Monday, March 10, 2014 - 15:57:00
Another week begins. Closing out:
* TOMORROW IS ELECTION DAY IN PULASKI COUNTY
: Tuesday is special election day for a 1.9-mill property tax for Pulaski Tech. It would be the first property tax for the college and raise about $11 million a year to buttress its job-training and other programs. The tax means $38 a year on a $100,000 house. It would supplement state support that has fallen far short of sufficient for the college, which has experienced dramatic growth. The hope is that it will encourage jobs that will prove attractive to growing businesses. I'm checking out early to vote FOR it today. I've seen the positive role the college has played for people who struggle to balance school, jobs and families while improving their skills. Real help for real people.
* A CANDIDATE FOR CITY BOARD
: Kenyon Lowe
, 54, a member of the Little Rock Housing Authority board and a teacher at ITT Tech, sends early word that he'll be running for Little Rock Board of Directors
in November. Filing doesn't begin until late summer. He'll run for Ward 1, currently held by Director Erma Hendrix
. Lowe said Hendrix "hasn't done anything in 12 years."
* ASA! NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
: The GOP talking point of the day today was Mike Ross'
support from organized labor. It's as old a ploy in Arkansas as John McClellan's cookie jar. Republicans hate unions and people who work for them. They have to be stupid, subhuman life forms to kowtow to the "liberal union bosses." Even school teachers, Asa Hutchinson
, the Republican candidate, made clear. The Arkansas Education Association
doesn't hold a single labor contract in Arkansas and its leadership is elected democratically from among 12,000 voluntary members, but they are liberal chumps. Just ask Asa. Any teacher stupid enough to join the AEA isn't fit to teach your kid. That's the implied GOP smear and Asa Hutchinson pulled it out to trash teachers after the AEA endorsement of Ross. Hypocrisy alert
: Asa Hutchinson sought the AEA endorsement, then blasted the group after he didn't get it. He's also received a number of union contributions himself over the years, including $6,000 worth from airline pilots, marine offices and flight controllers, among others. These, I guess, are "good" unions — not nasty ass school teachers or the bedpan cleaners of the SEIU. Those people are too stupid to know a good candidate when they see one. Just ask Asa.
* AIR FORCE CONFIRMS 2015 BUDGET COULD GROW LRAFB
: I reported here Friday the news that the preliminary 2015 Defense budget could mean the relocation iof 10 C130J aircraft to Little Rock Air Force Base
and a new wing to accommodate reservists who will fly the cargo planes. LRAFB issued a news release about the plans today:
Monday, March 10, 2014 - 15:55:00
A new study by the Southern Poverty Law Center
ranks the states on how well they teach civil rights
. Arkansas gets a C. Some other Southern states get an A.
I think I once read Arkansas played a role in dramatic developments during the civil rights movement. At least Arkansas is not among a handful of states found to have no mention of civil rights in school curriculum. Arkansas scored 50 percent, just behind Mississippi at 52 percent. South Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia all scored As.
The news release and complete report is here.
Monday, March 10, 2014 - 12:43:00
Steele Stephens, the bond broker favored with extraordinary amounts of state business by former Treasurer Martha Shoffner, testified in federal court today that he received $2.5 million in commissions over the four years of doing business with Shoffner. During that time, he gave her $36,000 in six equal cash installments, the last in a pie box under watch by the FBI.
Chuck Banks, Shoffner's attorney, will get to cross-examine this afternoon. I guess he could ask if this was a self-respecting bribery scheme why Shoffner got such a small amount of the take. Steele quit his job after Shoffner's arrest. He is cooperating with the government and has not been charged with any crimes.
The government, according to KARK, rolled tape of a clandestine recording in which Shoffner told Stephens that she had told legislators she took nothing from Stephens and she'd "go to her fucking grave" with that.
UPDATE: Th government completed its case today. The defense is up tomorrow. Shoffner will not testify, reports say. If not it is unclear who if anyone might.
More Arkansas Blog
Monday, March 10, 2014 - 14:38:00
Playing to a sparse but enthusiastic audience Saturday night at Verizon Arena, Billy Currington
not only gave his fans “Good Directions,” but also a sampling of songs off his new album, a nice mix of past hits and some great covers of artists he admires.
The down-to-earth Georgia native launched into “I Got a Feeling” as he took the stage and soon had the crowd of 3,003 singing along to good ol’ boy favorites such as “That’s How Country Boys Roll” and “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer.” That’s a pair of No. 1 hits featuring lyrics like “I'm not the type to work in a bank, I'm no good at slappin’ on paint, don't have a knack for makin’ motors crank … but I'm pretty good at drinkin’ beer.”
He often picks catchy, story-telling songs and then uses his rich voice to turn them into hits. “Must Be Doin’ Something Right,” the always-popular “People Are Crazy” and “Hey Girl,” the first big release off his current “We Are Tonight” album, all have hit the top spot on the country charts. His new single, “We Are Tonight,” joined those three as a crowd favorite as did the clever “Like My Dog.”
Currington likes to swap out the covers he performs, so he’s not singing the same thing at every concert on a tour. Central Arkansas fans were treated to — among others — a very likeable version of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” before Currington brought his two opening acts — Brett Eldredge and Chase Rice — back out to help on a rousing rendition of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” during his encore.
But if there’s one song that completely stands out in Currington’s discography, it’s the terrific “Good Directions” — “a left will take you to the interstate, but a right will bring you right back here to me” — which stayed at No. 1 for three weeks back in 2007. Co-written by one Luke Bryan (before he was one of the hottest acts in country music), Currington ended his encore with this little ditty about the girl of his dreams heading back his way after stopping at Miss Bell’s for some of her sweet tea.
During his part of the show, Eldredge, sporting a slightly gravelly voice, sang songs off his debut album, highlighted by the No. 1 single “Don’t Ya,” the tender love song “Mean to Me” and “Bring You Back.”
Rice, a former college football player at North Carolina who later finished second on the TV reality show “Survivor: Nicaragua,” is best known for co-writing “Cruise,” the smash hit by Florida Georgia Line. He opened the show with a hard-driving sound best showcased on “Ready Set Roll” and “Look at My Truck.”
Monday, March 10, 2014 - 10:54:00
As Max would say, the line is open.
* "True Detective,"
created by fiction writer and University of Arkansas MFA-grad Nic Pizzolatto
, closed out its first season last night and I'm assuming some of you noticed.
Pizzolatto also released some appropriately vague details about the next season in an interview with Hitfix
: "This is really early, but I'll tell you (it's about) hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system."
Monday, March 10, 2014 - 09:16:00
There's a new, reigning Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase winner, and it is Mad Nomad
, who were brutally great at the Finals Friday night, dominating an impressively competitive field that also included Peckerwolf
, John Willis
and John Neal Rock 'n' Roll
. Everyone was great, I'm glad I wasn't a judge. If you missed it, you can catch Mad Nomad at Riverfest or Valley of the Vapors (both spots are included in the prize package) or just enjoy the new drink that Stickyz plans to name after them. Video after the jump:
More Rock Candy