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October 11, 2018

Vol 45 • No 6

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Fast forward in Blytheville

The East Coast Timing Association held its Arkansas 1-Mile Challenge in September, where racers from all over the country mixed gasoline, steel and passion in the pursuit of raw speed.

The Arkansas State Fair kicks off

And much more.

No courage

Political courage — doing what needs to be done even if it is not wildly popular — is a vanishing commodity.

Hidalgo's in Perryville hit the spot

We didn't get the goat.

A new statue to represent Arkansas in D.C.

Like all states, Arkansas has two statues selected by the legislature to represent our state in the U.S. Capitol. Uriah Rose, a successful and innovative lawyer, and James P. Clarke, a former governor and U.S. senator, have represented Arkansas in National Statuary Hall for approximately 100 years.

Symbols matter

I was 15 years old when I stepped into the halls of Little Rock Central High School in 1998. Attending that historic school as a young black man was a surreal experience that both informed my identity and illuminated regrettable aspects and actions in our nation's history and culture.

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires play White Water Tavern

And much more.

Inconsequential News Quiz: A Faraday cage in every pot! Edition

Play at home while untangling the giant wad of Christmas lights you stole from Saline County.

Outrage politics

For somebody like me, the Major League Baseball playoffs serve as a splendid diversion from the squalor of partisan politics. For serious fans, the drama of an October Red Sox-Yankees series provides the kind of emotional release others derive from a night at the symphony or a hike through a national park.

Goodbye to Little Rock Crate & Basket

Company counts down the last logs in the lumber yard.

'A Star Is Born' remake is anything but shallow

Dive bar diamonds.

Reorganization plan

French Hill's empty promises and more.

Glen Schwarz: a part-time mayor

That's the perennial candidate's goal.


FOR: Warwick Sabin for Little Rock mayor.

Doubling up the gender gaps

National Democrats who are focused on retaking control of the U.S. House of Representatives are banking on not one, but two gender gaps to propel them to control of that body.

Not violent

I truly appreciate your paper's coverage of the mental health [coverage] cuts and the recent rally to protest them ("Mental health cuts stir controversy," Oct. 4).

Talking ethics

A state Senate committee this week began firming up new ethics rules to govern members. Call me wary.

Captain Thurston

Union County sheriff says no politics in Nike-shirted mugshots UPDATE

The Union County sheriff's office has been taking photos of inmates wearing Nike T-shirts for mug shots, a practice noted by a social media activist last night. Before long, the photos were scrubbed from the Internet. The sheriff has issued an explanation. No political statement intended.

Amazon hiring in Little Rock. All welcome, including LGBTQ

A reader noted that Amazon has posted a job opening for a temporary package handling facility planned in North Little Rock — a "talent supply chain engagement senior coordinator." I liked the non-discrimination disclosure, which goes far beyond legal protections afforded in Arkansas.

Helena-West Helena cheers Delta Dirt Distillery

Helena-West Helena is toasting a forthcoming development on Cherry Street: A distillery to be called Delta Dirt Distillery.

Good prospects for minimum wage increase

American Prospect has a generally optimistic view on a ballot measure to increase the minimum wage in Arkansas, if the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce can't talk the Arkansas Supreme Court into throwing it off the ballot.

World Woman Summit and Arkansas Cinema Society screen "The Tale" at The Rep

The World Woman Summit partners with Arkansas Cinema Society to screen "The Tale," Jennifer Fox's film about sexual abuse, and the way we construct our identities in light of our memories.

Supreme Court denies casino amendment challenges; reverses voter ID decision

The Arkansas Supreme Court today turned down two challenges to the proposed constitutional amendment to expand casino gambling in the state. It also reversed a circuit court ruling that the current voter ID law was unconstitutional, meaning it will remain in force in November.

Another look at LR police (mis)conduct? Wait and see

Radley Balko, who writes opinionated reporting for the Washington Post, is working on questionable police practices. Earlier, he's said he was investigating Little Rock. Is this the result?

Territorial Fare! featuring Yvette Brady, Tim Morton in November

Having attended the July “Territorial Fare!” celebration of foodways at the Historic Arkansas Museum — when German and Scottish foods and folk were the subjects — I can heartily recommend that you buy tickets to the November event, "The Legacy of African Americans."

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families joins opposition to Issue One

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has joined the opposition to Issue One, a proposed amendment aimed at discouraging lawsuits for the likes of medical malpractice and nursing home neglect. But the Advocates focus on another part of the sweeping amendment.

Thursday: News roundup and open line

The video news/comment roundup and today's open line.

Arkansan creates Peace Corps tour

A new Peace Corps tour of 10 historically black college campuses and local barbershops that cater to the African-American community has been launched by Arkansan Dwayne Matthews, who wants the community to know how the international development agency helped “a guy like me, from Little Rock, Arkansas,” become a success.

The slime campaign financed by darkish money is underway in Supreme Court race

Mailers attacking Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson and supporting challenger David Sterling for her court seat have begun hitting Arkansas mailboxes.

Voter ID: It's the law, be prepared

Now that the Supreme Court has reversed precedent and upheld a voter ID law virtually identical to one struck down in 2014, voters need to be prepared to show an ID so that their votes may count. There's a theoretical provision to file a provisional ballot, but without assurance it will be counted.

New episode of Out in Arkansas: 'T & A with Guest Dr. Racher, the Ninja Gyno'

Out in Arkansas’s hosts Traci Berry and Angie Bowen are joined by Dr. Racher, the ninja Gyno. They talk about all the things that come with transitioning— at any phase of the spectrum and all of those special people in their lives who live through this transition with them.

Republican justice in Baxter County

More evidence of the growth of overt partisanship in the Arkansas court system. Behold the program for the Baxter County Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner.

One dead in SWLR homicide

Little Rock police say one person was killed in a homicide last night at the Oak Ridge apartments on Mabelvale Cutoff.

Tucker calls on French Hill to meet for a second debate

Clarke Tucker, the Democratic candidate for 2nd District Congress, has renewed his call for another debate with Republican Rep. French Hill, particularly because of the few questions, none about health care, in the only debate held so far.

Winthrop Rockefeller Trust gives $100 million to sustain UA's Rockefeller Institute

In what's described as its largest gift, the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust has given $100 million to create an endowment to support the University of Arkansas's Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.

Trump keeps moving on judgeships, except in Arkansas

Democrats in the Senate have agreed to confirmation of 15 Trump judicial nominees so that the Senate may adjourn and members may go home to fight re-election campaigns. The action raises the question: What about Arkansas?

An early open line and today's news roundup

Early open line today. Also an early news roundup.

State releases school accountability scores

The state Education Department has released letter grades assigned Arkansas schools based on standardized tests in 2017-18.

Little Rock catches up to NWA public art with mural on Main

If you've been to Bentonville, you've probably seen Jason Jones' mural of a big blue octopus with bicyclists riding one of tentacle and tentacle another waving Sam Walton's truck around. Or, in Fayetteville, Jones' "Fresh Air" on Center Street. The murals that have transformed the historic downtowns in Northwest Arkansas have made us Little Rock lovers of outsized-urban-mural lovers green with envy.

Minimum wage campaign begins advertising

Arkansans for a Fair Wage has produced TV advertising to support the ballot measure to raise the $8.50/hr. minimum wage to $11 by 2021.

Review completed of state Youth Services residential units

The state released today an independent review of residential centers for youths referred by courts. A news release characterized the report as having said the state had made significant strides but still had more work to do.

Maumelle police report fatal shooting

Maumelle police say Jerry Stuart, 60, was found fatally shot in the driveway of his home on Kingspark Drive about 4:45 a.m. this morning.

The Get Ready to Vote (And Show IDs) Edition

Max and Lindsey talk about the week of political debates, the state Supreme Court’s ruling on key ballot initiatives, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola’s impending big payday and judicial matters.

Candidates address community policing at Philander debate

Incisive and sometimes confrontational questions about race relations were asked of four of Little Rock’s five mayoral candidates — Baker Kurrus, Vincent Tolliver, Warwick Sabin and Frank Scott Jr. — at last night's debate Thursday evening sponsored by Little Rock's Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission (RCDC).

Secret tape raises more questions about Medical Marijuana Commission

Hunter Field reports in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today on a surreptitiously made videotape of a March meeting between Dr. Carlos Roman, a member of the Medical Marijuana Commission, and Ken Shollmier, who'd finished out of the running in seeking to win a marijuana cultivation permit from the commission.

Challenger questions Senator Bledsoe's residency

Jon Comstock, a Democrat and former circuit judge who's challenging the re-election bid by 16-year incumbent Republican Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, has added to a list of ethical questions about Bledsoe with information that challenges her residency in Benton County. But one point turns out to have an official explanation.

An open line for a day where the sky was filled with rain, not turkeys

Here's the open line as a sodden group of hardcore tailgaters await the Arkansas-Ole Miss football game at what is a virtually sold-out War Memorial Stadium. But in good news, they are having a fine Turkey Trot at Yellville, despite rain, without the spectacle of live turkeys plunging from airplanes.

Reality TV, Saturday Night Live style

These days, comedy sketches write themselves. See Kanye West's visit to the Oval Office, retold by Saturday Night Live. Which somehow brings Arkansas to mind.

French Hill: High on the 'Wall Street Flunky' list

A group called Wall Street Flunkies Project has included Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill on its banker's dozen list of the top Wall Street Flunkies for the campaign money they receive from the banking/finance industry and the legislative services they provide in return.

Open line: Plus, an expose on Little Rock police drug raids

Here's the open line, plus something worth reading: It's an account by Radley Balko of the Washington Post of a bust of a Little Rock man suspected of dealing drugs. The raid came up with virtually nothing — a tiny bit of marijuana. But 31-year-old Roderick Talley was arrested anyway. Good for him and bad for the cops, he had security video that recorded the happenings including a door-blowing no-knock raid.

Relive the misery: a slideshow of pics from the Arkansas vs. Ole Miss game

Rainy tailgating leaves damage on War Memorial Golf Course

The War Memorial Golf Course is a mess thanks to damage from its use for parking and tailgating during the rain-soaked Arkansas football game Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.

News conference today on allegations of LR police misconduct in drug raids

A news conference is scheduled today by civil rights lawyers related to reporting yesterday in the Washington Post that raises multiple questions about drug raid tactics by the Little Rock Police Department.

Ethics rules? Legislators hate them

The New York Times reports today on how legislatures around the country (Arkansas was mentioned) have pushed back against ballot initiatives aimed at stronger ethics laws.

Review: Thomas Rhett, Brett Young and Midland at Verizon Arena

People say I got a Midland problem.

AETN to add high school sports

AETN announced today that it will begin broadcasting state high school championship games in football and basketball, beginning this November.

Lottery ticket sold in Sheridan worth $3 million in Megamillions drawing UPDATE

A Megamillions lottery ticket sold at the Corner Store in Sheridan is worth $3 million in the national drawing, the Arkansas Lottery said. As yet, the winner hasn't been identified.

Arkansas cities below average in LGBTQ equality index

The Human Rights Campaign has issued its annual municipal equality index ranking cities on treatment of LGBTQ people under the law.  Arkansas cities, as a whole, rank below average, with a score of 31 on a 100-point scale compared with a national average of 58.

Report: Overweight load doesn't damage bridge

KNWA has video here of a 35-ton bus crossing the Beaver Bridge Saturday in Carroll County. The bridge has a 10-ton limit and, as you can see, it gave during the crossing.

Rainy days and Mondays: Open line, news roundup

The open line and the news roundup, mostly bad.

Update: Arkansas's work requirement drops another 4,100 from Medicaid in October

Combined with coverage losses in September, the state has now dropped 8,500 Medicaid recipients from the rolls due to the work requirement.

Civil rights attorneys join federal civil rights lawsuit against LRPD

Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Mike Laux held a press conference this morning for their client, Roderick Talley, who Crump said was a “hero” for minority communities in America.

Sabin, Scott, Kurrus speak out LRPD drug raids; city officials mostly go into hiding

State Rep. Warwick Sabin, one of five candidates for Little Rock mayor, has spoken up on the Washington Post report on questionable drug raids by Little Rock police.

A Q&A with Rev. William Barber of the Poor People's Campaign

The Arkansas Times spoke with the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and newly awarded MacArthur Genius grant fellow, ahead of the Poor People’s Campaign hearing in Little Rock that will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, at the Rufus K. Young Christian Church at 100 Main St.

Waiting on the Hogs

The late, inimitable Tom Petty memorably penned, then belted out, this refrain in his classic “The Waiting”: “You take it on faith, you take it to the heart/The waiting is the hardest part.”

Another suspicious state prison death reported

A prison spokesman has announced another suspect death at a prison unit.

Little Rock mayoral candidates square off in forum

If Frank Scott's candidacy speaks to the hope of bridging racial divides, Baker Kurrus' message of centrist unity seems intended to appeal to those weary of partisan conflict. Sabin, meanwhile, hopes to capitalize on the big turnout among progressives expected this cycle.

House tax cut vote causing Republicans problems

The New York Times reports on how a U.S. House vote to make the tax cut for millionaires permanent — a vote in which Arkansas Republicans concurred — is causing some Republicans problems, particularly from suburbs in states such as New Jersey and New York. One reason, in addition to the continuing favoritism to the wealthy:

UPDATE: More comments on Little Rock police raids; city leadership still mostly silent

Some more comments have been made in response to my requests for reaction to the bombshell reporting by the Washington Post's Radley Balko on questionable tactics by Little Rock police drug raid teams. In short: City Hall leadership is in short supply.

Proof: David Sterling is a partisan hack

David Sterling is hoping to unseat Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson by openly running for the seat as a Republican, turning up as a featured speaker at every Republican ribbon-cutting and county dinner in Arkansas. If there was ever any doubt of his intention to be a partisan justice in a theoretically non-partisan job, see the campaign being waged for him by the dark money Republican State Leadership Committee's "Judicial Fairness Committee."

Ownership change for marijuana concern on commission agenda today

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission meets at 4:30 p.m. today and items on the agenda including a beginning of the scoring of dispensary permits by an outside consultant. Also on the agenda: A change in ownership by one of the successful applicants for a cultivation permit, Delta Medical Cannabis.

Crystal Ridge bringing shine — as in ’shine — to Hot Springs

The Arkansas distillery scene is expanding like yeast. Last week, Rock Candy wrote a bit about Delta Dirt Distillery coming to Helena. Another distillery, like Delta Dirt named to reflect its home, is Crystal Ridge, which Danny and Mary Bradley hope to open in Hot Springs in February 2019.

Bledsoes cleared on opponent's homestead tax exemption question

Joe Thompson, chief deputy Pulaski assessor, said today that James and Sen. Cecile Bledsoe did not claim a homestead tax exemption on a Little Rock house they purchased this summer, though county records indicate they enjoy such an exemption.

Rutledge foe raps her drug industry connections

Democrat Mike Lee today criticized his opponent, Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, for raising money from makers of opioids.

UA Little Rock Faculty Biennial at Windgate Center

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Art Gallery will host is Faculty Biennial Show from Oct. 15 to Nov. 16 in the Brad Cushman Gallery in the Windgate Center of Art and Design.

Tuesday: The news roundup and open line

The daily roundup of news and comment and the open line.

Poor People's Campaign gathers in Little Rock

A diverse chorus of voices joined together to sing “Freedom Ain’t Free” at the Arkansas Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival event on Monday evening in Little Rock. Hosted by the Arkansas PPC, the walls of Rufus K. Young Christian Church at 2100 Main St. were covered in signs spreading the message of the movement, such as “Denying Health Care is Violence,” “Ecological Devastation is Immoral” and “Systemic Racism is Immoral.”

Mount Holly Cemetery's Tales of the Crypt relocated

There's a new time and a new location for the annual Tales of the Crypt. The event has been relocated to the Parkview Arts & Science Magnet High School Auditorium at 2501 John Barrow Rd. with a 6:30 p.m. start time.

Highway department closes bridge for closer look

After a video went viral of the historic Beaver suspension bridge in Carroll County sagging beneath the weight of a tour bus, the Arkansas Department of Transportation has decided to close the bridge for a closer inspection, 40/29 reports.

Marijuana dispensary scores could be ready by mid- to late November, commission told

Public Consulting Group, the company hired by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission to evaluate dispensary applications, said it will try to provide results to the commission within the 30 days agreed after receipt of the applications — by mid-November or late November at the latest.

Capitol Zoning Commission to take up Airbnb rules

The Capitol Zoning District Commission, which oversees neighborhoods around the Capitol and Governor's Mansion, will hold a public hearing this week on proposed rules to regulate rental of residences for guests, such as the Airbnb and VRBO businesses.

Walmart, Tyson join corporate effort to encourage more voting

Nearly 150 major companies, including Walmart and Tyson Foods, have joined in a national Make Time to Vote campaign aimed at lifting voting. It's described as a non-partisan effort.

Study: Minimum wage increase a boon to quality of life for 300,000

Backers of the proposal to increase the state minimum wage from $8.50 an hour are touting a new study on the idea from the National Employment Law Project. It says it would improve the quality of life for 300,000 people from all 75 Arkansas counties.

Alison Krauss and Jamey Johnson headline Johnny Cash Heritage Festival this weekend in Dyess

The three-day festival culminates in a concert noon-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Johnny Cash Show tours. John Carter Cash will host and and Krauss, Johnson, Ana Cristina Cash, Suzanne Cox, Heather Berry Mabe, Ira Dean and others will perform.

Little Rock's Chris Dumas weighs in on zombies on new AMC series

Little Rock native Chris Dumas is among the zombie experts on a new AMC show, "Eli Roth's History of Horror."

Report: Arkansas taxes unfair ..... to the poor

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families is highlighting a new report relevant to ongoing legislative discussions of "tax reform." It does not suggest the problem is taxation on the rich.

Asa complains about Democratic Party ad buy for his opponent UPDATE: Looks like he was right

Gov. Asa Hutchinson called on the Arkansas Democratic Party today to pull down $15,000 in radio ads it bought in support of his Democratic opponent, Jared Henderson, because he said they violated campaign finance law.

Wednesday: The news and the open line

Here's the blooper-filled daily video news roundup. Also the open line.

Kevin Kresse's bronze bust of Levon Helm to be centerpiece of Legacy Project in Marvell

The bust, created by Little Rock sculptor and Arkansas native Kevin Kresse, will have a permanent home in Phillips County near Helm’s boyhood house in downtown Marvell, a structure that was relocated from nearby Turkey Scratch and added to the Arkansas Register of Historic Places in earlier this year.

Rashod Ollison, writer and friend, dies in Virginia UPDATE

My heart breaks. Wendell Griffen, pastor and judge, brings the awful news that Rashod Ollison, an Arkansas native writer, died today of lymphoma.

Supreme Court to fight ethics finding; five argue it's untouchable

The Arkansas Supreme Court issued a news release today indicating  five of the seven members are challenging a finding by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission of an ethics violation by the court in removing Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen from cases related to the death penalty without affording him proper notice and due process. In short, the court says the commission has no jurisdiction over the court.

UPDATE: City attorney pulls back from seeking candidate disqualification

Valerie Tatum apparently will be disqualified from the race for Ward 2 Little Rock City Board because her residence is in a different ward.

Marjorie Williams-Smith solo show opens Friday at Hearne

Hearne Fine Art will open the exhibition "The Messengers: A Survey of Work in Metalpoint by Marjorie Williams-Smith," the artist's first solo show at the gallery at 1001 Wright Ave., with a reception from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19.  Williams-Smith, one of the finest metalpoint artists in the country and one of our own, will give a talk about her work at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Hearne.