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Natives Guide

Natives Guide

December 27, 2018

Vol 45 • No 17

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A mural to move Little Rock forward

Restored Joe Jones painting centerpiece of new UA Little Rock Downtown.

A Little Rock late-night eatery rundown

Nine for the nighttime.

Where to get help in Central Arkansas

A guide to where to look.

The year in Central Arkansas in photos

Here’s a look at the year 2018 in Little Rock through the lens of Arkansas Times photographer Brian Chilson.

Pranksters send up Arkansas cities on Facebook

Here's a great roundup of fake Facebook pages for Arkansas cities, courtesy of NEA Reports. They popped up throughout the year and were not been always met with humor by officials of lampooned cities, ranging from Little Rock to Paragould.

Euphemism watch: 'Education savings accounts' law means school vouchers

A forecast of school legislation in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning included the almost-certain return of expanded school voucher legislation in Arkansas, though it was pla

Frank Scott Jr. promises 'new day', draws large crowd in Little Rock mayoral inauguration ceremony

Promising a "new day" in Little Rock government, Frank Scott Jr. was inaugurated today as the city's first popularly elected black mayor. He was cheered on by a largely black crowd of over 1,000 that nearly filled Robinson Center Performance Hall, a significant departure from the small inauguration ceremonies held in years past at Little Rock City Hall.

The inaugural open line

Reader comment welcome.

Moral revival in Little Rock, plus public policy and Jerry Falwell Jr.

The New Year brings news of an appearance in Little Rock by the electrifying Rev. Dr. William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, who'll bring his message to Arkansas for the opening of the legislature, where attitudes toward poor people could use some adjustment. Though perhaps not as much as in the mind of Jerry Falwell Jr.

Minimum wage increase forecasts more progressive policy moves

The Washington Post focuses on Arkansas voters' increase in the minimum wage and leadership by lawyer David Couch as part of an article predicting more investment in progressive ballot initiatives.

Quality pre-K pays off. See Alabama

More reading for the 2019 legislature from Mother Jones: A big payoff for Alabama's investment in quality (note emphasis) pre-K education.

Gene Lyons: The wall and Trump's new reality show

Though the Times has gone to a new monthly format, that doesn't mean you'll no longer be hearing from our columnists. Today, Gene Lyons writes about the idiocy of Trump's wall, the new political reality the president faces and what the Congress should do to create real reforms in border security and how to handle asylum seekers.

Oklahoma marijuana could be available to Arkansans, but there's a catch UPDATE

Oklahoma is willing to help Arkansans receive medical marijuana, but an Arkansas catch prohibits it.

Another year, another open line

Here we go again: an open line and the day's video roundup of news and comment.

Hutchinson names Kenneth Gibson of Fort Smith to state Highway Commission

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named Keith Gibson of Fort Smith, a telecommunications executive, to the state Highway Commission for a 10-year term in a seat that had been held by Dick Trammel.

Argenta Core no more

The Core pub in North Little Rock has called it quits.

Photos from Frank Scott inauguration day events

Brian Chilson was on hand for the Jan. 1 inauguration of Frank Scott Jr. as Little Rock mayor and the "Unite Little Rock: The People's Party" in the William Grant Still Ballroom of Robinson Center Performance Hall.

Rocky transition in the Pope County judge's office UPDATE

A new wrinkle in Pope County,  where controversy brews over a casino project. Ben Cross, the new county judge, took office Jan. 1 to find the previous judge, Jim Ed Gibson, stripped it of records before departing.UPDATE: The departed judge says they are in storage.

'True Detective' season 3 gets positive early reviews

"True Detective" season 3, debuting on HBO Jan. 13 and filmed and set in Northwest Arkansas, is a return form for the anthology series, critics seem to agree. That's good news. Because Arkansas has so few moments in popular culture, you were obligated to watch it to support the scenery and local extras and so you could knowingly tell your spouse, "They fished that dead body out of the Monte Ne ruins." So I'm glad to hear people think it's worthwhile.

Audubon petitions Hutchinson to reject dicamba ruling: UPDATE

Audubon Arkansas is circulating a petition to Governor Hutchinson asking that he reject the state Plant Board's vote to extend the use of the controversial herbicide dicamba.

Jim Bailey, sportswriting legend, dies at 86

Jim Bailey, the Arkansas sportswriter known by other newspaper people as the gold standard for reporting and writing, has died at 86.

Ultima Thule? Isn't that in Sevier County?

The scientific world is buzzing about NASA's photographic flyby of Ultima Thule, a space object known as a "contact binary." This has, in turn, set off a buzz about an Ultima Thule much closer to home, in Sevier County to be precise.

Suit over Ferrari bought in Arkansas leads to $5.8 million damage award

KFSM reports here on a jury's award of $5.8 million in damages against Mercedes-Benz of Northwest Arkansas in a lawsuit by the purchaser of a used Ferrari who claimed deceptive trade practice by the dealer.

Handicapping the choice of director of the Public Employees Retirement System

Care to handicap who'll be chosen to be the next director of the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System, where a board newly controlled by Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently forced the retirement of Gale Stone? Our morning line favors Duncan Baird.

William Trice to lead Arkansas Repertory Theatre

Will Trice, a Little Rock native and Tony-winning New York producer, has been named to lead the revival of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He's the new executive artistic director.

Will Trice is new executive artistic director at Arkansas Repertory Theatre

It's official: Will Trice, Little Rock native, Central High graduate and three-time Tony Award-winning producer, will take the helm at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre as artistic executive director. Trice has been acting as a consultant with The Rep since December 2018, and assumes his role in August 2019.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette will cease its monthly Arkansas Life magazine without sufficient paid subscriptions UPDATE

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has mailed a notice that it will cease publication of its monthly Arkansas Life magazine, which has been circulated for free by mail, unless sufficient people sign up as paid subscribers.

State revenue continues to run ahead of forecasts, but some dips in December

Arkansas tax revenue in December, the sixth month of the fiscal year, was $605.9 million, 2.8 percent above last year and 1.5 percent above the forecast on which the state budget is based.
Arkansas Times Publisher Alan Leveritt.

Arkansas Times publisher defends the 1st Amendment

Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times, writes for the ACLU website on why the newspaper has sued to contest an Arkansas law meant to discourage or prevent state business with people who won't sign a pledge not to boycott Israel.

A prayer for Little Rock

One glaring omission in my coverage (and that of others) of the Jan. 1 inauguration of Frank Scott as Little Rock mayor was the stirring "New Year's blessing" Preston Clegg, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in downtown Little Rock, delivered to close the ceremony.

Thursday: The news roundup and open line

It's that time: The daily video roundup of news and comment and the open line.

Racing Commission rules get a tweak in apparent response to Pope County casino furor

Byron Freeland, attorney for the Arkansas Racing Commission, has distributed a proposed change in draft rules for the regulation of casino gambling that would clarify a potential controversy over what constitutes approval by a local official of a casino application.

A system designed to fail: Arkansas's Medicaid work reporting rule

Josh Mahony, the Democrat who ran for 3rd District Congress this year, has posted a video on Twitter that illustrates one of the many flaws in  the system by which Arkansas first mandated computer-only reporting to qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage. If you have a computer, have access, have e-mail can figure out the process, you still might be stymied by not having an up to date browser.

The messy business of governance: Bless the troublemakers in LR and NLR

A huge crowd and uplifting blessings Tuesday cheered many about the rise of Frank Scott Jr. as the first popularly elected black mayor of Little Rock. But I got an e-mail last night that reminded me how quickly reality bites in the form of troublemakers. Bless them, too.

Double homicide reported near King and Roosevelt

Mitch McCoy of KARK/Fox 16 reports two are dead in a shooting near M.L. King Drive and Roosevelt Road in Little Rock this morning.

Windgate gives $12 million to Fort Smith museum

The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum was awarded $12 million from the Windgate Charitable Foundation to endow its general operations and programming, the Southwest Times Record reports.

Judge takes Arkansas Times challenge of Israel boycott law under advisement

Federal Judge Brian Miller heard arguments today from the Arkansas Times and the ACLU for an injunction against the Arkansas law that requires state contractors to sign a pledge not to engage in a boycott against Israel. He said he wanted to do more research before ruling.

As the Pope County casino turns UPDATE

Here's a brief update on the machinations about the possibility of a casino in Pope County under the new Amendment 100, which expanded casino gambling in Arkansas.

Friday: Headlines and the open line

The open line and today's video roundup of news and comment.

Four licensed to grow hemp by state Plant Board

The Arkansas State Plant Board has issued licenses for industrial hemp cultivation and processing.

'Vice' is daft, dark and dadaistic

Bale's Cheney is a quiet, calculating emperor on the rise.

What Leila Dockery learned during her three-year journey walking every street in Little Rock

Leila Dockery, 62, recently completed a three-year walking journey during which she walked every street in every neighborhood in Little Rock. And she's got a map to prove it.

The Drama in Pope County Edition

Max and Lindsey talk about drama in Pope County, new Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, medical marijuana and more.

Asa warns against buying medical marijuana in Oklahoma

Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a warning to Arkansans this evening that though they might soon be able to obtain legal medical marijuana in Oklahoma, it won't be legal to bring it to Arkansas or possess it here.

Last call! Enter the 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

Miss the New Year's Day deadline to enter the 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase? You're in luck.

Plant board to accept comments on dicamba, sets Feb. 20 hearing

The State Plant Board announced today it will take written public comments on the use of the weed-killer dicamba on dicamba-resistant soybean and cotton varieties from Monday, Jan. 7, through Tuesday, Feb. 5, and hold a public hearing on the subject at 9 a.m. Feb. 20 at the Embassy Suites, 11301 Financial Centre Parkway.

'Sacrifice, thy name is Ballinger': A local newsman's tribute to the senator

Please read a biting column in the Carroll County News by managing editor Scott Loftis responding to Sen. Bob Ballinger's explanation for news of his state income tax delinquency — the sacrifice he has to make economically for public service.

Mickey Gates' attorney details defense on tax case

The Hot Springs Sentinel-Record reports on a hearing in the felony tax case against Republican Rep. Mickey Gates of Hot Springs in which his attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, laid out a "good faith" defense for Gates failure to file income tax returns.

A river runs through a morning open line

An open line with a river view.

Police identify homicide victims

Little Rock police have identified the two men fatally shot around 10 a.m. Friday near M.K. King Drive and Roosevelt Road, but said little about what caused the killings.

Open line: Plus UPDATE, Faulkner deputy fired after shooting dog

Tonight's open line includes information about a story that's getting heavy attention on social media today: A Faulkner County deputy has been fired for shooting a small barking dog.

Corn through a goose: Or how the legislature is manipulated by special interests

Here's the bigger picture on a good story in the Democrat-Gazette today on manipulation of a Republican legislator by some sketchy characters with sketchy legislation.

How Arkansas discourages teaching doctors about abortion

Here's a worthy example of how Arkansas public policy set by the legislature has real life consequences: The difficulty of receiving training in and performing a legal and sometimes life-saving medical procedure — abortion.

Sunday afternoon headlines: Deaths, an arrest, lies, tariffs and a dog

A traffic death, a double homicide, a dishonest press secretary and a progress report on dog shot by deputy are among an unusual burst of Sunday news headlines.

The Sunday open line

The readers have the floor.

Are Trump supporters in Arkansas bothered by the Syria reversal?

Is anybody in the solid Trump majority in Arkansas troubled at all by the lack of dependability in White House leadership?

Want to get 'primal'? Grab your axe and head to Bentonville

40/29 brightens my morning with a report that the state's first axe-throwing facility, the Urban Forest Axe House, has opened in Bentonville.

SWEPCO looking for more wind energy

Southwestern Electric Power Company, which serves many customers in Arkansas, issued a release today saying it was asking for proposals to provide 1,200 megawatts of additional wind-generated energy by the end of 2021.

Bread and Roses Cooperative opening on Markham in January

Fourteen Little Rock artisans are working to open Bread and Roses Cooperative, Little Rock’s first worker-owned store, cafe and community arts center, this month at 2909 W. Markham St., in Stifft Station.

Will Trice wants to provide Rep audiences with a ‘great night out’

Meet Will Trice, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's new executive artistic director.

Central Arkansas Astronomical Society: five sky events to look for in 2019

The Central Arkansas Astronomical Society gives us five good reasons to turn our gazes upward in 2019.

MIA on the shutdown: Arkansans in Congress on thousands of federal workers in state

The federal government shutdown affects more than Democratic-leaning voters in the Washington area. You'd think we'd have heard at least some sympathetic noises from the Arkansas congressional delegation by now.

Monday: Headlines and the open line

Monday: The video news roundup and your open line.

Little Rock native soprano Kristin Lewis makes Met debut tonight

Renowned lyrico-spinto soprano Kristin Lewis, a Little Rock native who began her voice studies under the tutelage of Dr. Martha Antolik at the University of Central Arkansas, makes her debut at the Metropolitan Opera tonight.

Verizon Arena opens a VIP lounge: A correction

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, for Legends Lounge in Verizon Arena, a space where people can go to avoid the hoi polloi and drink and eat.

Pay-as-you-go electric scooters hit the River Market

Lime pay-as-you-go electric scooters are available starting today in the River Market as part of a six-month pilot project between Lime and the city of Little Rock. Up to 500 scooters could eventually be deployed downtown during the pilot. The scooters cost $1 to unlock with an app and 15 cents per minute of riding thereafter.

Marijuana advocate joins Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission

A vacancy on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission was filled yesterday by the appointment of an Arkansas Children's Hospital nurse who advocates use of medical marijuana, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Hunter Field reported this morning.

Don't miss: Walking Little Rock and Will Trice at The Rep

ICYMI: Great stores from the Arkansas Times about walking the streets of Little Rock and a new leader of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Russian lawyer, one-time French HIll contact, charged in money laundering case

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has been charged with obstruction of justice in a money laundering investigation separate from Robert Mueller's probe.  Republican Rep. French Hill of Little Rock got information from her during a 2016 trip to Russia with the Russians' favorite congressman, since defeated, Dana Rohrbacher.

Casino group promises charitable foundation if it gets casino license

The Mississippi casino group that wants to get a license in Pope County is dangling the promise of $1 million a year in local charitable contributions if it's successful.

Fight on Stagecoach Road leads to shooting death

Donald Blackburn, 59, was shot to death about 8 p.m. Monday after he allegedly attacked a property manager with a club.

How to ride a Lime e-scooter in heels

The Arkansas Times Brooke Wallace provides a demo.

Kat-chicken, Kat-pickles, Kat-fish: Robinson does it again

Food writer and former Arkansas Times Eat Arkansas blogger Kat Robinson has released her third book, this time "Arkansas Food: The A to Z of Eating in the Natural State," she's announced.

Magic Springs announces portion of 2019 concert lineup

Magic Springs announced eight of 14 concerts in its 2019 Summer Concert Series.

The Tuesday news roundup and open line

Tuesday: Headlines by video and the open line.

Arkansas's Medicaid rule unfixable, group says

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities called press today to say that research shows Arkansas's work reporting rule to qualify for Medicaid health coverage is unworkable (we knew that) and unfixable.

Big box retailers seek to slash property taxes; local governments suffer. Yes, it's happening here

The New York Times wrote this week about an aggressive effort by Walmart and other big box retailers to slash property taxes by claiming lower values on their properties because of the impact of online retailing. Yes, it's underway in Arkansas.

Another charge, a small one, from Preferred Family fraud probe

The attorney general's office announced today a new charge related to alleged fraud by a former employee of Preferred Family Healthcare, the former provider of services tied up in multiple criminal charges and investigations. This one was small change, relatively speaking.

Lyons: Not so fast on impeachment, Democrats

Gene Lyons writes in his weekly column that the Democrats could assure four more years of Trump with a premature move to impeach the president.

Shocker! Asa insider Duncan Baird tapped to head agency Asa controls, Public Employees Retirement System

Told you so. Former Republican legislator Duncan Baird has been picked as the new director of the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System.

Little Rock announces re-entry services available around King holiday

"We all understand that we have brothers and sisters that are reentering society," Mayor Frank Scott said. "We have to make sure that we focus on workforce development for them, for economic development for them, to make sure we have welcoming arms for them ..."

B.J. Wyrick is new vice mayor of Little Rock

B.J. Wyrick, city director for ward 7, is the new vice mayor of Little Rock.

UPDATE: Trump: same old same old. Arkies regurgitate

Watch Trump? What did you think? Arkansas Republicans have their crafted "crisis" talking points, facts notwithstanding.

Medical Marijuana Commission meets today

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will consider a consultant's scoring of dispensary applications at a meeting at 4:30 p.m. today at the 1515 Building. The meeting is to be live-streamed on Facebook.

Where is Mike Maggio? And other timely concerns in public corruption probe

The whereabouts of Mike Maggio, the former judge serving a 10-year bribery sentence, have fueled talk that new developments might be imminent in his public corruption case. The known facts:

Survey: Arkansas schools hostile to LGBT kids

GLSEN, a group that works to promote safety in schools for gay, lesbian, bisexual,, transgender and queer students, says its annual survey shows Arkansas schools are unsafe for such students.

State Police Lt. Brant Tosh suspended for personal use of state employees, vehicles

Last month State Police Director William Bryant gave Lt. Brant Tosh of Jonesboro, commander of the Troop F criminal investigation division, a seven-day unpaid suspension for rule violations. The agreed action says Tosh also may not seek promotion for a year.

Little Rock Chamber to announce study of program to better prepare high school students

The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, a major force in the state takeover of the Little Rock School District four years ago, says it will announce an initiative Friday to help high school education in the four public school districts in Pulaski County.

Wednesday: Headlines and the open line

Wednesday: A news roundup by video and the open line.

Draft casino rules to be considered Thursday

The state Racing Commission, which will regulate casino gambling under the new Amendment 100, meets at 11 a.m. Thursday and is expected to begin a 30-day comment period on rules regulating licensing and casino operations.

Former Pope County judge challenges local casino ordinance

Jim Ed Gibson, the former Pope County judge who gave lame-duck approval to Mississippi casino operators should they apply for a license in Arkansas, has asked that a lawsuit against him over his letter of approval be dismissed.

More guns in school make kids safer, right Sen. Garner?

KARK reports that a school resource officer in Dardanelle, a swarrant office for the local sheriff, left a gun in a bathroom recently. Hey **** happens, but not if we add gun-toting to the duties of teachers, legislators promise.

Annals of #MeToo, Las Vegas newspaper edition

Columbia Journalism Review has an eextensive article about allegations of sexual discrimination and harassment at Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, a story that has distant connections to Arkansas

State Medical Marijuana Commission accepts dispensary and cultivator application scores: UPDATED

In a meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the state Medical Marijuana Commission accepted the application results and scores submitted to it by the Public Consulting Group.

Chihuahua recovering from shooting by deputy

KTHV reports that Reese's, the nine-pound chihuahua shot last week by a Faulkner County deputy, is recovering well following two surgeries for a gunshot to the jaw.

Federal court watch: Four sealed indictments this week

Sealed indictments may — or may not — hold news in the ongoing federal public corruption probe.

Whoops: Dramatic cost increase and change in scope for the I-30 concrete gulch in Little Rock UPDATE

The Arkansas Highway Department issued a news release yesterday announcing the Highway Commission had selected the Kiewit-Massman Constructors combine to build the 30 Crossing project through downtown Little Rock.  The news release obscured major developments — a dramatic shortage of money likely means a dramatic change in scope of the project.

Thursday To-Do: Greg Spradlin and The Libras at White Water Tavern

Greg Spradlin and The Libras return to the White Water Tavern tonight.

The nasty man in the White House

Donald Trump talked to reporters for a bit before heading to a border photo op. Vox puts it this way:

Racing Commission reviews casino rules

Some points of interest about casino gambling emerged as the state regulatory commission began reviewing proposed operating rules.

Kevin Murphy picked as permanent head of Community Correction

The state Board of Corrections at a special called meeting this morning voted without dissent to hire interim chief Kevin Murphy as permanent head of the Community Correction Department.

More allegations against Bernie campaign staff and an Arkansas connection

On the heels of reports by the The New York Times and Politico on claims of pay disparity,  sexism and toxic masculinity by staffers working on U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign comes a new article from Politico outlining sexual harassment and sexual assault allegedly committed by Robert Becker, described as a former top aide to Sanders and a deputy national field director for the campaign.

Free-range kids bill, take two

State Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale) is back again with more proposed changes to the Arkansas child welfare system. Late last year, he filed SB 12 which, like his similar bill from 2017 that passed in the Senate with bipartisan support but later died in House committee, excludes certain acts of parents, custodians, foster parents and guardians from being defined as "criminal" or "neglect."

Thursday: News headlines and the open line

Thursday: A video news roundup and the open line.

Kemp names former justice to state pay-setting commission

Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp announced today that he'd chosen retired Supreme Court Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck to the Independent Citizens Commission that meets annually to set pay for elected state officials, including judges.

Arkansas a 'cautionary tale' for states considering Medicaid work requirements, health advocates say

The low reporting rate suggests that beneficiaries who have found new employment did so because they were already seeking a job, not because Arkansas's work requirement newly motivated them to do so, according to policy analysts.

Terrible showing from Hogs

Young basketball teams — we’ll routinely exclude those at Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and the like, which feature top-tier talent at every position — really struggle to find cohesiveness. Arkansas’s 2018-19 men’s squad is often described as the “youngest team in America” because there are no seniors and only a single scholarship upperclassman (junior forward Adrio Bailey) on the roster.

Alcohol probed in wrong-way death on I-40

Fox 16 reports that Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control and Little Rock police are reviewing the case of Brianne Carter, 21, killed when her car driving the wrong way on Interstate 40 collided with a MEMS ambulance.

Arkansas Republicans oppose money for food safety, agriculture. French Hill hypocrisy on display.

House Democrats Thursday passed legislation to provide money for the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration, with all four Arkansas Republicans opposing the measure. Stay on for a dose of GOP hypocrisy from Rep. French Hill.

It's a long way from Rose City: Jerry Jones buys $250 million super yacht

Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones, who has humble roots in Rose City, has joined the pinnacle of the super wealthy, with purchase of a $250 million yacht. I don't think it's designed for Arkansas River cruising, but it'd be a sight tied up on the North Little Rock riverbank near his old stomping grounds.

Dozens of schools, including those run by state school chief, have ignored law by punishing truants with out-of-school suspension

KATV highlights an item of education interest — dozens of Arkansas schools are punishing truants with out-of-school suspension, contrary to a 2013 state law that was supposed to prohibit this. It gets worse:

Asa's tax plan was even better for the rich than originally thought, while increasing taxes for 200,000

Back to the drawing board on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's tax cut for the rich. Turns out it's even worse than it appeared.

Big Fish of North Central Arkansas dispensary coming to Heber Springs

The Big Fish of North Central Arkansas dispensary, which received the second highest score in zone 2 with 342.17 points earned, will be located at 1400 Heber Springs Road in Heber Springs and hopes to open within the next few months. Josh Landers is an owner, and other owners include Dr. Regina Thurman, Marshal Wright and Eddie Garcia.

Friday To-Do: Art Not Bombs

At Central Arkansas Library System's Bookstore at Library Square for Second Friday Art Night tonight is "Art Not Bombs," a collection of artwork by Victor Wiley and a celebration of the late musician and artist's life.

The growing movement to stop 287(g) in Northwest Arkansas gets national attention

Daniel Nichanian, editor of The Appeal, a national website focused on local criminal justice systems, writes about the coalition of Northwest Arkansas activists working to end the voluntary participation of Washington and Benton Counties in the controversial 287(g) program that allows the federal government to delegate immigration enforcement duties to local law enforcement.

Bold Team OK'd to start cultivating cannabis Rx

Cannabis Rx cultivator Bold Team LLC of Cotton Plant has passed its inspection and is ready to begin growing.

Open line and the day's news

There's some real news in today's video roundup. This is also your open line.

Gilbert Baker indicted in Maggio bribe case UPDATED

Rumors circulating earlier this week were true: Former state Sen. Gilbert Baker has been indicted by a federal grand jury

Poor People's Campaign to be a "moral presence" at the State Capitol Monday

The Arkansas Poor People's Campaign plans to gather at the State Capitol Monday afternoon for the first day of the 2019 legislative session.

Governor voices concern about shutdown, praises Trump's 'amazing job' in 'educating Americans' on border issues

"I do believe the president has done an amazing job and an important job in educating Americans about the need, and the humanitarian crisis, and the need for enhanced border security," the governor said.

The Gilbert Baker Indicted Edition

Max and Lindsey talk about the indictment of Gilbert Baker, signs of a delay in the return to local control in the LRSD and more.

Local control of Little Rock School District farther away than thought

The state Board of Education was told today that resumption of local control of the Little Rock School District can't occur until a year later than previously thought.

I can't make it, but ....

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin is throwing a party next Tuesday. Y'all come.

Charter school accountablity: A blogger keeps trying

An obsessive, troublemaking blogger won't let go of her effort to demand accountability from state education officials. Again, Education Commissioner Johnny Key is unresponsive.

The open line, with another party invite

Here's the open line. I also have a party invite from Leslie Rutledge to pass along to the public.

Tom Cotton cornered at Coon Supper on shutdown

On Twitter last night Ethan Williams, a Young Democrat, said he drove to Gillett and paid $25 to attend the annual Coon Supper so he could ask Sen. Tom Cotton to reopen the government. Sorry, Cotton seems to have said. Trump calls the shots.

Atheists in court Tuesday to challenge Jason Rapert for blocking criticism on social media

The American Atheists organization and individual plaintiffs will be in federal court in Little Rock Tuesday to seek a temporary restraining order against Sen. Jason Rapert for blocking criticism in comments on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

The bloody toll of a Texas surgeon shows why Arkansas must continue to oppose 'tort reform'

Breathtaking reporting by Pro Publica tells the story of a butcher of a neurosurgeon in Texas who damaged and killed so many people it led to a groundbreaking criminal prosecution. Thanks to Texas' "tort reform" law to limit damages in malpractice cases, civil court restitution was limited if available at all  to the damaged patients and families. Save this article for the next time Chamber of Commerce boss Randy Zook, the medical and nursing home lobbies and others try again to make Arkansas safe for butcher doctors and negligent nursing homes.

OPEN LINE PLUS: Little Rock City Hall goes to court on judges' vacation pay claims

OPEN LINE PLUS To add to a pending question about whether former Mayor Mark Stodola is entitled to $173,000 or more for unused leave time during 12 years as mayor, City Attorney Tom Carpenter last week asked circuit court whether two current and one former city district court judges are entitled to pay for unused leave time from the  period before their offices became full state judgeships, which carry no pay accrual. The judges are seeking less than when the Arkansas Blog first reported the dispute.

Monday To-Do: Azmeh and Mozart at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

Grammy-winning Syrian composer Kinan Azmeh's 2017 piece "The Fence, The Rooftop and the Distant Sea" gets a performance tonight alongside Mozart's Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581 in a chamber concert from violinists Drew Irvin and Meredith Hicks, clarinetist Kelly Johnson, violist Tze-Ying Wu and cellist Stephen Feldman.

There French Hill goes again, spreading misinformation about immigration

Republican Rep. French HIll continues to dance with the disinformation he used in his racist re-election campaign against Democrat Clarke Tucker

Ruling to protect birth control coverage no help to Arkansas women. UPDATE: Order broadened for all U.S.

A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration effort to end the Obamacare requirement of coverage for birth control under group health insurance plans, but the ruling applies in only 13 states where Democratic attorneys general have gone to court on behalf of women's reproductive health.

The Arkansas legislature returns

The Arkansas General Assembly convenes at noon today. First order of business: A Joint Budget meeting to send out the general appropriation bill that pays their expenses.

Some thoughts from Rep. Megan Godfrey on her new role as a legislator

I reached out to Representatives-elect Megan Godfrey, Nicole Clowney, Jamie Scott, Denise Garner, and Tippi McCullough to get their thoughts on the biggest problem facing Arkansas, how they plan to deal with the pressure of having so many women looking to them with high expectations, and what they are listening to for inspiration or motivation as they prepare for their first week in the legislature. Up first is Godfrey, a bilingual educator and mother of two who defeated the GOP incumbent, Jeff Williams, by twenty-nine votes in District 89.

State starts food stamp payments early, with warning, on account of shutdown

The state Human Services Department said it will distribute February benefits under the SNAP (food stamp) program beginning Jan. 17, an early date on account of concerns money won't be available on account of the continuing federal government shutdown.

Teacher pay raise legislation introduced

State Rep. Bruce Cozart of Hot Springs introduced today the expected legislation to raise minimum teacher pay.

Inaugural parties: Who pays, who can pay? UPDATE

Lots of parties this week by and for Republican state officials. Here's some details on the financing and the questions raised about one of them for Leslie Rutledge.

The legislation pours in: Expanded marijuana uses and Johnny Cash among the topics

Here come new legislative proposals, including one to expand the conditions that qualify someone to use medical marijuana and another to replace existing Arkansas statues in the Hall of Statuary in Washington with a famous former doper better known for his music, Johnny Cash, and civil rights leader Daisy Bates.

Today's news and the open line

The daily video begins with a legislative roundup. This is the open line.

Best opening paragraph of the day: The unthinkable Donald Trump

How bad is Donald Trump? Let The Atlantic summarize:

'On Their Own Terms': Work by African American artists comes to UA Little Rock

UA Little Rock's "On Their Own Terms," an exhibition of works from the 19th century to now by African Americans, explores the kinship between artists. Read our review of the show, which opens Jan. 17, here.

Natural Relief Dispensary to construct new facility in Sherwood

Natural Relief Dispensary owner Michael Faught and his brother Brian Faught said the new dispensary will open at 3107 East Kiehl Avenue in Sherwood, hopefully within five to six months after breaking ground on the dispensary's new facility. Natural Relief Dispensary received the fourth highest score in zone 5 with 375.11 points earned.

Creep out your friends and loved ones 'True Detective'-style with a cornhusk doll kit from the Historic Arkansas Museum gift shop

The third season of HBO's "True Detective," filmed and set in Northwest Arkansas, premiered last night with the first two episodes available to stream. Along with the thrill of recognizing landmarks, such as the Christ of the Ozarks statue, in the new season's opening credits, Arkansas viewers also have the opportunity to recreate the show's morbid malaise with the help of a cornhusk doll kit available for a cool $7.25 at the Historic Arkansas Museum gift shop.

Mitch McConnell calls down Rep. Steve King for racist remarks. Arkies?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came very close today to calling for Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican, to resign from Congress on account of his racist remarks. Don't hold your breath for similar from Arkansas Republicans.

Video: Five questions with award-winning actress Ashlie Atkinson

Five questions with Ashlie Atkinson, Little Rock native, Hendrix College graduate and award-winning television, film and theatre actor.

Frank Scott to take control of police chief hiring and other powers at City Hall

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced today that he intended to take control of hiring of the next police chief, along with other executive powers that had been ceded previously to the city manager.

Tuesday To-Do: "Hillbilly Hellraisers: Federal Power and Populist Defiance in the Ozarks"

Dr. Blake Perkins' "Hillbilly Hellraisers: Federal Power and Populist Defiance in the Ozarks" is the subject of discussion tonight at the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Cleaning up the legislature means concrete action and vigilance

Sen. Jim Hendren, the new leader of the Arkansas Senate, commanded a swath of newsprint in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning for his opening speech exhorting an end to the era of "greed and corruption" in the Arkansas legislature. A few thoughts about that, with more to come as events warrant.

Federal judge blocks Trump on Census citizenship question

A setback for Donald Trump's anti-immigrant agenda: A federal judge has blocked the administration's plan to ask a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

Speaking of the legislature and undue influence ... see the State Police

I wish I'd written this, a Jonesboro Sun editorial on the one-week suspension given Brant Tosh, the State Police criminal investigation division commander in Jonesboro, for misbehavior that should have gotten him fired. It was a case in which his father's role as a Republican member of the state legislature undoubtedly had influence. Are we in a new era of clean government or not?

Rep. Jamie Scott ready to do the hard work

Rep. Jamie Scott (North Little Rock) became the youngest African-American woman in the Arkansas Legislature. Scott, the executive director for Pulaski County Youth Services, defeated opponent Isaac Henry in the District 37 Democratic primary and went on to run unopposed in the general election. Recently, she took time to answer my questions about what problem she believes needs fixing in Arkansas, the pressures of being a woman elected in 2018 and the music she is listening to as she prepares for her first week of the 2019 legislative session.

Asa: The state of the state is good

Behold Arkansas, said its governor: Things look good.

Airport lands tenant for former Beechcraft building

The Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission announced today that it has a tenant for a portion of the hangar formerly used by Hawker Beechcraft.

'True Detective' episode 1 and 2 recap: Bottling up ghosts

So far, “True Detective” gets a lot right about its Northwest Arkansas setting.

Arkansas Times Film Series screens "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" tonight

Though some found the use of modern pop music odd in a period western, the use of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's tune "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" emphasizes that, no matter what happens, Butch is able to maintain his trademark optimism. At its core, it's a feel-good movie, and arguably the first buddy comedy.

Kathy Webb wants to talk about the ‘good things’ happening in Little Rock

As Kathy Webb enters her fifth year as Ward 3 city director her priorities include improving public safety; working to reduce poverty, hunger and homelessness; and making Little Rock a more sustainable city. One of Webb’s greatest concerns is the way in which the public image of the Little Rock School District impacts its students and teachers.

Inaugural day news headlines and the open line

Inauguration day rhetoric leads today's video headline roundup. This is the open line.

Crystal Bridges gets spacy before 'Men of Steel' launch

Robert Pruitt will talk about his work at the Crystal Bridges' "Art, Space Travel and Beyond with Robert Pruitt" roundtable starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18.

A skeptical take on psychology and men

Gene Lyons gets literary in his most recent column's leadup to a critique of a new psychological theory on the toxicity of manliness.

Over 18,000 lost coverage in 2018 due to Medicaid work rule, but only fraction have reapplied

"The consistent message [Arkansas Works beneficiaries] have heard loud and clear is that the state doesn’t want them to have health insurance coverage," he said.

No decision today on injunction requested against Jason Rapert for blocking comments on social media

Federal Judge Kristine Baker heard arguments but issued no decision on a request for a temporary restraining order against Sen. Jason Rapert to prevent him from blocking critical comments on Twitter and Facebook. He did not appear for the hearing, plaintiffs said.

Rick Crawford stands out on Steve King issue

Rick Crawford of Arkansas distinguishes himself by personally repudiating Steve King and his racist remarks. French Hill, where are ou?

In praise of Tom Cotton and John Boozman for vote on Russian sanctions UPDATE

There may be more to this than meets the eye, but Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman lined up on the right side of a vote Tuesday and let's give credit where due for essentially opposing Donald Trump on extending help to a Russian oligarch.

State development efforts: A $200 million 'super project' and more

Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke inauguration day of hope for economic development and recent evidence suggests some deals may be in the works, including a $200 million "super project."

Judge sets back Confederate monument protection in Alabama

A judge in Alabama has invalidated that state's law aimed at preventing local governments from removing monuments to the Confederacy. This has relevance in Arkansas because of pending legislation.

Quapaws strike deal to sell land at Little Rock Port

The board of the Little Rock Port Authority is expected today to approve plans to purchase more than 150 acres near the port currently owned by the Quapaw tribe of Oklahoma, an end to five years of controversy related to potential use of the property for a casino.

The takeover of public schools, from LA to LR

Good article in Jacobin magazine about the Los Angeles teachers strike, at its core of universal interest because it is a fight against billionaires' hostile takeover of public schools.

Support for diversity in Northwest Arkansas, plus our own suggestion

A news release says Walton/Walmart money will power an effort by nonprofits devoted to diversity in Northwest Arkansas.

Today's legislative freebies

The loophole for free eats and drinks for legislators, despite a nominal constitutional prohibition, swings wide today:

Bob Ballinger spits on the voters of Arkansas, wants to roll back minimum wage for thousands

In November, 68.5 percent of Arkansas voters approved an increase in the state minimum wage. Today, barely two months later, Sen. Bob Ballinger has introduced legislation to roll it back for many workers.

Mayor announces M.L. King 'unity' program with prayers, music at St. John Baptist

The city of Little Rock has announced a "unity" program of prayer and music at 3 p.m. Sunday at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 2501 Main, as part of M.L. King holiday observances.

Wednesday: Headlines and the open line

A legislative outrage leads the daily video roundup. Here's the open line.

Rep. Nicole Clowney on education, disagreements and who runs the world

Freshman Rep. Nicole Clowney (D-Fayetteville) took time out of her schedule recently to answer a few questions about the expectations of others, the biggest problem facing Arkansas today and what she's listening to as she prepares to represent District 86.

The legislative shop of horrors: Kim Hammer's campus speech bill

The latest in the parade of horrors in legislative bill filing is a proposal by Sen. Kim Hammer that purports to protect free speech on campus. Its point is to usurp control of campuses as a reaction to the widespread, but not particularly well-supported belief that liberal political correctness is running rampant on campus.

Also on the legislative agenda: Implanted microchips

Also in the bill hopper today, legislation by Rep. Stephen Meeks to prohibit employers from implanting microchips in employees without their written consent and prohibiting making implantation of a chip a condition of employment.

Two killed in West Memphis police shooting

Details remain hazy, but State Police spokesmen say two people are dead after police gunfire in West Memphis.

End of two daily newspapers announced in South Arkansas

The Magnolia Reporter has details on the decision of WEHCO Media, owner of the Arkansas Democrt-Gazette among other newspapers and media properties, to end daily publication of newspapers in Camden and Magnolia.

State retirement benefits on the chopping block UPDATE

The plan to make retirement benefits more expensive and less rewarding for public employees has begun.

Hogs short on players

When Arkansas started SEC play by sneaking out of College Station, Texas, with a really shaky victory over those pernicious Aggie types, it all seemed so simple, right? The formula for some degree of success in what is shaping up to be a rough-and-tumble league in 2018-19 was set: The Hogs could ill afford to be so reliant on the three-pointer, they had to be aggressive defensively, and they had to figure out some way to get their short, inexperienced bench to contribute.

Federal judge overturns state's forced school transfer participation in four districts

The Hope, Lafayette County, Junction City and Camden Fairview School Districts all have won a federal judge's ruling in favor of their challenge of the state Board of Education's decision to force them to allow interdistrict transfers under the state school transfer law.

Rally for Reproductive Rights on Saturday: UPDATE

The annual Rally for Reproductive Justice will be held on the Capitol steps at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 19. Keynote speaker will be Pamela Merritt, the co-founder of Reproaction, and others on why these bills are hurting, not helping, women and their families.

Thursday: Headlines and the open line

Today's news by video: Legislature eases into the weekend. This is also the open line.

Lime scooter users in Little Rock required to ride on sidewalks instead of roads

The Jan. 8 launch of a six-month pilot project between the city of Little Rock and Lime has brought dozens of pay-as-you-go e-scooters downtown, and Little Rock joins over a hundred other U.S. cities with Lime partnerships. But Little Rock riders are unique: City Ordinance 32-463 prohibits the scooters, referred to as “devices,” from being ridden on roads except when crossing the street on a crosswalk. The devices must be ridden on sidewalks at all times.

Representative Denise Garner on listening and fixing income inequality

Freshman Democratic Rep. Denise Garner (Fayetteville) gained national attention in her successful race against former Republican Rep. Charlie Collins, the sponsor of the bill that put guns on college campuses. The retired oncology nurse practitioner, mom, grandmother, and non-profit founder sat down with me recently to talk about the biggest problem facing Arkansas: income inequality.

Police shooting in Jackson County

A state trooper shot a Jackson County man Thursday after the man reportedly pointed a gun at him, the State Police said. The man was hospitalized in serious condition. The trooper wasn't hurt.

Trump's crisis builds, with housing among the pressure points

Donald Trump's government shutdown is having an increasing damaging impact on more than the federal employees and contractors going unpaid, including threatening shelter for perhaps millions of people.

Unemployment rate holds steady in Arkansas

The unemployment rate in Arkansas in December was 3.6 percent, the same as the preceding month and there was a small increase in the number working.

Nursing home-to-judiciary money trail: Bribery case links to Supreme Court justice

Nursing home spending on judicial racers is back front and center with news that the U.S. prosecutors' evidence against accused briber Gilbert Baker includes the record of text messages between him and a member of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Report: Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress

Reports are that Donald Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. Impeachment anyone?

Slideshow: Justin Timberlake at Verizon Arena

On tour in support of his "Man of the Woods" album, pop prince Justin Timberlake took the stage at Verizon Arena last night.

Helping hands for victims of Donald Trump

Stories are popping up all over of acts of kindness extended to people without income thanks to Donald Trump.

Arkansas Life magazine to continue with new subscribers, but shift to quarterly print publication

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that additional paid subscriptions — 1,003 at $20 each — will mean the survival of its Arkansas Life magazine, but it will convert from monthly to quarterly print publication, with monthly editions online only.

Friday: News roundup and open line

Today's video news roundup starts at the bottom with Donald Trump. Here's the open line.

Gilbert Baker will have court-appointed attorney

Federal Magistrate Patricia Harris today said former Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker was entitled to a court-appointed lawyer in the bribery case against him because of financial circumstances. She named Blake Hendrix to represent Baker, who'll make an initial appearance in court next week.

Governor names Chuck Banks, Jan Zimmerman to state pay commission

Gov. Asa Hutchinson today named two members of the independent commission that sets his pay and that of other constitutional officers, legislators and judges.

State employees gear up to fight reduction in retirement benefits

The Arkansas State Employees Association is gearing up to oppose legislation that would reduce their retirement benefits and likely require increased employee contributions as well.

South Carolina couple identified in West Memphis police shooting

The State Police say Megan Brooke Rivera, 32, and De'Angelo Jamar Brown, 30, both of Lancaster, S.C., were the two people killed by West Memphis police after a car chase Thursday.

Cotton, Boozman propose estate tax bonanza for billionaires

Tom Cotton and John Boozman are dishonestly touting legislation that is a bonanza for the super wealthy as help for small businesses and farmers.

An open line for reproductive justice

Rain drove the speakers inside to the old Senate chamber at the state Capitol, but the rally for reproductive justice went on today as does the fight in a state where the majority who assemble at the Capitol most often act to restrict women's medical rights. The line is open on this and other topics.

Trump's 'deal' on wall and dreamers is no bargain

Donald Trump unveiled his great plan today — temporary protection for "dreamers" in return for  $5.7 billion worth of wall — but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already explained why it falls short and some on is side are already crying "no amnesty."

Arkansas legislature prepares new attacks on Constitution, abortion

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Jeannie Roberts reported today on some of the plans for attacks on the U.S. Constitution and women's medical rights this legislative session. As ever, it's cookie-cutter stuff of dubious constitutionality as demonstrated by court rulings elsewhere

Food drive set in Little Rock for furloughed federal workers

Is this sad, or what? Clinton National Airport has announced a two-day food drive for the benefit of unpaid workers at the airport.

Judicial appearances, Rhonda Wood and Courtney Goodson edition

Inaugural ball party pictures produce some dialogue on judicial propriety featuring Supreme Court Justicea Rhonda Wood and Courtney Goodson.

The Sunday open line

The open line.

Rally today to reopen government

M.L. King Day events will make most of the news today, but note another event about social justice — a rally in North Little Rock calling for an end to Donald Trump's government shutdown.

Report on Little Rock police hiring shows small gain in residency percentage among recruits

The Little Rock City Board got a partial report last week on how the Little Rock police department is doing in adding officers who live in the city of Little Rock.

Fact check: The annual anti-abortion march

The annual abortion protest marches were held around the country Sunday and, as usual, press accounts duly quoted the misinformation repeated there. From the coverage of the Arkansas march, this stood out:

A cautionary casino tale from Tunica, Miss.

The Los Angeles Times reports on the sagging casino economy in Tunica, Miss., a sag due in part to increasing national competition.

Rapert will introduce anti-abortion 'trigger' law, despite public opinion to the contrary

Sen. Jason Rapert has announced on Facebook his plans to file this week a so-called trigger law — like those passed in four other states — that would make abortion illegal in Arkansas immediately if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Polling suggests the majority would oppose it.

'Photographing Frida,' the artist as art: coming to the Arts Center

Frida Kahlo was every much an artist as her on-again, off-again husband, Diego Rivera, but her personal glamor has gotten as much, if not more, attention as her paintings. The Arkansas Arts Center is exhibiting images of the artist in "Photographing Frida," opening Feb. 1.

Hate checkout lines? Skip the line at Dollar General with the new DG GO! app

From access to exclusive deals to a streamlined shopping experience, this app eases the everyday stresses of shopping for customers.

Governor lauds King, but there's work to be done

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has made several public appearances today as part of the observance of King Day and his remarks have included lauding the state's 2017 action (and his own) in ending the dual observance of King's birthday with that of a man who fought to preserve slavery, Robert E. Lee. I have one brief observation on his remarks:

'True Detective' episode 3 recap: Follow the haircuts

We’re now moving with a bit more confidence around the three time periods: 1980, 1990, 2015. You've got to follow the haircuts if you want to follow the plot, a mirror of the increasingly fragile mental state of 70-year-old Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) in 2015. The episode is short on bombshells, but gets deeper into what do we know, and why.

News and the open line on King Day

M.L. King Day: The open lines and a roundup of headlines and comment.

Darren McFadden arrested on DWI at Texas Whataburger

Darren McFadden, the former Razorback football star, was arrested for DWI Monday after being reportedly found asleep at a Whataburger drive-through in the Dallas area.

Did Steve King win M.L. King Day hypocrisy contest? Competition was fierce.

Thank goodness King Day is over. The hypocrisy quotient on Twitter will fall off sharply.

Trump's 'compassionate' immigration proposal: Stay tuned

It's early yet, but stay tuned for developments on the Donald Trump proposal to trade some temporary relief for immigrants for billions for his wall. The analysis has begun and the fine print looks problematic.

Supreme Court clears way for Trump's ban on transgender service

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a stay of injunctions against the Trump administration's ban on military service by transgender people.

Freebies morning, noon and night for the legislature

It's a good day for legislative pocketbooks, with free eats and drinks on tap all day long courtesy of entrenched lobbies. The schedule:

Rep. Tippi McCullough on unity, fighting poverty and being in the room where it happens

Rep. Tippi McCullough (Little Rock), a teacher for over 30 years, knows how to stand up for herself and her beliefs. Now she takes her experience and resolve to the legislature to stand up for Arkansas and the people she represents in District 33. McCullough answered my questions on how to fix what she believes is the biggest problem facing Arkansas, her thoughts on the expectations of women, and what music she finds motivational as she prepares for her first term in the legislature.

New poll: President Pelosi anyone?

New numbers from Public Policy Polling won't comfort Donald Trump:

City sales tax revenue remains sluggish

The Little Rock City Board received a report this week on 10 months worth of sales tax collections and the income, the biggest single source of city spending, remains sluggish.

UPDATE: UCA announces $20 million gift from Windgate Foundation for fine arts center.

UPDATED FROM EARLIER: The University of Central Arkansas made "the biggest announcement in its 111-year history" this afternoon — a $20 million gift from the Windgate Foundation for a fine arts center.

Great Whiskey Rendezvous, Amy McBryde, Sounds So Good and The Mad Deadly first up in 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

The 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase kicks off this Thursday, with the first of four semifinal rounds at Stickyz Rock n' Roll Chicken Shack.

Tuesday: Headlines and the open line

Here you go: The video news roundup and the open line.

Senate schedules vote on bills that might reopen government

Details are just emerging of a potential bipartisan agreement in Senate that could lead to reopening of government, at least temporarily.

City wins malicious prosecution suit by dentist

Federal Judge Leon Holmes has dismissed a malicious prosecution lawsuit by Dr. Jose Turcios, a dentist, against the city Little Rock and various police officers for his arrest on a charge that he had molested a 15-year-old patient. He had sued after being acquitted of the charge.

Chef takes federal employee feeding program to streets of U.S., including Little Rock

Jose Andres, the chef who opened an emergency kitchen in Washington to feed furloughed federal workers, has taken the program nationwide with the help of food truck operators across the country, including Little Rock.

Confederate flag shirt leads to Fayetteville school suspension

KARK reports on a Fayetteville student sent home for refusing to take off a Confederate battle flag hoodie, worn as part of a social media campaign styled "history not hate."

What Rapert's abortion bill doesn't say means trouble for women

As we'd mentioned earlier, Sen. Jason Rapert has a "trigger" bill to make abortion illegal in virtually all circumstances in Arkansas should the U.S. Supreme Court reverse Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman's right to abortion pre-viability. The bill, filed Tuesday, is worse than you have already imagined.

Homicide and arrest in Woodlawn Drive death

Little Rock police say Eric Leisman, 54 found dead in his home at 5718 Woodlawn Drive about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, was the victim of a homicide and they have charged Jordan Garvey, 25, with second-degree murder and theft.

Youth Home cutting jobs and services; Medicaid freeze cited

Youth Home, which provides mental health services, announced today it is laying off 31 of 227 employees and reducing services to cope with financial losses tied to a continuing freeze in Medicaid reimbursements for mental health services.

Slow day on the freebie front

Wednesday's are traditionally slower days on the legislative front, so only a free lunch and cocktail hour are on the freebie card today.

Republican women announce legislative agenda UPDATE

Republican women in the legislature announced a package of legislation today. My attention was caught by a potential expansion of broadband competition.

Ernie Kovacs centennial puts focus on TV genius' fuzzy but groundbreaking archive

Kovacs was the "Mad" magazine of the boob tube.

Judge rejects Arkansas Times suit on Israel boycott law

Federal Judge Brian Miller has dismissed the ACLU-backed case by the Arkansas Times challenging the state law that penalizes those that want to do business with the state unless they sign a pledge not to participate in a boycott against Israel.

Wednesday: Headlines and the open line

Wednesday: The video roundup of news and comment and this is the open line.

A year in LRPD recruiting; preference for other cities continues

Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore has compiled for City Director Kenneth Richardson a report on a year's worth of filling police department vacancies and the number of recruits who are Little Rock residents. The majority live elsewhere.

Shutdown votes today. Failure expected. Then compromise?

The Washington Post expects both Democratic and Republican proposals up for a vote today in the Senate on resolving Donald Trumps shutdown will fail. The question seems to be whether it's an avenue for a deal. Meanwhile, I can't get enough of master dealmaker Trump taking credit for shutdown and Chuck Schumer stifling a laugh.

Southland plans expansion at amendment-protected West Memphis casino

As predicted months ago, the owners of the Southland casino and dog track in West Memphis announced today a major expansion thanks to Amendment 100, which solidified the legality of their existing casino, expanded its gambling options and gave it a huge state tax break in the bargain.

Making America great again in Phillips County

Here's a screenshot of the Facebook page of Wayne Boals of Helena-West Helena, with a bigger picture of his identifying image below. Boals is chairman of the Phillips County Election Commission. His Facebook page also  says, "I'm a conservative Republican from the Confederate south."

Jill Dabbs headed to NWA

Jill Dabbs, edged out in a re-election race for mayor of Bryant, won't be making a return to politics in Saline County any time soon. I understand she's heading to Springdale to lead the Downtown Springdale Alliance.

Could Putin end the shutdown?

Gene Lyons proposes the Democrats hire Putin to confront him over his demand for $5.7 billion to pay for an empty campaign promise.

Gilbert Baker enters plea, allowed to be free until trial

Former Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker, accused of conspiring to bribe then-Judge Mike Maggio to lower a jury verdict in a nursing home negligence case, pleaded not guilty in federal court today and was allowed to remain free pending trial.

New Maine governor drops Medicaid work rule

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that Maine's new government won't go forward with a work requirement for Medicaid recipients.

CJRW details complaints against former exec Gary Heathcott

CJRW, the ad and PR firm, responded in detail today with a counterclaim to Gary Heathcott's lawsuit seeking damages because his consulting contract was severed.

Thursday: The open line

As we await shutdown news, here's the daily video roundup and the open line.

Senate votes. Now what?

The U.S. Senate, as expected, defeated competing proposals to reopen government. The Democratic proposal drew more votes. Talk continues of a possible House compromise from Democrats.

Swamp draining continues: Trump's man Roger Stone indicted

FBI rousted Trump advisor Roger Stone at his Florida home at 6 a.m. today to arrest him on charges he lied and tried to tamper with witnesses about Trump campaign collusion on use of hacked emails against Hillary Clinton.

Support for Arkansas Times' lawsuit against state Israel boycott law

A word of encouragement arrives from PEN America after the Arkansas Times suffered a setback in federal court this week on the ACLU-backed lawsuit objecting to a state law requiring us to cede editorial control to the state of Arkansas on a political issue to be able to receive state agency advertising.

Group forms to counter Asa's plan to cut taxes for the rich

A group has formed to present the other side of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's determination to enact a massive income tax cut that will give the majority of the benefits to the wealthy. The other side is simple: Tax cuts have costs.

Arkansas patient illustrates dangers of medical tourism

The Washington Post reports the story of a Jonesboro woman who went to Tijuana for lower-cost weight-loss surgery and came back with a potentially deadly bacterial infection.

Hot meals, chicken, laundry among the help offered federal workers in Arkansas

Charity continues for the federal workers and others harmed by Donald Trump's tantrum. Some of the outpouring of empathy and sympathy lacking at the White House:

Report: Boozman joins pushback against Mike Pence

An interesting sidelight of the Trump shutdown drama was a private meeting yesterday between Mike Pence and Republican senators, who supposedly told Pence in strong terms that Trump needed to end the shutdown soon. Even quiet Sen. John Boozman got in on the action, according to an account in the Hill.

The Mad Deadly wins Round One of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

The first round of the 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase — in its 27th year — was an exercise in the motley. A southern country-rock outfit made way for a gutsy woman-fronted pop-punk assembly, followed by a venerable soprano sax-led jazz quintet and a brainy instrumental rock band with a huge collective crush on wild time signatures.

Trump says deal struck to reopen government temporarily

With his disapproval rating rising and the majority of Americans blaming him and the Republicans in Congress for the government shutdown, Donald Trump went on TV this afternoon to announce a deal to temporarily reopen the government.

The Nancy Pelosi memorial open line and news roundup

Here are your open line and your daily news video, beginning with a tribute to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who routed Donald Trump in the government shutdown showdown. Hatred of her may have gotten Trump's poodle, Republican Rep. French Hill, re-elected in Arkansas, but that doesn't count for much in the chamber she now leads.

Hank Wilkins' sentencing delayed again

The sentencing of former Democratic Sen. Hank Wilkins of Pine Bluff in a public funds bribery case has again been delayed.

Request for corruption probe records denied by Arkansas Supreme Court clerk

Is the federal public corruption probe delving into the judicial branch? I think so. But my efforts to unearth records to demonstrate this ultimately produced a decision by the clerk of the Arkansas Supreme Court not to share any records that might exist related to this.

The Terrible Legislation Edition

A federal court defeat for the Arkansas Times, Jason Rapert’s trigger bill to make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade were overturned, big expansion plans at the dog track and more — all covered on the podcast this week.

Mayor announces his transition committees

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has announced members of committees to provide input on various areas of city government.

Some tech support for Arkansas Blog readers

Some help on solving sign-in problems on the Arkansas Blog.

Trump's cave as described by the Washington Post is worth a read

The Washington Post in my book is leading the world on coverage of Trump, Congress and politics generally. This summary of Donald Trump's cave-in is a case in point. Tough, factual and informed.

The case for the ERA, plus oyster suppers that welcome women

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican, joins Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, in a Washington Post op-ed urging adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment. As luck would have it their timing was perfect: It coincided with the Slovak Oyster Supper.

Open line includes a police shooting and Trump memes

Here's your open line. Today's events include a police shooting in Judsonia and an outpouring of enjoyable Internet memes about Nancy Pelosi's owning of Donald Trump.

The Arkansas swamp: Jeff Wardlaw and nursing home magnates edition

Eric Besson of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a fine article this morning from the murky depths of the Arkansas legislative swamp where lawmaking and corporate self-interest create a sludge impenetrably opaque to the casual observer. Let's filter the story about Rep. Jeff Wardlaw a bit:

Sunday’s open line

The open line for a slow day save more Trump administration threats.

Gun watch: Has the NRA gone wobbly? And the peril of stand-your-ground laws

With its poll numbers and financial support taking hits, the National Rifle Association has lately sent a message it might be amenable to modest gun safety legislation — along the lines of the "red flag" law being contemplated for introduction in Arkansas. Two angles: NRA credibility and blowback from the even nuttier gun nuts. Also: Beware "stand your ground."

Hot Springs entertains lawmakers tonight, recalling a Hot Springs party of yore

Only one freebie for legislators today, but it's one that inspires fond memories. A striptease for legislators.

The Going Jessies, White Mansion, Brad Byrd and Won Run next up in 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

Round 2 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase features sets from The Going Jessies, White Mansion, Brad Byrd and Won Run.

Fact-checker disputes Asa's claim about job benefits from Medicaid work rule

Another day another fact-check that challenges the spin Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been putting on the Medicaid work rule — that it is putting people back to work. From the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, another chorus of a tune we've heard several times before:

Store worker hits $1 million lottery winner

Leon Suggs, a Little Rock grocery store worker, won a $1 million prize with a $20 scratch-off Ultimate Millions lottery ticket, the state lottery has announced.

Bill filed to tap more general revenues for highways UPDATE

Here's comes the first legislative effort to raise taxes for highways, a plan with negative implications for other state services.

Cannabis Rx dispensaries: Choices made, list firmed up

The companies that will open medical marijuana dispensaries in Arkansas have been largely settled for the state's eight zones, each of which will have four dispensaries.

'True Detective' episode 4 recap: Picking up speed

In the fourth episode, we’re edging away from a meditative gaze into the soulful navel of the gothic South and moving toward more of a beach-read, a page-turner. And we’re getting there because for the first time, multiple characters are jousting to control the narrative.

Pathologist's errors may have figured in 12 deaths at VA in Northwest Arkansas

40/29 reports on a news conference today at which Veterans Affairs officials said as many as 12 deaths may have occurred in cases in which a now-fired pathologist made errors or misdiagnoses at the Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks.

Worker spends weekend trapped in elevator of NYC townhouse owned by Warren Stephens UPDATE

The New York Times reports on a woman trapped in the elevator of a Manhattan townhouse for three days. Arkansas angle: It's the townhouse purchased for $8 million in 1999 by Little Rock financier Warren Stephens and his wife Harriet.

Monday: Open line and news roundup

The open line and today's news video.

The casino battle continues with clarifying legislation

Sen. Breanne Davis of Russellville has proposed legislation to make it clear that local approval for a casino in Jefferson or Pope counties must come from the county judge or mayor in office at the time an application is made for a casino license.

Juvenile justice reforms in motion, but community program funding still uncertain

A Republican-sponsored bill could create real juvenile justice reform in Arkansas, advocates say. But some worry the state won't provide enough money for programs that provide alternatives to incarcerating youths.

The eyes have it for legislative freebies today

There's a busy day of freebies for legislators today and if you don't think business gets done at these affairs, you need eyeglasses. See the optometrists' event, for example.

Big government: Strange bedfellows edition, me and Conduit for Action on Wardlaw

A word of praise here for Conduit for Action, the ultraright lobby that has generally failed in its effort to reduce government by slashing spending on medical services for poor people. Opposed though I generally am to much of their core philosopy, they DO call out government corruption and hypocrisy. Case in point: Rep. Jeff Wardlaw.

Parkview student starts movement to fight unfair school dress code enforcement

Parkview student Laura Orsi has created a new movement called Pass the Skirt that aims to "fight against discriminatory and unequal dress code rules and enforcement."  After Orsi's friend, Clara Mitchell, was told to change for wearing a too-short skirt, Orsi wore the same skirt the next day without any trouble from teachers or administrators.

Big Swill update: The Committee freebie sessions

In the earlier item on lobbyist entertainment, I omitted a key and unadvertised portion of  lobbyist wining and dining — the committee sessions.

'Cultural Heroes' heads to Clinton Center for Black History Month

Sculptor Alan LeQuire of Nashville was inspired by the giant sculpted heads of the kings of France he saw in Paris to create "Cultural Heroes," sculptures of American royalty of a different kind: Musicians whose songs gave voice to the civil rights movement.

Today's fake news according to Trump: Climate change

Climate change is already disrupting lives. Important reporting from the Washington Post even as the supposed leader of the free world hears on Fox News that it's cold in the upper Midwest and concludes it's all fake news.

Strange bedfellows: Me, Secure Arkansas and a constitutional convention UPDATE

Here I go again, agreeing with a fringe political group known for its wackiness — Secure Arkansas. They're right on this one, a proposal for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. UPDATE: The proposal was approved in the state Senate today after an hour of debate.

Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase: Meet the judges

Meet the judges of the 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

News roundup and the open line

The video news roundup and the open line.

Legislative priority: A Capitol parking deck. Who's got the money?

Arkansas must be rolling in money. Sen. Alan Clark of Hot Springs filed legislation today to allow for the building of a parking deck — minimum 200 spaces — on the Capitol grounds. No specifics on money. You'd think we were rolling in dough and the governor wasn't proposing a $200 million tax cut for the wealthy.

The Trump show: unreality TV

Recent events in Washington inspire nothing so much as sheer disbelief. Is this a government or a sitcom? Impeach Trump? Why not offer him a prime time gig on Fox News instead?For the right price, he might take it.

Send us your Big Ideas to make Arkansas a better place!

It's the time of year again when we solicit suggestions for our annual Big Ideas issue. As in year's past, we're searching for specific, potentially transformative suggestions for making Arkansas a better place to live. We're open to practical, wacky and everything in between

The Trump-Coulter show, unreality TV

Gene Lyons wonders in his column if the Trump administration is government or a sitcom, starring Trump, Ann Coulter and Roger Stone.

Scooter complaints engage the Little Rock mayor

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., responding to complaints, wants the city to talk with the Lime scooters company about safer operation in the city. Good luck.

Little Rock man kills parents and himself UPDATE

Little Rock police say a man killed his parents in their home on Dorset Drive Tuesday night and then fatally wounded himself.

Nate Bell lands job leading agency whose work he once opposed

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports today that former legislator Nate Bell has been hired as interim director of the state health insurance marketplace agency, an agency with an uncertain future whose establishment he opposed.

Many Clemson players shunned Trump's hamburger dinner

Interesting: It turns out most of the black members of the national championship Clemson football team decided not to attend the fast-food feed Donald Trump threw for the team in the White House Jan. 14.  They took a knee, you might say.

Tension rising from eStem charter school on UA-Little Rock campus

KTHV reports on open unhappiness at UA-Little Rock over the eStem charter high school on campus.

Senator: Arkansas ruling on Israel boycott headed for 'the dustbin of history'

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, spoke at length Tuesday on the Senate floor against efforts to punish those who might be critical of Israel — such as the Arkansas copycat law unsuccessfully challenged by the Arkansas Times that requires people and companies doing business with the state to pledge not to engage in boycotts against Israel.

Chamber swill is highlight today; also Asa's new plan to cut taxes for the wealthy

The fat cats are pouring for the legislature today, with help from your tax dollars, and the governor is talking more about a big tax cut for millionaires. Business as usual at the Arkansas legislature.

You've been warned: Get out of the left lane!

The Arkansas Department of Transportation has announced it's at work installing signs intended to remind people not to block the lefthand lane on multi-lane roads.

Free of form: A Q&A with Sarah Elizabeth Charles

Sarah Elizabeth Charles, a jazz composer who's performing Thursday night at South on Main as part of the Oxford American concert series, talks revolution, improvisation and Dolores O'Riordan.

Minimum wage bill deferred

Sen. Missy Irvin announced this morning, according to a spectator in the Senate Public Health Committee, that Sen . Bob Ballinger's bill to override voters increase of the Arkansas minimum wage had been moved to the "deferred" list.

$2 million Megamillions winner sold in Pine Bluff

The Arkansas lottery said a ticket worth $2 million in last night's national MegaMillions lottery drawing was sold at the Super Stop on East Harding in Pine Bluff.

Little Rock giving Lime scooters the boot when trial period ends. But mayor later says he'll ask for new proposals.

Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter has written Lime, which had an agreement to rent electric-powered scooters in the city, to terminate the deal because of dissatisfaction with the company's response to safety concerns.

Capi Peck’s “eternal optimism” for the future of Little Rock

City Director Capi Peck, who represents West Little Rock’s Ward 4, wants to consider a change in the way the board is elected, as does Mayor Frank Scott. But unlike Scott, who wants to eliminate the election of at-large directors to the board, Peck would like to seek a blended ward structure and term limits for directors.

Wednesday: Headlines and the open line

The daily video roundup of news and comment, plus this open line.

Senate passes Garner bill to make ballot access harder for political parties

The Senate voted 27-7 today to pass Republican Sen. Trent Garner's bill to increase the difficulty for a political party to qualify for the ballot in Arkansas.

Hutchinson proposes two-year phase-in of income tax cut on high end of earning scale

Gov. Asa Hutchinson rebooted his income tax proposal today to make it a reduction in the top marginal rate from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent over two years, at a final cost of about $97 million in revenue.

LRPD and Mayor Scott encourage public to "see something, say something" after five domestic violence-related homicides in January

In a press conference at the Little Rock Police Department Headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley and Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said that five of the nine homicides in January have been domestic violence related.

Wealthy have millions of reasons to cheer Asa's new income tax cut plan

Further reporting on Gov. Asa Huchinson's rewritten income tax cut plan illustrates the point made here yesterday — it's almost entirely of benefit to upper-income taxpayers, with the very richest doing best of all.

A call for less paddling, more effective school discipline

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has issued a call for more effective school discipline — in other words, less corporal punishment and out-of-school suspension.

Arkansas Supreme Court puts an end to Fayetteville non-discrimination ordinance. For now.

In a pair of cases today, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled definitively that state law overrides a Fayetteville ordinance meant primarily to extend civil rights protections to LGBT people. It leaves open a U.S. constitutional question, however.

Jason Rapert: 'Incompetent or intentionally misleading' about Facebook blocks, Atheists say

The American Atheists, challenging Sen. Jason Rapert's blocking of critics from his social media pages, says Rapert is either incompetent or misleading in telling a federal court that his pages are his private business and can be managed as he likes.

10 police chief contenders include four from Arkansas

Ten contenders for Little Rock police chief were announced this morning in a press release from the city, and the list includes Little Rock Police Department Assistant Chiefs Alice Fulk and Hayward Finks, plus two others from Arkansas.

Akeem Kemp Band, Willowack, Kid City and Illusionaut next up in Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

Round three of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase features sets from The Akeem Kemp Band, Willowack, Kid City and Illusionaut.

Performance Peace: How a Little Rock artist is transforming mural into protest under the 7th Street bridge

Undeterred by artistic opposition, a Little Rock artist is creating — and recreating — political art under the 7th Street bridge.

Big Red Flag, The Chemtrailblazers, Adventureland and Irie Lions next up in Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

The semifinal rounds of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase conclude with sets from Big Red Flag, The Chemtrailblazers, Adventureland and Irie Lions.

Hope is here: A psychiatric and behavioral health professional from Rivendell answers your questions

Since 1985, Rivendell Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas has been committed to providing the best psychiatric and behavioral healthcare, with the goal of supporting the whole family.

Trump's wall blocks real immigration reform

As the new year begins, it’s unclear how well President Trump grasps the altered political reality he faces. Indeed, using the words “reality” and “Trump” in the same sentence is a misnomer. One reason world’s biggest fabricator is also the world’s worst negotiator that he appears constitutionally incapable of recognizing the other side’s point of view.

Big Cats return to White Water

And much more.

The Apprentice presidency continues

Trump's latest: a vow to cut off aid to three countries in Central America.

Waltons pour millions into Chicago politics

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Walmart heirs are pouring big sums into organizations expected to play a heavy role in Chicago mayor and alderman elections next year. Charter schools are the theme.

State files tax lien against Rep. Bob Ballinger

The Madison County Record reports (subscription required) that the state has filed a tax lien against Rep. Bob Ballinger, the Berryville Republican.

Mississippi group announces casino plans for Pope County

A Mississippi casino operator announced plans today to build a casino in Russellville, a not-unexpected development given outgoing County Judge Jim Ed Gibson's surprise support of the project. Legal opposition can be expected.

TGIF: Open line and headlines

A weird holiday week done. Here's the open line and the video roundup of news and comment.

UPDATE: Police say mother, son killed by gunshots at Eagle Hil Apartments

UPDATE: Little Rock police have now identified Jamika Lewis, 23, and her son Ja'Shun Watson, 2, as the two people found dead on an apartment complex parking lot Thursday morning. An infant was also found in a vehicle nearby, they revealed today.

Calling all casino nerds, draft casino regulations released

Byron Freeland, attorney for the state Racing Commission, has provided me with a copy of draft rules for regulating expanded casino gambling in Arkansas. Dig in.

It's official: Charlie Collins is staying on state payroll with Hutchinson administration job at DFA

It's official. Republican Rep. Charlie Collins, defeated for re-election by Democrat Denise Garner, won't stop receiving a state paycheck when he leaves office at the end of the year. As I'd mentioned was a possibility before, he's going to work for the Department of Finance and Administration.

Start the New Year at Congressman Hill's office, urging political reform

Indivisible Little Rock & Central Arkansas announces plans to continue grassroots work in 2019, beginning with a demonstration at 11:30 a.m. Thursday outside Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill's office at 1501 North University. They're supporting reform legislation expected from House Democrats.

Wells Fargo settles lawsuit for $575 million; Arkansas shares in settlement

Arkansas will share in a half-billion-dollar settlement of allegations of consumer protection law violations by Wells Fargo.

Attorney general dodges question on Ecclesia lawsuit

News yesterday involving egislators with connections to the Ecclesia College scandal reminded me: Whatever happened to the request for a lawsuit against Ecclesia to recover state money it shouldn't have received and from which kickbacks were paid to a couple of former legislators. Answer almost four months later: Nothing public so far.

An open line ... and there he goes again

What's the open line, or any day, without an unhinged tweet from Donald Trump to talk about? Today it's him blaming Democrats for deaths of migrant children in custody of his border patrol. Speaking of deaths, North Little Rock police found a 19-year-old dead by gunshot on Old Pike about 4 a.m. this morning.  And still more Trump:

Women's rights and criminalizing miscarriage in Arkansas

The New York Times editorial board has publisheda series of essays on women's medical rights and the fallout on women from the anti-abortion movements efforts to establish "personhood" at conception. An Arkansas case leads the package of articles.

Democrat-Gazette print circulation shrinkage draws closer to Little Rock

Reader Stu Soffer from White Hall (Jefferson County) reports that the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's shrinkage of daily circulation of a print edition has arrived on his home turf, not far down the road from the newspaper's home office in Little Rock.

Leslie Rutledge v. taxpayers: Chapter 3

The item on the Ecclesia Colege scandal brought a comment from another lawyer Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is fighting in court for his effort to correct the wrongs done by the legislature in the unconstitutional General Improvement Fund boondoggle.

Leslie Rutledge v. Ecclesia College and taxpayers: Chapter 2

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's lack of action on a requested lawsuit to recover ill-gotten state money from Ecclesia College (mentioned here yesterday) brings insight from a lawyer in a related suit that suggests there's a reason she hasn't moved forward.

Open line, plus more national attention to Asa's mean Medicaid experiment

Here's your open line. And for your reading pleasure, another article — this one in Politico — illustrating the folly of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's grind-the-poor Medicaid work rule with a bureaucratic, computer reporting scheme that few seem able to figure out.

An end-of-year playlist: songs from Arkansas musicians we loved in 2018

A handful of the infectious beats we heard from Arkansas musicians in 2018.

Unfinished business as Stodola era ends at Little Rock City Hall

Today is Mark Stodola's last day as Little Rock mayor after a 12-year run, but the succession of Frank Scott Jr. will include tying up a few loose ends from the Stodola era. All concern money.

Partisan justice on the U.S. Supreme Court

A retired lawyer, Larry Behrendt, writes in the Washington Post today about the judicial misconduct complaint he filed against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and why he believes its dismissal by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals was the wrong decision.

Police brutality in Ash Flat

Police abuse of a handcuffed suspect in Ash Flat has led to a criminal charge against one officer and suspension of two others, but the muckraking NEA Report says justice hasn't been done for the victim, Randell Lee Veazie.

Home robbery toll includes 50 pairs of Air Jordans

Scott Carroll at KATV reports on a home robbery in which an armed man escaped with 50 pairs of Air Jordan sneakers, a $30,000 Rolex, a couple of cell phones and the homeowner's Dodge Charger.

Double your impact; donate to ANNN before midnight!

If you believe public interest and investigative journalism is vitally important, consider making a donation to the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network today. All individual contributions up to $1,000 made before midnight on Dec. 31 will be doubled as part of the NewsMatch program.

Auld Lang Syne open line

Cue up Guy Lombardo: Here's the New Year's Eve open line and a roundup of news and comment on a quiet news day.

Gun violence map finds clusters of bullets

Seen this? It's a highlighted view from an interactive map by The Trace of 150,000 shootings — fatal and nonfatal — in the U.S. the last five years.

Mississippi casino draws endorsement from another lame duck

Lame duck Russellville Mayor Randy Horton said in a letter released today by a Mississippi casino operator that he believes the Mississippi group would be the best pick to operate a casino in Pope County under the new amendment that expands casino gambling in Arkansas. Does it have any legal impact? Good question.

It's too early for the i-word

What an outrage! A Democratic woman talking like a Republican man! President Trump should march right into the House of Representatives, grab this Muslim wench by her [expletive deleted] and deport her to whatever bleep-hole country she came from.

Of Freud and foolishness

I’ve been suspicious of psychologists bearing theories ever since my graduate school "Eureka!" about Freud and Dostoyevsky.

Putin in charge

So the world’s greatest negotiator has taken 800,000 hostages and threatens to shoot himself in the foot unless he gets his wall. Too bad the Democrats can’t subcontract the job of confronting his demands to Vladimir Putin. Faced with the Russian dictator, our bold leader rolls over on his back like a puppy dog.