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Smart Talk, May 22



Smoked by the law


Steal a cigarette out of someone's truck, it can cost you. Ask Troy Crenshaw, who entered Louis Cryer's Chevy Tahoe in the Heights Jan. 5, 2007. He told a friend he just wanted to get out of the cold while waiting for an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Crenshaw then helped himself to one of Cryer's smokes, and put on a hat he found. When Cryer discovered Crenshaw in the Tahoe, he called police and demanded that charges be filed.

The Pulaski County prosecutor's office obliged with two: breaking and entering, a Class D felony, and misdemeanor theft of property (i.e., cigarettes and the hat). Prosecutors offered Crenshaw, who had prior felonies on his record, a plea deal that would have sent him to jail for at least two years. Crenshaw insisted on a jury trial instead. Good call. That smoke cost him a $1,000 fine, but no prison time.

Chief Deputy Pulaski County Prosecutor John Johnson acknowledged that the crime was minor and the prosecution had a cost. But he defended the decision. As a repeat felon, he said, Crenshaw was a risk to break and enter again. “We're aware of the severity of it. But we can't just not prosecute something because it's a hassle.”


Fighting foreclosure


Arkansas ACORN is asking the Federal Reserve Board to protect homeowners in the current housing crisis, and says the board has so far done little. ACORN says the board should use its authority to prohibit lenders from making loans that become unaffordable after the interest rate increases; eliminate repayment penalties on subprime loans; hold lenders responsible for the actions of brokers, and protect borrowers from predatory loans, among other actions.

ACORN members met with the Federal Reserve Board chairman, Ben Bernanke, a year ago, according to Johnnie B. Pugh of Little Rock, a member of Arkansas ACORN and a delegate to the ACORN national board, but “the [Federal Reserve] board never did anything substantial to help homeowners.”

ACORN has its own program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Troubled borrowers can call ACORN's foreclosure prevention hotline at 866 67-ACORN or Arkansas ACORN at 501-376-7151. ACORN is an organization of low- and moderate-income families.


Arkansan in Baptist hunt


Avery Willis of Bella Vista will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest protestant denomination, at the SBC annual meeting June 10-11 in Indianapolis, according to Baptist press sources.

Formerly a missionary to Indonesia, Willis was vice president of the SBC's International Mission Board when he retired in 2004. He's a native of Lepanto. Five other candidates are seeking the SBC presidency. Ronnie Floyd of Springdale, pastor of two large Baptist churches in Northwest Arkansas and a dabbler in Republican politics, was a candidate for the SBC presidency in 2006, but lost the election to Frank Page of Taylors, S.C., the current SBC president.


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