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The End is Near

The End is Near

November 6, 2014

Vol 41 • No 9

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War Memorial's days are numbered

At least as a place where the Razorbacks play football.

Other schools with multiple home stadiums

Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn and more.

Looking ahead on ethics

I write on election eve, with feelings of dread generally, but dead certainty about one ballot issue.

Razorbacks best losers ever

Arkansas needed to beat Mississippi State. The Hogs absolutely had to conduct a massive book burning at Davis-Wade Stadium on Saturday night, specifically torching the fairy tale that Dak Prescott & Co. had been assiduously scripting from week to week. Sixteen-game conference losing streak dating back to Obama's first term versus sudden ordained Rock of Gibraltar in a swirling sea of inexplicable laydowns and whiffs by others.


The Observer got up to Eureka Springs with the family over the long Halloween weekend, a good spot for such ghoulishness. Walked the streets, sat through the zombie parade on Saturday night, marveled at the place and fell a bit more in love with it.


Every week since September, we've been asking Arkansas musicians to make digital guest mixes for our Rock Candy blog.

News noir

Gyllenhall is great in 'Nightcrawler.'

Exit interview: Kari Faux and BLACK PARTY

Two Little Rock rappers say goodbye to Arkansas.

Terry's does pizza

Neapolitan style.

Beckman at the AAC

Smoldering charcoals.

Darkness at home

'Wait Until Dark' at The Rep.

Group seeks cheaper in-state phone rates, charges for prisoners

Arkansas Department of Correction says that the commissions paid to the agency by prison phone providers pay for crucial monitoring.

The Scrooge branch of government

Jackson T. Stephens wants to recall judges after they ruled against him his challenge to a minimum wage ballot proposal, Republican politicians are demonizing lawyers for doing their job, you're being studied and more.

Kevin Bozeman tells jokes at The Loony Bin

Also, North Mississippi Allstars play Revolution.


The simple truth is I don't remember when it was that I knew I could read; it seems as if reading was one of the apps included in my newborn starter kit.

Talib Kweli at Philander Smith

Also, Atmosphere at Juanita's, BJ Novak at UCA, Joe Ely at Revolution, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Sharon Ibsin at Maumelle Performing Arts Center and Arkansas Cornbread Festival on South Main.

Obama, Obama, Obama

Look at it this way: at least the 2014 midterm elections are over.

Stop drug war

Richard Emmel wrote a superb letter, published in the Oct. 2 issue, about stopping the drug war as a more humane and less expensive way to deal with those who have become addicted to drugs.

No matter real progress, midterms change hands

Any postmortem of a midterm election, like Tuesday's, must begin with the president of the United States. This time it must focus on a narrower question, the one issue that most Americans associate with President Obama, the notorious health care law to which his enemies appended his name.

The good, the bad and the ugly of the election

Because of our publication schedule, I write this just after casting my vote at Dunbar Recreation Center on Election Day morning before any results are known.

Thirsty in Benton. Or, the weird vote on alcohol sales

The broad rejection of the constitutional amendment to allow alcohol statewide wasn't entirely unexpected. Proponents spent next to nothing. County line liquor store owners spent $2 million at least — along with huge sums fighting local option drives in Faulkner, Saline and Craighead counties — to sell the largely bogus but effective "local control" argument.

Voter turnout up in Arkansas in 2014, contrary to national trend

Nationally, voter participation was down in the mid-term election, but not Arkansas, where both raw numbers and percentage participation were up.

Legislature considers more ethics enforcement; the voters demand it

Budget hearings are set today on a request for a small budget increase for the state Ethics Commission, which needs more staff. The people seem to demand it with their approval of Issue 3

Over? Did you say over? David Koon comments on Election 2014

David Koon issues a battle cry for Tuesday's losers. It's Bluto-worthy.

The Dumas option to save the private option insurance program

It could be easier to continue the private option insurance plan under the Dumas Option, a wrinkle in Arkansas law that would appear to allow approval of items wholly funded by the federal government on a simple majority vote.

Uber starts car service in Little Rock without City Board approval

Uber, the mobile app-driven car service, announced this morning that it would begin service today in Little Rock, city permit notwithstanding.

Another item for the Hutchinson administration; jail and prison costs

The county government lobbies notes that a new audit shows the cost of housing state inmates in county jails is 56 percent more than the state's reimbursement rate. It wants more money from the new Republican administration and legislature. Hmmmm.

UPDATED: Asa Hutchinson announces transition team; avoids money questions

Asa Hutchinson announced today a steering committee for his gubernatorial transition. He wasn't ready to talks important money specifics with reporters on hand for the announcement.

Call the roll on term limits; who likes them now?

Republicans opposed Issue 3 because it weakened term limits. The question today: How many Republican legislators who opposed Issue 3 will now take advantage of it and attempt to serve longer stints in the legislature.

Ballot counting: Pulaski and Garland counties will obey law even if Mark Martin won't

No ballots in Pulaski County won't be counted because voters were subjected to an improper ID rule by the secretary of state's office. Close races here and in Garland County, where provisional ballots also were cast, make it important that no voter be improperly denied the vote.

The Thursday open line; plus a first kiss, Duggar style

Here's your open line and video news roundup.

Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce calls for repeal of civil rights ordinance

Openly opposing the rights of gay and trans people is increasingly seen as a losing prospect for business-minded leaders — just look at Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent decision to come out. Not so in Fayetteville, whose Chamber of Commerce is now urging voters to repeal the landmark civil rights ordinance passed by the city council in August.

U.S. appeals court panel upholds same-sex marriage bans in four states

Big development: A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today upheld bans on same-sex marriage, the first federal appeals court to do so in the era following groundbreaking rulings on couple's rights in marriage. This could lead to the conflict among circuits that will force the U.S. Supreme Court to step in.

Clinton Library reveals 10th birthday headliners, including Nick Jonas

A free concert in a pavilion on the lawn of the Clinton Presidential Center — Nick Jonas, Kool and the Gang and Kevin Spacey among the contributors — is now the headline event for the Clinton Presidential Center's 10th birthday on Nov. 15.

Martha Shoffner to change plea in federal case

Plea hearing set for Martha Shoffner on federal charges.

Republican rift in the Senate; private option a factor

The internal differences in the Republican legislative delegation have surfaced in a leadership challenge in the Senate by Sen. Gary Stubblefield.

Tom Cotton: Send me money

Tom Cotton sends out a call for contributions to pay $176,000 in campaign bills. And if enough comes in to produce a surplus for the next race, that probably would be OK, too.

Advocacy group faults bishop's response on abusive priest

A group that works to expose abusive priests says it will demonstrate in Little Rock Saturday because of what it believes is an inadequate response by Arkansas Catholic Bishop Anthony Taylor to discovery of an abusive priest in Yell County.

Keep Fayetteville Fair blasts chamber on civil rights ordinance stance

A group working to protect Fayetteville's new civil rights ordinance today blasted the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce for its opposition. We've also asked chamber ex officio board member G. David Gearhart, how he feels about this.

State employees to get a little pay raise; another cost for new governor

Gov. Mike Beebe has okayed implementation of a small state employee pay raise. Add it to the costs that Asa Hutchinson must pay while cutting taxes and fighting to preserve the private option insurance plan with its Obamacare millions.

Cotton invites press to phone — well, some press

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton's campaign will take press questions today, but won't allow Arkansas Times reporters to participate. Some bravery.

No, Gov. Beebe isn't going to work for ASU

Heard the rumor that Gov. Mike Beebe would go to work for ASU after he leaves office? Not true, says the man who ought to know.

Federal judge strikes down Missouri same-sex marriage ban

A federal judge in Missouri has struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage. It is the first such federal court ruling in a state in the 8th U.S. judicial circuit, a circuit that includes Arkansas.

A Democratic House win confirmed for Camille Bennett

Democrat Camille Bennett of Lonoke apparently came out on top in a close race for House District 14, a rare victory for Democrats in Tuesday's election.

U.S. Supreme Court takes case to wreck Obamacare

The Supreme Court said Friday it would take up a case that could be the ruination of Obamacare. And, potentially, the state of Arkansas's budget.

Huckabee to self-syndicate his radio reports

Lee Hogan at Arkansas Business reports that Mike Huckabee is going to self-syndicate his three-times-a-day Huckabee Report, said to be aired on about 500 stations.

The unpolitic Erma Hendrix

The Downtown Little Rock Neighborhood Association Facebook page is abuzz about the rude responsea constituent got from Ward 1 City Director Erma Hendrix. Association president Tony Curtis passed on a Facebook post to the director wondering if the city could help Harmony Health Clinic complete a sidewalk in front of the clinic for wheelchair bound patients. The email to Hendrix was copied to Kathy Wells, who manages DLRNA's Yahoo group.

Dorm robbery reported at University of Arkansas

Fox 16 reports that a man with a gun robbed a group of students in Pomfret Hall, a University of Arkansas dormitory, about 6 p.m. Thursday.

UPDATE: Mark Martin avoids specific response to ACLU voting complaint

Secretary of State Mark Martin has responded to a complaint from the ACLU about an erroneous instruction his office has included in the state voter registration system that improperly can make it harder for some people to vote. The response is of the non-response variety.

Exit poll describes the Arkansas voter and what moved them

Exit polling from Tuesday's election shows Democrats lost some key constituencies and that the toxicity of Barack Obama can't be overestimated.

TGIF and an open line: Plus House committees and a pot-bellied pig

The open line and daily video summary. Plus House committee assignments for the 2015 session. Plus a final resolution to the great Vietnamese pot-bellied pig debate: An ordinance has been filed to boot them out of the city unless they are at least 300 feet from a neighbor.

Quigley's Castle, Sleater-Kinney, Slow TV, Comics and more

It's deer season isn't it? What better way to celebrate the season than with some cheap beer. Busch, say. They're selling tall boys outfitted in camo and hunter orange, perfect for your deer camp. A buck-and-a-half (so to speak) at a C-store near you.

The Drown Our Sorrows Edition

The midterm election that finally turned Arkansas dead red and all that we have to look forward to now that Republicans are in control, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce standing against the city’s civil rights ordinance and Uber flouting the law in Little Rock — all covered on this week's podcast.

Fox drops potential presidential candidate. No, not Huckabee. Yet.

Fox News is bidding farewell to conservative commentator Ben Carson because of his plans to run for president. So far, Mike Huckabee, also considering a race, is still welcome on the conservative cable channel.

Investigation sought in Jefferson County voter registration drive

The Pine Bluff Commercial reports that Jefferson and state election commissioner Stu Soffer is pressing for an investigation of a voter registration drive in the county that produced questionable new voter applications.

Uber's law-flouting to be discussed Monday by Little Rock City Board

Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter tells me, at the request of the mayor, action on unpermitted operation of the Uber car service in Little Rock will be delayed at least until a City Board discussion at its agenda meeting at 4 p.m. Monday.

What's the oldest restaurant in Arkansas?

Kat Robinson of tiedyetravels lists the 10 oldest restaurants in Arkansas in the course of correcting a national website's claim for a general store in Oark.

Despite some outreach, black voters remained in Democratic column

Despite a notable effort by Republican Asa Hutchinson, black voters stayed with the Democratic Party in Tuesday's elections.

Arkansas progressive beats Big Oil — in Richmond, Calif.

Arkansas native Tom Butt, who styled himself the Arkansas Rattlesnake, led a slate of progressives in taking control of the Richmond, Calif., City Council despite million-dollar opposition from Chevron Oil, which dominates industry in the city.

Pea-pickin' good — the Cornbread Festival open line

Cornbread Festival photos highlight tonight's open line.

Election over, but ethics complaints linger

The Republican election sweep is done, but questions linger before the Ethics Commission about a rise in coordination between political candidates and independent political organizations.

Washington passes gun background checks, NRA not amused

Washington voters last week gave a 60 percent vote to universal gun purchase background checks. Would Arkansas voters be receptive? Maybe.

Stiffer ethics and the new legislative gravy train

Issue 3 means an independent commission soon will be at work to set pay and expenses for state officials including legislators. Their leaders will control appointees to the commission. The pay raises are unlimited in the first round and the rumor mill is already ginning about the amounts.

Child rapist found dead at Pinnacle State Park

The Baxter Bulletin reports that the body of a man found dead Saturday at Pinnacle Mountain State Park has been identified as that of Thomas James Lovelady, 44, convicted in 1995 of the rape of a seven-year-old stepdaughter in Baxter County when he lived in Mountain Home. He was on parole after serving 10 of a 40-year sentence.

The Sunday line includes heightened pressure on Mike Huckabee

Fox News contributor Howard Kurtz said on Fox today that Fox News should make a decision about continuing to air Mike Huckabee as a show host while he considers a run for presidency. It ended a relationship with Ben Carson last week for that reason.

Arkansas through the rear-view mirror

A former Arkie looks back on Election 2014 and doesn't like what she sees in terms of a government looking out for its people.

Family advocates back a state earned income tax credit

The political climate isn't promising, but a family advocacy group has just published a brief about the value of a state-level earned income tax credit for low-income working families.

Today's terrorism — 47 dead in Nigeria

Today's early morning horror — 47 dead in a suicide bombing outside a Nigerian school. Many more wounded.

Still pending: Lawsuit challenging the term limits-ethics amendment

We've been writing about the surprising voter approval of Issue 3, which bans lobbyist expenditures on legislators, loosens term limits and allows for a non-legislative path to pay raises for legislators, state officials and judges. Hold your horses, however.

Lotteries: Good for who?

Must watch: John Oliver's takedown of lotteries. A sucker's game with empty public policy promises.

Keep Fayetteville Fair leaders take to the phones

The group working to preserve Fayetteville's new civil rights ordinance has invited call-ins tonight for Fayetteville with questions about the ordinance, referred to the ballot in a special election Dec. 9.

Martha Shoffner's plea deal falls apart

Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner was expected to plead guilty in federal court today to using campaign money to pay for personal expenses charged to her credit card. But the deal was scrapped on account of Shoffner's equivocal answers to the judge and she'll now go to trial in three weeks.

Guest Mix: High Lonesome

I guess you could say that this list is sort of a "what are they listening to now," with some old favorites peppered in. We each picked 4 songs a piece, and if you know us personally, you could probably guess who picked what. These are the songs that we sing and play air-guitar to in our undies.

Same-sex marriage foes target Sen. Rob Portman

An anti-gay group has set its sights on defeating Ohio Sen. Rob Portman because of his defense of same-sex marriage. Makes me like Tom Cotton, who had Portman in for campaign rallies the Saturday before the general election.

Beebe reappoints Public Service commissioner

Among other appointments today, Gov. Mike Beebe reappointed Elana Wills to the state Public Service Commission, for a term through 2019. He appointed her to fill an unexpired term in 2011.

Cotton's freeze-out of Arkansas Times gets national note

Talking Points Memo, the Josh Marshall-led national political website, churned out a little feature today on an item here last week about the refusal of Tom Cotton's communications man David Ray to allow anyone from the Arkansas Times to listen in on a conference call about the campaign's media strategy and polling work.

Monday's open line

Here's your open line and video headline roundup.

Lamoureux resigns from state Senate

Sen. Michael Lamoureux, who'll be chief of staff to Asa Hutchinson when he takes office in January, has resigned from the Senate. This raises a question about handling of appointments to a new state pay commission, two of which are the Senate president's to make.

LR City Board unhappy with Uber, but won't crack down

Uber, the app-driven car service, apparently has faced down the Little Rock City Board of Directors and will get a vote next week on a regulatory ordinance. It will operate unbothered by city regulation in the meanwhile.

Around the state: Offending T-shirt in Mena; offending school sale in Helena

Overnight news from around the state: An election commission complaint in Polk County and unhappiness about planned sale of a Helena-West Helena school to the KIPP charter school.

AOL joins those who've dumped ALEC; Arkansas legislators still can be slopped

Common Cause reports that AOL has joined the list of corporations ending financial support of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a thinly disguised lobby for corporate interests at the state level. A new state ethics amendment won't curb free trips by Arkansas lawmakers to get ALEC indoctrination, unfortunately.

Judge criticizes new LR police chief for comments on police review

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has called down new Police Chief Kenton Buckner for his remarks at a session on police and community relationships, particularly pertaining to review of misuse of deadly force. It's another example of the fact that race is far from a dead issue.

Eat light, eat right with our top 5 salads

Mama always said to eat your greens, and with these salads you can do so with gusto.

Some local beer scene updates

There's a lot going on with the Central Arkansas's beer scene as the holidays and winter creep up on us with new releases from Diamond Bear and Stone's Throw and events featuring New Belgium and homebrewers.

Gun raffle to help Arkansas Baptist High students facing tragedy

Arkansas schools use guns as fund-raisers, the latest Arkansas Baptist, which hopes to help students who might face tragedy.

Uber ordinance updated with changes for Little Rock

In response to my FOI request, City Attorney Tom Carpenter has provided a copy of the draft of an ordinance to be discussed by the Little Rock City Board next week to permit "transportation network companies" such as Uber to operate in the city under regulations similar to those that apply to taxicabs. Changes tend to favor Uber's desires on insurance requirements.

Sam Brownback's Kansas miracle: A lesson for Arkansas

Kansas faces enormous budget cuts because of Sam Brownback's tax cuts, an object lesson for Arkansas and Asa Hutchinson if there ever was one.

A video double-feature: Headlines and Megyn Kelly drops an f-bomb on Huck

The open line and a couple of videos — one for news, one for fun.

'Wrestling with Death' the next great insane Arkansas reality TV show

TV network WGN America has announced the premiere of a new reality TV series set in Arkansas slated to appear in 2015. The show, brought to us by the same production team behind the absurd, now-classic "Clash of the Ozarks," will be titled "Wrestling with Death,"

St. Joseph's farm head resigns: UPDATE

Jody Hardin, the subject of an October feature story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for his efforts to turn the old St. Joseph's Orphanage property in North Little Rock into a organic farm and teaching facility, has resigned, a member of the board of St. Joseph's said. UPDATE: He's now development director.

Oxford American unveils Texas Music Issue

The Little Rock-based Oxford American magazine released the cover of its Kickstarter-funded Texas Music Issue this afternoon, featuring a 1975 portrait of Guy and Susanna Clark. They also released details about the magazine and the accompanying CD

A winery in the River Market district

Margie Raimondo of the Raimondo Family Winery will open a tasting bar and retail shop at the corner of Third Street and River Market Avenue, on the ground floor of the Residence Inn, in February, sharing her wines and imported treats from her grandparents’ native Sicily.

Arkansas cities lag in 'equality index' for LGBT people; Fayetteville leads

The Human Rights Campaign has assessed treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in 353 cities, including five in Arkansas, and the result puts Fayetteville on top of those studied in Arkansas, though all fall below the national average score.

Regnat Populus cheers ethics victory; plans further battle against corporate politics

Paul Spencer, the Little Rock teacher whose leadership of the Regnat Populus government ethics drive planted the seed for the ethics reforms approved by voters last week in Issue 3, has posted a long letter on Facebook recounting the effort, thanking those who helped, noting the obstacle presented by legislative obfuscation on term limits and also announcing further plans.

Online sales tax still stymied, Womack learns

Stephens Media reports that U.S. Rep. Steve Womack has been rebuffed again by House Speaker John Boehner in hopes to move ahead in the final session of Congress' current term with legislation to end exemption of on-line sales from sales tax collection.

Report: Nursing home staffing in Arkansas falls short of promised levels

The Center for Public Integrity has published a report on widespread discrepancies in nursing home staffing when compared with what the facilities claim to provide. Arkansas is at the top of the list, in a bad way.

Short staffing cited in report about Walmart memo to grocery managers

The New York Times has been leaked a Walmart memo to managers to address complaints about stocking and out-of-date items. The leaker suggested the problems were related to short staffing

Two leadership votes for Senate on Friday

The Senate will organize for 2015 on Friday and two leadership elections will be required to fill a vacancy in the Senate president pro tempore position so that appointments can be made to a new state official pay commission.

Mayor, UA chancellor object to Fayetteville Chamber's stance on civil rights ordinance

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan and UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart have urged the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce to rescind its resolution opposing the Fayetteville civil rights ordinance.

Judicial commission dismisses complaint about Rapert contact with Justice Hoofman

The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission today said it had dismissed an anonymous complaint about a report that state Sen. Jason Rapert had talked to Justice Cliff Hoffman and perhaps other Supreme Court members about the pending same-sex marriage case.

Dillard's removes 'fat' item after social media furor

Dillard's, the department store chain based in Little Rock, has stopped selling what was supposed to be a "whimsical" sign that set off a howl on social media over body image issues.

Huckabee reported to be building presidential campaign team

Mike Huckabee is admittedly exploring a presidential campaign. Just don't call it "official." Because that might cut into his Fox News paycheck.

Mountain Home church leader cursed for inclusiveness

Arkansas gets some unwanted (if deserved) web attention on Crooks and Liars: From Alice Hurley, Minister,

Open line and Wednesday video

The Wednesday open line and video roundup.

Beebe and pardons: He puts hold on controversial case; also plans pardon for son

Gov. Mike Beebe, who's been criticized by legislators for announcing his intention to grant a pardon to a sex offender, faces another ticklish pardon decision.

Stubblefield drops out of Senate leadership race

A friend passes along a copy of a letter said to be from Sen. Gary Stubblefield of Branch announcing that he's dropping his challenge of Sen. Jonathan Dismang for leadership of the state Senate.

Ark Challenge winner: Spencer Jones, medical designer

The 14-week ARK Challenge for Central Arkansas concluded with Demo Day this afternoon at the Clinton Center, and the $150,000 prize went Spencer Jones' Jones Innovative Medical Solutions. Here's a link to our story about Jones and the six other companies competing for the startup prize.

Millstone for Mansion: Robyn Horn's sculpture

The Arkansas Governor's Mansion Advisory Committee today voted today to approve the purchase of a wood sculpture by Robyn Horn, "Sandy's Millstone," subject to discussion with the next residents, Asa and Susan Hutchinson.