“Nonprofits Paying Price for Gamble on Finances.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. September 24, 2009. Far from being conservative stewards of their assets, many nonprofits engaged in what some experts call risky financial behavior. “They did auction-rate securities, interest-rate arbitrage, complex swaps — which backfired on them the same way it would backfire on any hedge fund or asset manager,” according to Clara Miller of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, which has experienced a huge increase in organizations turning to it for assistance with soured bonds. Those struggling now include the full range of nonprofits, including museums, colleges, orchestras and small local social service providers. Much of the nonprofits’ debt is in the form of tax-exempt bonds. The number of charities issuing such bonds more than doubled from 1993 to 2006, according to figures compiled by the Internal Revenue Service, and the amount of debt linked to those bonds rose to $311 billion from $98 billion (adjusted for inflation to 2006 dollars). In many cases, charities used the money from bonds to buy real estate and build facilities. Prep schools added golf courses, pools and observatories. Colleges bought entire neighborhoods and put up labs and sports facilities. Museums erected new wings, and symphonies added thousands of seats to their concert halls. These nonprofits gambled that income from donations and investments would more than cover their debt service. But the recession turned that logic inside out.
“Even the Smallest Nonprofit Groups Tried Their Hands at High Finance.” New York Times. September 24, 2009.
“Green groups open ‘climate war room’.” By Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei. Politico.com. September 21, 2009. Climate bill supporters say they have spent the summer building precisely the kind of grass-roots network that health care didn’t have, with grass-roots operations in more than 20 states. A “climate war room” — funded by more than 60 labor, business, faith, agriculture and environmental groups — has been set up to coordinate ad dollars and communications.
“Kristol and the Tea Baggers; Intellectuals don’t always guide movements; often, movements guide intellectuals.” Kevin Mattson. American Prospect. September 23, 2009. As fate would have it, Irving Kristol’s death was announced amid continued debates about the significance, or lack thereof, of the tea baggers’ march on Washington. Sliced into reports about screaming marchers who called Nancy Pelosi a Nazi and threatened to come back armed next time, there was the passing of Kristol (1920-2009). What better contrast could this coincidence present: screaming paranoids passing through the streets of the nation’s capital versus a New York Jew and sophisticated man of ideas passing away. You could even construct a narrative around this: Once a movement of ideas, small magazines, and intellectual levity, conservativism was now only paranoid and irrational. It’s a nice story. Too bad Kristol’s life doesn’t bear it out.
“New Groups Revive the Debate Over Causes of Climate Change.” By Steven Mufson. Washington Post. September 25, 2009. In Montana a new advocacy group opposed to climate legislation called C02 Is Green is taking aim at the next big battle for Congress.
The group is already running television ads asserting that there is no scientific evidence that CO2 is a pollutant and that higher CO2 levels would help the Earth’s ecosystems. Its founders are H. Leighton Steward, a veteran oil industry executive, and Corbin J. Robertson Jr., chief executive of and leading shareholder in Natural Resource Partners, a Houston-based owner of coal resources that lets other companies mine in return for royalties. They have formed two groups — CO2 Is Green designated for advocacy and Plants Need CO2 for education — with about $1 million. Plants Need CO2 has applied for 501(c)(3) tax status, so that contributions would qualify as charitable donations.
ARTS & CULTURE
“Arts, Briefly: Taxing Culture in Pennsylvania.” By Eric Konigsberg. New York Times. September 22, 2009. A Pennsylvania state budget deal that would extend the state sales tax to arts and cultural institutions, including performance spaces and museums, has consumers and arts organizations in Pennsylvania “shocked and angered.” The tax would not be extended to movies or sports events, although it would be imposed on zoos. The sales tax in Pennsylvania is 7 percent.
“Arts community shocked by new tax burden.” Philadelphia Inquirer. September 20, 2009.
“Cultural leaders blast planned tix tax.” Philadelphia Daily News. September 22, 2009.
“Folk festival debt mounting; Organizers consider charging fee for 2010.” By Emily Burnham.” Bangor Daily News. September 23, 2009. Organizers of the American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront presented a sobering picture of the festival’s future, as new figures regarding the financial health of the event were released. According to its executive director, the folk festival has accumulated a total of $130,000 in debt. Debt has been accumulating since 2006, but it was just this year that it became too much for the festival to handle. It is now a burden that must be overcome before plans for the 2010 festival can begin in earnest, the organizers said. Festival officials issued an appeal to festival stakeholders, both corporate and individual, to consider an additional gift to help overcome the current challenge. They also put out the question to all festival sponsors, volunteers and attendees: should the American Folk Festival, currently free, become a paid-admission event?
“SFMOMA gets Fisher art collection.” By Kenneth Baker. San Francisco Chronicle. September 25, 2009. Doris and the late GAP founder Donald Fisher have found a home for their monumental art collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that will keep it in the city and elevate SFMOMA to one of the world’s leading showplaces of late 20th century art. Placing the Fishers’ collection of 1,100 contemporary artworks – one of the finest in private hands anywhere – at the museum will put SFMOMA in the league of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London and enhance the city as a destination for art lovers internationally. The fate of the collection came into question this summer after bitter local opposition caused the Fishers to withdraw their 2007 proposal to build their own museum in the Presidio, a national park.
“United Way shifts goals from fundraising to ‘impact’.” By Judy Keen. USA Today. September 27, 2009. The recession is forcing some United Ways to cut fundraising goals even as demand grows for food, shelter and other services they help provide. Sal Fabens, spokeswoman for United Way Worldwide, says its emphasis has shifted from fundraising goals to “impact goals.” In 2008, it announced a decade-long focus on cutting dropout rates and improving families’ health and financial stability.
“A political swirl on charter schools; E-mail points to Patrick’s agenda in Gloucester pick.” By James Vaznis. Boston Globe. September 22, 2009. The Patrick administration urged approval of a controversial Gloucester charter school earlier this year, over the fierce objections of city residents and the advice of state specialists, based not on its merits but because it would further the governor’s political agenda, according to a recently published e-mail.
“Charter Success; Poor children learn; Teachers unions are not pleased.” Editorial. Washington Post. September 27, 2009. Opponents od charter schools are going to have to come up with a new excuse: They can’t claim any longer that these non-traditional public schools don’t succeed. A rigorous new study of charter schools in New York City demolishes the argument that charter schools outperform traditional public schools only because they get the “best students.” This evidence should spur states to change policies that inhibit charter-school growth. It also should cause traditional schools to emulate practices that produce these remarkable results.
“Tackling a Tough Assignment: For Prestigious Private Schools Looking for New Leaders, the Market Is Highly Competitive.” By Michael Birnbaum. Washington Post. September 21, 2009. In the past, school heads could luxuriate in a Mr. Chips-like existence, focusing primarily on education. Today, they have to be schmoozers who raise funds to pay for costly programs, construction titans who dream up new facilities, and managerial stars who keep students, parents, alumni and teachers mixing smoothly.
“At the foot of the ladder.” By Divya Subrahmanyam. Yale Daily News. September 21, 2009. For a host of reasons — from economic efficiency to the need for full-time teachers for introductory classes — Yale has been hiring non-permanent teaching faculty at a higher rate than it has been hiring tenured and term professors over the past several years. This nationwide trend, known as “casualization,” has drawn criticism from many in the academic world, who point to the lack of job security in these positions and argue that it lowers the quality of education. By no means an insignificant population, non-ladder faculty — which includes part-time adjunct professors of varying rank, lecturers, senior lecturers, lectors, senior lectors and senior lectors II — make up more than a quarter of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
“Struggling Murtha Institute Exemplifies Congressman’s Sway.” By Carol D. Leonnig. Washington Post. September 21, 2009. Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s John P. Murtha Institute for Homeland Security. Named for the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, who has shepherded most of its $50 million in funding, the Murtha Institute was supposed to embark on projects to protect America from terrorists and clean up environmental dangers. A Washington Post investigation shows that, in fact, much of the work went to companies and friends close to the congressman, and few of the projects met their goals.
“New president has Dartmouth eager for change.” By Tracy Jan. Boston Globe. September 21, 2009. Faculty, students, and alumni have high hopes that Dr. Jim Yong Kim, who will be inaugurated as the college’s 17th president tomorrow, can usher in a new era for the 240-year-old university – an institution often viewed from the outside as a conservative bastion of white privilege dominated by raucous fraternities. Kim’s appointment, supporters say, signifies the college’s determination to look outward and adopt a broader, more global perspective to undergraduate education. It could also bolster Dartmouth’s public profile: Kim, born in South Korea, is the first Asian-American to lead an Ivy League school.
“It’s official: Endowment posts worst loss ever.” By Isaac Arnsdorf. Yale Daily News. September 23, 2009. The Yale endowment posted a 24.6 percent investment loss in the fiscal year that ended June 30, falling $5.6 billion to $16.3 billion in its most severe decline ever, University officials announced. With certainty about the extent of the university’s losses, administrators to move ahead with planning for next year’s budget because they can now determine how much revenue they can expect from the endowment. Spending from the endowment in the University’s 2009-’10 fiscal year is expected to total $1.1 billion, down from $1.2 billion last year. To cushion the effect of the market on the University’s budget, the amount that Yale spends from its endowment is smoothed over several years. But since the University’s budget is based on a model that counts on 10 percent annual growth, the reduced payout will tear hole in the budget that runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“UCLA volunteers fan out across city; About 4,600 university students, faculty and staff — including Chancellor Gene Block — painted public school classrooms, cleaned beaches and worked at the veterans hospital and cemetery.” By Larry Gordon. Los Angeles Times. September 23, 2009. An army of about 4,600 UCLA volunteers who came to the South Los Angeles campus and seven other spots around the region for a day of community service. In what UCLA officials hope will become an annual event, Volunteer Day brought fresh paint, trash removal and gardening help to five public schools, as well as to Griffith Park, Point Dume State Beach and the veterans hospital and cemetery on the city’s Westside. About a hundred buses ferried the UCLA students and faculty to those sites, with transportation costs and other expenses covered by a $250,000 grant from the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
“Is Yale U. starting to run more like Yale Inc.?” By Isaac Arnsdorf. Yale Daily News.
September 24, 2009. Facing entailed the deepest cuts in at least three decades, on the heels of years of exuberant growth, planning Yale’s budget for the coming year will be negotiated, for the first time, with the participation of senior administrators from the University’s Business Operations who will join department heads and deputy provosts to work out the details of budget proposals. The Business Operations Leadership Team, many of them from corporate backgrounds, have been charged with the task of transforming a process traditionally dominated by academics. At issue are two paradigms, perhaps stereotypes: on the one hand, corporations as ruthlessly efficient and conformist, and on the other, academia as freethinking, decentralized and slow to act. To the extent that either notion is true, and to the extent that either is preferable, their blending has introduced some degree of creative tension and raised institutional questions about how best to operate a university. And it has led many to wonder if Yale U. is starting to run more like Yale Inc.
“Stanford University endowment plunges 27 percent.” By Lisa M. Krieger. San Jose Mercury-News. September 24, 2009. Stanford University’s endowment, one of the richest in the country, plunged a staggering $4.6 billion last fiscal year, declining more than one-quarter in value because of an investment strategy that has produced stellar results for years — but also exposed it to huge risk. Stanford’s loss, announced Wednesday morning, mirrored whopping declines reported this week by many of its Ivy League peers, which all rely on esoteric funds in an effort to expand their long-term purchasing power. Harvard University’s endowment lost 27.3 percent. Yale’s dropped 24.6 percent. In contrast, the University of Pennsylvania shifted strategies in 2008, loading up on safe but conservative Treasury securities — and experiencing only a 17.5 percent decline, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“University may cut classes to save money.” By Isaac Arnsdorf and Divya Subrahmanyam. Yale Daily News. September 25, 2009. Budget constraints are forcing Yale administrators to consider an idea they have long spurned: eliminating classes to save money. The suggestion marks the first significant foray into searching for cost-savings within the academic core of the University.
“Brandeis president to step down; Says Rose outcry didn’t affect move.” By Peter Schworm, Boston Globe. September 25, 2009. Brandeis University president Jehuda Reinharz, after months of sharp criticism over his financial stewardship and plans to close the university’s renowned Rose Art Museum, announced yesterday that he will resign at the end of the academic year.
“It’s reality – high school classes are going virtual; Online consortium offers hard-to-find courses to students worldwide.” By Jennifer Fenn Lefferts. Boston Globe. September 24, 2009. As schools all over the country are affected by the economy and budget cuts, they are cutting Advanced Placement and enrichment courses. The nonprofit Virtual High School collaborative is trying to fill these curricular gaps by making available on-line courses not offered in schools. The collaborative now involves more than 9,500 students, 419 schools, and 260 teachers in 28 states and 23 countries.
“Nonprofit scales back plans to house poor in Palo Alto.” By Will Oremus. San Jose Mercury-News. September 24, 2009. Neighborhood resistance has force the scaling back of nonprofit Eden Housing’s ambitious plan to build low-income housing in Palo Alto. The original plan called for the construction of with 48 apartments for families, another 48 for senior citizens, and ground-floor offices and shops. The more modest plan proposes a four-story, 50-unit apartment building for poor working families. Opponents of the project claimed that the proposed structures were too tall, didn’t offer enough parking and would bring new kids into overcrowded local schools, among other problems.
“Cuts Ravage California Domestic Abuse Program.” By Jesse McKinley. New York Times. September 26, 2009. Because of cuts in state financing, several domestic violence shelters in California have closed in recent months, with layoffs or fewer full-time staff members at many others. Legal services — like help obtaining restraining orders — have been curtailed, as has counseling. Shelters have also dropped 24-hour services, cut overnight staff at emergency centers and eliminated more comprehensive services like safe visitation centers, where staff members are posted when children are dropped off or picked up as part of custody agreements. Other states, including New Jersey and Illinois, have struggled to find ways to keep domestic violence centers open, but national advocacy groups say no state has gone as far as California in “zeroing out” domestic violence money.
“Rev. Forrest Church, Who Embraced a Gospel of Service, Dies at 61.” By William Grimes. New York Times. September 27, 2009. The Rev. Forrest Church, longtime pastor at New York’s Unitarian Church of All Souls, preached a message of love, compassion and social service in stirring fashion, inviting his listeners on a shared quest. He set up a shelter for homeless women in Harlem, started a scouting program for boys and girls at a welfare hotel and organized free lunches and dinners for the homeless. In 1985, early in the AIDS epidemic, he organized a task force to place placards on buses and subways reading “AIDS is a human disease and deserves a humane response.” When he took the job at All Souls, church attendance hovered around 100 on Sundays. Today, it is not uncommon for 1,000 worshipers to attend. Frank Forrester Church IV was the son of U.S. Senator Frank Church, who serve as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“The Moral Equivalent of Anti-Slavery; Gender equality in developing countries may be the premier human-rights struggle of the 21st century — but first the rest of the world has to care.” Book review. By Michelle Goldberg. American Prospect. September 25, 2009. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, Alfred A. Knopf, 320 pages, $27.95. The book presents a catalogue of horrors, including sex slavery, obstetric fistula, female genital mutilation, gang rape, honor killing, and AIDS. The authors are clear-eyed about the difficulties facing those trying to make change, the failures of foreign aid, and the occasionally terrible unintended consequences of foreign interventions. Yet Half the Sky manages to be inspiring and engrossing rather than numbing. The book’s thesis is that the systematic abuse of poor women is the premier human-rights struggle in the world today. “In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery,” Kristof and WuDunn write. “In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world.” The analogy to abolitionism is helpful, because it underscores the enormity of the problem while suggesting it can be overcome.
“Diverse Sources Fund Insurgency In Afghanistan; Restricting Cash Flow Difficult, U.S. Says.” By Craig Whitlock. Washington Post. September 27, 2009. The Taliban-led insurgency has built a fundraising juggernaut that generates cash from such an array of criminal rackets, donations, taxes, shakedowns and other schemes that U.S. and Afghan officials say it may be impossible to choke off the movement’s money supply. Obama administration officials say the single largest source of cash for the Taliban, once thought to rely mostly on Afghanistan’s booming opium trade to finance its operations, is not drugs but foreign donations. The CIA recently estimated that Taliban leaders and their allies received $106 million in the past year from donors outside Afghanistan.
“Churches allowed to discriminate.” No by-line. Sydney Morning Herald. September 27, 2009. The Victorian government is expected to announce today that religious groups will be allowed to discriminate against gays and single mothers in a controversial compromise reached on workers’ rights. Attorney-General Rob Hulls has approved of a plan to let church-run organisations refuse employment to anyone they believe undermines their beliefs. The plan will allow church groups to discriminate on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, marital status and parental status, but in return these groups will cease being able to discriminate on the basis of race, age, disability, political beliefs, breastfeeding and physical features.
“Trees of profit.” By Muhammad Cohen. Asia Times. September 26, 2009. Cutting down Asia’s forests has for decades been an easy way to get rich. Now a trio of pan-Asian “serial entrepreneurs” hope to prove planting trees can be a moneymaker, too. Paolo Delgado, Paolo Conconi and Victor Yap started Project Oikos last year hoping to profit from concerns about global warming. But their primary goal is to educate Asians about the benefits of tree planting and protecting forests.
“In China, Philanthropy as a New Measuring Stick.” By Julie Makinen. New York Times. September 24, 2009. Chinese business leader Jack Ma, head of the Alibaba Group, joined Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel-winning founder of Grameen Bank, a pioneer in the field of microfinance, to unveil plans for Grameen China. Alibaba is contributing the initial $5 million in seed money, but both men hope their combined star power will soon draw in other corporate sponsors, giving Grameen a hefty piggy bank from which to start making modest loans to farmers and other small-business people in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia, two of the poorest provinces in China. Alibaba’s donation is the latest example of a change in attitude by corporations in China toward philanthropy, where
donations soared last year to 107 billion renminbi, or $15.7 billion, three times their level the previous year, according to a recent report by Jia Xijin and Zhao Yusi at the NGO Research Center at Tsinghua University in Beijing. About $11 billion of that went to relief efforts after the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
“Suspected embezzler at social welfare organization arrested.” No by-line. Asahi Shimbun. September 24, 2009. Prosecutors on Thursday arrested a former executive of a social welfare organization on suspicion of embezzling about 10 million yen for personal use, including betting on horse races. Sadao Sotome, the 58-year-old former vice director of the secretariat for Zenkoku Seishin-Shogaisha Shakai-Fukki Shisetsu Kyokai (National association of facilities for rehabilitating people with mental disorders), is also believed to have donated several million yen of the embezzled funds to politicians. Prosecutors plan to pursue criminal charges over the suspected diversion of the subsidies.
“Boris Johnson: museum visitors should pay to get in.” No by-line. Times of London. September 21, 2009. “Boris Johnson, London’s Mayor, argues that the city’s museum visitors should pay to get in.” Johnson said he had been impressed with New York’s semi-voluntary admission system. Although New York’s museums are officially free, each one has a range of entry fees and visitors are usually made to feel compelled to pay. Mr Johnson said he had no interest in coercing people, but felt that a similar system could work in London. Free museums are considered one of the Britain’s biggest cultural attractions, particularly in London. The idea formed one of New Labour’s first election pledges and entrance fees to national museums were officially scrapped on December 1, 2001.The scheme proved an instant success, with overall visitor numbers increasing by 70 per cent in the first year alone.
“UK museums should adopt US-style ‘voluntary’ fees, says Boris Johnson; Tougher funding policy could help arts as corporate sponsors dry up, London mayor claims.” Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009.
“CBI report casts the first shot in battle over university funding.” Commentary. By John O’Leary. Times of London. September 21, 2009. Today’s report by the Confederation of British Industry’s higher education task force represents the first shot in what promises to be a long war over top-up fees and university funding. Conservatives and Labour would be more than happy to neutralize fees as a general election issue with the start of a conveniently lengthy independent review next month. The tactic was successful in 1997, when the Dearing Report straddled the election and allowed the incoming Labour Government to charge undergraduates for tuition for the first time. But the CBI’s analysis shows why it may not work again. Any conceivable rise in fees would not be enough — and would not come soon enough — to satisfy the demand for cuts in public spending.
“CBI advises raising university fees to £5,000 a year to tackle funding crisis.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009.
“Set the universities free: The answer to higher education’s funding crisis is neither higher fees nor higher taxes, but liberation from state control.” Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009.
“Private school charity laws would be revised by Tories; Shadow schools minister says private schools would have freedom to decide how to meet public benefit test.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009. New laws forcing private schools to justify their charitable status – and nearly £100m a year in tax breaks – have become too bureaucratic and prescriptive and will be revised if the Conservatives win the general election, according to the shadow schools minister, who said a Conservative government would keep the charity law but challenge the way it is interpreted by the independent watchdog, the Charity Commission. Schools would be given more freedom to decide how they meet the test. These comments follow complaints from private schools that the Charity Commission has become too focused on schools providing bursaries, instead of on sharing facilities with other schools.
“Q&A: Charity fundraising and the law.” By Luke Fletcher and Alana Lowe-Petraske. Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009. In the third of a series of pieces giving legal advice to the voluntary sector, Luke Fletcher and Alana Lowe-Petraske, of Bates Wells and Braithwaite solicitors, explain what every charity should know about fundraising.
“Recession means people give less to charity; Charities say donations have fallen by 11% in the last year.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). September 23, 2009. The amount people give to charity has fallen by 11% in a year because of the recession, a survey revealed today. The study, by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, found the average person gave £10 a month to charity during the year to April, £1 a month less than they had donated during the previous 12 months. The groups said the reduction was equivalent to a £1.3bn drop in the amount of money the UK’s 170,000 charities received in real terms.But despite people giving less, the overall proportion donating money to charities on a monthly basis fell by only 2% to 54%.
“Charities miss out on £1.3 billion because of recession.” Times of London. September 23, 2009.
“High ideals: Princes William and Harry, like their parents, have chosen to support charities that are close to their hearts. Patrick Barkham is given a rare invitation to hear how they are forging links between the organisations.” By Patrick Barkham. Guardian (UK). September 23, 2009. Several years ago, Princes William and Harry established the Princes’ Charities Forum, in order to see if the charities they support could also help each other. Twice a year, the princes coax their charities to discuss their plans and devise new ideas to work together. The charities and organisations are an idiosyncratic mix of the princes’ passions – the Football Association and the Welsh Rugby Union – and charities connected to friends or family, such as the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, which is building state primary schools in Uganda in memory of a schoolfriend of Harry’s who died in a car accident. There are also charities that represent a continuation of their mother’s work, such as William’s continuing support for the homelessness charity, Centrepoint. They are focusing on three themes in their charity work: young people, sustainable development, and supporting injured soldiers.
“Notts County trust ‘should never have handed control to Qadbak; Fans group says trust ‘went against its very reasons for existing’.” By David Conn. Guardian (UK). September 25, 2009. Notts County’s supporters trust should never have given away its majority control in the club to the anonymous investors who now own it, according to the chief executive of Supporters Direct, the government-backed body which promotes fans’ involvement in running football clubs. The principles behind supporters trusts are that football clubs are community institutions which depend on fans’ loyalty, and that clubs will benefit from fans owning shares and being represented on the board. The Notts County Supporters Trust’s own objectives were to seek ownership in the club, which it had, and representation in its running, which it also had, so by giving those away, the trust went against its very reasons for existing.
LAW & PUBLIC POLICY
“S.C. Supreme Court rules for breakaway Episcopal parish.” By Daniel Burke. USA Today/Religion News Service. A South Carolina parish that split from the Episcopal Church in 2004 can keep its church property, the state’s Supreme Court has ruled, handing a rare legal victory to conservative dissidents. A majority of members of All Saints Church at Pawley’s Island voted to secede from the Episcopal Church five years ago, after an openly gay man was consecrated bishop of New Hampshire. Applying “neutral principles,” South Carolina’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday (Sept. 18) that All Saints, which dates to the early 18th century, had secured ownership to the property in 1902, well before the Episcopal Church instituted its trust rules in 1979. Other state courts, including those in New York, California and Colorado, have sided with the Episcopal Church in recent decisions over property rights. Still, courts seem to be moving away from a deferential approach to church property disputes, meaning they do not always defer to internal church rules, said Robert Tuttle, a church-state expert at the George Washington University Law School.
“THE QUESTION: Should Religious Charities Discriminate?” By Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham. Washington Post. September 26, 2009. Dozens of major religious groups and denominations are urging Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to renounce a Bush-era memo that allows faith-based charities that receive federal funding to discriminate in hiring. Should religious charities that receive federal grant money be allowed to discriminate in hiring?
“Should Obama Bail Out the Newspapers?” By Derek Thompson. The Atlantic. September 21, 2009. As America’s newspapers continue to seek the bottom of the advertising abyss, Obama told reporters that he is “happy to look at” bills that would give newspapers tax breaks if they became non-profits. The Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as non-profits, if they choose, under 501(c)(3) status for educational purposes, similar to public broadcasting. Under this arrangement, newspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements, but would be allowed to freely report on all issues, including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt and contributions to support coverage or operations could be tax deductible.
“WGBH bids for broader presence in public radio.” By Megan Woolhouse. Boston Globe. September 22, 2009. Boston public broadcaster WGBH made a bid yesterday to buy classical radio station WCRB, a move that could directly challenge rival Boston public radio station WBUR. Boston public TV and radio giant WGBH already broadcasts classical music on its flagship radio station, 89.7 FM. But with the acquisition of 99.5 FM, the region’s only 24-hour classical music station, WGBH plans to convert 89.7 FM to an all-news and talk format. That would make the station more like WBUR, at 90.9 FM, the city’s only other public radio station and one of the nation’s most successful noncommercial stations.
“WGBH deal may spark a radio battle; Plan to launch news and talk station creates new competition for WBUR, WBZ.” Boston Globe. September 23, 2009.
“In Amish paper, the news is old but readers don’t care.” By P.J. Huffstutter. Los Angeles Times. September 27, 2009. The Budget is not your typical newspaper. Since 1890, it has served as the primary communication link among Amish settlements across the country. The vast majority of the paper’s reporters – called “scribes’’ – are Amish and Mennonite volunteers, hundreds of people who send in handwritten dispatches in from rural outposts. Their only payment is a free subscription, worth $42 a year. They send their dispatches by mailbag, buggy, and the occasional fax to the paper’s office in Sugarcreek (population 2,100), a village 52 miles south of Akron whose downtown is lined with Swiss-style architecture and horse-and-buggy hitching rails. Although a couple hundred subscribers have dropped the paper, advertisers – many of whom are either Amish or Mennonite – have refused to shift to online advertising. At least 80 percent of the weekly’s 19,000 subscribers live a life without electricity, phones, or modern conveniences. “You may not believe it, but there’s a lot happening out here,’’ said publisher Keith Rathbun, whose paper is mailed out to readers across North America and a smattering of Amish missionaries living overseas.
“Dick Grace: Vintner blends compassion, Cabernet.” By Jon Bonné. San Francisco Chronicle. September 27, 2009. Dick Grace, who is credited with creating California’s first cult Cabernet – expensive, rare, virtually impossible to buy – is using profits from his vineyards to help rebuild Tibetan schools and Nepali medical clinics. His profits, along with contributions from his customers, go to his foundation, which distributes more than $250,000 a year to humanitarian projects throughout the United States, Mexico and Asia.
“Generous bequest has Pasadena magnet school asking: Who? Joyce Stallfort Davis leaves $440,011 for scholarships at Blair InternationBaccalaureate School. Officials don’t remember her but learn she worked at the school in the 1960s.” By Seema Mehta. Los Angeles Times. September 25, 2009. Joyce Stallfort Davis, who died last year at age 81, has bequeathed nearly half a million dollars to a Pasadena magnet school, Blair International Baccalaureate. The money will fund three $2,500 scholarships every year for students who are “hard workers” and involved in community service. Davis worked for the Pasadena Unified School District for two decades, including as a counselor and assistant principal at Blair when it opened in 1965 until 1968.
“Postal Museum Receives $8 Million Gift.” By Jacqueline Trescott. Washington Post. September 23, 2009. William H. Gross, founder of Pimco, a global investment firm headquartered in California, has given the National Postal Museum a gift of $8 million. It is the single largest gift in the museum’s history. The funds will enable the museum to add a 12,000-square-foot gallery, named for Gross, to the 65,000-square-foot facility near Union Station. Scheduled to open in 2012, the gallery will provide room for the permanent display of 5,000 stamps and objects from the museum’s 6 million-piece collection.
“Tiny S.F. church fights closure by denomination.” By Carolyn Jones and Bob Egelko. San Francisco Chronicle. September 21, 2009. Facing the threatened closure of their small church near Twin Peaks, a small group of Calvinists vowed Sunday to continue fighting for survival despite a recent court ruling that barred them from breaking away from their denomination. At issue is not theology or politics, but the church’s size. With between 25 and 50 members, leaders of the Reformed Church of America felt their resources could have been better used elsewhere, an attorney for the denomination said. Miraloma members said they suspected real estate was a factor in the decision. The lot where the San Francisco church has stood since 1945 is worth between $3 million and $4 million.
“People with ‘no religion’ gaining on major denominations.” By Cathy Lynn Grossman. USA TODAY. September 22, 2009. Americans who don’t identify with any religion are now 15% of the USA, but trends in a new study shows they could one day surpass the nation’s largest denominations — including Catholics, now 24% of the nation. American Nones: Profile of the No Religion Population, to be released today by Trinity College, finds this faith-free group already includes nearly 19% of U.S. men and 12% of women.
“Lutheran bishop warns about withholding donations.” No by-line. Washington Post/Associated Press. September 23, 2009. The presiding bishop of the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination warned Wednesday that withholding financial support to protest a recent gay clergy vote would be “devastating” to the church. The bishop laid out his concerns in a letter to leaders of the 4.7 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is based in Chicago. The ELCA churchwide assembly voted last month to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, dropping a requirement that gay clergy remain celibate. Hanson’s letter comes on the eve of a meeting in suburban Indianapolis of conservative ELCA group Lutheran CORE, which has urged supporters to “direct funding away from the national church” because of the vote.
“As Acorn Falls, Democrats Would Be Wise to Duck.” Commentary. By Kevin Hassett. Bloomberg.com. September 21, 2009. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now is no fringe organization. It is woven into the political firmament at the highest levels. Over the past 15 years, Acorn has received more than $53 million from the U.S. government, according to a recent report by House Republicans. Democrats clearly appreciate the value they received for that funding. While specific budget lines seldom include the word Acorn, the group and similar nonprofits are eligible to receive as much as $8.5 billion in stimulus money alone. Its Advisory Council includes John Podesta, who was co-chair of President Barack Obama’s transition; Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union; and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former lieutenant governor of Maryland and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. It is hard to tell what has Acorn done with its money. It’s hard to tell. Purporting to serve noble objectives, such as registering voters, the organization is unbelievably complex and opaque. Acorn makes Enron seem like a simple organization.
“Former AG to oversee review of ACORN; Enters controversy over videotapes.” Boston Globe. September 23, 2009.
“For ACORN, controversy now a matter of survival.” USA Today. September 23, 2009.
“ACORN fights back.” Politico.com. September 23, 2009
“ACORN Sues Over Damaging Video; Secret Recording in Baltimore Violated Wiretapping Law, Liberal Group Says.” Washington Post. September 24, 2009.
“GOP, Treasury up ACORN scrutiny.” Politico.com. September 24, 2009.
“Congressional Research Service: House ACORN ban may be unconstitutional.” Politico.com. September 24, 2009.
“Acorn Sues Over Video as I.R.S. Severs Ties.” New York Times. September 24, 2009.
“IRS puts an end to ACORN affiliation; White House urged to cut ties, withhold funding.” Boston Globe. September 24, 2009.
“ACORN sues over hidden video; FBI probing case.” USA Today. September 24, 2009.
“ACORN circles the wagons; After a videotape scandal, some Los Angeles members say the political attacks have pushed them to work harder for the activist group.” Los Angeles Times. September 24, 2009.
“For ACORN, Truth Lost Amid the Din.” Opinion. By Harold Meyerson. Washington Post. September 24, 2009.
“ACORN Funded Political, For-Profit Efforts, Data Show; Actions Were Before Leadership Change.” Washington Post. September 25, 2009.
“Too Much Hot Air, and Not Enough Deep Breathing.” Opinion. By Dana Milbank. Washington Post. September 25, 2009.
“ACORN has scaled back Indiana operations; Gary office closed in May; last staffer in Indy was furloughed after videos.” Indianapolis Star. September 27, 2009.
“Opinion: ACORN looks inward but hopes to emerge stronger.” San Jose Mercury-News. September 27, 2009.
“OOPS! The ACORN Ban Could Snag Lockheed & Catholic Charities.” The Nation. September 27, 2009.
“Dark charges from Mahony’s inner circle; A monsignor testifies he wrote a memo urging the cardinal to tell police about molestation by a priest. Perhaps, a paper trail exists.” By Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times. September 22, 2009. Msgr. Richard Loomis, former vicar of clergy for the archdiocese, said under oath that in the year 2000 he wrote a memo advocating that the archdiocese inform police about allegations of sexual abuse by a now-defrocked priest named Michael Baker. His superior, Cardinal Roger Mahony, directed him not to report the allegations, Loomis testified. The monsignor also testified that Mahony ordered him not to inform parishes where Baker had worked of allegations against the priest. Baker, by the way, was eventually convicted of molesting Luis and two others, and he began a 10-year sentence in 2007.
“Study questions Starbucks’ role as community hub.” By Kathy Matheson. Boston Globe/Associated Press. September 27, 2009. If Bryant Simon owned a coffee shop, it would not have conversation-killing Wi-Fi. It probably wouldn’t offer to-go cups. But it would have a big, round table strewn with newspapers to stimulate discussion. That sense of community is what’s missing from Starbucks, a conclusion Simon reached after visiting about 425 of its coffee shops in nine countries. And yet millions of people patronize the outlets each day. Simon, a history professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, has spent the past few years figuring out why. His new book, “Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks,’’ is meant “to be part of a public debate about what our purchases mean . . . [and] how consumption shapes our lives even when we don’t intend it to,’’ Simon said.