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November 29, 2018

Vol 45 • No 13

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The Cross Street sound

Capitol View Studio will narrow its focus in the new year.

Lonoke County sanctuary

Blue Chair mines 'ridiculous talent' from small-town Arkansas.

Love is the ingredient

Ferocious talks 20 years of beat-making.

Studio tour

The 2018 Music Issue.

Born in a dorm room

Fayetteville's East Hall Recording has been a slow build.

The Pancake Shop is breakfast heaven

In Hot Springs.

Haxton Studios aims for analog warmth

Beyond ones and zeroes.

'Ralph Breaks the Internet' lacks the joy of its predecessor

Same song, darker verse.

ACLU to sue

Former First Lady Betty Bumpers dies and LR seeks bike-share program.

Long December

Thanksgiving in the rearview, with all the leftovers either consumed or thrown out to the dogs and/or opportunistic raccoons, we slide, inexorably, into December.

Welcome to Tom Cotton Federal Prison

Steve Martin and Martin Short come to Verizon

And more!

Inconsequential News Quiz: Hooterville headcount edition

Play at your rural home, very slowly, on dial-up internet.

Dems on deck

Much of what I know about politics I learned from sports. If you want to know what's going on in a baseball game, for example, you've got to know not only the score, but the inning, number of outs, what runners are on which bases, who's batting, who's pitching, who's on deck, and who's warming in the bullpen. I could go on.

The worst

The postmortem on the 2018 Arkansas football season need only be characterized by a flood of unwelcome superlatives: most anemic, least disciplined, farthest from national relevancy and ... well, just plain worst.

Of the people

In a recent video posted to Instagram, U.S. Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who ran as a Democrat in New York's 14th Congressional District and is also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, walks in front of the United States Capitol.

The Meditations come to The Rev

Also, Kountry Wayne comes to Robinson Performance Hall.

Prelude to war

President Trump's casual disinterest in the murder of Jamaal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia's leaders, a crime he once abhorred, may be only the final repudiation of America's ancient obedience to human rights, but what if it is much more? What if it is a prelude to war?

Money matters

With Education Commissioner Johnny Key assigning blame for low-performing Little Rock School District schools on LRSD teachers by moving toward seeking a waiver to the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act, I would respectfully ask that he step back and consider the larger issue of disproportionate resources distributed among our public school students.

The Little Rock mayoral run-off between Kurrus and Scott

The election is Dec. 4.

Lawsuit filed alleging negligence over Power Ultra Lounge shooting

Attorneys for 19 people who were injured or suffered gunshot wounds at the Power Ultra Lounge mass shooting last year filed a lawsuit yesterday in Pulaski County Circuit Court alleging negligence on the part of the club, its then manager, and the LLC that owns the building where the club was housed

Former Trump attorney pleads guilty to lying to Congress

Michael Cohen, the former bagman (er..."personal attorney") for President Trump, has pleaded guilty today to lying to Congress as part of a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Number of children without health insurance increases, including in Arkansas (UPDATES)

The uninsured rate for children nationwide ticked up last year, including in Arkansas, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families — the first significant increase in a decade.

Sinclair says it doesn't support its own 'editorial'

Sinclair is backing off commentary of its own chief political analyst, Boris, that its stations were required to air this week.

State officials issue final report on fight and "mass panic" at Salt Bowl game at War Memorial Stadium last summer

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has completed its final report on the fight, and panicked exit, that broke out last August at high-school football game at War Memorial Stadium.

Boozman, recipient of Saudi largesse, a no vote on ending Yemen war

Newsweek and other news organizations are reporting that at least five of the Republican senators who voted against ending support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen received donations from Saudi lobbyists. They include Arkansas Sen. John Boozman.

NBC News spotlights Little Rock student-athlete with autism

NBC News tells the story of Kalin Bennett of Little Rock, who is believed to be the first student-athlete with autism to sign with a Division I team in any sport.

New chef detected at 42: Andre Poirot

42 Bar and Table, Andre Poirot, Jason Morrell, Jeremy Pittman

Thursday's headlines and a late open line

The uninsured rate for children nationwide ticked up last year, including in Arkansas, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families — the first significant increase in a decade; Former Trump attorney pleads guilty to lying to Congress.

Flake blocks judicial nominees seeking protections for Mueller; Huckabee seethes

The aptly named Jeff Flake, the departing Republican Arizona senator who likes to publicly fret over Donald Trump while not actually using the power of his office to do anything, is finally showing a little backbone in the lame duck session. At least for now.

Reddick Moss, PLLC receives another favorable decision from the Arkansas Court of Appeals

Recently, on November 28th, the Arkansas Court of Appeals held that the arbitration agreement that Hickory Heights attempted to enforce against a resident that was represented by Reddick Moss, PLLC was unenforceable due to the lack of mutuality of obligations.

Serial killer claims to have killed 90 women, including victims in Arkansas

The FBI this week released additional information on the professed serial killer Sam Little, the jailed Texas man who has confessed to 90 murders between 1970 and 2005. The majority of those confessions have not yet been matched to victims, including three that describe murders in Arkansas.

Neo-Nazis and local media coverage

The journalism nonprofit Poynter takes a look at the decision by Austin Kellerman, news director at KARK/Fox16 News, not to air coverage of the scattering of Nazis who rallied on the Capitol steps earlier this month.

Cleveland County teacher wins national honor with $25,000 prize

The Milken Family Foundation announced today that Tasha Wilson, a second-grade teacher at Kingsland Elementary in Cleveland County, received a Milken Educator Award, which comes with a $25,000 prize. Wilson was given the award today at a surprise school assembly.

Campaign finance filings show big additional hauls for Scott and Kurrus in mayoral runoff

Campaign filings with the Pulaski County Clerk show that both Frank Scott Jr. and Baker Kurrus have raised more than $100,000 since the original Election Day earlier this month in the race for Little Rock mayor.

Rapert's new "Christian Lawmakers" group draws criticism

The Freedom from Religion Foundation today issued a press release condemning Rep. Jason Rapert's new effort to create a National Association of Christian Lawmakers.

DHS recruits another former legislator to join agency for "legislative affairs" (read: lobbyist)

The revolving door continues. The Department of Human Services announced today that state Rep. Jeff Williams (R-Springdale), who lost his re-election bid this November, will join the agency's Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Griffen asks U.S. Supreme Court to review dismissal of his lawsuit against state Arkansas Supreme Court

Attorneys for Judge Wendell Griffen this week filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a review of an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in July that dismissed Griffen's lawsuit against the Arkansas Supreme Court for removing him from all cases related to the death penalty.

The Run-Off Edition

Lindsey Millar and Benji Hardy talk about the Little Rock mayor's race and Medicaid and more!

Friday night lights open line

Late start, but let's fire it up. 

Former Dallas police officer indicted on murder charge for shooting of Botham Jean

The indictment comes more than two months after Amber Guyger was arrested and charged with manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Botham Jean, 26. After hearing the evidence this week, a Dallas grand jury decided to indict her on the more serious charge.

George H. W. Bush dies at 94

The 41st president, George H. W. Bush, has died at 94.

Trump administration defends Arkansas's Medicaid work requirements

On Friday, the Trump administration filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit attempting to stop Arkansas's first-of-its-kind Medicaid work requirement. But comments made earlier this week by the top federal Medicaid official may indicate coming

Open line

Consider this your open line. What you got?

High school newspaper in Springdale suspended for investigating football transfers

Great story in Buzzfeed from Springdale, where a high school newspaper has been suspended and a teacher was threatened with termination after the newspaper's investigation into the transfer of five high school football players within the district.

A look back at ousted Bryant police chief Mark Kizer

Mark Kizer complained in a public letter and a D-G article about being pushed out as police chief, but failed to mention his own politicized ascension to the job and a stormy tenure alongside his ally, outgoing Mayor Jill Dabbs.

The big money in the Preferred Family Healthcare corruption scandal: Medicaid behavioral health services

While the most detailed information in federal court filings has involved one-off grants — for example, a $1 million grant steered to PFH by former Sen. Jon Woods — the big money was in behind-the-scenes fights over Medicaid policy. Preferred Family Healthcare executives were willing to spend big to win those fights: outright bribes and also tens of thousands in campaign contributions to prominent Arkansas politicians.

Open line

It is Sunday night, and the line is open. 

Former Congressional candidate Chintan Desai calls Jason Rapert a "[bleeping] disgrace" after Rapert's anti-Muslim comments

Rapert frets about Muslim voter turnout. He asks: "Do you want them ruling everything in America?"

Bus carrying youth football team crashes on I-30; child killed, dozens more injured (UPDATE)

A bus carrying a youth football team ran off I-30 Eastbound at around 2:45 this morning, just west of Benton, and overturned. Authorities have confirmed that one child was killed and at least 40 others were injured in the crash — most of them children. At least 20 youths injured in the crash are being treated at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Authorities conclude that flaming hole in Midway was a prank

The D-G has an update on the mysterious hole of fire in Midway. Authorities, who previously ruled out Satan, have concluded it was a prank.

Arkansas School Safety Commission to present final recommendations this afternoon

The Arkansas School Safety Commission, the 18-member group appointed by the governor to study and analyze the safety of K-12 schools throughout the state, will present its final recommendations to Governor Hutchinson at a press conference this afternoon at 1 p.m.

Bauxite Public Schools set to add armed security, including non-instructional staffers

Speaking of armed security in K-12 schools, KATV reported over the weekend that Bauxite Public Schools will soon have armed staffers in addition to its one police officer. No teachers will be armed.

Bonus episode of Rock the Culture with Bakari Sellers

In this bonus episode, Antwan and Charles interview CNN contributor Bakari Sellers regarding the new generation of political leadership across the nation and his support of mayoral candidate Frank Scott, Jr.

Local leaders select Quapaw Nation as casino operator for Jefferson County

As expected, Pine Bluff and Jefferson County officials have picked the Quapaw Tribe's Downstream Development Authority as the county's casino operator. The Quapaw Tribe has been working with Pine Bluff officials for five years to gain approval of its bid. The state Racing Commission still has to make the official award of the casino license, but it seems unlikely that another applicant will emerge.

Monday's headlines and your open line

Local leaders select Quapaw Nation as casino operator for Jefferson County; Bus carrying youth football team crashes on I-30 killing one and injuring dozens more; Former Dallas police officer indicted on murder charge for shooting of Botham Jean; Former Congressional candidate Chintan Desai calls Jason Rapert a "[bleeping] disgrace" after Rapert's anti-Muslim comments.

A link to censored high school newspaper article, plus supporting video and documents on Springdale football transfer controversy

Want to read the article on football transfers that the Springdale Public Schools district has censored, suspending publication of the school newspaper? Here's a link, plus supporting documents, the letters from school and district officials, and controversial video and text messages involving the Springdale High coach and one of the players who transferred.

Turnover at Secretary of State's office with Thurston set to take office

A number of staffers at the Secretary of State's office were informed today that their employment will be terminated in January, when incoming Secretary of State John Thurston takes office. Though they will be paid through the end of the year, they were told to leave today.

Commission presents final recommendations to governor on school safety, including more armed security

The Arkansas School Safety Commission presented its final report to Governor Asa Hutchinson today, making 30 recommendations.

Muslim advocacy group calls for censure of Jason Rapert

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) yesterday issued a statement calling on the Arkansas legislature to censure Sen. Jason Rapert. Perhaps I could offer a thought experiment that might help Rapert understand why some view his innocent question-asking as bigoted.

It's election day

Runoff elections in Pulaski County are today, including the battle for Little Rock mayor between Frank Scott Jr. and Baker Kurrus. The polls are open and close at 7:30 p.m. Around 15,000 have already cast early votes.

Arkansas Democrats: "Our healthcare policy must be designed to help families, not hurt them"

The Democratic Party of Arkansas responded Monday to a recent report on the growing number of uninsured children in the state, calling on the state's Republican leaders to address the issue.

HBO show on Cabbage Patch Kids riots will be set in Arkansas


Pre-Coon Supper reception set for January 12

The pre-supper reception, the eighth hosted by Mitch Berry, will start at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 12. The seventy-sixth Gillett Coon Supper follows at the Gillett School Gymnasium at 6:30 p.m

Trump halts mail delivery tomorrow in National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush

President Trump has proclaimed tomorrow a National Day of Mourning in remembrance of former president George H.W. Bush, who died at 94 on Friday.

State revenue above forecast for November

Net available general revenues collected in November totaled $407 million, $28.1 million (7.4 percent) above this month last year, and $11.5 million (or 2.9 percent) above the state's forecast, the Department of Finance and Administration reported in its monthly report today.

Betty Guhman steps down as director of Division of Youth Services, plans to help governor push juvenile justice legislation

The Department of Human Services announced today that Betty Guhman, director of the department's Division of Youth Services, will step down.

Tuesday's headlines and open line

Runoff elections in Pulaski County are today; Betty Guhman steps down as director of Division of Youth Services, plans to push juvenile justice legislation for governor; Turnover at Secretary of State's office with Thurston set to take office; Muslim advocacy group calls for censure of Jason Rapert.

Moms Demand Action responds to school safety commission report

Arkansas Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, responded critically to the school safety commission's recommendations

Springdale School District allows Har-Ber Herald to repost censored articles on football transfers

The Springdale School District has decided to allow controversial student newspaper articles previously removed from the Har-Ber High School Herald's website to be reposted online

Frank Scott Jr. elected mayor of Little Rock, topping Baker Kurrus in runoff

Scott wins.

Stephanie Orman elected mayor of Bentonville, topping Walton-backed candidate and fending off dark money from D.C. Republican group

City Councilwoman Stephanie Orman was elected mayor of Bentonville last night. She handily topped the Walton-backed candidate, Jim Webb, in a runoff. The D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee poured $40,000 into the race with fliers promoting Webb.

Delta Queen riverboat will voyage on Arkansas River

Thanks to a new law, the historic Delta Queen is set to cruise the Arkansas River, as well as the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland, and Kanawha.

DEA agent in Little Rock field office arrested on bribery and drug conspiracy charges

A Drug Enforcement Administration special agent working in the Little Rock field office was arrested Monday night on federal bribery and drug conspiracy charges, federal prosecutors announced yesterday.

Rapert locked out of Twitter account due to comments about Muslims

Sen. Jason Rapert posted a video to Facebook last night stating that he had been temporarily barred from Twitter due to comments he posted regarding Muslims. He also promised to hold legislative hearings in Little Rock on social media companies' bias against Christian conservatives.

The high-priced lobby at DHS

The lobbying arm of the Department of Human Services is now paying more than $300,000 in annual state salaries to a trio of familiar Arkansas Republicans — two former state legislators and a longtime aide of Governor Hutchinson — to lobby the legislature.

Your midweek headlines and open line

Frank Scott Jr. elected mayor of Little Rock, topping Baker Kurrus in runoff; Senator Jason Rapert locked out of Twitter account due to comments about Muslims; DEA agent in Little Rock field office arrested on bribery and drug conspiracy charges; Delta Queen riverboat will voyage on Arkansas River.

Bonus episode of Rock the Culture: "Change Is Coming: Mayoral Election Edition"

In this bonus episode, Charles and Antwan provide conversation and perspective on Frank Scott, Jr.’s historic win as Mayor of Little Rock — live from the Election Night Watch Party.

Joyce Elliott and Clarke Tucker respond to Rapert's comments on Muslims; silence from Republican legislative leadership

"One of the most rewarding parts of doing my job as a legislator is the honor of serving all kinds of peoples," Elliott wrote in a statement on Facebook. "All means All." And Republican leadership in the legislature? No comment.

Former state Rep. Jim House dies at 70

Former state Rep. Jim House of Fayetteville has died at 70, after a tractor accident on his brother's property.

Man accused in 2005 beauty queen murder arrested for alleged attempt to kidnap women

Gary Dunn — the man accused but not convicted in the 2015 murder of Nona Dirksmeyer — has been arrested and accused of attempting to kidnap at least three women in Russellville.

The Washington Post's Radley Balko on Frank Scott and police reform

Radley Balko, the Washington Post reporter who has recently published powerful investigative work on abuses in the Little Rock Police Department wrote yesterday on the mayor's race and Frank Scott Jr.'s historic victory.

Roderick Talley out on bail; reporter raises questions about "suspicious circumstances" of charges against him

Speaking of Roderick Talley, I had meant to post earlier this week on some updates and commentary from Washington Post reporter Radley Balko on the latest in the current charges against Talley.

Governor grants fourteen pardons and one commutation

Governor Hutchinson today announced his intention to grant 14 pardons and 1 commutation. There is a 30-day public comment period before final action is taken.

Arkansas "Cabbage Patch Riots" at center of new HBO series

Christmas Eve riots in small town Arkansas circa 1983 are the source material for “The Dolls,” a limited series in development for HBO.

"Legend of Boggy Creek" to get 4K restoration; premieres June 2019

“The Legend of Boggy Creek,” Texarkana resident Charles B. Pierce’s 1972 docudrama about the storied Fouke Monster, is set for a 4K restoration, the Texarkana Gazette reports.

Ten out at Secretary of State's office

The D-G this morning adds a little detail to to our report from earlier this week on turnover at the Secretary of State's office.

Bill filed to "stop social media censorship"

Rep. Johnny Rye (R-Trumann) filed a bill this morning that would allow civil legal action against social media companies that "delete or censor" content posted by users.

Your Arkansas headlines and open line

Man accused in 2005 beauty queen murder arrested for alleged attempt to kidnap women; Former state Rep. Jim House dies at 70; Rep. Johnny Rye filed a bill this morning that would allow civil legal action against social media companies that "delete or censor" content posted by users.

The Van seeks to raise $35,000 in three weeks for new warehouse facility in South Little Rock

The Van, a nonprofit organization that brings supplies to people experiencing homelessness, is asking for $35,000 in donations to fund the purchase of a new warehouse facility on 2.5 acres of land in south Little Rock.