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Smart Talk April 7 

Well-armed Little Rock native Robbie Lewis, the widely acclaimed executive chef at Jardiniere in San Francisco, made the pages of the New York Times magazine March 27. Or at least his right arm did. The magazine featured tattoos of famous chefs. (One had a portrait of famed Berkeley restaurateur Alice Waters.) The magazine photographed Lewis’ right arm, which bears tattoos of four essential knives, from paring knife to slicer. He told the Times that he was inspired because when he went to France he kept hearing that American cooks weren’t taken seriously. ‘’So I thought I’d display my devotion to my craft,’’ he said. Axing the poor The U.S. House of Representatives’ proposed federal budget would cause severe pain to Arkansas’s most vulnerable citizens, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities of Washington, a progressive research group. The Senate has proposed a budget also. Both proposals give tax breaks to the rich while cutting government assistance to the poor, but the House’s cuts for the poor are 10 times greater. The cuts for the Arkansas poor in the House plan include: • Between $187 million and $251 million in Medicaid funding. Some 457,000 Arkansans — children, elderly, poor, disabled — depend on Medicaid for basic health care. • $57.8 million in Earned Income Tax Credit benefits. The EITC provides 265,000 working families in Arkansas with tax relief and wage supplements. • $51.4 million in Supplemental Security Income benefits for the elderly and disabled poor. Some 87,000 Arkansans receive modest monthly SSI payments to help them meet basic expenses. • Up to $74 million in food stamps. Nearly 350,000 Arkansans receive food stamps to afford a nutritionally adequate diet. • $9.1 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Nearly 23,000 Arkansans receive TANF assistance — income supplements, child care, welfare-to-work programs. • $6.1 million in foster care and adoption assistance funding. Each month, 3,700 Arkansas children in foster and adoptive homes receive these benefits. Congress must choose between the two plans. Concerned Arkansans should contact members of their congressional delegation. Spoilsports The Central Arkansas Wine Society had to suspend its monthly wine tasting programs because of a state Alcoholic Beverage Control rule. Colonial Wine and Spirits had been working with the five-year-old society, which bought wine from Colonial and then paid a corkage fee to hold tastings with food at a facility with an alcoholic beverage permit, such as the Main Event in the Train Station. A competitor apparently complained, however, and the ABC decided that the wine tastings amounted to an “inducement” to purchase from the store. “I thought we were doing things the right way,” Clark Trim, owner of Colonial, said. “We weren’t trying to hide anything, We didn’t think we were doing anything wrong. But they have shown me the regulation and they are totally correct the way the regulation is written.” Trim, who gave talks about the wines served, said he’s working with a group interested in taking over the society and operating it within the ABC guidelines. There may be some hope of help from the legislature, which last week passed a bill that authorizes wine retailers to receive a permit to hold wine-tasting events for educational and promotional purposes.
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