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Eat Arkansas

Truck talk: mobile chefs to talk about the business at Natchez

The Main Street Food Truck Festival is coming up Oct. 4, and as an appetizer, arfoodjobs.com presents "Close Quarters: What I've Learned from Operating a Food Truck" at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Natchez Restaurant downtown.

In Hot Springs, pizza means Deluca's

In Hot Springs, one pizzeria is taking fresh flavors to the next level.

Vegetarian delights with The Veg and Solfood Catering

The Veg and Solfood Catering are serving up vegan cuisine with mainstream appeal.

Dining Review

High-end at Heritage Grille

September 11, 2014
High-end at Heritage Grille
New Marriott restaurant impresses, but at a price. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

A Q&A with Shabazz Palaces

September 11, 2014
A Q&A with
Shabazz Palaces
The experimental rap duo's Ishmael Butler talks internships, weed and Lil B. /more/

To-Do List

Eric Church to Verizon

September 11, 2014
Eric Church to Verizon
Also, '40 Years of the Arkansas Times' at the Historic Arkansas Museum, KABF Girls Night at White Water Tavern, the Arkansas Times Latino Food and Music Festival in Argenta, "Northville Cemetery Massacre" and "Death: Live in L.A." at Riverdale, "Rushmore" at Ron Robinson and Tony Joe White at Juanita's. /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

GOP rule No. 1: Win

The Republican Party's devotion to principle was on display last week. After months of opposition to a proposed initiated act to raise the Arkansas minimum wage, Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson flip-flopped to say he'd vote for the measure. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Obama vs. GOP philosophy

If you have followed the Arkansas election ads you know that each party faces a single challenge. Republicans must overcome a philosophy problem, Democrats an Obama problem. /more/

Gene Lyons

Not giving up on Fred

We ended up adopting Fred due to his incorrigible stubbornness. Originally bred to track game, basset hounds can be amazingly persistent. It sometimes appears that when their noses are working, their hearing shuts down. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Victory at Texas Tech crucial

September 11, 2014
For God's sake, Hog Fans, just enjoy it! So much social media grumbling was afoot after Arkansas obliterated Nicholls State, 73-7, on Saturday to finally kill off the damnable 10-game skid the program had been mired in. "Congrats on beating a JV team!" "Who scheduled this?" "If this is how we have to win, it's not worth it." "How did I get this drunk before halftime?" /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Eat Arkansas

For food lovers

Eye Candy

On art in Arkansas

Street Jazz

A view from Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas Blog

Monday, September 15, 2014 - 16:15:00

Arkansas submits amendments to private option for federal approval

Arkansas today submitted proposed amendments to the private option for federal approval. In order to pursue the private option — the state's unique version of Medicaid expansion which uses Medicaid funds to purchased private health insurance for low-income Arkansans — the state first had to secure approval for what's known as an 1115 waiver, a waiver of federal Medicaid rules allowing the state to experiment with a new approach. For the second year of the program, 2015, Arkansas is requesting three changes: 

1) Health Independence Accounts — private option beneficiaries will make monthly contributions to these accounts in order to waive cost sharing payments (see here for more details on how the HIAs — which are not Health Savings Accounts, despite the tendency of many media accounts to describe them as "HSA-like" — will operate). I'll have more on HIAs in a forthcoming post.

2) Cost-sharing for private option beneficiaries between 50-99 percent of the federal poverty line. In Year One, the private option had no cost sharing below the poverty line, only for beneficiaries between 100-138 percent of FPL. Next year, the state is requesting to amend the waiver so that cost-sharing is allowed for beneficiaries between 50-138 percent of FPL. The cost-sharing in question is only the amount allowable under Medicaid law and will be tied to the Health Independence Accounts. More details here.   

3) Limits to non-emergency medical transportation (see here for more on the NEMT benefit). Unlike Iowa, which got a one-year waiver allowing the state to stop offering the NEMT benefit to certain beneficiaries altogether, Arkansas is asking that the NEMT benefit be limited to eight trip legs per year for private option beneficiaries (so that would be four visits to the hospital, say, as there and back counts as two trip legs). People deemed medically frail and routed to the traditional Medicaid program will have no trip limits; this only applies to private option beneficiaries in private plans. If beneficiaries have a legitimate need, they can request additional transportation beyond the trip limit "through an extension of benefits process" with the Medicaid program. Hopefully this process will avoid a scenario in which a beneficiary in need is unable to get to a medical provider. Republicans in favor of limiting NEMT argue that the unlimited benefit leads to waste, fraud and abuse from the transportation providers; if so, perhaps the new process in place will curtail over-utilization. 

These changes, along with the "Bell amendment" banning state-appropriated funding on outreach for the Affordable Care Act, are requirements for continuation of the private option because of special-language amendments added to the private option legislation during the 2014 fiscal session. Federal approval (a must for continuation of the private option) is thought to be likely. The feds have 90 days to respond. 

Here are the proposed terms and conditions for the waiver, as amended.  

See here for the the state's cover letter to the feds and  see here for public comments and responses. 

 

Monday, September 15, 2014 - 15:57:00

The open line: Arrests made of disability rights demonstrators; Attorney General McDaniel makes a hospital visit


The open line and video roundup are here. Also:

* HOSPITALIZED: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was treated at UAMS today for what was described as a reaction to a new blood pressure medication. He said in a statement he'd be back at work tomorrow. A spokesman termed the event "minor." Aaron Sadler said he was admitted for observation and tests and was busily e-mailing and texting.

* DEMONSTRATING: Several hundred people, many in wheelchairs, joined in demonstrations in Little Rock today — a parade, a visit to Gov. Mike Beebe and a visit to state offices — in favor of state adoption of the Community First Choice Option, an expansion of services at the home and community level for the disabled. Hundreds of people are on the waiting list for the program now, which is capped as to size. The Affordable Care Act provides for expansion but conservative legislators have expressed opposition to more spending, even on the disabled. Gov. Beebe today endorseed the CFCO, which is being pushed by the Human Services Department. More here on the group's fight for help to be integrated into the community. The state, demonstrators say, is will to pay for institutionalization, but not as willing to help people live in communities.

UPDATE: National ADAPT, a group of grassroots disability rights activists, which is sponsoring the demonstration here, finally prompted arrests this afternoon at the Victory Building. They had been blocking the doors of the Arkansas Health Care Association, the nursing home lobby, seen as an opponent to community versus institutional care. The ADAPT group cheered the news on its Facebook page. A police spokesman said the charge will be criminal trespass, but the number of arrests wasn't immediately known because the arrests were ongoing. It will be a significant number. The police started with those not in wheelchairs, but have begun escorting out a number in chairs. They were released after being given citations.

UPDATE II:  Police said 75 to 100 demonstrators were inside the Victory Building and when those at a meeting asked that they leave, 36 refused. They were arrested, cited after transport by bus and then release. No one was hurt.

click to enlarge ARRESTED: Disability rights protestor. Buses were sent to transport those arrested. No numbers available yet. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • ARRESTED: Disability rights protestor. Buses were sent to transport those arrested. No numbers available yet.


* AND SPEAKING OF SERVICES FOR THE DISABLED: Late in the day, the state Department of Human Services announced that Joy Figarsky, director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services, would leave her job Oct. 15 for private sector work. She's been at DHS since June 2013. The division includes the State Hospital, the Health Center in Benton and community agencies. Dr. Charlie Green, currently Director/Commissioner of the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS), will be Interim DBHS Director. Jim Brader, the DDS Assistant Director for Compliance, will be Interim DDS Director.

 

Monday, September 15, 2014 - 15:00:00

Religious group demands restoration of cross on Arkansas State helmets

click to enlarge images.jpg
A conservative Christian outfit that aims to promote religion in public life through legal action is demanding — supposedly in the name of an anonymous football player — that Arkansas State University restore a cross to players' football helmets as part of a memorial tribute. 

The crosses — but not the memorial tribute — were removed on advice of university counsel after questions were raised by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

It is ironic that the Liberty Institute says the player fears retaliation if he identifies himself. The ASU athletic director has already said he, his coaches and players were unhappy about the decision. Who's going to retaliate in this state, where the custom is to oppress the rights of minorities by forcing Christian prayer and other observances on the unwilling at public institutions? Threat of retaliation is precisely what allows majority Christians to cram their religion down the throats of all in public venues all over Arkansas.

The Liberty Institute contends ASU has infringed on private speech by having a portion of the memorial message removed to eliminate the cross. It is clearly within the school's power to control what symbols and words appear on its taxpayer-financed uniforms. If not, any player could put anything on his helmet, could he not? A naked woman, a star of David, a Muslim crescent? Oh, but, of course, no good Arkansas Christian would do that. Or they dare not. Somebody probably would retaliate. But, if ASU has crossed a viewpoint line by removing the religion portion of the message, it can remedy the matter by removing the memorial entirely to satisfy the bullies at the Liberty Institute.

I'm reminded again of Greene County Tech, near ASU, which defied a complaint about regular erection of a Christian Nativity scene in an elementary school.  The law is on the side of the ACLU, which made a complaint. But finding a plaintiff willing to take on such angry defiance is a difficult thing.

It couldn't be clearer at ASU that the fight for the Liberty Institute is about advancing the cause of religion, not the memorial to the dead friends.

The Liberty Institute (which intervened to protect regular visits by church groups to Conway schools) demand:



/more/  

 

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Monday, September 15, 2014 - 16:00:00

Texas blog Glasstire reviews "State of the Art"


click to enlarge IMG_0706-465x620.jpg


So it won't be until November that I get to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's exhibit "State of the Art," and by then it will have been reviewed by every publication in the free world. So I'm going to run the reviews other folks have written, starting with this one pointed out to me by my Fayetteville art maven friend: Glasstire's "State of the Art at Crystal Bridges: Pure Pop for Now People." Author Christina Rees writes that the massive show of works — selected by museum President Don Bacigalupi and curator Chad Alligood on their many-months-long pilgrimage through American art studios — is one of instantly accessible art, meant to be a "people pleaser." 

As the curators walked the press corps through the 19,000 square-feet devoted to the exhibition yesterday morning, my sense was that that no one needs to have taken a single art history class to “like” every piece in it—everything is instantly gettable. Even the nod to Donald Judd made out of box fans and straw hats by Detroit’s Hamilton Poe doesn’t need the Judd reference to charm what I imagine will be the thousands of school children and Branson-bound travelers who will tour the show. 

Poe's piece — the fans are turned on so the hats move — is hung close to where Judd's "Specific Objects" stacked and lit boxes were installed, the maven tells me, in case the comparison with the late minimalist is instantly made. 

Rees likes several pieces in particular — and I am with her every step of the way, especially John Salvest's "Forever" installation and Vanessa L. German's “protection” figures for children in dangerous neighborhoods. And about Jonathan Schipper’s “Slow Room” — by the time I'm at Crystal Bridges, the furniture should be one big pile of sticks. There's video, though, so I won't miss what the process looked like. 

 

Monday, September 15, 2014 - 09:09:00

Live Review: Eric Church and Dwight Yoakam at Verizon

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson

Apparently Dwight Yoakam’s acting career is sufficiently slack enough that Friday night saw him opening for bro-country kingpin Eric Church at Verizon Arena. Hollywood is taking Yoakam in small enough doses (he has a recurring part on CBS’s “Under the Dome”) that he can lend his considerable talents to country music, which currently can use any kind of flavor it can get.

At Verizon, Yoakam’s greyish hair was flowing out from under his trademark white cowboy hat. His backing band was dressed in sequined jackets and his boots — cowboy, naturally — were adorned with playing cards. Though Yoakam looked his age, 57, his neo-trad take on country music remains as strong and distinct as it was back when he hit the big time: 1986, the year of “Guitars, Cadillacs.” That hit showed up toward the end of his set – he referred to it as one of the “old ones” that the crowd might remember (the young crowd yelled in affirmation but probably wouldn’t have passed a lie detector test). Mostly he showed off that voice that seems to flow from a bottomless bluegrass mountain well.

click to enlarge Dwight Yoakam - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Dwight Yoakam

What other current Nashville hitmaker employs the considerable knowledge and skill of Yoakam? His set ran through Buck Owens (“Streets of Bakersfield”), Elvis (“Little Sister”) and Johnny Cash (a wonderful, lounge-like “Ring of Fire”) and his own work (“A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” had a special glow). He stopped “Streets of Bakersfield” to toss out a mention of Benton, which he did no doubt because it was there where he filmed “Sling Blade” with Billy Bob Thornton. Some years after that, Yoakam directed and starred in the psychedelic western "South of Heaven, West of Hell." If you want a weird trip (and why wouldn’t you?), Netflix that thing.

Nobody should be surprised that Eric Church sits on top of country music (sure, he has to share that perch with Luke Bryan) but his concert did not even have a whiff of honky-tonk trappings or acknowledgement of Nashville. Church’s stage setup included a drummer floating down from the rafters and lots of heavy guitar crunch. The thin and wiry Church lifts his stage persona straight from Bruce Springsteen – the inspiration for one of Church’s biggest hits. He aims to work hard enough to earn your love. “We’re gonna leave it all here on the stage,” Church said at one point. He was true to his word.

click to enlarge Eric Church - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Eric Church

The Verizon crowd, a little more than eight thousand strong and confined to the lower bowl, responded to the attention, lustily singing along to “Talledega,” “Smoke a Little Smoke,” “Homeboy” and many others. Live, Church’s softer side doesn’t really gets its due (there were exceptions including a lovely take on the older “Sinners Like Me”) in order to give the arena lots of stomp.

Bless his heart, Church hasn’t gotten so big that he’s not able to be just downright strange. The herky-jerky, black-and-white video of Church, which served as a band break and introduction to “Devil, Devil,” was somehow both incomprehensible and indulgent. That kind of artistic leap is not the kind of thing that Nashville encourages and which is why anybody with any sense should have left Church’s concert feeling encouraged about the state of country music.

click to enlarge Eric Church - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Eric Church

 

Friday, September 12, 2014 - 17:09:00

Get out your chalk for Thea Paves the Way

click to enlarge thea.JPG

Tag time! The Thea Foundation's annual sidewalk chalk art event, Thea Paves the Way, is Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Clinton Center. For the ninth year in a row, school kids and families and church groups will make the sidewalks with their original artworks. This is grafitti-making to love, and it runs 8 a.m. to noon. There will be music and family activities as well. 

 

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Arkansas Reporter

Little Rock School Board candidates acknowledge quick work must be done to avoid state takeover

September 11, 2014
Little Rock School Board candidates acknowledge quick work must be done to avoid state takeover
Challengers Jim Ross and Joy Springer take on Jody Carreiro and Norma Jean Johnson. /more/
 

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