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Road Trip 2018

Road Trip 2018

November 1, 2018

Vol 45 • No 9

Read the print version

Exploring the White River Refuge with biologist Matt Moran

Where you'll find the largest bottomland hardwood forest in the lower Mississippi River Valley.

Vacationing? Don't just nap

Do yoga with a goat, or sharpen your knives, or learn to kayak.

Showdown at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Ride horses, climb rocks, relax at Jasper dude ranch.

Bike town, Hot Springs

Spa City contemplates a future where cyclists drive tourism.

Flamingo Springs Trailer Resort is next-level kitsch

Outside of Prairie Grove.

Road Trip 2018

Arkansas travelers, the Arkansas Times once more offers up some info on where to go to put the 9-to-5 in the rearview mirror.

Go Sox

During a grim and sorrowful time in the United States, I've found my spirits lifted by the Boston Red Sox.

Fabian Almazan Trio comes to South on Main

And much more.

I saw the light

For Halloween a few years ago, we 'fessed up in this space to a secret that would seem to run afoul of our aversion to flim-flam: Once upon a time, reeling from the untimely death of our father, The Observer and his brother spent five full years searching for evidence of the paranormal all over the state.

Matthew Michaud's short captures a changing Cotton Plant on film

It's a big story on a small canvas.

Sleazy season

"Mid90s" is more indie drama than skater film

More tricks!

For the teachers and for Kurrus

Events in the Little Rock School District prompt me to say more about the Little Rock mayor's race in favor of Baker Kurrus.

Another dud for the Razorbacks

If Arkansas wanted to show a nasty streak and get itself off the scrap heap that is the Southeastern Conference cellar, it had a shiny and literally golden (and black) opportunity on another beautiful Saturday morning in Fayetteville: Just go out there against customary league also-ran Vanderbilt, also winless in league play, if arguably more competitive and experienced on the whole, and prove it.

Proof gets it right

Simple, consistent, good

Big spending

Earlier this week, smack dab on the front page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was Susan Hutchinson, the first lady of Arkansas, showing off the recent $817,000 renovation of the Governor's Mansion.

All in for the LRSD

Inconsequential News Quiz: 100 Percent Edition

Play at home, while working on your weird-ass shrine to Guy Fieri.

Fund the news, support ANNN

Donations in November and December will be matched.

Attack on the LRSD

Also, independent redistricting plan approved and twerking in Bryant.

Akeem Kemp takes the electric blues to Kings in Conway

Also, Otonana Trio plays E.J.'s

Teacher supporters to picket Governor's Mansion today

Supporters of Little Rock school teachers will take their protest of Education Commissioner's attack on state personnel law to the Governor's Mansion today.

EPA approves continued use of dicamba

The EPA announced last night that it had extended for two years the registration of the dicamba for application to cotton and soybeans. This has been a subject of great controversy in Arkansas. The state Plant Board banned its use in Arkansas through Oct. 31.

Another ballot screwup in Washington County

The Washington County Election Commission made another mistake on ballots this year — giving 17 Fayetteville voters the wrong ballots. KARK reports.

Arkansas Poll out today; Arkansans no longer majority climate deniers

The Arkansas Poll done annually at the University of Arkansas is out today and it leads with the sudden realization by Arkansans that climate change poses a serious threat in current lifetimes. And in another big change, more back same-sex marriage than oppose it for the first time. Gun and abortion answers might surprise legislators, too.

Trump will try again to restrict coverage for birth control

Do not believe Republicans target only abortion in efforts to restrict women's medical rights. They also want to limit access to birth control. If you can get French HIll or another Republican congressional candidate to talk about it, you might ask them how they like this idea.

Split Supreme Court allows condemned inmates' competency challenges to go forward

The Arkansas Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision today reversed a lower court and said Death Row inmate Bruce Ward could challenge the state's process for determining whether he is competent to be executed.

A voting reminder from the ACLU to make sure yours counts

With all the vote suppression measures afoot, the ACLU issues a reminder that it's not enough to go to a polling place. You need to take steps to be sure your vote is allowed and is counted.

Help us do more investigative reporting! Double (or triple) your impact today

Want to see more stories like David Ramsey's recent deep-dive into Rusty Cranford? Or Benji Hardy's in-depth examination into the real-life consequences of changes to Medicaid? From Nov. 1 through the end of 2018, all donations to the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network up to $1,000 will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to the NewsMatch fundraising program.

Judge denies Courtney Goodson request for injunction against negative advertising

Federal Judge Brian Miller today turned down Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson's request for a preliminary injunction to stop attack advertising by a Washington-based special interest group in support of her opponent David Sterling.

Central High's Stacey McAdoo, the Arkansas Teacher of the Year, to give lecture

Stacey McAdoo, a communications and AVID teacher at Central High School and the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, will deliver the Arkansas Education Association Rozzell Lecture from 6-8 p.m. tonight, Nov. 1, at CALS' Ron Robinson Theater. She wrote movingly this week in a guest column for the Arkansas Times about what it feels like to work for a school district under attack

Thursday: News roundup and open line

The day's headlines and comment by video, plus the open line.

A Roundup and Review: Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival's "Southern Stories" block

Featuring stories from working-class Alabama, the South Carolina legislature, and everywhere in between, the Southern Stories docs didn’t present a unified picture of the South, and they sure didn’t offer any easy answers.

No news on teacher front in LRSD

Negotiations between the Little Rock Education Association and the Little Rock School District on a new contract ended today without a new agreement to replace the one rejected by Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who wants the ability to summarily fire teachers in 22 schools.

As Bryant turns. Did the mayor threaten to wring an employee's neck?

The tumultuous reign of Bryant Mayor Jill "Republican" Dabbs is spread in fullness here by the Saline Courier in a report on the FOI lawsuit I mentioned earlier this week and a heated City Council meeting that followed.

What Johnny Key won't tell you: The truth about teachers and D and F schools. Demographics are destiny.

What Johnny Key's desire to fire Little Rock School District teachers ignore — the pattern of school "success" tracks race and poverty. The problem isn't an inability to fire teachers (which already exists).

Arkansas’s health insurance rates remain low, compared to neighbors

Because Arkansas’s per capita income is lower than most states, it has a fairly high percentage of people who would qualify for generous income-based subsidies. In several counties, the average annual subsidy received by consumers was over $5,000 — high enough to defray most of the cost of a monthly premium. But, Wilson said, many Arkansans still aren’t taking that deal.

Another election problem: Wrong ballots in Yell County

Here's another report of voters being denied proper ballots in this year's election — this time in Yell County.

Judicial independence under attack in Arkansas

An op-ed in the Washington Post reports on Republican efforts to shape state courts, specifically mentioning Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida and North Carolina. The authors easily could have added Arkansas.

State tax revenue continues to run ahead of last year

The October report on state tax take shows revenues continue to outpace last year and build a surplus.

Little Rock Police Chief Buckner named Syracuse police chief

Police Chief Kenton Buckner was named new police chief in Syracuse this morning. Good riddance.

School grades by the racial and poverty numbers; what Johnny Key won't talk about

I want to tout again the analysis by Dr. Michael Mills of the correlation between race and poverty and school report card grades in Arkansas that are being used as the justification by Education Commissioner Johnny Key and Gov. Asa Hutchinson for pushing a contract change that will allow summary firing of teachers in 22 Little Rock schools. And check this graphic summary of Mills' statistical work, which allows you to easily see how grades track race and income, not just in Little Rock but statewide.

Another damaging look at Little Rock police department, beginning but not ending with Josh Hastings case

Radley Balko of the Washington Post has rolled out another long-term project on the Little Rock Police Department today, this one built around Josh Hastings' fatal shooting of a burglary suspect, Bobby Moore, and "a horror show of misconduct, cover-up and cascading institutional failure at the department."

What does it take to be elected mayor of Little Rock?

I checked today with City Attorney Tom Carpenter to confirm my understanding of requirements to be elected mayor, given this year's five-way race and the chance no candidate will receive a majority of the votes.

New, full trailer for 'True Detective,' set in Northwest Arkansas

"True Detective," returning for a third season on HBO on Jan. 13, debuted a new, full-length trailer for its upcoming Mahershala Ali-starring edition. The show was created and executive produced by Nic Pizzolatto, who got his MFA from the University of Arkansas, which surely influenced his decision to set this season in the Ozarks in and around Fayetteville.

Mike Lee agrees with Supreme Court ruling on Death Row cases

Mike Lee, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, says he agrees with Thursday's ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to allow the Correction Department director to decide whether an inmate is mentally competent to be executed.

Friday: The news roundup and open line

Stick a fork in me. Here's the daily video news roundup. And this is your open line.

No Small Talk, Ep. 31: Matthew Castellano

This week, Omaya talks with visual artist and Zine Night organizer Matthew Castellano, and we talk "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," Club Sway's "Rocky Horror" and more.

The Pre-Election Round-up Edition

Arkansas Times editors Max Brantley and Lindsey Millar talk about a range of election topics, the departure of LR Police Chief Kenton Buckner and more on the attack on the Little Rock School District.

Johnny Key touchy about criticism and silent on key issues about teachers and Little Rock

State Education Commission Johnny Key isn't happty about criticism that has arisen since he rejected a teacher contract agreement in the Little Rock School District for which he serves as school board so that teachers could be summarily fired at 22 schools and the district need not abide by fair

The attack on teachers started in 2017. Joyce Elliott tried to slow the train. Warwick Sabin voted against her.

Sen. Joyce Elliott has provided on Facebook some background on the omnibus education legislation of 2017 that gave Education Commissioner Johnny Key the ability to waive state law so that he could fire at will select Little Rock school teachers — all at 22 majority black and poor schools.  She challenged the law change at the time, including questions about teacher fair dismissal, but the law passed primarily with Republican report and a notable Democratic exception in Little Rock, Rep. Warwick Sabin.

Little Rock may join class action lawsuit on hotel room sales taxes

The Little Rock City Board will soon consider whether to join other cities in class action litigation over the amount of local sales taxes paid to companies that do Internet hotel bookings.

The greatest story never told in Little Rock media: Out of control Little Rock police

Does a falling tree make a sound if there's no one in the forest? Do police continue to get away with sloppy, abusive or otherwise questionable practices if nobody knows about them? Recent exposures of the Little Rock Police Department naturally raise the question

A fine fall open line

What a fine weekend if you can put politics out of your mind. The Times' craft beer festival last night, thousands on the street for the Race for the Cure this morning, street fairs in the Heights and Hillcrest, sunny skies, dry air. A perfect night for beer can chicken. Not to mention which, the Hogs will NOT lose today.

Rep. Laurie Rushing wins residency challenge; but let's talk voter fraud

Republican state Rep. Laurie Rushing fended off a lawsuit challenging her residency Friday, but in the process had to admit she'd filed for office and voted using a false voter address.

Syracuse meets Kenton Buckner

Here, courtesy of blogger Russ Racop, is a Syracuse TV interview with Kenton Buckner, the city's new police chief. His last day on the Little Rock payroll is Nov. 16 and he told the interviewer he's leaving on a "high note" with a reduction in crime during his tenure.

Correction Board meets, inmate population and K2 on the agenda

The state Correction Board meets Monday at State Police headquarters and some big topics — prison population and a dangerous drug responsible for prison deaths — are on the agenda.

LRCVB in talks with live Nation to produce concert series at First Security Amphitheater

If the contract is reached, Live Nation would produce a minimum of five concerts per calendar year at the riverfront venue.

The Year of the Woman open line. Making it happen in Arkansas.

An Arkansas activists is included in a New York Times article on the Year of the Woman in politics. The open line.

Election coming: A rally and free rides

Well, the election season is almost done. Among final notes: Democratic candidates will rally at 8 p.m. tonight at the Bernice Garden on Main Street. And, tomorrow, Rock Region Metro is offering free bus rides.

City hall campaign bookkeeping: a fix on mayor's race, more study needed on Ward 2

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today summarized campaign spending on races for Little Rock city board and mayor and, in the process, fixed an earlier misunderstanding about the mayor's race but only added to the fog about a city board race.

The corporate legislature. PACs power fund-raising for some candidates

Credit to Blue Hog Report for select looks at state legislative fund-raising that invit4e a broader examination at some point: It's about how incumbent legislators rely on  corporate cash for campaigns, not money from people who live in their districts.

New episode of Out in Arkansas: "Finding Opportunity in the Unexpected"

Out in Arkansas’s hosts Traci Berry and Angie Bowen talk about all the things because all the things are LGBTQ things. This week they talk about unexpected conversations with allies and other unexpected opportunities to share stories. Putting the Big C in community. Thank you for listening! #outinarkansas #beinggayinthesouth #dontbeadouche #beadecentperson

Donna Axum Whitworth, Miss America in 1964, dies at 76

The Miss Arkansas organization reports on its Facebook page that Donna Axum Whitworth, Miss America in 1964, has died at 76.

Speaking up for the 'failing' Little Rock schools and the teachers who toil there

Facebook posts indicate Education Commissioner Johnny Key and Gov. Asa Hutchinson are getting mail over their campaign to facilitate the firing of teachers at all D and F schools in the Little Rock School District (but none of the other 15 dozen D and F schools statewide, or any of the failing charter schools.)

Trump ad too racist for Fox news

Now there's a headline I never thought I'd write: About a Trump ad so racist and so inaccurate that even Fox wouldn't run it. It happened.

Monday: Election eve open line

Monday: The election eve news roundup and an open line.

Report: Add civic health to Arkansas's 'needs improvement' list

Infant mortality, obesity, opioid abuse. You name the health issue and Arkansas needs improvement. Now add civic health.

Planned Parenthood finds doctor willing to help clinic meet law on physician referral

Documents filed recently in federal court indicate Planned Parenthood has finally been able to find a physician with hospital admitting privileges willing to contract with Planned Parenthood as a point of referral to comply with a state law aimed at putting the clinic out of business.

One dead, five injured in early morning collision in Pulaski County

A driver who reportedly said she was possessed by demons apparently caused a collision with another truck this morning in northern Pulaski County, leaving the driver dead and five others injured.

Early voting in Pulaski County tops 65,000

Early voting completed in Pulaski County today with 65,100 ballots case, the County Election Commission said. That compares with 57,015 in the 2014 midterm election, a 12.4 percent increase, but well below more than 79,000 cast in 2016, a presidential election year.

Six plaintiffs added to lawsuit challenging Arkansas's Medicaid work requirement

The complaint says one plaintiff lost his job last month due to increased illness as a result of losing his insurance. He lost his insurance because he didn't report his work hours under the state's new rule.

Is Arkansas's work requirement rule working?

Federal Medicaid agency says Arkansas needs better plan to evaluate work requirement.

Election day arrives

Haven't voted yet? Get it done as if your life depended on it. Because, in a manner of speaking, it does.

Is the Arkansas Medicaid work rule working? Evidence lacking so far

Here's an important report from Benji Hardy for the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network on the success of the Arkansas rule to require work by those who receive Medicaid coverage. Bottom line: Even the Trump administration says the state has fallen short in establishing a way to demonstrate the promised better health and pathway to prosperity promised by backers of the rule.

Predictions anyone? A couple of Arkansas races of interest

Many races locally and nationally are of interest, of course, but two Arkansas election contests are particularly interesting to me because I just don't have a clue how they'll turn out:

Coming: the end of the Affordable Care Act and coverage of pre-existing conditions?

Mother Jones suggests that Reed O'Connor, a Texas judge presiding over a lawsuit by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and others to kill the Affordable Care Act is holding off ruling until after the election for political reasons.

The calm-before-the-storm open line

Here's an open line until more development tonight after polls closed. The video rounds up the coming action.

Political consultant charged with child pornography

H.L. Moody Jr., who's been a political consultant and Pulaski County employee, appeared in federal court Tuesday on a charge of possession and distribution of child pornography.

$14 million hotel announced for downtown El Dorado

Plans were announced today to build a boutique hotel in downtown El Dorado as part of the Murphy Arts District.

State reports another prison death

Another prison death at Tucker Max.

Early Pulaski vote is in: Frank Scott leads mayor's race, Tucker with substantial margin in 2nd District

The early Pulaski vote has Frank Scott Jr. in the lead for Little Rock mayor and Clarke Tucker building a wide vote cushin over incumbent Republican Rep. French Hill, but the suburban counties are key.

Money not yet talking in Supreme Court race

Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson will hang onto her court seat.

Denise Garner defeats Charlie Collins in House race

On a night with good news in short supply, here's some: Denise Garner has soundly defeated Republican Rep. Charlie Collins, the NRA's main man, by a margin of 4,562 to 2,999. She had just over 60 percent of the vote.

Final count in Little Rock mayor's race: Frank Scott on top, Baker Kurrus in second.

Frank Scott Jr, led the race for Little Rock mayor but faces a runoff with Baker Kurrus.

Mopping up election 2018

The election roundup, some bright spots amid the dross.

Bryant voters apparently oust Republican Dabbs

Bryant Mayor Jill "Republican" Dabbs lost her bid for a third term last night to Bryant High physics teacher Allen Scott.

Republicans re-elect accused tax cheat; hold majorities in Arkansas legislature

Arkansas legislative races showed no change in the sizable Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Republican victories included an easy win for Rep. MIckey Gates of Hot Springs, who faces multiple felony charges of failing to file and pay state income taxes.

Black mayors elected in El Dorado and Camden

Thanks to Magnolia Reporter for news on a couple of notable mayoral victories in El Dorado and Camden. Both cities elected their first black mayors.

D.C. group's candidate in runoff for Bentonville mayor

A D.C.-Republican-group-backed candidate led the ticket for Bentonville mayor but faces a runoff.

A racial difference in Little Rock voting for mayor, 2nd District Congress

Frank Scott Jr., who led the ticket, and Baker Kurrus are heading to a runoff Dec. 4 for Little Rock mayor and I think racial voting patterns could prove important in the outcome. Scott, who is black, will need to improve on his election night showing in black precincts. It happened that his votes there trailed the votes for Democrat Clarke Tucker for 2nd District Congress.

Florida votes end to greyhound racing; Arkansas track got a new lifeline Tuesday

Florida voters Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure to phase out greyhound racing in the state by 2020. This will leave Arkansas as one of a very few places where the sport remains legal.

The election rehash open line

Here's the open line. The daily video is election rehash and lots of it.

Lawsuit challenges Interstate 30 widening project as too wide for bond money

A lawsuit was filed in Pulaski Circuit Court today challenging the state Department of Transportation's plans to widen Interstate 30 through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock to 10 lanes or more.

Jeff Sessions resigns as attorney general

Jeff Sessions has resigned as attorney general at the president's request. Let the Pennsylvania Avenue Mueller Massacree begin! Somebody has to save Don Jr.