. Tom Cotton budget votes that denied money to popular Arkansas institutions, including the nearly sacred Arkansas Children's Hospital. Here it comes.

Opponent: Jason Rapert an embarrassment for Ebola comments

Tyler Pearson, the Democratic candidate for Senate District 35, says opponent, Republican Sen. Jason Raper, has again proven an embarrassment with his comments on U.S. treatment of Ebola sufferers.

Obamacare helps Arkansas to huge increase in health insurance coverage

A new Gallup report says Arkansas is leading the country in providing previously uninsured people with health insurance coverage. Thank Obamacare. You know, that program all the Republican advertising says is so bad for Arkansas.

More about 'State of the Art' coming to Crystal Bridges

Artists and the museum are providing previews of works in Crystal Bridges' upcoming and highly anticipated exhibition "State of the Art" in the Twitterverse.

Manslaughter charged filed in Yell County deaths

A manslaughter charge has been filed against Brooke Floyd related to the incident in which her husband, Brian, and 10-month-old son, Harper, were found dead in a remote area of Yell County.

R.I.P. Gerald Johnson

Gerald Johnson, a tenor saxophone player and Little Rock music scene mainstay, died Monday after suffering from a heart attack at the Arkansas State Library on W. Capitol Ave.* He was 56.

The Tuesday line is open; the strong mayor is in the spotlight

The line is open and we pose a question about Strong Mayor Mark Stodola and tonight's City Board meeting.

UPDATE: A contest seems likely for one LR City Board seat

Little Rock City Board election filings today produced the beginnings of what will likely be a vigorous campaign for one seat — former state Rep. Pam Adcock against sitting City Director Ken Richardson.

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken is open and delicious in West Little Rock

The new Gus's Fried Chicken location in West Little Rock brings delicious food to a new part of town.

UPDATE: Stodola breaks tie for approval of convenience store at 12th and University

The City Board of Directors will vote tonight on whether to allow a 24-hour convenience store and 20-pump gas station at the northwest corner of University and 12th Street, on lots formerly occupied by Brandon House furniture. If it approves the ordinance, it will be against the advice of the city's Planning Commission staff and the wishes of the residents in neighborhoods surrounding the intersection.

LR City Board cares about the police radio, if not neighborhoods

The Little Rock City Board talked about the decision to prevent the public from listening to police radio traffic. City officials are to report on possible ameliorating steps in 90 days.

Conway boom continues with shopping growth, including Dillard's

Conway continues to build its regional shopping allure. There's a downside in that for Little Rock.

Jim Hendren to lead Republican caucus in Senate; talks compromise on Obamacare

Sen. Jim Hendren, an Obamacare foe, will lead the Republican caucus in the Senate. Has leadership opened his eyes to the merits of compromise on a program that has benefitted at least 200,000 Arkansans?

Veterans group won't back Tom Cotton because of votes on arms sales

A veterans group explains why it won't endorse veteran Rep. Tom Cotton in his race against Sen. Mark Pryor. He's voted to arm Syrian rebels, despite evidence that those arm sales have contributed to bad things in the region, particularly in Iraq.

Ted Danson gives South on Main some love on Jimmy Kimmel

Actor Ted Danson talks about a prize investment: Little Rock's South on Main.

Arkansas polling: Beebe could beat Boozman; Hillary falls to all Republicans

New polling shows Hillary Clinton trailing Republican presidential contenders in Arkansas and continuing popularity of Gov. Mike Beebe, who outscores Sen. John Boozman in a speculative matchup.

What if a state voted to close all gun stores?

What if a state passed a law to close gun shops? How would that be different than a state law attempting to close abortion clinics? So writes a federal judge who struck down an Alabama anti-abortion law.

VIP Razorback access

Razorback football remains closed to the press, unless you count the cameras and microphones of the SEC Network, busily gathering material for the broadcast outlets that have paid millions for access to SEC games.

Residents aim to incorporate Little Italy

Residents Little Italy, a community nearly 100 years old in northwestern Pulaski County, are on a drive to incorporate as a municipality.

The Kochs and their ilk work to take over courts, too

Money talks loudly in judicial races around the country. What's the point of Kochs controlling legislatures if they can't control court review of those laws as well?

Fayetteville civil rights ordinance runs into opposition

The Fayetteville City Council amended a proposed civil rights ordinance to satisfy some objections, but people with religious objections to preventing discrimination against gay people turned out to protest the measure.

The real fraud is the Voter ID law; impersonation almost never happens

Vote fraud, the kind Voter ID laws are supposed to stop, almost never happens. But the law do prevent legitimate voters from casting ballots. And that, of course, was the point of the Republican drive for such laws.

Jimmy Doyle's Country Club Edition, with Hector $lash and Amyjo Savannah

This is something from the new Hector $lash tape, "Cocaine Demon," $lash being one of the guys in the Little Rock rap group Vile Pack. The beat (by Warren Gesu$) gives it kind of an early Mobb Deep vibe, which is generally a good thing and especially so here.

School for Math and Science gets $10,000 bitcoin gift

An alum of state's math and science high school in Hot Springs has given the school $10,000 in bitcoin to begin teaching a course in alternative currencies. It's on top of $20,000 in earlier gifts by Luther Lowe, director of public policy for Yelp.

Tom Cotton set to travel Arkansas

Tom Cotton's campaign said today he'd be saddling up an RV and riding the roads of Arkansas from Thursday until election day.

Mike Maggio cuts deal on judicial ethics probe; will never be judge again

Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of Conway, who continues to draw more than $140,000 a year pay while not hearing any cases since the beginning of an ethics probe, has agreed to a settlement of his case before the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.

Maggio issues statement on removal from the bench

Mike Maggio issued a statement today following his agreement that he'd violated judicial ethics rules sufficiently to be removed from the bench. He said he'd always treated people fairly. The record gave cause to question that.

County judge forum set

An important seat is open on the ballot in Pulaski County this fall — county judge. A forum is set to hear candidates to succeed the retiring Buddy Villines.

Justice delayed is Dustin McDaniel's idea of justice

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel continues his play to string out the challenge of Arkansas's same-sex marriage ban as long as possible.

Here's an open line, plus today's video

Today's open line and video news roundup.

City moves to shut down Acme Motel

City of Little Rock moves to close down Acme Motel on Roosevelt Road for code violations.

What's right with Kansas? Kochs take a beating is what

Good news from the Koch heartland — Kansas. Time and again moderate Republicans defeated candidates backed by Koch money and their political organization, Americans for Prosperity. Could we hope for more of the same in Arkansas?

Oishi Hibachi and Thai coming to Heights

The owners of the Sushi Cafe are ditching the Cafe 5501 concept for their space at 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd. and going for the delicious with Oishi Hibachi and Thai.

We repeat: Help Patrick Dougherty make his sculpture at UCA

UCA's Baum Gallery director Barclay McConnell is seeking volunteers to gather up materials for stick-weaving artist Patrick Dougherty, who's in Conway preparing to build a sculpture on the UCA campus.