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Smart Talk July 14

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Where the loans aren’t Pulaski County banks do a poor job of providing home loans to minority neighborhoods and low-to-moderate-income neighborhoods, according to a study by Pulaski County ACORN based on data obtained under the 2003 federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. ACORN said that: • Only 43 percent of the home purchase loans made in minority neighborhoods of Pulaski County in 2003 were originated by the 24 local banks. Mortgage companies unaffiliated with local banks originated a majority of the loans. • Regions Bank and Pulaski Bank accounted for almost one out of five home purchase loans made by local banks in minority neighborhoods. Regions and Pulaski partner with ACORN in finding qualified borrowers and helping them obtain loans. Other local banks have not shown interest in such agreements, ACORN said. • Minority neighborhoods constitute almost 35 percent of Pulaski County’s population, but received less than 13 percent of the home purchase loans made by local banks in 2003. “It’s surprising how few loans are made in the areas that need them most,” Neil Sealy of ACORN said. Hattie Daniels, state chair of Arkansas ACORN, said the federal Community Reinvestment Act should be strengthened. The act requires banks to invest in minority and low-income neighborhoods, but according to ACORN, enforcement of the act has weakened in recent years. Few disciplinary actions against doctors The Arkansas Medical Board takes serious disciplinary action against doctors less often than the medical boards of all but seven other states, according to a report from the Public Citizen Health Research Group. Public Citizen is a non-profit, pro-consumer organization headquartered in Washington. “These data again raise serious questions about the extent to which patients in many of these states with poorer records of serious doctor discipline are being protected from physicians who might well be barred from practice in states with boards that are doing a better job of disciplining physicians,” the report said. “It is quite possible that patients are being injured or killed more often in states with poor doctor disciplinary records than in states with consistently high performance.” The group measured the rate of serious disciplinary actions per 1,000 physicians in 2002-2004. (“Serious” disciplinary actions were defined as revocations, surrenders and suspensions of medical licenses, and restrictions on practice.) Arkansas’s rate was 2.11. Only Rhode Island, Nevada, Maryland, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Delaware and Hawaii had lower rates. Hawaii’s was the lowest, 1.44. Wyoming had the highest rate of serious disciplinary actions per 1,000 physicians — 10.04. Free surfing The Central Arkansas Library System now offers free wireless Internet access at five of its branches — the Main Library, the Terry Library at 2015 Napa Valley Drive, the Fletcher Library at 823 North Buchanan, the McMath Library at 2100 John Barrow and the Thompson Library at 38 Rahling Circle. It’s also available at the Cox Creative Center, across from the main library. The library warns users to take care of their own anti-virus protection. Also, users are warned about sending, displaying or receiving obscene material; hacking, and other bad stuff.

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