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December 20, 2018

Vol 45 • No 16

Read the print version

It's the Best and Worst 2018

Our annual salute to weird, worrisome, wonderful Arkansas.

Frank Doughty, Mid-century Modernist, subject of architecture lecture: Date correction

The work of Mid-Century Modernist Frank Doughty will be the subject of the Architecture and Design Network's Jan. 8 event at the Arts Center.

'Into the Spider-Verse' is a hallucinogenic web of pulpy styles

More is more.

Raw bunch

The major Arkansas programs continue to get one meaningful opportunity to take their talents to the center of the state each season and the pre-Christmas squaring off between the basketball Hogs and a generally inept foe has become tradition.

Can the NRA survive?

Make no mistake: Advocacy for the expansion of gun rights will remain vibrant in the United States. The suddenly relevant question is whether the National Rifle Association — the nation's largest and politically potent gun rights group for decades — will be at the head of that movement, thanks to the NRA's increasingly visible role in the relationship between the Russian government and the 2016 Trump campaign.

Newspaper transformation

Forty-six years ago this week I visited Little Rock in hopes of getting a job at the Arkansas Gazette. Then-Managing Editor Robert Douglas was friendly, but said (with good reason) that I was a little green.

LRSD targeted

Rutledge cheers potentially kicking folks off their health care and more.

Support ANNN

In the past year alone, our small organization has made an impact with major stories on political corruption, health care, juvenile justice and more.

Slow the school waiver train

The State Board of Education's controversial plan to waive the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act in the Little Rock School District (and now others under state takeover) has received a lot of attention in recent weeks. But few people are aware of a broader threat to educational standards, accountability and transparency for every public school in the state: waivers under Act 1240 of 2015.

'Subz Zero' comes to the Metroplex

Adam Faucett & The Tall Grass and Or share a bill at White Water Tavern.

Inconsequential News Quiz: The last weekly edition

Play at home, then flee the scene in a taxi.

Closer to the end

Is it possible we're witnessing the beginning of the end of Donald J. Trump's presidency? The signs and portents are coming so fast that it's hard to keep score.

Merry Christmas to all, except ...

Making a mint at Springdale's Shire Post

Where the speciality is fantasy coins.


If you're reading a paper copy of this esteemed publication right now, you're holding something special in your hands: the last weekly print edition of the Arkansas Times, the end of an unbroken chain that goes back and back, week by week, every week, to May 1992, when the Times became what the hep cats call an "alternative newsweekly."

Jimbo Mathus and the Dirty Crooks come to White Water Tavern

And much more.

Watercolor in the Park pleases the palate

Arts Center eatery is tasteful, tasty.

ACA will stand

If you are worried about your health care — and that ought to be nearly everyone — pay no attention to the triumphant tweet of President Trump last Friday or the hurrah the same day from Leslie Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general, after the most political judge in America declared the whole Affordable Care Act null and void.

Senate passes bill to avoid government shutdown, without Trump's requested funding for border wall

The Senate last night passed a stopgap measure to keep the government funded and avoid a shutdown. The funding bill does not include President Trump's requested $5 billion for a wall at the nation's southern border.

Vice Mayor Kathy Webb: "Do not remove the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act. And restore local control."

The state Board of Education will meet this morning in special session to discuss waiving the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act for all teachers in the Pine Bluff and Little Rock School Districts, both currently under state control.

Homicide on Dennison Street: Suspect accused of assaulting father with a brick

This was the the city's thirty-eighth homicide this year, according to police.

Lawsuits filed in Texas challenging law requiring state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel

The Texas lawsuits come after a suit was filed last week in federal court by the ACLU of Arkansas on behalf of Arkansas Times Limited Partnership, the company that owns and publishes the Arkansas Times, arguing that a similar state law violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Support the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

Until Dec. 31, every dollar ANNN receives in donations will be matched one-to-one by NewsMatch, a national campaign to grow nonprofit newsrooms. I want to thank all ANNN donors thus far and encourage anyone who values our work to give before the end of 2018.

Governor appoints Justin Tate to Arkansas Public Service Commission

Governor Hutchinson today announced the appointment of one of his current staffers, Justin Tate of Little Rock, to a six-year terms on the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

Update: State Board votes to waive the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act in Pine Bluff schools

The State Board of Education, as expected, voted to waive the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act for all Pine Bluff School District employees for the 2019/2020 school year.

Rep. Aaron Pilkington files "stand your ground" bill

Rep. Aaron Pilkington today filed a bill to enact a so-called "stand your ground" law, which would expand the circumstances under which a person could use deadly force in defense of self or others, even if there was an option to exit the situation without resorting to violence.

"A man died in my hometown of Augusta": On rural access to emergency medical care

Democratic Party of Arkansas chairman Michael John Gray issues a powerful call to action: "access to lifesaving treatment shouldn’t depend upon which ZIP code we live in."

U.S. House passes criminal justice bill, on to president's desk

The U.S. House of Representatives today easily passed the First Step Act, the bipartisan criminal justice reform effort, 358-36. The bill is now on to the president's desk; President Trump supports the measure.

Trump again threatens government shutdown if he doesn't get funding for border wall

After earlier indications from the White House that President Trump would sign a stopgap spending measure to keep the government funded through February 8, Trump once again reversed course and told House Republican this afternoon that he would not sign a bill that did not have $5 billion in funding for a wall at the border.

Open line

Here's your open line and the daily roundup of headlines.

Governor appoints Scott Willhite to Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission

Governor Hutchinson today announced the appointment of Jonesboro attorney Scott  Willhite to the state Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Update: State Board approves waiver of Teacher Fair Dismissal law in the LRSD, denies most other proposals

Former State Board of Education chair Sam Ledbetter, who was the decisive vote to take over the district back in Jan. 2015, urged the board to reject the proposed waivers. "If in January 2015, I had any notion that this board would act in this manner, I assure you my vote on state takeover would have been against it," he said.

Defense Secretary James Mattis resigns

The Pentagon released Mattis's resignation letter, which gets a bit salty in implicitly criticizing the president.

After state waives due process protections for LR teachers, Poore promises fairness and caution

Little Rock Superintendent Mike Poore said after the meeting that he would use his newfound power carefully. ""All I can do right now is promise that I’m going to be fair and I’m going to be really on top of looking at recommendations to make sure that there’s cause," he said.

Police shooting at Motel 6 on West Markham

KARK reports that a man is in critical condition after Little Rock Police Department officers shot him in the parking lot of a Motel 6 at 10524 W. Markham.

Rep. Johnny Rye files bill to prohibit relocating, removing, or renaming historical monuments

Plaque Lives Matter.

Marijuana Commission releases dispensary scores: UPDATE

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, which will award 32 dispensary licenses in eight regions at its Jan. 9 meeting, released today the scores submitted to it by the Public Consulting Group.

Former Southern Baptist leader with Arkansas ties indicted for sexual assault of a minor

Former Southern Baptist Convention official Mark Aderholt was indicted by a Tarrant County grad jury this week on one count of sexual assault of a child under 17 and three counts of indecency with a child.

Pediatric flu-related death in Arkansas reported

The state's first pediatric flu-related death of the season has been reported by the Arkansas Department of Health. The child was in the 0-4 age range.

Nation careens toward partial government shutdown; Trump says stuff

The president increasingly sounds like Gollum hankering for the Ring, slimy and desperate, ready to shut down the government to try to get his precious wall.

Legislation filed for Hutchinson's government reorganization plan

Rep. Andy Davis and Sen. Bart Hester are filing the first in a series of bills to implement the governor's proposed plan to reorganize state government, reducing the number of cabinet-level state agencies from 42 to 15.

Art-walking in Argenta tonight

North Little Rock's Argenta Arts District offers up some pre-Christmas festivity tonight with its Third Friday Argenta ArtWalk (5-8 p.m.) and shows at The Joint Theater and Coffee House and the Elks Lodge (curtain at 8 p.m.).

Suspect arrested in unsolved 2008 North Little Rock homicide

North Little Rock police announced the arrest yesterday of Nathaniel Smith III on charges of capital murder, in connection to a ten-year-old cold case.

Tom Cotton mentioned as possible new Secretary of Defense

Cotton never met an intervention he didn't like. George W. Bush "did largely have it right," Cotton has opined.

What happened at the State Board of Education and what does it mean

Where did the waiver idea come from? Why didn't Mike Poore more forcefully push back? Do advocates have a path forward, and where were Frank Scott, Mark Stodola and other community leaders?

37 artists win a spot in the 2019 "Small Works on Paper" artists

The touring "Small Works on Paper" exhibition put on by the Arkansas Arts Council will in 2019 feature the 39 works by 37 artists from every corner of the state, three of whom won cash awards.

Friday's headlines and your holiday open line

What happened at the State Board of Education and what does it mean; Legislation filed for Hutchinson's government reorganization plan; Pediatric flu-related death in Arkansas reported; Suspect arrested in unsolved 2008 North Little Rock homicide.

What the 2018 Farm Bill's legalization of industrial hemp could mean for Arkansas farmers and the hemp industry

The 2018 Farm Bill, signed Thursday by President Trump, removes hemp and its derivatives from the Controlled Substances Act, thus legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp and the hemp derivative CBD oil. The move stands to greatly change the hemp farming and product business.

Chronic wasting disease found in deer in Scott County

Bad news for the state's deer and elk: Chronic wasting disease has been found in Arkansas again.

Government shuts down as Trump insists on $5 billion in funding for border wall

With President Donald Trump huffing that he would not sign any bill without $5 billion in taxpayer money for his vanity project involving steel slats, lawmakers failed to reach an agreement by the midnight deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Little Rock police release information and report on police shooting at Motel 6 on W. Markham

Little Rock police have released additional information regarding a police shooting that took place at the Motel 6 at 10524 W. Markham late Thursday night.

Hutchinson and Rutledge receive letters of caution from Ethics Commission for receiving unlawful campaign contributions

Governor Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge get mulligans on ethics violations.

More on governor's bureaucratic trainwreck in Medicaid: Kaiser study finds confusion among beneficiaries on work requirements

Testimony from beneficiaries offers more evidence that the governor's busybody "work requirement" boondoggle has been a bureaucratic mess. There's no evidence that it's helping people get to work, but 17,000 Arkansans have been booted off their health insurance.

Open line

Over to you.

DHS set to impose Medicaid spending caps for at-home services under ARChoices

"Under the best case scenario ... you can get 6.5 hours a day in care, or 46 a week," De Liban said. "That's still not enough for a lot of the most limited folks. ... These budget caps are going to be destructive to a lot of people."

How deep is the dirt on Jon Woods?

Fresh reporting today on another questionable scheme in which Sen. Jon Woods provided taxpayer money to a friend. How many others might there be?

Bob Ballinger vows defeat of Democrat's legislation, sight unseen

Tribal bullying in Arkansas: Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger promises sight unseen to kill any legislation proposed by Democratic Rep.-elect Denise Garner.

The open line: Another night without legal marijuana in Arkansas

The open line comes with news about how Oklahoma rolled out medical marijuana six months after the people approved, but Arkansas still waits 25 months later.

Trump has everything under control. And that is the problem.

Donald Trump has moved up James Mattis' ouster because Trump was PO'ed about Mattis' criticism. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has taken the weird step of calling CEOs of the biggest banks to assure them and the country all is fine with the markets. And Mick Mulvaney says he's convinced Trump he can't fire the Federal Reserve chairman. Feel better now?

Holiday episode of Out in Arkansas podcast

This week T & A invite you to join their T & A Holiday Party where they talk about childhood memories and traditions. If you no longer have your old traditions don’t be afraid to create your own.

Merry Christmas from Asa's Arkansas: Lost health coverage

Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute contributes another unflattering review of Arkansas' implementation of a work rule for expanded Medicaid coverage, with the headline on the thousands who've lost vital coverage just as the holidays arrive.

The Christmas Eve open line

Christmas Eve revery. Make it the open line.

Merry Christmas and a tale of giving

A Christmas day open line includes a plug for a charity devoted to wiping out medical debts.

Wendell Griffen: Impeach Donald Trump

Shoud the Democratic House move immeidately to begin impeachment hearings on Donald Trump? Wendell Griffen says yes.

Widen the roads and more cars will come

Here's still more reporting on the folly of widening freeways and expecting that to end traffic congestion (see the Arkansas Department of Transportation and the sea of concrete it is pouring and wants to pour on the heart of Little Rock.)

Grassroots group backs Little Rock School District

That outpouring of support for both teachers specifically and the Little Rock School District at the recent state Board of Education meeting didn't just happen: It was a product of some old-fashioned organizing by school support groups old and new. Get on board:

Republican group spent $2.6 million failing to defeat Justice Courtney Goodson

Final campaign reports have been filed on the November elections, including a disclosure that the Republican State Leadership Committee's Judicial Fairness Initiative spent more than $2.6 million attempting unsuccessfully to defeat Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson.

Republican group also fails in Bentonville mayoral intervention

Speaking of losing bets by the Republican State Leadership Committee: It also threw more money into the runoff for Bentonville mayor and came up on the losing end after pumping $57,000 into the race.

No news on government shutdown

In case you were wondering: No progress is in sight on the partial federal government shutdown, which seems likely to extend into January. The rising House Democratic majority apparently will send out a spending bill after they are seated Jan. 3. Then Mitch McConnell gets it.

Former Razorback Daryl Macon gives mom a house for Christmas

Happy news here. Former Razorback Daryl Macon, now playing pro basketball for the Dallas Mavericks, gave his mother a house for Christmas.

Wednesday: The news and the open line

Here's a video roundup (and catchup) of news and comment. This is also the open line.

Lawsuit aims to open records at Harrison hospital

Fort Smith lawyer Joey McCutchen announced today a lawsuit aimed at opening records of the North Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison.

Trump visits Iraq today

Donald Trump made a surprise visit to troops in Iraq today, the day after Christmas, after criticism that he was the first president in 15 years not to make a troop visit on Christmas day. It was his first visit to a combat zone.

Rector police kill man with gun. Video captures shooting.

Rector police killed Gary Warbritton, 21, who reportedly pointed a gun at officers Wednesday afternoon outside a convenience store at Main Street and U.S. Highway 49, the State Police said.

The toll of school lockdowns

School shootings are rare, but precautionary lockdowns of schools are not, the Washington Post reports in an article that notes the trauma that can be caused by fear of, if not the reality of, violence in school.

Little Rock police investigating double homicide in SWLR

Little Rock police report a double homicide in Southwest Little Rock this morning. A woman and child were found dead in an apartment complex parking lot.

Donald Trump handles the truth by ignoring it. Is he lying?

There Donald Trump goes again, repeating a demonstrable piece of misinformation. Can we call hime a liar and be done with it. Or is it more disturbing than that?

Pine Bluff newspaper to end Sunday edition

The Pine Bluff Commercial will end a Sunday print edition beginning Jan. 8, but resume a Saturday edition that would carry sports results. It also will switch to Postal Service delivery of all papers.

Thursday: The daily video and an open line

Today's news: The Christmas week lull and government shutdown continue. This is the open line.

Scott announces inaugural events from prayer service to party

Frank Scott Jr., who'll take office as Little Rock mayor Jan. 1, has announced a schedule of events including a prayer service and party at Robinson Center.

Lawsuit filed to stop move to clear way for casino in Pope County UPDATE

Legal action developed on a couple of fronts today because outgoing Pope County Judge Jim Ed Gibson has issued a letter approving a casino in Pople County before he leaves office Dec. 31. Voters in the county have passed an ordinance requiring a vote before the county judge issues such approval and the incoming county judge Ben Cross, as well as the incoming Russellville, mayor, have said they don't support a casino.