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November 15, 2018

Vol 45 • No 11

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Arkansas becomes casino country

The state rolls the dice with the passage of Issue 4.

Ian Ethan Case comes to The Joint

Plus, much more.

'Outlaw King' will get you by

Until the new 'Game of Thrones' comes out.

End trade war

Arkansans will be among the hardest hit by President Trump's attempts to strong-arm foreign leaders through economic manipulation.


It feels like The Observer hasn't been able to breathe this deep since Nov. 7, 2016. That's a long time to be holding your breath.

The wonder of Mr. Chen's

The place to be on cold days for hot pots.

Petrino's legacy

We could routinely trot out more verbiage about how these 2018 Arkansas Razorbacks keep on fighting to salvage a lost campaign.

On to 2020

I'll add my two cents to the chorus of advice for Democrats in 2020: Do not limit your imagination by falling back on candidates who have previously appeared on the ballot.

Inconsequential News Quiz: 'Thank Baphomet the election is over' edition

Play at home, while consoling a weeping NRA lobbyist.

The Blind Boys of Alabama come to Walton Arts

Also, The Body returns to White Water Tavern.

How red are we?

Election results in Arkansas were discouraging for Democrats and progressive voters.

Pa-Rum-Pa-Pum-Pum: An Arkansas Times gift guide

Thoughtful offerings.


Courtney Goodson won her race to stay on the state Supreme Court last week with something to spare, in spite of the unprecedented sludge of dark-money ads that tried to persuade people that she was an execrable wench who was capable of almost anything.

Asa in action

Tommy Durham

Seeking a vision to thrive

It's time for a new social contract that creates a comprehensive vision for thriving communities in both rural and urban places.


Perhaps you recall the last time a French politician angered a certain kind of hairy-chested American nationalist. In February 2003, Dominique de Villepin, France's conservative Minister of Foreign Affairs, cautioned the United Nations General Assembly about the sheer folly of invading Iraq.

Still seeing red

Interstate widening targeted in a lawsuit and Arkansas's work rules for Medicaid not working, according to a federal panel.

Plaintiff in Little Rock police case accused of hitting deputy in Cross County

Roderick Talley, the plaintiff in a case over abusive Little Rock police practices in drug raids, was named Wednesday in a Cross County sheriff's report for driving into a deputy while attempting to avoid arrest on a failure to appear in court warrant.

Blake announces voter reform legislation

State Rep. Charles Blake of Little Rock has sent us draft legislation of a vote security law. It's timely.

Speaking of corporate welfare: Remember that Chinese pulp mill?

Corporate welfare has burst into this news this week with Kimberly-Clark holding Wisconsin and Arkansas hostage for sufficient taxpayer tribute to keep a plant open in one of the states and with enormous handouts to Amazon to locate new facilities in New York and Virginia. This naturally brought to mind the promised Chinese pulp mill announced almost three years ago for Clark County.

Tom Mars: 'The Great Emancipator'

Good feature from Yahoo Sports on Tom Mars, the Arkansas lawyer who went after Ole Miss for its treatment of Houston Nutt and set events in motion that included the transfer of star Ole Miss players to other schools.

Legislature retaliates against Supreme Court, won't approve budget

The Joint Budget Committee signed off on a list of budget requests for the next fiscal year this morning, with one exception, that of the Arkansas Supreme Court. If you guess that the reason was retaliation, you are a good guesser.

Another 3,815 tossed from Medicaid thanks to challenged work rule

That Medicaid work rule keeps working — the number disqualified is now more than 12,000.

Chad Griffin stepping down from leadership of Human Rights Campaign

Chad Griffin, the Arkansas native who's become one of the country's most influential voices in the fight for equal rights based on sexual orientation and gender, is stepping down as leader of the Human Rights Campaign.

Here comes the legislation: Internet sales tax, jungle primary, end of fiscal session

Bill filing has begun for the legislative session  in January and besides Sen. Trent Garner's usual demagogic rush to capture attention, some items of greater substance have appeared from Rep. Dan Douglas of Bentonville.

Thursday: The open line and video news roundup

The news roundup leads with legislative develops. This is also the open line.

All aboard: Rail Yard grand opening tonight

The Rail Yard, the East Village knockoff of the Texas Truck Yard in Dallas, will hold its grand opening from 4-9 p.m. tonight at 1212 E. Sixth St.

Asa's tax cuts heavily favor the rich

Numbers don't lie. Check out the latest analysis by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families on winners and losers under Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to cut income taxes by more than $200 million over four years, primarily by a whopping reduction of 15 percent in the top marginal tax rate, from 6.9 to 5.9 percent.

Delta Biscuit Co. truck rolling

Perhaps you noticed new food truck Delta Biscuits parked at Proof Bar + Lounge on Sunday and wondered where you could catch it next.

Kurrus says he'd take control of police chief selection process

Baker Kurrus, in the runoff with Frank Scott Jr. for Little Rock mayor, is trying to establish himself as an agent of change and he illustrated one obvious point today: When it comes to choosing a new police chief, he sees the mayor, not the city manager, as the leader of that process.

UA Athletic Department gets approval for more construction

KNWA reports on University of Arkansas Board of Trustees approval today of roughly $50 million worth of athletic department construction projects on the Fayetteville campus.

Game and Fish agrees to study turtle harvesting; imposes tiny ban

A ban on turtle harvesting in the Gulf Coastal Plain and along the St. Francis River in Clay and Green counties voted on today by the state Game and Fish Commission won't make much of a dent in the total take of freshwater turtles in Arkansas — 0.2 percent come from the Gulf Coastal Plain for example —  but the commission did agree to study whether its trapping rules are having a negative consequence on native turtles.

CALS checks out works from the Arkansas Arts Center

The Arkansas Arts Center will close in November 2019 for a massive renovation, now estimated at close to $100 million, but that doesn't mean it won't have a presence. In a clever collaboration with the Central Arkansas Library System, 3D objects from the permanent collection will be exhibited at CALS branches, its Main Library, and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.

Race, Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police and the mayor's race

Catching up on developments in the ugly note the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police injected into the runoff race for mayor yesterday.

Breaking: Mississippi GOP senator speaks the truth

Politics in Darkansas aren't so hot, but there is always Mississippi, where the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate continues to put her foot in her mouth.

Judge restores Jim Acosta's White House press pass

A federal judge has temporarily restored the White House press credentials of CNN's Jim Acosta, barred essentially because Donald Trump doesn't like him.

Hutchinson announces plans for juvenile justice changes

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced plans to improve state youth services that include closure of two residential facilities and increased spending on community-based programs for troubled kids.

Tom Cotton pats himself on the back for defeating Clarke Tucker

Sen. Tom Cotton has sent a memo to supporters of his Republican Majority Fund PAC taking credit for significant help to Republican Rep. French Hill in more than $200,000 spent to drive down Democratic challenger Clarke Tucker's popularity.

Unemployment rate unchanged in October

The Arkansas unemployment rate held steady in October at 3.5 percent.

Gray to seek another term as Democratic Party chair

State Rep. Michael John Gray says he'll seek another term as chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party after an election with scant gains for Democrats and his own defeat for re-election.

Entergy agrees to end coal-burning in Arkansas in Sierra Club settlement

Under a settlement agreement filed in federal court today, Entergy Arkansas has agreed to quit burning coal at its White Bluff plant by the end of 2028, its Independence plant by the end of 2030 and to shutter its remaining operating plant at Lake Catherine by the end of 2027.

New gallery for SoMa: M2

M2 Gallery, located for 12 years in the Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center, has made the move to 1300 Main St. in the hopping SoMa neighborhood and will hold its Grand (Re)opening from 5-8 p.m. Nov. 30.

Judicial Discipline Commission dismisses ethics charge against Arkansas Supreme Court

After an executive session today, the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission voted unanimously to dismiss an ethics charge against the Arkansas Supreme Court in its handling of a decision by Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen related to ownership of a drug used in executions.

Commission disciplines two district judges

The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced ethical findings against two district judges.

Thank goodness open line and news roundup

TGIF open line and news roundup.

Hutchinson announces new boss at Alcoholic Beverage Control

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named Doralee Chandler as new director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control administration to succeed Mary Robin Casteel, who's going to the governor's staff as chief legal counsel. She'll oversee regulation of the alcohol and medical marijuana business.


Contrary to rumor, Live Life Chill, the bar/restaurant in the erstwhile Revolution Taco and Tequila Lounge space at the corner of Cantrell and President Clinton Avenue, is not closed. Service manager Lindsey McFadin called the Times this afternoon to say a rumor the bar had closed was killing business; by 3 p.m., no one had been in. The Times, too, had heard the rumor from a number of sources. What has changed, McFadin said, is that the bar is now only open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Little Rock's government and mayoral power take center stage in runoff for mayor

Little Rock mayoral candidate Frank Scott Jr. today ripped the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police for "divisive politics" but more importantly called for a change in the form of Little Rock government. His opponent Baker Kurrus says Scott is only now adopting things he's been saying for months about expanding mayoral powers.

The Lightning Round Edition

Max and Lindsey talk about all the news of the week.

Four dead after bloody day in Little Rock

A bloody Friday in Little Rock leaves four dead and two wounded by gunfire.

Democrats call down Republican blockade of Supreme Court budget

State Democratic Party Chair Michael John Gray had harsh words for the effort led by Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger and Sen. Trent Garner to block approval Thursday of the Arkansas Supreme Court budget for the next fiscal year.

Saturday's open line

It was a lovely day. Chad Morris seems to have a different opinion. You?

Who wants to be a millionaire? See Rep. Stephen Meeks. UPDATE

Republican Rep. Stephen Meeks of Greenbrier went viral on Twitter yesterday with this tweet. Oops.

Trump calls for raking to prevent fires. Claims it's the Finnish way. Fake news, anyone?

Donald Trump's remarks in California on how Finland prevents disastrous fires by raking the forest floor got only a passing — and uncritical — mention in the largest newspaper in Arkansas this morning. To remedy that oversight:

The cops and robbers open line

Here's your open line. The news is mostly from the LRPD.

Video: Shootout in Washington County

After a bystander's video of a shootout Nov. 11 between Washington County deputies and a suspect, the county sheriff released dash cam video of the event.

Prosecutor-elect suggests murder charge in Dallas police shooting

ohn Creuzot, district attorney-elect in Dallas County, says a murder charge would be appropriate in the fatal shooting of Botham Jean in his apartment by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger.

Trump's gift to newspapers

What would a Monday morning be without Donald Trump in the White House? Among the stories we'd lack today:

Democrat-Gazette editorial writers flunk on teacher law

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page's animus toward the Little Rock School District and its teachers' union has never been more apparent than in recent swipes tied to Education Commissioner Johnny Key's plan to waive the teacher fair dismissal law, particularly targeting 22 schools graded D and F on the state's test score-dependent grading system. It's tunnel vision, at best. Fake news is more like it.

Oaklawn announces major expansion with hotel, events center

Oaklawn Park, the race track and casino in Hot Springs, announced plans for a $100 million investment at the track, including a hotel and events center, following voter approval of expanded casino gambling at the track.

Wesley Clark: Trump doesn't understand role of commander in chief

Wesley Clark, the retired NATO commander from Little Rock, writes critically today in the Washington Post about Donald Trump as commander in chief.

West Little Rock politicians press for expansion of Pinnacle middle school to high school

Republican politicians have banded together to push for expansion of the Pinnacle View middle school on Highway 10 into high school grades to serve western Little Rock.

Monday: Open line and news roundup

Monday: An open line and the roundup of news and comment.

Monday Must Do: Arkansas Times Film Series screens "Tampopo"

Join us at 7 p.m. tonight for "Tampopo," next up in the Arkansas Times Film Series.

Carbon monoxide poisoning reported at Clark County Jail

KARK reports that the Clark County sheriff has been forced to find alternative facilities for 47 county jail inmates following carbon monoxide poisoning last week in the Arkadelphia jail.

Arkansas Medicaid rule described as 'disastrous'

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell today rips Gov. Asa Hutchinson's scheme to require computerized reporting of work to qualify for Medicaid as 'disastrous" and illustrates with some personal examples.

The human costs of the Arkansas Medicaid scandal

Must read: In this week's Arkansas Times, Benji Hardy provides the deepest coverage to date of the human costs behind the nasty bureaucratic mess created by Governor Hutchinson and his administration.

Two Razorbacks face suspensions for mingling with opposing squad's dance team

Flirting with the enemy.

ADEQ issues notice of final permit denial to C&H Hog Farm; appeal looms

The latest in the fight over the 3,000-hog feeding operation near the Buffalo River watershed.

GOP Sen. Mike Lee slams Tom Cotton's demagoguery on criminal justice as "fake news"

Utah Sen. Mike Lee took to social media to accuse fellow Republican Tom Cotton of spreading "100% Fake News" of criminal justice reform efforts.

Monday's headlines and open line

Arkansas Medicaid rule described as "disastrous;" ADEQ issues notice of final permit denial to C&H Hog Farm, appeal looms; GOP Sen. Mike Lee slams Tom Cotton's demagoguery on criminal justice as "fake news."

National Parks Conservation Association applauds ADEQ's denial of hog farm permit

The National Parks Conservation Association today issued a statement applauding the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's denial yesterday of a permit to C&H Hog Farm, the 3,000-swine feeding operation near the Buffalo River watershed.

Walmart asks for return of donation to controversial Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith

Politico reports that Walmart has requested its campaign contribution to U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith (R-Mississippi) be returned because of a recent quip about "public hangings."

New episode of Rock the Culture: "Validated, Validators, and Accidentally Viral"

In this week’s episode, Charles and Antwan provide conversation and perspective on the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police Facebook post about the Little Rock Mayoral Race, Representative Blake’s proposed legislation that would require automatic voter registration, and Forbes 30 Under 30 list recognizing a student at Little Rock Central High School.

EPA ignores its scientists on dicamba buffers; new rules may allow dicamba use in Arkansas

The Environmental Protection Agency, now headed by Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist and counsel to climate-change denier U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), has ignored the scientific recommendations of its own scientists and drastically cut back on buffers for dicamba spraying, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported today.

Little Rock issues RFP for bike share service providers

Now that a Metroplan deal to bring a bike-share program to Little Rock and North Little Rock has fallen through, Little Rock has decided to act alone, and has issued an RFP to bike share providers.

Mississippi judge blasts lawmakers for "gaslighting" on abortion

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves today overturned Mississippi's abortion law banning abortion after 15 weeks, writing that the lawmakers knew the law to be unconstitutional and that their "professed interest in 'women’s health' is pure gaslighting."

A turkey day eve open line

Time to start cooking. Parsnips again for me; sorry, Max. The line is open: menus, recipes, etc. You don't have to talk turkey, either.

A Turkey Trot with no turkeys flung out of airplanes

Here's a little holiday reading: Annie Lowrey travels to the Turkey Trot in Yellville for the Atlantic to offer florid descriptions of the Ozarks and ruminations on ethics and empathy.