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August 23, 2018

Vol 44 • No 51

Read the print version

The Arkansas Cinema Society broadens its offerings in year two

With Filmland, the sequel.

2018 Filmland Schedule

'Operation Finale' closes the weekend.

A Q&A with Mary Steenburgen

On Filmland, 'Last Man on Earth' and what she misses about Arkansas.

A Q&A with Amman Abbasi

On making "Dayveon" and more.

The feature film version of 'Antiquities' makes its Arkansas debut

After almost a decade in the making.

'Survivors Guide to Prison' tackles a broken criminal justice system

More movement than movie.

Hep A still spreading

All residents of Greene County should be vaccinated, health department says.

'Crazy Rich Asians' feels crazy familiar

Representation and the rom-com.

The wage divide

An initiated act to raise the state minimum wage qualified for the November ballot last week and instantly became a defining political issue.

Devil down to Arkansas

They wheeled Ol' Splitfoot right up to the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol the other day.

T-Rextasy comes to Stickyz

And much more.

Get to Edwards Cash Saver for a meal

A lunch counter love letter

Minimum wage increase makes the ballot

And more.

Arkansas Razorbacks 2018 football preview, part 4

You haven't been misreading my last three weeks' worth of possibly fever-dream-induced projections: This Arkansas football program, supposedly in transition, will take full advantage of lowered expectations and a somewhat soft schedule to get itself well into bowl position before November comes around.

GOP no more

How much power it will retain after November remains in doubt, but the Republican Party as historically understood is vanishing before our eyes. What remains is the Party of Trump, an authoritarian cult of personality.

Dress code bias

It's back-to-school time, and for many it is back to blaming girls for the bad behavior of boys. Last week, two news stories out of Texas demonstrated the institutional misogyny that girls often deal with in school.

The joy of tax cuts

No greater joy can be experienced in a legislative body at any level than to cut taxes, especially when the beneficiaries are businesses and the well-to-do

Buffalo National Cesspool

Rascal Flatts comes to El Dorado

And The Big Dam Horns come to White Water.

Vote, people

People under 30 are not voting in large numbers. I've heard some different reasons for this: They don't feel it will make a difference.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Maneuver Me Edition

Play at home while waiting for the inevitable rise of the machines!

Asa outlines his tax cut for the rich

Gov. Asa Hutchinson revealed his idea for cutting taxes for the highest income taxpayers, ultimately a reduction in the top tax rate of 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent. It's a boon to the rich

Springdale school gets waiver from vaccination rule

More interesting blogging from Elizabeth Lyon-Ballay of Bella Vista on the deregulation of Arkansas education — this time on a singular exception among Arkansas public schools, at a school of "innovation" in Springdale, to the vaccination law.

Judicial politics: Debate on adding, subtracting judgeships

A debate is brewing on allocation of state court judgeships, with some growing areas in need of new judges and an idea circulating to meet those needs without creating new judgeships, at the expense of other judicial districts.

Dames, Dems and Drinks: Dough for progressive women

The Progressive Arkansas Women PAC is throwing a fund-raiser tonight from 6 to 8 at the Albert Pike Masonic Center to help 54 women on the ballot in Arkansas.

Appeals court declines to enforce Arkansas anti-abortion law

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday refused the state of Arkansas's request to activate a law aimed at putting medication abortion clinics out of business. The law requires a contract with a doctor with hospital privileges for a clinic to be able to dispense pills that induce miscarriages in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Judge orders release of Rutledge personnel records, expresses 'concern' about DHS handling of matter

Circuit Judge Tim Fox today ordered the state Department of Human Services to turn over personnel records of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge by 5 p.m. today and said he was "concerned" about how DHS had handled the requests for records of her work in 2006-07.

Mena Airport saga becomes multi-media exhibition

The University of Arkansas announces a multi-media project of art, archival research and dance about the Mena Airport saga — its use as a transshipment point for CIA activities and drug dealing by Barry Seal and others.

Thursday: News roundup and open line

News and comment from Trump and the tabloids to the Mena airport. Here's your open line.

Jared Henderson slams Asa's tax cut for rich

Jared Henderson has sharply criticized Gov. Asa Hutchinson's idea for a state income tax cut because of its disproportionate benefit to high-income people.

UA Little Rock game designers create "Galactic Scoundrels"

A space-Western storytelling card game created by a group of UA Little Rock employees, students and alumni, is set for an initial production run of around 800 units that will finish in January 2019.

Depression-era Arkansas topic of new photography book

“It’s All Done Gone: Arkansas Photographs from the Farm Security Administration Collection, 1935-1943” contains over 200 images of Depression-era Arkansas.

Hey Little Rock readers: What's on your mind in the mayoral race?

Please take a minute or two to answer our seven-question survey on the race for Little Rock mayor. It's quick and easy, and your responses could help shape our coverage of the election in the months ahead.

Judge vacates conviction in 1988 Fordyce murder

Federal Judge Billy Roy Wilson has vacated the conviction and life sentence John Brown Jr. received in 1992 for the 1988 murder and rape of Myrtle Holmes, 78, of Fordyce. Work of the Midwest Innocence Project led to the decision. The judge gave the state 30 days to retry Brown or release him.

Your tax dollars NOT at work in Fort Smith

KFSM reports on the sorry state of Fort Smith's unfinished River Valley Sports Complex, the project then-Sen. Jake Files used as a pretext to funnel state money into his own pockets.

Cotton, Boozman live high on 'leadership PACs'

Here's a look at a popular political slush fund — the leadership PACs established by people like Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton to raise money from special interests in luxury settings, sometimes for spending on political races, sometimes just for high living.

A kind word for Jeff Long in light of Urban Meyer

Ohio State University's decision to let football coach Urban Meyer off the hook for covering a rogue employee and lying about it should give people in Arkansas reason to give credit to Jeff Long where credit is due.

Judicial Commission orders production of communications on Griffen case

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has won a victory on a motion to seek communications about his ethics case from a variety of public officials including the Arkansas Supreme Court.

DHS appeals ruling on Rutledge's personnel file

As Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had hoped, the state Human Services Department has given notice it will appeal Circuit Judge Tim Fox's ruling that forced the agency to release previously withheld records of Rutledge's record as a staff attorney in 2006-07 handling foster child and adoption cases.

Fatal shooting on Princeton Drive

Donnell Walker, 39, was found fatally wounded in the yard of 4608 Princeton Drive about 12:30 a.m. today. He died shortly after at a hospital from a wound to the upper body.

Q: How low can they go? UPDATE

Republicans rush to make political hay of death of Iowa college student. Her family takes a different approach.

The Rich Get Richer Edition

State Republicans' tax cut plans, the latest in the legal battle over abortion rights in Arkansas and Leslie Rutledge’s past work record — all covered on this week's edition.

Tax cut plan damaging to Arkansas, groups say

A coalition of groups has announced opposition to the huge tax cut package given preliminary endorsement by a Republican-stacked study group this week.

Democrat blasts Tim Griffin for Issue One support

Anthony Bland, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, has blasted Republican incumbent Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin for endorsing Issue One, to limit awards and attorney fees in damage suits and to strip the Arkansas Supreme Court of rule-making power in favor of the legislature.

Friday: Open line and the news roundup

TGIF: Open line and today's roundup of news and comment.

'Up in Smoke' fires up at Esse

Lots of faces will light up to learn that Esse Purse Museum, Little Rock's iconoclastic museum of fashion and cultural artifacts, will open an exhibition of advertising and items from the past that glamorized cigarettes on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Arkansan gets 8 years for assault during Charlottesville white supremacist rally

Jacob Scott Goodwin, 23 of Ward has been sentenced to 10 years, with two suspended, for beating a black man during a white supremacists rally last year in Charlottesville, Va.

Rallying for state and local causes

Two groups have announced political events Sunday on state and national political issues — one to endorse state candidates, the other to protest Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Fayetteville firing file doesn't reach board questions

The Fayetteville School District released yesterday to the Arkansas Times and others material compiled in the investigation of former Superintendent Matthew Wendt, fired in June following a sexual harassment complaint filed in March by district employee Shae Newman. It sheds little light on the School Board's handling of the matter, a topic of some interest among some school district patrons.

An open line and memories of Kenneth Starr

Here's the open line. And, for old times sake, a New York Times story Friday on the release of a long-secret report on leaking done by Kenneth Starr's, Whitewater prosecution team in the bad old days. Robert Mueller looks very good by comparison

Bob Ballinger gets hooted for insisting legislators aren't in it for themselves UPDATE

Rep. Bob Ballinger represented corporate interests, of course, at a debate before the Northwest Arkansas Political Animals Friday on Issue One, to close the door of the courthouse to medical malpractice and nursing home negligence suits and strip the Supreme Court of rule-making authority in favor of the corrupt, corporate-controlled legislature. Ballinger's whine about mistreatment of legislators got the belly laugh he deserved.

Disturbance brings early end to Salt Bowl football game in War Memorial Stadium

A disturbance — perhaps a fight and some knocked-down barriers that sounded like gunshots — brought a third-quarter end to the annual Salt Bowl high school football game Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium between Benton and Bryant High Schools. Bryant was ahead 28-14, KARK reports, and the crowd of 38,000 fled in a chaotic exit.

More data on Asa Hutchinson's tax cut for the rich

Updated state income tax figures illustrate just how Gov. Asa Hutchinson's preferred income tax plan would favor the rich.

Open line and Salt Bowl aftermath

Here's an open line plus a statement from Little Rock police and the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department about the early ending of last night's Benton-Bryant Salt Bowl football game at War Memorial Stadium after fear of a shooting sent the crowd of 38,000 heading for the exits during the third quarter.

Three dead in Florida shooting during video game contest

Three died when shooting broke out during a Madden video game tournament in Florida.

The future Little Rock School District up for discussion today

Michael Poore, superintendent of the Little Rock School District, will talk about the future of schools and attendance zones in the district at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. today at Metro Career Tech Center.

Being gay at Harding University

Gay voices continue to strive to be heard and respected at Harding University, the conservative, Church of Christ-affiliated institution in Searcy. A publication by LGBTQ students there reports a new school policy seemingly targeting them.

Salt Bowl lost and found office open today

The Salt Bowl fallout — a mass exodus after an unfounded report of a shooting — includes reuniting spectators with property left  behind.

Secure Arkansas joins Issue One opposition

From the stopped-clock school of politics: Secure Arkansas, a far-right group known particularly for opposition to immigration, lays out here many reasons to oppose Issue One, the proposed amendment that would cap damages in lawsuits, restrict attorney fees in those suits and strip the Supreme Court of rule-making power in favor of the corrupt, special-interest controlled legislature.

Three inmates die at Varner; illicit drugs suspected

The state Correction Department reports the death Sunday of three inmates at the Varner unit and illicit drugs are suspected as the cause.

Monday: The news roundup and open line

The daily news roundup throws a penalty flag on Donald Trump and those who wish there'd been more guns at the Salt Bowl. Here's the open line.

Donald Trump, making pettiness great again

Donald Trump has resisted issuing a White House statement praising John McCain, has returned the White House flag to full staff and otherwise behaved like a child in response to the death of the senator from Arizona.

French Hill holds invitation-only press conference

The elusive French Hill held a news conference today, but only the right sorts of reporters were invited. Meaning not us, naturally.

Little Rock superintendent unveils draft of five-year school facilities plan

Poore's emphasis on community input was met with skepticism by state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock), who spoke out against the LRSD's last round of school closures, in 2017.

Check out the trailer for 'True Detective' season 3, set in Northwest Arkansas

HBO has released the first trailer for the third season of "True Detective," set in Fayetteville and elsewhere in Northwest Arkansas. It stars Mahershala Ali as Det. Wayne Hays, who's investigating something that's almost certainly grisly and haunting.

Weekly newspapers in Pulaski and Lonoke counties to cease publication

Two weekly newspapers, combining multiple titles of papers in Pulaski and Lonoke Counties, will publish their last editions this week and cease publication.

Honoring Mollie Tibbetts, her family rejects political spin

Republican attempts to capitalize politically on the slaying of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts have run into an obstacle: Tibbetts' family.

Third District candidates take 'stands' on Buffalo River hog farm

Taking a vote: You pick the best statement on the Buffalo River hog farm situation by candidates for Third District Congress.

Senate moves to allow broadcast of meetings

Good news today from Michael Wickline in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: The Arkansas Senate has begun the process to live stream both Senate sessions and committee meetings beginning in January.

Fahmy Malak, former medical examiner, dies in Florida

Dr. Fahmy Malak, the former Arkansas medical examiner, died last week in Clearwater, Fla., at age 85. He had a controversial tenure here.

Response to newspaper closures: A newspaper expansion into North Little Rock

Garrick Feldman, publisher of The Leader, a newspaper serving North Pulaski, Lonoke and White counties, says his newspaper will step into a void created in North Little Rock by closure this week of the North Little Rock Times.

Search continues for DHS emails involving Leslie Rutledge

Reed Brewer, the Democratic Party employee who successfully sued for records of Leslie Rutledge's undistinguished time as a Department of Human Services lawyer, said he has learned that there are thousands of e-mails in DHS possession that had not been turned over.

News roundup and the open line

Today's news roundup ranges from the amazing grace of Mollie Tibbetts family to the petulant president. Also the open line.

State announces new security rules for War Memorial Stadium

The panicked exit of 38,000 people from War Memorial Stadium over a false report of a shooting Saturday night has led to new security rules for the stadium.

New Rock the Culture podcast episode: 'Holding Everybody (in) Arkansas Down'

Hosts Antwan Phillips and state Rep. Charles Blake provide provide perspective and conversation on the Salt Bowl Situation at War Memorial Stadium, the Little Rock School District’s facility plan and community forums, and Elizabeth Eckford’s commemorative bench at Central High. They also discuss the casino amendment proposed by Driving Arkansas Forward with former state representative Nate Steel.

Leslie Rutledge joins push to allow firing transgender people UPDATE

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge continues her assault on human rights by joining other Republican attorneys general in support of the argument that it is legal under federal law to fire people for being transgender.

Pine Bluff reports four slayings in three days

The Pine Bluff Commercial has a report on four fatal shootings in three days between Sunday and Tuesday night. The deaths lifted the city's death toll for the year to 15, still behind 19 on the same date last year.

Police killings: Disproportionate rate of black deaths

The Washington Post reports an analysis of police shootings in a two-year period that finds the majority of people killed by police were white, but blacks were killed in numbers disproportionate to their percentage of the population.

Two more inmates die at Varner Supermax in apparent drug cases; other inmates treated

Two more inmates died this morning at the Varner Supermax prison unit, the fourth and fifth deaths since Sunday as a result of suspected drug use. A prison official also confirmed about a dozen inmates had been treated earlier in the week for drug reactions, though none required hospitalization.

8th Circuit rejects rehearing for Wendell Griffen

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today rejected Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's request that the entire court review a three-judge panel's decision dismissing his lawsuit against the Arkansas Supreme Court for removing him from all cases related to the death penalty.

Today's news and the open line

The headline roundup ranges from prison deaths to Donald Trump's side hustles. Here's the open line.

UPDATE: Police recruits settle suit over firing for social media posts; complaint against chief arises

Mediation has settled one of two lawsuits against the city of Little Rock over the firing of police recruits for racial remarks on social media. But the settlment reveals a problem for Police Chief Kenton Buckner on alleged use of a racial epithet.

Highway Commission distances itself from casino amendment

The Highway Commission issued a statement today to make clear a proposed casino gambling expansion amendment provided no money for highway construction, despite what some ads seem to imply.
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