Thursday, November 8, 2012

Times features Fred Smith, the Green Party leader in Arkansas

Posted By on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 7:04 AM

FRED SMITH: Greenie elected.
  • Green Party
  • FRED SMITH: Greenie elected.
It's a mouthful to explain how Fred Smith, the former Harlem Globetrotter went from Democratic state representative to newly elected Green Party representative in the 2013 Arkansas legislature, with a theft conviction and court challenges in between.

The story appealed enough for featuring in the New York Times. In addition to detailing Smith's saga and that of some other legislative misdeeds, the item provides some athletic background.

Smith’s athletic career hit its high point in 1997 when he set the world record for a vertical slam dunk at 11 feet 11 inches while playing for the Globetrotters. A 6-foot-5 forward, his Globetrotters nickname was Preacher. His political career started after he returned to Crawfordsville, his hometown. In 2004 he started a tutoring program called Save Our Kids, which operated in the murky spaces created by the No Child Left Behind Act, as The Washington Post reported in 2006. Smith’s program combined tutoring with athletics and was used by schools trying to raise their performance by using outside educational services.

The program was somewhat controversial and Smith drew more sideways glances when there was trouble verifying that he actually lived in the district he was representing and an ethics panel looked into why he had filed no financial disclosure forms. Then came the theft conviction, which stemmed from a duplicate payment made by a school district to Save Our Kids, prompting Smith to resign from the state house, but it was later reversed by a judge.

The article's kicker?

Arkansas politics has always been colorful. This time, the color is green.

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