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October 2, 2014

Vol 41 • No 4

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Family vs. institutional care in Arkansas

It's cheaper to provide care for the disabled and elderly in their own homes than in institutions. So why is the legislature blocking reform?

The Community First Choice Option

The Community First Choice Option is intended to nudge state Medicaid policy away from default institutionalization and toward encouraging home/community-based care.

Big on Brunelle

Fresh is the word at West Little Rock cafe.

A review of Mark Nichols' 'From Azaleas to Zydeco'

Better reading than briefs.

Collin Vs. Adam at White Water

Also, Hillcrest HarvestFest, the Main Street Food Truck Festival, Charlie Wilson at Verizon Arena, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra at Pulaski Academy and Ty Dolla $ign at Juanita's.

What would Republicans do?

If Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane was wrong in disqualifying a voter who failed to follow legal registration procedure, what should we have done? Republicans should answer that question.

Arkansas Supreme Court hears voter ID lawsuit

The Arkansas Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearing oral arguments at 9 a.m. this morning in a lawsuit challenging the state's 2013 voter ID law.

Watch the blood-splattered new video for Lo Thraxx's 'Bodies'

Trigger Warning: This thing gets dark. Another new video from Lo Thraxx's long-awaited "$harkansas" mixtape, this one featuring Goon des Garcons (not rapping, just being terrifying). If, after watching this, you're wondering when you can see these guys live, then you're insane but also in luck.

Petition drive started to convince Beebe to pardon the WM3

Mara Leveritt passes along information about a new petition drive asking Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe to pardon Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin before his term as governor comes to an end.

Arkansas tax revenues dip in September

The revenue report for September is out and tax collections declined in every category, with the total for the first three months of the year not far ahead of the same time last year.

Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) remixes Kari Faux's 'No Small Talk'

Rapper and TV star Donald Glover ("Community") released a new mixtape today, "STN MTN" (that's Stone Mountain to those of you not from Georgia), hosted by DJ Drama no less, and the highlight is a remix of a song by Little Rock's own Kari Faux. "No Small Talk," which we previously labeled the Song of the Summer (was I wrong?), was produced by Kari and BLACK PARTY, and though I probably prefer the original version, this is big news for Arkansas and, who knows, might be Kari's Drake-cosigning-Migos moment.

The internet destroys College Republican National Committee 'Say yes to dress' ads

So it turns out that Brittney, the undecided voter/bride-to-be who thinks "the Asa Hutchinson" dress is "perfect," feels the same about "The Rick Snyder," "The Tom Corbett" and two other dresses. It's a cookie-cutter ad that's part of a $1 million digital campaign by the College Republican National Committee that will run across 16 states. Ozark native Skot Covert is the national co-chair of the CRNC.

Keeping an eye on the (single) Ebola case in Dallas

There's no reason to think that the one case of Ebola in the United States is anything but contained, and health workers are now taking every precaution to prevent the spread of the disease. Still, Dallas isn't that far from Arkansas, so we'd be remiss not to follow events down there.

Lyons: Tom Cotton willfully forgets his history

Gene Lyons' latest column is a must-read. It's a masterful takedown of Tom Cotton's ahistorical notions of gumption, hard work and the free market — never the government — as the only forces for improving prosperity. Lyons, who lives and raises cattle in Perry County — next door to Yell County, where Cotton grew up and and where his family raises cattle — writes knowingly of how those and other rural counties have survived and how farming actually works.

Announcing the 2014 Arkansas Times Fiction Contest

In our ongoing search for new ideas and quality writing, the Arkansas Times will be hosting our first-ever Fiction Contest this year. Spread the word: We're looking for short stories which, in some significant or minor way, engage the question of what it means to live in Arkansas in 2014. Winners will get a cash prize (not yet determined) and will be published as the centerpiece of our Fiction Issue this December.

Clarke Tucker slimed by anonymous mailer

Dozens of readers have sent us pictures of an anonymous and egregious direct mail piece attacking Clarke Tucker, Democratic candidate for House District 35, "for representing a violent criminal for free." It's from a bogus return address and, as you can see, uses a font that must be called something like "Serial Killer Serif." The violent criminal? A man who was accused of shoplifting a $9.99 piece of merchandise at Kmart.

Burkhalter says he'll work without salary if elected as Lieutenant Governor

John Burkhalter, the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, says that he'll return his full salary to the state if elected to office.

Voter ID hearing recap, video open line

A quick take: My quick take: Because the Court was hearing an appeal of Circuit Judge Tim Fox's May ruling, in which Fox limited the issue to a "facial" challenge — in other words, only to the question of whether the voter ID law violates Arkansas Constitution's limits on voter rules — today's oral arguments were relatively dull. They didn't get into any of the discriminatory effects of the law.

Steven B. Jones, former legislator and DHS official, pleads in federal bribery case

Steven B. Jones of Marion, a former state legislator and high Department of Human Services official, has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of taking bribes to help a business that provides mental health services to juveniles.

Leslie Rutledge seeks to be reinstated on Pulaski voter roles

Leslie Rutledge wants to be "reinstated" to voters rolls, an impossibility County Clerk Larry Crane says, though she remains free to register in the county and could do so readily.

National unemployment rate falls below 6 percent for first time since summer of 2008

Good news from today's jobs reportwith nonfarm payrolls growing by 248,000 jobs in September. The unemployment rate is now 5.9 percent, the lowest it's been in more than six years. Today marks the first time the nation has ever recorded a four-year straight period of positive employment growth. Doesn't look like Obamacare is ruining the economy so far! Will the good news help Democrats or incumbents in November?

Arkansas Food and Farm launches new blog

Arkansas Food and Farm announces an expansion of its online presence.

Breaking: Arkansas really, really, really likes the Hogs

The New York Times Upshot blog has been doing stellar work with cool graphics and maps. Today they're out with a map of football fandom (using Facebook likes by zip code). Guess how it looks in Hog country?

Mark Pryor told Democratic donors he'd like to see Harry Reid replaced as Majority Leader

Tom Cotton is relentless in attempting to nationalize the Senate campaign, so much so that he can descend into repetitive verbal tics that sound like English as spoken by an iPhone talking points app. His OPM ("Obama per minute") rate is often in double digits. Of course in addition to Obama, and Pelosi (Latin for devil-woman, according to my GOP sources), Cotton and other Republican candidates love talking about Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader. This has apparently become a bummer for incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, who suggested at a private fundraiser that Harry Reid be replaced as Majority Leader.

Cameraman with Ebola on Nancy Snyderman's team: Update

NBC News reports that it is flying medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman and her NBC team, including a cameraman who has contracted Ebola, back to the United States from Liberia.

Arkansas Insurance Department releases 2015 Marketplace premium rates

The Arkansas Insurance Department today released the projected 2015 premiums for the health insurance plans on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, the health insurance exchange created by Obamacare. These rates are still pending federal approval, which will come within the next month. We already knew the big picture: premiums in 2015 are falling 2.2 percent as compared to 2014 (by weighted average based on 2014 market share). What we have now are individualized rates so consumers can look at individual plans.

National bus tour celebrating ADA's legacy stops in Little Rock to highlight disability rights

A bus making its way around the country to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stopped in Little Rock this morning. The ADA Legacy Tour Bus decided to stop by the Capitol on its way from Memphis to Albuquerque in order to draw attention to the state legislature's recent delay of a reform that would clear 3,000 families with developmentally disabled children off a years-long waiting list for home and community-based services.

Painter Ramsey in Big Easy mag

Painter Grace Mikell Ramsey has work included in the second issue of Momma Tried, a New Orleans publication about nudity, sexuality and art.

Ross: Has plan to give women equal pay

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross went after the women's vote today with an announcement that he'll work to strengthen state laws guaranteeing equal pay for equal work.

Movers, mushrooms, tornado warnings, The Juan MacLean and a George Jones shower curtain

I went to South on Main last night for the first concert in the Oxford American Jazz Series, a band called The Bad Plus. Before they took the stage, an announcement was made that a tornado warning was in effect for the area, and that we should all immediately take shelter. You could hear all the phones in the room buzzing with the same warning. I couldn't hear what it sounded like outside, but there were sheets of rain coming down and the trees were bending over.

Arkansas congressmen ask Obama to ban travel to US from Ebola-plagued countries

Arkansas Reps. Tom Cotton, Tim Griffin, Steve Womack and Rick Crawford wrote President Obama today to urge him to "implement travel restrictions, up to and including a ban on flights from the affected countries."

The Bless Your Heart Edition

How Mark Pryor has stuck around in the Senate race, the down-ballot feel of the race for Arkansas governor, the tone-deaf new ad campaign on behalf of Asa Hutchinson, ballot initiatives and the courts and Leslie Rutledge's very bad week — all covered on this week's podcast, with special guest Janine Parry, professor of political science at the University of Arkansas.

The autumn weekend open line and video round-up

[embed-1] Over to you.

KIPP: Delta receives $500,000 from Walton Foundation for public-charter partnership

The "KIPP Through College” program places college counselors in Helena-West Helena's Central High School (which is just down the road from KIPP's campus in Phillips County) as well as Marianna High School in nearby Lee County.

Leslie Rutledge finally registers to vote

Republican attorney general candidate Leslie Rutledge finally registered to vote today. Her registration had been cancelled because she was also registered in Virginia and Washington, D.C. Could be chalked up to an honest, if sloppy, mistake, but Rutledge's response was to blame Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk Larry Crane. She demanded that he reinstate her. Crane countered that legally, his hands were tied and she should simply register to vote. The "blame Crane" response was goofy on its face and with her candidacy in jeopardy, Rutledge finally bowed to the inevitable this afternoon and registered to vote.

Murder suspect Arron Lewis returned to prison after parole revocation

Arron Lewis, the suspect in the abduction and slaying of real estate agent Beverly Carter, was transferred from the Pulaski County jail to the state Correction Department last night following a parole revocation hearing.

Little Rock City Board sets vote on private club regulation ordinance

The Little Rock Board of Directors is expected to vote Monday on an ordinance to increase regulation of the small number of private clubs with permits to operated until 5 a.m.

New Clarke Tucker ad goes positive

In a race sullied with lots of sleaze, Clarke Tucker is going positive with his new ad in his campaign for state rep. Lots of happy families and uplifting talk on pre-k, jobs, public safety and the private option. Plus Tucker's cute kids make an appearance. They dare you to FOI them.

Surprise! Free birth control program leads to lower teen pregnancy and abortion rates

Headline from Vox says it all: "St. Louis gave teens free birth control, and they now have very low abortion rates." A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that a program to give away free birth control to teens in St. Louis led to dramatic decreases in pregnancy and abortion rates.

The spectacular day open line

Surely today deserves to be in contention for the day of the year.

Little Rock police looking for Simmons Bank robber

Police circulate photo of suspect in Saturday robbery of a Simmons Bank branch.

Missouri judge rules for marriage equality

Another victory for marriage equality in Missouri. In this ACLU-backed case, a couple challenged a ban as it applies to couples legally married in other states. They won. Th

Leslie Rutledge's troubles get national media attention

The national media has taken note of the saga of Leslie Rutledge, pointing out the irony of Republicans crying "voter suppression."

Demolition open line

Over to you...

Superior food on Bathhouse Row

Chef Angela Nix proves that there's more than great beer at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery.

New video from Goon des Garcons, 'Publicity Stunt'

Here's the latest from Goon des Garcons, "Publicity Stunt," in which the Young God slow-motion strolls around The Fold and gets mobbed by fans (over a beat by Mach Soul). Below. an extended version featuring Lightskin Mac 11 from the Atlanta collective Two-9.

US Supreme Court says same-sex marriage can proceed in five states with prior bans

The Supreme Court denied review of the attempts by petitioners in five states to reverse lower-court decisions that struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. All of those states, much like Arkansas, had previously banned gay marriages before lower courts struck down the prohibitions.

Guest Mix: Bonnie Montgomery

I've never been a good dj really, always throwing in a Rossini aria or some spoken word ballad by Johnny Cash at a late night party, but I do listen to music constantly and had fun putting this list together. I narrowed it down to music I'm listening to a lot this week, some of my all time favorites, and mostly (hopefully) a playlist that others might enjoy.

Outside groups take Cotton to task on domestic violence, veterans' benefits

How can you tell we're 31 days out from the election? (Besides looking at the calendar.) Campaign ads are hitting harder. New ads from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Voter Vets take Tom Cotton to task for voting against the Violence Against Women Act and voting for "chained" CPI, respectively.

Today is your last day to register to vote in midterm election

If you haven't yet registered to vote in Arkansas, you have today until close of business to register at your local county clerk's office.

Bill Clinton's endorsement counts for more than any other politician

Former President Bill Clinton is about to launch his two-day campaign swing through Arkansas with a speech at UCA in Conway. Will his campaigning help any of the candidates with whom he's appearing? Who knows? But according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Anneberg poll, Clinton's endorsement is worth more than anyone else's.

Columbus ship replicas docking in LR on Wednesday

Accurate replicas of the Nina and Pinta, two of the three ships Christoper Columbus sailed over the ocean blue back in 1492, will be docking in Little Rock's Julius Breckling Riverfront Park on Wednesday afternoon. They'll be open for tours from Thursday, Oct. 9, until their departure on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

James McLean gets his jingle on

With less than a month before election day, the state legislative races are heating up, even as the top of the ticket dominates the airwaves and media attention. Control of the House is very much in play, but potentially the most consequential race is the battle for the District 19 Senate seat made vacant by Democratic Sen. David Wyatt. Democrat Rep. James McLean of Batesville is facing off against Tea Partier Linda Collins-Smith. Luckily, McLean has a plan to ward off all comers: a radio jingle that you CANNOT get out of your head.

Sen. Jason Rapert: "birth control is not an abortion issue"

We mentioned over the weekend that a program in St. Louis which gave away free birth control to teens had remarkable success reducing the teen pregnancy and abortion rate. What does Sen. Jason Rapert think? Here's Rapert at a Vilonia Area Chamber forum last week. He was asked whether, given his opposition to abortion, he would do anything to increase access to contraception. "Actually, birth control is not an abortion issue," he said. "That's a contraceptive issue. Totally different issue."

"Person C" in DHS bribery case: Ted Suhl

Ted Suhl, owner of the controversial treatment center for juveniles The Lord's Ranch, is the person referred to as "Person C" in court documents in the bribery case of former Department of Human Services Deputy Director Steven Jones.

Adventures in headline writing: national media agrees on Clinton's trip to Arkansas

Bill Clinton is in town, which means swarms of national journos who trail the Clintons like squarely dressed Deadheads following a band are descending on the Natural State. You'll know them by their world-weary pre-written ledes and their #clintonworld Tweetdecks. You'd almost think that we could just have one single Clinton beat reporter for every newspaper everywhere, since everyone is going to write almost exactly the same headline.

Pollster Stan Greenberg finds path to holding Senate for Democrats via single women

Pollster Stan Greenber looks at battleground states, including Arkansas, and sees an avenue for Senate Democrats to hold the Senate: by dominating among single women. Expect to see more on Rep. Tom Cotton's vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Violence Against Women Act, plus more focus on issues that tend to play well with single women.

LR School Board to hold special meeting at 5 p.m. today about upcoming ADE talks

The Little Rock School Board is convening this afternoon to discuss its planned meeting with the Arkansas Department of Education on Oct. 10. Because it has five schools in "academic distress", the Little Rock School District is in danger of being taken over by ADE, a decision that would ultimately be made by the State Board of Education.

Sheriff's Office: Pulaski County Jail will reopen for new intakes today

Lt. Carl Minden with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office reports that the Pulaski County Regional Detention Center will reopen for intakes today at 6 p.m. The jail has been closed to most non-violent offenders since noon on August 26,

County officials raise concerns over under-reimbursement to county jails for state inmates (UPDATED)

The County Judges Association of Arkansas (CJAA) and the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association (ASA) are asking the state to address funding shortfalls on county jail reimbursements for state inmates. County officials also suggested a special legislative session to address the issue.

The register to vote open line and video round-up

It's an open line.

Trolls gotta troll: Dinesh D'Souza compares President Obama's late father to the Ebola virus

Hey look, it's Monday and Dinesh D'Souza did something incomprehensible and awful!

On the city board's agenda: Murphy USA, windows at the Junior League, club closing times, juvenile programs UPDATE

The City Board tackles several controversial issues tonight when it meets at 6 p.m. (moved from Tuesday to accommodate National Night Out events.

Ethics complaint filed against Leslie Rutledge for ad coordinated with outside group

The Leslie Rutledge dramarama continues: Blue Hog's Matt Campbell files ethics complaint against Rutledge for questionably legal advertisement coordinated with a Super PAC.

Taking no chances in Sharp County

Major news outlets, from ABC to The Guardian in Great Britain, are reporting that the Defense Department donated an assault rifle, handgun and a Humvee to Doug Wortham of Sharp County even though, as the Associated Press wittily reported, "the people in his custody are in no condition to put up a fight. They're dead."

No Ebola at UAMS

No Ebola virus at UAMS, contrary to rumor, hospital says.

YouGov poll shows Tom Cotton and Asa Hutchinson up

Big online poll from New York Times/CBS News/YouGov online poll finds Republicans Tom Cotton and Asa Hutchinson in the lead.

James McLean can bring "gobs and gobs and gobs" of new jobs

Can you get James McLean's old-timey radio jingle out of your head? No.

Conservative hacks respond to Bill Clinton's Arkansas visit by being conservative hacks

You might be a political hack if...

Many GOP politicians waving white flag on gay marriage — how about in Arkansas?

Lots of national reporters are noting that Republican governors and senators are by and large reacting with a shrug to the Supreme Court's decision not to hear appeals from give states where lower courts had struck down bans on same-sex marriages. Will Arkansas lag behind?

Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson to debate in Little Rock tonight

Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross will have their second debate this evening. With Ross behind in most polls, will tonight's debate move the needle?

More than 2,500 could be affected if DHS shuts down Suhl

The state Department of Human Services is working on a transition plan for 80 fulltime and 2,500 outpatients served by Trinity Behavioral Health and Arkansas Counseling Associates, both owned by Ted Suhl's Maxus Inc., should the department decide to "suspend or exclude" Suhl's companies from its Medicaid program.

Trenton Lee Stewart to judge the Arkansas Times Fiction Contest

We here at the Arkansas Times are very excited to announce Trenton Lee Stewart as the Guest Judge for our 2014 Fiction Contest. A graduate of Hendrix College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Stewart is the author of the New York Times best-selling "Mysterious Benedict Society" series as well as the Arkansas-set "Flood Summer"

Bill Clinton rallies Democrats in northwest Arkansas

On the second day of his two-day homecoming tour, former President Bill Clinton is speaking in Fayetteville, where a crowd of around 6,000 is watching him make the pitch for Democrats.

Group asks DOJ to investigate Hot Springs shooting range's ban on Muslim customers

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which advocates for the civil rights of Muslims, has asked US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate The Gun Cave, the Hot Springs firing range that announced itself as a "Muslim-free zone" on social media last week.

Sen. Mark Pryor is not good at speaking off the cuff on camera

MSNBC's Kasie Hunt is in town following the Clinton parade and got some mileage out of an awkward encounter with Sen. Mark Pryor. She asked about President Obama's Ebola response and he stumbled. Pryor is not good at this sort of thing, which is unfortunate given that he went in to the family business. Republicans in Arkansas are very excited about this hot development. I'm placing the over-under on number of votes this swings at zero.

Mike Huckabee: states governments should ignore court rulings on same-sex marriage

We noted that earlier today that most major GOP lawmakers had a muted reaction to the Supreme Court in effect legalizing same-sex marriage in a number of states, including red states or states with GOP governors. But demagogues die hard. If there's one place where the market remains open for rank grandstanding over gay people, it's GOP presidential primaries. Mike Huckabee, come on down!

Police say W. Memphis man tried to cut off girlfriend's head with handsaw

Police in West Memphis are looking for a man who they say tried to cut off his girlfriend's head with a handsaw. WMC Action News 5 in Memphis has the report on the case, in which police say Devino Lee Dawson made two lacerations to the back of his girlfriend's neck with the saw, and cut her left middle finger down to the bone.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner's jobs plan: ___________________

House Speaker John Boehner's oops moment.

Tom Cotton: ISIS and Mexican drug cartels joining forces to invade Arkansas

When it comes to rank demagoguery and fear-mongering, this from Tom Cotton is hard to top: "Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism. They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas."

Now we know why Walmart to offer insurance shopping help

This morning, the headline in the newspaper was that Walmart was going to make Rep. Nate Bell and other Obamacare foes tear their hair out by helping shoppers investigate health insurance coverage options and enroll in plans, including the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Walmart will work with, an online health insurance comparison site, to offer the help at enrollment kiosks in 2,700 stores.

Ask Max Brantley: What's the best insult you've ever received?

Here's a little Max fix for y'all...

Melee at Hall High this morning, seven students charged

A report just issued by the Little Rock Police Department describes a full-on brawl in the Hall High cafeteria this morning, with the school's principal allegedly struck by a student and an LRPD officer deploying pepper spray while attempting to control the situation. Seven students were charged in the incident, including charges of inciting a riot.

Republican Party chairman files ethics complaint about something against Nate Steel

Usually when someone files an ethics complaint against a political opponent, they release the complaint and clearly explain in a press release the bad stuff they're complaining about. Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb takes a takes a different approach with this press release on his complaint against Rep. Nate Steel, the Democratic nominee for attorney general.

Suhl businesses suspended from Medicaid

Maxus Inc. and Trinity Behavioral Health Services are being suspended as Medicaid providers by the Department of Human Services, DHS has announced. The companies are owned by Ted Suhl; the suspension comes after a former DHS employee pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy to bribe Suhl in response for inside agency information on facility reports. Suhl was not named in the information filed by the U.S. attorney's office with the federal court, but DHS has confirmed that Suhl was the "Person C" referred to in court filings.

How low-wage Walmart workers may benefit from company no longer offering insurance to part-timers

In many cases, low-wage workers may actually be better off because of Walmart dropping health insurance coverage. Here's why.

Photos from Fayetteville: Bill Clinton fires up the crowd

Photos from Clinton's appearance earlier today in Fayetteville.

Tuesday's open line and video news roundup

We're really late with the video and open line today. Sorry about that.

Sarah Palin endorses Leslie Rutledge for Arkansas Attorney General

Two peas in a pod.

Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson face off in debate for governor

Notes on the Hutchinson-Ross debate.

Asa Hutchinson in full triangulating mode

More debate analysis: The clearest way to see that Asa Hutchinson is positioning himself as the frontrunner is that he is all-in on triangulating, running in the direction of the Mike Ross position on the private option, pre-k and the minimum wage.

Mitt Romney's bold campaign promise, achieved by...President Obama

Mitt Romney promised to reduce the unemployment rate to 6 percent in four years. Instead Obama was re-elected and after just two years, unemployment is below 6 percent. Romney said back then, "People all across the country are saying, 'Wow, 6 percent sounds pretty good." Wonder what Romney is saying now?

Could Voter ID decide the Senate race in Arkansas?

A decision on Voter ID is pending in the Arkansas State Supreme Court. The law could impact turnout, potentially a big factor in close races like the Pryor-Cotton race for Senate.

James Carville, as always, suggests we listen to Bill Clinton

In The Hill, James Carville writes that Bill Clinton will save the day for Democrats hoping to keep the Senate.

One Eleven serves a mind-blowing steak

Beef filet and foie gras. Is there a better steak in town? Maybe, but we haven't had it yet.

The Senate race in Arkansas will come down — duh — to turnout

The Pryor-Cotton race is very, very close. It's going to be decided by turnout and get-out-the-vote operations. Democrats have long been telling anyone who'll listen that this is their ace in the hole. They believe they have an unusually strong on-the-ground field operation. Of course, Democratic base voters often sit out mid-term elections. That's the big question in 2014 in Arkansas — can the Dems' GOTV machine flip that script?

'State of the Art': Giving artists a national stage

An article on the Huff Post website by Mallika Rao is a nice recounting of the work that went into creating "State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now" at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The Arkansas Times' Art Bus rides again Nov. 8 to Crystal Bridges to see this show, which President Don Bacigalupi refers to in the article as "a truer image of the country" than, say, the Whitney Biennial (the art press has given the exhibit the nickname the "anti-Whitney."). The article names four artists in the show to prove that point.

Dallas Ebola patient dies: UPDATE on U.S. screening for fever

Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, has died. Here's the Huffington Post report. He had being treated with the experimental drug brincidofovir since Saturday.

Giraffe leaves Little Rock Zoo

Remember Mesi, the giraffe that killed the zoo's 14-year-old giraffe Jigsaw at the Little Rock Zoo last December? The zoo has sent Mesi packing, off to the Abilene Zoo. There, he'll join female giraffes and, the zoo hopes, produce baby giraffes.

Pantry Crest to open Oct. 9

The Pantry Crest, the much anticipated Hillcrest spinoff of West Little Rock's The Pantry, Times' readers pick for the best restaurant in Little Rock in our most recent readers choice poll, will hold a soft opening beginning 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9.

More slime hits legislative races, targetting Grimsley Graham

We reported last week on the anonymous and egregious direct mail piece, going after Democratic state rep candidate Clarke Tucker with baloney claims. The manure is also flying in northwest Arkansas, with another anonymous mailer going after Grimsley Graham of Rogers.

Great Dante's ghost! Infernal hamburger created for hot pepper contest

The Root Cafe and the Dunbar garden will once again raise holy hell with the 3rd annual Hot Pepper Eating Contest, set for 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at the cafe, 1500 Main St.

Holder, Clinton address national mayor's conference at Clinton Center

Former President Bill Clinton and current U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder appeared at the Clinton Center this morning to address the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who are holding a meeting in Little Rock today and tomorrow to discuss lessons of the rioting that erupted in Ferguson, Mo., after police there shot an unarmed black man in August.

Crittenden Regional Hospital leadership states that they were clueless about dire revenue situation until weeks before closing

Mark Friedman at Arkansas Business does a deep dive into the mess at Crittenden Regional Hospital, which filed for bankruptcy last month. According to an affidavit given by CRH CEO Gene Cashman, the hospital's leadership only found out that revenues were half of what they had been led to believe around a week before they announced that the hospital would have to close. Cashman puts the blame on a single scapegoat. Hmm...

State, AT&T settle "mobile cramming" suit

AT&T mobile customers — some 200,000 Arkansans — who were charged for unauthorized, third party text messages, are eligible for a refund thanks to a settlement between the states, federal regulators and AT&T.

kBird to move from food truck to brick-and-mortar location

kBird, the Thai food truck Richard Glasgow has operated in Hillcrest since 2012, is moving to a brick-and-mortar location. “As soon as [he] can” — certainly within the calendar year — Glasgow will begin serving up his authentic Thai food out of the former home of Palette Catering, 600 N. Tyler St. The new restaurant will be counter service and have a handful of tables and chairs. "Maybe two dozen chairs," Glasgow said. Hours, restricted by the location’s zoning, will be 10:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Voodoo economics in Kansas...and Arkansas

The economic strategy espoused by Arthur Laffer has been an unmitigated disaster in Kansas. Rep. Richard Womack wants it bring it to Arkansas.

If the RAGA ad for Leslie Rutledge isn't a campaign contribution, what is?

Republican AG candidate Leslie Rutledge says her TV ad filmed by a 527 organization is kosher with election law. A complaint to the Arkansas Ethics Commission says otherwise. But regardless, it seems likely that the ad in question constitutes a direct donation to the Leslie Rutledge campaign, which means it runs afoul of election law in a different way. Last week, I spoke with Ethics Commission Director Graham Sloan about the issue of candidates coordinating with outside groups.

Blue Hog: school board member and LRSD official engaged in dirty tricks on behalf of Stacy Hurst

Oh look, more from the Hurst-Tucker kerfuffle.

The humpday open line and video roundup

[embed-1] Over to you.

Rebel Kettle Brewing Company to open brewery and taproom in Little Rock

Little Rock's ever expanding brewery scene got one stronger today with the announcement a lot of local beer lovers have been waiting to hear for over a year: Rebel Kettle Brewing Company is now a reality and has a place to call home.

Arkansas Voter ID law racist

On Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the state's voter ID law. Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled in May that the law is unconstitutional. If the court doesn't agree and overturns Fox's decision, the law will disenfranchise minority, elderly and economically impoverished communities all over the state. Arkansas will once again be on the wrong side of history and 50 years from now our children will wonder how such a law could be in effect.

Decriminalize drugs

Arkansas is about to make a costly mistake. Its citizens seem willing to spend $100 million to build a new prison. For whom are they building that prison? A high percentage of the prisoners will be young black male nonviolent drug offenders. Black males now have a 30 percent chance of going to prison.

What is Leslie Rutledge hiding?

Leslie Rutledge, the Republican nominee for attorney general, is stonewalling attempts to understand why superiors said should she not be rehired after abruptly resigning as a juvenile court lawyer for the Department of Human Services effective Dec. 3, 2007. A supervisor, in a note added to her file 10 days after she left, stated the reason was «gross misconduct.

Tom Cotton wouldn't be anywhere without government dollars

Contrary to Tea Party fantasies, it wasn't plucky private entrepreneurs who paved the roads, strung the wire, saved grandpa from penury and made organized commerce across the rural South possible. It was federal and state investment.


The Observer has been known, on occasion, to let the yard work go. While we know there are those who simply live for perfecting their landscaping ("Out, damned crabgrass! Out, I say!") Yours Truly has allowed The Observatory to be fairly swallowed from time to time.

Trauma care in Arkansas: A medical symphony

That's how a long-time nurse describes the way the state's new system is working.

The House of Hill, and backwards

Banker J. French Hill, who is running for 2nd District Congress on the Republican ticket, lists his lineage among his other qualifications — "businessman, civic leader and ninth generation Arkansan" — for office. That's damn near prehistoric, right?

Jason Rapert weighs in

...on the death of Beverly Carter. Always the demagogue, he wants to do away with parole. Chelsea Clinton has a baby! Tom Cotton, in 2000, poo-poos ballot initiatives. Mark Pryor and Cotton tediously debate debating. Arkansans tweet boringly about food. And the owner of a gun range in Hot Springs wants to get sued.

The Bad Plus comes to South On Main

Also, Chris Denny at White Water Tavern.

Trojan horse

A bipartisan group including Mary Bentley and Tachany Evans warns voters against Issue 3, a campaign ethics ballot initiative this November that would smuggle in looser term limits for legislators in the process. Bentley, a Republican, and Evans, a Democrat, are running for state representative in Districts 73 and 68 respectively.

So many chances for Razorbacks

Here was Arkansas's golden opportunity to convince America how fast and how furious it has worked to launch itself from doormat.

Denzel, down tempo

Otherwise, 'Equalizer' is run-of-the-mill, graphic revenge flick.