It's our annual roundup of the year's dumbest, weirdest, oddest, strangest and all-around Arkansasiest.
Best & Worst 2014December 25, 2014
Vol 41 • No 16
Amasa Hines, Cory Branan, The Big Dam Horns, DJ Sno White and more.
Also, the Andrew Christian Trophy Boys at Sway.
Also, Holiday Art Shows at Gallery 26, Hayes Carll at Revolution, Fresco Grey at Vino's, Big Boss Line at White Water and W. Kamau Bell at Juanita's.
Leaving story behind, trilogy finale overdoses on special effects.
An independent commission appointed by the governor, legislative leaders and the chief justice began work last week to fulfill part of Issue 3, the constitutional amendment that eased term limits, banned lobbyist gifts to legislators (sort of) and provided a mechanism for pay raises.
On Nov. 16, 1776, Gen. George Washington stood on the Jersey Palisades and peered across the Hudson River through his telescope as the British tortured American militiamen who had surrendered and then put them to the sword. Hearing the screams of his men, according to an aide, Washington turned and sobbed "with the tenderness of a child."
Also, sympathy for the plight of "The Interview," Alice Walton reportedly paying a lot for a coffee table and by the number, IKEA-style.
Unless you're in East Little Rock or hungry for a veggie sandwich.
Arkansas guard Michael Qualls looks to drive to the goal against Southeast Missouri State guard Jarekious Bradley in second-half action at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Arkansas defeated Southeast Missouri State 84-67.
Bowl games run the gamut, from the oddball and uninteresting to the compelling and rich (hat tip to Ron Burgundy). It's hard to imagine how Arkansas-Texas in any scenario would be a yawner, and the AdvoCare Texas Bowl next Monday night is a sellout for the first time in the game's relative infancy, so the appeal is unquestioned from the regional assessment and even on a broader scale will be embraced.
I was a college professor for about 20 years at three colleges, two in Arkansas. In eight years on the Arkansas House of Representatives Education Committee in the 1970s, I observed and interacted with directors of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
In which a state agency and the telecom industry gouge public schools for millions.
This will be the last Observer for 2014, and The Observer has a lot of things to be thankful for in our 40th year on Planet Earth, system Sol, Milky Way Galaxy.
In another week with more than its share of race-based strain on display across the nation, an Arkansas story was one of the saddest and most frustrating. It involved allegations of wide-scale theft of public dollars by a sponsor and administrators of a summer feeding program for poor children financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
KTHV reports on the likely closure of Literacy Action of Central Arkansas in January because of the nonprofit's loss of state funding.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, in his final days in office, has doled out another bit of state money without appropriation to Arkansas State University, whose main campus is in his hometown of Jonesboro, for its engineering program.
An AP interview with Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang indicates again that the only hope for continuing the private option version of Medicaid expansion is with some major alterations in the program to suit the anti-Obamacare element in the larger GOP majority.
The Christmas Day open line includes a report from Fifth Avenue, New York.
Paul Krugman looks back on 2014 and finds more successes for the federal government than a restive electorate might indicate.
The New York Times reports on a new incarnation of the sub-prime mortgage lending racket. It's the car title loan — fast credit for clunkers and exorbitant interest rates that too often leave poor people in the hole and without the cars whose titles they gave up for small loans.
Holiday cheer can turn ugly once the presents are open and the party winds down. Here's your Friday open line with our guide to surviving the Christmas aftermath.
Media Matters rounds up the dubious conservative media plays of the year. Mike Huckabee naturally makes the list.
Boxing Day turns up not much news from my angle, but lots of shoppers.
Five members of a Rogers, Ark., family returning home from Michigan were killed Friday when their car crossed a median of a freeway in Indiana and was struck by an oncoming truck.
A Nebraska liberal writes of the plight of the lonely progressives in a state dominated by Republicans. Sound familiar?
I'm off to the airport for a flight home to Little Rock. See you in the morning.
Some advice for the new politicians' pay commission: Don't get carried away. Where did this idea come that increasing pay at the top (lawmakers, economic development directors) would trickle down on the least of us?
The New York Times reports on the expected ill effect of expiration of federal support of payments for primary care under Medicaid commensurate with Medicare. With many more people covered by Medicaid now, the fear is that declining pay for doctors will make access harder for the bigger audience.
Legislation filed for 2015 include a big tax cut, legislative incursions on the power of the executive and judicial branches and a particularly problematic bill that will favor upper income families in awards of lottery scholarships.
The Jennings Osborne Christmas light display burns on at Disney['s Hollywood Studios in Florida and still draws many admirers. A Florida writer tells this story behind this year's display.
Troy Holmes, 37, was fatally shot about 11 p.m. Saturday in his home at 72123 Stevenson Drive in a dispute related to custody of an infant. It was the 42nd Little Rock homicide of the year.
Brighten up a cold and dreary day.
Nov. 20, a federal judge and the Arkansas Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The federal judge has ruled, but the Supreme Court has not. Might the silence be broken the last week of 2014?
Did I miss the memo that declared today a state holiday? Where is everybody? For a slow morning, you could do a lot worse than snacking on David Koon's review of the high and lowlights of Arkansas in 2014.
CNN polling on 2016 president race puts Hillary Clinton ahead of the preferred Republican contenders, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie
Explosive cost increases call for a performance audit of higher education, an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal argues. It perhaps also makes the case for on-line education.
One state commission will be at work this week — the independent body studying whether the legislature, state elected officials and judges deserve pay raises.
A spokesman for the Arkansas Supreme Court said today she didn't expect a decision this year in the same-sex marriage case, "but anything is possible." A delay until next year will put a wrinkle in deliberations.
Domestic abuse cases pile up on the first day after the Christmas holiday at the county courthouse.
Trekking out to the wilds of Highway 10 didn't bring any revelations in terms of great food. There was decent, and then there was the burger.
Mayor Mark Stodola racked up a $100,000 campaign kitty while running unopposed for another term as mayor this year.
In a special telephone meeting today, the Arkansas Lottery Commission approved a three-year contract extension with Intralot, a supplier of on-line and instant lottery games, that will eventually reduce Intralot's take and save the lottery an estimated $5 million over the duration of the contract, through August 2019.
How Asa Hutchinson plans to use early passage of an income tax cut to coerce obedient private option votes from Democrats. The missing link: The reactionary Republicans. They might not vote for the private option no matter what.
Here's the Monday night Texas Bowl open line.
Officials confirm that debris and bodies found off the coast of Borneo are from the crash of an AirAsia flight that disappeared Dec. 28 on a flight from Indonesia to Singapore.
The Democrat-Gazette reported this morning on a note in a Legislative Audit review of the Lottery Commission that there was no documented working schedule for Lottery Director Bishop Woosley.
The independent citizens commission that is reviewing with state lawmakers, state officials and judges deserve a pay raise will meet at 8:30 a.m. today at Room 272 of the Capitol. Too bad it's not going to be streamed live on the web for greater public accountability.
The commission studying state official pay increases needs some research help. And, it heard today, there's some conflicting factors in the question of whether the state can afford pay increases it might recommend.
Pulaski County ranks high in a Brookings Institute ranking of U.S. counties based on average capital gains reported in 2012. A few people did very well, apparently.
The American Humanist Association explains why it sued over Baxter County's refusal to allow anything but a Christian observance on the courthouse lawn in Mountain Home during the Christmas season.
The Arkansas Coalition for Reproductive Justice has scheduled its fifth rally for reproductive justice at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24 at the Arkansas State Capitol. It serves as a useful counterpoint to the annual anti-abortion rally held the next day at the Capitol.
Politco's Kenneth Vogel reports on the 100 biggest poitical campaign givers in 2014 and includes some of the most extensive remarks I've seen yet about the prolific giving by poultry tycoon Ron Cameron of Little Rock, who gave $4.2 million, 13th on the list
Texas, the biggest holdout, may be moving toward an Arkansas-style adoption of the Obamacare-financed Medicaid expansion. But ... will Arkansas continue to participate?
A three-judge Kansas court has now ruled that Kansas funding of public schools falls short of long-established constitutional standards.
The State Police said today that a 44-year-old man wanted by Houston police died at a Hope hospital today from a self-inflicted gunshot wound during a traffic stop.
A pleasant surprise from the barbecue chain.
Southwestern Electric Power Company announced in a news release today that it is dropping plans for a $116 million power line across Northwest Arkansas because the project is no longer needed. It would have covered 60 miles between Benton and Carroll Counties.
Dr. Greg Bledsoe, son of Republican Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, will become Arkansas surgeon general, incoming Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today.
The open line and video news roundup.
As Republicans rush to fill state patronage positions, the name of former Sen. Bruce Holland emerges as a candidate for a couple of potential offices.
Some $100 million in tax cuts take effect Thursday and the incoming governor wants to double those cuts in the early days of the 2015 legislative session. What about the private option? The question looms larger.
A House race in Little Rock, won by a Democrat Clarke Tucker, outspent by Republican Stacy Hurst, cost far more than four of the races for statewide office.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's video holiday message includes an image of a male sailor's marriage proposal to another male sailor. It's believed the first depiction of a gay military couple in such messages.
The new normal: A country club reception in Little Rock for a newlywed men. Someday, it might even be legal here.
One Klansman from Boone County is heading to prison and another Klansman has leased a billboard to send people to kkkradio.com. Harrison's racial turmoil is not over.
Arkansas's new surgeon general once fought a valiant but losing fight at the legislature to reinstate mandatory helmets for motorcycle riders. It's unknown if that will be part of the focus of his work in the future. The private option is of more pressing concern.
As I predicted here earlier, Gov. Mike Beebe's midnight appointments as lame-duck governor includes a third appointment of Cliff Hoofman to a two-year stint filling a vacated appellate court seat.
Asa Hutchinson, the governor elect, announced that Amy Fecher would be director of the agency, succeeding John Andrews. Currently working for the Heart Association, she was deputy director of the agency under Mike HUckabee's administration.
The New Year's Eve open line; and a note on the passing of another of member of the Women's Emergency Committee
The New Year's Eve open line. And a warm word for another earthly departure for a member of the storied Women's Emergency Committee Jeanne Gallman Akins.
Plaintiffs for Mayflower landowners say that shows the company knew in advance that the existing Pegasus — which ruptured in 2013 — was nearing the end of its lifespan. Exxon attorneys, however, insist that the proposed Texas Access Pipeline was never intended to replace the older pipeline.
A home security camera in northern Pulaski County catches a young man picking up a package that had been left at the home by UPS. The sheriff's office suspects something is amiss.