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Corruption Rusty Cranford, the former lobbyist and health company executive involved in bribery and kickback schemes with various Arkansas legislators and others, entered a negotiated guilty plea last week in federal court in Springfield, Mo. The criminal information documented hundreds of thousands of dollars steered to state lawmakers with the intention of aiding Preferred Family Healthcare, a nonprofit that employed Cranford. The nonprofit reaped $837 million in government money from 2008 to 2016 and $384 million in Medicaid alone in several states, including Arkansas. It is still receiving that money, though under new leadership. Some of the names included in the Cranford plea are familiar: former legislators Jon Woods and Henry Wilkins, for example. Woods, a Springdale Republican, was convicted by a jury in May and awaits sentencing. Wilkins, a Democrat from Pine Bluff, pleaded guilty last month to accepting bribes. But the information also lists other unnamed persons and entities of interest, many with identifiable descriptions. Among them is “Senator A,” who fits the description of Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock), the governor’s nephew. Sen. Hutchinson issued a statement through his lawyer that denied any wrongdoing.

‘SENATOR A’: Money he received was just for legal work, Hutchinson says.

And more corruption Perhaps the most surprising name to surface in the wake of Cranford’s bribery plea was Teach for America, a national nonprofit that enlists recent college graduates to serve as teachers 4

JUNE 14, 2018


in low-income schools. The federal information cites a 2015 bill sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson that appropriated up to $3 million in state funds to TFA of Arkansas, then a client of Cranford’s lobbying firm. Lobbyists are supposed to help their clients secure favorable legislation — but they’re not supposed to pay senators to get the job done. The federal information states that from January 20, 2015, to April 2015, “Senator A” was paid over $44,000 by entities associated with Cranford. Much of that payment came in the form of legal fees paid to the senator, who is an attorney. The director of TFA Arkansas at the time was Jared Henderson, a Democrat who is running against Governor Hutchinson. But the governor has a connection to the $3 million TFA grant, too: In January 2016, he announced he would fund the appropriation with his discretionary funds. The money itself was used to pay for new TFA teachers to be assigned to school districts in southern and eastern Arkansas. Henderson acknowledged he had hired Cranford but said he had no idea Sen. Hutchinson had accepted payments from the lobbyist. “I really

thought he was supporting us because we convinced him that we had a great mission and a good model, and to learn that he might have had other motivations is pretty enraging, to be honest,” Henderson said.

And yet more corruption? The Arkansas Supreme Court released a letter, submitted under seal by the state attorney general, that said an investigation is under way into an alleged attempt to bribe a member of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission. The entity in question is Natural State Agronomics, which was not one of the five applicants awarded a cultivation license by the commission. The letter surfaced in advance of oral arguments before the court Thursday in the ongoing case challenging the scoring process for marijuana cultivation licenses. The attorney general’s office, which represents the commission, is appealing a ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen that threw out the commission’s choices. The state argues that the process was fair, despite allegations of conflicts of interest sur-

rounding some of the commissioners. The Supreme Court had allowed counsel for parties in the case to see the letter and asked whether they thought it should be unsealed. Attorneys for three winning applicants said the letter shouldn’t be admitted into the record because it was too late, and one unsuccessful applicant asked that the letter be released. Natural State Agronomics itself said the letter shouldn’t be considered in the case.

Nothing to see here, though The University of Central Arkansas hired House Speaker Jeremy Gillam as its $130,000-a-year lobbyist, effective this week. He’ll quit his job atop the House to take the position at UCA. It will be a significant pay bump for Gillam, who earns $47,000 as speaker (plus per diem). Legislators are prohibited from moving into lobbying jobs for two years, with one huge exception. Working for colleges and universities in a “governmental affairs” position doesn’t constitute prohibited lobbying because they are state agencies. Welcome to the deepening Arkansas swamp.


The Arkansas swamp


he Arkansas Capitol is a fetid cultivation permit swamp of corruption and the had offered a bribe bipartisan lack of concern tells to a member of the you plenty. commission. The Two things happened last week that commissioner said weren’t exactly shocking but dramatized he didn’t take the how bad things are: bribe, but he also MAX BRANTLEY • Rusty Cranford, a former lobbyist didn’t report it. The and executive of a health care provider information oozed now known as Preferred Family Health- out in some other fashion. care, pleaded guilty in federal court to It was only the latest black mark on bribery. He admitted a massive string of a dismal record of the Marijuana Comillicit acts all resting on friendly Arkan- mission. At a minimum, it’s been incomsas legislators to enrich his lobbying firm petent. Uneven scoring, overlooked defiand the health care corporation. Many of ciencies and multiple conflicts of interest the angles had been revealed in earlier have destroyed its credibility. charges, but the breadth of the corrupReactions to all this: not much. tion was breathtaking. The governor is taking a wait-and-see Among the specific new disclosures approach and refuses response to spewere details of $500,000 paid to Sen. cific questions about law changes that Jeremy Hutchinson, nominally as “legal could elevate public confidence. If somefees.” Hutchinson has not been charged. body — such as his nephew, the senator He insists he’s committed no crimes. — should be indicted, well, of course, they • The Arkansas attorney general should resign from office. The chairman revealed in a letter the office tried to of the state Democratic Party said little keep secret that it had information that more than the same. That same chairan applicant for a medical marijuana man, Rep. Michael John Gray, had earlier

Legislative boodlers


hich sounds like the best use of your taxpayer dollars: helping pay for medical care for unemployed people, or bribing and lobbying legislators and other government officials to bestow millions of your tax dollars on a corrupt organization that claims it helps poor people who have drug problems or disabilities? Sure, the question is a clever setup to make you sympathetic not to the political crowd but to the jobless folks, commonly known in today’s political lexicon as deadbeats and welfare boodlers. But it is a unrealistic statement of the options. On the first of the month, Arkansas got some national attention for starting to kick poor people off government-subsidized health insurance for not getting on their iPads regularly and proving to the state that they are either keeping a steady job or else meeting some other bureaucratic formula to prove that they are not just lazy. Tens of thousands will lose their medical coverage, joining tens of thousands of others who have lost their coverage the past two years because they did not answer bureaucratic mail or electronic queries about their miserable status. Governor Hutchinson says the purpose is not to punish these malinger-

ers for their poverty and indolence but to nudge them all into good-paying jobs and happy lives. The political crowd at the Pink Tomato Festival at Warren cheered that explanation SaturERNEST day, so it must be a DUMAS good thing. Simultaneously, lawmen were churning out more revelations about the crooks in and about the legislature and the executive branch who connived to funnel tens of millions more of your taxes, including those Medicaid dollars, to one or another “nonprofit” scheme to help the needy. Through lobbying, kickbacks and bribes, the schemers sent $43 million of your dollars last year to Preferred Family Healthcare of Springfield, Mo. Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson of Little Rock, who is a nephew of Governor Hutchinson, got $500,000 for helping steer millions from Medicaid and other health services to the outfit. He says those were legal and consulting fees, not bribes. It has been three years since investigators started exposing the criminal enterprise that a sizable part of the

missed an opportunity to endorse clean government by explaining away the General Improvement Fund scandal — in which legislators unconstitutionally designated recipients of pork barrel money. He said the program generally was a good thing, though kickbacks weren’t. Good? It was an open invitation to theft, bribery, kickbacks and special interest deals. See the guilty pleas of former legislators Micah Neal, Jake Files, Eddie Cooper and Hank Wilkins and the conviction of Jon Woods as proof. See direct grants of taxpayer money to churches, including one masquerading as a college. See massive handouts that helped Cranford’s company get a stranglehold on tens of millions in Medicaidfunded behavioral health services. Re medical marijuana: Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen tossed the marijuana permit awards on account of flaws. But the Arkansas Supreme Court, which is in an ethics war with Griffen, isn’t likely to uphold the ruling of a judge many of them detest. Re Cranford corruption: Preferred Family has some new executives at the top, but some who helped advance the company during Cranford’s reign are

still employed. It still enjoys a lucrative business that no one in Hutchinson’s government seems anxious to audit or otherwise disturb. You’d think a company lucrative enough to pay millions in bribes, kickbacks and illegal campaign contributions and live high on company credit cards at the World Series and other entertainment might be worth a closer financial look. You’d think a reopening of bids for services might be in order. The governor doesn’t. Preferred Family is too big to be allowed to fail, his people have declared. And what if what Jeremy Hutchinson did was legal — take money to work for and vote on matters affecting an enormous recipient of Medicaid money? It shouldn’t be. It certainly should be subject to disclosure. There should be more disclosure, too, by the crop of “consultants” who’ve popped up in the legislature. Who and what are they consulting about? It’s a rare legislator of any consequence who hasn’t had business or campaign contributions from the sewer of toxicity exposed in recent weeks. Perhaps that’s why so few of them want to make it a campaign issue.

state’s fiscal system — its capital expenditures — had become. It started with revelations that a bunch of legislators in Northwest Arkansas were funneling some $700,000 to a man of God who was running a tiny Bible school called Ecclesia College in the woods west of Springdale and kicking part of the money back to legislators. He pled guilty to bribery. So far, five legislators have been convicted of fraud or pled guilty, and Sen. Hutchinson is accused by a lobbying friend of taking bribes from him. The whole scheme, starting with the big state fund — GIF, the General Improvement Fund — that distributed all the money, was so convoluted that most people couldn’t follow it. Doug Thompson of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, who ought to get all the awards that newspapers love to pass out among themselves for his reporting, laid out in tortuous detail how the schemes worked. Every year, the legislature and the governor budgeted state spending — mainly holding down school spending — so that a large surplus was left each July 1. The money was divided among the 135 legislators and the governor. Each legislator, through a largely secret scheme, designated the beneficiaries of his or her pot. Rusty Cranford, a lobbyist and consultant, would bribe or cajole legis-

lators into earmarking their pots for his clients, mainly Preferred Family Healthcare. Legislators would introduce bills to alter state Human Services rules to favor PFH and then the agency would adopt the rules to make PFH eligible for even more money. For his part, the governor chooses among a variety of capital appropriations where his share of the pot will go. Thompson reported that Hutchinson sent $2 million to a nonprofit that recruits new college graduates to teach a year or two in east Arkansas. Nephew Jeremy, who described himself as a consulting attorney for the nonprofit, sponsored the appropriation. The head of the nonprofit happens to be the Democratic nominee for governor. This is a good place to point out that Medicaid and the other federal-state health services are commonly accused of letting conniving poor people defraud the taxpayers by claiming benefits they don’t deserve. There is scant record of that occurring. The fraud perpetrated is from conniving providers, sometimes in cahoots with the leaders of government. Maybe you remember The Lord’s Ranch, a “behavioral health” program run with millions of your dollars by Ted Suhl, the godly friend and benefactor of Gov. Mike Huckabee and now a federal prisoner.

Follow Arkansas Blog on Twitter: @ArkansasBlog JUNE 14, 2018


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JUNE 14, 2018


ow that President Trump has pened would have happened if Monica brought us peace in our time, hadn’t betrayed him first. She violated can we all get back to stoning Rule One of adulterous love affairs: She Bill Clinton? Because no Christian doc- talked. trine is so universally ignored among the How could a influential tribe of Pundit-Americans as man with even Jesus’s admonition against sexual self- a fraction of Bill righteousness: “He that is without sin Clinton’s rumored among you, let him first cast a stone at experience not see her.” (John 8:7) that that coming? GENE Leading lives of spotless moral vir- Lewinsky talked LYONS tue, Washington journalists have long to damn near anybeen of one mind about the Arkansas body who would listen, and particularly naughty boy. So everybody got a cheap to her false friend Linda Tripp, who thrill recently when Clinton responded proceeded to destroy Monica’s life for peevishly to a series of barbed questions political purposes. about Monica Lewinsky from Craig MelTripp and that great American Kenvin of “Today” on TV. neth Starr, who may have failed to notice You know, Matt Lauer’s old show. when the Baylor University football The guy with the button on his desk team went on a sexual assault binge, keeping women locked inside his office. but who tried to pressure Lewinsky into Nobody at NBC knew a thing. saying Clinton urged her to obstruct jusBut there’s no statute of limitations tice. Courageously, she refused. where Clinton/Lewinsky are concerned. Appearing on “Today” to promote The former president’s one-time Oval his book “The President is Missing,” coOffice squeeze definitely doesn’t think written with best-selling novelist James so. In yet another bid to keep her celeb- Patterson, Clinton found himself asked rity martyrdom alive, Lewinsky had no fewer than six times in a tightlyrecently written an essay for Vanity Fair edited segment if he didn’t think he magazine again lamenting how the Big needed to apologize privately to MonCreep done her wrong. As indeed, he did. ica. Oddly, the segment aired with a After decades of defiantly insisting 1998 clip of Clinton giving a shamefaced, that her relationship with Clinton was lip-biting apology to pretty much everyentirely consensual, indeed passion- body in the world, specifically includately desired, Lewinsky writes that her ing “Monica Lewinsky and her family.” eyes have been opened by the #MeToo So it was hard to know what Melvin movement: “I now see how problem- was driving at, apart from showcasing atic it was that the two of us even got his ability to badger an ex-president. to a place where there was a question Anyway, just like that, the old gang got of consent. Instead, the road that led back together. The Washington Post’s there was littered with inappropriate Dana Milbank and Glenn Kessler, The abuse of authority, station, and privilege.” New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, Look, there’s no point relitigating all and, of course, the inimitable Maureen this at this late date. But if you Google Dowd emerged as Monica Lewinsky’s “presidential kneepads” one of the first champions. It was generally agreed that things that comes up is a Los Angeles Clinton had paid no price for his misTimes interview with the former drama deeds, and had a lot of nerve “raging” teacher with whom Lewinsky had a at NBC’s Craig Melvin. Watch the clip. five-year affair before heading to the Do you see rage? I see mainly petulance. White House intent upon seducing the Dowd hit Clinton with the ultimate president. insult: “Trump-level narcissism and Yes, she was in her early 20s, a “near selfishness.” Having spent decades comchild” to my friend and Arkansas Demo- paring Lewinsky to the predatory Glenn crat-Gazette columnist John Brummett. Close character in “Fatal Attraction,” But Monica’s White House adventures mocking her weight and lampooning were far from being her first rodeo, as her intelligence, the venerable Times we say out in the boondocks. Consent? columnist emerged as her champion. She threw herself at him thong first. Of course Clinton was foolish not to Me, I couldn’t have gotten away anticipate Melvin’s questions. fast enough. Drama queens put me off. But should he pick up the phone, That’s one reason I bought Clinton’s have a heart to heart with Lewinsky, cover story for the longest time. That and tell NBC about it? said, none of what eventually hapI surely wouldn’t. Would you?



he annual meeting of the South- Memphis, appears to be silent on the ern Baptist Convention this week issue, although in between spreading has me thinking about two things the “good news,” he does comment on that just can’t quit each other: politics other worldly things. I don’t know what and religion. Peas and carrots to some. past president and Northwest ArkanOil and water to others. Either way, to sas’s own Pastor Ronnie Floyd has to write on politics in the South is to write say, as I’m still blocked from viewing on religion in the South. And there is his Twitter account. no bigger influence on politics down Surely these here than the Southern Baptists. As I men have seen the write this, they are preparing to gather photos and heard in Dallas to pray, elect a new president, the stories of the and, according to a statement by former children being SBC President Jack Graham, “speak to ripped from their AUTUMN the spiritual and cultural issues of our parents’ arms? TOLBERT times.” If you have any question as to Surely they’ve how that will shake out, just note that heard the stories of families being Vice President Mike Pence has been ripped apart by inhuman immigration announced as a featured speaker and policies? In Floyd’s own backyard, the the SBC website features both an article Washington and Benton county sheriffs celebrating the Supreme Court Master- participate in the ICE 287(g) program, piece Cakeshop decision and another which creates instability in the local advising churches on how to upgrade immigrant communities and leads to their fancy wireless sound systems. To the breaking up of families, of citizen the SBC’s credit, no mention is made children having their parents deported, of asking a state legislator for money. and increased gang activity. After all, if It’s not my intention to continually a young person’s parents can disappear write about religion, and I’m certainly at any time for something as benign as no theologian, but attending a conser- having no driver’s license, then having vative evangelical church three times an extra support system, whether it be a week for the first 18 years of my life a church or a gang, has to be appealing. arguably makes me an expert on ArkanWhat’s the holdup? Why are they sas religion. At least one breed of it. silent? Well, it’s right there in Matthew. It’s a breed of Christianity taught Their hearts have been hardened. That’s mostly by men who may have a certifi- why no amount of graphic videos and cate of ministry, but little to no higher photos of dead children washed up on education in history, philosophy or sci- beaches and no amount of photos and ence to give any context to their teach- accounts of children being separated ings or sermons. It’s like reading the from their parents without given the Bible with blinders on. Unfortunately chance to say goodbye to one another those men and their cronies keep get- will change things for many evangeliting elected. It is ruining both religion cals. Why is this? Is it because maybe and politics. the newfangled way to say “their hearts Back to the Southern Baptists. It have been hardened” is to say “they are came as a pleasant surprise that the racist”? Whether overt or systemic, it’s organization recently took a strong clear that the origin and skin color of stance in favor of removing Confeder- the asylum seekers play a role in the ate memorials from Memphis parks. It indifference. remains to be seen if the leadership of That’s why, instead of having this the Southern Baptist Convention will group of faith leaders in Dallas speak take a strong stance against the Trump up for the least of us and for all chiladministration’s horrific practice of dren and families by asking Pence the separating young children from their hard questions and publicly admonishparents as they arrive here seeking asy- ing the Trump administration for its lum. This isn’t a completely new policy, cruel, anti-family policies, I’m afraid we but it has been expanded under Trump. will see two days of self-congratulation Someone in the SBC leadership did sign from those who celebrate discriminaa letter asking Trump to reconsider this tion at bakeries. Instead of speaking out practice; however, there’s been little to help families from being ripped apart talk of this practice by the present and at the border, they’ll keep repeating that former leadership of the SBC. The cur- all the world needs is Jesus while at rent president, Pastor Steve Gaines from the same time ignoring their old catch the Bellevue Baptist megachurch in phrase, “What would Jesus do?”








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Surging to Omaha


uring that weird — and frankly, later to set the mark at 94 and counting) dull — era of college baseball and staked the Razorbacks to a 5-0 firstwhere composite bats were be- inning lead. Campbell locked in nicely ing championed as the universal cure-all for three more innings with his effortless for player safety woes, Arkansas went delivery and well-harnessed movement. to the College World Series in Omaha When he ran into a spot of trouble in the in 2012 with a rather moribund offense fifth, Van Horn yanked him; but, make no but a considerably stout pitching staff. mistake, Campbell’s four steady innings Despite the Hogs’ pedestrian team of- were absolutely crucial. fense, they were on the precipice of beBa r re t t L o s ing in the national title game for the first eke took over and time in 33 years. earned the win South Carolina, the two-time defend- with some compeing champion who had made a living off tent relief, yielding the rules changes that depleted offen- only a meaningless sive production, had all the answers. In solo homer, which, BEAU WILCOX a maddening 24-plus hours, the Hogs by that time, only crumbled to the Gamecocks not once, drew the Gamecocks within 10 runs. but twice. The Razorbacks watched The Hogs’ five-spot in the first inning helplessly as Arizona ended the Cocks’ was followed by another five-run inning reign and won its fourth national title. in the fifth, and the game was in many That feeling of being just a shade ways a going-away party for some guys or two lighter than the bluest of blue- who suffered through Van Horn’s worst bloods has clearly pervaded the Hogs’ year (26-29, 7-23 in the SEC in 2016) and plans. Coach Dave Van Horn guided soldiered back to post 45 wins last year, Arkansas to Omaha in just his second then get the program back to Omaha. season (2004), then shook off a couple Shaddy was great all weekend, but Luke of disappointing early tournament exits Bonfield joined the party Monday night with better teams to get a seemingly with three solid hits and a season-best average squad back to the Heartland four RBI, while terrific junior Cole, in 2009. In order for the Razorbacks to likely to depart after being picked in make their fifth trip to baseball’s Val- the fourth round of the Major League halla under Van Horn, the Hogs would Baseball free agent draft by the Kansas have to vanquish South Carolina twice City Royals, reached base all five times yet again last weekend. and scored all five times he reached. There was a Sunday hiccup in which It was an anticlimactic but indisputa home plate umpire with an obscenely ably fun night at Baum Stadium, where unforgiving early strike zone took nor- Arkansas has demolished foes to the tune mally dependable Hog lefty Kacey Mur- of a 35-4 record this year, and South Carphy out of his comfort zone, and a late olina was a scrappy foe responsible for power surge by Razorbacks Carson giving the Hogs two of those defeats. But Shaddy and Heston Kjerstad wasn’t Coach Mark Kingston had to go to his enough to offset Carolina’s five-run relievers too early and too often during fifth inning. But playing a tiebreaker the weekend, and that paucity of live clearly didn’t faze a team that was, by arms was evident Monday. The Hogs, all accounts, Van Horn’s most complete embracing high expectations and feelassemblage of talent yet. ing invigorated, pounced on their conWhat was undeniably critical ference rival and ended up with a 5-2 for Monday’s finale was the command mark against the Gamecocks this season. of mercurial righty Isaiah Campbell and They have the same 5-2 mark comthe batting order’s ability to start fast. bined against the three teams they’ll Arkansas was back in the home whites, share a bracket with in Omaha: SEC batting second, and that enabled Camp- rival and defending national champion bell to come out and throw a relatively Florida (2-2); longtime Southwest Conclean first inning (no hits, one harmless ference rival Texas (2-0), which is back walk) to get the crowd behind him and for a 36th CWS appearance; and Texas send his confidence soaring. Tech (1-0). There is no more fitting firstFrom there the bats, energized in the game matchup than the Hogs and Longlate going of Sunday’s loss, took over. horns on Sunday afternoon. Arkansas is Shaddy, the hometown senior amassing a a deserving and dangerous member of great final year, belted a three-run bomb the octet and wouldn’t mind having its to set the Arkansas season record for first dogpile there to culminate a trehomers (Eric Cole tagged another one mendous season.



f you can, cast your mind back to when you were very young and recall what it felt like to be separated from your mother and father. Not just playing in the yard or another NOTES ON THE PASSING SCENE part of the house, but truly, even for a moment, lost. Recall the vice crush of wouldn’t you do to get your child to panic in your chest. that place? Would you lie? Would you If you were ever a parent, remember risk your life? Would you break the law? the feeling of being in a public place, Would you commit a misdemeanor? turning around, and finding that your If you support this madness while child is gone. They’re squirrelly lit- claiming to be a Christian, you are not. tle suckers, and compact. Turn your You are a servant of the creeping darkhead for a second and they can vanish ness, cruelty and despair that Jesus like smoke, even if you’re the great- Christ fought and shed his blood for est parent alive. Remember that feel- all his short life here on earth. ing. Remember the terrible possibility. If you have ever uttered or thought Remember the vice crush of panic in or nodded along when someone said, your chest at the thought of “maybe” “Well, if they didn’t want their kids until you laid eyes on that child again. taken, they shouldn’t have brought If you are an American, understand them here,” you’re not a good person. the things that are being done at the You have become, in your gluttony and border right now, in your name. Thou- narcissism, a monster, too far gone to sands of children ripped from the arms even possess an understanding of the of loving parents and spirited away sheer, stupid luck of being born here. into the night, in your name. Mothers If you still claim to be a Christian, reportedly being told that their chil- consider Leviticus 19:33-34: “When a dren are being taken to be bathed, only stranger resides with you in your land, to learn minutes or hours later that you shall not wrong him. The stranger they aren’t coming back, in your name. who resides with you shall be to you Parents being charged with the misde- as one of your citizens; you shall love meanor — yes, misdemeanor, same as him as yourself, for you were strangpublic intox and spitting on the side- ers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord walk — of illegally crossing the border, thy God.” but being sentenced on the spot to havIf you cling to the passages in Levitiing their children snatched from them, cus about hating gay people, but skim in your name. Men and women with past those about loving immigrants, you the American flag on their shoulders should cast that cross around your neck are literally kidnapping children like into the dust, because it’s just jewelry witches in candy houses, in your name. now. Have yourself a tiny gold basin American police officers, duly sworn, made instead, the basin where Ponare committing the textbook definition tius Pilate washed his cowardly hands of terrorism against little boys and little of savagery. Have yourself a tiny gold girls who will bear the mental scars truncheon made, a tiny gold jackboot, a for the rest of their lives, and they are tiny dollar bill. These are your gods now. doing so in order to act as a deterrent If you believe that history and our by demonstrating the inhuman, reptil- children’s children will not judge us all ian cruelty of which Americans are now in the same light as those who remained capable, even to children. In your name. silent while black Americans were If you have ever been a mother or bought and sold, while Native Amerifather, imagine your child living in a cans were slaughtered and their famicorrupt and lawless land run by crim- lies crushed, while Japanese Americans inal warlords, in the kind of grinding were rounded up and forced into camps, poverty that isn’t just situational but you are wrong. generational, with no hope to ever If you are not pissed, get pissed. escape. Now imagine that you know If you are not loud, get loud. that somewhere out there, there is a If you are not informed, get informed. line, and on the other side of that line If you are not ashamed of your counis a land of bounty and safety where try over this, you should be. any person who works hard in the hot If you don’t believe it can change, it sun can earn a sliver of that bounty for can, if those who want to make Amerthemselves and their children. ica truly great again act as one and say: If that were your situation, what “Not in my name.”


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JUNE 14, 2018


A new center


here’s a new center in Arkansas politics, and abortion rights, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, decriminalized marijuana and LGBTQ rights are its defining issues. Using a census-driven method, John Ray, Jesse Bacon and I analyzed the issue-based questions in the University of Arkansas’s Arkansas Poll at the congressional and state Senate district levels. In each of the state’s congressional and most of its state Senate districts, residents overwhelmingly support these four issues. (Gun reform was also part of the poll, but we didn’t include it in the analysis here because the poll took place long before the Parkland shootings, an event that, at least for the time being, has dramatically shifted public opinion on the issue.) To our continued surprise, the 3rd Congressional District is showing signs that it’s become the most progressive region in Arkansas. There, residents show the highest levels of support for abortion rights and campaign finance reform across the entire state. As we noted in a March column, the district’s demography and political leanings make it at least as competitive as the more progressive 2nd District. In March, we discovered it was the only one in Arkansas in which President Trump’s approval rating fell below 50 percent. In fact, the 3rd may be an easier pickup opportunity for Democrats if all other things — fundraising, campaign organization, etc. — are equal. Northwest Arkansas continues to buck the state’s conventional political wisdom. Less surprisingly, the 2nd District shows the most support for Medicaid expansion, marijuana decriminalization and the right for the LGBTQ community to be treated like humans. In addition to confirming the theory that President Obama’s signature policy achievement was exceedingly popular once stripped of his name, our analysis shows that the state and local exuberance for 2nd District Democratic candidate Clarke Tucker is well-placed — he stands as good a chance as anyone in recent memory of winning back that district from Republican French Hill. Perhaps most surprisingly, these five issues topped 50 percent in all 35 state Senate districts. Though only five of those seats are being contested, Democratic candidates have an opportunity to build their campaigns around

progressive issues that are popular. In doing so, they can change the policy debate in Arkansas from one centered on how much to cut taxes for big business and wealthy campaign donors to one centered on improving the quality of life in a state ranked at or near the bottom in every socioeconomic metric that matters. In Arkansas, the pundits and the right-wing segment of the commenta riat sp end con sidBILLY erable time and FLEMING energy trying to Guest Columnist convince people that the right to an abortion, the right to be seen by a doctor without having to choose between bankruptcy and death, the right for LGBTQ people to be treated like, well, people, and the need to reform our campaign finance and criminal justice systems are fringe, far-left concerns. As state Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) tweets ad nauseum, they consider these issues to be central to progressives and the Trump Resistance, but not to voters. The problem with their argument is that there’s simply no data to support it. Instead, the state’s pundits, right-wing media and consultant class seem boxed in by their own self-importance — that is, their insistence that the values and beliefs they possess are the center, and that everyone else is on the fringe. But, as countless polls and ballot initiatives tell us, the median American voter is far more progressive than the right-wing media gives him credit for. If 2018 comes down to turnout and mobilization, Democrats can expand the blue wave’s reach by building their campaigns around this new center. Republican single-party rule — and the simmering corruption scandal that threatens to send more GOP legislators to prison — has given Arkansas Democrats an opening this November. Issues aside, the state deserves some semblance of partisan balance, if for no other reason, than because divided government is accountable. There is nothing that Arkansas’s corruption-plagued, Republican-controlled government needs more now than accountability. If ever there was a time for candidates to take a risk — to stake out new positions that redefine the post-Clinton Democratic Party — this is it.





Full of interesting voices and colorful portraits of 17 Little Rock and North Little Rock neighborhoods, this book gives an intimate, block-by-block, native’s view of the place more than 250,000 Arkansans call home. Created from interviews with residents and largely written by writers who actually live in the neighborhoods they’re writing about, the book features over 90 full color photos by Little Rock photographer Brian Chilson.


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Arkansas Reporter



Float your own boat Greg Johnson’s Little Rock Boat Builder Supply can make it happen, no experience needed. BY LINDSEY MILLAR


reg Johnson recently found a photo of himself, age 3, painting a picture of a boat. When he was growing up, his family always had boats. As he got older, he began building watercraft for himself, including an 18-foot racing sailboat, when he could find the time between working as a professional carpenter — building houses, commercial properties and cabinets. After a brief stint working in the cabinet shop at Dassault Falcon Jet, Johnson, 61, decided to turn that lifelong passion into a business: Last November, he opened Little


JUNE 14, 2018


Rock Boat Builder Supply, a business that’s likely unique in Arkansas. Although this week a visitor to his large woodshop on Victory Street, just north of the state Capitol, would probably find Johnson and his crew putting the finishing touches on a 20-foot canoe called Miss Behavin’, Johnson isn’t in the boat building business. Instead, he’s creating boat kits for customers who want to assemble their own watercrafts. Miss Behavin’ is made from what’s known in the industry as a stitch-andglue boat kit. Its parts are mostly marinegrade plywood made from Okoume (a

tree from West-Central Africa) and Meranti (a tree that grows in the Philippines) wood, which is engineered to resist fungal decay when wet. Johnson cuts the plywood pieces for the canoe kit on a 5-foot-by-10-foot CNC (computer numerical control) machine he constructed himself. The CNC machine allows him to automate precise and repeatable cuts with a router. The plywood pieces that make up the hull come together with puzzle joints, which look like large puzzle pieces and fit together in only one way. Copper wire “stitches” that pass through pre-drilled holes con-

nect the side and bottom pieces of the hull. Once the boat is assembled, each seam gets glued with an epoxy fillet (a raised bead) and Fiberglass tape. Once that dries, the copper wires are snipped and the seams get sanded smooth. Fiberglass cloth covers the exterior of the hull. You don’t know the Fiberglass is there after epoxy is applied to it; the epoxy-covered Fiberglass cloth dries clear. Because it’s made of plywood, the whole thing gets a coat of paint, too. Johnson estimates that it takes about 80 hours to assemble the Miss Behavin’ model and says no woodworking experience is required. He was assembling it last week in advance of The WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, Conn., June 22-24. It’s one of the biggest in the country and Johnson is hoping it will help LRBBS make a splash in the boat-kit manufacturing world. One aspect that sets Miss Behavin’ apart from typical canoes is its dual

Tune in to our “Week In Review” podcast each Friday. Available on iTunes &

STITCH-AND-GLUE: Greg Johnson of Little Rock Boat Builder Supply hopes his plywood designs will make a splash in the boat-kit manufacturing world.

pedal drive system: Passengers can power propellers attached to the back of the canoe by pedaling, similar to pedaling a recumbent bicycle. The idea for the boat came out of Laurie McGowan’s “Design Sketchbook” column for WoodenBoat magazine, the sponsor of the upcoming boat show. For each issue, McGowan, a Nova Scotia-based boat designer, takes a reader’s idea for a “dream boat” and makes conceptual drawings and writes about it. The design for Miss Behavin’ grew out of one of those columns. McGowan, who Johnson met years back at an international boat builders conference, is providing the plans for most of the boats Johnson will soon have for sale on his website, (only the kit for Miss Behavin’, retailing from $2,150 to $2,450, is for sale now), and most come from concepts that originated in “Design Sketchbook.” Soon, Johnson plans to begin selling kits for the Laurentia, a 13-foot microcruiser sailboat, and, in the nottoo-distant future, a 10-foot canoe made with thin strips of hardwood glued together around forms. He also wants to sell a sit-on-top kayak that he designed in hopes of taking it to the Everglades Challenge, an annual 300-mile small boat race from Tampa to Key Largo in Florida along the Gulf Coast. The boat will have a pedal drive and a kite sail option. By the end of the year, Johnson hopes to have five models for sale. After two years, he hopes for 10 models, which might be the max, he said. For now, Johnson and his employees are still spending a lot of their time doing custom cabinetry jobs to keep LRBBS afloat, but Johnson said he’s been surprised at how many walk-in customers have come in to buy sheets of plywood, epoxy or other boat building supplies that aren’t easy to get in Central Arkansas. “There are a lot of boat builders out there,” he said.



Inconsequential News Quiz:

O’Lantern/Any Functional Adult in 2020! Edition

Play at home, while frantically Googling the symptoms of Thrombocytopenia Syndrome. 1) Duane “Dak” Kees, the new U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, recently said something in a media interview that would seem to put him at odds with the Trump administration. What was it? A) “Given the choice of Trump versus a rotting Jack O’ Lantern in 2020, I’m O’Lantern all the way!” B) “Trump’s toupee? 100 percent Russian hooker pubes.” C) He said he plans to “prioritize the deportation of undocumented immigrants who are convicted criminals” over those without a criminal record, adding that deporting a hard-working immigrant with a family who hasn’t committed a crime doesn’t do much good for the local community. D) “You’re not going to believe this, but Jeff Sessions is, like, teacup-poodle-sized.” 2) Speaking of not doing much good for the community, it turns out that Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is part of an effort that could devastate millions of the most vulnerable Americans. What has she done this time? A) While in the Oval Office, she swapped the label on Trump’s “Bring Me Another Diet Coke” button with the one on the “Launch All ICBMs” button. B) She’s lobbying for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be the new voice of Google Maps navigation, potentially leading to a rash of rage-induced vehicular homicides. C) She’s one of the red state attorneys general behind a lawsuit that could overturn the Affordable Care Act’s ban on denying insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, which the Trump administration recently announced it would no longer oppose in court. D) She recently rolled out her signature perfume, “Duplicity,” which features fragrance notes including “DHS Office,” “Trump’s Ass” and “Rarely Washed Hair.” 3) The Wikipedia entry for former state Sen. Jon Woods, who was convicted in May in the fast-unfolding kickback scheme involving taxpayer money, was altered recently. Which of the following is included on Woods’ Wikipedia page, but NOT his status as a convicted felon? A) He was a producer on “Geek Rock” band The Plaid Jackets’ song “Adam West is Batman”! B) He was once a lifeguard at the Siloam Springs pool! C) He’s a bass guitarist for the band “A Good Fight”! D) All of the above 4) Benton police officers recently arrested a man at a McDonald’s restaurant. What, besides his own recital of the drugs he was on, tipped them off that he was under the influence? A) One officer wrote in his report that the man’s pupils were “so small that they were almost non-existent.” B) He allegedly asked an employee repeatedly to have sex with him. C) After eating another person’s food, he allegedly whipped out his penis in the restaurant and began flogging the bishop. D) All of the above. 5) The USDA has confirmed the appearance of a dangerous species for the first time in Arkansas. What’s the critter? A) The Lesser-Educated Trumpian Weasel. B) A lizard man from Zebulax 8, discovered after Sen. Tom Cotton’s shoddy rubber human mask fell away during a speech. C) The longhorned tick, an invasive East Asian variety that can cause bacterial and viral diseases in humans and animals, including thrombocytopenia syndrome, which causes multiorgan failure that is fatal in up to 30 percent of cases. D) Holy shit. It’s one of the above. Be afraid, Benton County. Be very afraid. Answers: C, C, D, D, C




OUR HOUSE: Shelter staff say clients rely on Arkansas Works coverage to handle chronic and acute health care needs.

FIRST, GET A JOB Arkansas’s Medicaid work requirements begin. BY BENJAMIN HARDY


n June 1, with the blessing of expansion under the Affordable Care searches and volunteering along with noncompliance to be “minimal.” the Trump administration, Act. (Somewhat confusingly, the pro- punching the clock. Governor HutchinYet health care advocates warn that Arkansas became the first gram has been called “Arkansas Works” son, who championed the policy, has Arkansas’s experiment could nonethestate in the 50-year history of since 2015, though the work require- cited Arkansas’s 3.8 percent unemploy- less lead to thousands losing insurance, the Medicaid program to impose a work ment itself is a new feature.) ment rate as evidence it’s reasonable including many who are now working. requirement on certain beneficiaries. At first glance, the requirement is to ask able-bodied adults to find a job. One reason is that documenting the Medicaid provides publicly funded both limited in application and modest “This is not about punishing anyone,” work activities of some 69,000 people health insurance to almost 1 million in scope. Even among Arkansas Works Hutchinson said March 6, when the fed- each month will entail a dense new web Arkansans — including the disabled, the beneficiaries, about 75 percent will be eral Centers for Medicare and Medicaid of red tape. It’s not enough to simply elderly and children on ARKids — but exempt. For the approximately 69,000 Services (CMS) approved Arkansas’s have a job; beneficiaries must report the new work requirement will apply recipients to whom the requirement waiver implementing the requirement. their work habits monthly through an only to nondisabled, working-age, low- may apply, the state Department of “It’s to help them to move out of poverty online portal set up by DHS. Reporting income adults. Around 280,000 such Human Services will mandate 80 hours and up the economic ladder.” Asked by mail or phone will not be allowed — beneficiaries are covered by Arkansas of approved “work activities” each how many people were likely to lose though the website may be unavailable Works, the state’s name for Medicaid month, which can include school, job coverage, Hutchinson said he expected up to 10 hours every day. 14

JUNE 14, 2018



Any change of job that involves a director for Arkansas Advocates for over that period. group, about 70 percent of respondents change of income must be reported to Children and Families, said most benIn 2015, when Hutchinson inherited said states should be allowed to impleDHS. Cash income, whether earned eficiaries probably are unaware of their Medicaid expansion from his Dem- ment such policies. through mowing lawns or waiting new obligations. “Even the people who ocratic predecessor, Mike Beebe, he The majority of people on Arkantables, must be rigorously documented know about [the work requirement] chose to embrace the program. That sas Works likely already have jobs. A and reported. Though some exemptions don’t know that they have to take action angered some conservatives in the state national Kaiser Family Foundation are automatic, others must be reported or what they need to do,” Little said. legislature who have attempted each analysis released in December found regularly. And, if a beneficiary fails to “There are going to be a lot of opportuni- year to block the Arkansas Works bud- that 42 percent of non-elderly Medicreport his or her information for three ties for people to fall through the cracks.” get in defiance of the governor. The aid adults worked full-time and another nonconsecutive months out of the calreauthorization fight has replayed 18 percent worked part-time, based on endar year, that person will not only *** every year at the Capitol, pitting Repub- Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Among be removed from the Medicaid rolls, lican against Republican. the 40 percent without a job at the time but also be locked out of the program of the survey, about one-third said they until the following January — regardweren’t working because they were less of whether he or she qualifies for taking care of a family member and an exemption later in the year. another third said they were ill or disJoan Alker, the executive director abled. Most of the remainder said they of Georgetown University’s Center for were retired or attending school. Children and Families, has been closely However, employment often comes tracking the progress of work requirein fits and starts for the working poor. ments in Arkansas and elsewhere. “I A study published in May by the Urban think the lessons of history are very Institute, a Washington, D.C., think clear,” she said. “When you have more tank, found that among those Arkansas red tape and paperwork, people lose Works beneficiaries who today hold a coverage. When you have more uninjob, almost one-third may fail to meet sured parents, you’re probably going to the state’s new requirements yearsee more uninsured children as well.” round. Of those low-income, employed “We’re extremely concerned about beneficiaries who likely do not qualify significant losses of coverage as a result for an exemption, 32 percent wouldn’t of these new requirements being rolled meet the 80-hour threshold for at least out in a very rushed manner,” she said. one month out of the year. Hospitals are also concerned. CovAnuj Gangopadhyaya, the lead erage losses would lead to more uninauthor of the Urban Institute study, sured people using emergency rooms explained that beneficiaries who “work for care, driving up costs and threatenin high turnover occupations or jobs ing small hospitals’ survival. with high seasonality could have their “If someone who is eligible for the coverage jeopardized.” program loses their eligibility … their Census Bureau data indicates that care through the hospital now goes to when such individuals are working, uncompensated care,” Arkansas Hosthey work far more than 80 hours per pital Association President and CEO month, Gangopadhyaya added. “We Bo Ryall said. (The AHA is a donor to found they’re averaging about 35 hours the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, per week, so it’s not that they’re optsponsor of this article.) ing to not work. … It’s more a matter Our House, a shelter for the working of whether they have consistent work homeless in Little Rock, is one of dozor not.” DHS has said it won’t allow ens of employment and training (E&T) beneficiaries to apply “surplus” hours sites statewide that assist beneficiaries accrued one month to later months on the food stamp program, or SNAP. that same year. Lyndsey Czapansky, who runs the E&T To supporters of the work requireprogram at Our House’s career center, ments, such details are outweighed by a said staff are actively training to help need to create accountability for ArkanSOUNDING THE ALARM: Marquita Little of Arkansas Advocates said the requireclients navigate the system. Still, she’s sas Works beneficiaries. ment creates “opportunities for people to fall through the cracks.” concerned about the possibility of cli“I think that there are people who ents losing coverage because of how need some sort of encouragement to it could affect their ability to find and get job training or to accept the job,” keep employment. MEDICAID EXPANSION HAS But work requirements tend to state Sen. Jim Hendren (R-Gravette), “You need to be in good health to TRANSFORMED health coverage unite the party. Days after Hutchinson the GOP majority leader and a nephew keep a steady job,” Czapansky said. in Arkansas since it was first autho- announced the Trump administration of the governor, said in a recent inter“When my clients come in, the first thing rized by the state in 2013. U.S. Census had approved Arkansas’s waiver, the view. “I am a believer that deadlines that we do is enroll them in Medicaid. Bureau data shows Arkansas’s overall GOP-dominated legislature passed the work. … I’m hopeful that by setting If they’re locked out, I don’t know what uninsured rate fell from 16 percent in Arkansas Works budget with little fuss. expectations, people who are getting we’ll do, especially if they need mental 2013 to 8 percent in 2016. Only Ken- Polls show work requirements are also some benefits of insurance by others health care or intensive dental work or tucky, a similarly poor state that also broadly popular among the public: In paying for it realize that it’s fair and diabetes treatment.” expanded Medicaid, saw a greater a poll released last June by the Kaiser reasonable that they should pursue and Marquita Little, the health policy decline in its rate of uninsured adults Family Foundation, a health advocacy obtain work, so that they can contribute JUNE 14, 2018


to the next person.” Beneficiaries subject to the requirement will be referred to the Department of Workforce Services, which is tasked with connecting those individuals to job training and wraparound services. However, the state has budgeted no new money for an influx of clients at its workforce centers. Hendren said he didn’t think that would be a problem. “If we get to the point where people are sincerely trying to get job training and the programs are not available, we either need to do a better job of making

“Arkansas actually has quite broad exemption criteria compared to other states trying to implement work requirements,” Gangopadhyaya acknowledged. Kentucky, Indiana and New Hampshire have also received approval from the Trump administration to impose work requirements, though Arkansas will be the first to get its system off the ground. (Based on estimates from Kentucky, about 40 percent of the 480,000 adults in that state who rely on Medicaid expansion are expected to be subject to the require-


By using income as a proxy mea- apply for health coverage are working surement for labor hours, DHS appears enough hours to meet the requirement. to assume all Arkansas Works bene- That means the compliance burden ficiaries are making minimum wage. of reporting work activities will only Someone who makes twice that rate, apply to people making below $680 or $17 per hour, would only have to per month, or about 67 percent of the work 40 hours each month to meet federal poverty level. (To be eligible for the $680 monthly threshold. A benefi- Arkansas Works, a person must make ciary fortunate enough to earn $34 per less than 138 percent of the poverty hour would meet the requirement by level, or about $1,396 per month for working just 20 hours each month, or an individual. Therefore, beneficiaries five hours per week. In an email, DHS earning between 67 and 138 percent of spokeswoman Amy Webb confirmed the poverty line won’t be subject to the this accurately described its system for requirement.) Some exemption categories will require beneficiaries to report regularly to DHS: full-time student status, enrollment in a drug or alcohol treatment program, caring for an incapacitated person, “short-term incapacitation” resulting from a medical emergency, and a catchall “good cause” exemption that DHS staff must evaluate on a caseby-case basis. Webb said DHS workers will handle “good cause” exemption requests by phone or email. Asked how much agency staff time would be required to assist beneficiaries and process exemption requests, Webb said the agency did not have an estimate. Other exemptions will be automatically granted based on the beneficiary’s initial application or other state data. Along with the age and income limits, these categories include workers receiving unemployment benefits, people designated “medically frail” due to certain diagnosed health issues, people already subject to a SNAP work exemption and women who were pregnant at the time of application. Most importantly, an automatic exemption will also apply to anyone living in a household with a dependent child under age 18, whether or not SEEMA VERMA: The administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services granted approval to Arkansas’s waiver request the beneficiary actually cares for that on March 6, clearing the way for the requirements to begin. child. That means a 25-year-old living with his parents would be automatithose programs available or we need to ment, as opposed to about 25 percent of measuring work hours. cally exempt from the work requiregive them some relief on taking away Arkansas Works beneficiaries.) Arkansas Works covers low-income ment if he has a minor sibling who their health insurance,” he said. “I don’t But a close examination of DHS’ adults ages 19-64, but the requirement lives at home. Marci Manley, a DHS want to penalize people because we’re documentation reveals several sur- will apply only to those from ages 19-49. spokeswoman, confirmed in an email asking them to do something impos- prising details about how the policy (It’s being rolled out in phases: Those in that “any adult living in the home with sible — but I don’t believe right now will actually operate. Contrary to what the 30-49 age range must begin report- a child under the age of 18 will have an that’s the case.” the governor has said, DHS will not ing in 2018 and those in the 19-29 range exemption, they need not be a guardrequire beneficiaries to work 80 hours will begin in the first half of 2019.) Peo- ian or parent.” *** per month. Instead, it will require they ple ages 50-64 are automatically and Little, the Arkansas Advocates policy earn a certain level of income: $680 permanently exempt, meaning they director, said she was taken aback to HENDREN ALSO POINTED OUT per month, which is the equivalent of will not have to report any informa- learn the dependent child exemption the exemptions are generously drawn. working 80 hours at $8.50 per hour, tion to DHS. was so broad. “I suppose as an advocate “I think there was a very fair and rea- Arkansas’s minimum wage. Each month, Perhaps more surprisingly, DHS I should be saying ‘Oh, that’s great,’ … sonable effort to make this apply to a Medicaid recipients will enter their will also automatically exempt any- but the leakier it is, the more concernpopulation that really should be seek- earned income into the online portal, one above a certain income level. DHS ing it is that we are even rolling out this ing employment and accepting it if it’s rather than the number of hours they assumes beneficiaries who make more requirement,” Little said. “If you have offered to them,” he said. have worked. than $680 per month at the time they leaks on this end of it, you’re going to 16

JUNE 14, 2018


BROAD BUT ARBITRARY: The Arkansas Works population (yellow box) includes some 280,000 low-income adults, but only a subset of recipients (blue box) will be required to document work activities each month. Many of those will also be exempt due to attending school, having a dependent child in the home or another reason.

have a lot of leaks in other places.” ries. “These policies are so inherently portal as a means of pushing younger working well to begin with,” she said. The exemptions are drawn so complex that even if they try to put in beneficiaries to gain computer literacy In 2015, tens of thousands of beneficiabroadly that many likely won’t be exemptions and exceptions, they’re still skills. “We need to help them get an ries were kicked off of Medicaid due to touched by the work requirement, Lit- hard to implement and hard for people email [address] and learn how to deal changes in the state’s income verificatle acknowledged. “People that fall into to take advantage of,” Jennifer Wagner, in that world, or they will never be suc- tion process — a mess that took months their automated categories are prob- a senior policy analyst with the CBPP, cessful,” Gillespie said. of work to resolve. ably going to be OK,” she said. But said in a recent conference call. But the Urban Institute analysis of In a monitoring plan DHS submitworkers on the margins of the econThe confusion may be exacerbated 2016 Census Bureau data found that ted to federal CMS in May, the agency omy who don’t qualify automatically by the fact that DHS, in an effort to among the 69,000 beneficiaries likely noted another detail: “The portal will for an exemption may be in danger of minimize expenses, intends to admin- to be subject to the requirement, over a be available daily between 7 a.m. and 9 losing coverage. ister the requirement without hiring quarter had no internet service at home p.m. except for times when it is neces“I’m most worried about that group,” any new employees. or regular cell phone service. Over half sary to take the portal offline for system Little said. “They’re the people we see “Arkansas has tried to do it in a way lacked broadband access. An online- upgrades.” That suggests the system eligible for a couple months and then that hasn’t increased staffing costs,” only requirement, Gangopadhyaya said, could be unavailable for up to 10 hours ineligible. They’re the seasonal workers. Wagner said. In pursuit of a fully auto- is “a curious thing to do in Arkansas, out of every day. Asked why the portal They’re people who inconsistently work mated system, DHS expects all benefi- which has the second-lowest internet would be offline so often, Webb said by because they can’t get reliable perma- ciaries to report through the web portal, access [rate] in the entire nation.” email that “this is the time when the nent full-time employment. … That’s an unusual policy feature that required Little noted that DHS hasn’t built a system does updates, maintenance, and also where you’re more likely to see approval from federal CMS. dedicated system to handle the com- handles batch processing, etc.” people with mental illnesses or physical DHS Director Cindy Gillespie has plex new requirements. “It’s the same Sen. Hendren admitted this part of conditions where they’re healthy one said the online-only reporting require- Access Arkansas page that people have the rollout could be rocky. “There’s day and they’re not the next.” ment is an effort to save money. “If you always used,” she said. “We’ve kind no question there may be some probimplement it in the old-fashioned way of piecemealed the IT part of this. … I lems we’ll have to solve in regards to *** of ‘Come into our county office,’ we think it would have cost more to build people with limited internet access or would have to hire so many people,” a system that was more user-friendly.” those IT problems at DHS,” he said. THE CENTER FOR BUDGET she said in March, soon after the waiver Alker, the Georgetown professor, “But that does not mean you just do AND POLICY PRIORITIES, a liberal- was approved. pointed out DHS has had serious IT nothing and abandon the effort to conleaning D.C.-based think tank, warned Gillespie said the agency’s long-term problems in the past. “Arkansas does tinue to help people find employment the convoluted exemption categories goal was to make all of its communica- not have a great history in terms of and job training.” would inevitably confuse beneficia- tions electronic. She also framed the its eligibility and enrollment systems Computer systems may also help JUNE 14, 2018



ARKANSAS EXPERIMENT: Governor Hutchinson has touted the fact that Arkansas will be the first state in the nation to implement a work requirement for some Medicaid recipients. (From left: Department of Workforce Services Director Daryl Bassett, Hutchinson, DHS Director Cindy Gillespie and CMS administrator Seema Verma.)

explain why Arkansas has kept its imple- said. (Kentucky’s work requirement Shield, the largest carrier in the state, ging their hours, for DHS staff vetting mentation costs much lower than that of is being challenged in federal court by said the company is already contacting paperwork, and for insurers, providKentucky, which intends to begin imple- a group of beneficiaries who say the Arkansas Works members subject to ers and advocates helping thousands menting its work requirement in July. Trump administration overstepped its the requirement. DHS will send each of enrollees navigate a new layer of DHS says it has spent about $7.6 million legal authority when it approved the carrier a weekly list of their members bureaucracy. It is less clear whether on the work requirements this fiscal year. state’s waiver, a case that could have who are exempt and those in danger of the policy will lead to either signifiThe figure includes $6.8 million spent ramifications for Arkansas.) losing coverage. cant gains in employment or reductions on the IT system changes, 90 percent of In Arkansas, the other $800,000 “We’ve also reached out to all our in coverage. But in the view of Henwhich were paid by federal funds. spent by DHS paid for a contract with agents, our brokers, our customer dren and other Republicans, the work In contrast, the Louisville Courier- the Arkansas Foundation for Medical service teams, our provider partners requirement is a vital part of keeping Journal reported in February that Ken- Care to place phone calls to beneficia- and our retail stores to help provide Arkansas Works manageable. tucky increased its administrative bud- ries. DHS has also sent letters to enroll- additional support and direct member “I want you to understand, the purget for Medicaid by about $187 million ees and made a series of informational engagement,” Greenwood said. pose is not to take away health insurfor the fiscal year. Dustin Pugel, a policy web videos. But informing 69,000 peoHowever, many beneficiaries rarely ance for people. The purpose is to make analyst with the Kentucky Center for ple of a complex new requirement will communicate with their insurance car- the program sustainable,” Hendren said. Economic Policy, a think tank in Berea, take a massive outreach effort, and DHS rier. Providers such as hospitals typi“We know we’re always going to said most of that amount is expected to is expecting much of that task to fall cally won’t be able to see when a patient have people who get into a bind, and go toward IT contracts and workforce to other outside parties: commercial is in danger of losing coverage. we certainly know that it helps to proservices administration. insurance carriers. “Hospitals will be helpful, and most vide health care to folks in those situ“We already had an online appliIn Arkansas, most Medicaid expan- hospitals do have Wi-Fi access or the ations,” he added. “But we also know cation system and we just expanded sion beneficiaries are covered by private ability to find someone a computer ter- that there’s no free lunch and money that functionality to accommodate the plans sold by insurers on the state’s minal,” the AHA’s Ryall said. “But, we doesn’t grow on trees, and we have to reporting of activities,” Webb wrote in health insurance marketplace, rather don’t have the in-depth information to do our best to manage the program so an email when asked about the discrep- than regular fee-for-service Medicaid. identify someone who comes into the that it doesn’t become unsustainable ancy in costs between the two states. That unusual approach to expansion — hospital and says, ‘You need to enter and we have to make dramatic cuts.” Like Arkansas, Kentucky is trying to dubbed “the private option” — means this information.’ Our people will ceravoid bringing on new staff to admin- carriers have a financial stake in pre- tainly be asking those questions, but it This reporting is courtesy of the ister the requirement. “[Kentucky Gov. venting the work requirement from will be up to the patient to let us know Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, an Matt Bevin] has said more than once eroding coverage gains. if they need assistance.” independent, nonpartisan news project they don’t plan on hiring a single person Max Greenwood, a spokeswoman The requirement will indeed cre- dedicated to producing journalism that to help administer this waiver,” Pugel for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue ate much work — for beneficiaries log- matters to Arkansans. 18

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over 400 years old — relevant? “At AST, our ultimate goal is to give the audience an original Shakespearean experience while making certain that the quality of the acting, set design and costuming give life to the text,” Marotte Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre takes on explained. “Shakespeare was really intuitive, and his texts underscore ‘transformation.’ the power and importance of empaBY HEATHER STEADHAM thy. We’ve brought in Upward Bound students, kids in the Faulkner County or longer than a decade, the “Shakespeare in the Park,” wasn’t always court system, kids from the Boys and University of Central Arkan- on AST’s schedule. “Before our fifth Girls Clubs, you name it. Every persas has occupied center stage season in 2011, we decided to embrace son, no matter their background, deals as the with the situations home of Arkansas and problems we Shakespeare Theencounter in Shakeatre, the only professpeare.” Might those sional Shakespeare students need study company in Arkanguides and talksas. This year, AST backs to glean all is featuring “Henry that from the texts? IV, Part I,” “Much Perhaps. AST proAdo About Nothing” vides those things, and “The Winter’s Marotte said, and Tale,” along with this year, the comthe modern classic pany’s offering a “My Fair Lady.” Seem performance of like a strange combi“Much Ado About nation? Not to AST, Nothing” especially whose goal in recent for those with senyears has been to sory deprivation give each season a disorders. At 2 p.m. common thread. Thursday, July 5, in “Our producUCA’S Reynolds Pering artistic direcformance Hall, the tor, Rebekah Scalone-hour familylet, works very hard friendly adaptation to give each seaof “Ado” will also son a theme,” AST feature accommoExecutive Director dations such as low Mary Ruth Marotte lighting, reduced said. “This year it auditory stimulus WINTER’S TALE, IN SUMMER: Noelle Klyce, Grant Niezgodski and Corrie Green are among the cast members for Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s 2018 season. is ‘Transformation’ and extra physical — the ways that our space for patrons to experiences shape watch the show. who we are and who we become the Arkansas heat with performances of The stated mission of AST is “to enterAST’s headliner — “A Winter’s Tale” through our interactions.” “As You Like It” at the Hendrix Village tain, engage and enrich the community — features 12-year-old Aidan Eslinger, Founded in 2006, Arkansas Shake- green,” Marotte said. “These outdoor by creating professional and accessible who is new to AST and who sings. “He speare Theatre has seen its reach performances really grew our audi- productions of Shakespeare and other has the voice of an angel and acts like expand from an initial audience of ences because of the laid-back nature of works that promote educational oppor- a dream,” Marotte said. “It really just about 2,700 people to around 8,000 it. People could bring snacks and their tunities, community involvement and takes my breath away every time I see last year. This year, AST anticipates kids, throw down a blanket — all in an the highest artistic standards,” and the him on stage.” as many as 400 people will come out atmosphere that is not at all intimi- company assembles professional actors for the opening night of “The Winter’s dating.” and crew members from all over the Catch Eslinger and the rest of the Tale,” to be performed on the lawn in AST’s yearly comedy remained at country to make that happen. But just AST cast and crew June 8-July 8 on the front of UCA’s McAlister Hall. Hendrix Village until 2015, but for the how does AST work to make Shake- UCA campus. Find performance times Outdoor theater, a la New York City’s company’s 10th anniversary — when speare — a playwright whose work is and locations at 20

JUNE 14, 2018



UCA won the chance to showcase one of Shakespeare’s First Folios (courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.) – AST debuted “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on the lawn in front of McAlister Hall. “It was a wonderful move,” Marotte says. “Being all in one place is the best of all possible worlds, and UCA is so good to us. Our outdoor show is unlike any other form of entertainment in Arkansas. We have art vendors selling their wares, food trucks, witty humor, beautiful costumes, stunning set design.”


ROCK CANDY Check out the Times’ A&E blog

Find great events and buy tickets at

A&E NEWS THE ARKANSAS JAZZ HALL OF FAME will induct eight new members to its roster with a ceremony at the Capital Hotel Ballroom at 8 p.m. Monday, June 18. Living honorees include Bob Boyd, Brian Brown, Nan Maureen Renaud and George Ryan, and posthumously honored are Snub Mosley, Henry Shead, Red Holloway and Rose Marie McCoy. The celebration includes a performance from former AJHF inductee Joe Vick, Julia Buckingham, Sim Flora and Bryan Withers with special guests. Tickets are $20. For details, see the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation’s Facebook page or the event listing at arkansas. MICAH FIELDS IS the second recipient of the Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship, which includes a $10,000 living stipend, housing and an editorial apprenticeship with the Oxford American. Fields will use his fellowship to work on “We Hold Our Breath,” described in his proposal as “a book of narrative nonfiction about the singular city of Houston, the Texas Gulf Coast, and the wild relationship between that region’s history of art, industry and natural disaster.” For more, visit fellowship. THE ARKANSAS ARTS CENTER’S board of trustees on Monday adopted a budget of $7.3 million for FY 2019, a $600,000 increase over the current fiscal year and the biggest budget since 2010. FY 2019 will be the last “business as usual” budget, treasurer Robert Burnette reported to the board, since the Arts Center will close in September 2019 for its $70 million renovation and new construction. The Arts Center is already working on logistics for 2020 — such as where to house its 50 full-time employees, where its Children’s Theatre and Museum School classes will be held and where to store the 15,000 artworks in its collection, Director Todd Herman reported. The Arts Center has budgeted frugally to recover from a debacle in 2010, when a $7.8 million budget was wrecked by lower-than-expected income and higher-than-expected expenses, leaving it with a shortfall of $2 million. Also Monday, curator Brian Lang announced shows to come prior to AAC’s closing: jewelry by Australian goldsmith Robert Baines, modernist art from the collection of San Francisco gallery owner Martin Muller, the 50th annual Collectors Show, photographs of Frida Kahlo and drawings by Andy Warhol. The 61st Delta Exhibition will be the final show.


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CHAMELEON: Bill Frisell performs with Thomas Morgan and Rudy Royston as part of the Walton Art Center’s Artosphere Festival.




BILL FRISELL TRIO 7:30 p.m. Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville. $30-$40.

In Emma Franz’s film “Bill Buster Keaton films. He played Frisell: A Portrait,” people like Bon- “Shenandoah” at The Blue Note — nie Raitt and Hal Willner and Paul with a pedal steel guitarist, at that. Simon grasp at describing the gui- He takes boyish, grinning delight tarist’s style. In lieu of enthusiastic in plopping a dissonant note at the fawning, there are long silences and end of a tune when he knows good furrowed brows. It’s as if they want and well how much the ear craves to be careful with the way each resolution. He’s also an absolute word lands, like somehow Frisell’s master of his craft and there’s no technique has managed to pervade way anyone will walk away from even the sentences people construct this show without their heads in to talk about him. It’s no wonder: the clouds. This concert, featuring Frisell’s style is famously innova- bassist Thomas Morgan and drumtive, but just as famously elliptical. mer Rudy Royston, is a flagship He uses seconds and sixths and event for the Walton Arts Center’s wild harmonics and eons of space Artosphere Festival, and kicks off between notes, dodging musical the 20th KUAF Summer Jazz Series cliche like it’s a whiff of the Span- from the Northwest Arkansas Jazz ish flu. He scored a bunch of silent Society. SS





5-8 p.m., downtown North Little Rock.

7 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Rev Room, White Water Tavern. $15-$18.

Shake it up Friday night with a trip to Laman Library’s Argenta branch (420 Main St.) to see “Fascination,” work by members of the Culture Shock Art Collective of Arkansas women artists, for this show including Missy Wilkinson, Tammy Harrington, Louise Halsey, Dawn Holder, Jessica Mongeon, Rachel Trusty and Melissa Cowper-Smith. That’s stop No. 1. Other stops for the third Friday after-hours art walk are Greg Thompson Fine Art (429 Main St.), which is opening its annual “Summer Show”; Argenta Gallery (413 22

JUNE 14, 2018


Main St.), where “Midlife Crisis — the First 60 Years,” photography by Don Byram, opens; and studioMAIN, which is featuring sketches made by the architects of AMR Architects from the past 10 years. Up Main Street, impressionist Barry Thomas will give a painting demonstration at Barry Thomas Fine Art & Studio (711 Main St.). The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub (201 E. Broadway) will open its screenprinting studio to the public and host other art activities for folks who want to make art, not just look at it. LNP

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From the sprouts of an early- own Pallbearer presents its rock aughts Arkansas metal scene and sensibility and penchant for melody the ashes of a defunct homebase at to the mix, and a much-pined-for Downtown Music Hall comes Mu- Rwake makes a return to the stage. tants of the Monster, a three-day mi- Add to that: Living Sacrifice, Sucro-festival dedicated to heavy music. mokem, Gatecreeper, Bell Witch, The full list of acts is tied together Wvrm, Minsk, Yautja, Deadbird, Terby pretty much the “heavy” descrip- minal Nation, Reserving Dirtnaps tor alone: Oregon-based doom metal and Christworm. The third night of outfit YOB is here with its latest “Our the festival was sold out when the ArRaw Heart” and all the plodding kansas Times went to press, but there chug therein, Maryland’s Full of Hell were still tickets available for nights brings on an inexplicably bouncy as- one and two, to be held at the Rev sault of textured noise, Arkansas’s Room. SS


THURSDAY 6/14 Mississippi quintet Young Valley charms at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. The West Little Rock Food Truck Fest kicks off at Chenal Pointe at The Divide, 5 p.m. Army medicturned-comedian Robert Hawkins takes the stage at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8$12. Or, catch A.J. Marlin’s Comedy Bowl, which kicks off at 8 p.m. at The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse, $5. The Old State House Museum hosts Arkie Pub Trivia at Stone’s Throw Brewing, 6:30 p.m., free. Chuck Pack entertains for happy hour at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, and later catch Canvas, 9 p.m., $5. “The Land Before Time” screens at the Hot Springs Farmers Market, 121 Orange St., as part of the Movies at the Market series, sunset (8:25 p.m.), free. Guillermo’s Coffee, Tea & Roastery features Bud Kenny at its Poetry Night, 6:30 p.m.

FRIDAY 6/15 CHOKE CHERRY TREE: The Ben Miller Band mudstomps at Stickyz Friday night.


BEN MILLER BAND 9 p.m. Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack. $10-$12.

Let’s count the charms of the Ben Miller Band’s new one, “Choke Cherry Tree,” and the material therein: a tribute to Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa with a children’s chorus and a mean riff that syncs up eerily well with “Ikiru” footage; a trailer-park wrestling match with cameos from Smilin’ Bob Lewis’ red top hat and Rachel Ammons’ fierce hair (and fiercer fiddle); echoes of Dali and Joplin, Mo., in a surrealist letter called “Sketchbook”; persisting evidence of BMB’s long-term relationships with gadgetry, balladry and fuzz. Go to peep telephone-microphone hybrid contraptions, stay to shout “One More Time” along with Tyrannosaurus Chicken and adopted bandmates. SS


JUNETEENTH Noon. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Free.

Back in 2008, filmmakers Darrell Scott and Julian Walker documented the scene at what was then the city’s biggest celebration for Juneteenth – the

holiday intended to commemorate June 19, 1865, the day when Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger announced that “all slaves are free” in Texas, and that

“this involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.” In those days (2008, not 1865), Power 92 Jams hosted a huge concert at the First Security Amphitheater (then the Riverfest Amphitheatre), an occasion that Scott and Walker documented by asking fans whether they knew the history behind Juneteenth. (Most didn’t.) The resulting film, “The Truth Behind Juneteenth: A Paradox of Freedom,” took the radio station to task — not for making it a concert but, as a subsequent email from Scott read, “to utterly fail to capitalize on the opportunity to empower 15,000 young black minds.” The following year, the celebration moved to Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, where the music continued, but with a renewed focus on the holiday’s history. “Especially because

our mission is to preserve, to interpret, to collect and to celebrate the history of African Americans in Arkansas,” Assistant Director Quantia Fletcher said in 2013, “What better way than with the history of Juneteenth, which is all about the celebration of freedom of African Americans?” This year, Mosaic Templars continues that celebration, with Power 92’s Keef Glason as emcee and co-host. Mononymous chanteuse Shanice will perform at 5:20 p.m. (Remember “I Love Your Smile”? Yeah, you do. Pull it on up.); Larry Dodson of the Bar-Kays co-hosts; AETN’s “Dreamland: Little Rock’s West 9th Street” screens at 1 p.m. and one of the movie’s stars, vocalist Bijoux, performs at 4 p.m.; Bijoux’s musical cohorts Big Piph & Tomorrow Maybe play a set at 4:40 p.m.; Sir the Baptist plays at 3:20 p.m.; Dunbar Middle School Choir gives a concert at 2:50 p.m.; the Big John Miller Band entertains at 2:10 p.m.; ZaeHD performs at 1:55 p.m.;

Sabine Valley brings its surging rock set to Vino’s, 8 p.m., with Benadriil and The Streakers, $8. Songwriter and blues guitarist Shannon Boshears plays at Copper Grill’s “Pickin’ on the Patio,” 5:30 p.m. Arkansauce brings the string sauce to Kings Live Music in Conway, 8:30 p.m., $5. Folk/ Americana duo Ten Penny Gypsy’s acoustic cafe series, “Sounds of Unity,” features Jamie Lou Connolly, 7 p.m., Unity of Little Rock, 2610 Reservoir Road, $10 suggested donation. The Greasy Greens entertain for Wildwood Park for the Arts’ Wine & Food Feastival, 6:30 p.m., Cabe Festival Theatre Complex, $65-$75. Adam Faucett & The Tall Grass share a bill with Young Valley at Maxine’s in Hot Springs, 9 p.m., $7. Rob & Tyndall duet at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, and White Chocolate plays a set after dinner, 9 p.m., $5. Lypstick Hand Grenade performs at Thirst N’ Howl Bar & Grill, 8:30 p.m., $5. Monkeysoop joins Mortalus and Mourning View for a show at Four Quarter Bar, 9 p.m., $7. The Trey Stevens Band entertains at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming’s Silks Bar & Grill. 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., free. Taylormade plays at West End Smokehouse & Tavern, 10 p.m., $7. Boswell Mourot Fine Art hosts a reception for a show of new work by Hans Feyerabend and Elena Petrokhina, 6-9 p.m.

SATURDAY 6/16 Nikki Parish sings for the crowd at Cajun’s, 9 p.m., $5, or come before dinner and catch Buh Jones, 5:30 p.m., free. The Rios bring their nimble soul arrangements to Kings Live Music, 8:30 p.m., $5, with an opening set from Tyler Grady. Tulsa’s


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poets Chris James and Ron MC speak at 1:20 p.m.; 2017 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase winners Dazz & Brie bring the anthems at 12:50 p.m.; a kid’s zone will be set up with face



painting, a video game truck, laser be wandering around; Byron Hurt’s tag, a rock climbing wall and a water “Soul Food Junkies” will screen at tinkering station; GoodFellas Barber 3 p.m.; and food trucks will be on College will be giving free haircuts site. All the while, Mosaic Templar’s for kids; living history characters will “Don’t Touch My Crown” — an art ex-

hibit examining “the role of hair in how African Americans define themselves and are defined by others, from the late 19th century to the present” — will be up for viewing. SS


MAKE WAY FOR POPUP: PopUp Stifft Station will see a “road diet” on Markham Street, with room for a beer garden, a movie theater and retail space for local businesses.


POPUP STIFFT STATION Markham Street between Cedar and Booker.

PopUp in the Rock, events by a design collaborative that has made temporary, walkable street changes in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock’s Park Hill, is popping up in Stifft Station, which is why drivers are seeing all those orange traffic cones

on Markham Street. The PopUp Stifft Station is putting Markham on a “road diet” that will shrink its four lanes to three, with a single westbound lane, a center twoway left-turn lane and a single eastbound lane, with the rightside eastbound lane completely

closed, for two weeks. The event, by partners studioMAIN and Create Little Rock, will also see the parking lot at Johnson and West Markham streets turned into a beer garden, movie theater, food truck and music venue at various times. Businesses that will pop up include Stone’s Throw Brewing, the Electric Ghost, the Arkansas Yoga Collective, Teaberry Kombucha Co., Stifft Spine Used Books, Crying Weasel Vintage Clothing, Control (a new and used vinyl store from diehard collectors Wes

Howerton and Michael Shaeffer) and more. Saturday’s events include a pop-up art gallery in the old Buice Pharmacy space (artists include David McRoberts, Ike Garlington, Lucy Towbin, Catherine Caldwell and Becky Botos), the opening of Stone’s Throw taproom at 3016 W. Markham (next to the Meteor bike and coffee shop) and other pop-up shopping. There will be more special events on Saturday, June 23. The PopUp in the Rock Facebook page has details. LNP


‘UNFORGIVEN’ 7 p.m. Riverdale 10 Cinema. $9.

Taking place after the era of major gunfights and the kind of tales depicted when Clint Eastwood was a younger actor, “Unforgiven” (1992) is a revisionist Western that looks at the nature of myth-making — and the violent toll it takes on the soul. William Munny (Eastwood) is an alcoholic and a killer who we’re introduced to as he’s trying to wrangle some pigs on his farm where he lives 24

JUNE 14, 2018


with his children and the grave of his ny has been doing hasn’t amounted to terpiece (Kelly Reichardt’s “Meek’s wife, who got him to leave his wick- much. During a six-year stint on TV’s Cutoff,” for one, which the Times ed ways behind. But she’s no longer “Rawhide,” Sergio Leone cast East- screened in 2016 as part of this series) there to be his moral compass, and wood as the “Man with No Name” in there hasn’t been much to add to that when the Schofield Kid (Jaimz Wool- “Fistful of Dollars” (the first in what “revisionist Western” genre since. vett) shows up promising a bounty for has since become known as the “Dol- Join us Tuesday night for our screendispensing some much needed justice, lars Trilogy”) and made him into the ing of Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” he barely puts up a fight. Munny en- star he’s become, but it was “Unfor- part of the Arkansas Times Film Selists his longtime friend and partner given” that earned Eastwood his first ries, and catch our discussion about Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and it Academy Award for best director, the film on this week’s “No Small turns out all the moral growth Mun- and aside from the occasional mas- Talk” podcast. OJ

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IN BRIEF, CONT. Brother Rabbit and Slow Dreamer join locals Spirit Cuntz for a bill at E.J.’s Eats & Drinks, 9 p.m., $5. The Mike Dillon Band brings an astounding ratio of percussion-per-squarefoot to the stage at Four Quarter Bar, 10 p.m., $7. Multi-instrumentalist Crowder brings a contemporary Christian set to Timberwood Amphitheater at Magic Springs Theme & Water Park, see for details. Bill “Bluesboy Jag” Jagitsch plays a solo set at Cregeen’s Irish Pub, 8 p.m. Greers Ferry Lake is home to Fairfield Bay Marina’s Surf the Bay Water Sport Festival, 9 a.m., free, see for details. Country rocker Jake Owen performs at Dickey-Stephens Park, 6 p.m., $18$75. Arkansauce brings its tight string arrangements to the stage with duo Fort Defiance, Maxine’s, $7. Liquid Kitty brings its set to Thirst N’ Howl, 8:30 p.m., $5. Steam Loco lands at Markham Street Grill and Pub, 8:30 p.m., $5. First Nations couple Shoshana Kish and Raven Kanataka play at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville as part of the Forest Concert Series, 7 p.m., $10. The Don Quixote-inspired musical “Man of La Mancha” gets two performances from The Muses Project at its headquarters, 428 Orange St. in Hot Springs, 6 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. Sun., $35.


‘DAWN OF THE BLACK WINGS’: Yuni Wa’s 33rd album gets a release party at South on Main, with special guests Klubhouse and Joshua Asante.


YUNI WA, KLUBHOUSE, JOSHUA ASANTE 9 p.m. South on Main. $5.

Some of the most emotive, lay- Take, for example, “Don’t Look Down ered vaporwave music in the world X We Only Goin Higher,” an absurdly is being made in Stifft Station across low-end bounce-turned-freewheeling from the former Woodruff Elementary synth pop groove fit for The Skating School, although its creator wouldn’t Rinks of 2052. Or its companion on call it by that name. And he’s prob- “Dead Idols,” “The Prayer for Inner ably right. After all, “vaporwave” — or Peace” — which I’m pretty sure works “mall soft” or “ chopped and screwed” as well as the soundtrack for savasana or whatever you want to call it — was as it does for driving down Markham pioneered in the last decade as a sort on a rainy Wednesday night. Think: of meta-commentary on consumer- counter-Muzak, the kind of thing ism and pop culture, and Little Rock- you’d hear in grocery stores on Venus. based producer Yuni Wa has taken (And, if you’re into numerology, conthat premise and expanded it to em- sider this: Dude was born in the year bed not only pop culture concepts, but that “Block Rockin’ Beats” came out. specific musical genres. Hell, even en- Coincidence?) Yuni Wa is dropping tire emotions. What’s more, he’s done his latest, “Dawn of the Black Wings,” that work across a repertoire of 33 at this show with performances from “official” albums (and then some) and hip-hop collective Klubhouse and the with a sincerity that vaporwave artists venerable guitarist/photographer/ so often eschew in favor of sarcasm. loopmaker/poet Joshua Asante. SS

SUNDAY 6/17 The Stardust Big Band plays live in Hot Springs at the Arlington Resort Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom, 3 p.m., $10.

MONDAY 6/18 Oxford American’s second annual Music & Medicine gala fundraiser features music from Huntertones, 6 p.m., $100. Tom DeBlack gives a Brown Bag Lunch Lecture on the Cadron Settlement titled “Cadron: The Border That Might Have Been the Center,” noon, Old State House Museum, free. In Northwest Arkansas, Trillium Salon Series presents works by 21st century composers David Lang, Wu Man, Missy Mazzoli and Charles Krenner in the 21c Museum Hotel, 8 p.m.




Every person riding a bicycle or an animal, or driving any animal drawing a vehicle upon a highway, shall have all the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except those provisions of this act which by their nature can have no applicability.


The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a roadway shall exercise due care and pass to the left at a safe distance of not less than three feet (3’) and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.


Your bike is a vehicle on the road just like any other vehicle and you must also obey traffic laws— use turning and slowing hand signals, ride on right and yield to traffic as if driving. Be sure to establish eye contact with drivers. Remain visible and predictable at all times.

Richmond, Va., vocalist and guitarist Ali Thibodeaux takes her sultry songs to the stage at South on Main with Deau Eyes, 8 p.m., $10. “Dead Men Walk” (1943) screens at CALS’ Ron Robinson Theater as part of the Terror Tuesday series, 6 p.m., $2.

WEDNESDAY 6/20 “School of Rock” screens as part of the “Movies in the Park” series, sunset (8:25 p.m.), First Security Amphitheatre, free.

Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies JUNE 14, 2018



FOOD TRUCKS, LIVE MUSIC and beer are headed to the Clinton Presidential Center lawn for the first East Village Street Jam on Saturday, June 16. The event kicks off at 11 a.m. with food — Almost Famous, Beaver Tails, Bryant’s BBQ, Count Porkula, Kyleigh’s Lemonade Stand, Loblolly Creamery, Say Cheese Handcrafted Sandwiches, Slader’s Alaskan Dumpling Co., Sweet Tea Kitchen and Coffee Spot and Wokn-roll are confirmed — and entertainment in the Kid’s Zone, which will feature bounce houses. (Advice: Bounce first.) Food trucks will be run from electrical outlets instead of generators, the Partnership notes, so that they won’t interfere with the music.) Tickets are $5 (children 5 and under get in free) and may be purchased at the gate. THE B-SIDE BISTRO, Tom and Barbara Fuge’s breakfast and lunch eatery at 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road, which closed in May for remodeling, has cracked back open as The Happy Egg. The Happy Egg menu (find it on the B-Side Facebook page) includes such breakfast items as beignets, waffles, pancakes, shrimp and grits, bananas Foster French toast, quiches and eggs Benedict along with a lunch menu of quesadillas, burgers, salads and such. New hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wed.-Sun. DON’T FORGET WILDWOOD PARK for the Arts’ “Wine & Food Feastival” running from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday. The fundraiser, which will include a silent auction and dancing to the Greasy Greens, will be catered by such upscale eateries as Arthur’s Prime Steakhouse/Oceans at Arthurs, the Capital Hotel and Chenal Country Club. Tickets are $75; call 8217275 to purchase. IRA’S, THE RESTAURANT long in the making in the historic Rose Building at 311 Main St., has pushed back its opening date to Monday, June 25, because of “issues getting all the necessary permits,” owner Ira Mittleman says. Ira’s will serve upscale American cuisine. The bar will open at 4 p.m., the restaurant at 5 p.m. Lunch will begin in July. 26

JUNE 14, 2018


VIVA CHORIZO: Tacos made with freshly grilled corn tortillas, spicy meat, onions and cilantro.

Nacho’s world Colorful Votanitas la moreliana simple, good.


otanitas la moreliana looks out candy and syrup. of place among the strip malls of Ignacio “Nacho” Sanchez and his the south end of Central Avenue team, purposely or not, have created a in Hot Springs. Pulling into the drive, distinct atmosphere inside the restauyou almost feel like you’ve stumbled rant. Ceramic pineapples sit in the winupon a tropical hut on the edge of some dowsills. A watermelon mobile reading far-flung jungle. The structure itself is “You’re one in a melon!” hangs from small but big on color: orange, purple, the wall. The shapes of tropical fruits, green and yellow. Singing sun figurines painted near-neon shades of pink, puradorn the outer walls and a multicol- ple, green, yellow and orange, are carved ored LED sign lets you know it’s open into the wooden tables and chair backs. for business. Out back, there’s a taco On the Saturday afternoon we vistruck adorned with a cartoon monkey ited, the restaurant was nearly full and a near-lifesize likeness of the Vir- with patrons having lunch and watchgin Mary. And it’s all the brainchild of ing the soccer match between France a guy named — no kidding — Nacho. and the USA. A large family sat in the We were lured here by photographs middle of the small dining area, passing of creative-looking food proudly posted around a big bowl of posole, the grandto the eatery’s Facebook page — corn on father laughing and chatting with his the cob dusted with crushed hot Cheetos, grandkids. The family moved around puffed-up fried tacos, and hollowed-out the tables to accommodate us after we pineapples filled with ice cream, fruit, ordered.

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The food is pretty standard taco truck fare, which is to say simple but good. In fact, the kitchen in the shop is reserved for storage and dessert prep. All other food is made to order on the taco truck parked outside. There’s a pretty extensive menu at Votanitas la moreliana. There are the standards like tacos, burritos, tortas and sopes, and some lesser-known items as well. The menu is mostly in Spanish, but servers are accommodating and more than happy to answer questions. They even let us keep our tab open so that we could continue to order more food if we wanted, which we did. Whatever you order can be customized with your meat of choice — chicken, carnitas, chorizo, pastor, lingua or steak. We ordered several tacos ($1.50 each). The chorizo was a favorite. The spicy meat was served in a freshly grilled corn tortilla. Our server brought out a bowl of chopped onions and cilantro so that we could dress our tacos as we saw fit. The sopes ($5 for two) came buried under a salad of shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and crema. We chose


Check out the Times’ food blog, Eat Arkansas


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serving better than bar food all night long June FRESAS CON CREMA: Refreshing combination of strawberries and cream.

Votanitas la moreliana 3520 Central Ave. Hot Springs 501-538-0918

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Votanitas la moreliana is a place you could stop in for a quick, cold treat or sit a while inside or on the patio for lunch or dinner. The grocery section offers coolers full of popsicles and other frozen Mexican treats and plenty of chips and snacks. Try a refreshing agua fresca ($1.50). We opted for Jamaica, which is hibiscus-flavored and tasted to us like a mix of raspberry and grape juices. Votanitas La Moreliana also serves snow cones and will soon have a Mexican ice cream stand on the front patio.

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carnitas and pastor. The masa base was comes garnished with a sugary pink firm and crispy enough to pick up and wafer. Our first thought was, “We’ll eat with our hands, but we resisted the never be able to finish this.” But we urge, fearing we’d make a mess of the did. The dessert was heavy on the strawtoppings. Overall, the meats were fla- berries and, while rich, it was not as vorful, except for the steak, which was filling as we expected. We’d even call a bit dry. it refreshing. Pictures of Nacho’s dessert creations If you fancy yourself any kind of dot the wall, and we couldn’t resist try- taco truck aficionado, you’ve probably ing one. The fresas con crema (straw- had food like this before. But going to berries and cream, $5), is a huge cup of Votanitas la moreliana is an experience fresh strawberries, sweetened cream unto itself — delicious, fun and colorand condensed milk. It’s weighty and ful.

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s King Louis XIV allegedly written and directed by Pa Ranjith, has quipped, “L’etat, c’est moi.” been greeted with similar enthusiasm. The state — it is me. And Even here in Little Rock, the Cinemark despite coming from the theater on Colonel Glenn, which regumouth of a foreign monarch, we can larly shows Indian movies, screened the often find this sentiment reflected in film on its opening weekend in the origiour American approach to the world, nal Tamil as well as dubbed in Telugu especially in the realm of popular cul- and Hindi (all with English subtitles) ture. The world — it is us. We make to meet demand. the movies that the rest of the world Rajinikanth plays Karikaalan (more watches. We raise up the idols the rest commonly known as Kaala), the de of the world worships. facto leader and protector of Dharavi, But the power of Hollywood pales a slum populated largely by Tamil workin comparison to that of Indian cinema. ers in Mumbai. Government minister Take, for example, the actor Rajinikanth, Haridev “Hari Dhadha” Abhayankar the superstar of Tamil-language cin- (Nana Patekar) plans to push through ema. His 2016 movie, “Kabali,” opened a slum clearance program called Pure on 12,000 screens (compared to 4,474 Mumbai, replacing sheet metal homes screens for the latest “Avengers” movie), in Dharavi with luxury towers (built and the day it premiered amounted to by his own construction company, of a national holiday across India, with course). He manages to enlist some local businesses and government offices clos- support with the empty promise of new ing. Rajinikanth’s latest movie, “Kaala,” housing for the poor, even bringing over

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LAND IS LIFE: Rajinikanth’s newest film plays at the Cinemark Theater on Colonel Glenn in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi with English subtitles.

501.296.9955 | RIVERDALE10.COM ELECTRIC RECLINER SEATS AND RESERVED SEATING to his side Zareena (Huma Qureshi), an internationally renowned antipoverty activist (and Kaala’s former lover) recently returned to Dharavi. But when Kaala thwarts these initial construction plans, Hari Dhadha declares war, and soon the downtrodden of Dharavi are defending their plot of land against corrupt cops, mercenaries and the corporations that control them all. “Kaala” is not a subtle movie — after all, our title character named one of his sons Lenin. But it is surprisingly sophisticated for a three-hour film in which our hero, in one scene, dramatically kills a dozen thugs with an umbrella in the pouring rain. For one, its women are as well-rounded as the men, forcefully speaking their minds and taking up arms in their own defense. Too, the movie illustrates how, as Arundhati Roy has written, “the corporate or foundation-endowed NGOs are global finance’s way of buying into resistance movements, literally as shareholders buy shares in companies” — how wellmeaning activists often ally themselves with the enemies of a native proletariat. And more importantly, “Kaala” highlights India’s color line and the struggle of the poor in modern India: As one Dharavi woman says regarding the lack of plumbing in the neighborhood, “Seventy years of independence without a

place to shit!” Perhaps most interestingly, “Kaala” effectively subverts one of Hinduism’s foundational myths when it equates its title character with the demon-king Ravana. Kaala always wears revolutionary black and leads those who dwell in slums and filth in their struggle for dignity, while Hari Dhadha, the white-clad progenitor of “Pure Mumbai,” thinks himself like the hero Ram, who slew Ravana in the Hindu epic “Ramayana.” Certainly, in the West, revolutionaries have occasionally embraced the figure of Lucifer as the first rebel, but popular Indian cinema has typically employed its symbolic repertoire a little more faithfully, so this reversal is thrilling. “To you, land is power,” says Kaala to Hari Dhadha, “but to us, it is life.” Life will always resist its own extermination, and the movie “Kaala” is an epic of that resistance. Dharavi’s youth sing hip-hop anthems of independence, while its women pick up bamboo poles to beat down rapist cops. But on another level, just the existence of this movie is its own act of resistance, a Copernican reminder that we don’t inhabit the center of the universe. Gangster politicians — the state is not you. Comfortable Americans — the world is not you. There is a wider world out there, and some of it is fighting back.

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FRIDAY, JUNE 15 | 6-9PM | LITTLE ROCK | THE PAVILIONS AT HEIFER VILLAGE AND URBAN FARM Enjoy Whiskey samples from Knob Creek, Basil Hayden and Jim Beam Black! South on Main, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom NLR/Conway, Southern Table, Buffalo Wild Wings, @ the Corner, Whole Hog NLR, Crave Fuel, The Root Cafe, TAE (True Arkansas Eatery), The Pizzeria, Cafe @ Heifer, Pasta J’s and more!




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ASSISTANT PROFESSOR - 43396 The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is seeking an Assistant Professor – Geriatrics in the Little Rock, AR metropolitan area. TEACHING DUTIES: teaching medical residents, fellows and students regarding family medicine; CLINICAL DUTIES: prescribing or administering treatment, therapy, medication, vaccination, and other specialized medical care to treat or prevent illness, disease or injury; direct and coordinate activities of nurses, residents, assistants, specialists, therapists and other medical staff. REQUIRES: There are fellowship requirements for the position. No training in Geriatrics and/or other subspecialty is required as a minimum requirement for the position. Instead, completion of fellowship in geriatrics is sufficient for the purposes of this position. Must have an MD, or foreign equivalent; Must have license to practice medicine or eligibility for license in Arkansas; Board Certification in Geriatrics or eligibility for Board Certification. To apply, visit and search for job # 43396. UAMS is an Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employer of individuals with disabilities and protected veterans and is committed to excellence. JUNE 14, 2018


Liveic Musy b

Enjoy an Over the Top Hollywood Inspired Night as the Arkansas Times Honors the Winners and Finalists Of the Best of Arkansas Readers Poll.

Proceeds Benefiting the Arkansas Repertory Theatre Heavy Hors d’oeuvres by Movie Inspired Cocktails From

Tickets $45 32

JUNE 14, 2018


Arkansas Times - June 14, 2018  

Workload - Health advocates fear state’s new job rules could push thousands off Medicaid. By Benjamin Hardy

Arkansas Times - June 14, 2018  

Workload - Health advocates fear state’s new job rules could push thousands off Medicaid. By Benjamin Hardy