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August 9, 2018

Vol 44 • No 49

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Scrubbed from the system

Why Medicaid enrollment has dropped by almost 60,000 people in 18 months.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Make 'The Matrix' Great Again! Edition

Play at home while studying your Methimatics flash cards!

Breaking a bond

I will get right to the point: It is becoming way too easy to lock people up. Our jails and prisons are overcrowded. Our criminal justice system is bursting at the seams.

Term limits makes the ballot

And more fallout for PFH.

Rapert's posture

We must not allow state Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) to frame the lawsuits generated against his placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds as an assault upon Christianity itself — or, as he does when he's pretending that the monument serves a secular function, an assault upon American "heritage and history."

Miss Gay Arkansas crowns a new queen at Discovery

Also, Tyrannosaurus Chicken comes to Revolution.

Bubba's Brews docks at Lake Hamilton

Beyond Bonnerdale.

The Arkansas Works Challenge

Trump won't testify

Spare us the interviews with Rudy Giuliani and the endless debates among cable TV lawyers about the terms and conditions of Donald Trump's testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller.

See the Perseids

And more!

Big secrets

The Observer, like a lot of Americans, has got our secrets, but for the most part they're so boring they couldn't even excite the senses or loins of one of those housebound, horngry Incels we've heard so much about on the news of late.

Kaleidoscope brings treasures of LGBT cinema to Argenta

With films 'big and loud.'

Majority: Red-light 30 Crossing

But ARDOT's project to widen the interstate is preordained, some believe.

Arkansas Razorbacks 2018 football preview, part 2

When we last left our beloved Razorbacks of 2018, they had meandered through a slightly atypical nonconference slate of three games unscathed, per Pearls' annual prediction.

People vs. corporations

Signature counting and legal challenges aren't done, but the November ballot is shaping up as a rich opportunity to side with your choice of people or corporations.

Master Card

How about a new law? If you want to join a white supremacist organization, you have to take one of those complex DNA tests first. That would cut way down on the membership.

The real Q plot?

Could "they" be right that President Trump and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are not really at war but are secret collaborators who have a grand plot that will end with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in striped prison suits and Trump as the national savior?

School for scandal: Fayetteville sex harassment case goes public

Mathew Wendt, fired as Fayetteville school superintendent after a district employee accused him of sexual harassment, has now sued the woman, Shae Lynn Newman, a former elementary teacher Wendt had hired as a receptionist. This would seem to scuttle efforts by Newman and her lawyer in other legal actions to keep details of their relationship and her identity secret.

State loosens rule on air pollution by power plants

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has finalized new rules that roll back standards for pollution by electric power plants and the Sierra Club says they are bad for clean air.

Why they kneel: England, Ark., edition. Cincinnati, too.

KTHV reports in detail about the firing of an England city police officer who told two young black men they "don't belong" in his city.

Medicaid rules continue to punish poor and homeless in Arkansas. Lawsuit coming

If you believe the new work rule for Medicaid eligibility was put in place to reduce the number of people helped with health coverage — as I do — then you have to admit it's working like a charm.  No wonder a lawsuit was filed and won in Kentucky over a similar work rule and a lawsuit is expected against the Arkansas rule as early as today. Don't miss Benji Hary's report in this week's Times on the 60,000 dropped from Medicaid coverage in Arkansas the last 18 months.

New lawsuit on 'debtor prison' practices in White County UPDATE

A legal group has sued White County District Judge Mark Derrick over his sentencing practices, which the lawsuit contends amount to an unconstitutional debtors' prison.

Thursday's open line and news roundup

The open line and today's news roundup.

48-hour sale! Get your tickets to Whole Hog Roast early and save some cash

The Arkansas Times Whole Hog Roast is Sunday, October 7. Starting tonight at midnight tickets will be on sale for just $15 each. 48 hours only. Digital Subscribers, check your email for a coupon code for an additional $5 off.

Deaths in LR surgery center featured in report on mixed regulation of centers

USA Today and Kaiser Health News have combined for an investigation of the patchwork regulation of surgery centers around the country, a story that begins with accounts of deaths in a Little Rock center.

Henderson proposes investment in teachers; Asa campaign scoffs

Jared Henderson, the Democratic candidate for governor, today proposed a major investment in teacher pay, which was promptly dismissed by the Hutchinson campaign as the proposal of an out-of touch liberal.

Democrats go after Leslie Rutledge's personnel records

A Democratic Party employee will file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today to see Department of Human Services personnel records for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Political pothole develops on Clarendon bridge rescue effort

When a group pushing to save the abandoned U.S. 79 bridge over the White River in Clarendon announced this week a state deal to support the effort, it crossed a bridge too far — criticizing Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman. State Republican officials aren't happy about it.

TGIF: an open line and news

The open line and today's news and comment, heavy on education.

School parking lot robbery

Mitch McCoy of KARK/Fox 16 reports that a teacher at Washington Elementary was robbed on the school parking lot this morning.

A miscellany of art: Aug. 10-16

We don't get to post all the jpegs of artwork on exhibit that come into the office, but they have more allure and tell you more about the work than what I can write about them. Hence this slideshow of work from shows opening tonight (Aug. 10) for 2nd Friday Art Night, 5-8 p.m. (see the To Do list for more information), and other openings and shows this weekend and in the days ahead.

No Small Talk, Ep. 25: Kaleidoscope

This week, William Moon stopped by to talk about the selections for the 2018 Kaleidoscope Film Festival. Plus, a new TV series from Graham Gordy, Levon Helm's boyhood home gets recognized on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places and Low Key Arts announces the lineup for October's Hot Water Hills Music & Arts Festival.

UPDATE: Teachers fear Hutchinson administration has targeted LR teachers union and is pushing for more charters

Trouble is brewing in the Little Rock School District over the Hutchinson administration's apparent unwillingness to deal with the Little Rock Education Association and fears that the governor's education commissioner, Johnny Key, is also bent on enabling more charter school development in the city, including a high school in Northwest Little Rock. Multiple sources tell me a meeting of teachers will be called this afternoon to discuss developments.

The Trouble Brewing in the LRSD Edition

The potential coming conflict between the Hutchinson administration and the Little Rock Education Association, a federal court ruling on student transfers and allegations of another debtor’s prison — all covered on this week's podcast.

Ecclesia College: Your tax dollars at 'work'

Matt Campbell's Blue Hog Report this week reviews the history and spotty academic record of Ecclesia College, the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars thanks to the work of many legislators, at least a couple of whom (Jon Woods and Micah Neal) are heading to federal prison for kickbacks from the felonious former college president.

Filings continue for Little Rock City Board

City Clerk Susan Langley reports more filings for Little Rock City Board on Friday, though signature checks haven't been completed on all petitions.

Little Rock grows. No impact?

The Little Rock City Board agenda next week includes a non-controversial annexation that has received unanimous assent from the Planning Commission, city staff and city agencies. But it's worth a mention.

The Saturday open line

Your thoughts here.

Commission rejects Judge Griffen's request for broadcast of his ethics hearing

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission last week rejected Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's request that it allow broadcast or recording of his public hearings on ethics charges.

Lawsuit attacks Mississippi law helping charter schools with local taxes

Diane Ravitch reports on the Southern Poverty Law Center's lawsuit attacking a Mississippi law that forces local school districts to give some of their local property tax money to charter schools.

Russian collusion is all about Trump. And a question for French HIll

The Washington Post has a useful editorial explaining Donald Trump's faulty effort to turn attention from his campaign's Russian collusion to Hillary Clinton, an explanation that again presents questions for Republican 2nd District Congressman French HIll.

Political bedfellows : Rockefellers then and now

An admirer of Frank Scott Jr. wanted me to know that the Little Rock mayoral candidate has tapped into old Republican money for fund-raising help. Which brings up more than one historical political connection of interest.

The open line: Checking the arc of the moral universe

If you're counting, the one-year anniversary of the white supremacist conflagration in Charlottesville seems to be running in favor of an arc in the universe pointing toward justice. But the day isn't over. Nor is the struggle.

Rick Crawford road tripping with Devin Nunes in Azerbaijan

An Azerbaijan news agency reports on a visit from U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, Donald Trump's protector on the House Intelligence Committee, along with committee member, Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican from Arkansas's 1st Congressional District.

Candidates for governor in forum tonight

The candidates for governor are scheduled to appear at a 90-minute forum at 6:30 p.m. today at New Hope Baptist Church, 1821 Edmonds Street, North Little Rock.

Give it up for Aretha

Aretha Franklin is gravely ill in a Detroit hospital.

Monday, Monday

A slow start to the week. Here's the open line, plus some odds and ends of news and comment.

State Hospital escapee captured in Memphis

James Barrett,  who escaped from the Arkansas State Hospital Saturday was captured by U.S. marshals today at a Motel 6 in Memphis, KARK/Fox 16 reports.

Rutledge meddles in women's healthcare in Ohio

Now Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is working to deprive Ohio women of healthcare. If her work in Arkansas is any indication, it won't be good for Ohio women.

Rep. John Lewis coming to LR Sunday for Clarke Tucker campaign

Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights legend, will visit Little Rock Sunday afternoon for a fund-raiser for state Rep. Clarke Tucker, the Democratic candidate for 2nd District Congress against Republican Rep. French Hill.

Who knew? George Soros has targeted Arkansas!

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge regularly bends the truth to suit her narrative of the day, but she gets extra credit for dragging George Soros into her re-election campaign.

Frank Broyles remembered in film

A 14-minute film on the late Frank Broyles, Razorback football coach and athletic director, is now online on the UA website.

Frank Scott adds name to mayor's race

There are now officially four candidates for Little Rock mayor with Frank Scott Jr.'s filing on Monday.

Manafort will offer no defense case

The prosecution has rested and the defense says it will call no witnesses in the fraud trial of Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort. A local defense lawyer thinks he's toast.

New episode of Rock the Culture podcast: 'We’re still dealing with that'

Antwan and Charles provide perspective and conversation on the England Police Department’s termination of Michael Moore for telling black folks they do not belong in the England and City of Little Rock’s infrastructure investments. They also discuss the 2018 Filmland with the executive director of Arkansas Cinema Society, Kathryn Tucker.

Asa Hutchinson, French Hill dodge TV debates

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and 2nd District U.S. Rep. French Hill have refused to participate in TV debates scheduled in September.

Speaking of Congress: News from the 1st District

Chintan Desai, the Democratic candidate for 1st District Congress, just dropped by with some news: An endorsement, a debate date and a celebrity visitor for his Republican incumbent opponent, Rep. Rick Crawford.

Lawsuit challenges Arkansas's Medicaid work rule

A lawsuit was filed today in the federal court for the District of Columbia challenging Arkansas's work requirement for many Medicaid recipients.

Tuesday's headlines and the open line

News and comment from Medicaid to the White House hissing match. Also the open line.

The Conversation podcast – new episode with the hosts of Rock the Culture, Antwan Phillips and Charles Blake

In episode 11 of our electrifying new podcast, "The Conversation," host Matt Price interviews Charles Blake and Antwan Phillips about their hit new podcast "Rock the Culture" They talk politics, culture, and what needs to happen in Little Rock under the next mayor.

LRSD school registration problems

Vincent Tolliver, a candidate for Little Rock, mayor, has written legislators asking the Senate Education Committee to ask Education Commissioner Johnny Key to testify about problems encountered by parents on Monday, the first day of school in the state-run Little Rock School District.

That Medicaid 'work' rule keeps on 'working'

The latest numbers from the Department of Human Services show  thousands more people did not meet the reporting requirement on work hours in July to meet Medicaid eligibility standards.

Governor responds to Medicaid work rule lawsuit

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has responded sharply to the lawsuit challenging the legality of the state's new work requirement for Medicaid coverage and also criticizing the online-only reporting requirement. His statement:

George McGill wins Fort Smith mayor's race

Democratic State Rep. George McGill handily won election Tuesday night as mayor of Fort Smith.

Sarah Sanders' bad day on the race beat

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was nailed again yesterday for peddling baloney in a White House press briefing. For once, she acknowledged it, grudgingly and with more spin. But that wasn't all for her on the racially fraught Trump front.

With Satanic rally planned Thursday, counter-protesters hit streets today

All publicity is good publicity, right? So it's all good for Satan in Arkansas this week.

Expansion announced at East Camden defense plant

Aerojet Rocketdyne announced today that it would expand its East Camden facility, which already employs more than 800.

Hutchinson says most gun safety ideas are 'non-starters'

Gov. Asa Hutchinson was asked today about recent reporting on the high rate of gun deaths in Arkansas and he made it clear he has little enthusiasm for most ideas on gun safety legislation.

Wednesday's headlines and the open line

Medicaid, guns, Satan and racism are covered in today's news roundup. Here's your open line.

When Sarah Sanders joined hands with the ACLU

Pro Publica has a good retelling of a story familiar to most Arkansans — when OBU student Sarah Huckabee linked up with the ACLU to successfully challenge a Democrat's effort to discourage college student voting in Arkadelphia.

Wage campaign reports financial backer

Arkansans for a Fair Wage, the committee backing an increase in the state minimum wage, reported this month a $350,000 contribution from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a Washington-based nonprofit that has funded advocacy campaigns for social and environmental causes around the country.

Abduction suspect arrested during threatened jump from bridge

Danny Trent Barrows, 38, wanted for abducting his child earlier in the week, was arrested Wednesday as he attempted to jump off an Interstate 49 bridge near Mountainburg.

Clarke Tucker challenges French Hill to series of debates

Clarke Tucker, the Democratic candidate for 2nd District Congress, has called on Republican incumbent Rep. French Hill to reconsider his refusal to participate in a televised debate in September and to join him for a series of three debates.