No more Osborne 'cue
Arkansas Razorback football fans going to the games at War Memorial Stadium will no longer see the massive platters of Jennings Osborne’s barbecue at the UA's "Hog Trough." Osborne served up mountains of pork, beef and huge turkey legs for $5 a serving – proceeds being split between the university and the stadium.
But Osborne has sold his medical testing business and so perhaps he has to watch his cash flow a little more carefully. He’s informed the UA that he wouldn't be doing the cooking any longer, according to Matt Shanklin, the UA sports marketing director.
The UA still plans a Hog trough for Little Rock games (the first is Sept. 10 against Louisana-Monroe), but doesn’t have a meat provider yet. A Marriott subsidiary does the catering in Fayetteville.
Insiders are predicting a resumption of hostilities at the Sept. 2 meeting of the Arkansas History Commission. The panel is divided on the leadership of four-decade History Commission director John Ferguson. Some want new blood; some want Ferguson to continue. At the last, lightly attended commission meeting, an idea was hatched to gently urge Ferguson’s retirement. He’s not ready to go and the action roused his supporters. The meeting will be at 10 a.m. in Big Mac. The public is welcome.
Save term limits
There’s a term limits amendment on the ballot, miseladingly titled so voters will think a vote for it is a vote for term limits. Actually, the amendment is intended to let legislators serve up to 100 percent longer than they serve now (from six to 12 years in the House). The folks who organized to pass the original amendment aren’t taking it lying down. They’ll be putting the heat on sitting legislators with a publicity stunt next week, calling on legislators to sign a pledge in support of the term limits originally approved by voters.
Tim Jacobs, one of the organizers of the Save Term Limits campaign, says, by the way, that there are no truth to rumors in the lobby community that the national term limits organization has been told by locals to stay out. Jacobs says the local grassroots group is optimistic that the national group will contribute to the cause.
Plans are being finalized for a new restaurant at the Kavanaugh Boulevard address that used to be the home of Andre's and Chops. The bar and dining areas will be updated and “fusion” cuisine – fusing just exactly what isn’t known yet – is planned. A chef now at Ciao Baci is to be main man in the kitchen.
Lou Schickel’s planned West Little Rock shopping center (Page 12) isn’t the only interesting issue before the Little Rock Planning Commission this week. It’s also set to consider a proposal by the Islamic Center for Human Excellence to build a mosque, educational center and 22 single-family homes on vacant land at 40th and Potter streets, just southwest of Boyle Park.
Neighborhood residents haven’t exactly welcomed the idea, although they’ve apparently changed their objections from religious/ethnic concerns to more pedestrian issues like the noise of the five-times-daily call to prayer that would come over a loudspeaker from the 100-seat mosque. No one from the Islamic Center returned a message before press time.
Ford rolls in
U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis was in town Aug. 17, for a reception at the Little Rock Club hosted by attorney Patrick Kirby. The event doubled as a fundraiser for Ford and an off-site open house for a new law firm that Kirby is starting.
Kirby's invitation to Ford is the fulfillment of a promise he made a long time ago to hold a Little Rock fundraiser for the congressman. He calls Ford a "rising star" in the Democratic party.
If John Kerry has truly written off Arkansas, he’s not reading polls. Two polls in the last week, by Zogby and Survey USA, show the race in Arkansas a virtual dead heat. Zogby’s battleground poll actually had Kerry slightly ahead. Survey USA’s poll for KTHV had Bush ahead 48-47, with Nader with one point. Now you see why Republicans in Arkansas are working so hard to get Nader on the ballot.
Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.
Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.