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Frank Scott

Frank Scott

September 20, 2018

Vol 45 • No 3

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Frank Scott Jr.: the unifier

The Little Rock native wants to bring a divided city together.

Crazee's still a welcoming waterin' hole

Where everybody knows your name.

Tables turned

Brett Kavanaugh's dilemma over a prep-school tussle with a girl provokes many proverbs, but one that seems most apropos is "what goes around comes around."

"AfriCOBRA NOW: Respect — Celebrating 50 Years"

And much more.

No sympathy for Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Oh, to have the privilege to look at Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders through an objective lens. I sure can't, and I am to the point where if I hear one more progressive or even centrist Democrat claim they disagree with her policies then in the next sentence point out that she is "so good at her job" or she has taken on a "tough role," I may scream.

Character judgment

Probably it's not possible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted then-15-year-old Christine Blasey Ford at a high school house party back in 1982. However, that's not the issue. Kavanaugh's not being charged with a crime, but with being a creep.

Razorbacks hire Sean Spicer

A Q&A with poet Andrea Hollander

On memoir, living in Arkansas and more.

Crash Blossom, Luxemburg Trio and Princeaus play Maxine's

And much more.

A Q&A with Pam Grier

She talks stallions, Stanislavski and stuntwork.

Fuel and fire

The Observer is a person who always needs some new adventure out there on the horizon to look forward to. A trip booked a few months out, a class to teach or take at some point, even a new restaurant we'd like to get to and get thrown out of after they catch us filling up a Ziploc bag with free ketchup. So it goes.

Moving deck chairs

Governor Hutchinson has promised to soon reveal his ideas for "transforming government" — a reorganization aimed at reducing the number of departments that report to the governor.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Snitches Get Stitches Edition

Play at home, while imagining Mike Huckabee in his most form-fitting Speedo.

Clarke Tucker punches an absent French Hill in TV 'debate'

Democratic state Rep. Clarke Tucker took full advantage of Republican incumbent Rep. French Hill's refusal to participate in a TV debate on Channel 7 last night with a series of jabs at Hill on policy issues and for avoiding debate.

Kavanaugh reporting recovers prep school memories; brings credibility into focus

The Brett Kavanaugh nomination is producing reporting on the culture of Washington prep school life in his day — a time of heavy drinking long before Me, Too. Example: The Washington Post today. But it also spurred accounts of Kavanaugh's lack of truthfulness on other matters.

Voter ID law before the Arkansas Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on the state's appeal of a ruling invalidating the voter ID law passed in 2017.

Blasey Ford prepared to testify, with conditions

Christine Blasey Ford, who's accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, has said she's willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but not on Monday as Republicans have demanded.

Thursday's open line

A light news day unless your name is Brett Kavanaugh. Here's the open line.

AfriCOBRA collective celebrates a half-century of revolutionary art at Mosaic Templars

A double anniversary celebration at Mosaic Templars heralds 50 years of image-making for The African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists, founded by Pine Bluff native Jeff Donaldson.

Six Supreme Court justices found to have violated ethics code

The Arkansas Judicial and Disability Commission has announced the filing of formal charges of ethics violations against six members of the Arkansas Supreme Court for their handling of a case involving Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.

Feds bust Central Arkansas drug ring

The U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock announced today the indictment of 31 people on 53 drug, gun and money laundering charges in a Central Arkansas drug distribution operation supplied from California.

Out in Arkansas podcast episode 14: 'T & A Talk Support Crew with Neighbor Nick'

Cis Het Neighbor Nick was so moved by Episode 13 he had to pay a visit with notes!! T, N, and A discuss the importance of our “support crews” and how some of the smallest things the larger C community doesn’t think twice about affects the smaller c’s of the community. Thanks for listening!

French Hill carefully vetting crowd for Mike Pence visit

Mike Pence will appear at a campaign rally for Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill today in Little Rock and the campaign is monitoring carefully who'll be allowed to attend or cover the event. Hill is running a hide-and-seek campaign, making himself available only in safe settings. Maybe 1,200 of the right sort of people will atternd.

Unemployment rate continues to drop

The unemployment rate in Arkansas dropped again in August, to 3.6 percent from 3.7 percent the month before, though the total number working declined slightly.

Are the Razorbacks out of their league?

Ouch. The Southeastern Conference football schedule hasn't yet begun and the New York Times offers an article suggesting the Arkansas Razorbacks aren't up to playing in the league.

Walmart begins home grocery delivery in Little Rock

Walmart has announced it will deliver groceries ordered online in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood and Bryant for $9.95  per order. The service begins Tuesday, Sept. 25.

Marijuana makes Harding University grad a billionaire

Meet a new Arkansas-native billionaire — Michael Blue, who grew up in Searcy and graduated from Harding University. He owes his wealth to marijuana.

DEA reports 1,200 drug arrests in statewide operation

The Drug Enforcement Administration announced today that state and federal agencies had arrested 1,260 people since July in Operation Task Force Arkansas, a statewide push to catch violent drug traffickers.

Friday: Headlines and the open line

The Friday open line and the daily news roundup: Waiting for Mike Pence.

More criticism for Bobby Shepherd's work to wreck abortion rights

We've reported before on the pivotal role played by Judge Bobby Shepherd of El Dorado in the conservative 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' attack on anti-abortion laws in Arkansas, Missouri and other states. Now comes The Atlantic.

Demonstrators, small crowd greet Mike Pence at French Hill rally

Demonstrators have been allowed near the front door of the Statehouse Convention Center where carefully screened guests, not many, will be enjoying Mike Pence's endorsement of Republican Rep. French Hill. Plenty of security and I think it might be more fun outside.

The Judicial Mess Edition

Max and Lindsey talk about the Arkansas Judicial and Disability Commission charging six members of the Arkansas Supreme Court with ethics violations, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality recommending the denial of a new permit for C&H Hog Farm and other odds and ends.

Video: Protest outside the Pence-Hill rally

Times photographer Brian Chilson was on hand.

Slideshow: New play area opens in Little Rock's Riverfront Park

The city has scheduled a dedication for Margaret Clark Adventure Park, a new play area in Riverfront Park near the Marriott Hotel Conference Center, for 10 a.m.

Huckabee used to promote re-election of tax cheat Mickey Gates

A reader reports that re-election billboards for felony-charged tax deadbeat Mickey Gates, the Republican state representative from Hot Springs, feature an endorsement by Mike Huckabee.

UA-Little Rock copes with enrollment decline and charter high school

UA-Little Rock is facing a financial pinch because of a sharp drop in enrollment and Chancellor Andrew Rogerson talked bluntly about it Friday in a campus meeting, remarks that included a reference to simmering unhappiness over the eStem charter high school that opened on campus last year.

Remembering an ‘enemy of the people’ of 1957

David Margolick pays tribute today in a New York Times op-ed to Jerry Dhonau, the former Arkansas Gazette editorial writer who died recently. He invoked a modern theme.

Saturday's open line includes Kavanaugh news and a stunning political ad

Here's the open line. For entertainment, if you have one minute, watch this political ad against  Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona. Wait for it.   In other news: It appears the hearing is on for Christine Blasey Ford to talk about Brett Kavanaugh's alleged sexual assault of her when she was 15 and he was an older high school student.

Routine corruption in the Arkansas legislature

Is the Arkansas legislature routinely corrupt? In the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today, one  legislator wrote in the op-ed section that it is not while Michael Wickline reported a powerful argument in favor on page one. And I list a lot more.

The Gun Sense open line

Here's the open line, including a KARK report on the accidental shooting death last night of a five-year-old at home with older siblings in Southwestern Little Rock.

Joe Jett opponent jumps on news of legislator's loan to benefactor

Republican Rep. Joe Jett is drawing political fire for the disclosure Sunday by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he'd loaned House Speaker Jeremy Gillam $16,000 in 2016 shortly before the financially strapped Gillam appointed him chair of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

More national attention to Arkansas's flawed Medicaid work rule

The New York Times is the latest to focus unflattering attention on Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Medicaid work rule, which has already eliminated 4,300 from medical coverage. Many thousands more are likely to come.  One big problem: People don't know the rule exists.

'Transforming government' = capturing cash

I wrote a column this week about what's known so far about Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plans to "transform government" by combining state agencies into fewer departments answering to the governor. Now comes a state employee with more insight on possible motivation.

VA finds three deaths may be related to work of pathologist in Fayetteville

40/29 reports on progress in a Veterans Affairs  review of the work of a pathologist fired from the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville. The VA has reviewed 14,000 of Dr. Robert Morris Levy's 33,000 cases and found errors in 1,119, with 11 significant enough to cause harm. Three deaths may be related to the diagnoses.

Breaking: Ken Starr doesn't like the Clintons. Look who's talking about morality

Surprise. Former Whitewater persecutor Kenneth Starr's new book trashes Bill and Hillary Clinton, as the Democrat-Gazette made clear this morning. You'd think Starr was some moral exemplar as he whines about his "persona non grata" status in Arkansas.

Dallas police chief fires officer who killed Botham Jean

Amber Guyger, the Dallas police officer who killed Harding University graduate Botham Jean in his own apartment Sept. 6, has been fired.

Special master finds term limits signatures insufficient

A special master has concluded that petitions to put a term limits amendment on the November ballot were insufficient because 14,810 signatures shouldn't be counted, mostly for discrepancies in complying with a law that applies to paid canvassers.

Monday: Open line and the news

The open line and today's headlines.

Special master clears minimum wage initiative

Special Master Sam Bird said today that the proposed minimum wage initiated act had sufficient valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The Arkansas Supreme Court will review the decision and make the final call.

Pine Bluff native wages war on fraternity culture

Bloomberg has an interesting feature on Deborah Dunklin Tipton of Memphis, a native of Pine Bluff and heiress to an Arkansas agricultural fortune, who's put her money to work investigating the death of her son Robert in 2012 of what's been ruled an accidental drug overdose following fraternity hazing at High Point University in North Carolina.

State probing illness outbreak among Fayetteville beer garden customers

The Health Department Monday said it was investigating a cluster of illnesses among recent customers of JJ's Beer Garden and Brewery in Fayetteville. It's seeking anyone who experienced diarrhea or vomiting after a visit there between Sept. 13 and Monday.

Judge strikes down Rogers' anti-panhandling ordinance

The ACLU has won another lawsuit against an anti-panhandling ordinance, this time in Rogers.

School superintendent Poore not registered to vote

Blogger Russ Racop dug up a factoid of interest this week on Little Rock School Superintendent Mike Poore: He's not registered to vote in Pulaski County.

Judge denies Jon Woods' request to be free pending appeal UPDATE

Judge Timothy Brooks has rejected former state Sen. Jon Woods' request that he be allowed to remain free pending appeal of his public corruption conviction to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. UPDATED with news on co-defendant Randell Shelton and a request for a trial delay by Jeremy Hutchinson in another public corruption case.

New episode of Rock the Culture podcast: 'Little Rock Made Me'

Hosts Antwan Phillips and Representative Charles Blake provide perspective and conversation on Issue 5, the minimum wage ballot initiative, and the proposal for collaboration between LRSD and PCSSD to share a high school in West Little Rock. They also interview Vince Hunter, former Razorback and professional basketball player, regarding his non-profit PROJECT M.A.D.E.

Progress for the Hogs?

It says, I suppose, much about Arkansas’s team character that after a couple of the worst football weeks the state's flagship program has ever experienced, the Razorbacks actually competed at Auburn. They had some nice, if limited, moments on offense, and John Chavis’ defense played an inspired three quarters of football, wearing down only a bit in the final minutes from sheer exhaustion.

Progress for Jacksonville North Pulaski School District in desegregation case

Federal Judge Price Marshall indicated today that the relatively new Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District is nearing completion of the work necessary to be declared "unitary," and thus freed from the long-running Pulaski County school desegregation case.

Tuesday's open line and the daily report

The open line and a video roundup of news and comment.

Report cites Steve Faris in legal fee deal arising from Arkansas Teacher Retirement suit

A report released Tuesday by a Massachusetts federal court again emphasizes the role former Arkansas Sen. Steve Faris played in helping a law firm land the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System as a client in a class action securities case that produced a $75 million attorney fee.

The Waltons' designs on Massachusetts schools

Same song, umpteenth verse: Walton money is behind an effort to influence school policy in Massachusetts, particularly through charterization of Boston public schools. As I've said before, same story in Arkansas. We're just cheaper.

Brett Kavanaugh: Choir boy or carouser? UPDATE: New assault allegations

It would appear Brett Kavanaugh and his defenders have overegged the pudding by describing him as a sober, virginal, straight arrow more interested in studies, sports and public service than carousing. The Washington Post reports:

A new allegation against Brett Kavanaugh

Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels in her actions against Donald Trump, has released a sworn statement from Julie Swetnick who says she witnessed Brett Kavanaugh drunk and assaulting women at house parties in the early 1980s.

LR officer suspended following sexual assault complaint

KARK reports that Little Rock Police Officer Brandon Johnson, 35, has been relieved of duty with pay after the filing of a sexual assault complaint.

Husband arrested in Margaret Clevenger's death

Hilary Hunt at Fox 16 reports that Little Rock police have arrested Timothy Clevenger in the death of his wife Margaret on Labor Day.

Arkansas Supreme Court approves strategic plan, includes continued independence

The Arkansas Supreme Court has joined 39 other states in adopting a strategic plan for the judiciary. The aims are positive, but I see some obstacles in other branches of government.

And speaking of the Supreme Court: Here's a fine mess

An update on a lawsuit over Associate Justice Courtney Goodson's effort to keep dark money ads criticizing her off the air. It's another fine mess.

Norovirus identified as culprit in illnesses tied to Fayetteville brewery

40/29 reports that the state Health Department has concluded that norovirus is responsible for an outbreak of illness among people who'd recently frequented JJ's Beer Garden and Brewery in Fayetteville. It was closed Wednesday for cleaning work.

The CSI open line

The open line and the daily news roundup.

MacArthur Museum of Military History reopens its doors Saturday

The MacArthur Museum of Military History reopens its doors Saturday, Sept. 29, after a nearly six-month hiatus for interior renovations.

$6.7 million Windgate Foundation to fund new ASU arts facility

Arkansas State University in Jonesboro announced last week that the Windgate Foundation is to offer a $6.7 million grant to build a new facility for sculpture and ceramics programs at ASU, the largest single gift to an arts program in ASU’s history.

Judge denies forfeiture order reduction for Randell Shelton in Ecclesia case

Judge Timothy Brooks has denied a reduction in a forfeiture order against Randell Shelton, part of the scheme to pay kickbacks from state money sent to Ecclesia College.

New episode of Out in Arkansas podcast: 'T & A Talk Pride with Zack Baker'

Hosts Traci Berry and Angie Bowen discuss the importance and the “why” of PRIDE and other LGBTQ+ events with Zack Baker, the Chair Of Central Arkansas Pride. Zack also shares all the cool things happening during this year’s festival.

As Trump turns. Call out the fact checkers

Donald Trump's rare news conference today will require epic fact checking, but his defense of Brett Kavanaugh against what he calls a Democratic "con job" likely will command most attention. He's been accused by women. Ergo, anyone else who's been accused, if a friend of his, must be believed.

Fast facts about Issue No. 1 and its current status

Issue No. 1 will likely be a prominent topic leading up to this November’s election. Here's what you need to know.