Hourly news and comment
The guide to Arkansas entertainment
For food lovers
On art in Arkansas
A view from Northwest Arkansas
Time to feedback on what you've been eating this week. Let us know what's got you drooling.
The time commitment required to park yourself at the feet of Baja Grill, it will be well worth your effort. Take a seat on their ample outdoor seating while the weather is still permissive, and bask in the glow of burrito brilliance.
Gus's in the River Market brings incredible chicken to Little Rock.
Do-it-yourself crafting studio, gifts and more.
Photographs, architectural plans, furniture and a talk by design experts.
"Beautiful Uprising" reception tonight, talk by artist Saturday.
My overriding emotion about the fate of state Treasurer Martha Shoffner is sadness. /more/
Americans are instinctively wiser than their leaders when it comes to foreign policy, at least until their emotions are manipulated to support mindless war. /more/
Speaking of former Treasurer Martha Shoffner, accused of taking kickbacks for steering huge sums of state bond business to the broker making the payments:
Here's another former state treasurer ensnared in a public corruption case, Tim Cahill of Massachusetts. He agreed to pay $100,000 and admitted he should have known a lottery advertising campaign he authorized (while running for governor) was illegal. The lottery ads touted his management of the enterprise. That was in March.
Today came news closer to the Arkansas situation from Bloomberg.
A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) investment banker will pay $100,000 to resolve U.S. regulatory claims that he made improper contributions to a Massachusetts treasurer while seeking state underwriting business.
Neil Morrison, who worked on then-Treasurer Tim Cahill’s unsuccessful run for governor from November 2008 to October 2010 while he was employed by Goldman Sachs, also agreed to be barred from the securities industry for five years, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement today.
The immunity from federal prosecution given an Arkansas broker who said he made cash payments to Shoffner likely doesn't end his entanglement with other agencies. Our sources have said Steele Stephens of Little Rock (no relation to the Stephens Inc. investment empire), who resigned this week as a salesman for St. Bernard Financial Services, was the key informant for the feds. We first reported in October 2011 a sharp increase in his share of state bond business, a development current and former employees linked to his friendship with Shoffner.
By the way: David Smith of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote a great story this morning (subscription reqd.) on the shifting policies of Shoffner's bond investments. He had some welcome perspective on the difficulties of drawing hard conclusions — as the politically motivated audit did — about the wisdom of some of the bond trading. Auditors were readily able to see — with the clarity of hindsight — that interest rates didn't perform as traders expected in liquidating a state bond position (at a healthy gain) and putting the money in a higher yielding bond that got called because interest rates continued to drop. It includes, too, the historical shift from CDs, now paying next-to-nothing, to bond investments and then shifts from committing to bond purchases for fixed periods to riskier trading. Even then, the risks weren't nearly that taken by large state retirement accounts, which can hold investments for longer periods and endure greater risks for higher returns.
This was one of several dubious comparisons by Legislative Audit — thrown up on a huge TV screen at the time for effect — that tarred its findings. Even if the trading was bad judgment — and that's a fair question to study as office procedures are examined — it wasn't evidence of illegality. The driving factor always was that the big shift in business to one broker, even if he'd made profitable call after profitable call, had an unsavory explanation. That turned out to be true. Much as legislators might wish the FBI would throw out subpoenas and search warrants based on suspicion, probable cause is necessary. It took 18 months, but that finally arrived with a taped phone call May 9 in which Shoffner allegedly asked her bond salesman to buy her some property and then, May 18, a cash-filled pie delivery under the watchful surveillance equipment of the FBI.
It's lost to the ages, but the brokers defended their trading several times. Here. And more specifically here. Of course, even a thoroughly superior investment record is no justification for winning business by illegal means.
When I went to Conway this morning to film a segment of "Arkansas Week," I asked Matt DeCample of the governor's office whether a decision was coming today on Gov. Mike Beebe's appointment of someone to serve out Martha Shoffner's term as treasurer.
The governor has made his decision, but due to the procedural work needed for the appointment, and to accommodate the appointee’s schedule, we’re going to announce it on Wednesday.
Conway banker Bunny Adcock, Holly Grove lawyer Raymond Abramson and former Association of Arkansas Counties Executive Director Eddie Jones have been mentioned, although all told the Democrat-Gazette yesterday they had not talked to the governor or anyone in his office.
Off topic: But I made a whopper of a mistake on Arkansas Week this morning. In talking about the University of Arkansas's politically motivated decision to trim back tuition increase requests, I said they'd sent a conflicting message about austerity by giving UA President Donald Bobbitt a whopping pay raise. He'll move from $355,000 to $427,500 on July 1, an increase of $72,500. That's a 20 percent pay raise, which I somehow turned into a $200,000 pay raise. Sorry about that.
is straight from Huffington Post.
Top that, Duncan Baird.
Dennis Milligan, famous for once saying what the U.S. needed was another 9/11 to get right about terrorism, is a Republican candidate for state treasurer, not mayor of Branson, Mo. He's circuit clerk in Saline County. Endorsements here.
In Eureka Springs, the May Festival of the Arts continues with a concert from veteran folk duo Trout Fishing in America, The Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.
Anyone with an interest in sustainable food systems and fighting against the forces of Big Ag will probably want to be at the March Against Monsanto at the Arkansas State Capitol, 1 p.m.
Nashville indie-folk duo Elenowen (married couple Josh and Nicole Johnson who were on season one of NBC's "The Voice") play a free show at Juanita's with Cliff Hutchison, 7 p.m.
Maxine's has an evening of burly rock, with Opportunist (featuring members of Holy Shakes), Booyah! Dad, Tiger High and Black Horse, 8 p.m., $5 adv., $7 door.
In Fayetteville, space-rock riffmeisters Mothwind play an 18-and-older gig at The Lightbulb Club with locals Dying, $5.
Psych-pop quartet Tsar Bomba plays with Bombay Harambee at White Water Tavern, 9:30 p.m.
7TH STREET UNDERGROUND FESTIVAL
1 p.m. 7th Street. $10.
Little Rock's 7th Street has long held a special place in the city's cultural landscape. Within a few blocks of each other, you've got The Weekend Theater, 7th Street Tattoos, Art Outfitters and Vino's, all of which qualify as institutions at this point.
So what better way to celebrate the spirited artistic hub than with an annual festival featuring art, music, food, beer and more? An outdoor stage in the lot just east of 7th Street Tattoos will host a raft of bands and other entertainment, including magic tricks, sideshows, fire spinners, spoken word performances and music from Austin Jones and Smooth Spirit, Itinerant Locals, Go Fast!, Jab Jab Suckerpunch, Peckerwolf and This Holy House.
Inside Vino's, they'll be screening episodes of "The Ren & Stimpy Show" and other cartoons from 5-9 p.m., followed by live music from Flameing Daeth Fearies, Sam Walker, Neon Skin and Flint Eastwood. There will be beer, margaritas and carnival food vendors in the lot next to 7th Street Tattoos and Vino's, naturally, will be serving up beer, wine, pizza, sandwiches and more.
8 p.m. Timberwood Amphitheater. $50-$60.
The Georgia quartet has kept things rolling all these years. After splitting with Atlantic Records back in 2001, after several hits and millions of units sold, Collective Soul came back in 2004 with "Youth," which is a real head-scratcher for anybody who hadn't thought about the band since "Shine" was blasting out of car stereos all over the country long about 1994. No lie: it sounds a hell of a lot like Bowie singing for, say, Supergrass (for real, singer Ed Roland sounds eerily similar to the Thin White Duke at times — eerily similar).
They dialed the power-pop/glam sound back a bit on subsequent albums, but Collective Soul is clearly a band that is much more than a one-hit-wonder grunge-lite nostalgia act.
As with all the Timberwood concerts, the show is free with admission or $5-$10 for reserved seating. In other Magic Springs news: At 10 a.m., the park hosts a grand opening ceremony for its newest attraction, the four-story water complex Splash Island. Radio Disney star Tiffany Thornton will be there.
Mayor Bloomberg and his Madison Avenue consultants have a thing or two to learn about…
Mayor Bloomberg and his Madison Avenue consultants have a thing or two to learn about…
That's too much of a raise either way. The state could hire lot of other…
A&E Feature / To-Do List / In Brief / Movie Reviews / Music Reviews / Theater Reviews / A&E News / Art Notes / Graham Gordy / Books / Media / Dining Reviews / Dining Guide / What's Cookin' / Calendar / The Televisionist / Movie Listings / Gallery Listings